While living in Seattle I was doing a fair amount of photography for my friends. Odd jobs for engagements, weddings and head shots. My camera was always with me and I was posting a lot of photos on an old blog. During this time, I was lucky enough to connect with a few non-profits to do some photojournalism and branding with them. One of them being Schools for Salone. This non-profit has the absolute coolest team of ex-Peace Core workers who worked from as early as the 70’s to present day.
During the summer of 2010, I saved enough money to buy a plane ticket went to Bo, Sierra Leone to do photojournalism for one of their locally ran teachers workshops. I stayed in a two story building, went to the workshop every morning and walked to the internet cafe every afternoon to write and process photos. I loved it.
There are a handful of stories and letters I wrote home that I will publish in the next coming weeks. It was a transforming time for me personally as a writer and photographer, but really just my perspective on humanity. Before Sierra Leone I would like to think that I was worldly, but I wasn’t. All I knew about the world was from books and articles. My experience was limited and naive. Going to Sierra Leone launched me in a direction that I am still trying to navigate and gave me a purpose I am still trying to understand. It ultimately gave me a renewed appreciation for good education, good communication, good community and good journalism.
I’m hoping that the stories I share about this trip catalyze some sort of new thoughts for you. Stories are powerful.
Ask Good Questions- Knowing how to ask questions is good skill to learn. I learned the importance of asking good questions from having a friend who made good friends everywhere he went. Do you want to know the secret? He asked good questions. This is a good habit to make while traveling alone or at a new job. You never know when you might need to lean on the good will of a stranger and you can never have too many friends.
Try to be an animal person (or at least pretend) – Find at least one animal you could be roomies with. Animal people are always on top in life. They are happier and nicer. I’ve read somewhere that when a creature is dependent on a person for survival, it gives the human a sense of purpose which translates to your view of your self worth. So, having purpose is important, even if it is just because you have a goldfish.
Brush your teeth – This is a no brainer. Your teeth are important and dentist bills are expensive. My advice? Have more than one toothbrush stowed away in different places. Keep one in your car, purse and at home. I promise this is a good idea. You will always be prepared for any impromptu trips or a hot date. Say no to cavities and bad breath.
Follow through- Honestly, you look like a dick when you don’t finish things or don’t show up to commitments. If you truly cannot manage to keep your word, write a hand written apology that doesn’t seem like a drawled out excuse.
Bring Allergy pills when traveling – You never know what sort of foreign pollen will destabilize your entire trip. Just bring a few, just in case. You don’t want to spend all your time inside.
Read – When you don’t read your brain becomes lazy. Don’t be a lazy-brained person. By not reading, you are living life in the dark and short changing your brains potential to understand your surroundings. There are so many great minds who have have novels full of advice and entertainment. Go read.
Be a good guest- If you are invited to someones house for a meal, you either need to bring drinks or do the dishes—no exceptions.
Walk – Get outside and walk. I recommend a place that doesn’t have noise or traffic. Walking is good for the mind, heart and body. This I know for sure.
Be a funny friend for someone else in a tough situation- Every decent 90’s comedy has a funny best friend for a reason. The main character is bound to run a muck, fall into a pit of tears and need to be picked up again. The funny best friend is the savior. Be that friend. Being able to make someone laugh when they are down is probably better than giving them wads of cash (unless they are crying over loosing wads of cash). Be a good friend. Ask them good questions. Let them play with your dog. Give them your favorite book, allergy pills and a toothbrush. Or just make them laugh.
That’s it for now. Check back later for more! Like what you read? Read more!
Dublin Travel Guide Written for The Falcon News Paper
I visited Ireland over the weekend. And if there was any doubt, Dublin, the land of the green, the ginger, the Guinness, was well, awesome.
Last Thursday, my English friend Emma and I took an early morning train from the Lake District in Northern England to Manchester Airport. We boarded a RyanAir plane for a 30-minute flight to Ireland. It goes without saying that RyanAir is most likely one safety code violation away from being grounded, but regardless, it is a smart and cheap way to fly abroad. Just remember not to check luggage if you are looking to save money. While tickets are roughly 20 pounds, checking luggage is about 150 pounds.
After roughly 5 hours of traveling we reached Dublin at 10 AM; Emma was ready for tea; I was ready for happy hour. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for Emma, we were not able easily find our Hostel in the maze of unfamiliar cobblestone streets. We ended up chatting with some local Irish who funneled us right into the perfect pub, Kehoe’s. Kehoe’s is just off Graftons Street, next time you just so happen to be in Dublin and have a decent appetite–Kehoe’s is where you should go. It’s the place where the locals linger and has the best bacon and cabbage ever.
When both Emma and I were both finished eating, we managed to waddle down street and find our Hostel. For the weekend, we were staying at the Abigail’s Hostel, which resides right on the riverfront street and in the center of the city life. A perfect location for the walking tourist and poor college student—only 15 Euros a night, which translates to about 20 or so bucks. Abigail’s was not only clean and full of diverse travelers—ranging from young families to solo travelers—but provided you also with a continental breakfast and a fridge to store food in.
Anxious to explore the city, we dropped off our luggage grabbed a map and headed to the nearest bus stop. Being in Dublin for only a few days is probably one of the best tests of self-control. There is so much to do, see and drink that it’s hard to not completely run a muck.
When looking at the map of Dublin, there are historic sites, beer factories, bookstores, art festivals, bike tours, and more pubs than clovers. The best way to maneuver your way around this is to treat it like how I treat an Ice cream store—taste test everything until you get kicked out.
However, Emma wasn’t so keen on my “we have to see everything” attitude and talked me into making a list limited to 5 places for the long weekend.
This was our list and our take on them:
First, the Kilmainham Gaol: This is the oldest and largest unused jail in Europe. This place gives creepy a whole new meaning. Kilmainham Gaol played an important role in Irish history during the first part of the 20th century by housing and executing some of the greatest Irish revolutionaries such as Maud Gonne, Y.B. Yeats former lover. I highly recommend going on the tour (only 4 Euros for students) and learning more about its haunted history. I promise you that it completely surpasses “Current Day Haunts” on Discovery Channel. Currently it has been converted into a Museum and pub, the perfect combination for a thirsty-ghost enthusiast.
Second, the Dublin Castle: It’s about three times older than the United States and more regal than our very own bald eagle. Tours are a little spendy and depending on who your guide is, can actually be quite dry. But if you’ve never been in a castle before, this is worth trying to fit into your budget. The ornate decoration and grandeur rooms are breathtaking and incomparable to anything back home.
Third, Guinness Factory: Need I say more? I don’t think I do. Just do it.
Fourth, Secret of Kells: If you’re like me and get your ya-ya’s from Illuminated manuscripts check out The Book of Kells at Dublin’s Trinity University. It’s the first illuminated manuscript ever and way cooler than what Google Images makes it out to be. Congrats on finally beating England to the punch in something, Ireland.
Last, Pick a pub, Any pub: Now, if you are not interested in any of the previous recommendations you must at least wander the streets until you hear drinking songs loud enough from the inside of pubs that they echo down the streets. Then you must go into that pub and order a pint. My most memorable experience was walking into The Audlin Dubliner to live music and a sea of drunk Irish. It was 8 pm and we were just hoping to burn some time before we were to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s at a local theater, (yes, they do have little theaters playing classic favorites year round). But what we got was so much more than that.
We pushed our way to the bar, ordered a drink and watched the music and the chaos unfold. There was only one man with a guitar but everyone was singing. Every song was introduced as an ”Irish Song”, even though they definitely were singing”La Bamba” and “American Pie.”
Old Irish drinking songs were belted from beer filled bellies and as the sun went down, the lights dimmed and the space grew sparse. I don’t think I will ever find anywhere in America that will match Ireland’s standard of community. It truly was a like finding a four-leaf clover.