QuixoticThe trip begins.

On the day of my flight out of the U.S., this Word of the Day from Merriam-Webster. I like it.

Month One of “War: The Afterparty” in Central America turned out to be an excellent test case. I learned my way around airbnb, mobile WordPress, traveling without a command of the local language, keeping to a $60/day budget and (the shortcomings of) my gear.  I also experienced the time-management balancing-act required in procuring, performing, transcribing and posting the interviews in real time.

I wrote my Dauphin, Dorian and Dead novel on my iPad 1 while traveling in Thailand, and loved the instant access and portability. On my month in Guatemala/ Nicaragua/ Panama, my 3 year old iPad 3 was a miserable solution. Two differences. One, as the device ages, it hangs on apps like WordPress, especially when trying to post images or video. And it has insufficient storage and battery life. So here is the new configuration:

11″ MacBook Air. 9 hours battery life. 128 GB.

iPhone 6. 9 hours battery life. 128 GB storage. Big improvement over 4s (my 5s suffered a drowning incident in my pool).

500GB USB external HD.

Sony 10,000 mAh Dual USB Travel Charger.

LOTS of extra plugs and cables.

Tapscam iM2 Channel Portable Digital Recorder. Snaps onto iPad or older iPhones.

Ancient iPhone (3?) that serves as, 1) Tapscam recording device, and 2) something to give an un-tech savvy mugger who demands an iPhone.

Also, shoes. My Ecco sneakers were insufficient for both long treks and formal interview meetings. So I got a great price on Eddie Bauer Departure Slip-Ons.

A bigger challenge was stuffing 3 continents worth of wardrobe into my backpack. How do you pack for Serbian winter, Middle East desert and Southeast Asia humidity? One solution: I took my oldest winter clothes to wear in Europe and I’ll just donate them somewhere upon arrival in Abu Dhabi.

Kickstarter ResultsThe Kickstarter campaign funded on the day of my flight to London. First, you don’t get the money until you reach the end of the campaign and fully fund (October 8, 100% of 62 pledges funded). Then, Kickstarter and Amazon Payments take two weeks to authorize release of the funds; a week later if any pledgers are late in fulfilling. Then, it takes up to 5 business days to hit your bank for withdrawal.

The itinerary is firming up.  Central America brought a treasure trove of interviews (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama). I am weighing how much time to spend transcribing and writing about the remaining meetings versus focusing on new interviews and material. Southeast Asia is locked in for January; Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have manageable visa policies. I started the project on my birthday, August 4, 50 years after the Gulf of Tonkin incident that launched the escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. I hope to finish the trip on a Vietnamese town on the Gulf on February 4th.

Serbia will be the focus for Europe, with exploration of the Belgrade NATO bombardment, Bosnia and Kosovo. I will be in Berlin for the 25th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, and will visit several other cities on the way for a look at the historic roots of communism, colonialism and the intersection of militarism and commerce.

Writing from the Imperial War Museum in London, I’m curious how a country comes to believe that it is an instrument of divine providence, is above the rules proscribed for other nations, and requires aggressive projection of its military power in every corner of the global to protect its vital interests.

 

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