A friend and supporter sent an email today asking how the short-term planning was going. A good question, which can be answered a multitude of ways.
I have been reading a lot and just finished The Garbage King and am working on The Hospital by the River. My brother also arranged a gift from Lonely Planet.
Materially, I'm doing just fine. There is very little that I have to bring with me. Most of which I have already purchased or had, and some of which I need to buy. I still need to pickup my malaria and anti-biotic pills, some kind of digital camera, (My wife won't let hers go as the kids have way too many plays,etc. this summer which are photoworthy)a few wool socks from REI, and a pair of boots (more on those later).
I plan on carrying all personal gear either on my person or in a carry-on bag and thought I had packing figured out, till my dad, after viewing my bag contents said that my deoderant was too big. This prompted an all too long web browse and phone call to the TSA. Turns out that the TSA is very concerned about what you pack and how you pack it.
Their rules state that one must carry, and is only allowed, a quart size bag for gels and liquids. Each container can be no more than three ounces. I also ran into a bit of a quandry when I realized that, although my sleeping tent is lightweight and small enough for my carry-on, I could not carry on the poles. As I did not want to pack my tent in the checked luggage for fear it would be taken, I came up with the solution of packing the poles in the checked luggage and the netting with me. This way I can sleep with netting draped if the poles are lost.
Boots - my wife could not stand my obsession with them the other day. I spent too many hours browsing the various kinds, stores, and prices on the internet. But, my feet being what they have become and the terrain of Ethiopia being what it is I think it worth the investment. I have taken enough short trips in the Sierra to realize that good boots are required, and this trip is really glorified camping and hiking (think zero sidewalks and the only flat surface exists in the guest house where I will be staying). I did manage to boil it down to two choices which are obtainable locally and fit my budget (put it this way - I'll be wearing these boots in the states). I have to choose between Georgia's and Wolverine's:
The Georgia's are made of a soft, supple leather, and are unlined. I tried them on and they feel like their broken in already. I read that leather molds itself to your foot, which for my feet is a good thing as my heels tear through the lining of most shoes. The Wolverines are decked out with gortex and a serious traction sole, which would be good for the muddy hillsides of Masha.
Other than the boots, I won't have to buy any new clothing as it will come from my wardrobe here at home. Cotton/Poly button up shirts, khakis, and wool are standard fare for men across the globe. I love the fact that I will be in a country where clothing is more utilitarian and less a fashion statement.
Travel arrangements are nearly complete. Our team coordinator has done an outstanding job arranging the trip; tickets are in hand for the flight (these were the greatest expense). Copies of the curriculum are being made and suitcases will be filled with it next week (these will be checked in). I have all my vaccinations nearly completed (I'm taking two more pills for Typhoid Fever). Ground transport has been arranged, and so has lodging. Passports and visas have yet to arrive from the consulate.
The area of planning that concerns me the most is, oddly enough, teaching. We have some idea of what too expect and want to plan stateside, but find that we can't get too specific. We have been told that we will likely overplan and will have to cut back dramatically. I can't seem to wrap my head around the idea of students who are interested and eager to learn and will respect your authority. This motivates me to develop really good lessons, but again, I can only plan in general (isn't that how it always is?). So the other teacher, and I, will meet next week to craft a simple school day and talk strategies. I have also been planning for my next year's
three preps which has taken quality time from the kids.
Despite my inclusion of my kids in the Ethiopia planning, they are starting to show signs of anxiety about daddy being gone for so long. They are used to my teacher's schedule which affords them a lot of time with dad, especially over summer. Knowing that I'm going to be gone for a month, I have been spending a lot of family time, and am easily distracted when they want to play or talk. The girls have outright told me that they don't want me to go, and my boy has been clinging to his mom as if she is going to leave. This only exacerbated my mixed feelings about going. Not that I was going to cancel the trip, but traveling to Africa was becoming less exciting with every whimper.
My wife, God bless her, came to the rescue, articulating my feelings to the girls and encouraging them that this is not easy for dad either. You can pray for my little guy; he just knows that daddy is going to "upeopia". I just hope that after it is all said and done, they come to appreciate the example of service (and adventure) I've set for them.
So things are going well, the summer is moving along too quickly, and I am still in disbelief that I am going on this trip.