time for an update

I guess everyone was sick of my limerick post because nobody else wrote me any 😦 or maybe vik showed you all up! haha anyways, I figured it was time for an update.


CHICAGO

Our Chicago trip was amazing! We drove up to Chicago and stayed there for 4 days to attend the Rotary International Convention. For those of you who don’t know what Rotary is, I can’t explain it any better than the website: “Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world.” Before the convention they had a Rotaract Pre-Convention meeting which was our main reason for going to Chicago. Rotaract is basically the college/young professional version of Rotary ( and Interact is the high school version).

Anyway, some of our plenary sessions were interesting and helpful but I think the best part of the convention was the House of Friendship. They had this HUGE area of the convention center devoted to booths for different Rotary clubs, fellowships, service projects, etc. It was great just walking around and talking to people (oh and getting purple pinkies!). The first booth Jatin, Nikunj, Poonam, and I stopped at highlighted a service project called the “Purple Pinkie Project” The original project was aimed at elementary schools. When kids donated money to PolioPlus they got their pinkies painted purple. The reason for this being that when PolioPlus volunteers travel abroad to administer polio vaccines, they paint the pinkies of the vaccinated kids so that there is some record of the immunization. One of Rotary’s main projects is PolioPlus and they have done an incredible job at raising money and getting volunteers to go to the countries that need it the most. Here are some facts about polio and polioplus:

  • – Polio can’t be cured, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life. It is an oral vaccine and is very inexpensive.
  • -In 1985, Rotary launched the PolioPlus program to protect children worldwide from the cruel and fatal consequences of polio.
  • -In 1988, the World Health Assembly challenged the world to eradicate polio.
  • – The number of polio cases has been reduced by a projected 99 percent since Rotary and partner agencies formed the global polio eradication initiative — from 350,000 in 1988 to fewer than 1300 in 2004
  • -The number of polio cases has been reduced by a projected 99 percent since Rotary and partner agencies formed the global polio eradication initiative — from 350,000 in 1988 to fewer than 1300 in 2004
  • -Despite intensive surveillance efforts, one of the three types of viruses (Type II) that cause polio has not been seen since 1999. Could it be that it has already been eradicated? The World Health Organization will continue to promote active surveillance to determine this possibility.

We also did some other things in Chicago: Sears Tower, Millenium Park, that park with the crazy fountains, Improv Club (pancreas anyone?), charades when everyone was EXHAUSTED, really good Chicago-style pizza and Tapas, a fake tour with the one and only Jatin ( oh and his ATG Nikunj with the lovely eyebrows), Buckingham fountain (night and day), Rotary parade, Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, double decker train, floor 2.5, Chicago TRibune building, carnival mirrors, oh and of course our antics in the car ( Twizzlers anyone?) All in all it was an awesome trip and I really hope we can go to Cali next year for USCC or Copenhagen, Denmark for RI 2006. Either one works for me…or both!

Here are my Chicago pics (well the ones I could put up at least 😉 )
http://community.webshots.com/user/aparnakothary

If anyone is interested in joining or finding out more about the College Park Rotaract Club or even Rotaract in general, just leave me a comment and I’ll try and get you some more information. The Rotaract Club on campus is fairly new so we’re definitely looking to increase our membership so let me know if you’re intereted!

SEMESTER AT SEA

I guess it’s time for a SAS update too. Contrary to popular belief (more like Ronak spreading rumors), I am still going on SAS in the fall. All that nonsense with Univ. of Pitt and ISE is straightened out and we will receive academic credit for our voyage. Thank goodness it all worked out because I think I would be going through SAS withdrawl of some sort if it hadn’t.
Fortunately, my summer class is over next week and I can get into full gear with all this preparation. There’s so much more to do than just packing. It’s hard to explain and I’m trying not to get stressed out about it, but let’s just say spending a few days in the Bahamas before we depart will be a welcome vacation!
I am trying so hard not to have impossibly high expectations of this trip because I really don’t want to be disappointed. It’s hard though. One of the reasons I’ve been so excited lately is because we’re finally putting together some tentative plans for our first port of call: La Guaira, Venezuela.
At first, I really wanted to go on this trip to EcoLodge http://www.ecovenezuela.com/location2.html, but then when I thought about it again I figured it might be fun to try doing an indy (independent) trip for the first port. Sarah, a Spring 05 alum, suggested this trip which she did:

“I personally made no plans ahead of time for what to do in Venezuela. It was the end of the trip for us so I was outta money and so were my friends… so five of us got off the ship, and made our plans in only a few hours for what to do. ONE OF MY FAVORITE MEMORIES OF THE TRIP.

Here we go, instant guide to the best (and cheapest) time of your life:

1) Pack bag for 3 days/nights that you don’t mind carrying around plus blanket
2) Take cab to Carracas ($20 divided by number of passengers…) $5ish
3) Go to bus station, purchase overnight tickets to Merida… $30
4) Spend day in Carracas, just walk around… free if you do it right
5) Cabs within city to get back to bus station… $5 max
6) Catch 7:00 overnight bus to Merida. Bring blanket. It’s COLD. They love air conditioning.
6a) Bring toilet paper. They make you pay for it in Venezuelan bus stops.
6b) Bring snacks, esp. for the morning/afternoon
7) Wake up in the Andes mountains
7a) Buy return tickets to Carracas… $30
8) Check into the Posada Suiza for one night. Joe will help you out. $5/person/night
8b) This is a good time to book your horseback riding/canyoning/paragliding w/ Joe
9) Catch the world’s longest cable car to the highest peak. Watch out, last trip up is noon. $20
10) Eat awesome, cheap pizza at pizzeria to the right and down the street of where you come out of the cable car… $5
11) Hang out at Posada Suiza, take nap and shower, you’re tired
11a) optionally find market to buy souvenirs… cab $2
12) Check out cool nightlife back at square by cable car (cab fare… $2)
13) SLEEP. Yay.
14) Wake up and catch pre-arranged ride to go Canyoning (description below)… $45
15) Back at Posada Suiza, quickly change and eat leftover pizza
16) Catch pre-arranged ride to go Paragliding… $45
17) Find quick food, ask driver… $5
18) Catch 7:00 bus back to Carracas. WHEW! You’re tired.
19) Wake up in Carracas
20) Hang out/do what you like for the day.
21) Catch cab back to ship… $5

GRAND TOTAL: $204ish (including thrills!)

Now, about Canyoning. Never heard of it? Neither had I. MOST AMAZING THING I’VE EVER DONE. So we’re wearing nothing but our swimsuits and tennis shoes and our guides take us to the top of a mountain, and we proceed to hike down in the Andes Mountains (AND RAINFOREST, GORGEOUS) in our swimsuits for half an hour till we get to the river. I loved this part. At the river, we put on full-bodied wetsuits and helmets, and basically hiked THROUGH the river. This includes repelling down three waterfalls, jumping into pools, sliding off of rocks… AND…I got to stand behind a waterfall for the first time in my life. I’d always dreamed of it. Swimming in pools, playing in waterfalls, climbing on jungle vines…If this is your idea of cool, you HAVE to. It’s not scary. And PARAGLIDING… AMAZING. Gently drifting through the Andes… aaaaah. You can find the Posada Suiza in the Lonely Planet book for Venezuela. Joe is the manager and speaks German/English/Spanish. He’s great. Brush up on your Spanish. Or do what I did and bring a friend who has ;o) Okay, so that’s my advice on what to do in Venezuela. Way better than getting drunk on some island, you can do that lots of places.

Sarah
Spring 2005

yeah sorry for copying and pasting the whole post, I don’t think anybody is interested in reading all that except for SAS ppl (and the only ones who look at my LiveJournal are Jed, Ashish, and Amy 😦
oh well, I just posted it in the off-chance that someone reading this has been to Venezuela before or has any tips/suggestions for me.

eeks what a long entry. Well i guess this update will satisfy me until my exam is over. I’ll definitely be posting more regularly after that.

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