It has been surreal to see the pictures of the devastation of Haiti. Normally when these disasters happen and circulate around the internet I don't feel much of a connection to them. This one is different to me.
I spent a few days there last year and really had an amazing experience. I knew that it was the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and was a bit scared to go. I thought it might be dangerous. My fears were unfounded... I felt safe there, even walking the unlit streets at night. No one so much as asked me for a dollar, which blew me away. The people were poor, but they were warm and generally seemed pretty happy. Everyone was so friendly to me, from the people that hosted me and suggested that I stay for a month or two, to the dancers at a random dance practice, who came up and invited me to see their show when it was ready.
Despite only being there for a couple days, I loved Haiti and felt a connection to it. I spent a bunch of time at an orphanage and a kids school, running around with the kids, playing with them, taking pictures and letting them see themselves on the screen, and letting them (try to) braid my hair.
It's one thing to hear a news report about a disaster, but it's another to see photos of buildings I saw just a few months ago that are now crumbled. I saw a photo of some survivors and one of the kids looks like one of the kids I met at the orphanage, although I'm not totally sure it's him. But what really struck me is not being able to get in touch with the people I stayed with there. They check their couchsurfing profiles every day, but they haven't logged in since the earthquake.
Hopefully they're okay, but with the high death and injury tolls, it's very likely that at least one of the very kind and generous people I met didn't make it.
I waffled on donating money, not because I don't want to help, but because it seems so insignificant. Really, I'd like to fly down there myself and do what I can. I donated a small amount of money, didn't feel any sort of satisfaction, and thought about what I could do to leverage what I have.
So here's what I've come up with: pre-order a signed copy of Life Nomadic in the next week and I'll donate 100% of the money I receive to the Haitian relief charity I think is best (I'll do research before donating).
Now, I'm not actually ready to release the book. It might be a few more weeks until it's ready. I was planning on waiting, but I figured this is worth jumping the gun on.
Order any time before midnight PST on January 20, and I'll donate the money to a Hatian relief charity. When the books are ready I will sign yours and mail it to you at my cost. If you want something specific in the inscription, put it in the comment section of the Paypal payment.
To buy the book, click the Buy Now button. Feel free to buy a bunch of copies and give them away, and send your friends here if you think they'd like the book. For more information on Life Nomadic, click here, but buy the book through the link on this page.
EDIT:US only, please. I will honor international orders before I added this, but the shipping is too much for me to cover if a lot of people order outside the US.
Also, to see some of the photos I took in Haiti last year, go here.
I bought a copy of your book, great way to help out Haiti. I am in Australia though, not sure how you're going to charge for shipping, but let me know.
Tynan, pokerstars and fulltilt are matching donations if people donate through them - it effectively doubles the donation.
I'd like to buy a copy of your book, but I live overseas (New Zealand).
I hope that your friends all turn out to be okay. I wish you the best man. And of course I've ordered my copy and I'm putting a link on my facebook to this page to try and get some more people to purchase it as well.
As you may have guessed from the title, I am no longer going to be doing Life Nomadic. I'm in the Dominican Republic now, and will leave as soon as I can find a decent ticket back to Austin. I might go to Haiti first, since I'm already over here, but I'm not sure yet.
There are a bunch of little reasons, but the biggest one is that I feel like it's time for me to settle down. Not completely, with a wife and kids and all that, but I'll at least be staying in one place for a few years. I miss having a house, a car, my own bed and furniture, and maybe most of all: a kitchen that I can keep stocked constantly.
People have been telling me for a while that I should develop some responsibility, and that's probably right. Doing whatever I want all the time is definitely fun, but at some point I have to ask where it will lead in the future. I love kids and know I'll have some eventually. If I keep traveling I may never be in a position to raise them properly.
My awareness is getting better. Last night, I'd been working in a restaurant near Sukhabatar Square until it closed at midnight. Walking home, I was about to pass through a group of three guys when suddenly this flash of danger kicked in. WarningWarningWarning!!!
I stopped, turned on my heel, and walked in a broad circle around them. One of the guys looked at me. I looked back briefly, but then kept moving.
I'm keeping an eye on these guys because they're kind of sort of in my way in the direction I'm going. I can circle around because I'm at the broad part of the walkway past Sukhabar, so there's two paths. But they're still near me.
As I'm watching, a random passerby walks through the three tough dudes. One of them grabs the passerby by the arm, and starts to try totally hold him. The passerby yells, shouts, shoves, pushes, shakes, and is able to get away and run off towards the night.
My awareness is getting better.