All in Around the World

Travel Goals

When I started the year out, I had set a goal to visit at least one country a month this year. Then I got my special assignment that grounded me, so I set the goal of having year round tan lines--which has kind of happened, but I'm due for some sun, stat! With that said, I started the year strong with visits to Antigua, Senegal, Grenada and the Philippines by the end of March and continued with visits to Colombia, Croatia and Montenegro in the 6 months that followed.

Chasing Mountain Tops

Though I still don't consider myself an 'outdoorsy person', my friends, my pictures and my membership to REI would disagree. I'm still not the person who will ask you if you want to go hiking this weekend, but when an invitation is extended, I'll happily accept--with a disclaimer that I'm slow but not a quitter and don't want to hold you back. 

From Stab Wound to All Smiles

While the weather the past few days have been reminiscent of spring days, sunny with a chill but dry, we do have winter days where the rain doesn't let up and the cold sets into your body. As a result, most of what we see in the clinic are colds, or what's come to be dubbed as the Moria flu (headache, runny nose, sore throat, cough). Every once in a while we do get something different, like a broken leg, sprained ankle, toothache, pregnancy issue and even a stab wound. Yes, stab wound. That's what happened the other day.

My Monday night was a special one. It was my first shift on my own at the clinic, meaning there wasn't anyone to ask questions to. I kind of knew what I was supposed to do but also had no idea what I was supposed to do--but it was going to happen. Fake it 'til you make it? And made it I did. From helping reunite two different families with missing family members to using my Hindi/Gujarati to act as an Urdu translator (very similar languages) to working with an incredible group of people, it was a good night. The highlight of the night was meeting David though.

Reuniting Never Felt This Good 

Yesterday was a good day. I finished my first solo shift. I helped two different families semi-reunite with missing loved ones. And I held back tears as a wonderful soul shared his story and experience fleeing the Taliban with us (covered in a later post). This is why I'm here.It was my first day of working solo and working an evening shift. And 5/6 people who were working were new. With so many volunteers coming and going, this is pretty typical but it also means you need to think on your feet and just figure things out. Challenge accepted.

Day 0 and Day 1

As I was telling you last night before I drifted off into deep sleep (melatonin, you are helping me kick jetlag's butt like no one's business!), I had the option of taking it easy yesterday and acclimating, or checking out the camp and helping out. I wanted to do something so I opted to head to Moria camp to finally see with my own eyes the camp that I heard so much about.  This black barn right here is the Moria Medical Clinic that's run by Offtrack Health, and where I'll be spending most of my time. I'm what they call a floor manager--I'm responsible for intake of patients, crowd control, recording notes and anything else in between. I stopped by yesterday to see the clinic, meet some people and just get the lay of the land. And to buy a local SIM card nearby.

So It Begins

All my bags are packed, (I think) I'm ready to go...Singing that song is how I woke up my roommate this morning at 4:15am to drive me to the airport. (Best roomie ever--for taking me to the airport, and not hitting me for singing.) I, myself, woke up after my second of five alarms went off at 4:05am after an hour of sleep, with the lights on, because I was terrified that I wouldn't wake up. Anyone else have that fear or just me? Today was the day. I was starting the long journey to Lesvos to volunteer at the refugee camps.

48 Hours Until the Biggest Adventure to Date

In 48 hours, I'll be on a plane starting the long trek towards Lesvos, Greece. I've booked three different round-trip(ish) tickets to get there. On Wednesday, I fly from Portland to Minneapolis to Boston as part of RT Ticket 1. I have a little over 24 hours in Boston, a city I've never been to, and I plan on exploring a little bit (weather pending) before my flight Thursday evening. Thursday evening is the start of RT Ticket 2, Boston to Istanbul to Thessaloniki. I get to Thessaloniki on Friday evening and then I take off Saturday afternoon with RT Ticket 3 to Mytiline. Why so many flights? Why take so long to get there? Simply put: because I'm on a budget and this made the most sense. My first RT Ticket was booked on a voucher, the second RT Ticket was a deal out of Boston to Europe and the third RT Ticket is a domestic flight within Greece (much cheaper than trying to book it all on one ticket). As for the timing, it's the best I could do given schedules and the possible threat of bad weather forcing delays or cancellations.

Lending a Hand in Lesvos

I'm home, in Portland, for a week. Whoa. That's the longest amount of time I've spent in Portland since early November, and the last time I'll be here for that long for the foreseeable future. <That's just sinking in now.> After 20 months of funemployment, I've accepted a job. I start training mid-February (that I need to pass before I officially am back in the workforce again). I was originally supposed to start training in a week, but it got pushed out, which means I had an extra month and a half of time given to me. I hemmed and hawed about what to do with that time; do I spend it in Portland, getting ready for my next step while also freelancing to make as much money as I can in the meantime? Do I head somewhere warm to top up the consistent bronzed glow I had built up from trip after trip to a warm destination? Do I check something off the bucket list--specifically I was thinking about taking a dance-cation to Cali, Colombia and work on my salsa and Spanish skills? Then I saw this post in a travel group that I'm in on Facebook:

Fighting Fear: EuroAfricAsia 2015

When I see a cheap flight, especially a glitch or error fare, I turn into an animal and pounce like it's my dinner and I haven't eaten in ages. Book now, figure it out later. Thanks to a rule by the Department of Transportation, you have 24 hours to cancel a flight with a full refund—so really, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain when an error fare comes up. That's how I found myself with a flight out from Portland, Oregon to London, England returning from Istanbul, Turkey back to Portland, from mid-November to mid-December for under $500 USD. That was less than a flight home for the holidays. (In the words of my friend, Kenna, #bookthatish!)