18 Dec
Posted in: Travel
By    Comments Off on Getting Ready to Go

Getting Ready to Go

Preparations are now seriously underway for my upcoming trip to South Africa where I’ll be spending the month of January on retreat with Kittisaro and Thanissara at their Dharmagiri Hermitage in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu Natal. (!)

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

* I’ve got my plane tickets. (I fly from St. Louis to Atlanta then directly to Johannesburg, where I’ll spend two nights, then fly to Durban, where a bus will pick me up and take me to the Hermitage…which will take 3 hours.)

* I’ve reserved my hotel. I’ll be staying in a very nice Western-style hotel in the Rosebank neighborhood (recommended by the office manager at the Hermitage). It’s about 20 miles from the airport, so transportation will need to be arranged.

* I’ve emailed the hotel and they have arranged for a car to pick me up at the airport. (whew)

* I’ve made sure my passport is current and that there’s an empty page for the on-site VISA that, apparently, will be issued once I land at the Jo’burg airport.

* I’ve purchased traveler health insurance. (Recommended by the Hermitage)

* I’ve purchased TSA luggage locks. (Recommended by my travel-savey teacher and friend, Lila)

* I’ve purchased a universal plug adapter for my iPhone and iPad. The one I have is for Europe, but I checked, and it won’t work in S. Africa. (I don’t have to worry about a power converter because I’m not going to bring my hairdryer — I’ll be on retreat, and it’ll be hot there, and I won’t need be worried about fluffing up my hair!)

* I’ve checked into getting a short-term phone plan to cover service in S. Africa, but since I won’t be using the phone while I’m on retreat, and since it costs $30 and it only reduces the cost of calls from $2.00/minute to $1.00/per minute — I’ve decided it’s not worth it.

* I’ve called my credit card company, and my special international debit card bank account, to let them know when and where I’ll be traveling.

* I’ve Skyped my friend, Jill, who lives in Singapore and who travels regularly to S. Africa (where her husband is from) and she said I’d be able to find ATM machines I can use at the airports….and other places….so no need to bring a lot of cash.

* I’ve checked to make sure I don’t need any shots. And that I won’t need malaria pills.

* I’ve started making a list of travel meds. Which includes lots of Pepto-Bismol tablets, sunscreen and the antibiotics I didn’t use when I went to Burma last year.

* I’ve arranged for someone to stay at my house and I’ve made an “Important Stuff” folder for her, which includes a copy of my passport, my itinerary and information about how to get in touch with me at the Hermitage if there’s an emergency.

* I’ve started thinking about what clothes I’ll need to take: things that will be comfortable for a lot of sitting and walking; that I can do yoga in; that I can hand wash and will dry on a line; boots for walking on trails, socks, and slippers for in-between times;  a rain jacket and things that will layer because it’s summer there, but we’ll be in the mountains (6,000 ft), so it will get cool, even chilly, at night; P.J.s for both hot and cold weather; a robe, since there will surely be shared shower facilities; a shawl for the mediation room; a hat for the sun; etc.

Hmmm. That’s about it. But I’m sure there’ll be more.

Stay tuned.


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