I just received an email from one of my old friends, Bill. He's a Lutheran Chaplain, and was in my first unit many years ago. We spent a lot of time in Somalia back in 92-93, and in many ways, he contributed to the love of independent travel that I have now.
He started a blog on Blogger last year, and somehow I missed it until now. It's called "The Accidental Christian" and deals primarily with spirituality and military service. He's a very wise man, and it's a well-written blog. I encourage you to go have a look.
A bit more of Bill and his influence, since this is primarily a travel blog .
While we were in Somalia, we had a lot of time where we were not decisively engaged in any operations, planning, or "Army stuff." So, we spent a lot of time chatting. He's fluent in French (got his Doctor of Theology from the University of Strasbourg), and having had a couple of years of high school French, we developed an ongoing story to kill time. It was a good refresher for my French skills (poor, at best), and revolved around me taking a trip through Quebec via bicycle. Along the way, I had many adventures, culminating in my having to extricate myself from a Canadian Cannibal family who threatened to eat me if I didn't marry their daughter. Interesting, to say the least.
Incidentally, after I got back from Somalia, I did take a trip up into Quebec, hitting Montreal, Quebec City, and all the way out to the mouth of the St. Lawrence to the Gaspe Peninsula. That was the first venture into traveling for the sake of the journey itself...just going wherever my whims took me. I did not, however, run into any cannibal families threatening me with consumption.
He also brought along a small propane stove and machinetta and would make espresso every morning that we would sip out of canteen cups while watching the bats try to bite our roommate Chris. We figured it was sort of karmic, since Chris would cut open MREs and take out the M&Ms. Eventually, one did bite him, on the big toe, and he had to get evacuated to Mogadishu. After a couple of days there, he worked his way back to Kismayu where we were, via the Mombassa, Kenya R&R spot. Every time I make espresso in my own machinetta, I think back to those days.
He is an accomplished musician, and not knowing how long we'd be deployed, both of us brought our guitars. Every Friday night, we'd have "Somali Nights," a sort of variety/talent show that whoever was around would come and participate in. We had jugglers, rappers, other guitarists, and comedians all emerge from the unit to showcase their talents and break the monotony of life there.
The picture posted above is when he and I went to the local Leper Colony to provide some entertainment for the kids that lived there. We spent an hour or so singing and hamming it up with the community, and, hopefully, made some desperate lives a little better for the time being.
All this to say go and have a look around his site. You won't be disappointed.
The link...The Accidental Christian