Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Couldn't wait to get my volunteer package and today, there it lay on the kitchen table - a bulging cardboard envelope bursting with things inquiring volunteers need to know! It's been my experience that reading up on the culture and country and preparing in advance can really enhance the travel experience. CCS made sure we had lots of reading material ... volunteer information, placement info, participants handbook, luggage tags announcing to the world that I am an international volunteer and an over-sized CCS tee-shirt.  No shortage of materials here. Most importantly I need to find myself one of those Swahili language CDs and get some basic phrases nailed down -- "where is the bathroom?", "how much does this cost?", "what is your name?", "can you guess how old I am????".

So far I am very impressed with CCS and their staff; their experience in organizing these volunteer trips is evident. The support has been exceptional. The website is rich and comprehensive and includes a CCS community page to help us connect with alumni and other volunteers. Haven't found any of my com padres yet but I can't wait to!

With every little development, movement forward my anticipation grows. And really, isn't that half the joy? It's the journey -- AND the destination.


Sunday, March 17, 2013


I had a call from Katie from Cross Cultural Solutions; she was just checking in to make phone contact. We chatted about Tanzania and what I could expect on my volunteer experience. She reiterated what I knew to be true - that the volunteer experience is simply the setting for a cross cultural exchange. I joked that I hoped any young ones on the trip wouldn't be disappointed to get stuck with a couple of old ladies (Jill and I) and she told me that so far, there isn't anyone under 32 years of age. Not that it matters... but it adds to the excitement to learn more about the profiles of the people we will be sharing our time with.

So hats off to Katie and CCS; it's been a wonderfully positive experience thus far, with Katie providing attentive, professional and personal service. Next step: pay up!


Saturday, March 9, 2013


Aisle or window seat? Our flights are booked and our seats, selected. Jill and I connected by phone this phone and went through the process together online. I pulled up Seat Guru to help us pick the best seats possible. There are so many decisions -- over the wing? (ideal for emergency escapes); how close to the water closets (smallest closets ever); and whether we should sit in the "middle four" or in the "side three". I have visions of my head on Jill's shoulder as a complete stranger drools on mine.

As we moved through the booking screens, Jill kept reminding me not to look at the price -- "just keep pressing enter". It almost left me groping for Gravol. It's costing a small fortune but the good news is that we're paying for the flights so far in advance that we'll have lots of time to save up in the upcoming months.

And so it begins.

Next up: immunization inquiries.