how i pack

Posted by pamela on Nov. 21, 13 | 2 COMMENTS

I am often asked about how I pack for my travel — about what to bring, my favorite odds and ends, and, my favorite, how it all fits into a carry-on. For some of you this is normal, for others, shocking. But, here is the simple, practical reality: When I travel, I rarely stay near the airport for even 24 hours, so when luggage gets lost, it either causes a major kink in the schedule or I go without my luggage. The simple solution is to not check luggage. Besides, why carry more than needed through airports, stuff it into taxis, or up airport stairs? It’s not fancy, but it normally works. So, here are my thoughts and tips.

IMG_0578

Basic principles: 

  • Figure out what you are doing and pack minimum that you need. That is mostly what this is about, plus a few extra gadgets to keep life fun.
  • Remember that you can always do laundry – even if it’s in a sink. You just need enough time for it to air dry.
  • For clothes, pack things that are flexible and can be worn with each other. Layers are your friend.
  • In most places people wear their nice clothes. So, think about leaving your safari-worthy clothes behind. Unless of course you are actually going on a safari.
  • Remove any extra packaging you can. For example, I often put medicines in smaller plastic bags and leave the bottles behind.
  • Never forget your headlamp. More often than not, it will be a good friend: when the bedside table is missing a lamp or when the power goes out.

Some of my favorite travel gadgets and where you can find them: 

  • GoToob Travel Bottles. these are super easy to fill with your own shampoo. Made a painful task easy. I use 1.5 oz bottles, which I do not see online. This lasts me for a two week trip without problems, so think before you pack 3 oz of shampoo.
  • Sea to Summit Dry Bag. I have the 4L one – it fits my journal, Kindle and camera with room to spare. It takes up almost no space, but has saved them from the middle of a surprise rain storm.
  • Kindle. I love the feel and the smell of books. I love used books. What I love more is being able to have a bunch of books in my bag all the time without devoting a lot of my bag to books. I still love paper books when I’m home.
  • Therm-a-Rest Stuff Sack Pillow. With my fleece inside it is far from a perfect pillow but has made up for more than one horrible pillow.
  • 2XU Compression Socks: Apparently I’m getting old because I love these on my long flights. I feel so much better after a trans-Atlantic flight when using these.
  • Sleeping bag liner. I only carry this when I am going back-country. But, when needed, this is great and I love that it is mosquito repellent.
  • Reusable Gear Ties. These keep the wires orderly and keep me sane. Definitely worth a couple of bucks.
  • Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes: I use the Quarter Cubes for my first aid kit and for my electronics. I use the Half Cubes when I am traveling to two different climates or regions to keep clothes separated. They keep my packing easy and use space well.
  • GSI Collapsable Coffee Drip. In much of rural Africa the only coffee available is instant coffee. But, I can normally get hot water. This silicon collapsable coffee drip has made many a happy morning for me and my travel companions.

Specific packing list (designed for a trip to Uganda & Ethiopia – vary based on your trip specific location and activities: 

IMG_0552

Clothes: 

  • Women: 2 skirts, 2 pairs trousers
  • Men: 3 pairs trousers
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 3 button down shirts or blouses
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1-2 long sleeved shirts / 1 light cardigan
  • 1 pair pajamas
  • 5-7 pairs underwear (women: bras and slips)
  • 2-3 pairs socks
  • 1 pair compression socks
  • 1 fleece / outer layer
  • 1 rainy coat (if rainy season)
  • 1 bandana
  • 1 pair of chaos / walking shoes
  • 1 pair close-toed shoes
  • 1 pair flip flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat (for sun)

 Gear: 

IMG_0556

  • rolling, carry-on sized bag
  • day pack / shoulder bag (airlines call this a ‘personal bag’)
  • purse (that is packed inside backpack or luggage)
  • headlamp or small flashlight
  • alarm clock (or watch in addition to phone for when phone looses battery)
  • camera, charger
  • universal electricity plugs
  • passport & driver’s license (and a photocopy in different location of both)
  • journal or notebook
  • roll of electrical tape (best if you have a half roll lying around the house) – this has gotten me out of several binds
  • small sewing kit (needle, thread, safety pins)
  • thin, small tea towel – when traveling to the remote areas this has served as a bath towel, a bandage, and a wash cloth (all separate times)
  • ATM card
  • Airplane blow-up pillow: helps the long flights be manageable
  • for coffee lovers going to bad coffee locations: coffee drip, paper filters, coffee

IMG_0568

Toiletries: 

Remember that all liquids must be in 3 oz (100 mL) or less containers all packed in a 1 quart (1 liter) zip lock bag.

IMG_0567

  • 1 pack travel size hand wipes
  • 1 small hand sanitizer
  • 1 hair brush or cob
  • 1 soap / body wash
  • 1 deodorant
  • 1 lotion
  • 1 shampoo & conditioner
  • 1 toothpaste & toothbrush
  • nail clippers and file
  • 1 sunblock
  • 1 insect repellant

Medicine: 

These are the basics. Bring what you need and what your travel doctor recommends. 

IMG_0557

  • Malarone (anti-malarial pills)
  • Chewable Pepto Bismol
  • Imodium
  • Neosporen and bandaids
  • Ibuprofen or preferred pain killers
  • Allergy medicine as needed

How to pack: 

Some people like to roll their clothes, and I often resort to this on my way home. But, when on the road, I like to be able to see my clothes and easily work out of my suitcase. I fold my shirts and trousers so that I can see them all without unpacking. I like packing cubes (quarters) for first aid kits and wires. Also, I have a bad habit of forgetting things when I am tired and jet legged, which ends up being more often than I care to admit. So, whenever I can, I get bags and cases (iPhone cases, kindle covers, camera cases, etc.) that are bright colors, colors that do not blend in with bed spreads or disappear in airplane pockets. You can laugh, but this has saved me more than once. I hope these pictures help — all of that really can fit together. And yes, because of the specific itinerary on this trip, I packed more than normal – normally there is room to spare.

IMG_0569

IMG_0570

IMG_0571

Notes for other regions: 

As I said above, this was a packing job for Uganda / Ethiopia. It was the end of rainy season, so I needed a rain coat. I was moving frequently so had less time to wash clothes, and I needed some layers for Addis Ababa, where the weather is cooler. When I am in major cities, I pack clothes appropriate for cafes and evenings out. When I am in Asia, I pack fewer layers and more thin cottons. When I have space, I always toss in a pair of yoga pants or shorts to lounge in. When I go to a cold climate, I work with undershirts and a versatile sweater or two. Sometimes, these plans do not work and I have to check luggage, but, thankfully, it is rare. (Extra camera gear and cold climates present the biggest challenges and the most frequent checked luggage.) Most of the time, this is how I travel.

Do you have any special travel gadgets or packing tricks? I would love to hear them!

a lake gateway in uganda

Posted by pamela on Nov. 13, 12 | 2 COMMENTS

This weekend as I curled up at home, I kept thinking about my trip to Uganda earlier this year. A good friend and I visited Lake Bunyonyi just north of the border with Rwanda. A mountain lake, the evenings were cool and we huddled under our blankets, but the days were warm. At an ecolodge on a small island, we had some of the joys of camping without any of the stress. Home was a straw geodome with an open front looking onto the lake. Our balcony made for a perfect view of the night sky so clear that the Milky Way was like a cloud across the sky. The outdoor shower had a picture perfect view. Taking the local dugout canoes on the lake was an exercise of patience and laughter as we discovered our abilities in western canoes and kayaks did not apply here. And the food was good, simple, and cheap. What more could you ask for on a weekend getaway? Here are some photos and at the end some ‘how to’ details for those of you enticed to make a trip of your own!

Taking a pause from paddling… also a pause from going in circles.

Sunset over the lake.

The outdoor shower with a view of the lake. I love showering outdoors, so this was pure happy.

Looking into the geodome from the balcony. Those are just regular old candles on the table. Above the bed in the middle there is a little skylight.

This is the view from the bed towards the balcony… where we played many games of cards, sunned ourselves, red books, and watched the stars at night.

The night sky. Do you see the Milky Way. This is what happens when there is no light pollution and no moon.

How to: 

  • Visit the Byoona Amagara and make a reservation using their email addresses. When I went, it was about $17 per person.
  • Take a bus from Kampala or Kigali to Kabale. From Kapmala you can take the Post Bus or Jaguar. Best to get tickets ahead of time to make sure you have a seat. There are cheaper options, but the mini-bus routes will take much more time and you will be much less comfortable – I suggest paying the price (less than $20). Kabale is about 6 hrs from Kampala and about 1 hr from the Rwanda border.
  • From Kabale, find a taxi to take you out to Lake Bunyonyi and to the dock for Byoona Amagara. From there you can either get the powered boat (a few dollars and about 15 minutes) or take a canoe (free and about an hour).
  • All electricity on the island is powered by solar power, so it is likely that you will not have much power if it has been cloudy/rainy, so be prepared with a flashlight (although they do provide candles). Also, the water is heated by solar, but if it has not warmed up, the staff will heat water for a bucket bath if you want.
  • This is an ideal location to relax, read, do some canoeing, play games, and watch the stars. If you want to do lots of hiking, this is probably not for you. If you need to rest and recharge, this is your spot.

This has been one of my favorite trips in the region – I hope you love it too!

a week in italy: rome & assisi

Posted by pamela on Oct. 16, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

After my Greek island vacation, I continued to Italy. While the whole reason for being in Italy was a conference in Assisi, I was able to squeeze two (very) full days in Rome in before the conference. My normal strategy when I have a short trip in a walkable location is to walk… and walk… and walk. I stop inside at a few places I either planned on or stumble upon, but mostly I walk. I find it is the perfect way to get to know a city and I normally leave content – feeling as if I have had a taste of the place and made the most of my time. This is a short photo journal.

I love the fountains of Rome. The combination of art and water is marvelous. The use of Egyptian hieroglyphs always seems oddly out of place to me. (Just as Roman roads and columns seem odd when next to the ancient ruins in the Middle East. History is beautiful and I love when places tell their stories of how interconnected the world really is.)

Another fountain. Because I love them.

This statue is from the Castel Sant’Angelo. This statue of Saint Michael was carved by Rafaello and was originally found on top of the castle. It now sits in a courtyard, but still has a majestic stance. I feel in love with the tarnished bronze wings which brought stunning texture to the statues as well as a sense of passing time.

One of the things I had intended to do was to be at the Colosseum for the “magic light” time of day just before sunset when the colors are rich and fully saturated, the sky its deepest blues. I toured the colosseum, then the Palatine Hill, and came back to wait. It was perfect and brought a magnificence that was absent during the bright daylight hours. While part of me wanted to stay as night fell, I decided it was time to continue on. I ended my evening with an hour of fantastic people watching at the Trevi Fountain while having beer and pizza.

Should you make a trip to Rome, I highly suggest you check out the Roma Pass which will give you free entrance to two sites, reduced entrance to others, fast-tracked lines at the Colosseum, and serves as a metro & bus pass. Just be sure to reserve it about a week before you travel.

Then I was off to Assisi for a conference on love and forgiveness with the Fetzer Institute.  Over the four days of the conference I was inspired and challenged, and I remain thankful for the people I met and the friendships developed. Above is the Basilica of St. Francis.

This was the view as I walked around Assisi for four days. Stunning images of the countryside. I hope to return in the future and explore more of this countryside as I am sure it would make for a marvelous and relaxing vacation. After this I left Europe and returned to Africa. Next up will be travels and life in Africa, which seems to be a worlds away from these images and memories.

hydra: how to

Posted by pamela on Oct. 09, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

Just in case the last post made you want to vacation on a Greek island or you are hunting all over the internet for information on Hydra, here is a ‘how to’ plan your Hydra (or Greek island) vacation with some extra tips & hints.

  • Go to your local library and pick up the Lonely Planet for Greece or Greek Island or Rick Steves’ for Greece (or order from Amazon with these links). Read about all of the different islands, hunting for one that suits your vacation desires. We landed on Hydra because it sounded a bit different & we liked the idea of no cars for a week. Each island has its own draw.
  • Start looking for places to stay. We really wanted a house or flat so that we could have our own space, cook, and just generally relax for the week. Here are some sites that we used for our research as well as where we stayed:
  • Book your flights & ferry. The larger islands have several ferry options. Hydra has only one, Hellenic Seaways. You can book tickets about a month in advance and need to have reservations as they are often full (Euro 25.50 one way to Hydra). If you are flying in, be warned that you need to pick up your ferry ticket at least 1 hour before the ferry leaves. For airport to port, you can take the bus (Euro 5, direct bus that takes about 1 hr 20 min), the metro (Euro 8, requires a metro change, not sure on timing) or a taxi (clearly more expensive…). Just look for the signs at the airport.

  • Hydra specific tips:
    • Early September is a great time to go: past the worst heat, past peak tourist season, but still warm and wonderful with lots of fruits and vegetables in season.
    • There is no fresh water source on the island. All fresh water is boated in, and all water out of the taps is slightly brackish, so is not for drinking. For drinking water, buy bottled water at any store, which is inexpensive.
    • There is one grocery that will carry groceries to your place with a donkey for free, but you have to put in the order the day ahead. (Please note, you can at any time pay to have a donkey carry your groceries, luggage, or other earthly treasures.) Plan your water and beverages as much as possible, plus other essentials to make use of that trip! We made arrangements the first evening, got things the next day, and then picked other stuff up along the way.
    • There are no sand beaches on Hydra – just pebble beaches and swimming rocks. The swimming rocks are great, the water crystal clear. Just don’t go dreaming of sand beaches.

    • There is a house museum, Koundouriotus Museum, on the island, and it is worth the time and money (Euro 4). It was fun to see a house from when Hydra was at its high point as well as the clothes. The Naval museum was ok, but not something I would highly recommend.

    • There is great hiking to be done around the island. The best map available is a topo map. While helpful, it is still a bad map so go out with an adventurous spirit and plenty of water as you will not just stumble across fresh water sources on this island (see bullet point one). Also, although you will pass many churches, most will not be open – but worth knocking on all of them. At one place a nun opened the compound to us, then shared some grapes literally cut from the vine above her door with us.

    • One restaurant worth checking out is the “Sunset Restaurant”. It is located on the west side of the harbor, around the bend a ways. Clearly a stunning view (rated by ABC as the 2nd best restaurant with a view). Yummy.

    • If you love Baklava, look at the window cases of the restaurants lining the port. One displays various desserts, including baklava. Do you see those almonds? Yeah. 2 pieces shared amongst the 5 of us gave us each such a divine sugar high we were back the next night.

If you go – have a great time and let me know about your trip!

 

hydra: a greek island vacation

Posted by pamela on Oct. 05, 12 | 1 COMMENT

It was an outstanding vacation. Eight uninterupted days on Hydra – a Greek island with no cars (but plenty of donkeys) with some of my awesome family. I am not sure when I last took a true break – so long and far from communication that I could truly unplug and forget about life off the island. We slept late, ate great food, swam in crystal clear water, hiked hills, saw monasteries, ‘discovered’ hidden beaches, read books, and played games. In a later post, I will share a few ‘how to’ tips in case you decide this island is for you. For now, a photo journal. If you want more great photos of the city (and a humorous account of the low water pressure, check out Lauren’s blog).

First, meet my fellow vacation peeps: Lar, Matt, Mom & Dad. Awesome company. And that is part of the city / port of Hydra.

Let’s start with the town. Exactly what I imagined a Greek island town to look like: whitewashed walls everywhere, blue shutters, red tile roofs, winding paths, and bougainvillea (vine with magenta flowers in this photo).

A restaurant in waiting. Not even trying to be picture perfect.

I wonder when this lantern was last used.

The city of Hydra from above. You are either walking up or down in the town (and around the island). Other islands can be seen in the distance.

On our walks, we came across other ports – the ports of the local fishermen. I love how old boats tell stories with their worn wood and peeling paint.

My hiking companions. Hot and sweaty, but loving the adventure (and dreaming of the swim to come).

One day we hiked over the island and back down to this hidden beach, which we had entirely to ourselves.

Another day the whole crew hiked to the top of the island (just more than 500 meters) to catch the view for miles around.

This was the view from the top. It felt like we were on top of the world.

On our hikes we saw ancient, gnarled olive trees.

And we saw desert flowers in bloom.

And we visited old churches with beautiful ceilings.

And we met donkeys, the island’s transport system.

I promise we did more than hike – we also cooled off in the crystal clear waters surrounding the island.

There was incredible food – here a massive piece of baklava. 2 pieces shared amongst 5 and we were all in sugar comas. Not pictured were the fresh peaches, figs, pears, tomatoes, cucumbers and other fresh fruit that was simply divine. Or the food we made or the food we ate out. So good. And the feta. Yummmy.

I mentioned that we ‘made’ food. We love to cook and this was our view every night: sunset followed by the city lights from our house on a hill. Would you go out ever night if you could have this?

Today I leave you with this photo – of an alternative boat dock. Just one of so many hidden gems on Hydra.

 

 

easter at lake kivu & genocide memorial week

Posted by pamela on Apr. 19, 12 | 1 COMMENT

Sometimes watching four episodes of The West Wing (tea cup in hand) is what it takes to free the mind and want to communicate with the world. This is just one of the many indicators that I am indeed an introvert. The much more fun thing is why an afternoon like that was needed – all the time spent with family and friends (whom I really love) in the past weeks at absolutely beautiful locations. And since Easter was just last week, I want to tell you about the Easter travels to Lake Kivu.

I have often said that nothing is simple in Africa, and this past week is a reminder of how true a statement that is. At last minute my parents ended up in Rwanda for Easter (just another story for my crazy family). This means that they were also here for Genocide Memorial Week. Part of their time was spent in Gisenyi, a town on Lake Kivu next to the DRC border. Here are some tidbits of what we did and what we learned.

Gisenyi, Lake Kivu & Paradis Malahide

I remember reading about Lake Kivu in some of my Environmental text books because it has methane and carbon dioxide gas at its bottom. It is a mountain lake that sits at around 4,800 feet and is 1,500 feet deep in parts and, in theory, could flip and kill those around the lake. There are only two other lakes with gases trapped at depth – both in Cameroon. Maybe this makes you bored or scared – it made me smile.

For my first trip to Lake Kivu, I went to Gisenyi. Really, I went to a hotel just outside of Gisenyi called Paradis Malahide because our little group never found a reason to leave the hotel. Paradis Malahide seems like it is plopped in amongst a wandering village, with a bit of beach and hillside carved out just for guests. It was a perfect escape – for us, an Easter escape. If you go, bring a swim suit, books, games, an appetite for some yummy fish in the evenings, and be prepared to enjoy the bonfire each evening at the restaurant. What I learned: Paradis Malahide is a perfect place for a quiet weekend, a place to be rejuvenated with relaxation. But, if you want to be active, probably not perfect. I shall definitely be back in the months to come!

 

The beach at Paradis Malahide, our rooms in the back.

Carcassonne, a favorite board game.

Bonfire fun – don’t forget to import your marshmellows.

Genocide Memorial Week

Each year Rwanda takes a week to remember the genocide of 1994. The government chooses a theme for the week, everything shuts down the first and last day of the week, and most afternoons as well. To some degree, this continues for 100 days – the length of the genocide. This is my second time to be here for this week, and the country takes on a somber, even depressed, mood. As an outsider, there is little to do but respect that which is everywhere you turn and pray that those mourning would find comfort and healing. If you visit during this time (or any other time) this what I have learned: If you want to know stories, read books because retelling is reliving, and who are we to ask such a thing? If you have advive for someone who lived through the genocide or has family here, keep it to yourself – this place and history is more complex and greater than we can understand. If you want to learn – listen, observe, and respect. Like all rules, sometimes these should be broken. But, they are a good starting point.

And now it is time for this introvert to turn from The West Wing to the book that is filling spare moments with smiles: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

 

45 hours in frankfurt

Posted by pamela on Feb. 21, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

Touchdown to take-off was 45 hours. Most of those were spent in meetings or sleeping; but one evening did include a walk and dinner in town. It was a most beautiful weekend escape filled with pieces of what is not here. Hearty breads and tender meats, fluffy beds and comfy chairs, aged cheese and old beers, modern construction and stately buildings. And, just to make my soul smile, there were snowflakes outside the meeting room for a mere one hour. A few (iPhone) photos from the walk in town. Thank you Fetzer Institute for excellent meetings and a weekend escape.

the cornetto

Posted by pamela on Feb. 20, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

I do not think I have been to the Frankfurt airport since I was in college and was returning home to Amman, Jordan for Christmas or summer holidays. Where the Amsterdam airport has long been a familiar friend, the Frankfort airport remains a mystery. If you stumble upon the correct place, you are suddenly graced with wonderful German breads and meats and beers. Having not yet unlocked the mystery of this airport, that stumbling often takes longer than should be necessary.

But, to the point, The Cornetto. When I got to college I remember someone telling me that the American “Drumstick” was similar, the ‘same thing.’ Oh, that can only be said if you have not had a Cornetto. Here is the magic of The Cornetto: creamy ice cream, rich chocolate, a few perfect nuts, and a crunchy cone that has its own perfect flavor. It is not a thin dip of chocolate on top with inexpensive peanuts sparsely placed. It is just the right amount of chocolate in thick drizzles, nuts determined by the specific type of Corneetto purchased, and the ice cream not watered down. But the grande finale is this: you know you have a real one when the cone itself is crunchy as if the cone is ignorant of the fact it was all put together in a factor and should be getting soggy in your hands as the ice cream melts. They manage this by the finest layer of chocolate on the inside of the cone.

 

Perfection dear friends, perfection. And an instant transport back straight to my childhood where The Cornetto was a happy treat. Maybe it is even more of a treat today when found in the Frankfurt airport – along with its flavor and texture comes the flood of memories. Corner stores and family vacations. Most of my family likes the Magnum more (more ice cream and chocolate, but no crunchy cone), but to each their own. We ate them together, that’s what matters.

thoughts on maintaining community while traveling

Posted by pamela on Sep. 01, 11 | 0 COMMENTS

This summer I was approached about writing a piece for a soon-to-be online magazine. The magazine, Raysd, intended to revolve around the intersection of faith and culture, and I was asked to write a piece for their global section. Their original question was about how I split my life between two continents. How could I say no?

What the short piece evolved into are thoughts about how to maintain community while traveling for a living. I am far from perfect, but it is something I have worked at through the years. I hope this article inspires others to build community and intentionally invest in those around them. Please go HERE to read the article and leave a comment to start to the conversation. I would love to hear what you do to build your community.

headed to Africa with almost light enough luggage

Posted by pamela on Mar. 28, 11 | 0 COMMENTS

For the last four days I have been surrounded by family and some of my closest friends. Together we prepared for, and then celebrated my brother’s marriage. It was beautiful, wonderful, and whimsically perfect. Over the weekend I gained another sister-in-law and another extended family. Then I drove the 4.5 hours home with some leftover wedding cake and home-made wedding beer so that I could prepare to leave today.

Most of the time I talk about the fun of travel, about the amazing places I get to see and the people I am blessed to know. And through all of this, the exotic became my normal. What I normally talk about is that beautiful, seemingly exotic image because I want to make other places and people real for those who are not there. Yet, as I talk with people about my life, I realize there is a big piece that is missing from this online conversation: the hard, mundane, and often frustrating part this life of travel. And so today, I am going to start that conversation. Not in an effort to drown out the rest of the conversation, but to add to it, to fill it out, and to make it more real.

This morning’s struggle was for a couple of pounds. Not on my body – in my luggage. To get to Northern Uganda on Wednesday morning, I am taking four flights – the last of which is on a small plane on a small airstrip. My luggage is limited to 15 kg, or slightly over 33 pounds. Total. Should be doable (I normally travel carry-on only anyway)- just remember these things: there is necessary gear because of the work I do (including photos you enjoy) and I will be hitting rainy season in three different countries. Some starting weights: rolling suitcase is 7.5 lbs, backpack is 1.5 lbs, purse is 0.5 pounds,  computer is 3 lbs, stripping the work camera down to the basics brings it down to 4.5 lbs. So… before we have talked about necessary chords, batteries, first-aid kit, toiletries, clothes, or shoes, I have used about half of my allotted weight. (And yes – it remains oddly helpful that I retrain these random pieces of knowledge.)

At the end of the day, it essentially worked out and I am crossing my fingers they ignore the 2 extra pounds. I am pretty sure that 2 oz of shampoo will be enough, that my professional folder was an unnecessary luxury, and that my feet will survive without close-toed shoes. Once I get to Northern Uganda, I will buy a local wrap to replace the 2 yards of fabric that I normally carry. Yoga pants and journal are luxury items to not be excluded, so are packed. I am beyond thankful for my Kindle.

24 hours ago I was relaxing with my family as we had a late brunch. Now I am sitting in an airport having carefully negotiated the packing, picked up my house, filled out insurance forms, finished my finances for the month, and enjoyed one last night of sleep in my own bed. It will be a good trip and I look forward to the memories that will be created.

 

we did not hit the other plane

Posted by pamela on Feb. 23, 11 | 5 COMMENTS

We did not hit the other plane, but we did damage the plane. We were starting down the runway, feeling like we were getting ready to take off and suddenly the brakes were hit hard and we were screeching down the runway.

The pilot says,“Hi there folks. Our take off clearance was suddenly revoked.”

A minute later,“Ends up anther plane had to circle around and was in our departure path. So we are just going to circle around the runway and do this again”

Yep, a pretty good thing we aborted that take off.

As we are once again ready to take off, the pilot comes back on and says, “Due to technical difficulties, we need to head back to have something checked out.”

A minute later,”When we aborted our take off, seems a hydraulic line was broken, which is leaking fluid on hot brakes creating some smoke. So, don’t be alarmed by the fire truck coming to check things out to make sure it all stays under control.”

So we end up chilling in the plane. And a bit later the pilot comes back on with my favorite line of the day,”There might be a bus coming out to get you or they might tow the plane to a gate. I honestly don’t know. Folks, this hasn’t happened before.”

I love his honesty.

We ended up taking a bus in and we are all going to get on a new plane soon. If all goes well, four hours after our original departure, we will all be off again. With the same pilot and crew. I have to admit, I am ok, even happy, about that. At the end of the day, we did not hit a plane, fly with damaged equipment, and all along the way, they were honest about the situation. Another story for the books.

 


on the road again

Posted by pamela on Feb. 03, 11 | 0 COMMENTS

This post finds me on the road again – sitting in the Atlanta airport on my first Africa trip of 2011. Last night I had a most fantastic burger with a side of laughter with friends. (If you have never had a burger in Africa, all I can say is that they do not measure up. At all.)  I am headed to Rwanda for two weeks and then a couple of days of vacation on the Kenya coast. You will be hearing more about what is going on in Rwanda next week, so I wanted to provide a short update on the cave adventure that isn’t.

Remember all the talk about the cave adventure in March? (See previous post.) It was going to be a grand, crazy adventure into the second largest cave in the United States. We hunted for it and were training for it. But it is no more – at least not for now. Ends up that the cave has actually been closed for the last one and a half years due to white nose syndrome, and they just decided to keep it closed until May at which point they will reevaluate. (If you have not heard about it, it is worth reading about because lots and lots of bats are dying. Check out this link.) No sign was posted, so we had no clue when we went into the cave last. But, now we know. As a scientist, I have to support the decision.

I guess it means that it is time to cook up another grand adventure. Or two. For now I am off to Rwanda to live a quiet life in a quiet city for two weeks.

caught in-between

Posted by pamela on Nov. 04, 10 | 0 COMMENTS

Written in Detroit on Tuesday:

This is one of those in-between weeks – I am in America for just a week between two very different trips to Africa. My mind is both here and there. My body is not sure of the time zone. Emails are flying between the continents. I am trying to bring closure to conversations from the last trip, live here in community with friends, and prepare for the next trip. This is the part of living a traveling life that is not regularly discussed. It is the part that finds me in need of a shower, clean clothes and my bed, but instead receiving an 8 hour layover in Detroit, electricity and caffeine. I love what I do, but the in-betweens are always interesting times.

Written today:

So thankful for a few days of friends and fellowship. This weekend I will be headed to a remote area with friends driving and flying in. It is an incredible blessing to be able to do this in a season filled with busy schedules and much travel. Next week I will be back on the road with Changents and P&G as a part of my Blogivation win. Although the entire trip will be less than a week, I am excited about seeing new programs and meeting with different organization. So, be prepared to hear a lot more about this trip and the new opportunity to help provide PUR packets to purify water to people who need safe water around the world.

32408df3sf