Being a compulsive non-procrastinator, I’m completely packed and ready to go one week before I take off.  I’m not sure which was harder — preparing for life in a remote village or handing over the reins of our six-year-old to dad.  I purposely scheduled my trip and around Danielle and Jonah’s vacation with their mom so they are not a worry.  There are enough logistics involved with leaving Jiana.  I’ve left Ron a portfolio with details for 18 scheduled play dates, camp, daily plans, back up plans, and back up plans for my back up plans.  I’ll be busy paying back childcare favors for next 10 years.

With family concerns handled, I turned my focus to not catching any funky diseases.  With a couple of trips to the travel doctor, my vaccines are now current for Hepetites A and B, Polio, Yellow Fever, Diptheria/Tetanus, Typhoid, Meningcocal Meningitis and H1N1.  I’ve got Malaria pills, emergency antibiotics, Imodium, Pepto Bismo, Tylenol, Advil, grapeseed extract, Neosporin, hydrocordison cream, Calamine lotion, sunscreen and band-aids.  All my clothes have been thoroughly sprayed with Permathrin, which is so toxic that directions say to call poison control if you get any on your skin.  I’ve packed ample Deet lotion and a mosquito net, which I will use religiously (whether or not there are windows screens in the hotels).  I’ll be tripling up on water precautions — Bottled water treated with a bleach solution, hand filtered and mixed with Crystal Light  to camouflage the bleach aftertaste.  Pam and I are old hats at this as we did the same routine when we traveled together in Nepal in 1999.

I’m girl scout ready for every possibility.  My backpack is stuffed with a flash light, Swiss army knife, neck thingie with safety wire to hide money in my bra.  I’ve also packed toilet paper, hand sanitizer, handy wipes, cliff bars, beef jerky, chocolate Altoids and a quick drying towel.  Then there is my Digital SLR and HD Video cameras, memory cards and spare batteries, a couple of books, a travel guide and a journal in case I don’t have Internet access for blogging.  There is hardly any room in my pack left for clothes.  I’m bringing the bare minimum– 2 pairs of pants, 6 tops, Wisconsin student bottle water company t-shirt, 1 shirt, 2 pairs of shoes — primarily unflattering high-tech travel garb that wicks moisture away, and something presentable to wear to church.  Not that I’m a church goer, but it’s supposedly a cultural adventure not to be missed.  Whatever space is left, I’ll stuff in all the colored pencils, pens, tooth brushes, kids clothes and children’s books I can carry for donations.

The only things left to do now is schedule a shuttle (I leave home at 3:30 am) and go to bank.  I will get 10 brand new $100 bills to store in my bra.  I hate the idea of traveling with so much cash, but the options are limited in Ghana.  Few places exchange travelers checks and the State Department warns against using credit cards even at upscale hotels.  Credit card fraud is a huge concern.  Hopefully all the cash in my bra will just make me a little more voluptuous, but not too sexy as to attract any unwanted attention.