Category Archives: Getting Ready!

Planning a trip? What you need to do to get ready so you have what you need and don’t have to worry about what is left behind.

Dear Diary…Posts of anticipation (Jan 5-8)

January 5th:

I don’t know why I’m dusting my condo. After six months, I’ll have to be very careful not to stir a breeze when I walk back in July-ish, and cause a dust storm.

In other news – pre-departure house cleaning progress is being made. Whew! I won’t have to wonder who trashed the joint – and realize that it was me.

January 7th:

Checked in for my flight! Gonna obsessively unpack and repack my backpack. Then a final walk through. I wonder what I’ve forgotten. Whatever it might be, I’ll work it out. LOL

January 8th:

I’ve about an hour before my flight, and am relaxing in the Virgin Atlantic Club House. I’m so happy Delta partnered with Virgin! This is the best state side airport club I’ve been in so far! It is like a mini restaurant, with table service even. I was offered two kinds of sparkling wine, as well as a full bar. I took the Prosecco. Then I had the vegetarian Chickpea chana masala. I’m following that up with a pot of tea and a tiny desert made with chocolate pudding, topped with a rum walnut concoction and whipped cream. This was a lovely resolution to my super stressed scrambling of the day. Soon I’ll be boarding my flight to London, where I’ll get to hopefully sample the premier Virgin Atlantic club, for at least an hour before I catch the leg to Paris. I’m kinda looking forward to the actual flight on Virgin Atlantic.

For anyone wondering how I got access to the clubs – I keep a Delta Sky Club membership when I am consulting. It gives me a place to work with access to wifi, and occasionally take work calls. This time I’m using it for my adventure travel. — feeling Chilling in the club before my flight at Virgin Atlantic – Terminal E – BOS.

(a few minutes pass) On the plane now: OMG! Virgin Atlantic coach seats have power ports!!!

Toilet Training the Western Adult: The importance of the Squat

roses
Pretty flowers for you!

Ah, Squats.  That is an interesting word.  Not exactly lovely.  Not exactly poetic.  Just a description/name of an activity that is essential for health and longevity.

I’ll be honest.  The main reason that I joined Crossfit, besides needing to improve my overall fitness very quickly, was to intensively work on my squat.

You might think that joining a gym for a specific motion like a squat is a random thing to want to improve.  Well, I’m planning on spending some extended time in South East Asia, and I will at some point have to excrete waste products.  Liquid elimination isn’t such a difficult thing, as any of my female readers have all probably performed the hover maneuver.  It is the solid waste products, the poo, if you will, that poses a challenge.

I have been to Thailand and Laos, and have had to go into a public rest room and had to rethink my whole process.  The process became a “plan of attack”.
Why attack?  A hole in the ground, with places indicated for the waste eliminator to put his/her feet – right next to said hole is called a Squat Toilet.  That is a threat (to my shoes and lower garments), and, when you aren’t used to the process, it seems like an aggression.  You have GOT TO “GO”, and don’t have the accustomed tools to get the job done.

I try to only post photos that I have taken. I didn’t get a photo like this while I was in Thailand, as I was slightly traumatized by the experience.  I did not take the photo that the following link will show, but this is what many of the Thai Squatty Potties were like.

Note the furnishings.

  • The potty is actually porcelain or perhaps plastic.  I was not going to touch it to find out for you.  Some were visually identified as stainless steel.
  • You can observe the foot positions on either side of the “basin”.
  • Also there is a spicket, with a large bucket/basin of water, and a small scoop/cup.

Note the lack of Toilet Paper.  One can not or should not “flush” toilet paper down them.  The toilet paper has to be disposed of in the trash can, which is usually in the back corner.  Happily, the used toilet paper bin is not depicted in the photo. The bin isn’t usually full, as the public rest rooms do not supply the toilet paper.  You must bring your own.  Be prepared.  I also recommend bringing some wet wipes, but that is just me.    I’ve found suggestions on the web to use a long piece of twine, thread it through the center of a toilet paper roll, and tie the ends securely, and hang the combination around your neck, like a toilet paper necklace.  Etsy, here I come!

If you already don’t do so, perhaps change your diet while on your trip.  I recommend a healthy amount of fiber in your diet.  Consider restricting food items that cause loose eliminations.  Just sayin.  Moving on…

Most of us have become accustomed to the Western Toilet.  I know I certainly have.  So I did some research on how to make the process of elimination via squatty potty as graceful as that function could be.  According to the info I found, elimination via squat is the original way we humans eliminated waste.  Makes sense, right?  Physiologically, it is also anatomically correct position for efficient and easy elimination.  Things just move smoothly, if you catch my meaning.  That all supposes that one can assume the position.

Here is one of the best descriptions I’ve found on line.  With instructional images!

Basically, the process goes like this:

  • If you are a newby to this method of elimination, you should probably remove your garments from the waist down, and hang them out of splash range. Keep your shoes on, for the sake of all that is Holy.
  • Place your feet on the textured foot prints, and assume the position thusly.
  • Do not fall over.
  • Perform your waste elimination function.
  • Remember that basin of water and cup? These, my friends and readers, are the tools used for what we in the West call the “wiping” function.  Except, in the Squatty Potty process, it is more of a splash/rinse function.  Your LEFT hand will perform a wipe motion.  Yes, you will be touching your own anal area, and most probably your own poo.
  • Once you are traumatized by the touching your own ass, you will then use the scoop to rinse the basin of your excrement, three to five times.
  • Hopefully you brought hand sanitizer with you.
  • Re-clothe your nether regions with the garments previously removed.
  • Remember to eat with your RIGHT hand.

Prior to Crossfit, I tested out my squat motion, and found it significantly lacking.  I always thought of myself as flexible person, hip wise.  Well, I could get down there, but it wasn’t pretty, or comfortable, or steady.  One requires a steady squat, to avoid tipping into and touching bad things.  So, for two months I’ve been practicing my squat, in conjunction with the other activities that require good strong steady squats.  I have a good position now, but luckily, I have another month or three to, shall we say, get it down.

But wait!  THERE’S MORE!

Luckily improving my squat will provide much more in the way of life long benefits.  I actually just spent time with a personal trainer to improve my squat.  If you are in the Manchester NH area, Dayne Johnston at Granite State Crossfit is great to work with on Mobility.  In fact, all of the coaches at GSCF are awesome, and I’ve learned from each of them.  (Love you guys!!!!)

Squatting is not just a lower body exercise.  Think of it as a whole body exercise, especially for your core and hip muscles.  I’ve done a crap-ton of squats in my short time, so far, with Crossfit, and while I haven’t worked specifically on balance, abdominal, back, foot, or ankle strength…all of those have amazingly improved.   My posture has changed, and I feel like I walk differently.   Granted, I’m always a bit sore, but once that discomfort passes, I am actually stronger.  With all of the benefits above, wouldn’t that make other activities of daily living easier? I think so!
According to my research, squat lifting heavy (tailored to you) weights trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone.  Both of these hormones help in muscle growth.
Stronger muscles burn more fat, and flexible muscles help with general mobility. Squats prevent injuries by strengthening the stabilizer muscles, and improving your flexibility.
Here is a good article that I found doing a quick search on the benefits of squats.

For anyone interested in learning some stretches to help improve their squat, definitely check out anything by Kelly Starrett, who is a doctor of Physical Therapy, and the founder of Mobility WOD.  Most in the Crossfit world know who he is, but here is another cool article singing his praises, and includes some links to some of his videos:

Here is a great link on stretching for squats.

Thanks for reading!  I leave you with this blessing:

May all the water you drink be potable, and may all your moves be smooth.

Travel Money: Bank and Credit Card Travel Notifications

Waking up on the road
Waking up on the road

Imagine that you are just arriving to your dream destination, out-side of your home country.  You are so excited, and you can’t wait to get yourself some food and settled before you go exploring.  It is a totally awesome feeling…until you realize that you can’t take any money from an ATM, because your bank thinks you stole your own bank card.  Gah! That is awful!  Well, at least you have your credit card, right?  But, that is a big negative, as your card is declined the first time you use it.  Oh NO!!!

You forgot to notify your bank and credit card company that you were traveling out of country.  You just also have traveled to a country that has been blocked by your financial institutions.  You now have to call the phone number for each, or you would if you had cash to buy a phone card, and actually had the international phone number….

What a nightmare that would be!

While you are still state-side, call your bank and credit card company!!!  They may also have an on-line way of submitting a travel notification, as well.    I just did this, tonight, for my upcoming trip to Costa Rica.

If you are planning on doing more world travel, consider looking into a credit card that has a chip, and pin combo.  Last year my credit card company automatically sent me a card with a chip that can be used in Europe.  I just have to set up a pin code.  I’ve been to Paris three times, and each time I used my old card, I had to explain that it has to be swiped.  I just annoyed the heck out of the shop clerk.  Yay.  Now, when I go back in 2014, I’ll get to feel a bit more European when I spend my money.  Ha!

Sure, you could bring US dollars, or American Express Traveller’s Checks, but you get really bad exchange rates.  The rate will never be in your favor when you exchange cash at a bank, hotel, or hostel.  Forget about the airport.

Using your bank card to withdraw cash, will usually give you a better rate of exchange, as your domestic bank usually take the best rate of the day, and apply it to any transactions done that day.  Keep in mind that your bank may charge a foreign transaction fee.  I think mine charges three percent.  I usually take out an amount of cash that will last me a while, for things that I can’t use credit cards.  I also don’t take out so much that it would ruin me, if it was lost or stolen.

I try to use my credit card as much as I can.  My card does not charge any fees, and protects my purchases, as well as protecting me against fraud.

All this talk about money, I actually sound like I’m rolling in it.  Not so, but what I have, I plan to use sparingly and wisely.

I’ll be posting, within the next few weeks, about budgeting for long-term travel as well.  So stay tuned!

Costa Rica Countdown…6 days away!

One of my many flying photos...
One of my many flying photos…

Saturday I fly out from Boston, with a layover in Atlanta to ultimately end up in Costa Rica.  I’m going to a surf camp for 7 days and nights.  Yes, forty-three year old me is going to learn how to surf.  Luckily there are two surf lessons a day.  Hopefully I’ll get up on the board at least once.  And they get a picture of it.

How did this trip come to pass?  Way, way back in August of this year, I had to commit to a certain week for a vacation.  Several friends  only had nice things to say about Costa Rica.

I knew I wasn’t yet to do an extended trip, but I wanted to do something that I could do to gain a sense of  be in awe of myself.  A friend, who I respect and admire, tried out surfing off of Jeness Beach in Rye, NH.  Another friend, who I respect and admire, as well as several others only had glowing reviews of Costa Rica treks and yoga retreats.

I initially checked out Airbnb.com, for inexpensive places to stay, that were close to the beach.  I pretty much just wanted to relax on the beach.  There were some great options.  Then I started to think that if I was going that far away, I should actually learn something.  I can sit around someplace a little less expensive to get to.

I started looking into the many, many retreats available in C R, and Blue Surf Sanctuary rose to the top.  They had interesting packages, and fantastic reviews.  Billabong sponsors this camp, and it looks clean and safe.

I had to make sure I scheduled the trip for after the rainy season, as the flights don’t go, if rain washes out the landing strip.  Yes, it will be a very, very tiny plane that takes me from San José to the Tambor airstrip.  The flight is only forty-five minutes, but the bus ride would be about six hours.  On badly maintained road ways.  Then Blue Surf Sanctuary arranges a taxi to take me from the air strip to a ferry.  Then perhaps a ATV ride.

About a month ago, I got my flight from Boston to Costa Rica, and just today I found out Delta upgraded me to first class all the way to Costa Rica.  I am so excited!  Before you say, “It must be nice!”.  I will let you know – It really, really is nice.  I also earned it by flying up to Platinum last year.  This year I was lucky to reach Gold.  Next year, I will maintain Gold, but since I won’t be a high mileage flyer with Delta, I will probably lose my status, if I don’t get a new contract that requires weekly travel in July.  I am going to enjoy the benefits of status for as long as I can.  You would too!

Anywho, the flight into San Jose, CR will get in at about eight in the evening, local time, far to late to catch a flight to the coast.  The next flight out to Tambor airstrip isn’t until the next morning, so I am spending the night at the San Jose Intl Marriott, on points.

Once I board the tiny, tiny plane, I have no idea what to expect for the rest of the seven days.  I may only be sitting on a surf board.  I’m hoping not to get hit in the head with the board as I inevitably wipe out.  I’ve watched many videos.  And should probably freshen up my watching.

Speaking of wiping out, I also got trip insurance.  It covers injuries and emergency evacuations.  I’ll be as careful as I can possibly be.  I’m glad to be insured, but I don’t ever want to have to use it.  I went through a company called TravelGuard.  Look them up on-line, especially if you are going on a trip out of the country.  TravelGuard bases the policy on your age, where you live, your destination, and how long you are going.  Oh, and I think the total cost of your trip.  If you get the insurance within a certain period of buying your trip, you can also purchase “cancel for any reason” coverage for a small fee.  I was one day late.  Damn procrastination.

My back pack is still empty.  I have an idea of what I’m going to pack.  Much of my sun-protective clothing will be going with me.  My two spf rash guards, swim shorts, sun cover ups, a couple of bathing suits.  I may only use one, but I’ll keep the spare just in case.  Sunscreen in several different formulations, lotion, stick and cream.  Can you tell I’m afraid of the sun?  I don’t tan.  I burn. In fact, I burn in moon light.  There is no good reason for me to go with out protection.

I also need to nail down the down time outfits I’m be wearing.  Mostly, so I can decide what needs to be hosed down with this special bug repellant I got from Amazon that permeates the clothing, and repels bugs for up to 6 washings.  That is pretty awesome.  I also have to pack my deet spray.  I also don’t like bugs.

Yes, it is kind of funny that the girl who burns in moonlight, and hates bugs (long story, I’ll tell you some time) loves going to places that have strong sun and copious amounts of bugs.  Don’t worry, I don’t understand me either.

Pre-Trip House Cleaning/Clutter Clearing

Let me tell  you a story…Once upon a time I returned home from a work trip.  My flight landed late that night, and I was staggering into my condo, dragging my bags.  I flipped on the light, and… GASP!!!!  SOMEONE HAD TOSSED THE JOINT!!!!  Then, I sighed.  No.  It was me.  I could blame no one but myself.

I’m planning something big in the Spring.  What ever happens, I want to return to a serene, harmonious sanctuary.

I hate house-cleaning.  With a passion.  Actually, what I really hate is clutter.  I look at it and get overwhelmed.  What the hell do I do with it?  I shift it around so I can ensure that I don’t live in filth.  Filth/dirt/grime is eliminated regularly from my living space.

Clutter, however, BREEDS.  I make huge efforts to eliminate clutter, my living space is serene briefly.  Just long enough for me to say, “How nice!”.  Then I turn around and BAM! Like a herd of frisky bunnies, clutter had mated and the clutter population exploded.

I dream of minimalist living.  Every couple of months I do a major purging, and things get better each time.  I’m due for the biggest one of all.

To prepare for that purging, I am clearing off surfaces, and putting things away that have obvious homes.

OK, enough procrastination…I’ll post more details, and about my processes later, but I just gotta get some of it done now.  TTFN!