On January 10th, I got on a plane for Port Au Prince, Haiti to do some work with an organization called Engineers Without Borders (EWB). I had not spent any discernible amount of time in the third world before this trip and I was ready for a life changing experience. That is exactly what I got, although not in the way that I originally expected. I have a lot of thoughts and pictures and stories. I would like to share it here in a way that is more meaningful than just a stream of consciousness brain dump. I decided that the most appropriate way to do this is to post in installments. So here goes my first installment of the Haiti blog.
We arrive in Port Au Prince on Saturday, January 10th around noon. Representing the San Francisco chapter is Eric McDonnell - structural engineer, Kyle Carbert - civil engineer, and myself - electrical engineer. With us are two students from the University of Wisconsin student chapter; Eyleen Chou - mechanical engineer and Travis Lark - biomedical engineer. Our host for the week, Actionnel Fleurisma, is the community leader and preacher in the village we were going to be working in. He picks us up at the airport and we start the drive immediately to Bayonnais.
There doesn't seem to be many rules to the road. It looks like people generally try to stay to the right side, but there is nothing really governing this rule. No signs, no lines, sometimes there isn't even any clarity on where the borders of the road are. People pass on the left. And the right. And in the middle. Actionnel is on the horn for a significant portion of the drive. However, it's not a NYC horn honk. It's more of a "look out, i'm right here" kind of honk. Seems like the best way to alert people of your presence. There are lots of blind corners around these roads and not a lot of slowing down around them.
Every couple of miles you see a couple stands where people were selling snacks, automobile lubricants or bicycle parts. Unfortunately my camera is lost in a sea of bags in the back of the truck so I am not able to capture any of the sights.
As we get further outside Port Au Prince, the state of the roads deteriorate fast. There are huge ditches everywhere. Some parts are flooded. At one point, there is a large school bus stuck in a ditch spanning the entire width of the road. Actionnel, frustrated with the infrastructure of his country, exclaims that Haiti is a country without a head. It has a body, but no eyes to see and no ears to hear. There is evidence of this all around.
We go through the city of St Marc. There is livestock all over the place. I see goats, pigs, chickens and even cattle. There are huge unfinished buildings everywhere. I wonder who built them. I wonder why they never finished. I see transmission lines. Actionnel tells me that they are empty. No electrons. I wonder how does it happen. How do millions of dollars of infrastructure get built and then just abandoned. I understand that Haiti has enjoyed a significant amount of political unrest to say the least. I know that the level of corruption here is not minor. So all that said, and all this observed, what difference can a handful of idealistic American kids really make in a country without a head?
More to come...
Beware, as this game is highly addicting. I have also discovered that the continent of Africa is my Achilles' heal when it comes to world geography.
This year's announcement that Ford would be bringing the Fiesta to the US market has sparked my interest for yet another epic adventure.
Seriously, who better to deliver the new Fiesta to the United States than the foremost American experts on Fiestavus adventuring, the Bad Colonies Motoring Cooperative. I am sure you can envision it, the team reunited, following the path of their former adventure across Europe and Asia. Instead of stopping in Mongolia, we would just keep on cruising to Detroit, hand delivering a battle tested Fiesta to the public. In the process, stirring up a storm of viral marketing to launch the world's greatest wee vehicle.
Motor Trend is reporting that the next generation Ford Fiesta will be sold in the U.S. by late 2008, about a year after it's introduced in Europe. The new Ford Fiesta is based on the same platform as the Mazda2 that was officially introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March. We lamented at the time neither the Mazda or its Ford counterpart would ever be sold on U.S. shores, but apparently Ford had decided before the Geneva show that the Fiesta would be bound for the U.S.
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WASHINGTON — Two airborne planes _ one landing and the other taking off _ came within a half-mile of colliding at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday in the second such incident at the airport in a week, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The FAA moved quickly to change takeoff and landing procedures at JFK on perpendicular runways _ the kind of runways involved in both incidents.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said a Delta Flight 123 was arriving at the airport Friday when the pilot decided to abort his landing and execute a "go-around" _ a routine procedure often used during heavy congestion. That caused the Delta flight to intersect with the flight path of Comair Flight 1520, a regional jet that was taking off on another runway.
Words by S Nathaniel, photos by S Nathaniel and Mark Sullivan
How often do adventures present themselves to you? It is probably more often then we would all like to admit, we just don't always recognize the opportunity and act. This was a rare incident in recent times that I did.
The last time I rolled out of Vermont with a board bag in June I was heading to New Zealand. Seven years later, I hastily packed my bags and scurried out of Bristol with my eyes set on the still ample snow of Utah.
It took half a lifetime to get to Utah, but finally at around 1 am we dusted down. Mark picked me up at the airport and we headed to Technine Guru E-Stone's crib to consume many 3.2 "beers". Described in Snowboarder Mag below:
Wind power bigwig Seth Beck flew in from Vermont to ride this weekend after being super stoked on my posts from last week. After picking him up from the airport, we headed to E-Stone's macking SLC spread, putting a few beers back with E-Stone. Next thing we knew it was 4am and time to get some sleep.
I woke up feeling like I had drank real beer, though I knew I had not, blame it on the lack of sleep. After spending half the morning breaking into Mark's rocket box, we zipped up to Snowbird with crew in tow.
Conditions, ridiculous. It was 60 or something, warm but enjoyable, boatloads of snow and nearly clear skies. We were rolling with the pro shred Deadlung and were shown all the fun stuff straight away.
I was riding like particular crap which I blame on sucking not on lack of sleep or the 3.2 beer. Luckily for me, Mark was quick on the trigger and actually caught the mere second when my fingertips touched the board on the above AssPhish.
Not a whole lot else happened, well outside of riding full coverage on June 14th and hanging with Smoky. I was enthused.
We jetted a bit early and cruised back to Stone's for some poolaxing and sushi.
With a few more hours of rest and a few less "beers", we tackled the hill with vengeance and caffeine. To start the day, I felt really solid and light on my feet. Roast beef grabs for everyone. Well Roast beast grabs for me, nothing all that new.
When I put on a pair of snowboard boots, I automatically turn into a 12 year old dork. Luckily I am not the only one that "suffers" from such an aliment. Though I have never rode with Mark or Joe before, we clicked quickly and had a blast ripping around the mountain.
Apparently news of my domination of a certain double diamond made it all the way back to VT, where Jen smiled with pride. Having concluded the best June 15th ever, I hopped on my redeye back to VT. Slept some and then hopped on the 6 am flight the following day to Detroit. Now I am heading back to VT and then to Boston and then to VT and then to Detroit and then to NYC and then to Maine and then to Detroit and then to VT. Whew I sure am glad I took the adventure when it presented itself.
Earlier this week a friend invited me out to Utah for the closing weekend at Snowbird. On Thursday, I scored some tickets to SLC with points and the surprise adventure was under way. I will be riding tomorrow and Sunday and partying with the SLC snowboard crew. Photos and tales to come. Now back to this $7 warm Bud in JFK.
Ride hard, curve large - BECK
5. Dogfish Head Golden Shower Originally named Prescription Pills, the brewery was forced to change the name, lest someone think it was a pharmaceutical. Golden Shower saw one release before the government folks figured out what they'd approved. The beer is now known as Golden Era.
4. Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Pooh Coffee The coffee added to the beer is pooped out by a civet (a catlike mammal that loves coffee). A bit literal? Yes. But still funny.
3. McQuire's I'll Have What The Gentleman On The Floor Is Having Barley Wine The name is a subtle hint that at 12 percent alcohol by volume, this beer is meant to be sipped. If you can drink it faster than you can say it, slow down!
2. Avery Collaboration Not Litigation This beer typifies the spirit of the craft brewing community. Vinnie Cilurzo of Russia River Brewing and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing realized they both had beers named Salvation. Showing a selfish disregard for the financial health of America's lawyers, the two brewers decided that instead of suing each other, they'd team up to brew this bold beer.
1. Wasatch Polygamy Porter The slogan explains perfectly why this is the coolest beer name ever: "Why have just one?" I have big love for this beer's name.
All ten at tampabay.com
I certainly was not a screaming proponent of the torch protests, however I do recognize the situation in Tibet. I could go through the ins and outs of my feelings on the subject, but that would be borderline pointless. This on the other hand is a great article and I think you should read it.
Watching his daughter on a homemade ladder smoothing varnish over the red-and-yellow trim of their large new log house, Norbu Choden smiled with the satisfaction that even if there was no getting the Chinese out of Tibet, he'd finally figured out how to benefit from their decades-long occupation of his homeland. "Once you understand that they’re never going to help us," he said, "you realize that you have to make your own future."
Norbu made his by transforming himself from a herdsman to a middleman. Like many of the five million Tibetans living under China's flag, he'd spent nearly all of his 48 years in eastern Tibet driving shaggy yaks through alpine meadows, eating their meat and butter, living in a tent woven from their coarse black wool, barely getting by from one brutal winter to the next. Now he leaves the hard work to others, while he buys and sells for profit.
The middleman has a long and storied history among Chinese, but his vital economic role has largely eluded the grasp of Tibetans. Before Norbu's metamorphosis, he would look on with envy as Chinese from neighboring Sichuan Province arrived each spring, buying up a wrinkled little fungus that he and other nomads had dug from the ground in their spare time. The Chinese then sold the brown Cordyceps, known as caterpillar fungus, for huge profits to traditional medicine makers.
The full article at www.nationalgeographic.com