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March 7th 2008
Published: May 28th 2008
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It's high time I write a little synopsis of the past two months. Just to clarify, it is the 7th of March and I am currently in Bangladesh, at my fifth Hands On project. I haven't had much chance to sit down and compile my notes on my recent travels and now think I may have a bit more time to do so.

January 12: official end date to Project Pisco. All's well that ends well. It was a sad and difficult final week, as all projects tend to be at the close. We threw a bash at a local restaurant and invited numerous locals who played an intregal part of the deployment and how things played out. The volunteer numbers went from 106 on Sunday to less than 20 one week later.

I have already sent out a detailed email on my trip from Lima-NYC. Now, why did I go to the east coast of the states?

Many if not all of you are aware I am a bit (ha...a bit!) addicted to Hands On, the organization ready and willing to jump at a natural disaster and act as "first responder" after a devastating calamity hits a country. Well, in mid-November of last year, a cyclone hit Bangladesh, statistically one of the worst consistently hit areas on the planet where Mother Nature is concerned. The reason why HODR decided to deploy is due to the fact the cyclone was the biggest natural disaster to hit the country in over 16 years. That's big. The death toll amounted to over 3500 people (and perhaps much more now); the damage to houses, livelihood and crops was extensive. Shacks were destroyed, houses and schools lost tin roofs and walls, and a massive amount of trees were downed. Hands On has made an appearance to try and get some of the local people back up on their feet again.

So..................this said, I had to go the east coast of the US to get my Indian and Bangladesh visas sorted and to get more passport pages put into my passport (easier to do this before leaving the states). Fortunately, on day one, I managed to get my Indian visa with little hassle, day two I got my Bangladesh visa with no hassle and a few days later as I was visiting friends in Boston, I got more pages in my passport (2 sets for the expedited price of 1 -- what a deal).

I spent time in New York, somewhere Ms. West Coaster had not been since I was a young girl, and a few days in Boston, a city I have never been to. Although not a relaxing nine days, it was lovely to catch up with friends, and I managed to get quite a bit accomplished, as only one can when back in the western world.

The weather held out for me, and although it snowed a night or so before I arrived in Boston, the four hour bus journey was clear and crisp. I borrowed sweaters, pants, socks, a warm hat and a long coat from my friend Karen in NYC, thankfully, cause I was cold nearly the entire time on the east coast. My adrenaline running high, and the anticipation of my upcoming trip kept me from freezing.

I ran across nothing but kindness and helpfulness in NY (and Boston of course). I found myself, especially the first few days, walking around in a daze, gazing up at the skyscrapers, wondering why everything looked so neat and tidy and uncluttered (I know, I know, this is New York, but still, compared to what I have seen the past year and a half...that place was amazing!). I caught glances of people looking at me and smiling, knowing I clearly wasn't from that part of the world, and many people stopped me and asked if I needed help finding anything. Cars drove on the, ehem, correct side of the road, and everywhere around me, people spoke in English. For once I didn't have to thumb through the back pages of a foreign guidebook trying to decipher the correct phrase to use.

The only unfortunate part of the trip was on my morning bus ride back to NYC from Boston. I was due to fly out of JFK that night. No sooner was I on the early morning bus than I started to cough. Then sneeze. Then I had to reach for a napkin to blow my nose. How strange was all of this all of a sudden? This turned into a full blown cold.

Welcome to winter on the east coast. Somebody get me back to Asia.......quickly!


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