13 October, 2011
... but it's been a whirlwind of chaos and busyness since I last posted. I'll give you the quick version of what's transpired since our last chat.
My last couple weeks in Pohnpei were spent largely trying to make all the arrangements for my departure from the island and my re-entry into Durham. I had a stressful snafu with my flight reservation: When I went to check on it, I learned it was no longer in existence. I had to spend countless hours on the phone with both Continental and United representatives before being reissued another set of tickets for the same itinerary at an elevated price. (Stinking mergers ...) Still, it was good that I discovered the snafu before I was at the airport and ready to depart.
My last weekend on island was spent at The Village Resort. Saturday Dad and I booked one more snorkeling trip to Manta Road so I could try to snorkel with the mantas and actually enjoy the experience. (If you recall, the first time I did this, I was in the midst of a panic attack thanks to the whole "I'm swimming with sharks" knowledge.) By this last weekend I'd had more experiences in the water and was much more comfortable and ready to do the Manta Road experience right this time. The cruel joke was that it was chilly and grey and misty on Saturday. The first stop at Manta Road produced absolutely no mantas. Not a single one. So, our guides took us on to Mwand Pass so we could snorkel while the other couple on the trip with us could dive through the channel. This was a different section of Mwand Pass than the last one we visited. It was not at the wall, but at an area that was maybe 10-20' deep with large sections of coral dotting the sandy floor. It was nice, because we got to see some larger species of fish here than any of the other areas where we previously snorkeled. After this, we returned to Manta Road with higher hopes of finding manta rays this time. After several attempts to locate the creatures, our guide did finally spot one lone ray resting on the bottom of the ocean. Since we were all a little cold, and had all had prior experiences with the manta rays, we elected to just call it a day and head back to shore. I was sad not to get my chance at bravery with the rays, but it wouldn't have been the same under those circumstances, anyway, so I don't dwell on it. After Dad and I shared a lovely lunch at The Village restaurant, we got me checked in to my hut. (Mom and Dad gifted me with the generous and lovely gift of a night's stay at The Village. It was such a treat.) I spent much of my time lounging on one of the waveless waterbeds with my book. In the evening I went to dinner, and enjoyed yet another gorgeous island sunset and delicious Village meal. Then I retired to my bungalow for some more reading and relaxing until the cool ocean breezes, rhythmic lapping of waves on shore, and sounds of Nature in the darkness of night lulled me to deep, dreamy sleep. What a luxury! The following morning, Mom and Dad met me at the restaurant for a yummy brunch. It was a great way to spend my last weekend on island. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
In the true spirit of Travel, I had one more really stressful airline experience before my final departure. The airlines and their website(s) all told me to be at the airport an hour before my flight was scheduled to leave. I did. And it was too late for check in at the tiny Pohnpei airport. Apparently, they only have check-in during very specific times: 12n-1pm, if I remember correctly. This is for any flight leaving that day regardless of what time it departs. I didn't know this. There was no one at the counter. I couldn't find anyone to even ask for help. The plane was there, and had not left. It wasn't due to leave for another hour. But I had no idea how I was going to get myself and my bags on it. While I, my mother, my father, and a Pohnpeian that my parents knew who happened to be at the airport, looked around to find someone to help us, I was finally able to guilt the security guard into locating someone to help me. (I think he finally took pity on me because I was nearly in tears and on the verge of hysteria.) He returned with a woman who was kind enough to get me and my bags all checked in. I gave my parents the hastiest heartfelt goodbyes I could manage, then scurried over to board the plane. SUCCESS! I had made it. I was heading home.
Once back in Durham, I was elated to be reunited with my sister, who picked me up from the airport. We picked up a U-Haul, drove all the way to Carrboro to empty out my storage unit, drove all the way back to Durham to get me moved in to my new digs. As we take our first steps into my new home we discover someone is already in it. A fellow is there to begin work on the cleaning and painting of the place. That's right: to begin work. I politely kicked him out and contacted the property management company. Long story short, there was a miscommunication between the management company and the owner about my move-in date. We agreed that I would handle all the cleaning and painting (for a decent discount, of course), and that has been, in large part, how I've been spending my month. Apparently, the last tenants to live here were relatives of Pig Pen - the Peanuts character who is always filthy dirty with poofs of dirt and grime always in his wake. So, I've been cleaning, and cleaning, and cleaning some more. I'm almost finished with the cleaning .. almost. I've painted all the rooms except the kitchen, which I'm hoping I'll get to soon. I've scoured all the thrift stores in the area for whatever furnishings I didn't already have after my big "get rid of everything" pre-trip upheaval. I've sewn curtains, removed blinds, hung curtain rods throughout the house. I splurged, for the first time ever, on a brand new mattress. (Now I understand why people are willing to spend the ridiculous amounts of money that new mattresses require. My sleep has never been more sound.)
I have also been trying to arrange employment situations for myself. I have not really been able to fully process how my travels have changed me, but I am aware, at least, that I am profoundly changed. I have been revisiting long harbored dreams of what I want to do with my life, and trying to figure out how I might make even small moves in that direction. To paraphrase The Alchemist, when one sets out to fulfill her deepest and truest desires, the Universe conspires to make those dreams possible. Thus, I find myself in the very happy position of having employment situations that are moving me closer to my dreams. I will write more about this in another post. Suffice it to say, that the Universe is definitely conspiring for me, and I am very grateful and excited for it.
So, that brings us up to date for the most part. Golly, the quick version wasn't really very quick was it? Thanks for sticking with me through this post! I'm hoping to have some more posts coming soon. Now that I'm not being blessed with the adventures that traveling offers, I will be setting up my own Experiments in Bliss here in Durham. I've already got several planned. Stay tuned to read about how they turn out!