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On Friday, I met Patrick, the President of a co-op here in Kigali, Rwanda that is involved in silk farming, fish farming and rabbit farming. What a story. Like many of Rwanda’s youth, Patrick is an orphan. After graduating high school, he didn’t have a lot of prospects. But thanks to some intensive training (from my client) in practical job capacities and business skills, Patrick is now a successful businessman.

This guy got started in silkworm farming. Then he went to Vietnam on a government scholarship, where he learned about tilapia farming and rabbit farming. When he got back, he started raising rabbits to sell, using their pellets in compost to produce more bugs and insects, which he then feeds the fish, and well… it’s just an ingenious system.

He and his co-op should be an inspiration to entrepreneurs around the world.

Working on initial translation sequences now, and loving every minute of it!


The Philippines is a country to which I hope to return soon. Not a lot of time here, and I only got to see the Mindanao region. What I did see was strikingly beautiful. Not just picturesque, but inspiring.

When you’re face-to-face with utter poverty and cruel brutality, and you witness human beings finding happiness and hope in the midst of it all, you can’t help but be humbled. These are people who are far stronger than I am, who have no time for cynicism, and who consistently teach me the meaning of civilization.

(And of course, the team on the ground here is top notch!) Suffice it to say, I’ll miss it here.

Next stops: Bangkok > Addis > Nairobi > Burundi > Kigali. Shooting youth programs in Rwanda. Can’t wait to get back to Africa!

Dear Siena Kaya,

Did you ever see a Jeep like this? In the Philippines, they call them “Jeepneys”.


A long time ago, after the Americans left a bunch of Jeeps in the Philippines, the local folks took them and made them into buses to take people to school and to work. They made them bigger and prettier. And I think they look really cool! 

Maybe one day you and Daddy can make our Jeep into a Jeepney. Mommy would love that!

I got Dominic a pretty cool bib in Tokyo. It says “JAPANESE MAN” on it. It’s about all I could afford in Tokyo, so I hope Dominic likes it.


If not, I’m sure we can find a use for it on our Jeepney!

I love you so much. Take care of your mommy! See you soon.

Flight from IAD to Tokyo was long. Not the longest I’ve done, but the longest in awhile. About 13 hours.

First, I offered my seat to the old Japanese lady sitting next to me. Well, to her sister who was 15 rows away. The lady didn’t understand how she and her sister got seated so far apart. I told her I once traveled to Honduras with my wife and daughter, and they tried to put us all in different sections of the plane. My daughter was about to turn 3, but Continental Airlines left it to us to work that little detail out. I don’t think the lady understood a word I said.

I switched seats with her sister and ended up in the bulkhead, which is the First Class of coach. At least is to me, at 6’4″. I even got a blanket from the first class section (way better than the bullshit “coach” blankets) after giving mine away and then realizing that the cabin would be running at 45 Farenheit.

Still trying to determine which religion one would subscribe to after such good fortune—if one were looking for a religion in a hurry. Karma seems obvious, so maybe Hinduism, Buddhism? Jesus preached about giving everything away. The Koran tells of those who fail to help the meek (in this case, the cold with the bullshit blankets.) Me, I was just sticking to Travel-light-eology.

In all, it was not a bad flight. I think JFK to Johannesburg took something like 23 hours, in 1998 hours. That’s the kind of flight where you have to get up, walk around, chat it up with the fellow miserati… I don’t know, start a business or something.

Off to the Philippines tomorrow. I’m shooting a series of videos for an international development organization that specializes in education. First in the Philippines, then to Rwanda, then Mali. And about 12 different countries in between throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Should be an interesting three weeks.

I think I’m all packed up. I’m sure I’ll forget something. At least the Mali visa is worked out.

Oh yeah, in case my wife has that baby boy before I get back, please don’t let her name him Thomas Jefferson!

Thanks and more to come from the road!

So I am leaving for the Philippines on Tuesday. After several flights and random jaunts/connects through the Middle East and N. Africa, I’m headed for Mali. Mali requires a visa. And since there’s not a lot of time now, even using expedition services, I decided to give the Malian embassy a call.

What the hell, I’m already in DC, right? Here’s more or less how it went:

Fax machine picks up, sounds annoyed.

Embassy: Hello?
Me: um… Hello?
Embassy: Yes?
Me: Is this “The Embassy”?
Embassy: Yes, it is.
Me: Great! I have a visa question. Can you connect me to the Consular’s Office?
Embassy: Yes. Hold on a minute.

*Series of automated connections, messages and beeps, finally resulting in the American-Malian Diplomatic Relations Machine giving up and hanging up on me.*

Embassy: Hello?
Me: Er… Hello?
Embassy: Yes?
Me: Is this “The Embassy”?
Embassy: Yes, it is.
Me: Great! I have a visa question. Can you connect me to the Consular’s Office?
Embassy: No. Can you call back later?
Me: Of course I can.

Embassy: Embassy of Mali
Me: Er… Hello?
Embassy: Yes?
Me: Hi, I have a visa question. Can you connect me to the Consular’s Office?
Embassy: Yes, hold please.
Consulat: Hello?
Me: Hi. I’m calling because I need to get a visa for Mali, but I won’t be coming in from the States. In fact, I’m leaving on Tuesday for the Philippines and…
Consulat: Excuse me!
Me: Yes?
Consulat: We are on our break. Can you call back in an hour?
Me: Of course I can.

Embassy: “Thank you for calling the Embassy of Mali. For English, press 1…”
Me: 1.
Embassy: “To speak to the Consular’s Office, press 3…”
Me: 3.
Consulat: “Hi, this is the Consulat, Mme. Suchandsuch. I’m not available so please leave me a message. Beep. Sorry, we can’t take messages. For English, press 1…”
Me: 1.
Embassy: “Hi, this is the Receptionist, M. Suchandsuch. I’m not available so please leave me a message. Beep. Sorry, we can’t take messages. For English, press 1…”

*Once again, the American-Malian Diplomatic Relations Machine gives up and hangs up on me before I have a chance to proceed.*

Embassy: Hello?
Me: Hello?
Embassy: Yes?
Me: Embassy?
Embassy: In the flesh.
Me: Great! I have a visa question. Can you connect me to the Consular’s Office?
Embassy: She has left for the day.
Me: Of course she has.

Embassy: Hello?
Me: Hi, Embassy.
Embassy: Yes?
Me: I still have this visa question. I’m going to be traveling from the Philippines, ultimately to Mali, and I need to arrange a visa in about 24 hours. Or if it’s possible in the airport… Will the Consular be coming back on Monday perhaps?
Embassy: She has left for the day, but she should be back Monday. You’re going to the Philippines?
Me: Yes.
Embassy: I’m from the Philippines.
Me: Of course you are.
Embassy: Why don’t you just come in Monday morning? They can do it for you right then.
Me: Of course they can.