Monday, December 27, 2010

Miami, FL - Monday 12/27

I nearly forgot to make my first blog post on my Haiti trip. I'm currently in the Miami International Airport camping out in front of the Ron Jon Surf Shop just people watching and working on stuff on my computer with the reliable and fast (but not free) internet. I will eventually work on getting some shut eye but with Kenny G and other instrumental artist's renditions of Christmas songs loudly blaring over the intercom AND the TSA announcements in both English and Spanish happening every 5 minutes AND a verbal reminder of what the local time is every 15 minutes AND bright florescent lights as far as the eye can see AND security officers whizzing by on their ridiculous Segways, it will be difficult for sure. Oh, AND I'm still getting over from a pretty wicked cold that left me all sorts of congested. I can't go very far without needing a kleenex or two or five. My descent into Miami made my right ear feel close to bursting with all of the congestion in my sinuses. I can at least hear out of my right ear now, but it still hurts and feels numb and heavy for some reason. Hopefully my flight into Port-au-Prince doesn't leave me as bent out of shape as this flight from Houston to Miami.

For the record, I really do enjoy traveling. Travel was one of the things Karen and I have made a priority in our budget. Even with the significant decrease in our incomes over the last year and a half, we still manage to stuff away about 5% of what we make into an account just for Travel. With that said, I really don't enjoy the traveling part of travel. Or maybe it was just today. Flying when you're sick and congested certainly makes things more difficult and uncomfortable. Oh, right, and I'm 6'4" so it's rare to find an airplane seat this side of Business Class that can comfortably transport anyone taller than 5'10". My knees, feet, and elbows are ALWAYS in someone's personal bubble. Yep, I'm the guy that inspires cringes from travelers who board the plane early and then have to move and rearrange things to accommodate this freak of nature. I'm talking to you 40-year-old-woman-with-her-nose-stuck-in-her-book. I saw the look you gave me. Maybe the part that doomed it from the beginning was when I was going through the security check in Kansas City. I had taken longer packing this morning than planned so everything was running 30 minutes late. We got to the airport and I was hungry so Karen insisted that we run by Starbucks to grab something for me to eat before my flight. My lovely wife of almost 3 years knows that her husband gets very cranky if he doesn't eat for extended periods of time, so, with less than 30 minutes until my scheduled departure, we got some food. We walked half-way through the terminal to Starbucks (we had a gift card so we HAD to go) where I knocked some things over on one of their displays and lost friends real quick, then we walked the other half back to my departure gate. I bought a yogurt parfait and a blueberry scone to enjoy on the plane. We had a loving family hug in a small corner, said our goodbyes, and I went into line to check in. I would have thought my huge bag of camera gear with the various lenses, accessories, laptop, and external hard drive would have caused a long delay at the x-ray machine but that went through without a hitch. The part that did cause a delay was my yogurt parfait. "This is not a solid," says the TSA agent with a cold robotic face, "You will have to surrender it in order to pass through the security check," he said handing me my yogurt parfait. Translation: "You get to throw away the yogurt parfait you just bought because that's what I've been trained to tell all of the unfortunate travelers who thought they could buy unreasonably priced food and take it on the plane with them." I mean seriously. Did I put C4 in my unsuspecting Starbucks yogurt parfait? No! That's absurd! Oh the world we live in. Anyways, enough with my rant about traveling. It's really not THAT bad and it comes with the territory. I could save my money and spend it on other things if it really bothers me that much. I will just be happy to have finally arrived in Haiti. I can't wait to get on the ground and start work on this project.

Here's a little bit about what I'm thinking the day before I arrive. What I do know is:
  • I will be in Haiti from 12/28-1/14.
  • I will be doing both still and video photography of Haitians making a difference.
  • I will be working with, and for, the Haitian people I have learned to love and respect.
  • I will be speaking Haitian Creole more than English.
  • I will be working with a handful of other photojournalists as part of the Nap Kenbe Project (
  • I will be warmer in Haiti than in Kansas. Seasonally the temperature is between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When I land in Port-au-Prince it's supposed to be 85!!!
  • I will be in Haiti to experience my first Haitian Independence Day (January 1st) and will be in Haiti for the anniversary of the earthquake that has so changed Haiti forever (January 12th).
There are several more unknowns in this trip though. I have no idea where in Haiti I will be except for the first and last days of my trip. I have no idea if Haiti will finally elect a new President. I have no idea how bad the cholera outbreak really is. I don't really have a clear idea of what groups or individuals I will be photographing. I don't really even know what the end product of the Nap Kenbe Project will look like. I know we are wanting to make a documentary and hopefully submit it to film festivals like the Sundance Film Festival, but I have no idea how that can or will happen. Hopefully the morning will answer at least a few of the unknowns.

I'm going to try to get some sleep now. Just imagine how difficult that can be with some guy Kenny G-in' it up on the intercom. If you don't know what that means, just watch this video from Mike Birbiglia. Skip to the 3:20 mark and watch at least until the 5:00 mark. If you want to hear the whole story it starts in Part 10. Please watch it. You will laugh and enjoy it. I promise!

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