A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.
- Anonymous Chinese proverb.
This assumes we know public opinion, and have the capacity to care. I cannot relate to Twitter or Facebook, these sites assume, and thrive on the assumption we need the approval of the group. Their business model ask the question, do you like my face. I know real faces, and I like them.
I am 10-15 hours away from Port-au-Prince; I have been inundated with emails asking the question,
“Are you going back?”
My self-talk is annoying loud, for each time you ask, I ask myself 50 times. I just woke up, thinking to myself, drilling this question in my mind,
“Should I go back?”
Sosua, Dominican Republic --- Thursday, January 14, 2010
By Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com Travel Gear
I remember sitting in an internet café in Arbil, Iraq, I asked the same question, in a different time, and a different moment.
“Why should I go to Bagdad?”
I was getting weak, not sure of my motivations, in this time the internet was 10 times more personal. People were not jaded, they tried to help more, I ask my readers, and I received maybe 50 replies in one day.
One man from Spain said,
“Someone needs to go witness.”
This word witness made up my mind, I went to Baghdad and towards the end of the story, I was there, and did this…
This is one of the Travel Insiders buzzwords, a phrase that guidebooks use to endear their company to you, the readers to sell books. When they couple it up with the word Ecotourism, I get annoyed. I think to myself, if you want to be an Eco Tourist, then stay home. The whole reason for Eco-tourism was to offer an alternative to destructive behavior of locals.
Example: The local earns money as a guide, he can feed is family with this money, and does not need to eat a Hippo.
A great idea that has gone astray.
Responsible Travel is Personal
Invariably when a tour is formed, there is a hotel built, when a group is formed, it become more irresponsible than responsible.
Ahimsa applied to Haiti
Sanskrit: First do no harm, this is my guide, this is my decision making, but truly no decision is a yes, or a no, they are all maybe. There is the good balancing argument, can I make a difference that will help more people, than the percentage I harm.
Ahimsa on Wikipedia.org
Serenity Prayer Fails Me
“God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference. “
I think I should try to save life, even when I should accept it is not possible.
We Can Save the World
Travel destroys illusions; there is an Americanism, the delusional belief that the United States of the America can change the world. Right now, in the USA, there is a person who wants to go help the Haitian people. Somehow, this lone person believes an American can do the work better than a Haitian can. This is good intentions, however, I am a Professional Traveler, and I know what I am capable of doing in Haiti.
“I can lift rocks.”
That would be my highest and best use for Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com after I arrived in Port-au-Prince. However, the truth is, I would need some Haitian person to help me; I would be a burden to the system, one more body in country full of people with nothing to do.
I could Guide Doctors into Haiti
A doctor does not need to speak Creole to do his or her job. It is possible for me to help people enter Haiti very quickly, but time is burning, we have less than 24 hours, maybe 48, the problem is going to find a solution. The people will die; time will demand this to happen.
Contrary to many opinions, I know myself. I do not want controversy; I kill many a comment on the Travel Journal that is too controversial. Controversy makes money, it sells, it by nature is gossip, look at Michael Moore, he has never done anything, and he makes his living by talking about people who do something.
I am controversial because I am honest, honesty is controversial, lies make sense.
Therefore, can I do something in Haiti, even if I wait a week, then return, it would only be giving you a voyeuristic moment. Trust me, I will not go searching for dead people to photograph, I do not want you to see this. I do not take the worst photos, you are my friends, and you do not need to know too clearly.
I want to know if she will smile again as she fills buckets with water. I want to know if the little girl who lives next to me is alive, I want to know if Ronny is alive or dead. I want to know if real people, with real faces, that live my memories still exist. This is selfish; it is me wanting to relieve the pressure.
Giving Hope is Cruel
A responsible travel does not allow locals to have false hope. People appear to have good intentions; they want to be seen as good people. They raise money, they make jobs, and they pull the dreams, hopes, and jobs away when they leave. Saving a life is good; giving false home, with no follow through is cruel.
I do hope you realize, this is my diary, I am not sure what to do. This is a real, I have the ability to do anything I want, I am not afraid of Haiti. If you really read the above explanation of the 15 hours of travel time with a critical mind, you are truly closer than I am. It is all about money, do you have the money to go to Haiti. I know the majority of you feel more empowered than me; you do not have to travel as Hobo because you are richer. If this is true, you can fly to Port-au-Prince, or Santo Domingo easier than I can, I must do seat time. I would guess the rooms are going for 200-300 dollars; I would need to sleep in a tent. I would not take a room, these are for Doctors, and I am just a body.
Funnel Money to Real People
If I had enough money, I could funnel money directly to one family at a time, no intermediary, direct donations. What a horrible dilemma, can I give money to one person, and give temporary relief. The money they need to relocate to a new home.
Artic Para just got me on chat, saying
Artic Para: Are you ok?
ME: I am not so happy
ME: I know my unknown friends are dead
ME: face are dead
Artic Para: yes it's crap ain't it but don't you go getting survivor guilt my friend
ME: Survivors Guilt
Artic Para: as it is so shall it be
ME: I would suspect you understand this more than me
Artic Para: Maybe a little damaged, a former Vietnam Veteran, someone who gave for me, in my stead. Unable to live in the USA for many reasons, this is another story you do not want to understand up close and personal.
Jasmine and Greg from the orphanage helped Roadie, a malnutrition damaged child. I only needed to see the one starfish, by the name or Roadie to know, that was enough. There is a huge difference between the saving of one life, and the delusional ideas of taking one orphan of the street. Saving a life is good, it is a change made, I approve of saving dying babies, and I am not so excited about giving orphans hopeful homes, which may not be their forever.
--- She got me with the Starfish story…
I am American
Today, the USA sends American Soldiers to do good.
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
Because I am an American, Haiti is my battle, no more, no less, and never simple. I have Roadies face imprinted on mind; sometimes it sucks to be an American. Haiti Orphanage Photos
The people that surrounded all the faces I know, do not answer the phone. I test the phone numbers every hour or two, they do not answer.
Truly you should not debate what I will do --- you should be debating if you should be doing something, as a traveler, I will say, stay the course.
Charlie, I never mentioned them once, because I can only mention what I see. I did not talk about Voodou, it never entered my world. I do not search for a something to write about. This is reality, not story telling.
I was in Port-au-Prince living for three weeks on Rue Lamarre. I think time I met one girl who as White American. Patricia was there for 16 months and went anywhere, and everywhere. There were some Lebanon people who owned the grocery store close to the Palace.
I would suspect maybe there coule be 30-40,000 number of Haitian people, who naturalized to the USA and come back to visit.. I met a two of them, but no difference, except for the passport.
There is no way there was 40,000 people like me who stuck out in the crowd. I was one of the few white people in the country.
I can't imagine how heart wrenching it must be for you having just been in Haiti. Back in 1985 I left Mexico City 1 week before they had a 8.1 quake. It too was a devestating earthquake. It was days before I heard anything about my family or friends. I wanted to go back, but I had to realize there wasn't much I could have done. That said, that is what worked for me, you can only do what is best for you. My prayers to you and your friends. I hope all turns out ok.