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Coffee with a tad of economic development

The one habit I can’t kick is coffee. I love the taste and my brain can’t wake up without a cup  in the morning. With the overwhelming varieties out there it’s even difficult to choose what to drink and where. After months on end of drinking instant Nescafe to keep myself going through the tough days in the field, I appreciate having so many options at home. I try to support smaller coffee companies and local coffee shops whenever I can. No long ago, I discovered La Colombe a Philadelphia based coffee roaster. There coffee is bold and rich. I find that a lot of designer coffees these days have a sour taste and I have trouble drinking them but La Colombe doesn’t try to be more than high quality coffee beans directly sourced from farms in South America, Haiti and Africa. There is a reason that the coffee is being served in places like the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and restaurants/cafes all over the country. You can visit their cafes in NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago, D.C. and Seoul. They are also great for people watching and writing.

I recently spent a month in Haiti and I have to say that they have some of the best coffee in the world (up there with Ethiopia). However, very little Haitian coffee has reached the outside world. The poorest nation in the western hemisphere, plagued by political strife and natural disasters, Haiti is struggling to rebuild. The country has the capacity for exportation but with aid money misused, corruption rampant it is difficult to attract  foreign investment. However, smaller companies are taking notice and I hope that this will change and some of the profits will make their way back to the local economies.

Check out more about La Colombe & Haiti- http://scrapbook.lacolombe.com/?s=haiti

Why Wander?

I have spent most of my twenties wandering. I refused to have a permanent address and discovered a career that allowed me to live out of a suitcase and travel to some of the most distant corners of the world helping people. I loved my job (which was more a life than a profession) and the feeling of takeoff to a new exotic destination. After having spent a significant amount of time living in Europe, Africa and Asia, I settled back in the United States to start a whole new scary and exciting adventure- becoming a physician.

As I began the process to prepare me for my second career, I experienced reverse cultural shock coming back to the United States. I had trouble relating to my peers talking about juicing when I had just come back from working on a malnutrition project. It’s taken some time and growth but I’ve realized that I can reconcile both of my worlds; one of a humanitarian aid worker who wants to jump on a plane every time there is a conflict or natural disaster, and that of a medical student focused on my studies and being healthy.

The travel and lifestyle working in emergencies and foreign places in sometimes tough living conditions is not always conducive to living a healthy lifestyle. I had the work hard, play hard mentality in my early twenties. I wasn’t eating right, drinking too much, and substituting dehydration with the need for caffeine. My exercise was erratic and although I was healthy I felt constantly tired. It wasn’t until I was on assignment, living in a West African capital and part of a management team running health programs that I reoriented my goals. Although I put long days in at work, I had to adjust to a slower pace. In the country I was working in I had access to fresh local foods and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Every morning, I started with a fresh fruit smoothie and on weekends I would go for a swim, hiking or running. Due to the  100+ degree heat I was staying hydrated. I felt good and energetic for the first time in a long time.

Medical school will not stop me from wandering. I continue to take trips for pleasure, sometimes for work, and soon as a medical student learning about global health.  WanderX  is a forum to share my love of travel, staying healthy, and to bring awareness to issues that we often forget about.