So, I leave for Australia in six days. SIX DAYS!!! Six days from the time this posts (about 10:15 AM EST Sunday) I will be on a plane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
I have been planning and talking about this trip since last June. I reserved a wheelchair accessible van – one of the only wheelchair accessible vans available to rent on the island of Tasmania – in August. I found a travel companion in October – thanks again Kelly! I created a crowdfunding site for fundraising in November. Thanks to generous support from friends, family and strangers, I finished my fundraising in December. I booked our flights and secured entry visas for Kelly and I in January. I started making lists in February – things to pack; tasks to complete before leaving; emergency contact instructions – you should see my lists! If I just get through this week….
My Personal Assistants have been very helpful, but the number available to work keeps dwindling. One is out on medical leave, recovering from surgery. Another was taken out of work by her doctor because of complications in her pregnancy. One had a car accident on Thursday and is without a vehicle for the near future. I had to terminate another one last week because she had not responded to my multiple attempts to communicate for ten days. I have no time to recruit or hire new staff right now. It will have to wait until I come back. I’ll be hiring in April, so if anyone knows of a potential applicant in my area, please send them my way. No experience necessary. Fringe benefits include cookies and the occasional opportunity to travel.
My suitcase for the trip is packed, and there is plenty of room for me to stash some Vegemite and real Cadbury for the return trip home. If you live in the United States and you’ve never had real Cadbury (as in, Cadbury made anywhere else but here) you’re missing out. I lived on Cadbury Twirls, Dairy Milk and Flake during my exchange year. I toured the Cadbury factory near Hobart four times during my stay. Each day at school, we would run up to the canteen on our break and stock up on chocolate bars for later. My friend Ulla and I would collect everyone’s money, then she would push my wheelchair to and from the canteen so I could carry everyone’s purchases. One day a concerned guidance counselor pulled me aside to ask if I was eating, whispering “You know, anorexia is very common in exchange students.” I had never heard that rumor. All the exchange students I knew, myself included, were packing on the pounds. Apparently, she had never seen me coming back from the canteen with a lap full of Cadbury bars. The Qantas weight limit is 50 pounds per bag. At this point, I can safely bring about 10 pounds of chocolate home if I wish and not have to pay extra in baggage fees.
My iPod is loaded with audiobooks. I have a new photo card for my camera. I have address labels printed for all the postcards I need to send. This week I will pick up the gift I am bringing to my host parents, who are letting Kelly and I live with them while we are in Tasmania. Today I am doing the final edit of the slides for my presentation – it’s why I’m going so I do have to make that a priority.
My cousin Jim recently compared vacation preparation and excitement to the anticipation of Christmas. If that is the case, I am getting close to Christmas Eve levels of excitement. Six days, in case you forgot!