My daughter, Carrie, is again on the loose, wandering the world. She is a veterinarian involved in some research dealing with anthrax which takes her to Namibia, Africa where she chases Zebras and darts them and takes their blood samples and does lab type things with it. Just getting to Namibia from Berkeley (where she is pursuing a Phd) is an adventure. This trip she had to stop in London first to get accreditation to practice as a vet in Namibia. I'm not sure what the British have do do with veterinary accreditation in Africa (maybe it goes back to the days of the Empire and its contol of that part of the world), but she made the trip to Namibia through London this time. I thought I could share with you her emails while on her latest adventure:
I'm here in London now. Which sounds very exciting, but really I'm just sitting in a hotel room with a view of the arse end of the airport, wondering how in the world I will afford to eat here when one US dollar is worth two raisins and a button.
My flight was rather dull. They didn't feed us until about 9:30PM, by which point I had eaten the fat man next to me. He gave me indigestion. Then they brought round a plate that consisted of a lettuce salad (apparently even green, watery tomatoes cost too much now), beef fat, and water potatoes (a new species of tuber that mashes up into a runny paste). My "breakfast" consisted of a few pieces of tree bark and an oleo sandwich. Thank goodness I brought along some instant oatmeal.
I got slapped with huge baggage fees in SFO - about $127 for one extra bag (other people's lab supplies) and a too-heavy bag (also full of lab supplies - the London bus driver asked me if I didn't have a stow-away in there). I can't wait until I check them in again tomorrow and they charge me in Brit dollars.
I'm going to go figure out where the gym is in this hotel monstrosity - it's a very nice place, and my room is great, but so far they've charged me for almost everything extra they can think of (though the gym is supposed to be the one free thing). They've got everything rigged in the room so if you touch a button, open the minibar, or change the channel, you accrue fees. I'm loathe to turn on the hot water tap for fear I'll be charged per cup. Or per stone, or per fortnight, or per king's ransom on the hoptoad.
I'm told by the telly that I might see a wee bit of sunshine tomorrow if I'm lucky, otherwise it will be gusty and damp and will make me talk in a silly accent. I will try to email again tomorrow, but I have to check out early so I can get to my appointment with the queen in the morning (alright, it's not with the queen). My flight leaves at 8:25PM tomorrow, so I will wander about a bit in the rain and then eventually head to the airport, where I may or may not purchase internets for the equivalent of a week's worth of groceries in Oakland.
Here is the followup email now that she is finally in South Africa getting set for othe next step that will take her to Windhoek, Namibia and then on to Etosha, Namibia, and the research center that will be her home for the next six weeks:
Hi all! I made it here to South Africa, and now it's onto Windhoek soon, where Kelvin (Wendy's Namibian Afrikaaner boyfriend) will pick me up (or so he says - otherwise he tells me I will have to wander down the highway, showing a bit of leg). London was great fun yesterday - I managed to bus, tube, and walk to the RCVS alright (other than the crazy mish mosh of streets - I got quite lost on foot - London is pretty easy to get around). I got all sworn in as an MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons), and got a nice certificate (looks like a diploma) and everything. As long as I keep paying my dues I get to continue being an MRCVS. And now I get to call myself that as well (see signature below). I feel very official and important now. And then afterward I wandered around the Westminster area for about 3.5 hours - got some food, wandered through some parks and by the Thames, hobnobbed with some royals, etc. It was a little rainy, but pretty warm out, which was nice with all the leaves crunching underfoot. Then I made it back to the hotel (it does seem to take a long time to get around there - it took me about an hour and a half to go about 15 miles). I made friends with the concierge, who let me store my bags, repack them, and even take a last minute shower in the hotel's fitness center even though I had been checked out for hours. He also had helped me out that morning, alerting me to the free bus that goes to and from the airport (if you don't have bags), so I got to save 8 pounds there round trip. And then on my way to the airport I made friends with a South African who helped me load and unload my bags from the bus (no small feat, given the number and size of them). And at the airport I made friends with the desk clerk who gave me a discount on the exra bag fee (it was still another $125 or so!). I'm apparently just a very friendly person.
Now I'm in the Joburg airport and should fly out in less than an hour to Windhoek (it's a two hour flight). I didn't sleep much on the last flight - we were in a new plane, which should have made it nicer except for the fact that they made all the seats even smaller and closer together. So the rather large, extremely talkative and fidgety woman next to me was essentially sitting in my lap. Instead of sleeping, I made the mistake of watching the Sex and the City movie (I was curious - think of it as a sociological experiment) - man, that's 2+ hours of my life I wish I had back. Yeesh. I blame the jet lag for letting me keep watching it when I should have just turned it off and stared at said large woman in my lap.
Anyhow, that's that. Time to board soon.
Carrie Cizauskas, DVM, MRCVS
So there goes my little girl. Who would have thought back when she had her pockets stuffed with treasures she found around her, when her curiosity led her to examine things around her with a peculiar intensity, that she would harness that enthusiastic curiosity and use it to initiate some astonishing adventures? She is living a life of amazing accomplishment (as both a scientist and an artist) that she takes with a ho hum attitude that makes it all so much more incredible. How did we ever raise such a creature? I'm sure glad we did.