Sunday, September 18, 2011

“What I did last summer”

I have arrived in Central African Republic and will travel tomorrow to Boguila, where I will work for Medecins sans Frontieres for the next year. This concludes an extraordinary summer that began when I left Pakistan at the end of March.

In these five and a half months:

I visited the UK, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, USA, the Netherlands, France and Germany.

I travelled in 16 planes, innumerable trains and innumerable automobiles, but also the world's largest ferry, trams, subways, buses, and the San Francisco cable car. Five of six of my Amtrak trains arrived over an hour late. My one Via Rail train arrived early. Huge thanks to Warren for arranging a free Air Canada flight. Air Canada is the world's best airline.

I slept in hotels, trains, houses, planes, a tent, that ferry, and an airport floor. Deep and grateful thanks to my hosts Tima, Dad, Julia, Lynnette, Jacqueline and Annemalaria.

I got new tattoos in Mexico and the Netherlands.

I volunteered with J/P HRO in Haiti, making maps of cholera interventions, rubble removal sites, and a 30,000 person IDP camp. Rainn Wilson and I schlepped through deep mud to GPS the camp's water points, latrines, solar lamps and other infrastructure. He's the salt of the earth. Sean Penn is a genuine humanitarian and he is staying the course for an incredibly vulnerable community.

Mexico was the only new country and it is now one of my favorites. I was based mostly in Merida, where I reunited with a very special friend, made wonderful new friends, and explored the Yucatan. I'm going to blog separately about Mexico as soon as possible, but I can't wait to mention that I swam with a whale shark and a manta ray.

The best part of the summer was meeting dozens of wonderful new friends and reuniting with so many other wonderful friends from my past. I am going to try very hard to write to you all before this year is out.

Life is about to change as I'm making a complicated career readjustment. Time will tell all, but so far I love Medecins sans Frontieres and Central African Republic.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reader permissions

I have decided to limit access to my blog to invited friends. I've added a bunch of names and will try to work out how to accomodate any others that request. If anybody is interested...