Monday, September 9, 2013

The People

I have to post a little about the people I’ve met in Thailand.  They’re quite incredible.  And I’m sure if you search hard enough, you can find amazing people in any country, any city, anywhere you go.  But I’ve had the distinct privilege of taking part in this culture and meeting people who live here.  This is one of my favorite things about traveling, experiencing the culture.  I think it’s why I didn’t love India, but more on that later.  This is happy post! 

It’s very refreshing to meet people who are genuine, who are excited to meet you, and want to help you with no ulterior motive in mind. I feel like the world has become an incredibly selfish place. Filled with people looking out for themselves, always trying to get ahead. This of course, is the view a forever pessimist.  Yes yes, I’m a bit jaded, and it could be said I expect the worse of people. Filled with people looking out for themselves, always trying to get ahead.  So when I have those experiences where people completely surprise me, it’s refreshing.  It’s good for a girl like me, reminds me to think, and even expect, more of people.

Well then. Let’s start with Kalasin.  I’ve already posted about our time here; the area Jordan served in.  These people were so welcoming.  They were incredibly nice. They were excited to see him, and simply by association, excited to see me. They were always joking and laughing and wanting to spend time with us. They cooked us dinner, took us out to dinner, made sure we had dinner.
Night we played games, bus stop.

The Sunday that we spent in Bangkok and went to church with a friend of Jordan’s I met a woman.  I honestly couldn’t tell you her name, but she has my email so we’ll see if I hear from her! She spoke very good English so I was actually able to talk to her.  It was nice. I don’t remember what spawned the conversation but she starting messing with her wig.  Of course I didn’t say anything that would be rude!  But she mentioned that she had had cancer.  Well I’m not leaving that one alone!  I asked her what kind and how long ago.  She had breast cancer a year ago and had undergone chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to remove her right breast. I told her that I worked with children who had cancer, that I was a nurse.  Well I could do no wrong after that; I was a saint.  She proceeded to tell me that she had gone to the doctor the previous month and they’d found a lump in her left breast.  She was meeting with doctors that coming week.  She said she was scared.  She grabbed my hand and literally did not let go until we left.  She asked for my email and asked if it were okay for her to contact me.  Sure, I said.  I don’t know how much help I could be, but gladly. My heart went out to her. I don’t know if she had any family, I don’t know what her support system was like, other than she is a member of the LDS church. She was a pleasure to talk to though, positive and friendly.  Called me beautiful every chance she got (who doesn’t love that!).  She was adorable.

Last but very certainly not least was a woman we met when we were in the south on the island of Koh Mook.  She ran the restaurant that we found that we loved.  We ate there 3 or 4 times, I can’t remember.  It may have been because it was the “off season” and we were the only people frequenting her little place.  May have been that were new faces to see and new stories to hear, but she was so sweet to us.  Every time we ate there she gave us tons of free treats and spoiled us.  She made these yummy little fried coconut patties.  They were tasty. She always gave us lemongrass tea after dinner too. Our last night there was the night that we had spent all day boating and snorkeling and swimming and were all sun burned.  This lovely little woman went to her herb garden and cut fresh aloe vera and gave to us!  She even rubbed it on my neck and shoulders for me, and my nose, my nose ALWAYS gets burnt, it doesn’t matter what I do. She was just incredibly sweet and loved to talk to us and have us come see her.  She was such a delight.

Northern Thailand

The last several days we’ve spent up in the northern part of Thailand.  Chiang Rai, Thaton, and Chiang Mai.  It’s beautiful up here.  Because it’s the rainy season the sky at night is usually a dark blue/gray.  It’s more rural up here in the north.  We haven’t been able to spend a lot of time in each location, which is unfortunate.  I would have loved to spend more time here.  We flew in to Chiang Rai Wednesday night and Thursday we took a 5-hour boat ride up a river, of which I do not know the name.  The scenery was incredible. Half way through we stopped off and rode elephants.  I’m not a big fan of heights, or animals for that matter.  They frighten me a little.  So sitting atop a very large animal was somewhat scary.  But it was quite fun.  We rode up through the jungle.  We saw cornfields and rice fields.  A little ways further up we stopped off again and walked up through a small village and bought a few souvenirs from several of the local women. We arrived in Thaton at about 3pm and had to catch our bus to Chiang Mai by 4:20.  So we only really had time for some food and to gather a few things.  Thaton is where Jordan has been living for the past 4 months and working.  He helped the lady at the restaurant cook our food.  He loves to cook; I also suspect that he likes to show off a bit! We arrived in Chiang Mai at about 9pm in a lovely thunderstorm.  Best thing about thunderstorms in Thailand is that it’s still nice and warm outside.  Which was to my liking because I was unable to find a rain jacket before I left.  Lucky for me it hasn’t actually rained all that much while I’ve been here. We got up and went and had some Thai massages before wandering the city.  I don’t particularly love the Thai style of massage.  Maybe I’m not used to it, but it’s just a tad painful! But it’s an experience nonetheless. We boarded a train to Bangkok at 5:30, well, actually 6:15, the train was late.  That is where you find me now.  We’re on a sleeper train that will arrive in Bangkok at around 9am tomorrow (Saturday).  One day left.  I find I’m ready. It’s been incredible. I have seriously loved every minute.  Even the minutes lugging my duffle bag from airport to airport and even the times I was so angry with Jordan, justified and unjustified.  Even the time I paid 5 Bhat to use the bathroom at the bus station and it was a squatter toilet and I ABSOLUTELY could not pee in it. I’ve loved being here and I’ve loved this experience, but I’m ready to be home.  I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune in a week or two but I’m ready to go back to my everyday life.  To go to work, to sleep in my bed, to talk to my mom! Yes, I’m ready to be home.  One of my favorite lines in the movie “Juno” is when she says I never realize how much I like being home unless I've been somewhere really different for a while." 


Okay, now that I'm home, I'll be doing a bit of backtracking.....there were a few times the internet just wasn't very good...

We spent several days in the province(?), I think that’s what they’re called, of Kalasin.  This was an area Jordan served in during his mission.  This was the one area that he wanted to visit. I asked him why this particular area and his simple answer was, the people.  I can see why.  It’s a small area.  Beautiful. And yes, the people here are wonderful.  They’re friendly, they’re lively, and they’re genuinely loving. My heart actually ached a bit as we left. We spent three days with them.  I could spend many many more. Who doesn’t love being told continually how wonderful and beautiful they are? Yeah, a girl could get used that. I can see why he loves them.  And I can see how much they love him. He's the type of person that makes such an impact on the people that he meets. When I first met him he drove me nuts! He still does.  He’s one of those people who can infuriate me to no end one minute, and then have me smiling from ear to ear the next. And I can tell the impact he had on these people.  After 4 years they still remember him.  They remember things he told them, things he taught them.  You don’t remember things like that unless some sort of impact was made.  I told him that I thought it was a great testament to the kind of missionary that he was and he said “well maybe in this area.” Meaning, “What about the other areas?” Well, what I have to say to that is that sometimes the perfect storm happens.  And with God, it is never a mistake.  A great many times in my life I’ve felt that I was in the “right place at the right time.” This was just one of those times for him.

We didn’t do anything really “touristy” per se why we were there.  What we did was even better.  We just spent time with these people; eating, talking (I didn’t do a whole lot of this, but it was really okay), and laughing.  I’m a quiet person to begin with, a woman of few words.  If you’ve had the privilege of  knowing the unquiet me, you are part of a choice club.  So you can imagine the level of quiet that ensued as I spent three days with people who spoke a language I could not.  I couldn't understand or speak a lick of this language and so could rarely participate in conversations, yet never once was I bored.  Not often did I know what was going on or what people were speaking of, but never did I feel left out. There were those who could speak some English and they made a great effort to speak to me, which I appreciated a great deal.

Since these were people who were members of the LDS church, we spent a lot of time with other members, and met the missionaries in the area. We met a missionary who had only been in the area 10 days, same amount of time that I’d been in Thailand.  Poor child.  Walked around kind of in a daze haha. They were very nice though.  We went to a baptism and subsequently a confirmation at church the next day.  I did something at church that I rarely do.  At the request of the relief society teacher I shared my testimony.  In English of course as the sister missionary (from Orem, Utah) interpreted. I felt a little inadequate speaking to these people.  But it was nice.

The couple that had been taking care of us drove us to the bus station with one of the other members, Sister T.  I'm sorry, I seriously can't remember any of their names.  I feel terrible.  But it was so very nice of them to drive us to the bus station, it was a little over an hour to the station.  They waited with us as well until the bus came.  Then as we were leaving, A's wife grabbed me and gave me a huge hug.  She told me how nice it had been to have me there and to make sure that Jordan came back again.  Then her and Sister T proceeded to give me some gifts.  My heart was full.  They were so feet.  Admittedly my eyes were a little wet as we boarded the bus and left.

The Dinosaur Museum

Sister T and A's Wife

A and Jordan

Sister T, Me and Jordan

This is what Jordan posted on his facebook after our first day:

"Had another amazing day with Tristyn. We made to Kalasin!! The day started off with running to the bus station, barley catching two busses and then having some amazing friends, Kyle Anuchit and Wipawan Saisam-ang pick us up and take us to an amazing hotel then off to eat some yummy spicy papaya salad with Supachai Klungsaeng then off to see more friends. Lots of scooter rides and then a fun dinner with Maliwan Phanjerm, the missionaries and some others. This place is the bomb. The people are so amazing and so it the food!"

Now that I'm home, I have to say, this was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Living in the moment.

Have you ever had one of those days where you are completely living in the moment?  Every single one?  You’re not worrying about what’s going to happen next, or in an hour, or in the next week? You’re not thinking about that episode that made you so mad last week or how stressed you are about your upcoming interview.  You are completely and utterly consumed in that moment and each and every moment as they come?  Well I had one of those days today. It literally started right when I woke up and lasted clear til this very second.  Just absolutely enjoying every minute that I get to be where I am, doing what I’m doing. As we were coming back in from our day and the boat was racing across the water and the waves were banging against us I looked out and this huge expanse of jade colored water before me and the beautiful islands dotting the horizon and thought “Wow, you are one lucky girl.” And that of course led to a whole train of thinking about the wonderful blessings I have in my life and how incredibly lucky I am to have everything and everyone that I do in my life.  So there’s my little sentimental quip for the day!

So, today.  The aforementioned amazing day.  We spent the entire day in the sun.  Needless to say my lovely golden tan is now a nice shade of scarlet red.  Just a tad uncomfortable.  But I tell you, it was worth it.  Jordan had wheeled and dealed the previous night and we secured a private boat to take a tour of 4 different islands and to see the emerald cave. So we stopped off at our first island for some snorkeling.  A word on snorkeling and me.  Before this trip I’d never actually done it.  Looks simple enough.  Oh it is not.  The actual first time I snorkeled was about two weeks ago when we were in the south in Krabi.  Not the best experience. My mask wasn’t tight enough and I so I kept getting water in the mask.  Salt water up your nose and in your eyes is not the most pleasant thing in the world.  And of course you’re not supposed to stand on the coral because you can damage it.  And mind you, that is someone’s house!  Well, I didn’t stay in the water all that long on that trip.  But the few glimpses I got of the fish and the beautiful water, I knew it was something I would learn to love. 

This time I was bound and determined to make this time count. I made sure my mask was nice and tight.  PS long hair and snorkeling do not mix.  I made sure I was biting on the mouth peace all nice and good and I jumped in. We snorkeled at three different islands and each one was better than the last.  The first island the water wasn’t very clear and although the second one was much more clear, there were a few more people there crowding the area.  And Jordan got stung by a jellyfish so that wasn’t much fun.  But it was all worth it when we stopped and Koh Kradan. It was beautiful.  All sorts of different brightly colored fish, the water was crystal clear, and we were the only ones in the water.  My favorite part was when the sun would shine through the water and these amazing sharp rays of light would break through the water.  Incredible.  I loved all the fish too.  Fish I’ve seen on TV or in fish tanks, just swimming around. My favorite fish by far was the this black and yellow striped one.  Kind of in the shape of a triangle.  You know the “big fish,” the leader in the fish tank in “Finding Nemo?” He gives Nemo the name sharkbait?  Yup, that’s the one! He was my favorite.  Also at Koh Kradan we spent time swimming in the ocean.  This particular beach and this particular water were perfect.  It was so clear you could see your feet in the water below you.  The water here is the color of jade.  I’ve never seen water this green.  Granted, my beaching experience is quite limited. Nonetheless, it was beautiful. We were the only ones there.  You could see the islands dotting the horizon in every direction.  Fishing boats further out. It just doesn’t get much better. 

The last and final thing we did was we went to the emerald cave.  It’s a cave on the island where we were staying. We anchored the boat, put on our life jackets (which were required however I felt made the swim much more difficult), and jumped off the side into the water.  Then it was an 80m, or roughly the length of a football field swim into this tunnel and finally emerging onto the little secluded beach.  There really aren’t words, or pictures for that matter, that can capture how beautiful it was.  I think the real amazing thing is swimming in, standing up, and looking straight up into the beautiful blue sky and the deep green of the trees.  I think colors are intensified here.

It was just one of those days.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Phase II

Today we left the beautiful beaches of the south and headed north...ish....I think.  I really need to look at a map! We are in Nong Khai.  We're going to spend a few days here before we head to India. Tomorrow we're headed to Laos, to do what you ask? Beats me, but enough of the future events. So today..... We woke up early and caught our taxi the airport.  Took a couple short flights and taxi ride and here we are.  A friend of Jordan's that he knew on his mission picked us up.  Riding side saddle on the back of a scooter in a dress, now there's something I've actually never done in another country.  It was kind of fun though.  We dropped off our bags and had some lunch. I was becoming more comfortable with the food....until tonight, but more on that in a minute. Then we went to a statue garden.  It's this huge garden, filled with Buddhist and Hindu statues.  They're beautiful, and intricate.  I wish that I had more knowledge of these cultures so that I understood the scenes and symbols that I was seeing.

You could spend hours there. Next, it was off to the market.  The only way I can even think to describe this, is like a huge swap meet.  I remember when my Grandma Holgate lived in California.  Whenever we'd go visit her we'd go to the swap meets on the weekend.  Rows upon rows upon rows of people selling things.  Anything from underwear to food.  A bit of overstimulation for this quiet Wyoming girl.  I didn't buy a single thing. I'm a very poor shopper. I've been told I have the opposite of buyers remorse. Instead of buying and later feeling bad about it, I DON'T buy, and then later feel bad about it. I'm trying to overcome this horrible problem :D

So tonight, I had my first "food scare." Some members of the church invited us out to dinner.  It sort of in the form of a melting pot type dinner.  Bunch of raw ingredients thrown into a pot, simmered and stirred.  Other dishes were served as well that were already cooked.  One of the dishes brought out was a fish carcass with squid and other types of sea food and lots of vegetables.  It actually looked quite delicious. One of the women dished me up a nice big spoonful of it. I was in the process of trying to eat something else.  Just as I was headed for this particular food, Jordan stops me with, "Umm...there's cashews on top of that." There weren't any in the portion that I'd been served but Jordan had seen them. So then he had to proceed to explain why I wouldn't/couldn't eat this particular dish.  They felt horrible, I felt horrible that they felt horrible. But, everything else was good :D Someone up there's lookin out for me.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Paradise, thy name is Thailand.

The last couple of days have been magnificent in here in Thailand.  We're in the southern part of Thailand called Krabi.  On Saturday we took a boat tour of some of the islands. The sun, the sand, the beautiful blue-green water, it truly is picturesque, and my pictures in no way do it justice. And words, well words just are not sufficient to be able to describe it.  We did a little bit of snorkeling, a little bit of exploring, and a whole lot of soaking up the magnificent sun.  I've never actually done any serious snorkeling, nor have I been anywhere where the snorkeling  is considered good.  And while we may not have been in any prime spots, it was very much amazing.  The colors are so bright! I never knew the colors contained within my crayon box could become so alive. I woke up the next morning with a fist-sized bruise on my left shin.  I honestly have no idea what happened, but I'm maintaining that a fish punched me in the leg.

One of the many views from the boat
 Sunday we took things easy.  Jordan had several assignments he needed to finish for school so we slept in a bit and I watched a movie or two while he worked on school.  We went and had lunch, another food success.  Sweet and sour chicken this time.  And then I went and had a Thai hot oil massage.  It was very good.  I could have used a bit more pressure but I didn't want to press my luck.  At first, I'll be honest, I was just a bit uncomfortable.  Let's just say that with these massages you aren't as covered up as you are with a traditional massage you may get in the states. And then some tiny Thai lady is crawling all over you twisting things this way and that, massaging here and there.  After the initial shock of it all, I ended up liking it quite a lot.  And where an hour massage in the states will run you somewhere between $50-$70, I paid less than $10, so can't really complain much!

Today has been my favorite day so far.  Today we went kayaking/canoeing.  It wasn't really a kayak and it wasn't really a canoe, it was hybrid of the two.  But the same concept of both.  We maneuvered through a mangrove forrest into a small and peaceful lagoon.  We saw small caves and beautiful greenery. I was attacked by a monkey.  I'm 0 for 2 with the animal life in this country. People have been feeding these monkeys for years and now they expect it and just come and take things.  We had a plastic bag with out water in it, which just happened to be in between my feet in the boat.  One of the monkeys scrambled down and tree, jumped in, tossed aside Jordan's snorkeling gear and took it.  I may have had screamed a bit, okay a lot....  We're both lucky I didn't flip our little boat!  The whole journey took about 2 1/2 hours.  It was beautiful.  I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. The views and the peacefulness was simply breathtaking.  I wanted to just stay and float for hours. Soaking up the sun.  Listening to the water ripple and the wind rustle the trees.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Well I survived my first day of authentic Thai food and nothing bad has happened yet, as in, I haven't had to use an epi pen!  A great accomplishment I believe!  Although 24 hours down and I'm pretty sure I'm just a tad dehydrated.  Need to push that water.  The heat, or more precisely the humidity, isn't quite as bad as I anticipated, but it's definitely not great either.  Now I know why I don't live in the southeastern US.  No thank you.  Today I'm exhausted, to say the least.  Of course between "jet lag" and my own insomniac issues I did not sleep well last night.  We arrived at our hotel around 3am and I think I feel asleep around 4 and woke around 6:30. Even after over 36 hours of traveling, my body resisted.  So I should be able to sleep tonight, I hope.  Right now we are in Krabi, which is in the souther part of Thailand.  One word, beaches! Gonna take some boat tours tomorrow, hang out in the sun.  Looking pretty forward to it.

Today we just walked around Bangkok a bit.  Really it's just like any other big city.  Noisy, lots of traffic, lots of people.  Stinky.  I don't know that it's really sank in that I'm actually in Thailand.  Hopefully tomorrow will change my mind!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Here We Go.......

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” 
 J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's good for the soul. At least it's good for mine!  My thoughts are you can find adventure in any form, all you must do is simply look.  Just a couple of weeks ago my 4-year-old niece, after a full fun-filled day at the water park, remarked, "This is the best day ever!" And so it was.  Well, if there IS any kind of consensus on what an adventure looks like, I suppose I'm about to embark on the quintessential adventure.  Thailand and India, a full 3ish weeks.  Wow.... This is, actually, the longest trip I've ever taken.  Most of excursions last at most 10 days.  But here I am, sitting in the San Francisco airport, thinking about the next 24 hours....all of which includes airports and airplanes and cramped spaces.  But after that's all said and done....there you have it. Adventure. With all the traveling I do, I actually haven't been anywhere new in quite some time.  To say this place is new, is a bit of an understatement. But I'm excited, and a bit nervous of course.  But that good nervous, when you know it's going to be fabulous, even the not-so-fabulous stuff will still be fun and exciting. 

It's painfully obvious I'm not so fantastic at this whole blogging thing, as evidenced by the two posts out of 10 posts from my Guatemala trip.  But I'll do my best, as I've promised my grandma that I would :D So stay tuned!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dia Numero Dos

Guatemala: Dia Numero Dos

It's Sunday.  It's Father's Day.  And I'm in Guatemala.  It's a beautiful day.  The sun is shining.  The sky is a gorgeous shade of light blue.  We are headed into San Andreas for a day at the market and of bit of sight seeing before we get down to business tomorrow.  On our way to San Andreas my thoughts turn to my father.  Naturally right? I have a bit of a guilty feeling for being absent, out of the country even, on this day.  Especially because I will also be absent this coming Saturday, which happens to be his 55th birthday.  So a little about my daddy...My father is a very quiet man.  Something I believe he gets from his father who is also the strong silent type.  Something I like to think I inherited from them.  Those of you who know me know how quite I am and that I can be a woman of few words.  My father, and his father, subscribe heavily to the philosophy that you showed your love, your value, just about anything else, through your deeds and your actions, not so much by your words.  My father is not an openly emotional man and again, not a wordy one.  But I have never once doubted how much he loved and supported me.  I have never doubted how proud he is of me.  I know I am incredibly lucky to have such an example of hard work and devotion in my life.  Don't worry, lest you think this man is a saint, he does have a few flaws...

  1. He is already losing his hearing.  Although I suspect this is a clever rouse and he really just has a super power of selective hearing.
  2. Procrastination: another gift he so graciously bestowed upon me.
  3. He can't seem to figure out why the air conditioning in my jeep works fabulously in Wyoming, but not at all in Utah.
Now we return to Guatemala....

It's our "rest" day before we open clinic tomorrow.  Normally on this day we would attend church.  Being a group largely from Utah you'd be a fool to bet against us being an LDS pack.  However, this Sunday was regional conference.  Don't worry, we still went to the church and made good use of the building.  We scammed some Mormon wifi!  Checking facebook of course, sending off some emails, and letting family know we're okay.  Anyone know how we functioned without electronics and wifi and internet for so long?!  Lest you think technology is purely evil, let me ease your mind. (And in case you're keeping tack, I've now used "lest" twice in this post). One of the children who lives in the village of Los Robles and attends the school where we were staying and working has had a nasty skin rash for sometime.  Mostly on her face and neck.  Well Lynsey, our physician, looked at her and took some pics.  On our wifi-borrowing adventure Lynsey shot off an email/text to a rheumetologist friend of hers and received a response with a diagnosis of Actinic Prurigo, which is essentially a sun allergy of sorts.  It's seen prominently in those of latin decent, especially those living in tropical sunny climates. Boom!  Nice right?! Almost at least.  There really isn't a cure. Avoid the sun, try wearing wide brimmed hats, high SPF sunscreen and steroid creams.  Try explaining that to a little girl who spends 95% of her time outside in the sun.  Hopefully the things we gave and taught her will help.
Now we're walking down the main street of San Andreas where the Sunday market is spread before us.  I wish I had the worlds to evoke all of the senses in you so you could experience as I have.  The smells, both good and not so good hit all at once.  The hot sun beating on the exposed skin of your arms and legs and face, warming every inch of you.  The sight of each of the vendors with their fruits and vegetables of bright red, orange, and yellow.  The women in their brightly colored traditional clothing doing their Sunday shopping. Taste, well taste I can't describe because I wasn't willing to chance it ;) The sound of rapid Spanish and laughter.  The small child being carried to the motorcycle screaming "Quiero el helado papa! Quiero el helado papa!" It's all I can do to soak up and attempt to burn every last thing I possibly can into my memory.  I close my eyes and I can still see and feel and hear it all.  It's so incredible to simply be there and soak up the culture.

Dia Numero Uno

Guatemala: Dia numero Uno

To say I’m one tired chica would be an understatement.  Not the understatement of the century, but an understatement none-the-less.

Today was of course a day of travel.  Which of course started last night, Friday night. Now I’m no stranger to being awake for 24-48 hours and therefore no stranger to willing my tired body and mind to continue moving.  Either because I simply can’t sleep but more so when I work a night shift.  There is just something about traveling though that simply exhausts you. Here’s what the hours looked like….

9:45 pm Friday June 14th:  Flight leaves SLC
12:45 am (PST) June 15th: Flight leaves Los Angeles
6:30 am (back to MST) June 15th: Land in Guatemala City, Guatemala. 

Well if that isn’t enough it is now time to hop on the van and drive 2 ½ to 3 hours to Casa de Sion in Los Robles.  By the time we arrive and unload it’s about 10 or 10:30 am.  It might as well be midnight I’m so exhausted.

I’ve done enough of these trips by now to know a few tricks for traveling long distances and over long periods of time.  So without further ado I give you “Tristyn’s Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling”

DO wear pajama-esch clothing.  There’s nothing worse that traveling for 9+ hours in constrictive clothing.  Yoga pants; “Did I just get done running or did I just get out of bed?” The world will never know.

DON’T drink an entire bottle of water right before you board a flight that is anywhere over 2 hours.  Especially if you have a window seat.  Drink the H20 early enough so that it goes through you in plenty of time to use the facilities in the airport rather than subjecting yourself to climbing over some giant of a man just to find someone else has beaten you to that bathroom 10,000 feet in the air.

DO bring a book, if you are me, bring three.  Open it immediately upon sitting.  This will hopefully deter that chatty neighbor in the middle seat from wanting to create a lasting bond with you in your 4 hours together.  Earphones work even better. (Can you tell I’m not a talker?)

DON’T buy snacks in the airport.  I believe this is a form of extortion, they are so expensive and they know you have no other option.  Ridiculous.  Bring your own! And bring crystal light for your drinking fountain water! Promise, it's okay.

DO put an extra pair of undies in your carry-on; in whatever form this may take.  May it be a purse, backpack, satchel or your favorite re-usable grocery bag, pack those undies.  I promise, that all-important time you forget to do this is that ever fateful time they accidentally send your luggage to Chicago (because that’s close to Miami) and you’re left without a pair for a day, or even worse, two.  Wearing the same clothes two days in a row, acceptable, wearing the same underwear two days in a row, never pleasant.

And now it's nap time.  Adios.

(I realize these are being "back-blogged" but I did not have internet.  It was glorious.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down

False.  Actually I love rainy days and Mondays, today just made me think of this song by The Carpenters.  Which, judge away, I happen to love. "You like rainy days and Mondays?  Are you insane?" you ask.  Why no, of course not.  Allow me to explain. We'll start with Mondays, this one makes more sense. I don't have an everlasting dislike of Mondays as your average person may.  Most likely this stems from the fact that I don't have to work a 5 day work week like many others, and the fact that I work a great deal of weekends, which for me makes Monday a very nice day.  A Saturday of sorts.  Now on to the rain.  I love the rain.  I know I was meant to live in the Northwest. I love those deep gray clouds.  I love the smell. I love the cool, misty air. I love sweaters.  My theory is that I love the rain so much because I love to read so much.  Maybe these two do not correlate in your mind, but they very much do in mine. They go hand-in-hand.  Whenever I picture a rainy day I picture me, with a sweater and good book.  Curled up on the couch with a chai latte.  Right? You can't tell me that doesn't sound absolutely divine.
Now I realize it's not Monday, but essentially with the long weekend it is. And while it did rain, it hasn't lasted all day.  But as I stared out the window at work as the rain drizzled the thought just crossed my mind of how nice it would be to curl up with my book that I'm trying so hard to finish and sip some chai as the rain came down. And maybe one of those brown butter bourbon chocolate chip cookies I've been dying to make and try.  More on that later.
Just a happy thought I had today.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Back To Reality

March 4, 2013 Monday
Place: Evanston, Wyoming
Time: 7:00pm MST
Song: Overjoyed-Matchbox 20

I'm home.  Barely coherent.  After 18+ hours of traveling I'm surprised I'm still functioning.  Allergies and asthma are already kicking in.  My skin is dry.  But I'm glad to be home.  I'm seriously contemplating a hot, steaming bath, it's cold here!  But to wrap some things up, here's a list of random phrases and words that came about during the past 11 days.  There's a great story behind each every one so if interested, ask away.

Phase 10

"What's my objective?"

Same-sex partners

Reading rainbow

No take-backs, no changies

Monopoly Deal



Dora, like the explorer

Non-seminal event

Turn left at the cow.

Did you see the size of those things?!

All Good Things Come To An End

Saturday March 2, 2013
Place: Montrouis
Time: 4:35pm EST
Song: Beatles-Can’t Buy Me Love

We spend the morning lounging by the pool and getting one last dip in the ocean.  Breakfast is great with made to order omelets and fresh fruit.  I love coming here because I love all the fresh fruit.  You can’t get mango in the states like the mango here.  That’s pretty much all I eat for breakfast, fresh mango.  Be jealous, be very jealous.  I’m jealous because after Sunday I won’t get it anymore. 
It’s our last official work day.  We head back to the orphanage to do a clinic for the people in this town.  As we drive up we’re met with, well literally a mass of people.  We set up and get down to it.  Over the next 4 hours between 3 nurses, 2 MD’s and a nurse practitioner we see and treat 98 people.  Headaches, backaches, cold’s that have lasted for months, even years according to the patient.  By then end of the day we’re all very exhausted, sweaty, and thirsty.  We say goodbye to everyone at the orphanage and head home to the guesthouse where we have one last team meeting and commence with packing. 
Leaving is always bittersweet.  I’m usually ready to get home.  Be back with my family and friends and return to my normal, everyday life.  And if we’re being quite honest, be back to all of the simple comforts that I so often take for granted.  A warm shower, a continual supply of water, and sadly even, yes my blow dryer and flat iron.  But I hate to leave these people.  They’re an incredible reminder to me of what’s truly important in this life and that to be truly happy doesn’t require the material luxuries so often associated with the concept.  Family, friends, health, faith; these things that can’t be measured in monetary terms make one truly happy in this life.  And let’s be honest, I’m going to miss the sun!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Opposites Attract

March 1, 2013 Friday
Place: Montrious (prounounced Mo-wee)
Time: 11:07 pm
Song: Friends-The Band of Skulls

Today was glorious.  We awoke as usual, had a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs and fresh fruit then loaded a bus, yes bus-there are 24 of us including our interpreters, headed for Montrious (Mo-wee).  We arrived at the Work of Art Orphanage at around 9:30am.  I believe I’ve spoken of this orphanage before.  This is the third year we’ve come to this particular orphanage and done this particular work.  This orphanage houses children and caretakers and to raise funds they paint.  The teachers and instructors teach the children to paint.  They’re paintings are very beautiful and fun.  So we arrive this morning to complete well children checks on the children in the orphanage as well as see the workers and caregivers.  We treat any illnesses we find and leave vitamins and various supplies with them.  Lots of ear infections this year.  Our family medicine doc taught the workers how to clean the ears regularly, especially after swimming.  The children are overall healthy and excited to see us.  In about 2 1/2 hours we saw 34 kids and a few adults.  Pretty impressive.  One woman came with her 3 month old baby girl. The baby only weighed about 10 lbs.  The mother told us that she'd been hexed and that her milk had never come in as a result so all they had been giving the baby was juice.  Voodoo is a a very real religion to these people and they truly believe it.  We gave her about a month to two months worth of formula and taught her some nutritional information for the baby.
Then it was off for some every important mental recuperation.  After working very hard all week, we hit the beach.  We arrive at Club Indigo.  It used to be an old club med back in like the 70’s.  It’s not your average 4-star, but it’s comfortable and the water is actually warm! As I lounge by the pool getting my tan on they play oldies like Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons.  Makes me think of dirty dancing actually haha.   But don’t fret, as my luck would dictate, I did not meet with a Johnny Castle type.  The sun feels magnificent on my skin.  I let myself relax and soak it all in.  We have wonderful afternoon lounging by the pool, playing in the ocean, sipping pina coladas, and teaching our interpreters to swim.  Most of our interpreters grew up in and around Port-Au-Prince and have never had the opportunity to learn to swim.  Some of them are actually a bit scared of the water.  They do well though.  They’re hilarious actually. 
By dinner time we’re all starving, as we haven’t eaten since breakfast.  The food isn’t too shabby.  We eat, joke, and laugh for 3 full hours.  I wish I could recreate the atmosphere and conversation we had that night.  It was incredible.  Hilarious may be the better word for it.  We spent the better part of the 3 hours joking about various things that have happened on the trip, funny things people have said, and just telling stories.  Not only this but one of the other nurses on the trip, Jessica, keeps filling all our water glasses from the picture.  It becomes a game, we keep drinking, and drinking, and drinking, trying to see if someone will break and go to the bathroom.  And they keep refilling our water picture.  We must have drank somewhere between 12 and 15 of them.  Sad part? None of us had to get up and pee, we were all that dehydrated. I’ve loved every trip I’ve been on and the people that I’ve been on them with.  I’ve always tried to have fun.  But I have to say, maybe it’s just because I’ve really needed it and really made the effort, but I have laughed so hard on this trip.  I don’t believe I’ve laughed harder on any other. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Place: Lamardelle
Time: 5:12pm EST
Song:  Neon-Chris Young

Today was somewhat of an odd day.  I went with a group out to Lamardelle to do…..well truthfully we didn’t know what we’d be doing.  We had been in touch with a group called Enfants de Jesus, or Infants of Jesus.  An orphanage of sorts.  But not really an orphanage.  These children are more like foster kids.  They don’t know where their parents are; whether they’re alive or not.  But it’s a bit more than that.  This organization helps to run a clinic as well as oversee the education of the children in their community.  It’s all very confusing to me and I shall not attempt to explain, I apologize.  What I can tell you is that we ended up teaching a group of 20 individuals on a variety of topics.  Those who were present were teachers from the school and individuals who were connected with the clinic in this area. 

This organization that is funded by a group called….  Is actually one of the more impressive communities I have visited while in Haiti.  They have a doctor who works at the clinic full-time.  They have a functional pharmacy that they can give medications to the patients.  They have nurses and other support type individuals, including those we taught today.  The school is quite impressive, holding approximately 500 students grades K-7.  These children are fed two hot meals a day; breakfast and lunch.  This is very significant because this allows families to be able to feed their children, allowing them to keep them.   Quite often in Haiti children are sent to or dropped off at orphanages because families simply can’t support them.  The children appeared to be healthy and well cared for.  It was definitely a first to see how incredibly self-functioning it was.

This trip has been a bit introspective for me.  This isn't a first.  Not the first time being on a trip like this has caused me to evaluate my life, and not the first time I've had these thoughts or feelings in the past month.  I’ve thought a great deal about many things.  I have not come to any conclusions or decisions about any of those things, but I’ve thought of them nonetheless.  So I suppose that’s good right?  A lot of self-doubt.  About abilities, knowledge, future and the like.  My head is somewhat of a jumble.  How's that for vague? Eh well.

A couple of other firsts…. I have some mosquito bites on my butt and I’m really at a loss as to how they got there.  Also I just washed my underwear in the shower….

Even on the fourth.....a couple of firsts.....