Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Balloon Thief

I spent about four days in Pamplona during the summer I was in Europe. I traveled with Dwight (one of my best friends) and we arrived at the start of the Festival of San Fermin. Within about 3 minutes of being in Pamplona we had already given in and purchased the standard attire (which we wore for the rest of the week).

Here's Dwight

And me...

Our time there was part fascinating and part miserable since we had nowhere to sleep (for some reason we ended up sleeping on the ground near a river...and also northern Spain is the windiest place I have ever been) and nothing to do from 8:30 in the morning until 8:00 the next morning. So we did what we could to pass the time. This included wandering around town, looking for cheap food, and arguing with the police who had detained me and taken my camera the first day. However, our nights were filled with two joyous events.

The two things we did in the evenings were attend the nightly fireworks jubilee with throngs of white and red clad Spaniards -

and spend hours at the local fair.

One evening while we were at the fair, someone robbed the balloon vendor. Lucky for us, he didn't steal the vendors money, but his balloons. Few things are funnier than a huge crowd of people chasing some crazy bandit through a fair while the bandit has about 80 large balloons in his hands. We just stood about 50 yards away and watched the clouds of balloons race through the paths of the fair while people screamed and tried to run after him. I can't think of a more obvious thing to steal than helium balloons but the fearless attitude seemed to fit the zeitgeist (I learned that word in high school) of the whole place. In the end, he eventually ran out of sight and I'm not sure if he was ever captured, but I remember me and Dwight just looking at each other as if to make sure we had just seen the same thing. Only in Pamplona...

- Jeremiah

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Year with David Brooks

Some of you know David Brooks and for those of you that don't, let me just tell you that he is very unique. He has lived a life that really does span the globe (except for Central/South America and most of Africa...he has decided he probably wouldn't like those places as much) and in 2006, I spent 10 or 11 months working with him in Europe. He called me out of the blue this morning so I thought I would write in his honor (he's not dead or anything...it just got me thinking about that strange year).

David loves good stories...especially those that are slightly unbelievable or impressive. Thankfully, the 10 Commandments don't say 'Thou Shalt Not Try to Make Others Envious' or David and those that spend time with him could be accused of violating that one. For instance, here's a quick list of the things we did during that year -

- Went to the Olympics in Torino, Italy
- Went skiing in the Alps
- Stayed in the Monastery of St. Bernard in Switzerland
- Went to Cannes, France for the Cannes Film Festival
- Went to the Monaco Grand Prix and drove part of the track at night between races
- Went to Germany for the World Cup
- Ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain
- Spent countless evenings biking along rivers in Tuscany
- blah blah blah

Part 2 -

The above list is the one I would pull out if I was trying to impress people with some of the 'things' I have gotten to do in the last few years and the thing I have realized more and more is that they just wouldn't care. There probably isn't a person alive that knows we did all those things (at least until I press 'Publish Post') and for me that is the funny thing about so many life experiences. For the people that are with you when things happen, the memories are great but pretending like others are going to care is a huge mistake. Everyone out there has remarkable experiences and somehow that makes everything look alike.

So basically I have already gotten tired of the whole 'telling stories' thing because I still don't think they are all that interesting. I may try to post some random pictures with some short anecdotes but the whole thing just feels way too selfish. Thankfully there aren't as many people checking the blog since our trip has ended...if you are still checking, thanks. Since the story thing isn't too exciting, I may just start writing about the economy.

- Jeremiah

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I'm not going to post much over the weekend even when I'm trying to stick to a plan...

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Walk to Beautiful

Two nights ago Sarah and I watched a movie called 'A Walk to Beautiful'. It was about Ethiopia and it was an amazing story of the Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa and the young women who travel from around the country to be treated there. It was a heartbreaking movie (in a good way) it reminded me of the last time I was in Ethiopia.

Last January I traveled with Sarah to Ethiopia as she began her time there. Since I wasn't really supposed to accompany her on this trip, I immediately tried to find a way to get out of town and leave her to get settled. My plan was to travel south through Kenya and spend some time in Tanzania before returning two weeks later for my return flight. Unfortunately, the week before I arrived in Ethiopia, Kenya broke out into riots and 'civil unrest' over an election or something (I don't even remember) so that ruled out travel through Kenya by bus. This left me with no plans at all and I ended up traveling to the northern part of Ethiopia with a guy I met through Sarah's group.

(This is a shot looking over the Rift Valley and the Blue Nile on my way to Bahir Dar...it's hazy)

It took about 12 hours of driving to get to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana - the source of the Blue Nile -
where he and his wife had lived for a few years. I was there for nearly a week but there were two specific events that stood out...one was the day we spent with a local family 'celebrating' one of their holidays. In this case, a celebration really just meant that they ate slightly more food than usual and lucky for me, I got to share in that meal (I say that sarcastically because Ethiopian food actually makes me cringe...I'm not exaggerating when I say that the meat was so tough I would occasionally have to chew for more than 10 minutes before swallowing).

The most fascinating part of the day was sitting in a thatch hut for hours and hours. The interesting thing about spending your day in a little hut with people who think you're an alien is that it forces you to come to grips with the vast differences in our lives. They all lived in one-room mud huts with dirt floors. They wore the same clothes every single day. They ate the same food every single day. Their daily routine was the same every single day. And yet here I was showing up in their hut because I had just flown from America to Ethiopia just to try and impress a girl. It really was a powerful reminder of how big our world is and how blessed I have been with so many opportunities and physical blessings I always seem to forget about. That was a very grounding day for me.

(These next three are pictures of the kids that hung out with me in the hut all day)

The next day I accompanied the couple I was staying with to a woman's hospital in Bahir Dar. I have an aversion to all things medical (unlike the rest of my family) so when I didn't understand what was going on at this hospital initially, I pretended to know for fear that someone might actually try to explain it to me. It turns out that hospital where I spent the afternoon was an extension of the Fistula Hospital in Addis that Sarah and I watched the movie about this week. It was amazing how a few hours I spent over a year ago suddenly had far more meaning.

I guess the point of this story (without going on forever) is mainly that you should watch the movie 'A Walk to Beautiful' and be reminded about how easy our lives are, and also, that life is so crazy in the way random experiences often come full circle long after you have started to forget them. It really gives me hope that the Lord does have a purpose for all the odds and ends we experience.

P.S. The next day I saw some hippos.

- Jeremiah

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Telling Stories

One thing I have realized recently is that I do a very poor job of telling stories. I was reminded of this over the past week while in Costa Rica. Between time spent catching up with friends and Rehearsal Dinner stories, I thought more and more about this fact. I feel like I have gotten to be a part of some really incredible experiences in my life and I have decided to try and get better at story-telling.

So, for the next week I am going to try and write one story from my life each day. I'm not sure what the stories will be about, but they will probably be very self-centered and self-indulgent so please feel free to ignore them. I just don't do a good job sharing stories and experiences with others and this is my own way of trying to work on it. So we'll see how it goes...

- Jeremiah

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back in Birmingham...

We'll write more soon, but I just wanted to point out that we added our Twitter feed over on the right side of this blog. For those of you on Twitter, you can 'Follow' me if you want...my name is 'miahmiah'. It is basically a 'micro-blogging' platform that keeps up with what we are doing in 160 characters or less. Short and simple.

Oh yeah, and here is a picture from the wedding this weekend -

- Jeremiah

Monday, March 23, 2009


Sarah and I are in Alajuela (just outside of San Jose, the capital) for our last night in Costa Rica. We happen to be staying at a little bed and breakfast just a block away from the place Drew and I rented after the infamous wreck last time I was in Costa Rica (as I was typing that last sentence I looked down and noticed the rib that is still popped out of socket from the impact...guess I will have that as a reminder until I get fat enough for it to go away).

The trip has been great and it was such a blessing to be a part of the wedding and get to spend time with so many good people. The guys at A Bryan Photo shot the wedding so the pictures will certainly be amazing. Once I get better internet I will post some pictures and videos from the past week.

Also, I have decided to really commit to keeping up this blog despite the end of our travels coming in less than 24 hours (sad). While the subject matter may change a decent amount, there will still be something here to read so keep checking back if you like.

- Jeremiah (and Sarah...except that she just fell asleep reading a book and is taking no part in the writing of this blog entry)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Costa Rica...

We are headed to Central America in the morning and can't wait to spend a few days with good friends at the beach. We'll be back on Tuesday and plan to spend some time at Ikea (in Atlanta) before heading back to Birmingham.

Also, it looks like we may have the first RV rental scheduled and we are really excited about another couple getting to travel in the Mav for awhile. If you are interested in taking a road trip sometime this Spring or Summer, we'd still love to hear from you (ringaroundamerica@gmail.com).

That's all for now...

- Jeremiah and Sarah

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Manuel Antonio

As I mentioned earlier, Sarah and I are headed to Costa Rica on Wednesday for the wedding of my college roommate. One interesting thing about the wedding is that he chose to have it on the beach in Manuel Antonio...the same beach we decided to drive to after college. It took us about 10 weeks and 7,000 miles of driving and ended in a way we were hoping to avoid, but it was quite a trip nonetheless.

So, in honor of that journey, I decided to post some old pictures from that road trip (now almost four years ago) since I will be headed to that same spot in a couple days.

Along the road...this was a common sight.

Another shot on the road.

One of the huts we stayed at along the way...this one even had a garage.

Chichen Itza

Somewhere in Chiapas

Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Drew with Alejandro, a hitchhiker we picked up. Twice (one week and about 1,000 miles after picking him up the first time).

Tikal in Guatemala.

Tulum, near Cancun, about three hours before a hurricane hit the Yucatan.

A hut we lived in for about a week somewhere in Mexico (these are not in order at all).

The view from the top of a volcano in Guatemala looking over Lake Atitlan.

The sunset in Barra de Navidad. I've seen a lot of sunsets, but this place is the best.

And the unofficial end to our trip. We will be driving this same road on Wednesday, hopefully with more success.

Thanks for humoring me...I hadn't looked through those pictures in years.

- Jeremiah

Friday, March 13, 2009


We are back in Birmingham and trying to get settled in our little apartment. It is strange being off the road but also nice to have a bit more stability. For the first week in Birmingham we had to drive the Maverick around town since we didn't have a car yet. We finally got one on Monday and now have a little Prius to go with our motorhome. It's a great combination for people in their mid-20's...but we love them both.

It looks like we will be keeping the RV for at least this year so it is definitely up for rent if anyone is interested in taking a road trip in the near future. It looks like we will probably charge around $300/weekend and $500/week plus mileage and insurance. That should work out to about half of what any other rental companies charge and I think the Maverick is a lot nicer as well. And at least 25% of the cost will go to charity (we haven't figured out those specifics just yet) so that is another bonus over other rental places.

Anyways, life is good and we are headed to Costa Rica next week for the wedding of my good friend and ex-roommate, Drew Roberts. We will have more updates then...

Thanks for sticking around,
Jeremiah and Sarah

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

8,531 Miles Later...

Well, we made it back to Birmingham after 10 weeks on the road. Our time in Kentucky was wonderful and we headed South just as the snow was melting. The first few days have been spent unpacking the RV and working on our 'new' apartment. It feels good to be back, but it is very strange as well.

We have more film and videos that are on their way and we will still post those as soon as possible. I'm not sure if many (any) people are still checking this blog since we have kind of disappeared for the past couple weeks, but we haven't completed it just yet. Plus, we still have our trip to Costa Rica in two weeks and will have more from that adventure as well.

Also, I plan to post a bit about our current/future plans now that our travels have slowed down.

Thanks again for keeping up along the way (we actually had over 20,000 visits to the blog and website since the wedding...although it sounds like half of those were from my mom). It means a lot that many people cared what we were up to.

More soon...

- Jeremiah and Sarah