Contintental Shift

ÒHeeeeeeere Weeeeeeeee Gooooooo!Ó my father wrote on a May 10 email. My and Paavan KotiniÕs tickets to Kolkata, India, had been confirmed. Paavan and I had decided to wait until I made it back to the States on the 25th to figure out the rest of our transportation from Kolkata to Bhubaneshwar. We didnÕt get the chance: by the 23rd, our tickets had become un-confirmedÑsomething I didnÕt know was possibleÑand prices for the two of us had jumped to $3900 by the 27th. Added to the compulsory $1000 donation to the organization we had hoped to be working with, that left Paavan and me with $100 to pay for travel to the Dallas airport, a trip to Houston for visas, vaccinations and supplies. India, which I had already been nervous about for months, stopped making sense.

Still reeling from jet lag, I spent the morning scrambling for alternatives, looking primarily in my hometown Shreveport and in Nashville. My idea was to work our of Nashville for Manna Project International (MPI), a Vanderbilt student-run project in Nicaragua, spend afternoons at the Nashville YWCAÕs Hispanic Achievers project, and begin investigating Fair Trade possibilities in Nashville on the side. In a panicked phone call that afternoon, Luke Putnam, MPI founder and long-time friend, gave me the good and bad news. Bad news: MPI didnÕt need any help in the States. Good news: he had a spot for me in Nicaragua, as long as I could wait until June 12th to come. By the next morning I had figured out flight options, had a difficult conversation with Paavan, checked Nicaraguan entry requirements, and read the Nicaraguan country briefs in the CIA World Factbook and the BBC.

So. Flights booked. Toothpaste purchased. Sleep anxiously lost. Ready or not, Latin America…

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