Saturday, June 04, 2011

Day 5 of the 30 Day Challenge to Write

If we live truly, we shall see truly.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today's challenge:

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they'd like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?


I have been fortunate to travel through the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. As a kid, my family would load up our camper and travel to mountain resorts. It was always an adventure to have the five of us, and sometimes the family dog, crammed in that little camper. This was the mode of our transportation and our accommodations all the way through our high school years. Thankfully, my brothers and I slept in a tent once we landed at our camp ground.

We traveled once to North Dakota to visit family; my mom lived there until her family moved to California. Many of her aunts and uncles lived there at the time we visited. We traveled up Highway 15, passing through Utah, Montana and South Dakota. We saw Zion National Park, Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. It was incredible!

In high school I was able to go with my high school band to Hawaii. It was awesome. The trip was filled with concerts, parades and acts of mischief.

When I graduated high school my buddies and I bought ourselves a Caribbean Cruise graduation present. It was another awesome experience filled with exploring the ports and experiencing culture. One of the ports we stopped in was Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We had no idea what we were going to experience in Haiti. I can tell you it was life changing.

In one of the Jamaican ports we optioned out of the tour package and just rented a taxi for the day. We saw and experienced all the same excursions that everyone on the ship did, but for only $20. We also drove through the neighborhoods, drank Red Stripe Beer and ate lunch with the locals. It was unforgettable. Since then I have been on cruises to Alaska and Mexico and we take similar, self made excursions, in the back of a cab or in a rental car.

In Haiti we were planning on doing the same thing, except there was taxi cab system in Haiti, just millions of people cramming the dock as we pulled our ship in. It was 1978. The country was in turmoil, many uprising and coup├ęs have happened since that year.

As we walked onto the dock we were being pulled and grabbed at until we hired a young man to be our walking guide. His job was to get us to the capital, the marketplace, and to keep us safe. I think he cost us less than a dollar, total.

We experienced and saw more poverty than I knew existed in the entire world, collectively. People with deformities were lying in the streets begging for pennies. Young children were walking through the litter and urine of the streets barefooted. It was the most depressing day, but the most eye opening day I have ever known. Since that time the sights and smells have never left my mind. When the earthquake hit Haiti it all came rushing back.

I have dreams to visit Europe, especially Germany and Romania where my ancestors lived. I heard the family is still standing, hundreds of years later.

I have dreams to visit lands of Biblical importance: Israel, Egypt, Rome, the Middle East.

I have dreams to visit Rwanda and Burundi.

I have dreams to visit New York.

I have dreams to visit cities like Portland and Seattle.

But I have this deep desire to visit Haiti again and to stay in Port-au-Prince. But this time when I visit I pray that I can be used to help with the troubles and hurts that this country has experienced. That might be nothing more than offering a fresh drink of clean water, but I know that many there crave that drink.

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