Sunday, January 8, 2017

25)Isa Turaj "Rediscovering Kindness"

Editor's Note:  Iza Turaj and her friend Wiola spent most of the last 2 years hitchiking their way from Poland to Malaysia and then on the Austrailia, New Zealand, the US and Canada.  In light of the fear, selfish cynicism, racism, separation and ugly politics our world has shown us so much of in the last year, I thought it a fitting way to end this year with a stereotype-defying montage of faces of people who showed kindness from them from around the world and helped them to journey from one end to the other of the world mostly just on the generosity of others.    

Planning our one-year round-the-world trip we were thinking about all the countries and places we wanted to visit; it turned out didn't matter much:  the best memories came from smiling faces of people who were our drivers, hosts and co-travelers. So instead of writing a description of our travels, we would like to tell you our story through people we have met during 17 months of our journey.  We are grateful and honoured to know you. And even if we don’t know your names we will always remember you. Thank you:

A Polish Truck Driver who rescued our time at Glen Hansard’s concert in the little Czech town of Milevsko: We wouldn’t have made it without you.

Glen Hansard for making the first day of our journey one of the best. Thank you for this intimate and moving concert.

Jérémy for taking us from Hungarian-Serbian border and spending time with us in Belgrade and Sofia. For your accordion, all the crazy songs we listened to and for showing Polish people how to be Polish.

Nikola, the best hostel owner in the world. Star Hostel is always a great reason to visit Belgrade again. Don’t close it, please!

Kajt and Tomek for showing us brighter side of Sofia (and especially Tomek for not taking us to the mountain).

A Bulgarian Truck Driver for finding us in the middle of nowhere and helping us reach one of the most interesting places we have seen in the world:  the Communist Party Building in Gabrovo.

The Five Turkish Guys from the van who picked us up from Turkish border, when we doubted for the first time if hitch-hiking was a good idea.

Ömer who tried his best to communicate with us, bought us our first çay in Turkey and made our time in the huge traffic of Istanbul fun.

One Turkish Driver who explained us in the funniest way the political situation of Turkey and told us a story about Atatürk.

Atahan for being the biggest surprise in Turkey! We would never expect to meet a young Turkish man in Safranbolu speaking perfect Polish. Good luck in Warsaw!

Our Couchsurfing Friends from Batumi - Murat, Sergii and Farnaz for showing us Georgia from different perspectives.

Farid and his friends for their Azeri hospitality and taking us to the unforgettable Borjomi.

Serhat for taking us to the best Dive Bar in Georgia and introducing us to Cenap, who became our true friend. Thank you so much for your hospitality guys and hope to see you again. We miss your balcony in Tbilisi and our late night talks.

All Georgians for making our stay exceptional. Georgia will always be one of our dream destinations.

The American Man who met us in the city centre of Yerevan and offered us a bed and a shower.

Kasra and Arash for introducing us to Iranian culture and delicious food, singing incredible Persian songs and helping us so many times.

Rafał from Sewan Lake and The Owner of the Campsite for welcoming us with authentic Armenian food and taking care of us.

Josephine, Madison, Michael, Brian and Merek for taking us to an Armenian festival, the abandoned buildings of Vanadzor and for teaching us what Fantasy Football is.

The Lawyer who drove us to Gyumri and told us about the history of the city and what it means to be young man in Armenia.

Vlad, Hovo and Hayk for the most diverse Couchsurfing experiences that could happen in the same city.

Aram from Alaverdi who showed us the real spirit of volunteering.

The Georgian Border Guard for making our day telling us a story about a wedding he attended the night before.

Turkish Truck Drivers for sharing traditional tea with us and helping us get through empty roads of northern Azerbaijan.

Elnur who picked us up in the middle of the night and took care of us for the first few days in Baku. It was great to meet you, your mum, dad, brother and all your friends.

Seyfi for hosting us in Baku, for our late night talks, and introducing us to Adem. Greetings for all your cousins and flatmates.

Adem for being the kindest man during our journey. Thank you for showing us real kindness and hospitality, showing us Baku and such incredible Turkish food.

The Crew of Caspian Sea Ferry - we are glad that we didn’t drown.

The Georgian Driver who didn’t let us wait even a minute for a ride from the ferry terminal.

Zhanna, the most lovely person in the world, for girly talks, serious conversations and interesting meetings with her friends.

Abay for the first interview on the way.

The Kazakh Policeman who warned us that there is no road between Atyrau and Kandyagash.

Our Couchsurfing hosts - Anwar and Alia for introducing us to Kazakh culture.

Ilya and Vlad for helping us with “only they can know what”. Thank you a lot! It’s good to have Russian friends somewhere in the world.

Çağlar for helping us with an annoying driver, visiting Turkistan with us, Polish dinner and interesting conversations about cultural differences.

James for one of the best reunions on the way. It was great to visit you in Kyrgyzstan. Can’t wait to see you again somewhere in the world.

Our crew from Almaty - Curtis, Patrycja, Paula, Thomas, Vadim, Windeati and others who made our stay in Kazakhstan. Thanks especially to Curtis for hosting us and helping with our adventure at the police station.

Vasco and his Uighur Friend for a very eye-opening conversation and showing us what it really means to be tolerant and empathic.

The first Chinese Man we met for helping us get through Chinese border.

All the Chinese Drivers and Policemen who helped us hitch-hike over 3500 kilometers in China.

The People from the small restaurant somewhere in Xinjiang for treating us with delicious soup, helping us with hitch-hiker’s letter transcription and communicating with us without a common language.

Our New Year’s Eve companions - Emma, Joost, Andrew and others, for making our stay in China less depressing.

Other English teachers in China who helped us survive:  Liam, Greg and Geoffrey for their sense of humour and distancing, and especially Geoffrey and Penny for our meetings in pubs and Chinese drinking games.

Chinese teachers:  Penny, Yumi, Jessica and John, for being enthusiastic and always helpful.

Romeo for hosting us in Hong Kong and making us feel home. Thank you so much for the invitation to Chinese New Year we hope to celebrate it with you another time!

Agnieszka and Bartek for the best Polish meeting in the world! It was great to have some wine with you in the streets of Hong Kong.

Policemen from Sanjiang who found accommodation and a train for us. We ate breakfast at a police station for the first time in our lives.

Piotrek, Tabea and Jaroslav for being our guests in Chongqing. You made our days more interesting, happy and fun. Thank you so much!

Jaroslav for starting our Vietnamese journey with us and being so patient. So sorry that your motorcycle didn’t make it; hope you will continue your travel plans!

All the Vietnamese People who were incredibly kind and helpful. We have no idea about your names, but we really appreciate that we met you on the way. Thanks to all school kids racing us with our terrible bikes, restaurant owners, hotel staff, mechanics, the family who hosted us after our small accident, the taxi driver who found me just to ask if I’m ok and many other people. You are amazing!

Phan for helping us with translation and inviting us to her house. Thanks to your mum for delicious Mì Quảng! Greetings to your friend Van.

Juan from Guatemala for some great fun and our unbelievable meeting in Ho Chi Minh.

The crew from the Bulgarian restaurant in Ho Chi Minh for making this city so cozy and familiar.

Gevorg for the amazing Envoy Hostel in Phnom Penh and late night conversations about life in Cambodia.

Our Tuk Tuk Driver who helped us learn the history of the Khmer Rouge Regime.

Asia for our crazy Polish night in Bangkok. Thank you for introducing us to Pad Thai. And

A Generous Thai Man who let us try amazing Thai food.

The Nice Malaysian Man who helped me when I fainted in Georgetown.

Majed and his friends for showing us Melacca and Saudi Arabian culture.

Akan for a Polish experience in Kuala Lumpur, a great sense of humour and for teaching us something about Nigeria.

John, Bernadette and Nick from Perth for hosting us, being like family to us and our talks. You are always welcome in Poland.

Kezie, Micheal and their adorable kids Sara and Caleb for amazing week in outback Australia.

Luca for sharing a ride with us on the way to Exmouth.

Garry for a home away from home in Carnavon and the best barbecue in the world.

The Irish TV Journalist for picking us up in the middle of nowhere and The Irish Truck Driver who convinced him to take us.

Our Couchsurfing Hosts:  Dave, Deon, Simon and Bart, for kindness and hospitality.

Adam, our favorite truck driver, for showing us his life and the beauty of Western Australia. We  miss you.

Darcy, for being one of the brightest points of Northern Territories. For your sense of humour, energy and great attitude.

Luke for taking us from one of the worst places in Australia and organizing a birthday party for Wiola. And to the adorable old couple who spend their time with us sharing traveling stories.

Richard for being so brave to move to Vietnam for a year. You will be great teacher and coach!

Sajad, Moein, Janoush and Khan for hosting us in Adelaide, making us feel home and being so kind. And special thanks to Moein for our haircuts! Wish you all the best in Australia!

Anton and Sam for one of the funniest conversations we had on the way and a hilarious youtube party.

Pedro, Juana, Agustina, Matias and Matias for showing us Uruguay without leaving New Zealand, and  for the amazing food, party and atmosphere! We will be back!

Our brave hitch-hikers in New Zealand who let us pay it forward.

Khaled for hosting us three times in Sydney so we could visit the city, get to know a little bit about Yemen and go to Glen Hansard’s concert in the Opera House. Thank you so much!

Basia and Tomek, the funniest and kindest Polish people we have met on the way. Thank you for our Polish jokes, traveler’s life understanding and box of wine. Will see you again for sure!

Penny, Scott, Winnie, Allie, Maya, Chrissy, Dave, Alannah, Barbara and Toby, because we know that we have a place to come back in Australia. Miss you a lot!

Steve for taking good care of us in Washington D.C.

Paulina and Sean for the best Ugly Sweater Christmas Party we could imagine.

Daniel for being so helpful and generous, taking us to stand up comedy show in Times Square and driving us wherever we wanted in New York City. We owe you!

David, one of my best friends in the world, for our second reunion. Hope we will have more of them in the future. It was great to see Toronto and your life. Take care.

Thank you to everyone else who we have met during our journey - you made our way!

Finally special thanks to our closest friends and family who let us go and live our adventure. We missed you so many times, but because of your support we could travel across the world. During this journey, we  really did rediscover kindness and learned that sharing is what makes you happy. 

Iza Turaj is a college student from Wrocław, Poland.  She loves hitchiking, travelling, indie/folk music, and meeting new people.  Check out the blog from her and Wiola's 500 day world tour at   

Saturday, January 7, 2017

24)Cait Kady "Indwelling"

A shoot from the stump of Jesse
like gold
is a young girl abiding
in her Father
for Messiah
not knowing
the Most High
would overshadow her.
among us
among the least of us.
This indwelling so
She submits to and
It is He!
She knows
it is He.
Rejoicing to be a branch,
her babe the vine.
Her body so briefly
a tabernacle
a dwelling for
incarnate God
among us.
Her heart ponders
this privilege
the heart that will
be pierced.
But for now
overflows with joy.
The baby holy
moves within her,
and she will
remember His earthly abiding
Her heart prepared Him room
and He
dwelt there.

Cait lives in New York City with her husband and three kids.  While she spends most of her time trying to love on her three little ones, she's also a talented writer and artist.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

23)Carla Bustamente "Primera Junta"

Fue un día largo, muy largo. Todos habían festejado por la noche junto a sus hijos, junto a su familia.

¿Mi familia? Hace mucho no la veo, todo cambió hace años, y el alcohol se la llevó.

Navidad... como si tuviera algo de especial. Lo bueno es que hoy es domingo y no tengo que preocuparme por la cena. Todos los domingos en Primera Junta, una pequeña plaza, un grupo de chicos siempre nos trae comida. A veces, pienso que mi hija debe estar igual de grande que esos chicos…

Pero esta noche fue diferente.

Cuando llegué, la plaza brillaba, había muchas luces y bellos carteles de colores. Habían mesas rojas, grandes y largas. No sé cómo hicieron, pero el lugar parecía otro.

Cuando me senté, comenzaron a servirme, y tenía dos mozos para mí. No puedo recordar cuándo fue la última vez que me habían atendido así. Tuvimos primer plato, segundo plato y hasta una mesa dulce. Todo increíblemente rico. Hubo un show sólo para nosotros, chicos cantando toda la noche.

Realmente, mi corazón no entendía que pasaba.

En un momento, me di cuenta que estaba festejando la Navidad con ellos, mi familia. La de los domingos. Y estaba feliz.

Casi al terminar, una chica pasó adelante y dijo: “Y ahora, que toda la gloria sea para Dios, quien puede lograr mucho más de lo que pudiéramos pedir o incluso imaginar mediante su gran poder que actúa en nosotros”
Jesús estuvo esa noche ahí, conmigo. Y esa chica tenía razón, porque hizo por mí, mucho más de lo que yo podía imaginar.

Nacio en 1988 en Argentina, Desde el 2003 Carla se perfecciona en las diversas técnicas de canto y la influencia de la música en el ser humano. Es miembro activo de la iglesia Catedral de la fe en Bs As, Argentina. Desarrolla su ministerio como Directora de Alabanza y Coordinadora de la escuela de Música EFAM. Durante los últimos años ha participado de viajes misioneros "Cambia tu mundo" llevando la palabra de Dios mediante la música, y realizando adoración publica. Buscando nuevas formas de evangelizar mediante la música.

English Translation:
It had been a long day.  Too long.  Everyone had been celebrating through the night with their kids, together with their families.

And my family?  I have seen them in ages, everything changed years ago, and alcohol took them away.

Christmas…as if it should be something special.  The good part is that today is Sunday and I don’t have to worry about dinner.   Each Sunday in the small plaza of Primera Junta a group of young guys brings us food.  Sometimes, I think about how my daughter should be about their age…

But this night was different.

When I arrived, the plaza was shining with lights and beautifully-colored decorations.  There were red tables, big and long.  I don’t know how they did it, but the place seemed different.
As I sat and they began to serve the food, there were two waiters just for me.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had such service.  We had a two-course meal and even a tableful of desserts!   It was incredibly tasty.  And they put on a show just for us, these young people were singing the whole time.

My heart didn’t understand what was happening:  I realized that I was celebrating Christmas with these people, my family.  My Sunday family.  And I was happy. 

Right before the end, a girl passed in front of me and said “To God be the glory, who can do more than we could ever ask or imagine according to His great power that works in us.” 

Jesus was with me that night in that place.  She was right.  He had done for me, so much more than I could’ve imagined.  

Born in 1988 in Argentina, since 2003, Carla has been working on the art of singing and connecting to people through music.  She's developed her ministry as a worship leader and the co-ordinator of the music school EFAM.  She also enjoys musical missions and organizing public worship.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

22)Adriana Polanco "Samsa Klaus and Snegurachka Bulochka"

Adriana Polanco is a freelance Graphic Design Artist living in Guatemala, Guatemala with her amazing husband Mr. Suazo. She's also talented translator working for Life of Hope Ministries, has impeccable taste in music, and prays big prayers.

Concept by Kate and James Metelak.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

21)James Metelak "New Nuevo Новый Жаңы Nouveau"

They call holidays an option for a reason
Жаңы жыл.   Жаңы.  Жаңы, ага? Take me on your genocide tour!
Гусь уже толстеет ha'penny guy montage
Mistah Kurtz--dead
Où t'es?

I don't know

Everything (timezone by timezone domino-falls the shadow) ends sometime
The other foot drops the TimesSq ball
Limbo-dangling heldbreath endzone safety
Weight for a flash in the pa(i)n that never comes
Tornadocrowd crashes field expectation(blues/blows) post(')s down

            Сольнце улыбается
            Her firework eyes
            Darken my horizon
            There were things I should've known
            "Не врала" сказала
            But you could've let me know
            You should've made promises you could keep

            Resolute Atlantic cold and a cough from my bones
            Staying up late
            Because we don't have a reason to get up

Happy New Fear!
            Où t'es papa?
            I'm living on recycled hubris and tired tr(h)opes
            Fumble through my phone contacts (rosary)
            Praying that when I find the ghirl:
            Problem solved!
            Or at least the fear of the unknown might go
      Black night dying-into-nothing nightmares
A fleshwound year without resolution
And we stand on the edge of its cosmic question mark
Curled milklike across a charcoaledhazesky
The year soured, (w)retch, gone bad
Time to give it two to the chest
This is a year for...UNresolutions,
A year for resolving
Just to keep going (let go)
Peace agreements signed in
Glances and middle fingers erect
At prayer for the mirror

But 2016, f**k you
Nothing's really ever new.
I will carry you like a black eye
Time is never gone.

Nearlythirtyboy neck hurts from the Jonahstorm stress I'm getting old
I thought I could protect the fatherless, I promised
Twenty minutes later I watched them bleed (passively).
I thought I had found the one;
Two weeks on she was in a walk-to-remember white dress with
Someone else.
I thought this was the promised-land-home-at-last
(We've been waiting so long, we've been waiting so long)
"You belong here" You said
Yeah?  You call this things working out?
I thought that I'd find ground
But I've been freefalling (weightless and terrified) through
Jobs and letdowns and betrayals
And mundane racism and deaththreats and well-meaning gossips and matchmakers and
"Go homes" and "Why are you heres?" and
My hypocrisy and the unfinished to-do list
And the fears and hopes of deportation and/or losing myself
I've been watching my back, changing my routes,
Slipping on black ice (Dis-moi où es-tu caché?)
and putting blankets around
Everytremblingone else and their head traumas.
When it's time to run, run, run, run, run.  (Paranoid Shock)

Jimmy.  Aaja.
Give up this madness.
And he whispered fear is logical.

Novelty Navidad Новшевство Жаңылык Nouveauté
Let  auld acquaintance be forgot...  ("and those days too")

We've been around this merry-go-round before
We're back where we started a year ago

News Noticias Новости Жаңылыктар Nouvelles
            Wars and rumours of wars
            "the best lack all conviction"
            The scratched cd news typeset gyre ruts the same orbitous routines
            Like a bad habit
            F change.  E inflation.  A  crisis.  R sanctions.
            News never changes
            The olds nod their heads
            As they try to dodge sleep and stir up coald wars again
            But the monotone drone lullabies/
            Hellfires them all in the end (pages burn and no one cares
                        about newspapers or Yemen (or their I'll show you a picture) or how                               trade laws can ghettoize entire nations)
Kendrick say we'regonnabealright...ага
Any other song to sing besides these blues?

And improved
The pink firework explosion graphic on this future drainsludge and soapscum says this formula gets things cleaner than the older one
Ferguson Baltimore Brexit Black Rock Aleppo Bomb Border Wall Ага...
This is what winning looks like.
Fear and corruption and honour killings in Donbass and red herring laws Trump common sense and wisdom
Another year, another $2 million doesn't make it to the children.

I woke up thinking you were (Où t'es?)still here...
01/01 01/01 01/01 you can't step in(ception) twice (wrote that poem before)
Time Styx needle(s)pins cask(et) river running re-record part 2 take twozerooneseven

            Jimmy (2x), toil and trouble,
            C‘mon what does a man gain but a wind-grasping
            Gasp as he stares down the double-barrelled horror of the darkness
            The steady chipping away as you realize that the weakness
            Of man has been in you since the beginning
            And your breath is fading daily.

Time Styx needle(s)pins cask(et) river running re-record part 2 take twozerooneseven

ma right insane yirwanny us jimmy
see it nyir eyes wanny uz 
gonny miss thi GEMM jimmy
Safety means two points for the other team
Suffering means character/hope and consider it joy or trauma or at least just keep breathing/dying
Til your world caves in

Evening comes.
I'll be in the thorn-filled field spinning/singing like a planet trying to say sane
How do the children make it look so easy?  
The spinning out, rain running off outstretched tongues?

James Metelak is a poet, photographer, and singer-songwriter based in Kyrgyzstan, and the editor/curator of the Headpiece Blog.  Check out his work at  

First photo from Al-Jazeera.

Monday, January 2, 2017

20)Carl Nellis Three Poems


He came to Bethlehem, the one who, sure,
Maybe fed a few, healed a few, but when
He let them down into the tomb, that promise,
That baby, that governance, how did it go?
His servants shoulders? Oh, yes, son of David,
Man after heart’s own god, and how many,
It was freedom for the mind that he came for,
not food but bread from heaven. hallelujah.

Standing in line, stripped down to bodies so badly
Wanting a just king to rule over them, one who would not
Squeeze them for Caesar’s sake, but institute
A fair coin for grain, who would provide for them
As the censors and spiritualists, the exchequers
And chancellors never had. He did not come.
That hope died. They wanted release, they groaned
Under the yoke. “How silly they were,” I was taught
To say, “to think in terms of principalities and powers.”

They all thought he came to release prisoners,
To set captives free, feed the hungry, throw off
The foreign hand, raise the nation to its own place
among fractious peers, divide the righteous from the wicked
on the seat of David’s son, plead the orphan’s cause,
send away the rich empty-handed, and scatter the proud.
Nope. False prophets and scribes deceived them
With false promises—one so far from the law they could not
see it clearly, one so close they could not see at all.
They were baffled.


What is your major malfunction?
I promise that there is some tech
Who can fix it. Just slide back the bolt
And open the receiver. This present
We have all mailed for, the dousing
And dividending of the spirit.
After all, he came to paint the bold in red
And blue, embolden the violet, to wrap you
in orange, and deliver arms into your stocksings.
That’s a Christmas that keeps you warm
For the rest of your life.

Sayeth Your G-d

The controlled burn,                     in harmony, no, no melancholy
Low light under tempo                          but the others save for this
growl up to eye level                 time when the governance shall
The generator, that’s glory   be upon his shoulders who chances
A family leaving supper                    everlasting upon everlasting
On the threshold, running—              from dark of winter to winter
Generosity to your neighbors,                       morning, groan, cut,
A purified light, a paschal                  burned, buried, born again
Lamb born into a barren place    for a new beginning, and once
A scratch in the dirt. That’s the way                       more. The path
Bulls bellowing in circles, father with one              bent, the tinsel
Hand on the outlet, passing a coil                     a circle. Glory, in
Around the branches. Upon them it shineth                  the highest
That dwell in the land, a candle of welcome              and peace
In every window; whisper once a year      doled out with raised
Again that what we cannot do but wish to              voices, hands
through the year, the surplus, clinker by clinker, waved, crowds
ornamentation, unto us, from us, over all                    rumbling by
Our days, wonderful, a princely piece,        the commons turned
We cook our cash, our pasts, on the mountain            conspirator
That every brother shall                                         in cold weather
Choke the air to light the tree           be joyful, be joyful, rejoice.

Carl Nellis is an editor and writing instructor working north of Boston, Massachusetts. His head is full of critical cultural studies, American medievalisms, science fiction, and poetry. In spare moments he serves as a host for the New Books Network podcast consortium in History and Intellectual History. You can learn more about Carl's work at

Sunday, January 1, 2017

19)JJstreetPH "The Kyrgyz Streets in December"

Suleyman Too--Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Father Christmases

Cotton Candy

On Ala Too Square, Bishkek

Osh in Snow

A Snow Queen

Year of the Rooster

Ala Too Square, Bishkek


Ala Too Square Snowfall

JJstreetPH is a creative street photographer based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.  Check out her work on FB and like her page!