Category Archives: U.S.

Port Everglades, Fl: Ships Ahoy!


Ho.Lee.Crap. I am tired. I made it to the ship with minutes to spare only to find that we weren’t going to sail until tomorrow. My first view of the MV explorer took my breath away, my chest got tight with joy and fear. She’s huge (24,000 Tons), she’s beautiful (just completed in 2002) and she’s fast (top speed 32 knots). I could barely get all of her in the picture I tried to take from the security gate.

I can’t believe I’m going to live out of 4 bags for almost four months (click on pic to see packing list). I’m amazed at how well I packed when you consider that 1/8 of this stuff is books. I checked in and my bags were delivered to my cabin. Not having cruised before I had no idea what to expect. Though I’m one of the executive team (there are 6 of us) on this voyage, I had prepared myself for an inside, deck 2 cabin, behind the engine and the anchor, with no porthole, no light and industrial paint. Fortunately, my cabin is amorgeous (amazing + gorgeous). I’m deck 5 starboard with a view of the ocean and the lifeboats (and believe me, I’m okay with that!).

My bathroom, my desk (and again after I unpacked), my tv,(what’s in that glass?) and my beds before I asked my cabin steward to put them together (the reflective tape on the life vests is what you see glowing). As luxurious as all of this sounds, I have to earn my keep…I’m headed to an 8:00pm executive team meeting. I can’t wait to figure out what I’ve gotten myself into and learn my way around this beast.

Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.: Are Those Gold Teeth?

I feel like I’ve been saying goodbye for weeks now. The “Bon Voyage” party that one of my client’s threw for me was hilarious and touching. We had everything from moosemeat eggrolls (really, I’m not making that up) to the lovely cake (pictured) made by one of my colleagues. People keep asking me if I’m excited and the answer is yes, but I haven’t had any time to really process what I’m about to do.

My parents have been fantastic, letting me spread everything all over their house the last week and never complaining at my odd hours or frequent requests for coffee. I worked right down to the wire on Saturday. I had a 4:20pm train to catch and I didn’t take a shower and zip up my bags until 3:20pm (really, I’m not making that up either!). Fortunately my Mom drives like a bat-out-of-hell, a carryover from her years of driving on Germany’s autobahn. We made it to the station at 4:16pm and I could only laugh as I watched my Mom jog next to the train doing her “princess” wave, while my Dad and nephew took pictures and shook their heads.

Unfortunately I couldn’t catch up with friends in NC and GA, but I made it to Tampa and was a bit startled at how chilly it was. I was also startled by the toddler that cried for 45 minutes (hurray for earplugs!) and the Jamaican senior citizen who screamed into his cell phone for an hour. I was totally entranced by the caucasian teenagers with a mouthful of gold teeth, and the only starbucks on the planet that isn’t a wi-fi hotspot (suck it!)

I needed to see my brother before I left on this trip, to hug him hard before he gets married this weekend in Jamaica. It hit me that I’m actually going to miss my baby brother’s wedding, and he is still happy for me, as I am for him. My whole family is crazy about his wife-to-be. They welcomed me to their home with caviar and martinis! They demonstrated their love and affection with some dance moves, and some wrestling moves. Yeah, this union is a match made in heaven.

I finally had a chance to think during the 4 hour drive to Ft. Lauderdale. I have to admit that I’m nervous, a bit anxious, and yes, very excited. This trip is unlike any other I’ve taken, I’ll be working for one, and I am a bit of a workaholic already, will I be able to balance work and still have a transformative experience? I have a deep fear of open water and a fear of heights and a vessel of this size combines the worst of the two! How will I deal with the 8 day voyage with no land in sight, no escape from the ship – from Salvador, Brazil to Cape Town, So. Africa?

I’m also not sure how I’ll feel about traveling fast and shallow versus slow and deep. During my 3.5 months in Mexico I got into the culture, hung out with the locals, sought out the food, music, arts and entertainment native to the cities/towns I was visiting, but on this voyage I’ll see so much more of the world, but with the constraints of someone else’s timetable. We are traveling with almost 900 people, 700 of which are students and things happen. I wonder if we’ll all return together, if we’ll all return alive (people have perished). Because I’m a dork, I also wonder about things like: did I pack enough Orbit gum? Will I be able to download new episodes of 30 Rock? Will Desmond Tutu become my new best friend? So I guess it all balances out.

I can’t believe I’m actually traveling again, the sensation of movement away from and towards feels so good.

Hanover, NH: The Family You Choose


Family Style @ Tuck, originally uploaded by funchilde.

The thing about being a nomad is that the siren call of the road will always trump the possibilities of laying down roots…until it doesn’t anymore. I’m still a sucker for the thrill of travel and so I am continually bidding someone, somewhere “see you later.”

I realized this weekend that I have a set of keys to my parent’s house (a given), but I have keys to three other houses that do not belong to people I am related to. I have standing invitations to let myself into their homes whenever I need to (and I have).  I can show up to any of these places with no notice, broke, broke-down, and bedraggled and I’d be accepted with open arms.

To be loved and trusted with the keys to someone’s most intimate space is the ultimate honor in my book, trumped only by being trusted with someone’s offspring. And so I bid my fond farewells to my New Hampshire, New York and Virginia client’s, my closest friends and of course my family, which isn’t so hard to do when you know you’re always welcome back.

T-minus: 7 days and counting to Semester at Sea.

Check me out over at Gadling.

First stop: Ft. Lauderdale, Fl to Nassau, Bahamas.

Pre-Trip Planning: Gear & Gadgets


[1] As a gift to myself for working like a dog, completing my grad school applications, and surviving the weather here at Dartmouth College, I bought myself that Nikon I had been lusting after. I agonize over these types of expenditures and excuse me while I go puke thinking about my credit card bill. Oh, and did I mention that I’m getting my next to last paycheck today? Double puke!

Enough with the puking already. This blog is so classy!

[2] I decided on the D50 over the D80 after listening to some photographers whose work I like. The D80 is $600 more than the D50 and that doesn’t include anything except the “body” of the camera. I also had a great offer for a 55-200mm lens, but it was another $700 and I was l like wait, last.paycheck.for.months and Blindian called and talked me off the $700 cliff. I went with the baby lens and used a very generous gift certificate that I received for Christmas. I am very happy. But still slightly puketastic.

[3] It has warmed up to 2 degrees here in New Hampshire-its a heatwave!

[4] Come check us out over at for more hilarious travel news.

T-minus: 11 days and counting to Semester at Sea.

First stop: Ft. Lauderdale, Fl to Nassau, Bahamas.

Pre-Trip Planning: What I Won’t Miss

Dartmouth Wonderland, originally uploaded by funchilde.

It was damn -10 degrees this morning.

I love yall Dartmouthians but I am

T-minus: 12 days and counting to Semester at Sea.

First stop: Ft. Lauderdale, Fl to Nassau, Bahamas.

Morelia Mexico: A Recap of Sorts

Current location: Guanajuato, MX 


Mulege to San Diego: 
Luxury coach: $80
Snacks for the 15 hour ride: $8
Random little girl passed out on my shoulder: priceless.

San Diego to Denver:
Pat’s Irish Bar for drinks with Scott and Erica. Freak snow storm and Shrimp Pad Thai. In the “It’s a small world” category: Scott and Erica were coming back from a week skiing in Vail. A friend they were with tore her ACL and was headed back to Virginia. The friend: one of my first year MBA students at UVA!

Denver to Chicago:
Giordano’s Pizza with Hazel and Rick. They had just come from getting hitched in Vegas! I wanted to treat them as a wedding gift, but they wouldn’t hear of it. They gave me the best “I just met you but this was so much fun please look us up when you are in town” hugs ever.

This dude (Thomas) was cute at first but then got too aggressive. Plus he gave a terrible shoulder rub, you know what they say, if the shoulder rub is bad then…er, nevermind.

Plus, another guy was arrested for carrying like a pound of weed in his carry-on bag! The Marshalls (is that what they are called? Po-Po?) were not playing around and carried him out of there crying like a baby in handcuffs. This dude had a block of marijuana wrapped in plastic, tucked into a backpack and then tucked into a rolling carry-on and you could STILL SMELL IT! I was questioned briefly, because I was coming from Mexico/CA (and possibly because I’m brown) but they quickly ascertained that I am a dork with no knowledge of the drug trade except for what I saw in those classic hood-in-training flicks: Traffic and New Jack City. 

Chicago to Michigan:
Conference/Training with client. Debauchery with new co-workers. Very long days. Jessica and Jocylen blew my hair out of its braided tangles and tamed it with some Pantene and a curling iron. My mom Fed Ex’d my business casuals to me and WA-LA! Instant Professional ™! Slight cold due to rapid change in temperature from Mexico to Michigan and shaking 250 hands in 3 days. But that didn’t stop me from putting a dent in the open bar at the Credit Suisse reception or from having drinks with M. Blake.

Michigan to Virginia:
My dirty-third birthday! Mom’s Potato Salad and Fried Chicken, Dad’s Apple Martinis with lil bro and Jamila, Sunday spent replacing a blown water heater in rental unit B ($350), Monday spent dropping $300 for repairs to Shorty Rock (my car) to pass inspection. Dinner with Stella (free, she paid).

Let me tell you what I got for my birthday: two airline sized bottles of liquor, a candle in gift wrap I had given my mom a gift in, and a slightly used box of valentine’s candy! I get the feeling they weren’t expecting to see me don’t you?

**UPDATE: I totally forgot to mention my birthday dinner at Outback with my ex-mother-in-law (yeah, i’m confused too). First of all we had a crazy waitress who spilled beer on a guy at the table next to us. Second, that was the best steak I’ve had in MONTHS. Ms. D is also a traveler so I loved seeing her pics from her most recent trip and the stories about her group of girlfriends and their antics. The conversation was uplifting as always. I feel like I have two phenomenal women (Mom and Momma D) who continue to shape my journey into womanhood.

Another funny story, while waiting for my car at the mechanics, this guy (who was with another male friend) actually thought I was going to a) buy him lunch b) go off with him and his friend to his house while waiting for my car (theirs was ready) and c) give him my phone number. Riiiiigggghhhtttt. The crazy thing is he was really cute, but dang, can’t a sistah get some flowers? A lunch invite where YOU pay? A first date? Plus he had spent 2 years in JAIL. QOTD (Quote of the day) “Not everyone in jail has tattoos”….uh, check please!

Best.Compliment.Ever: Young, Caucasian, spring-breaker kid to me while waiting in line at ATM in DC with his brother and a friend: “Your smile is gonna save this city.” 

Virginia to NY:
More training with client. More debauchery with new co-workers.
Why I’m going to love this client: They have Blue Moon AND Corona in the office fridge! PLUS, I got to wear jeans and tennis shoes to work! PLUS they have cable and TIVO in the office. To all my NY friends that are reading this: I didn’t call because I don’t have the money to hang out with yall like that! If I can’t go to Blue Fin or Plataforma or Virgil’s I’d rather stay home!

NY to Atlanta:
Stacey, Siddiq and their twins. Laundry. Atlanta Zoo and the very worth it: Chuck Close exhibit at the High Museum. Dinner at The Flying Biscuit. Ice Age 2 and being woken up by two three (and a ½)-year olds.

Atlanta to Houston:

Houston to Nuevo Laredo, MX: