Today was a full day of travel. And I’m only really just getting started.
My alarm went off at 3:30 am Pacific time in Seattle… sufficient time for a shower, a quick kiss for my sleepy husband Greg (we said a proper goodbye last night) and a dash to the airport. Interestingly, my towncar driver Alex was a very friendly 26 year old from Ethiopia who spent the twenty minute drive to the airport educating me on the tribes of Ethiopia. We had a fascinating chat about tribalism, nationalism, and his pride in being an American. I’m continuously amazed when I meet folks who are new to our country. The struggles they have gone through to be here — the liberties they crave and so appreciate — are things I fail to notice far too often. My talk with Alex reminded me to never take for granted the many blessings in my life.
The flight to Baltimore, through Denver, was uneventful which is a good thing when you’re about to embark on an international adventure. No lost luggage, no delays, and a last minute upgrade to first class on my second flight equals a happy Lisa. On the Baltimore flight I watched the movie The Way Way Back, which I’d completely missed in theaters. While it won’t win any awards and has a few questionable family dynamics, the film caught me by surprise with its strong elements of friendship and a reminder of what is truly important in relationships.
Once in Baltimore, we finally had time to gather as a foursome with our fellow Egan Fellowship travelers for a fantastic dinner at Kona Grill. Kudos to our waiter Brian for making the evening’s culinary choices simple — it helps to have a “foodie” giving you recommendations. If you have a chance to dine there, don’t miss out.
Our dinner conversation revolved around getting to know one another and sharing some of our preparations for the trip. Between the four of us, we have read a good cross section of the books recommended by Catholic Relief Services to help us to prepare for this trip. I thought I’d share that list here, in case any of you would like to learn along with us:
- Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagaiza
- Mirror to the Church
- My Father, Maker of the Trees
- Rwanda, Inc.
- Season of Blood
- We Wish to Inform you That tomorrow we will be killed with our Families by Philip Gourevitch
- Shake Hands with the Devil by General Romeo Dallaire
- Article – Rwanda, ten years on: From genocide to dictatorship by Filip Reyntjens
- Chapter on peacebuilding in Rwanda in the book: Solidarity Will Transform the World: Stories of Hope from Catholic Relief Services (2007), by Jeffry Odell Korgen
Following dinner on our walk back to the hotel, we came across a manhole cover running over with some of the largest cockroaches I’ve ever seen. Wow, Baltimore – fairly impressive! This led us to a conversation about what types of wildlife we may encounter along our trip. One of our travelers (who shall go unnamed) has been designated as our go-to person when we spot any large creepy crawlies that need to be “dealt with”. I’m sure that I’ll be the one grabbing Instagram shots of any exciting insects!
Tomorrow, we have a full day of orientation with the Catholic Relief Services staff. I’m so anxious to meet many of them in person after they have been so helpful in our preparations! Stay tuned — I’m sure it will be a day full of fascinating information.