The island of Hispaniola has a special place in my mind. Dan and I had been sailing for seven days since we last stepped on land. We weaved through coral. We beat against the wind, only to have to turn around and do it again. We rose and fell with the 8-13foot swell. Then one morning, after the longest, most intimidating night of sailing I’ve ever experienced-the wind died, the sun rose and on the horizon were the mountains of Hispaniola. One of the happiest moments of my life.
We were soaked to the core. My passport to this day tells the story. Despite its resting in a plastic bag, on a shelf, in the hull of the boat, it was so wet the Dominican immigration asked me to come back a week later once my passport was dry enough to stamp. We dropped anchor in the sailing hub of Luperon, less than 50 miles from the Haitian border. Although we came close, I never actually crossed the border into Haiti. I did however catch glimpses of the impoverished neighbor of the Dominican Republic.
I met Haitian immigrants, who though disrespected and underpaid, still found a better life on the Dominican side of their island. I played with Haitian children at the school and orphanage that tried to provide at least a minimal education to the shockingly underprivileged children. And I heard stories of how mistreated these shared inhabitants were.
Just across the border, on the western third of the same island, sits one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. It is one of the most densely populated and least developed countries with 80% of its population living in poverty… and this was before January 12, 2010. At 4:53 pm, the devastating earthquake of 7.0 magnitude left up to 230,000 dead (according to the Haitian government), an estimated 300,000 injured and 1.5 million homeless or displaced (almost 20% of the countries population).
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I'm off to see the world. Usually I live in Flagstaff, but now I am on a boat with an old friend. We will be doing good deeds a…
I hit the ground instantly. The force of impact nearly knocked me out. Stunned, I tried to gather and prepare myself for more. I didn’t know how or why, the only thing I was sure of was that I was under attack.
I found myself in a hammock, swinging back and forth between exhaustion and the inability to sleep.
These kids are different. They don’t look different. They don’t act different. They don’t even feel different…but they are. They know they are, which might be the greatest challenge these children ever face. They’re all HIV positive.
The roads are made of stone. Honduran men stroll casually through the streets. Shielded from the searing sun, their machetes swing step by step, in and out of the circle of shade offered by their cowboy hats.
I was mesmerized by the icebergs in Antarctica- each unique like a snowflake.
Sure – they smell…badly – but I found the odor pretty easy to overlook in light of their general adorableness.
First rule of ‘Kayak Club’ in Antarctica is that you are not late to kayak club meetings. The second rule of kayak club is that you ARE NOT late to kayak club meetings.
I had made up my mind, I wasn’t going to do it. Nope. Not doing it.