(Aside: Renting bikes in Ottawa is a great way to get around and see the city. Ottawa has the best city bike paths I have ever seen (riding around the canel, Rideau River, popping in and out the city hot spots was awesome). For about $70 at RentABike, we had our own wheels for a week which was great to take to and from the VSO/CUSO office).
Finally, the day has actually arrived and we immediately got right down to it.
First up, we were introduced to our Preparing For Change (PFC) leaders, Richard and Joel. Both have had volunteer overseas experience and were very engaging and thoughtful mentors. We had an overview of the PFC course, discussed house-keeping/session rules, and of course outlined the overall goals, objectives, and expectations of the course.
Because of scheduling conflicts, we immediately had presentations about “Traveling Overseas” from Hi and “Staying Healthy Overseas” from Dr. Mark Wise. Dr. Mark is a well-known family doctor and director of the Travel Clinic in Toronto. He is the author of “The Travel Doctor™ – Your guide to staying healthy while you travel” and he is the official medical doctor of VSO Canada. Some of the most memorable parts of his talk were:
- 4 types of malaria (1 can actually kill you) and the myth of malaria where “once you get it, you have it for life” is not exactly true. Basically, once you are cured of malaria sometimes it can lie dormant in the liver and release itself anytime later in life.
- be wary of dogs (rabies). had a good-time doing the role playing for that one.
- be pro-active and know where the health clinics are
- poly-pharmacy (take these 7 different pills and call me in the morning)
- “Try not to worry about the bumps on the road and enjoy the journey” – however, most of the roads are really bad and you should really hang on for your life.
“Travel smarts” from Hi: make sure you have a back-up plan in case there is no one there to pick you up at the airport; getting a VISA can be tricky depending on the country; and don’t over pack – you can probably buy everything you need over there.
What have we got ourselves into?
(Dinner was pretty darn good, thanks Stan!)