Cats

I Skipped Edinburgh Castle and I Regret Nothing

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I passed up what is probably Edinburgh’s most popular tourist attraction: Edinburgh Castle. And it was directly across from my hostel. It would have been so easy.

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I literally took this from the front door of my hostel.

I don’t know what to tell you except I just wasn’t interested enough to spend the 18 pounds necessary to enter. Maybe I even liked the idea of it just being that nice big castle on the other side of the road. Plus, there’s always already an Edinburgh Castle I’ve been to and loved. It’s a dive bar in San Francisco my dad introduced me to. So that was that.

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My week as a volunteer cat cuddler

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This past week I had the pleasure of volunteering for free spay/neuter clinics in three different cities in the Yucatan: Progreso, Mérida, and Valladolid. The clinics are a joint effort between U.S.-based Planned Pethood and local organization AFAD. Mexico has so many street animals and these events help reduce overpopulation while educating communities about dog and cat care. I got involved because my friend Melody has been volunteering with them for years in addition to other animal welfare groups in Mexico. Most people do two or three days but we did all seven because we’re hardcore like that.

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Me and Melody on Day One in Progreso.

The clinics themselves are rather like mobile army surgical hospitals. A lot of equipment is brought in and set up quickly in gymnasiums or warehouses, wherever space is found. Veterinarians come in from all over the world for this. There were vets from other cities in Mexico, the U.S., Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Mexican veterinary students serve as technicians. Locals and expats volunteer in many roles. More than 300 animals were sterilized each day so there was a lot of activity and a lot of tasks that needed to be accomplished.

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Better in the Light of (the next) Day

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Welcome back, humidity-induced big hair.

I’m in South America! Wild. I landed in Lima early yesterday morning and did what any sleep-deprived nomad wants to do most after an overnight flight: get a vaccination! Since I plan to go to Bolivia, I needed a yellow fever shot and according to intrepid travelers on the interwebz, the clinic at the Lima Airport is the easiest way to accomplish this task. As the first medical type thing I’ve had to take care of on this trip, it was shockingly fast and simple. Also, the least scary or painful shot I’ve ever gotten. I turned my head during the process because I am a big baby with a weak stomach and before I knew it, the nurse was taping a cotton ball to my arm. I had to ask if she actually did it! She did, and I have the big yellow card to prove it to the Bolivian visa authorities.

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After my morning shot of fever prevention, I found the Green Taxi stand that other intrepid travelers on the interwebz recommended and told the young woman there I had to get to my hostel in Miraflores. I was reminded that even we progressive ladies of the 21st century fall victim to institutionalized sexism now and then; as I followed the woman outside the airport, I assumed she was taking me to my driver. She was my driver! What a way to start my day: vaccinations and shame.*

My first impression of Lima was that it’s a little grimy. And congested. It smelled. The sky was full of smog. I know now from experience not to expect much from big cities–they’re just not my thing, most of the time. I wasn’t worried. My expectations were low. Plus, I had already booked a bus to my next destination for tomorrow, thinking two nights in Lima would be more than enough. If I actually liked it, I could always build in more time later since my return flight to Mexico City departs from here.

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Surprise! I’m in Bangkok.

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Maybe you’re not surprised because you never really know where I am. However, 12 hours before I boarded a van out of Cambodia, I had no idea I’d be in Thailand so soon.

I spent a full week in Siem Reap. When Ann and Lucy broke up their visit by going to Battambang for a few days, I stayed behind to have some quiet time. I cooled down in the guesthouse pool, walked around some markets, and finally finished up the August issue of Wine Spectator I brought from home. Even though I missed my friends while they were away, it was nice not talking to anyone for a little while. But on Day 2 of self-imposed isolation, my brain got bored and wouldn’t shut up.

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