12 July 2008


Yesterday I mentioned our beneficial hassle with our flight to Thailand. Here's that story.

We just missed our original flight from Bangkok to Phuket, but were just able to catch the next one half an hour later. As we sat down to catch our breath for a minute before boarding the plane, we noticed a gentleman across from us wearing a University of Wisconsin shirt. Heather struck up a conversation with the couple, asking if it was a bit cold this time of year there. Turns out Jim and Sandy were in Thailand visiting their son, Jesse, who had spent the year working there. We asked if they were staying in Phuket, or were going elsewhere--they said they were going to Ko Phi Phi. Us, too! What hotel? PP Casita. Us, too! The plane was open seating, so we sat across the aisle and kept getting to know each other. About ten minutes into the flight, Jim mentioned something about Cuba--Heather turned to me and said "switch" so I could be on the aisle. Jim and I talked about Cuba the rest of the hour long flight.

He goes with Pastors for Peace (their 2008 trip is nearing the end right now, by the way). Their "Friendshipment" starts all across America, gathering donations and people to make the trip, funneling down through Texas. They ship everything over to Havana from Mexico, then fly to Cuba for a week. Everything is above board--Jim even showed me the Cuba stamps in his passport. As an organization, they feel the Cuban embargo is unconstitutional and inhumane, and they actually welcome a challenge from the U.S. government, because they believe that if it ever goes to trial, the ban would be struck down. This year is the 19th Friendshipment: the government has backed down the previous eighteen times that Pastors for Peace have called their bluff.

If you were reading here about a year and a half ago, you know this is a big interest of mine. Over the next four days, Jim and I frequently talked about Cuba, as well as other issues. He told me that whenever Heather and I get back to the U.S., I should consider joining the trip, which I am certainly looking forward to. Heather and I enjoyed ending our round the world trip relaxing on the beach, but spending time with good people like Jim, Sandy and Jesse (who is now taking it day by day in LA after his year in Thailand), in addition to making a huge contact for a Cuban humanitarian relief effort was a very pleasant surprise.

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