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Around the World, Around the World

January 13, 2011
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Between layovers and final destinations, we've got: Kinshasa -> Brussels -> Geneva -> Washington DC -> San Francisco -> Los Angeles -> Tokyo -> Bangkok -> Nairobi -> Kinshasa

By the time we get back to Kinshasa, Jamie and I will have flown around the world, literally, within the time frame of about a month.

Which is insane.

And so far, all of our original flights have been either canceled and re-booked or very delayed.  All. of. them.

But that is ok, because thankfully Jamie and I travel well together.  And we each have some very helpful traveling strong points that make these trips ok.

For example, I love airplane food.  I truly appreciate its perfect compartmentalization.  And in-flight entertainment movies, no matter how bad they are, somehow cause me to reflect on the meaning of life and always make me cry (whether its tears of joy or tears of sorrow).  Jamie, on the other hand, has the uncanny ability to sleep anywhere, at any time.  It’s actually really amazing.  He also likes to use his charming smile to try and get us bumped up to first class while we’re being re-booked.  It hasn’t worked yet on this trip, but we did get lunch vouchers…

So, between the two of us, we get by just fine on those 11 hour flights.

Anyway, our trip back to California for the holidays became an around the world itinerary when we found some very good reasons to make a stop in Thailand on the way back to DRC, instead of going back through Europe.  I discovered a public health conference in Bangkok on HIV Medicine that is pretty relevant to things I am doing for my fellowship.  Plus our good friend Katie M lives in Bangkok as a CDC fellow, and we’ll be able to take advantage of the long weekend (thanks MLK Jr.!) for some beach and scuba time.  All very good reasons.

Thai Flower Garland

So, here we are- we made it to Bangkok early this morning (after another flight cancellation and re-booking), greeted by a sleepy Katie M, who got up at 5am to come and meet us at the airport (thank you, Katie M!).  We have already enjoyed 2 Thai iced teas, a bunch of orange fruits that we’d never seen before, and a peanut noodle dish that was so spicy it made Jamie’s face turn red and tears and sweat stream down his temples.  I also bought a bunch of the Thai flower garlands that I searched up and down California to find for the wedding– they are on every street corner here.

And tonight we will snuggle up on the overnight bus and head to the islands!

So, as our time back in California with friends and family has come to an end, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on a few things from our trip home in the form of two different lists…

List #1:  Funny remarks from people when they find out we live in Africa

This picture was actually in Sierra Leone, but it's still funny

  • Parent’s co-worker, looking at a photo of me in an African kitchen (see photo): “You’re daughter was on Survivor?!?”  Parent: “No, she just lives in Africa.”  Co-worker: “There was a season Survivor in Africa!”
  • Dental hygienist: “So, do you live in a house, or…?”  Jamie: “We live in an apartment.”  DH: “Oh!  They have those there?!”
  • Clerk at store, regarding having something shipped to us: (while motioning as though she is handing over a package to be shipped) “Well, here you go little monkey!  Hope it arrives!”
  • Dental hygienist, again: “So, is there a body of water where you live?” Jamie: “Yeah, the Congo River.”  DH: “Are there crocodiles in it?”  Jamie “Uh-huh.”  DH: “And you’re not scared?!”

List #2:  Things that we really appreciated in California

  • Soft, good quality toilet paper
  • Being able to open your mouth when you shower (ie drinking from the tap)
  • Fast internet connection
  • Being able to walk around outside without any hassles
  • We didn’t see one damn traffic cop during the whole trip
  • Milk.  Fountains and fountains of it.
  • Cereal.  Bowls and bowls of it.
  • Not waking up to the buzz of a mosquito in your ear

Most of all, it was great to see everyone!  Thanks for making our trip worth it!

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