Jonathan Keith Joseph
New York City
I am a doctor specializing in HIV and TB treatment expansion in poor countries. Last year, I was [leaving] rural Haiti. I had been working in a mountain village that was a six-hour ride on a mule from the closest accessible point to our jeep.
I had ridden to the village on a mule, but I am no horseman, and the mule threw me, kicked me, and bit me. Thus, I decided to walk on the return trip. I arrived at the jeep at about 9 a.m. with plenty of time to make the three-hour journey to Port-au-Prince to catch a 1 p.m. flight.
The jeep had several passengers. A small boy had to sit on my lap during the trip. About an hour into the trip, I felt something warm and wet and realized that the little boy had peed on my leg. The driver agreed to stop and let me change into the only other pair of pants I had.
Then, with about an hour left, the jeep got stuck in the mud. There was only one other adult male besides the driver and me, so I joined the other man in the back to try and push the jeep free. We freed the jeep after a few minutes, but not before I had mud splattered all over the front of my pants and shirt. I changed the shirt, but had to choose between the muddy pants and the peed-on pants. Some of the women decided that they could quickly clean the urine and hang the pants out the window of the jeep to dry. In the meantime, they gave me a pair of flowered shorts, clearly cut for a woman, to wear.
When we arrived at the airport it was already 12:45. The peed-on pants still smelled of urine, so I rushed into the airport in my high-cut, flowered women's shorts, T-shirt, and muddy dress shoes. In general, Haitians are conservative people, and I, looking like Richard Simmons, got a lot of stares as I boarded the plane. I covered my lower half with a blanket and settled in for the trip to New York.
About 30 minutes into the flight, they called for a doctor. I waited for a few seconds, hoping someone else would respond so that I wouldn't have to get up. I informed the flight attendant that I was a doctor and she, after looking at my shorts and then at me with some suspicion, escorted me to the patient, an older Haitian woman who saw my ensemble and regarded me with some fear. Theemergency was that she couldn't undo her seat belt, and this threwher into a bit of a panic. It was all exacerbated by the sight of me, a foreign doctor in tightfitting women's shorts with dress shoes and socks. It was just a misunderstanding because of alanguage barrier. It was cleared up very quickly by some Creole-speaking American staff.
When I got to New York, I had to explain things to a smirking customs officer, but otherwise had a quick cab ride to the comfort of my house and a change of clothes.
Infectious Disease Doctor, Partners In Health
2003 AAdvantage Miles: 55,994
Keith was born and raised in Harlem, New York, and attended Yale undergrad and Harvard medical school. So you would think he'd be used to freezing temperatures. But note the destinations Keith has chosen to do his life's work in: Lima, Haiti, the Dominican Republic. See a trend? Keith dreams of warm sun, blue water, and white-sand beaches. But in a pinch, a nice pool is all the relaxation he needs. Keith couldn't join us in Tucson because he's currently working at Columbia Presbyterian in New York as part of a fellowship. So we met him at the Millennium Hilton there, where over dinner he was a font of fascinating information about world-health issues, and the incredibly proud father of an eight-month-old son. Although he generally has more patients to see and work to do than he has hours in a day, when Keith found himself with a little downtime in Haiti, he entered our contest on a whim. Lucky us. Because his story is the perfect example of the rigors of being a Road Warrior.
Ihad a free day on a business trip to Seoul, so I decided to do a bit of sightseeing. Yoseu, a random town at the end of a train line, seemed as good a place as any to explore, so I bought a round-trip ticket.
The market was still crowded even though it was dusk by the time my train arrived. I stopped in front of what looked to be a restaurant. On the floor in front of the store were water-filled pails with things inside. I recognized squid in one, oysters in another, and clams in a third. There were three others: orange bulbous things with puckers, long brown things with puckers, and long smooth white things that half floated and half sank. I assumed they were all alive.
The woman who sat behind this menagerie looked up at me. I pointed to the orange things, pointed to the brown things, pointed at the tables inside of the store, and smiled.
She smiled back, got up, and walked into the restaurant. I followed her.
There were four long tables, all empty. I sat down at the far table. The woman brought three orange things and three brown things and proceeded to clean them. She set two bowls of water out in front of her: a green one and a white one. She cut open the orange things and put the orange insides in the green bowl, and the orange outsides in the white bowl. Then she cut open the brown things and put the brown outsides in the green bowl with the orange insides, and the brown insides in the white bowl with the orange outsides. I didn't have the foggiest idea which bowl was for eating and which was for throwing away.
After she was finished, she started cutting up the orange insides and the brown outsides. All I could think at this point was: Please cook this. Whatever you do, please cook this. Then I noticed that there wasn't a stove anywhere.
She put the orange and brown things on a plate and set it in front of me. Then she gave me a bowl of hot sauce, a bowl of kimchi, and a cup of cold tea.
I looked at my plate. I didn't even know what phylum the stuff came from.
She then presented something to me with a flourish and a big smile. It was a fork. Well, I had to take it. I really didn't want it, but she'd probably had this fork for years, it was probably her only one, and I was probably the first American brave enough to eat there. I couldn't spoil it for her.
I took the fork and stabbed a brown thing. She was watching me as I put it in my mouth. It was chewy, but it tasted pretty good. I tried an orange thing. It wasn't as good. I smiled at her. She smiled back and went outside.
She poked her head in from time to time. Once she brought a friend. She told her something in Korean. Probably something like: "Look at that. I gave him the orange insides and the brown outsides, and he doesn't even know the difference."
I just smiled. What else could I do?
Chief Technical Officer, Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.
2003 AAdvantage Miles: 119,886
Bruce listed his official title as CTO, but what he didn’t mention in his entry is that he is also a cryptographer, an author, one of the foremost experts on Internet security, and that his name is even mentioned in The Da Vinci Code. Most of his time is spent traveling the world speaking on security issues. In fact, when we called to inform him that he was a winner in our contest, we reached him on his cell in Norway.
But like all of this year’s Road Warriors, Bruce uses his travel to indulge in his other interests — like food. Bruce and his wife, Karen, even manage to find time to write restaurant reviews and dining columns. On the night we all shared a dinner at the Last Territory Steakhouse and Music Hall at Hilton’s El Conquistador, Bruce was grilling the chef on where his beef came from. And as you can see from the story above, should he tire of any of his many careers, he’d be an excellent contestant on Fear Factor.
“Every time before I leave on a trip — well, after hugging my wife, just so you know — I always hug my animals, and go and say bye to my horses.”- Archie Tew
“I became a runner through traveling so much, and it blossomed into a marathon career. In four years of traveling, I’m now training for my fourth marathon.”
“My perfect day includes a round of golf. After a big breakfast with my wife and two sons … I’d head to the golf course with some buddies until sundown.”
- Jeffrey Giles
“Water is scarce and misery is in excess in many of the places I work. Beautiful beaches feel like paradise and let me forget about the world for a while.”
- Jonathan Keith Joseph