"Surreal" is, of course, the only word that seems to fit right now.
I'm packed, I checked the list twice, and all that remains is to throw in my toiletries in the morning, zip it shut, and go.
Quick update about my grandpa: I had a really, really good conversation with him about a week ago. As far as I can tell, he still doesn't think it's a good idea for me to go gallivanting off to Benin...but he did say that he would be thinking of me, and that he hoped it went well. I am very much encouraged by the fact that we had a good dialogue.
Just fyi: my phone will not be coming with me to Benin. In fact, it will be turned off and my service temporarily suspended.
Also fyi: I will be about 7 hours ahead of CST. I think.
In case you want to send me anything--and I would love, love, LOVE to receive mail while I am in Benin--here's the info about both email and snail mail from the Mercy Ships website.
Please note, internet connection is very slow so please discourage friends and family from sending large attachments. Large downloads, Skype & Web Cams and streaming video are not allowed.
Letters, packages, etc will be forwarded regularly to the ship. Please advise your family and friends that it could take several weeks for mail to reach you in West Africa. If you are sent packages (or anything over 1 ounce), you will be charged $5.60/ pound ($0.35 per ounce or 28.4g)
Mail can be sent to:
M/V Africa Mercy – Nursing Department
PO Box 2020, Lindale, TX, 75771-2020
I also think there's a rule or two about declaring the contents of packages...but I don't know the details. Will update as I know more. And even though I will have to pay a little to receive anything remotely heavy (ie, over an ounce), I will be more than happy to do so... as long as you don't mail me bricks or rocks or textbooks or other similar items. (Besides, what would I do with a brick/rock/textbook, anyway?)
I'll arrive in Benin late in the evening of the 22nd, after traveling for about 24 hours total.
Ok, enough details. Off to sleep one last night in my own bed!