At the Harley-Davidson dealership in Beirut, Lebanon, getting ready for a ride with the Lebanon H.O.G. chapter. That's my blue 2006 Heritage Softail Classic that I bought for cruising the countryside and city for the year I was stationed there. The dealership officially opened for business in September 2010, but the owner, Marwan Tarraf, had been selling motorcycles in Beirut for years before that. Harley heard about him and asked if he was interested in opening a franchise. The rest is history.
Marwan is a class act. If you watch old episodes of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, Marwan is in the second program filmed in Beirut (the first episode was interrupted by an Israeli invasion and the Parts Unknown crew had to flee the country). Bourdain is riding on the back of Marwan's bike as the second episode begins.
I really liked the Lebanese people, their food, wine, and the beautiful, scenic country. I served there from January-December 2010 as an instructor in the police academy.
The Catholic Church in Wau (right and below) an imposing structure built by the Italians in the early 20th century.
Celebrating birthday 57 at the Amarula Lodge in Wau, South Sudan.
The bar at the Amarula Lodge. My sleeping quarters were about 60 steps away. Remember, it is not spending your money uselessly in a bar, it's intelligence gathering!
Afghanistan 2004. The photograph below is a selfie taken in my 8x10 plywood room. The plywood was so thin we could hear each other snore, cough and fart. The photo to the right is at the Kabul shoe market, next to the Kabul River.
Getting ready to board the Antonov 32B for a flight to Mazar-e Sharif.
A couple of Afghan lovelies. We had a standing joke in Afghanistan about the abundance of "T & A": Toes & Ankles.
One burro for riding, one for carrying the groceries. All the conveniences of home.
KOSOVO! Where the overseas assignments started in 2002. This is in Pristina, probably KFOR (Kosovo Forces) Hill, which was HQ for the NATO forces. Cold winters, hot & humid summers.
'merica!! I got promoted and it came with a basement room big enough to use this cool flag as a divider (my bunk is behind the blanket). The flag was sold to me at Camp Phoenix by an Afghan boy who had to be the best salesmen I've ever dealt with (been screwed by). At one point I unslung my AK-47and presented it to him, saying, "Here, take this. If you're going to rob me I want you to have a gun." He got $25 of my hard-earned money and smiled the whole time.
Our improvised shooting range off the highway between Kabul and Bagram. Afghan boys would pick up our brass to sell. It's wide open country so finding a place to shoot is easy, just make sure it's not a minefield you're walking into. Remember, walk where the locals walk.
It's not a building under construction, just one of thousands in Kabul destroyed by war.
This is the view from the farm house I rented in Kosovo, in the Serbian village of Čagliviča. The village in the background is Gracaniča. I liked the Serbs, they treated me extremely well.
A market on Bushrod Island north of downtown Monrovia during the rainy season. There are two seasons in sub-Saharan Africa: muddy & dusty.
Pavement in the middle of a fairway? No, it's a putting green. The greens at the Firestone Golf Course are made of sand that is held together with oil. The greens are fast, almost like rolling a golf ball across asphalt.
Heard of Firestone tires? Harvey Firestone started his operation outside of Monrovia in the 1920s. He built this nine-hole golf course in the 1930s and I'm on the patio of the clubhouse. He also built schools, hospitals, roads and even a railway (to get his rubber to the port). Liberia was critical to allied forces in WWII after the Japanese captured rubber plantations in Southeast Asia.
I served two tours in Liberia, 2005-06 and back again in 2013. The first tour was by far the better one. I was stationed in Harper, which is on the coast just north of Côte d'Ivoire. It's a small beach town without the hustle and bustle of Monrovia. The photos you see here are from the second tour, when I was stationed in Monrovia. I love the Liberian people. They are genuine, open, and sincere. They've made a lot of progress, but nearly every business of any significance is owned by the Lebanese. I met a Lebanese man on my first tour who had been in the country since 1935. Anywhere you go in Africa you will find Lebanese people engaged in some sort of enterprise.
Nepal is a gorgeous country. The winding mountain road from Kathmandu up to the police academy is filled with views like this, and when this photo was snapped we were only halfway up! Notice how the mountainside in the foreground is terraced for farming.
The photo below was taken at the Nepalese police academy, located in the mountains outside of Kathmandu. The U.N. sent me there to evaluate officers and men of the Nepalese national police for deployment to Liberia. I love the Nepalese, they are head and shoulders above most other national police forces I worked around and are genuinely kind and respectable people. They treated me like gold.
The well-trained dog of the police academy's commandant. The commandant lived in a house next to the academy.
If you guessed marijuana, you are right! This huge plant and many others like it was outside the terrace of a restaurant we ate at just down the road from the police academy. Marijuana grows abundantly in Nepal and is illegal but, as one of the cops told me, the law is seldom enforced.
The view from the terrace of the restaurant where we dined frequently, just down the road from the police academy in Nepal.
This is a typical Kathmandu street and I included the photo because it reminded me of Liberia, where people tap into the electricity available on the utility pole. I saw this in other parts of the world, as well.
I spent two years in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and the only photo I can find is the one to the left. The U.N. had a flight on a Dash-7 that went to Santo Domingo in the morning and came back that afternoon. It was great for cigar lovers like me, although there was a cigar store in PAP close to Place St. Pierre, which was owned by a Frenchman, that sold Cuban cigars. It was named Le Cave.
I did two one-year tours, six months apart, in Haiti and stayed at the Ibo Le Le Hotel both times. The hotel was family-owned and had a bar, restaurant, swimming pool, great views of the city, and an old Steinway piano outside under a pavilion. The piano had rotted away but people would still play it.
The hotel was in Petionville, a banlieue to the north of PAP proper, up in the hills. There are old black and white photos in the hotel lobby, mostly of French and Canadian movie stars and singers. There is also a photo of a Vice-President named Nixon who stayed there in the 1950's. It could be quite cool at night during the winter at the Ibo Le Le. It may surprise some readers that Haiti has mountains that reach almost 9,000 feet.
The cruise lines referred to Haiti by its Spanish name, Hispaniola, but never anchored at the capital of Port-au-Prince. They stopped on the north coast near Cap-Haitien. The crime in Haiti is bad and it is rife with gangs, however, the Haitian people in general are decent and far better educated than les gens in any other place I served except Kosovo and Lebanon. Poverty is ubiquitous, as is hunger, and flash floods coming off the mountains particularly destructive and dangerous.
The populace speaks Haitian Creole, not to be confused with Cajun Creole, and the upper crust speak French and English, too. My first year there was as director of training for the Haitian national police (HNP), which included the police academy, in-service training, field training, advanced training and specialized training. At that time the HNP had 5,000 officers and police academies averaged about 800 recruits.
I was proud to oversee the development of a course that gave the HNP their first female police instructors. That class was developed and put on by a major from the French national police who worked under me and he was an absolutely brilliant man. We still stay in touch even though it has been years since we last worked together. There was also an Inspector from the Montreal Police who was essential in the overall success of the program and I've been up twice to see him in Montreal.
I worked in conjunction with a general in the HNP who was educated as a lawyer. He was an intelligent man and savvy as to what professional development his officers needed, and we trusted each other immensely. I was asked by the U.N. to stay on at the end of the year, but needed a break. I came back six months later to an admin job, which I worked for a couple of months before being asked to take over the judicial police.
The judicial police were corrupt, of course, and the idea was to have U.N. police officers work in conjunction with them. We had a homicide unit, kidnapping unit, narcotics, auto theft, and evidence & crime scene units. We were seldom included in any of their ventures, especially narcotics busts, although part of that was the U.N.s fault. They refused to let U.N. officers work in plainclothes, which was really stupid. We had Haitian-American cops there from NYPD, Miami, and other cities who were eager to work alongside their HNP counterparts.
During my first tour in Haiti the kidnappings were out of control. They averaged 5 and 6 a day! Most of that, however, was being done by the police and once the commander responsible for it was removed from his position as head of the anti-kidnapping unit, abduction for ransom complaints dropped to a few per week. You know a kidnapping problem is out of control when the U.N. requests that the Mexican Federales send in an elite anti-kidnapping unit from Mexico City to train the HNP.
Haiti was a great experience, but it wasn't without its problems. The HNP despised the African cops sent there by the U.N. and I don't blame them. Many of those African cops had U.N. missions ongoing in their own countries! And they were in Haiti telling the HNP how to conduct democratic policing measures, like they actually knew anything about civil rights and gender equality.
I left there for Beirut just before the tragic earthquake of January 2010 that demolished Port-au-Prince and killed thousands. I lost a lot of friends in that quake. It was sad and extremely unfortunate and every bit of it can be contributed to the shoddy construction standards that still exist today. Haiti is poor and its government corrupt and I see no end to the problems there.