17 July 2007

Countdown: 2 Weeks to Egypt!

To paraphrase a well-known automobile notice: "Date objects in calendar are closer than they appear."

And that whoooooshing sound I hear is the noise they make as they rush up to meet me...

All in all, I'm in decent shape as August 1 approaches. I got my renewed passport, finally. That was a saga all on its own... Getting the business visa was a relative non-event. I sent my brand new, shiney passport off the Egyptian embassy on a Monday and had it back in my hands that Friday. The visa stamp is very colorful and gives my passport that "lived in" look...or at least, "slightly used." It still has that crisp, clean, uncreased "new" look for the time being. Ah well, a trip or two will take care of that!

I made a run to the Goodwill store a couple weeks ago to look for appropriate clothes for this trip. Being a predominantly Muslim country and also a very warm one, I wanted very lightweight, light-colored, long-sleeved, sort of shapeless tops. Not that I want to try to "pass" (as if!)...it's more a matter of not attracting undue attention. Or, rather, attracting the wrong sort of attention. Anyway, I shopped Goodwill figuring that they were clothes I wouldn't have much use for otherwise and I didn't want to pay a lot for them. I ended up with enough tops to get me through the classes with the skirts/pants I currently have.

I replenished my travel kit supplies over the weekend. I try to fly without checking any bags. Given the current restrictions on liquids in carryons, I need to make sure I have travel sized containers for anything that I take. Mostly, for this trip, that means I simply need to top up the bottles I already have. However, I also make sure that I have a travel roll of toilet paper. I've discovered that a lot of public restrooms in far-flung places don't come stocked with paper and, in some places, the paper they have, shall we say, leaves a lot to be desired. In the camping and/or travel supply sections they have these compact, solid rolls that are perfect. Pocket packs of tissues can work too but these travel rolls are more convenient.

I'll start my pre-packing and organization in another week or so. The challenge in traveling for work is always dealing with the laptop. It's a pain. In the U.S., it means removing the laptop from its case and running it through the scanner in its own tray separate from the case. So at every checkpoint it adds to the whole routine of emptying pockets, removing shoes, pulling out the liquids bag, taking off any jackets/purses/fanny packs, etc and then redoing it all afterwards. Outside the U.S., at least they don't make you take the laptop out of the bag...you run it through the scanner the same as any other bag.

The big thing on my "To Do" list at the moment is getting all my training materials ready to go. To a certain extent, I can canibalize previous training gig files. Most of the framework is the same; I only modify what is specific to that country. The problem is that I have to comb through a lot of material to find those points of difference. That takes some time.

I see extra hours in my future for the next couple weeks. And some of it will be spent researching Egyptian culture, language, tourism, climate, etc. I always like to have some idea of what I'm getting myself into!