The following is part of a multi-part series to run over the next few months. Melissa Baffa, Vice President of Program and Volunteer Services for GSCCC, will be joining the Corps of Exploration this year on the adventure of a lifetime. This blog series will chronicle her dive into the Unknown.
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My shuttle to LAX was scheduled for 1:15 am. My bags were packed, two very full and very heavy carry-ons, thankfully with very sturdy zippers. My brain and body were a buzzing mixture of excitement, anxiety, exhaustion, and anticipation. My emotions ran very near to the brim. A certain look from my husband or one of my kids was enough to send one or both of us into tears.
|Three weeks' worth of stuff packed into two small carry-on bags: hope those zippers will hold!|
It’s funny how the littlest things that you normally take for granted in day-to-day life take on so much significance on a day like today. Taking the kids to school, having dinner together as a family, tucking them in at night. When you realize that these little actions will be so dearly missed while you are away, it really brings things into focus.
And finally, the last few moments at home had come. When I stepped on the porch in the cool night air, it was so silent in our neighborhood, my husband and I whispered so as not to break it. My mind raced again and again through my list….did I forget anything? Was there something else to do? I went in and woke and kissed the kids goodbye, as I had promised, and then there was the crunch of tires on the gravel outside: my shuttle had arrived. It was time. The adventure of a lifetime had begun.
Arriving at the airport at 3 am means nothing is open yet, not even the ticket counter. A small crowd of us stood and stared at each other, slowly swelling to about 100 before the ticket counter opened. An uneventful check-in, pass through TSA, and wait in the terminal, and then – whoosh! – we were off on the nearly six hour flight to Panama.
|Rain spattered the windows as we arrived at the airport.|
|Outside the airport in Panama City.|
As he whipped through traffic, I was very thankful to not have to drive myself. The lanes are barely marked, people swerve and dodge like lunatics, and the only signals drivers seem to use are their horns. By the time we got to the hotel, I was feeling carsick. By now, I could not contain my yawns. I had been up for more than 32 hours straight.
|A huge photograph of an ammonite (nautiloid creature) welcomed me as I entered my hotel room.|
Skip to the next blog post by Melissa: Panama