Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm in Guinea

Really, I am.  I'm working hard.  Field service is wonderfully exhausting.  I love speaking French. I love my team, the projects are going well, and it's wonderful to be back in Africa.  I just don't have the time/energy/internet to be able to write decent blog posts with photos - so please forgive me if you don't get any updates for the next week or two.

Thanks friends! Krissy

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Travel and Brussels! (With photos)

What a crazy trip!  

We got on the road on Tuesday at 8am (after being ready 45 minutes early – this crew is awesome).  Goodbyes were a bit tough for me, it’ll be interesting to be living in an environment now where we are saying goodbye all the time! Anyway, about 30 minutes into the drive, we got a call saying that our flight to Conakry was cancelled, and we needed to turn around and  head back to the IOC. We talked about it and decided as a group we’d rather spend the extra night in Brussels, even if we had to pay for hotel rooms ourselves… no one wanted to go backwards, we want to keep moving forward!  So our travel agent said she would try to get us some cheap hotel rooms, and we kept on going. The only issue was potentially our South Africa, Maryke, didn’t have a visa for Belgium and she was the only one of us that would need one. (US/Canada and EU countries don’t need visas).  We got to the airport and stood around for awhile as the Brussels airlines representatives tried to find our tickets, and unfortunately, Maryke was denied entry. Most of us had already gone through security and had our tickets, so we continued on and Maryke was rebooked for the following day.  

We boarded our flight to Newark and all settled in, it looked like we were actually going to take off about twenty minutes early which was great, because we only had 70 minutes in Newark and the potential was there to have to change terminals, which would be a LONG walk. We sat at the jet way for a good half hour before they came over the loudspeaker announcing there’s a problem with the fuel lines (or something) and we all needed to deplane. Awesome.  The Brussels airlines folks were super nice, and told us we would likely be rebooked on a flight to Chicago then on to Brussels, arriving about an hour after we were originally supposed to land.  Okay, no problem, right? So we settled in to wait for the Chicago flight set to depart about two hours later. 

Then the lady came on the loudspeaker and said we’re ready to go to Newark, they fixed the problem, and she told us we should still get there in time. Okay! So we piled back on the plane, but still sat on the jet way for a bit waiting for them to get our luggage back on, as they had pulled ours for the Chicago flight already.  Once we were finally airborne, we figured out we’d be landing at just about the same time that we were supposed to depart for Brussels, so hoped they would hold the plane for us, or the pilot could make up some time in the air (which he did). 

The flight was uneventful until the end. We’re literally a hundred feet from the end of the runway and the pilot pulls up and guns the engines – there was a lady stuck in the lavatory and we couldn’t land.  I don’t want to speculate on what happened but it wasn’t a bad thing, she was elderly (though a police officer met our plan e), we had to circle around and took up valuable time. We were watching the time, and praying we didn’t have to run to a completely different terminal to catch our Brussels flight.  As it turned out, we only had to go down about four or five gates! Awesome. So we piled in our new (big – 777) plane, and then we had seat issues….  

They held the flight for us, but had already reseated some people into our assigned seats!  So several of us had to look around and sit wherever there was space. Unfortunately, several of the passengers were less than friendly about the whole situation.  Oh, and the other thing – one of our team had a seat assignment in row J – THERE IS NO ROW J in a 777!  Crazy, huh?  But finally, we all had seats, and settled in…. and waited… and waited…. For our bags to be loaded. We sat on the jet way again for another hour, after being worried about making the flight.  Ah, well!   

Finally we took off and the flight was a pretty standard ocean crossing. The food was really good, I didn’t sleep at all, but it is what it is. Then, Brussels! All of our bags made it, which was huge considering how many times they changed hands! Brussels was awesome. Our flight to Africa was uneventful, very long, with a stop in Banjul before Conakry, but then we made it through customs with no problems, all of our bags made it, and we settled into our accommodations. I’ll write a separate blog post about that. For now, here’s some photos of Brussels, thanks to Suzanne. Love to all!

Where are we?

We enjoyed cute little cafes...

Beautiful cathedral, we got to go inside...

In the royal gardens...
 
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Arrived!

Hey!

Guess what?

I'm back in Africa.  It's been a long trip, including an extra 24 hours in Brussels... A complete blog post will be written soon. But for now... I'm back where I belong.  :)

Love to all. Kris

Monday, October 22, 2012

Back to Africa

This time around it's a completely different animal.  Moving BACK to Africa as opposed to moving TO Africa.  All of the excitement, and none of the anxiety!  It's fabulous :)

The great migration begins tomorrow at 8am when we pull out of the IOC and drive to Dallas/Fort Worth airport (a couple hours drive I think).  Then we fly DFW to Newark (70 minute layover), then on to Brussels (5 hours) and then to Conakry (with one stop somewhere else in north Africa) landing there at 8pm Wednesday night local time (36 hour migration!)

The end is near, time to pack and clean,
Getting everything into one bag is obscene.

That's two lines from my final project, a 1325 word poem akin to the good Dr. Seuss.  I haven't written poetry like that in a long time and it has brought me much joy. :) I will post after it's been presented.

Africa is distorted on most world maps to look smaller than it actually is.  It's big, folks.
That's all for this morning! Peace, Krissy

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Safety at Sea

I loved loved loved Safety at Sea training.  I actually am considering, if the option presents itself, taking the more advanced class at a mariner academy so I can actually be on a lifeboat crew!  It was awesome. Anyway, a few photos for your viewing pleasure...
 
We had to get in and out of the life raft from the water, and then do it again in our immersion suits (see below) - that was much harder. Then we had to right the raft alone from a flipped position. 

I'm leading this train of survivors, floating in our immersion (otherwise called Gumby) suits.

This must be where the cleanup crew on Monsters Inc. got their inspiriation - we looked just like them!!

In other news, I'm moving back to Africa in THREE DAYS!!! I'm super grateful for this time here in Texas but I can feel myself getting restless... it's time to go!! Today I have to try to organize my life a bit, get stuff in my (one) bag, put anything that won't fit or I won't need right away in a box to go on the container. There's some talk of going dancing tonight, or doing some kind of activity today... we'll see.  We all have to work on our final projects that are due on Monday, too. And we have to deep-clean our dorm.

Peace! Krissy

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mailing info

Please note the tab along the top of this page that says "mail" - it's just been updated with mailing instructions for anything you could want to send me on the ship! Please don't send anything without reading this new information!

Many thanks! Krissy

The Run and Firefighting

So as I was getting ready for Gateway Training here in Texas, I prayed that there would be at least one other runner in the group so I would have someone to run with.  As it turns out, there are like six of us that run on a regular basis. Awesome!

We were looking at a race in Tyler a few weekends ago to run together, but it was rather expensive and logistically difficult to get there. So we decided to have our own run!! Sunday we did it, ran around the lake at Tyler State Park. Six of us ran it, there was a finish line with medals and tee shirts and everything. Very epic and so much fun!

Runners at the start

The back of the tee shirts we made

The tee shirts were for everyone, not just the runners. And here we are!
 
It was awesome.  This week we've been in our final week of training, called BST, which is the US Coast Guard's Basic Safety Training, as well as crowd management. International maritime law requires a certain percentage of any crew have this training, so it's a requirement for all crew serving longer than 9 months, as well as all deck and engineering crew regardless of length of service. 

The first two days were firefighting, and really... I can't say I enjoyed it, but I endured it well, and of course passed all the requirements.  But I'm just not super keen on fire. I don't even light candles very often.  I like a good campfire but I'm usually the safety-conscious one, making sure we're covered.
All of us ready to go!

Out on the field

Me and my partner, Dangyra, who totally rocked it. I would want this girl on my team!


Yesterday we did first aid and CPR which was just a review from my many, many years of lifeguard training and instructor certifications! So... nothing epic.

TODAY and tomorrow, however, are awesome.  Safety and survival at sea.  I LOVE WATER and anything having to do with being in the water, on the water, or near the water.  Tomorrow we travel to a local pool and do practical exercises. I am very excited.  So hey, I'm not keen on fire, but am loving the water portion. It takes all kinds. And I'm super excited to be living on a boat again. :) Er, that is, a ship!

Gateway overall has been incredible!  Tomorrow we're at the pool, Saturday and Sunday we pack, clean, trip it to Walmart one more time, and finish our final projects.  Monday we have crowd management in the morning and then presentations of our final projects and an african diner in the evening.  We head out Tuesday morning!  We are flying Dallas-Newark-Brussels-Conakry, arriving late on Wednesday evening.  If you want my flight info, let me know!

All photos except the one of me and Dangyra are courtesy (and with permission) of the ever fabulous Suzanne, you can look at her blog here: http://suzannemichelles.blogspot.com/

Peace! Krissy

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More beauty

Suzanne is an amazing photographer. Here's a couple she just randomly snapped after class on Friday. Thanks my friend!
 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Three weeks down....

I'd usually say Happy Friday on a day like today, but reality is.... it's been SUCH a GREAT week that I'm kind of sad it's over!

This whole week has been about personal and interpersonal development.  The first three days we spent a lot of time on Personality and I get totally cranked up when we talk about that stuff (my Psych degree is coming out...)  We also discussed our strengths, gifts, living in harmony, and conflict resolution.  Our instructors have been fantastic and the staff super supportive as we discussed (and wrestled, in my case) these things with each other and within ourselves.  Overall - it was super fantastic and I'm sad it's over. 

Tonight we're headed to a movie and tomorrow I think we're going to the mall.  I'm not entirely sure.  And I don't have any pictures to share.  Really, it's turning out this is a pretty lame blog post, but I just wanted to get SOMETHING up here for you to see. 

We leave for Africa in 18 days!  YAY!!!!

Peace (like a river....) - Krissy