Tuesday, March 29, 2005



The in-flight movie is the Incredibles and they accidentally put in the Japanese version. Hopefully that was a mistake and I am still headed to Sydney. It is Easter back home so I am hoping everyone by this time is chock full of chocolate and marshmallow peeps. Save the black jellybeans for me—I’m coming back in 21 days. Oh goodness—I am witnessing the proof that AUS are more like Americans, than not—after 7 weeks of in country flights and amazing silver tea and coffee service on all the NZ flights…the Qantas Australian in-flight beverage service just started and it’s a huge silver clangy cart filled with every soda or fizzy drink you can imagine. My time in Xanadu is really over. Many have told me Australia would jump at the chance to be our 52nd state and now I really believe it. The giant soda cart is enough creditable proof for me. It's "Incredible!".

I certainly have gotten comfortable getting around areas that I know little or nothing about. I am so comfortable, I am now heading to AUS without any paperwork for my itinerary. I am lucky that I vaguely remember that I “think” I am suppose to be staying at the Medina Hotel at the Sydney Harbor—so with fingers crossed that is where I am going. I am certain as well as hoping, Julie—my in-country coordinator will have a packet for me when I arrive outlining every step I take for every appointment she made. Julie has been a dream to work with and I will get to meet her towards the end of my trip when I am in Melbourne.

I think the flight attendants are trying to kill me—they just came to my seat with their awful carts and offered me beef tips or fish—this is the worse anti-Americanism I’ve experienced so far. Beef or Fish?..are you kidding me?…I’ll have cheese, fruit and a cappuccino, thank you very much. They didn’t even respond and moved on to the next isle. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!

I have three hours on this flight to get my diplomacy attitude adjusted and in-check. I really need to concentrate or this will be a long 3-4 weeks. It’s not my fault I am now addicted to all the great foods and sweets from New Zealand.

Although I did have one horrible culinary experience in NZ that I haven’t even had the stomach to write about. I’ll try now. I was in the South Island for the first time and a guest at someone’s home for dinner. I did start to panic as I was thinking, oh goodness, what if it’s lamb or worse yet, deer. It turned out to be pork—specifically pork chops—they were well done and I thankfully I got the one with more bone than anything else. As it turned out it was the least of my worst food experiences over the next 48 hours. The following night I was being treat to a fancy schmancy restaurant in ChristChurch—I quickly noticed they had absolutely nothing on the menu I recognized. All sorts of horrible fish and freaky meat dishes were featured, even brains and something called white bait. I settled on the appetizer version of the scallops. When they were served I noticed they were mixed with carrots so I made sure I had a carrot with each bite to hopefully mute or drown out the other flavors. No such luck—and you want to know why? Because the orange thing was no carrot but some gross part of the scallop call something like the protein sack. Ugh—it was a near death experience, honest. Okay—now, here is the worse…Bob G. gave me the great suggestion that I should really look into end of live care issues when on my fellowship and I agreed this was a good idea. I met with a nursing home and also spent time with the staff and management of an Alzheimer Care Home. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about the care of aging adults in this country. These kind people also had the nursing home cafeteria prepare our lunch. I was sitting there eating institutional soggy asparagus sandwiches and I’m sorry, I have a hard enough time going to my mother’s rest home and feeding her the mush they are served, let alone eat it myself. I was a woman on the edge. In the end, I managed—but this was proof enough for me that I could eat a can of worms on Survivor to advance or win an immunity or reward challenge. I have no doubt now and can confirm, I need no more practice.

The flight attendant just stop by and offered me a Muslim meal....why are they doing this to me? I said, no thank you...but if you locate some boiled irish potatoes, I'll take them.


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