The most I’ve ever weighed…

Whew, our luggage scale was definitely a worthwhile investment.  My checked bag weighed in at 48.5 pounds on the JetBlue scale, almost identical to the reading I got at home.  (I left a little cushion, to allow for calibration differences.)  So, between my checked luggage and my carry on bag,  I am tipping the scales at 74 lbs…not counting my back pack.   I have never even come close to the weight limit on ANY  trip, even when we had to bring clothes for two climates.   As you can see, I DID squeeze some clothes into my carry on.

Fortunately, while I was still in the packing stage, I connected with Michelle and Paddy, two incredible women who were members of the first team assigned to the Kiddie Homey Day Care Center.  They clued me into the cheap laundry facilities at the hotel, which meant I could bring fewer clothes and more supplies.  I also stocked up on protein snacks to supplement the box lunches I’ll be getting, and stuck in an umbrella (for the frequent, brief surprise  downpours).  Thanks to them, I feel prepared–at least when it comes to packing!

I was not thrilled about flying out of JFK, because the trip from central Jersey to that airport is normally rather arduous.  What a pleasant surprise to get from my garage to the gate in an hour and a half!  That includes going through  bag drop and security.  Of course, leaving the house at 6:15 AM on a Saturday might have SOMETHING to do with it, but if Mike has an easy drive back home, and if fetching me on a Saturday night goes as smoothly, then JFK will definitely be a future travel option.  The jet blue terminal is beautiful and well designed.  I love the free wi-fi, which is something that Newark airport lacks.

Time for another adventure

I leave on Saturday, March 10 to serve on a Global Volunteers project in St. Lucia.  I’ve never been to the island, but from what I’ve read, it is very lush and beautiful.  Unfortunately almost 30% of its population live in poverty.  Community leaders in Anse la Raye invited Global Volunteers to send teams to help deliver essential services to the children in their village with the hope that by working together, over time, the cycle of poverty will be broken.

The St. Lucia project is new.  I will be a member of only the second team, so this will be a learning experience for everyone.  I just got my assignment and was thrilled to learn that my team will be working with 75 preschoolers, from infants to age 5.

The first team returned a few weeks ago with lots of helpful information, including a list of things that the preschool needs.  Books, school supplies, soap, hand sanitizer and baby bibs were in short supply, so for this trip, I am packing very differently.  Ah, Dr. Seuss, I’ve missed you.  We spent oh, so many nights together.  This will be a fond trip down memory lane.

Good thing I own a luggage scale.  This stuff alone puts me at 29 pounds!  Fortunately, I have never been a fashionista because this stuff took up half of the one checked bag I’m allowed.

I chose to work with Global Volunteers because I love their philosophy.  Teams only serve where they are invited.  They work under the direction of local leaders, doing whatever those leaders request.  Because self-reliance is a primary goal, the volunteers work hand in hand with the locals.  In fact a key requirement is that there be at least as many locals working on a project as there are volunteers.

There is no proselytizing–no hidden religious or political agendas, other than a desire to promote world peace.

The organization cautions its volunteers to remain flexible, noting that things don’t always turn out as planned.  Well, considering that my INITIAL plan was to serve in Italy last October, and I had to cancel because my retina inconveniently decided to detach 6 days before I was scheduled to leave, I figure I’ve had a bit of experience with plan changes.

I’ll be going on this trip alone.  I don’t know anything about the other volunteers on this second team–how many, where they are from, who they are, but all will be revealed by next Saturday night.  We will be working all this first weekend, but will have a break the second weekend, so I’m hoping to get a chance to see the island.

Adventure awaits!