A Travellerspoint blog

Thanksgiving time in Frederick

After more than 15 years, I am finally back in Frederick to spend Thanksgiving with my family or better, the extended Marshall family. We all went down to Potomac to Aunt Kate's house who catered to 20+ people. It was fantastic to feast on all the yummy food and relish on family time.
Becky and I went to Karen's house to get creative with making some xmas decorations out of toilet paper rolls, spray paint and little xmas figures.

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All Hands and Hearts - Smart Response Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

I spent 2 months as a Base Manager with All Hands at the Yabucoa project.  Originally, I applied to the Mexico program but then changed my mind as there became a base manager position available in Puerto Rico.  As I was interested in a Volunteer Relations Coordinator position working as a base manager is a good way to know what the job entitles as the base manager works with the VRC.  It also gave me the opportunity to reconnect with friends I had last seen in 1998 and 2015 in San Juan in addition to spending Thanksgiving with my family in Maryland.  It were two hot months in PR.  When I arrived in September, Nildin picked me up from the airport and I stayed with her for 3 days before she drove me to Yabucoa.  The Yabucoa project has been there since last year, working on repairing homes damaged by hurricane Maria. As for the base manager job - it was hard work keeping a base of 80 people running.  Everything from shopping for food, to keeping facilities clean and up and running to assigning teams to deep clean Monday activities to doing base laundry kept me busy.  Two days of the week I was in the field so I got to do some cementing, scrapping and sealing roofs.  On weekends, we went to the beach, to El Yunque National Forest or drove from town to town to check out lighthouses, communities and beaches.  There are some amazing beaches in Puerto Rico minus the throng of people you would see in Florida.  I think Puerto Rico needs to do some marketing to attract people to their island. After 2 months in Puerto Rico, reconnecting with friends Nildin, Wendy & Stephan and David, I flew to Maryland to spend 3 weeks including Thanksgiving with my family.

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UK and Germany

Before heading to Puerto Rico, I went to Germany to visit family and friends for 10 days.  It was wonderful to reconnect with the area I grew up in and meet with former classmates.  I spent time with my family and visited the three state area of Germany, Czech Republic and Poland.  Then I went back to the UK to pack my stuff and celebrate my lovely friend's Margaret 70th birthday.  While in Bournemouth my former All Hands Leyte colleagues James came to visit from the Isle of Wright which was wonderful as I hadn't seen him since the end of the All Hands Leyte program.

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Malaysia, Mongolia and Thailand

With Kings College we went on a 16 day expedition to Malaysia which included jungle time in Tasik Chini with our host Ruth creating a wonderful busy schedule for the students. We went on the Chini River on Lake China, visited the local primary school, learned about plants and animals and did a scavenger hunt through the village. Ruth, her mom and staff were absolutely amazing. Our community project took place on the Perenthian Island working with Bubbles Dive Resort https://bubblesdc.com/the-resort on their turtle conservation project. The students absolutely loved it. We spent 5 days there going on patrols at night, watching turtles come to shore to lay eggs, digging out eggs tom place the, in the turtle hatchery and releasing newly hatched turtles into the ocean - an amazing experience for these 14-17 year olds.

After Malaysia I went to Mongolia, via Thailand, to be part of the course team for the Racing the Planet Gobi March 2019 www.racingtheplanet.com/gobimarch. Then last time I went to Mongolia was in 2006, so I did not recognize Ulaan Batar, the capital of Mongolia. Lots of new buildings and high-rise accommodations but the roads are as bad as they were back then. Being part of the course team was a great way to get to know the course as we were marking the course with pink flags and ribbons. It was a successful race with 94 of the 98 participants finishing at the monastry in Karakoum. A bonus point was meeting up with Tsolmon, a friend I made in 2008 I Bejing and whom I had not seen since. She invited me to her family home where I got to meet her husband and daughter. It was great to see her again after more than 10 years just staying in contact via social media.

On August 5, I returned to Thailand were I spent a week at Love Green Farm in the heart of Bangkok. Boon was a wonderful host and teacher who taught us about organic farming, Thai cooking and how to kill large fields of weed in an organic way (this involved 4 of us pulling a HUGE tarp from one field to another to cover the weeds). We also cycled around Bangkok at night, the best time to explore the town. https://www.facebook.com/lovegreenfarm

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Spain 2019

After a short visit with my wonderful friend, mom and soul mate in Bournemouth, I was off again to Spain to meet with my expedition school for our Malaysia trip. But before meeting the students from Kings College Madrid, I spent a week exploring the great outdoors around Madrid. I stayed in PilPil Hostel and couch surfed, so had the best of both worlds. I searched the web for hiking opportunities around Madrid and came across this website: https://thenextdinnerparty.com/2014/09/08/great-hikes-around-madrid.

I went to Hoyo de Manazanas, Cercedilla and Manzanares el Real. Manzanares el Real is home to a large number of storks who seem to have been overtaking the town. I spent a long time watching them flying gracefully across the water and around town. The quaint Spanish towns are a great respite from busy Madrid.

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Posted by grizzly99 09:15 Comments (0)

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