It’s my first day home after three weeks volunteering for the Esther Honey Foundation in Rarotonga located in the Cook Islands.  I can’t think of a good way to outline and present what has become as huge swampy mess of memories so I’ll do my best to break it down into bite sized chunks.  Here we go.  Hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.

I originally heard of EHF on Facebook.  Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it but it was the most fortunate shameful act I’ve had in quite some time.  A fellow vet student volunteered last summer and posted two or three photos that had me absolutely intrigued.  I immediately started looking into doing a stint at EHF and booked all my flights before I chickened out.

Three weeks.  I booked my time at the clinic for three weeks.  I figured I’d need at least one week to become familiar with the clinic, another week to learn a few helpful skills and a third week to actually be of some use.  Only…I haven’t been away from my husband and on my own in 16 years.  To make it even more anxiety inducing, I’d be living in dorm-like housing with a roommate.  It’s been 20 years since I’ve lived with a roommate.  I could not think of anything less suited to me.

January 29th, I packed my bags with serious uncertainty of what I had signed up for.  First things first, I had to get there.  That meant I had to take a bus to Wellington, stay at a budget hostel overnight and catch the first flight out of Wellington bound for Rarotonga.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t elevate anxiety to a ridiculous level which means I panicked about what my suitcase would say about me.  I packed with the greatest of care vascillating between packing too much or packing too little.  Is it uncouth to show up at a donation-only run vet clinic with a whopping suitcase?

Now with a fully developed complex about my suitcase, I kissed the sweetie goodbye and boarded the bus for Wellington.  Somewhere around Otaki, I realized I forgot to pack sunscreen.  Headed to a tropical island and the one thing I forget is sunscreen.  What makes this burn even more?  We have a small arsenal of barely used sunscreen back home as this is always the one item we forget when we travel.

Knowing I’d only be sleeping there for a few hours before needing to head back out to the airport, I chose to overnight at a cheap 10 bunk room in Wellington .  I drifted off to sleep in the dorm room worried that I might snortle myself awake as Steve has plenty of experience with me doing that.  But no, my mind chose to betray me in a different way.  Falling asleep, I wondered how my trip would fare.  Would I be useful?  Would I learn more than just the efficiency of cleaning cages?  Would I screw up?  As I drifted off to sleep, my subconscious took the night watch so I would not waste one minute of worry by something as non-productive as sleep.  I awoke in the middle of the night by talking in my sleep.  Specifically, I asked the question, “I don’t know what they have in store for me.”  The person in the lower bunk replied, “I don’t know either.”  And across the room, a voice in the dark said, “Me neither”.  Needless to say, that was the end of my sleep as I was afraid I’d drift off and recite the Pledge of Allegiance or favourite movie quotes.

Morning came and it was off to catch my flight.  And so it began…..

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Not creepy at all, Wellington. Not the least bit.

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Oh yeah, any anxieties are soothed by such calming art

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