A note from a 20-year-old cocoa farmer to his parents

One of the most soul-shaking experiences I’ve ever had started with the note below. It was given to me by a 20-year-old Ghanaian cocoa worker working in Ivory Coast.

My mother and Father,

>I am sorry for not telling you before leaving. I am not missing. I will be back again. You don’t worry about me. This is Solomon. I am in Core d’ Ivoire.

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Open letter to people of the Tropics: Wear Shorts!

Dear People of the Tropics,

Why don’t you wear shorts?

You have nice legs. Maybe you don’t. Who cares? If you live in a county that hits 40-degrees Celsius, you should be wearing shorts. Not slacks. Not blue jeans. Not anything that covers your knees unless that’s a kilt or a dress and you’re going commando.

Got it?

For the past two weeks as I traveled through Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, I’ve bent to your predilection for pants (although I wasn’t able to bend all that far because my pants stuck to my sweaty legs). How do you stand it?

Men in the tropics often roll up the bottom of their shirts to air out their beer bellies, but God forbid you bare your knees.

Dan Savage of MTV’s Savage…

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How are you a glocal?

It has been a good week, but the last few days have been tough. I needed a pick-me-up and a reminder of why it is I do what I do. That pick-me-up came in an email from Dr. Cristian Lienick from Texas State University. Texas State is using WHERE AM I WEARING? as a common reader this fall. Here’s what he wrote:

Am I glocal? Yes, no – wait, maybe. I don’t know. I think so, partially. I am well-traveled within the continental United States, yet have only been to another country (Mexico) once, and that was on my honeymoon, which probably doesn’t count. I do not speak another language other than English, even after taking French in high school and Spanish in college. …

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Layover in Tatooine (Casablanca, Morocco)

So I’m a nerd.

I had a 12 hours layover in Casablanca, Morocco, and all I could think of the entire time was…

“I’m on Tatooine!” That’s the home of Luke Skywalker. If you don’t know who Luke Skywalker is you are totally hopeless.

I’m guessing there were less dead cows lying around on Tatooine. They probably got eaten up by sand worms or something. I counted four dead cows from the train between the airport and the city. None are featured in this video, but you’ll get the idea of the landscape.

If you ever have a long layover in Casablanca, here’s what I recommend. Get a room at the airport hotel. Leave your luggage. Grab the…

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Method to the Madness: How I Interview People

I thought I would start sharing a little bit about how I work. I’ve been collecting and sharing stories now for a decade from all over the world and have learned a few things along the way. I’m not saying that my methods are perfect, but they work for me.

The most important thing I do is not interview anyone.

Here’s the tools I use to do that – Moleskine, Bic pen, iPhone, Asus netbook, dropbox

My stories are usually people focused so I typically conduct multiple interviews with the characters lasting 15-90 minutes long. Quotes are really important to me. I’ve been misquoted many times and I hate it. Turns out that there’s these amazing things that actually capture word-for-word what people say called recorders. I use…

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Sex & Chocolate

Split a Hershey's bar with some cocoa farmers. #whereamieating

We ate chocolate and talked about AIDS.

I was surrounded by a group of young men who all work on the surrounding cocoa farms. I try to answer as many questions as I ask and they were asking me what diseases we had in the United States.

“Heart disease and diabetes and…” I named one eating related disease after the other. Diseases that chocolate plays a part in.

On the other hand all of the diseases they named involved a mosquito, “Malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever…”

There was one disease that our nations share…AIDS.

“How do you get AIDS?” I asked, curious to know how educated…

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The Things We Put in Our Mouths

One is faced with the biggest language challenge of all when one is handed something to eat. All or part of that something may or may not be edible. Whether that something is a bat…

Eating a bat

(One would think you wouldn’t eat bat tongue, but don’t tell that to Tom Neuhaus of Project Hope and Fairness.)

Or the insides of a cocoa pod…

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten while traveling?

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You Can Travel With ME, Thanks to the Village Experience

For years folks have been asking me if they can go with me on my adventures. Well, now you can.  And since no one wants me to plan their trip (trust me) I’ve teamed up with The Village Experience, which has organized and led such trips around the world.  If you’re interested in arranging a trip. Please contact Kelly Campbell at info@experiencethevillage.com. For more information keep reading…

Read the book? Inspired by the author? Excited to travel the world?

Take your common reading experience to another world by joining Kelsey Timmerman and The Village Experience on the adventure of a lifetime to one of four destinations featured in the book “Where am I Wearing – A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes.”

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