Friday, February 24, 2006

vagabonding, but wait . . . the PET-CT scans


At my follow-up appointment this week, I was surprised to learn about the frequency of the tests that I'll need to take during the next five years. During the next two years, I need to have a PET-CT scan done every 3 months and thereafter, every 4 months. I had figured that these exams would need to be done perhaps every 6 months, but I was wrong obviously. My only concern about the frequency of these PET-CT scans is that now I'm unsure about how I will be able to fit in my long desired voyage.

For about two years, I have dreamed about hitting the road again. Nothing gets me more excited than my thoughts about this. When I look at an atlas of the world, everything seems possible. In my mind, nothing is limited. For me, it's the second greatest high imaginable (the first being a trip into space). After completing my degree from UChicago in June 2007, I had planned to work during the summer in order to earn and save more money for my trip, and then take off for the road sometime in mid to late August with the intention of vagabonding for at least 9 months. But if I must have a PET-CT scan every 3-4 months, there's no practical way that I can travel continously for 9 months. It would be way too costly to travel thousands of miles home for only a few days before flying out again to continue wherever I had left off. In addition, it diminishes in a sense the challenges that comes along with continous, extended travel. If I can't change the number of scans, then I suppose my only option would be to take a trip of a shorter duration - 3 months or less. Man, this would be a bummer but we'll see. I'll have plenty of time to talk to my doctors about this. I have more than one year to think about this voyage of mine and the PET-CT scans, so this issue is by no means immediate.

With regards to the itinerary of my voyage, as I stated before it's something that I have been ruminating over for a few years. Even while I was in the midst of my Watson year, I was pondering my next trip - the itinerary, cost, duration, and more. I have altered and tweaked elements of my dream trip during this time, but I feel quite content with its present form. In the beginning, I had parts of Western and Central Europe in my intinerary but I removed them. Traveling in Europe would inflate my expenses. I also included a few Middle Eastern countries, which I had not visited yet, but I removed them too. I decided on something entirely new and different. The world is so big. Why not explore some place different? I thought about Central and South America a bit too with a particular interest in Peru, but in the end I decided to forgo it. Another time hopefully.

The following is my present itinerary:

Niagara Falls
Glacier National Park, MT
Washington State
Oregon
Vancouver, Canada

Japan
China
Nepal
India

Ethiopia
Kenya
Tanzania
Malawi
Zambia
Botswana
Namibia
South Africa

*Australia
*Cook Islands
*New Zealand

Before a few weeks ago, I hadn't included Oceania (including Australia, the Cook Islands, New Zealand*) into my intinerary although I had thought a lot about it for a significant period of time. Ever since I was introduced to the Cook Islands in 2003 by a fellow Watson recipient who traveled there during his trip, I was hooked on the idea. I've seen some images of the Islands and they're amazing. New Zealand is another destination, which seems to be out of this world for the adventure enthusiast. The topographical diversity of the country is remarkable according to all the literature that I have read. Another fascinating aspect of traveling to New Zealand would be that it would allow me (if time permits) to return to the US via freighter across the Pacific which has long been a dream of mine. Land travel is cool, but what about sea travel. And don't I mean comfortable cruises full of retirees, I'm talking about rugged, raw sea travel. While I traversed the Mediterranean, I traveled a bit by sea and I found it to be such a delightful change. I traveled back and forth from southern Spain to Tangier, Morocco via ship. Then, I took an overnight vessel from Montpellier, France to Tunis, Tunisia where after 3 months I then traveled to Sicily by ship too. From Siracusa, Sicily, I took a ship to Valetta, Malta. Towards the end of my stay in Valetta, I remember being very eager to find a vessel heading to Alexandria, Egypt but unfortunately, none of the ships going there were taking passengers. Had I found one, I'm sure I would have jumped aboard. I, therefore, had to settle for a flight to Cairo. Finally, I recall going to Internet cafes looking for companies that specialize in freighters offering transit to passengers with the hope of returning home aboard a freighter from Europe but unfortunately, the departure dates of the vessels were too late for my schedule. I had to fly home from Istanbul, Turkey instead.

My favorite freighter website is Freighter World Cruises, Inc. With regards to return voyages home from New Zealand and Oceania, there are two routes which seem very exciting and practical:



I recognize, however, that adding Australia, the Cook Islands, and New Zealand would add at least two months (as well as a significant amount of needed money) to my itinerary and that's a conservative estimate at best. To enjoy these countries at a leisurely pace, 3 months is a much more sensible amount of time to have. Without these 3 countries on my intinerary, I think I could complete my dream voyage in about 9 months.

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