I've been living in Auckland, New Zealand for the past two months, continuing my work with THINK Global School. New developments at work have incorporated leisure time for employees to travel within the school term. I haven't had the opportunity to visit since February 2010, but thanks to the proximity, cost, and flexibility with work, that return to Nakavika is finally possible.Read More
Welcome to Day Four of my Carnival of Blogs, celebrating one year at Nomadderwhere.com!
For those of you who have followed my most recent adventures through the Fijian interior, you know I've been working hard, alongside my project partner Garrett, to self-start a humanitarian effort focused on health and education in the village of Nakavika. I'm happy to report the official launch of The Nakavika Project subdomain!
I invite you to click the image above and peruse this new venue for posting all things Nakavika and project-like. This includes:
Details about our three main objectives: Health, Education, and (our newest addition) Scholarship and how we hope to accomplish our goals remotely
View student profiles from Nakavika looking for school funding
Details on three ways to participate and support The Nakavika Project
Videos and written posts much like that found on Nomadderwhere.com
And more! ...of course, there's always more!
Why a Separate Website?
Nomadderwhere.com is becoming all sorts of things: a source of information on RTW traveling, traveling solo as a woman, World Traveler Internship how-tos and content, in addition to whatever step I take next in my traveling and work pursuits. Soon, people won't know where to look and what to do when they open up my website!
By slowly moving the project from my site to its own, the potential for its expansion is much greater and allows for those simply interested in TNP to weed out that material amidst the rest of my work. Maybe some day soon, we'll have an easier way to donate, a bigger support system online for future volunteers, guides on on-site volunteering and a store to purchase our informational DVDs we send to Nakavika.
In order for that to happen, we need support: readers, commentators, donors, inspiration, and people interested in donating their time and energy making this project better.
To subscribe or follow The Nakavika Project on its own, click on the following feeds to get access to posts and tweets. Simply following my feed and twitter may not fill you in on every notification for the project, so be sure you don't miss a thing!
Garrett and I thank you profusely for your support and encouragement with the project, as it certainly was a true test of our character, tenacity, and knowledge of world cultures and basic human rights. Right now, we're waiting for a response from the village spokesman about our future interests in the village (sent via snail mail) and putting together a scholarship request packet for hopeful students.
Today I'm flying home. I have no other quotes to share but these...not about travel but about education and ignorance.
If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. -Abraham Lincoln
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. -Albert Einstein
A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again. -Alexander Pope
To be ignorant of one's ignorance is the malady of the ignorant. -Amos Bronson Alcott
Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know. -Daniel J. Boorstin
An age is called Dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. -James Michener
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong. -Thomas Jefferson
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right. -Thomas Paine
Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. -Will Durant
Update on Nomadderwhere
I'm tired, and I've smelled like a bus station bench for over two months.
After months in a highland village, weeks recharging in village beach resorts, and days talking out issues with Fijians and like-minded thinkers, I'm ready to meet my family in Florida for a wee reunion before heading back to the snow of Indiana.
The project will involve a lot of work and a lot of explaining right here on good ol' Nomadderwhere before it can become anything. But we've got tenacity and don't take this project lightly.
Also, it is with sincere apologies that I report there will be no Video of the Week tomorrow, as internet time here is too expensive and I've been too busy doing absolute squat. But check out Alongside the Village to recap the experiences we've had thus far. And be prepared for the onslaught of good stuff come this Wednesday as I lay out the plan for Nakavika Project content. There's still OH-so much we haven't told you.
Wish me luck that this flight is somewhat smooth...and without snakes.
One more week before I head back to America, flying home on the 14th. Get this - I get to enjoy two Valentine's Days this year. Let's take one more look at some travel quotes (since I don't have time to check out my favorite travel blogs) before we bring an end to The Nakavika Project.
If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things. -Henry Miller
As a member of an escorted tour, you don't even have to know that the Matterhorn isn't a tuba. -Temple Fielding
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. -Augustine
Travel doesn't merely broaden the mind. It makes the mind. -Bruce Chatwin
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. -Caskie Stinnett
Travel is the ruin of all happiness! There's no looking at a building after seeing Italy. -Fanny Burney
There is nothing like a comfortable adventure to put people in a good humor. -Peter Mayle
Update on Nomadderwhere
So the fundraiser...we made $171.80 FJD (roughly $90 USD) by selling our donations to the villagers - clothes, purses, backpacks, balloons, rings - and then doubled this amount with our own project funds to use all the profits on supplies for the dispensary. We ended up sending nearly $400 FJD worth of Band-aids, anti-biotic ointment, and more supplies than I can remember. Vita, the dispensary manager and the village first-aid guru, received the box with her ever-present gratitude.
After two months of setting up a volunteer-based project up in the Highlands of Viti Levu, it has come to our attention that changes have to be made in our plan. I'm in the process of detailing the shifts in concept for a future posting. The project will continue on but in a different vehicle, rather than through volunteers. And in a month or so, a new subdomain will be created just for the Nakavika Project. Look forward to that, why dontcha!
Once again, I fall victim to the paucity of internet in the village. I don't know what people are writing about or what's going on in this world. It's kinda nice, I gotta say. I'm instead looking inward while on The Nakavika Project. Let's make like Janet Jackson and go deep in our thinking, facilitated by some travel quotes:
Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way. -Ralph Crawshaw
If you actually look like your passport photo, you aren't well enough to travel. -Sir Vivian Fuchs
They change their climate, not their soul, who rush across the sea. -Horace, Epistles
A traveler without observation is a bird without wings. -Saadi
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read. -Oscar Wilde
I like terra firma - the more firma, the less terra. -George S. Kaufman
Update on Nomadderwhere
Sunday evening we came down to town via Rivers Fiji truck for some much needed rest and internet work. The three of us (Jackie Knowles has joined the project...have I mentioned that?) promised the village we would create a video in honor of the funeral week and the passing of Elias. Thus far, the video is half-way finished and 30 minutes long. We still have a lot of work to do.
We're also in the process of developing written agreements with the village and with our 0n-site coordinator, Abel. Having our main points written on paper makes things much more official in Fiji but still doesn't save us from any future headaches. Making deals and having understandings has proved to be difficult thus far. We'll see how this project pans out. Although, as much trouble as we've had with all this, the reasons for us to be here have solidified even further. There's a reason why humanitarian projects aren't covering every inch of the communities that need them. It's not easy.
Returning on Wednesday to the village, we will be having an immediate meeting the headmaster, as he has returned from school break for the first week of classes. We're hoping to discuss the needs of the school, identify things in our power we could do to improve the school, and develop the project even further.
On Saturday, we are also having a fundraiser for the project, which will function much like a yard sale. Using donations both Jackie and I brought over from America, we will provide the village mothers a chance to peruse clothing, purses, backpacks and knick-knacks at a very low price (think a $.25 USD or less). Every mother will be allowed one item per child, and the profits of this fundraiser will go toward buying fever reducer for the village dispensary. The project will also double the final earnings in order to enable more medicine to get to those who need it. The idea behind selling our donations is about teaching the mothers to invest in their child's health, not just use what medicine is free and continue to give money to their children only for candy and billiard games. We'll see how this goes.
Sadly, I'm not able to read the blogs I regularly follow, thanks to a lack of internet in the village. Instead I'm looking inward while on The Nakavika Project. Join me in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. -James A. Michener
Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God. -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. -Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
If an ass goes traveling, he'll not come home a horse. -Thomas Fuller
When you come to a fork in the road, take it. -Yogi Berra
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. -Izaak Walton
Update on Nomadderwhere
Without a doubt, the most dramatic week in Nakavika yet...
A 45 year-old man died of a heart attack this week in the village, and the stress of the week has caused some interesting, some negative, some unexpected changes in the village. Updates will come very soon in the form of blog posts, as this weekly space isn't sufficient for telling the stories of these surreal and movie-like adventures.
The bottom line for this project: whatever program we create in Nakavika will certainly be an adventure for the strong and the tough-skinned. This is no trip to paradise. This is true work against the odds for the good.
Join us in learning an incredibly useful and global language…Fijian! Remember to roll your R's and note the difference in pronouncing C's and J's.Read More
I've got no clue what other bloggers are up to these days, nor the latest in news or developments in...well, nuthin'. But I'm instead looking inward while on The Nakavika Project, and I am inviting you to join in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast. -Ernest Hemingway
I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. -Robert Louis Stevenson
Travel is 90% anticipation and 10% recollection. -Edward Streeter
Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart. -Confucius
The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has comes to see. -G.K. Chesterton
There is a ghost that eats handkerchiefs; it keeps you company on all your travels. -Christian Morganstern
The more I see of other countries the more I love my own. -Madame De Stael
Update on Nomadderwhere
Welcome to the weekend update with Lindsay Clark, Garrett Russell and Tina Fey.
The chief of the Namosi province announced this week that all kava drinking must stop by 10pm, in order to improve province health, productivity and family time. Noble plan, chief…I'm on board. However, when no one seems to have watches, it's going to be hard to gauge the cut-off, especially when there's no one in the village interested in ratting people out. Noble plan…ain't gonna happen.
Garrett and I found out this week there is a village "nurse" - someone with basic aid training and a government funded dispensary. She happens to be the coolest women we've met thus far up here, and we've given her all of our medical resources in order to train children and adults to find her for first aid. Throughout this experience, we've expressed the interest in finding Garrett a protege to carry on with first aid help in the village. We found it mildly funny, and a wee bit annoying, we never knew she existed until now. The project's potential has just tripled in the health department.
The Nakavika Project is gaining momentum as many talks have occurred between the village and ourselves. It looks as if, after proper introduction and explanation of the whole concept to the elders, we'll be all set for having our own volunteer program in the highlands. Details are fairly squared away, and a website is in the works. Abel will be our point man in the village and the main coordinator of all things NP locally.
Speaking of the NP, our team is not just two but three! Jackie Knowles has joined the project and is currently enjoying day three up in the village. She will be staying with Vita, the village nurse and our new best friend, along with her very smart and adorable children. They also have a cat I earned the privilege of naming "Lady Snugs" after a long petting session where I gained a friend and also determined the gender of this previously androgynous cat. Don't read that last sentence with a dirty mind…sicko.
We experienced our first fundraiser in the village this week, one dedicated to collecting funds for a village lady headed for teacher's college. The evening involved dancing, kava, Akon, island rhythms, and most likely a little fire rum. Details are to come.
What's going on in the world? I haven't the slightest, but I'm instead looking inward while on The Nakavika Project, and I am inviting you to join in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
Twenty years from now you will be mor disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain
The heaviest baggage for a traveler is an empty purse. -English Proverb
Travelers never think that they are foreigners. -Mason Cooley
The Promised Land always lies on the other side of the wilderness. -Havelock Ellis
He who never leaves his country is full of prejudices. -Carlo Goldoni
I have found that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. -Mark Twain
Update on Nomadderwhere
After a very appreciated vacation to Rakiraki and Pacific Harbor, Garrett and I came back to the village in full force, prepared with more resources (adult and children's books, supplies for managing money, instructional tools, sharpeners, etc.). We're making the following changes to our schedules and classes:
Creating weekly schedules for ourselves to feel and be more productive in work as well as cover more ground in our cultural pursuits
Establishing a set time for children's classes every weekday to keep from the kids lingering around all day long
Create and publicize two weekly seminars for the youth members and adults that will cover various topics of their interest (see The Itinerary for details)
Incorporate reading time after classes with the kids, which will include reading to groups of kids and asking questions and promoting individual reading if they're curious
We also came back to the village before our host mother returned from her trip home (Savusavu). I was appointed the woman of the house and had to clean and prepare food for ourselves. Garrett and I wanted to make American dishes with Fijian ingredients, such as:
Mashed cassava (with butter, salt and maybe a little cream?)
Vegetable soup (with beans and veggies)
Whole wheat tortillas with a bean and veggie mixture
Who knows what else...
We'll be back to the internet on the 14th of January! See you then!
You've heard the story. I don't got no internet up where I'm living. I'm instead looking inward while on The Nakavika Project, and I am inviting you to join in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
The sea that calls all things unto her calls me, and I must embark. -Kahlil Gibran
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Confucius
It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. -Ursula K. Le Guin
A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it. -George Moore
Bless not only the road but the bumps on the road. They are all part of higher journey. -Julia Cameron
A good traveler has to fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. -Lao-Tzu
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindness. -author unknown
Update on Nomadderwhere
First things first. Check out the second issue of the Nomadderwhere Newsletter, which features sneak peaks at future written posts, travel recommendations, developments with the site and more.
Free wireless internet. Ocean views from our $13 per night clean dorm room. $2 beers and free snorkeling. 88°F and sunny with a breeze that does its job to cool our steamy bodies. World-class scuba diving a couple meters off shore. Independence, protein and the termination of our farmer's tans. Oh sweet life.
We needed a break from the village, not just emotionally or mentally but physically. Both Garrett and I have contracted minor gastro-intestional issues due to either the diet change or bacteria in the highland water. It's possible the hurricane we braved a couple weeks ago made the water source a little questionable. The river water was possibly septic, and the force of the river knocked out the village's water pipes.
While we hit up the beach this week, we're in the process of revamping our project objectives and creating more structure to our daily programs. Now that we know what works, what doesn't, what's needed and what the village people relate to, we can allocate our funds in the right direction and be more productive and valuable to the village. We'll return this week in full force.
If you've got a moment, I created 3 quick questions to find out how to best offer and create value to those of you following Nomadderwhere. I want to know why you keep coming back and what you hope to see in the future. Thanks for your help!
I don't know what's going on in the world, thanks to the paucity of such luxuries as internet or power. Instead of checking out the world hum, I'm looking inward while up here in the Fijian highlands on The Nakavika Project. Join me in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
I am one of those who never knows the direction of my journey until I have almost arrived. -Anna Louise Strong
Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey. -Babs Hoffman
Through travel I first became aware of the outside world. -Eudora Welty
The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist. -Russell Baker
My favorite thing is to go where I have never gone. -Diane Arbus
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. -Lao-Tzu
Update on Nomadderwhere
Oh boy. This week has been interesting - our third up in the village and one that has presented its share of cultural obstacles. We're feeling a smidge "nickel-and-dimed" by our hosts, but the main factor that contributes to our frustration comes from the lack of planning and informing. We are left out of many discussions that involve us, but we're getting our thoughts and points across slowly but surely.
This week, we celebrated Christmas in the village - the first white people ("kaivalangi") to do so in the village. Now we are on our way to somewhere touristy, beautiful and relaxing for a week or so.
When we return, we'll be revamping the project to accommodate all the new developments and needs of Nakavika's youth. It will be a real defining moment for us when we get back in January. Also, we plan on implementing these new goals and following them up with a discussion with the village adults to see if this thing could be sustainable and up for another year! We'll keep you up to speed on the progress of the NP!
Maybe some day, villages in the highlands of Fiji will have internet cafes and ...wide spread power outlets. But today, this isn't the case; there fore it's a bit difficult to keep up with what's going these days. I'm looking inward while up here in the Fijian highlands on The Nakavika Project. Join me in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
The world is a country which nobody ever yet knew by description; one must travel through it one's self to be acquainted with it. -Lord Chesterfield
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. -Lao-Tzu
A knowledge of the path cannot be substituted for putting one foot in front of the other. -M.C. Richards
I sought trains; I found passengers. -Paul Theroux
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we would find it not. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Update on Nomadderwhere
The Nakavika Project is still trucking along, and not only are the children expressing interest in our services, but the youth of the community have started coming over after dinner to review the spelling of their English and expand their vocabularies. They are a hilarious bunch and make it easy to stand in front of people much older and wiser in an attempt to teach.
They've also asked Garrett about how to deal with first aid issues. These boys are rough, and the way they treat their injuries from rugby would make you cringe. Not only are we teaching them about first aid, but we're also learning about Fijian medicine and what they already use in the village (I have already experienced the benefits of Fijian medicine when I cut my hand on bamboo last week).
Garrett is going to participate in a volleyball tournament which is taking place in Nakavika this week, and afterward there will be a dance. The funds for the whole event will go toward acquiring internet in the primary school. We're definitely going to dive into that project and see what we can do to help.
Thanks to a lack of reliable power or internet connection, it's difficult to keep up with what's going these days. I'm looking inward while up here in the Fijian highlands on The Nakavika Project. Join me in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Make voyages! Attempt them...there's nothing else. -Tennessee Williams
The road recedes as the traveler advances, leaving a continuous presence. -Richard Le Gallienne
Travel should be no occasional fling, but a normal and frequent, integral part of one's life. -Arthur Frommer
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust
Update on Nomadderwhere
I made it to the internet this week! Sitting here in Suva, I am realizing my senses have been either heightened/sharpened from village life. The rancid smells of city life are hitting me quite hard today.
What has happened thus far?
After some wee immigration issues with getting an extension for a volunteer visa, we visited Lautoka to see our contact, Kimbo, and then took the bus along the Queen's Road toward Suva. Fluttering our eyelashes a bit got us dropped off at Namosi Junction, which is a gravel road inland that only carriers and some trucks venture up. We waited for a carrier for three hours before hopping into a packed village truck (where I sat on the floor and Garrett mounted a propane tank). Eventually we made it to the highland police post, where we caught a ride with the police into Nakavika.
Our arrival was greeted by about twenty members of the village along with a scattering of kids. We drank kava and laughed and reminisced about the last time I was in Fiji. We asked for permission to stay in the village, and the spokesman agreed to meet us the following day to hear our plans.
Garrett and I are living with the hosts from my previous trip, and we each have our own room, which is incredibly nice and hospitable of them. We've started weekday classes with the kids, which are going extremely well. The kids hang out around our house all day waiting for "class" to begin.
Next week is all about hand washing, and we'll be turning this rather mundane habit into a fun activity with racing games. More to come next week!
Since I no longer have reliable power or internet connection, it's difficult to keep up with what's going these days. I'll be looking much more inward, I 'spose, while up in the Fijian highlands on The Nakavika Project. Join me in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. -Hilaire Belloc
The use of traveling is to regulate the imagination by reality... -Samuel Johnson
Travel is the frivolous part of serious lives, and the serious part of frivolous ones. -Anne Sophie Swetchine
The place you have left forever is always there for you to see whenever you shut your eyes. -Jan Myrdal
The thing I do most is look at maps. I study them. If I'm going to a place, I get all the maps and look at them. There's a lot of information on a map. -Paul Theroux
Direct your eye right inward, and you'll find A thousand regions in your mind Yet undiscovered… -Henry David Thoreau
Update on Nomadderwhere
We're in Fiji! Garrett and I have made it to the village safely and are living the dream, getting settled and getting the conversations flowing.
Unfortunately, that's about as much details as I can deliver at this point, but be sure to keep checking for new posts with photos, videos or updates on the project! If you have any questions about what we're doing up there, check out the NP page or post a question below!
Are you interested in following The Nakavika Project in Fiji? Surely you're dying to know how two grads with no money and a bit of skill will tackle their own self-created humanitarian effort in the Fijian highlands. Surely you're a sucker for beautiful and engaging videos, touching pictures and articulate prose. And surely you've got a few minutes per week to check up on our project and offer us a little moral support. I'm so tempted to do a surely/Shirley joke right about now, but I'll refrain because I'm in the midst of trying to pull you into my world.Read More
Soak it in, boys and girls. This is the last dose for a while! This week's good news...
World Air Traffic in 24 Hours
Really Going Rogue
Numbers 15 and 31 on my Life List mention an inexplicable draw towards countries not easily accessible to foreigners (or just Americans). Well, maybe not so inexplicable...
Pakistan = mountains
Afghanistan = rural landscapes
Cuba = culture and salsa
Digging into the archives a bit, I found Chris Guillebeau's How to Travel to Rogue States, which of course got me salivating for Cuba again. Who knows when my next new country will be blazed and if it could be one of these massive non-trail destinations. Any plans for a trip like this in your future?
When To Put The Camera Away
I've been checking out the Acumen Fund this week and found a compelling blurb on travel and documentation called When To Put The Camera Away. Marc Manara makes a comment on our intentions for taking photographs and how they come off to the subject of the moment.
Though the desire to snap a telling shot of reality may seem harmless for the sake of your own memories or appear a good move for the sake of informing others of what you've seen...you may be bruising someone's dignity or making them feel like a mystery species on a game drive.
There are times when I truly wish I could have secretly snapped the photo, but I also think that frequent inner turmoil - when these opportunities present themselves - has a lot of truth and validity. I think spending more time with the people/potential subject matter of the photograph(s) helps smooth over many of the worries one has with taking vulnerable photographs of others.
I get upset when people stare at me, and I get especially testy when people photograph me without my consent (e.g. in Doha, Qatar). I definitely don't want to make others feel the same way, especially when there could appear to be a socio-economic difference and a stress on personal dignity.
Travel and Hate
What has often been a companion of my culture shock is something akin to hatred, an ugly emotion that has the ability to take hold of my soul even against protest. I've come home angry at many things, and though it's not the way I actively choose to be, Joel Carrilet gives me a little comfort in knowing it's not just a massive character flaw. It happens with due cause.
Travel frequently introduces us to beauty, but it shows us other things too. As we lay eyes on situations and listen to voices in places we previously knew little about, our love for the world and its people will deepen. The flipside of this, however, is that our hatred—of attitudes, ideologies, and policies that take advantage of others and harm—will also deepen. For if we love with all our might, we will also be bound to hate some things with all our might.
Read Joel's article on How Travel Teaches Us To Hate, and let me know if you find travel's combined effects of love and hate in yourself.
Chris Guillebeau's new site for Unconventional Guides
Rolf Potts' interview with new writer and former English teacher in the Marshall Islands
Join in the conversation about Women Hitchhikers over at Vagablogging
Don't forget to have quiet time on the road
Update on Nomadderwhere
In the coming months, I'm going to be a bad consumer. This will be the last weekly Consume & Update as you've know it until I return to reliable internet coverage, constant electricity and a life not centered in a remote village. However, I will still attempt to keep updates coming on a weekly basis or as often as I can.
The last steps in preparation:
1. Buy mosquito net: check. All supplies in bag: also check. Empty the piggy bank and cash in for dough: oh geez check. The village knows we're coming, and we have two days until departure! Nothing left to do but document every step and meet Garrett at LAX! Our sponsors are stacking up and sending their contributions. We're so grateful for all the people finding this project relevant.
2. I threw a Michael Jackson Dance Party in my basement to fundraise for the project. It involved Dirty Diana martinis, trivia and prizes, black and white food and a chronological ordered playlist with every great hit by MJ ever created. I also dressed up as MJ throughout the decades: the Jackson 5 era, the Bad/Thriller era...yeah, I get carried away. I'll let you know how the event went and how much was raised at a later date.
3. BJB Challenge: Remember this? I wanted to write 20,000 words in my narrative on the Big Journey. This challenge began a month ago, before I had booked the tickets for Fiji. Needless to say I was preoccupied this month to keep up with my own, self-imposed deadline for writing. It was sad, as I continue to grow away from these experiences from 2008. But among other things in Fiji, I hope to find time to write about this experience in the detail it deserves. I'll be a word machine before you know it.
Ahh, back from Chicago and back to my armchair office. And here are the interesting tidbits for this week!
Being a Good Global Citizen
Brave New Traveler brought my attention to a website this week that barks right up the tree I'm climbing these days. Project Explorer makes free educational videos for school children as a non-for-profit organization, and a dialogue they've opened up to the world is on the topic of "global citizenship" and what it means to people everywhere.
Here are some of the well-known participants in this conversation I thought you'd find interesting.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu discusses how we can only be human together...
Andrew Zimmern refrains from chomping on scorpions and large intestines to talk about being a global citizen...
Russell Simmons talks about giving as a part of your job on this earth to be a global citizen...
Anthony Bourdain shares his thoughts on how travel can change your perspective...
The artist culture is returning to my old Florentine neighborhood: Oltrarno
Next week is Geography Awareness Week!
Update on Nomadderwhere
I've got a lot of things to cover, I tell you what!
1. I returned from my six day trip to Chicago and am thoroughly pleased with what I accomplished. My activities ranged from touristy to local favorite to rare and offbeat. I saw friends and family and ate great food. Chicago is a comfortable and dynamic city, and you can expect a few blogs and videos to come in the next couple weeks.
2. My writing challenge is off to a predictably slow start, especially since I wasn't at home this week and the Nakavika Project is just launching (and taking up all my time). I'm still on for the November 30th deadline of 20,000 additional words to my manuscript. Is anyone else pushing themselves on a challenge this month?
3. Many of you have been click on the Nakavika Project page above and presumably found disappointment in its password-protected status. These pages will soon be public as soon as plans are finalized with my travel partner. This should occur this following week, so stay tuned for the launch date of the NP!
4. I am giving a small talk at the Honeywell Center in Wabash, Indiana on Tuesday (the 17th), which will focus on some of my better travel photos and the stories behind capturing them. If you're in the area, come check out the Clark Gallery Photo Show going on right now, and then stick around on Tuesday for the reception! I'm flattered they wanted me to talk, as I am far from even pretending to be professional, but I hope to give them something to think about. The coolest part about all this is that the gallery is named after my late grandfather.
Spiders with glowing orange backs crawling inches from my nose, building forts across the rock ledge where I sprawled to overlook a 30-foot waterfall. A canopy of greens I'd never see at home shading from a sun that could surely turn me crispy. One rock thrown over the edge to crash dramatically on the mammoth boulder below. Swimming with new friends and little children from a remote Fijian village. Shivering and scaling up a stair-step waterfall where tropical meets ideal. And my friends and family were celebrating a wedding, one I was supposed to be standing in as a loyal maid to the main lady.
I could feel the world's size, the expanses of air between myself and the place I was expected to be. But a job made it possible and necessary for me to be living a dream in the South Pacific. This was June 6th, 2009.
Head of lead in the shadow of a monument honoring the Scottish hero, William Wallace. Having climbed a weaving trail, removing my jacket, putting it back on. Seeing the sprawling city below and angry for the discomfort of my mindset. Watching two Dutch boys throw a neon green frisbee around the corner of the tower.
Could have been a part of a classic scenario: waiting room of the maternity ward, wearing pink for the occasion, and being the token crier of the family when the baby is in sight. New country. Tapping into old roots. Could have loved the day I was living, but once again, it was the visceral knowledge that I should be elsewhere for that moment in time.
However minute or gigantic the moment is, I like to be there, but instead it was August 7th, 2009, and I was living out the World's Best Internship on our second to last leg. I saw my niece's face for the first time from a picture text viewed from the internet. The girls beside me were fully aware that I was crying hard there in the middle of the hostel lobby. I missed it.
As my dad would put it, the opportunity cost of this travel position could be measured in once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I've been anticipating for years and possibly decades. But not only did I have the chance to see what other people rarely get the chance to see, the entire summer was wrapped in a bow called "priceless opportunity" and "dream occupation". After months of work and hope, I received what would soon rip me away from life moments I've been living to look forward to. If I missed this position though, I would have been happy for those few days and depressed for the rest.
I could list the things that have enriched me and my life from this World Traveler Internship, but I think that list isn't realized and cannot ever be completely. In the last three years, I've been abroad for 13 months: 3.5 with Semester at Sea, 7 with my Big Journey, and 2.5 thanks to STA Travel. This is the first time I've missed a main event, but I've never cursed the ground I'm on, the plane that's taking me, the disease I've acquired, the money I've lost, or the waistband of this great globe for being so darn large.
For some reason unknown to me and my surrounding web, I've decided it's okay to miss the things that matter most in order to blaze literal and personal trails towards anything from failure to success. This travel path can sound illogical and like a waste, but when I realize the passions I've acquired and the maturity I've obtained, I fear where I would be without all those 50+ flights to global destinations and potential moments of learning. Learning that people are all the same, but some defy all presumptions and change your outlook towards mankind. Learning that the world can look as you dreamt and can also look like the neighborhood moral pool of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and every fool sans brain or heart. Learning that my mind truly trumps this body, and I can handle much more than I used to. Learning that I've got a massive knot in the noggin that needs continuous care for its eventual untangling.
It's always possible that I could learn while standing at the chapel in Selma, Alabama or in the waiting room of Community North Hospital, but it's a fast track elsewhere, when your support group is distant, and your mind is used to the new. And I always hope this travel "bug" will wriggle free from my weary soul, but that's certainly not the case for one afflicted as I am.
And to be honest, it doesn't matter where I am, I think about where I could be. Luckily tools are available to connect my present coordinates with every other one in the world, and this makes it easier to travel when time is precious. It's not often that people get an opportunity like this to see the world, and when they do, they shouldn't ever say no, regardless of reunions missed and babies unknown. There won't ever be a next time for any of these chances, but there's hope you will learn and grow faster and in time for whatever needs your passion.
Yes, people are wonderful all over the world, and we often forget how helpful and open those we meet in transit can be. But there’s something about the Fijian mindset and attitude that makes your heart long to weave fern mats for your home on stilts and play a muddy game of rugby with your village mates during a golden sunset.Read More
Our final day in the Fijian village had quite a build up. I must have answered the question "What day are you leaving Fiji and the village" about twenty times during my entire stay, unsure as to why they were so anxious to know my departure date. I believe they were just gearing themselves up for the big day when we say our goodbyes and experience one final jolt of the "True Fiji" culture. I took it fairly easy during the day with a writing session and a swim at the waterfall, and when lunchtime finished, I leaned to my side and suddenly passed out cold, as if I had really done any real labor that day. I awoke to a bunch of ladies weaving fern mats around me and giggling as little Pio, my host cousin, took photos of my groggy state.
During my waterfall adventure and delicious nap, my host parents constructed a lovo, or underground oven with firewood, stones to be heated, coconut shells holding various foods, and banana leaves to cover the entire situation. The grub finished with an aromatic uncovering in the dark of evening. Fane dressed me in one of her grand sulus and a flowery lei, and we all walked with food in hands to the party down the path at Chris' house.
A tablecloth stretched the length of the room on the floor, with plates scattered at intervals of various noodles, taro, and lovo goodies. We joined the men watching rugby on the TV (Chris' house was pretty set up) until Moji announced our turn to thank the village formally for the entire week.
"I just want to thank all of you for being a part of this experience. I want to thank my lei and my nau and my new friend and sister, Bui, for their hospitality. I had so much fun doing everything and nothing with you. From the kava sessions to just hanging out, it was incredibly fulfilling. I know you all just be aware of how lucky you are, to live amidst such a wonderful landscape and among such wonderful people. I have to make it back here, THIS YEAR!"
That was the gist of my announcement. Words of appreciation and love exchanged among everyone and clapping commenced after everyone's speeches. And then we went to business on the food for a couple hours.
With two dollars in my hand, I walked in the dark behind Fane to a private area in the village, an open air building where fundraising dances took place. As the pop/island music blasted into the quiet night, we shimmied our leis and sulus, kicking up the dusty soil into a fog. Chris would spontaneously whip out his Ace Ventura dance moves, while I would be challenged by the village ladies to ask multiple men to dance (using my new line "Au nakwati e koko daro danisi" or "I want you to dance with me"). Traveler Tom had moves that would stop Michael Jackson in his tracks, and the entire house was shaking with laughter and hilarity.
Most of the men sat on one side of the building drinking kava and occasionally looked to see what all the fuss was about on the dance floor. It resembled a middle school dance in a sense. My feet were the color of milk chocolate by the dance's end and my body limp from exhaustion. The next morning we would leave, and I couldn't have imagined a better way to bid it adieu...dancing to Akon.