The last boat of the night arrived at 11pm. By 1:30am, we had given food and dry clothes to one hundred refugees. Families huddled together on plywood floors, under UN-issued blankets, finding their place among the feet and snores of strangers.
A baby was screaming. I negotiated steps around this uncomfortable geometry of limbs to offer a pacifier. I wanted to scream too, across the oceans to the Statue of Liberty: if not them, who are your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free?
Molyvos, Lesvos, Greece.
There is no end to the wet feet that arrive here. Tonight, I helped a tired, shivering, elderly Afghan woman take off soaking socks and shoes symptomatic of a raft too weak to contain one’s hopes and fears. She sat. I knelt at her feet. No words were exchanged. Just my calm, warm hands on her cold, weathered skin. But within me welled up an overwhelming sense of privilege to be the provider of refuge and not the refugee.
Molyvos, Lesvos, Greece.
Posted in Global Musings, Perspective
Tagged afghanistan, backpacker, iraq, love thy neighbor, refugee, refugee crisis, service, syria, unhcr, volunteer
I wrapped my head in a scarf and entered the Et’hem Bey Mosque. This sweet old man greeted me. He led me to the prayer room. He held up his hands as though taking a picture and motioned that I was welcome to do so. Later, on my way out, he encouraged me to take pictures of the paintings behind him. I motioned that I wanted a picture of him instead. And that made him smile.
Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time. And sometimes it’s only right because of where a stranger is at the same time. #astrangertookthispic #ihadnoidea
Tre Signori Via Ferrata, Monte Carasso, Switzerland.
I had heard about Nido de Aguilas, one of Santiago’s most elite prep schools. Last year, K-12 tuition was around $18K, in addition to a $10K enrollment fee. Such schools are known for their athletic facilities, so I planned the day’s running route to check them out. When I arrived, however, a sturdy gate and a guard to match barred my entry.
I crossed the street to an abandoned lot. Though just 50 yards from the lush green fields at Nido, the contrast could not have been greater. I assessed how I might run sprints around piles of trash. And then a kite rising out of the lot caught my attention. Or, more like the kids flying it.
We’re cousins, the younger one told me. He did all the talking. We live there, he said, pointing to the dilapidated houses overlooking the school.
Is that you’re school?, I asked, pointing to Nido.
No, that’s where the rich kids go, he replied.
And before I could ask another question, before I could find out how much more this child already knew about social class and economics and inequality, he asked me a question instead:
Do you want some of my snacks?
Today, I danced in the footsteps of Charles Darwin at the summit of Cerro La Campana. In August of 1834, Darwin rode a horse from Valparaiso (where he docked the HMS Beagle) to the base of this mountain. With a guide and a fresh horse, he made the steep climb to the summit. There, he remarked, one can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Andes in the same way one looks upon a map. And he was right! And that’s why I danced!
Cerro La Campana, Chile.
Your bike takes you places.
So why not reciprocate?
To get you rolling, here are ten tips I’ve tested on flights to six continents: