Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Joys of Camping

This, my friends, is a tarantula being devoured by an even bigger bug. Not what you want to see on your way back to your campsite, especially when it is almost dark. Yes, I know that most tarantulas are totally harmless for humans, but that does not reduce the horror of encountering one after a glorious bath in a hot spring waterfall. It's totally incongruous and jarring, and definitely not conducive to good sleep. I think this was the one night that all three of us crammed into the two person tent. No one was sleeping outside with tarantulas.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Camping in Tikal

This would have been the smart way to go. Hammocks and mosquito nets. Our way? A two-person tent (carried on our backs for a week), a sleeping bag, one sheet, and a liter of water. Since we were three people with a two-person tent, one of us always slept outside---on the beach, in the rainforest, in a hammock on a nature preserve, or in the dirt. You just curled up real tight and tried to forget about the tarantulas. One night we had an armed guard watching the beach house behind us, and he apparently watched me sleep all night. I was out like a light, so I'm not sure if that was a reassuring thought or not. By the end of the week, one of us had mono, the other had a raging sinus infection, and the last one suffered debilitating blisters. However, the views at Tikal, the hot spring waterfall at Finca Paraiso, and the countless chicken buses made it all worth it. I wouldn't trade that trip for anything.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Something Has Crashed On My Computer

This is totally like my cat. If you are reading a book (0r worse, a newspaper), yours is the one lap that Tiger wants to sit on. Forget the coaxing of the other two people in the room; he only has eyes for you.

This makes studying for a test or brushing up on the daily news challenging. The solution? Resign yourself to a few minutes of stress relief, and pet the rascally cat.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

North Carolina!

Well, it's the day before I officially start in North Carolina. I'm still apartmentless, but a lovely AmeriCorps worker has offered to host two of us incoming members for a week or two, until we find a place. This is a huge relief, since I can now actually view my potential apartment in person, and not be surprised by its condition once I arrive.

I have an air mattress in my trunk, in case I rent an unfurnished apartment. I still have $150 in food stamps for this month, which should get me off to a good start. Now I just need to hit a thrift store for some dishes, sheets, and a spare towel, and I should be all set!

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Hereby Abandon my Pepper Spray to the Crown

Evidently pepper spray is a prohibited weapon in Canada. Never mind the fact that it successfully journeyed on numerous chicken buses throughout Guatemala and Nicaragua, and all the way down to Panama, crossing countless borders with barely a blip. Canadian customs officials simply cannot abide the presence of pepper spray in Canada.

As a result of carrying a tiny can of pepper spray, I was questioned three times, and had to fill out two forms to "abandon" my pepper spray to the Crown. What, exactly, is the Crown going to do with it, I'd like to know?

I can procur another can easily enough. It's just $7 down at the local outdoor outfitter. I'll just miss this last can---the countless hours I spent with it clutched in my sweaty palm, walking to work through catcalls past "bars" (AKA fronts for prostitution). It's the can I gripped as I escaped from a overly zealous suitor through the streets of Xela. It's the spray I contemplated using when I was trapped in an taxi cab with two vaguely threatening men, and that offered me a bit of confidence as I walked down the heavily guarded Panamanian streets. That pepper spray saw me through some interesting times.

Goodbye, pepper spray. Goodbye, old friend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


You know you need to get organized when you need a pith helmet and a flashlight to navigate the morass that is your room.

Even though I just boxed up three large boxes full of donations to Goodwill, plus a huge garbage bag full of clothing (also donated), I still have mountains of books and clothes to sort through. Somehow I thought I would naturally cut down on possessions with my yearly moves. However, I usually just end up with one unpacked box from each move, that remains in a corner for years afterward.

So now I'm sorting through years of accumulated paperwork and "maybe I'll wear it someday" clothes. Maybe if I just scanned each document and put it on a flash drive, I could get this clutter monster under control. The work entailed in scanning each individual sheet of paper would certainly cut down on the paperwork fast.

How do you deal with clutter?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Things I'm Thankful for Today

1) The Baker's Dozen blog. Raising fourteen children, running a photography business, and keeping everything light and humorous is way harder than anything I could possibly be going through today.

2) Batanga. I'm able to make a personalized radio station with all of my favorite music (9/10 of which is Spanish---Reik, Camila, and Juanes, with a scattering of Maroon Five and others).

3) Wild blueberries. Somehow they taste so much better than the store bought ones.

4) Road trips to Canada. What am I going to do in North Carolina, half a country away from Canada?

5) My goofy black lab, who loves Pocky sticks. Who knew?

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Cat and Surprise Inspections

I miss my cat. There's something about coming home to a loving little furry creature that makes life so much better! I want to do animal foster care this year through the local Humane Society. I wonder if the apartment leasing office would notice if I suddenly had a few extra kittens in my room?

Strangely enough, the community does random inspections (for "licensing" purposes). I've only rented an on-campus apartment before, when security could knock on your door and search the apartment if there was an excessive noise violation or suspicions that you were selling drugs (or providing alcohol to minors). This, in the grown-up world, seems excessive. I'm fine with the police being able to search my apartment (provided they had a search warrant), but not the leasing agent.

Is this normal? Have you ever had surprise inspections?

Wizards of Ooze

Catchy name, no?

Aside from the (frightening) connotations of the name of this portapotty company, I have to say, they are quite inventive. Take, for instance, their white wedding portapotties, which "match the formal setting of your special event." Somehow, a white wedding and portapotties never quite fit into the same mental picture for me, but whatever floats your boat.

They are also pleased to offer handicapped accessible portapotties. Since they are the biggest portapotties offered, they "are often used for weddings, parties and businesses when you need that extra room for donning formal and upscale garments." Personally, I always love to change into my prom gowns in a spacious Wizard of Ooze portapotty!

Head over to their website, where you can be amazed by the plentiful products they have on offer!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Funny Cats

Go check out I Can Has Cheezburger? (AKA: LOL Cats) now!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pajama Vacation

This last few weeks have been crazy. I spent half of July packing up my life in Washington and moving back to Minnesota. Now I am trying to catch up with all of my friends and relatives, finish up all of the loose ends that moving entails, and repack for my move to North Carolina.

It's time for a Pajama Vacation. Two days of lazing around the house, reading good books, watching bad television, and doing absolutely nothing productive. Massive amounts of Spider Solitaire may be played, and generous servings of chocolate are consumed. Bliss!