Monday, April 17, 2006

T-Minus 10 Days

To-do list:

1. Rent hotel. Preferably other than the "Don Juan Motel," which apart from its name has the utter misfortune to be located within smelling distance of the most polluted river in North America.

2. Discover destination is so overlooked that both Travelocity and Hotwire do not list it. Learn that none of the hotels are online. Reconsider Don Juan. Reconsider olfactory-offending river. Stop considering Don Juan.

3. Rent car. Look at rental car company reviews online and discard every affordable option because reviews of budget companies run the gamut from, "Threatened to sue me!" to "Car broke down in the middle of a swamp," to "Broke my knees when I returned the car with a scratch it already had." Wonder if highly overpriced but well-reviewed rental company will be angry if one takes a small compact offroading in the desert.

4. Write interview questions. Mentally lobotomize self for failing to read literature before choosing case study, thereby requiring sprain-inducing mental gymnastics to make questions fit newly discovered, completely inappropriate gaps in aforementioned literature. Silently curse prospective interviewees for wanting to know what I'd like to learn before I've figured it out.

5. Buy tape recorder that can survive 100+ degree heat, caustic chemicals in river, and blows from rocks I throw when batteries die in the middle of a key interview.

6. Figure out if there's a bug spray on this planet that protects the wearer from disease-ravaged, encephalitis-carrying, rabid mosquitoes without causing the wearer's skin to turn interesting shades of gray.

7. Purchase pay-as-you-go cell phone for communication needs when car overheats, mosquitoes corner in alley, desert roads begin looking identical, etc. Delight in words of wisdom from sage ex-San Diego resident who says that reception in destination area can be "patchy."

8. Commiserate with fellow program sufferer, soon to depart for Mozambique. Feel slightly better that land mines and crocodiles are not on my risk assessment form.

9. Contact potential interviewees to schedule meetings. Hear nothing. Wonder in mild state of panic if it is possible to spend two weeks in the field and obtain no results.

10. Check weather forecast and climate history for destination. Purchase SPF-50 sunblock and curl up in small corner of bedroom.

11. Realize that only choice of supermarkets in area is limited to a Walmart and a local store noted in many documents for the large, bacteria-laden foam blobs from river that blat onto produce during breezy days. Consider adopting a no-food diet for duration of trip. Choose foam blats and voluntary abstention from produce over manic smiley-faced spawn of Satan.

12. Contemplate chucking degree and moving to Croatia to work in national park chasing bears away from tourists.


kristy said...

So what is your thesis about? Where exactly are you going? By the way, I've heard lovely things about Croatia...!

Meg said...

I've heard cool things about Croatia, too. We're probably going there this summer, post-thesis trauma (assuming I've survived the writing up bit, which is looking less likely by the day).

Basically, I'm studying water pollution and binational water management, and I'm visiting a desert in between the US and Mexico to do so. Should be a big party. Sickly, I'm looking forward to it - except for the whole having no clue what I'm doing part...