I want to leave now! I do not feel like teaching for the next three weeks! What I want to do is brush up on my research and note taking skills, memorize some more French, and read the gajillion sources that have been recommended to me. I'm waiting to get my visa (for Mali) and passport back. I found out yesterday that you are supposed to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the embassy with your application. I've read and reread the directions and I see nothing about that on there! It's cool that with a $133 application fee they make you send your own envelope. Oh well, I did it today so hopefully I get everything back soon.
I've been meeting with the travel group quite often lately:
(Yvette and Santiago's dining room AKA our classroom)Last night we talked all about Mali and I realized that I haven't prepared myself for Mali at all. I've been doing so much prep for Senegal that I forgot that the first place we are visiting is Bamako. I guess that is what the next three weeks are for.
I've really been enjoying getting to know everyone I am traveling with. One of our recent meetings involved learning how to eat with your right hand:
It was fun, but very messy. Although I am sure it is going to happen, I am hoping that I don't offend anyone. When I do end up offending someone, I hope it will turn into a funny travel story that we can all laugh at someday.
My "to do" list is getting smaller:
Get the rest of my malaria pills
Scan my yellow fever certificate and passport (save to a USB)
Make 3 copies of my yellow fever and passport
Get copy of all prescriptions from my doc
Get a letter for why I need the prescriptions from doc
Make copies of project acceptance letter for travel
Send in for Visa to Mali
Email trip activities to my advisor so I can get credit
Get my Typhoid and Polio vaccines
Download all of my French CDs to my ipod
Figure out the packing situation
Figure out the budget situation (and money and exchange rates)
Go get my H1N1 shot
Buy the following: Deet, camera, permethrin, some kind of travel purse with lots of zippers, detergent packets, notebook, duct tape, camping clothesline, various types of hand sanitizer, waterproof hiking shoes for summer, non-ugly hat, first aid kit supplies (pepto, imodium, decongestant, motrin, neosporin, benedryl, girl time products), bath wipes, SPF 50, some kind of belt for my passport, pocketknife
(My super sweet travel bag)
I'm going to exchange my dollars into Euros in the next few days. The exchange rate is almost as low as it ever will be at 1.26. I contacted my bank today and the nice ladies over at the credit union told me that they do not charge ANY fees for using foreign ATMs. Relief! Although the foreign banks might charge a fee, at least I know that my bank will not. Since I have made the decision to not use traveler's checks, this is welcome news.
That is it for now. I will write more about my adventures in currency exchange soon. Until then, I am impatiently waiting for the school year to be over so we can FINALLY leave!