Thursday, May 28, 2009

A leap of faith

In the last four years since God has become a large part of my life, I've struggled to find what he/she/it means to me. Through different religions, beliefs, lack thereof beliefs, and media, the one thing that I can rest my hat on is the fact that God lives in everything and can't be confined to a building, book, or single group of people. Its up to one person to find out how God, their conscience, energy, sprits from the past, or whatever it may be, speaks to them and guides them through life. As for me, since my departure from running, it has been traveling. The reason for this is simple, while traveling, all I have with me is books, paper, pens, and a belief that I'll meet the right people who can show me the right the path. Its so easy to hear an ambient call when the muffling sounds of TV, the internet, and constant work, school, and other distractions aren't abundant. That muffled call was more like a megaphone during my three day trip in Haiti.

What makes traveling so fun is that the idea of expectations is ridiculous. Unless you have pre-booked all aspects of your trip, and have a printed out itinerary, it is is very unlikely anything will turn out as planned. For me, my expectations were nipped in the bud at the boarder crossing between the DR and Haiti in a town called Elias Pina. Though lonely planet speaks of a bus that goes from one country's capital to another, this is only through the southern most boarding crossing, not at Elias Pina. Thus, here is a step by step guide to a 3-day quick trip to Haiti. Step one, 100 peso (+/- $3) back of a moto ride to the boarder. Step 2, try and walk across the boarder all nonchalant, only to be taken into the immigration office and integrated in Spanish, when all you know is a few phrases between two travel partners. Step 3, after gaining access to the boarder crossing, negotiate a ride with a creole speaking boy on a moto who says he'll take you to the "stazione." Step 4, meet French speaking Haitian officials and then get to the "station" which is one painted school bus that is over packed and leads to a 5 1/2 hour ride down an unpaved road. Step 5, get dropped of in the ghetto, with no place to stay, and find a English speaking man who shows you the local bus system in Port Au Prince, Haiti's capital. Step 6, find a friend on the bus who leads you to a hotel, free of charge, because he said "People were looking at your pockets." Step 7, spend a day in the capital, warding off street hustlers and eating at a restaurant with friendly staff. Step 8, over pay a taxi driver, who gives you bad vibes already, to drop you off at the wrong regional bus. Step 9, get dropped of in a random town and find a moto driver who will take you to the next bus. Step 10, pay the moto driver about 700 gourdes ($17.50) to drive two people on the back of the moto to the boarder crossing over unpaved roads for an hour and half. Step 10, bribe Spanish-speaking immigration officers with charm, smiles, and PB & J's.

Though it sounds intense, which it was at parts, what made this trip so amazing was how easy everything worked out. When we arrived in Haiti and had no place to stay, the men at the currency exchange walked us five blocks to the local bus. When we found out at the major bus station that there was no bus to anywhere near our boarder crossing, the staff at our hotel showed us on a map where individually owned buses leave from. And finally, when are money-hungry, male sexual organ-faced taxi driver left us at a random bus stop, the driver of the bus, when we reached our destination, flagged down the moto driver who took us all the way to the boarder. What these experiences show is that if one is humble, gives up fate to the powers that be, and treats everyone kindly and with respect (even dick-faced taxi drivers), things will work out. Doors will open, rides will be found, people will be generous, and all that ends will end well.

I don't really know what I believe. I don't know which religion is closest to the truth, if there is one at all, and which prophets are real, but what I do know is that there is a higher-being who speaks to each person individually in a way that suits their needs. It's up to us to figure out the medium of communication used, and how to respond. When a person choses to do this, and figures out how to amplify that muffled voice, life's struggles will become a little easier, the dark path of the future will gain some light, and each action becomes a little more fruitful. All it takes is some silence, an introspective look, and a little faith.
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