Monday, October 4, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

My bags are fully packed, to the point that I've reached the weight limits for the business-class upgrade that I got from LJ (thanks!).  One of my bags weighs in at 68-69 pounds, just under the  70-pound weight limit for business class international travelers.  Most of the weight is from the liquids I'm taking: shampoo and conditioner, contact lens solution, and the like.  With all the OTC meds I'm carrying, I could probably start my own pharmacy over there. 

I still need to check through my suitcases again and see if there's anything else I can leave behind.  Part of my struggle is ensuring that I have clothing that is appropriate to my professional role in the schools.  In contrast to my 4-months in Australia during grad school, on this trip I need to have nice clothing, such as button-down shirts and polo shirts and khakis for work, as well as the clothes that I'd prefer to wear on my time.  Since women generally don't wear shorts in Ghana, I have mostly pants, which also take up extra space/weight.  I'm up to 6 pairs of shoes and I'm not even a shoe person!

I'm excited and a bit apprehensive about the trip.  Of all the the concerns I have, the biggest one is something we take for granted here in the US: water.  I've heard horror stories from friends of the long-lasting effects of the various parasites and other ickies that can come from un- or under-treated drinking water.  There are stories of water bottles refilled with tap water and with the lids glued back on, which is why water sachets are recommended over bottles.  I've got a Steripen for UV treatment of water and a Katadyn MyBottle for on-the-go water treatment if I can't buy sachet water, so I'm well-stocked.  We'll have a kitchen so we can boil water for drinking and teeth brushing. My concern is more about the one time--which is almost bound to happen, especially with the long travel day I have ahead of me--that I forget where I'm at and default to brushing my teeth using tap water or grabbing a drink from a water fountain.  Even worse, it means I can't order a salad when I'm out a a restaurant, because the mantra is "Peel it, Boil it, or Forget it."

Time to finish up last minute details and head to the airport in an hour or so.

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