Today I want to welcome David Estes, author of the newest release The Earth Dwellers, back to the blog to share some of his writing with us!
Flashes of Humanity by David Estes
When I started seriously writing about three years ago, I NEVER (like in a million-zillion years) thought I’d be doing it full time at this point, with 14 published YA and Children’s novels and more than 1.1 million words written. Never. And I certainly wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me that my wife and I would be 15 months into a two year trip around the world that would take us to six continents and more than a dozen countries, all while continuing to write and publish my books to a rapidly-growing worldwide ebook market. Seriously, I still slap myself sometimes and thank the Kindle gods for their merciful ways.
But none of that is what I want to talk about today. All of that is awesome and life-changing and a complete and utter dream come true, but it’s not what matters the most. What truly matters is what I take away from the experience, what I learn, and how I grow as a human being. There will always be more words to be written, more publishing deadlines to hit, and more promotions to organize, but sometimes you have to stop, take a deep breath, and just watch the world around you. Otherwise life might just whip by on its Harley, wearing a black bandanna and a leather Angels jacket, knock your hat off, and send curls of dust around you while it speeds off into the distance.
What do you see if you stop and observe? Do you see wars? The threat of nukes from cruel dictators? Global warming and melting polar ice caps and overpopulation? Rapes and murders and babies left in cars and financial fraud? It can be a bleak and hopeless world sometimes, and I must admit, many of the terrible events that dominant most of the news airtime most certainly provides me with inspiration for my dystopian novels…
…my novels also contain a LARGE MEASURE OF HOPE in them, and that’s not me being an eternal optimist or a glass-half-full kind of a guy. That’s me being real, because hope is real and hope is evident in even the worst situations. And the hope comes from real people. Good people. And that, my friends, leads me to the single most important thing I’ve learned from everything I’ve experienced in the last three years: There are flashes of humanity all around us; we just have to look for them.
Some are big flashes, like when there’s a major catastrophe and people from all over the world come together to pitch in, to roll up their sleeves, to donate their much-needed money, TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE. That’s a BIG flash of humanity.
But most others are smaller, like when you see someone on a packed-like-sardines bus give up their seat for a pregnant lady or an elderly man with a cane. That’s a tiny flash of humanity, barely a blip on the radar, but SO MEANINGFUL. And when you pack those tiny flashes all together, they too become something BIG, something WORTH WRITING ABOUT.
I’ve seen so many flashes in the last three years that my glass half full is now overflowing, pouring over the edges and pooling around its stem. Today I want to share just a few of my favorite flashes of humanity:
1) FLASH! Christmas Eve, Merida, Mexico. Adele and I were staying with a Spanish family, planning on spending our Christmas Eve away from home eating cheap takeaway. But no, our host insisted that we join her and her family for a proper Christmas meal. She was the only one in the family that spoke English (her young daughter was learning and her father didn’t), but I swear to you, we laughed more that night than ever before, and most of the time it was at a joke that her father made. Using gestures and context as a guide, we were cracking up well before the translated punch line. On that night, we were their family, too, having only met them a few days earlier.
2) FLASH! Winter in Mexico, 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For just a moment, try to forget about the drug cartels and the gangs and all the other awful things you hear on the news about Mexico. Yeah, that stuff happens and yes, it deserves attention and concern. But that’s not Mexico. Not really. Mexico is families. Ginormous families and extended families who CHOOSE to spend their free time with each other, doing simple things like playing soccer in a dusty field using goals with no nets or having a basic lunch of beans and tortillas on the beach. Family is everything, and despite living in conditions that many of us would consider on the border of impoverished, the people ARE HAPPY. I learned a lot from the people of Mexico.
3) FLASH! Springtime in St. Lucia. On a touristy island that has constant cruise ships coming into port, some of the locals want to take advantage, just like in many other tourist destinations around the world. Everyone’s selling something, and if you want to take a photo of a local doing something “cultural”, you can expect them to ask for a small tip in return. Fair enough. Such was our surprise when we were walking down a long hill one day, only to happen upon a local man juggling a soccer ball using every part of his body but his hands. He was smiling, laughing, having a great time doing it, and he was very talented. “Take a photo!” he exclaimed when he saw us out of the corner of his eye. We were wary at first, because we’d been offered photo ops before, only to be harassed for “donations” afterwards, but soon it became obvious that this man wanted us to take his photo simply because he was proud of what he was able to do with that soccer ball. Adele snapped several photos, which we’ll cherish for years to come. And that man just kept juggling that soccer ball, probably long after we’d finished our trek down the hill.
4) FLASH! Moroccan desert storm! Morocco is a magical place that feels like you’re stepping back in time. From huge cities with cars, scooters and donkeys narrowly passing each other on thin cobblestone medina streets, to beautiful mountain villages, to seaside towns, to desert oases, Morocco has a bit of everything. Staying in Merzouga, Morocco, we decided to venture from our riad just outside of the village into town to have a peek around. We took some photos of camels, bought a bus ticket, and then had a long chat with a man in Arabic (Adele did the talking since she knows the language), when billowing dark clouds rolled in overhead, rumbling like they had a bad case of indigestion. We thought we had time to make the fifteen minute walk back to our riad. We were wrong. Caught in no-man’s-land (basically a cracked-earth desert tundra), the dust began swirling around us, getting in our eyes, covering our clothes, whipped into a frenzy by heavy winds. Thunder crashed, lightning flashed. The rain came seconds later and we started to run. We never had a chance. It was a torrential downpour and the conditions were dangerous to say the least. A truck passed us, stopped, and rolled down the window. The cab was full but clearly they were willing to let us jump in the truck bed, but then another car pulled up, one with a backseat. They motioned frantically for us to get in, which we did. They were hotel workers, wearing traditional garb, and we thought they were from our riad because their uniforms looked identical. Turns out they worked in a different riad and were cousins of the ones who owned our riad. They drove us all the way home and refused to offer payment for the gesture.
5) FLASH! Lake Peipsi, Estonia (Kallaste). We attended a wedding of two close friends, a Chinese girl and an Estonian guy, who we’d met in Australia. Upon arrival, the groom’s family invited us to their home. The groom’s father was a fisherman and offered us smoked fish caught earlier that day. BEST FISH EVER! For the whole four days, they invited us to everything, treating us like part of their family, only having just met us. It was enough that we were their son’s friends. Two barbecues, lots of smoked fish, a rousing game of soccer with—I swear to you—every single boy and guy in the town, ages six to sixty. I couldn’t speak a word of Estonian or Russian, but it didn’t matter. There were cheers, hugs, laughs, and bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime.
6) FLASH! Organic farm, Maiori, Italy. Some people don’t have much, and yet they give it all away anyway. Such were our hosts in a beautiful little bed and breakfast with stunning views of the Amalfi Coast. The 318 daily steps to our temporary home were well worth it! And our hosts were so generous, giving us fresh produce from their garden on a daily basis, as well as “samples” of their traditional Italian dinners that were the size of full meals. We laughed so hard at meal time, because the stories they told were so funny and interesting. And they laughed at us when we ran from their particularly unfriendly and brooding rooster, because, of course, they’d done the same many times before. (There’s even a video of our host running from their rooster on YouTube!) When we left, Adele and the host hugged and cried, and I might’ve teared up a little too.
I could go on for pages and pages about the incredible people and experiences we’ve had on this trip. There’s SO MUCH good in this world, even if it’s hard to see it sometimes. If nothing else, my experiences over the last three years have taught me to look for the spark of light in the darkness, to find the ray of sunshine peeking through a cloud-shrouded sky, and to never—not ever—pick a fight with a moody rooster.
Thank you, David! I love hearing about all your travel adventures, and I hadn't heard all of these yet! You really should write a memoir just on your trip!
Where you can find David Estes hanging out:
Blog/website Facebook page Goodreads author page Twitter
Blog/website Facebook page Goodreads author page Twitter
Other Young Adult Books by David Estes:
Children’s Books by David Estes:
The Nikki Powergloves Adventures: Nikki Powergloves- A Hero is Born Nikki Powergloves and the Power Council Nikki Powergloves and the Power Trappers Nikki Powergloves and the Great Adventure Nikki Powergloves vs. the Power Outlaws (Coming soon!)