29 May 30 June
1 June 4 Poem
7 June 12 June
14 June 15 June
17 June 24 June
25 June 26
June 27 June 28
May 29, 2001 - I am planning to travel around the world. This seems an improbable statement for a 44 year old who didn't take his first commercial airplane ride until he was a senior in college. Nonetheless, my ticket is purchased, Northwest Airlines avoided a strike, I have the necessary Ghanaian visa stamped in my passport and I plan to leave on June 24.
I can still remember reading a novel by Hemingway when I was in high school (The Sun Also Rises) and thinking that the kinds of travels and lifestyles which he described, were something meant for rich people. They could not be something meant for a poor kid, growing up in a trailer court near St. Louis. I remember very distinctly thinking that I would like to travel to Europe someday, but would probably never be able to do it.
Now almost thirty years later, I have regularly visited Japan and Germany, where I continue to collaborate on hemodynamic modeling at the Heart Surgery Lab at the University of Heidelberg. After spending the month of July at the lab this summer, I plan to continue my trip heading east, and satisfying myself, once and for all, that the world really is round (spherical?).
I propose to give Phileas Fogg and Passepartout a solid one month head start (31 days), as I plan to traverse the globe in 49 days this summer. I intend to depart from Indianapolis on June 24th and to return on August 11th, just in time for my daughter's twenty-first birthday on August 12.
You may recognize from my use of the words "plan" and "intend" that I am no Phileas Fogg, and I have not bet twenty-thousand pounds on my ability to maintain the following schedule. I also hope, very sincerely, that I will find no occasion to spend twenty-thousand pounds in making my trip as Fogg, indeed, found necessary.
Here is the estimate of Fogg's 1872 itinerary made by the Daily Telegraph in Verne's classic, Around the World in 80 Days:
From London to Suez via Mont Cenis and
Brindisi, by rail and steamboats ................ 7 days
From Suez to Bombay, by steamer .................... 13 days
From Bombay to Calcutta, by rail ................... 3 days
From Calcutta to Hong Kong, by steamer ............. 13 days
From Hong Kong to Yokohama (Japan), by steamer ..... 6 days
From Yokohama to San Francisco, by steamer ......... 22 days
From San Francisco to New York, by rail ............. 7 days
From New York to London, by steamer and rail........ 9 days
Total ............................................ 80 days.
Here is an estimate of my itinerary, 129 years later, in the summer of 2001.
June 24, Indianapolis to Frankfurt
via Detroit, by DC10
July 20, Frankfurt to London via Amsterdam, by 737
July 23, London to Accra, Ghana via Amsterdam, by 767
July 25, Accra, Ghana to Johannesburg, South Africa, by 767
July 27, Johannesburg to Perth, Australia, by 747
August 5, Perth to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by 777
August 5, Kuala Lumpur to Auckland, New Zealand by 747
August 8, Auckland to Nadi, Fiji by 767
August 11, Nadi to Indianapolis via LA and Minneapolis by 767.
Total ............................................ 49 days.
You may note that my itinerary includes a month in Germany to do research, a short (3 day visit) at the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic in Accra, a week in Perth to visit friends and three days each in New Zealand and Fiji.
If eighty days were required for this trip, I would have needed to leave on May 24th, last Thursday. Since that time, while Phileas et al. are on their way to Suez by rail and steamboat, I have managed to attend the RHIT board of trustees meeting last Thursday, the board dinner on Thursday evening, end of the year celebration on Friday evening, RHIT graduation on Saturday, and the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday! Now in the next few weeks, there is much to be done in preparation for this trip. Simultaneously, I will make a strong attempt to update this journal occasionally before I depart.
May 30, 2001- The Schesaplana is the highest peak in the Rhaetian mountains in western Austria. The Rhaetian Alps, straddle eastern Switzerland (Graubünden canton), western Austria (Vorarlberg), and southern Liechtenstein. The group's highest peak is Schesaplana (9,724 feet [2,964 m]) on the Austrian-Swiss border, east-northeast of Maienfeld, Switz. I am planning to take a weekend trek to Austria to climb the Schesaplana this summer. Since I see from the map that it is very close to Lichtenstein, I think I should surely arrange a trip to that tiny country as well.
I have been in contact
with the Deutsche Alpenverein (DAV - German Alpine Club) Mannheim and they
tell me that it is not necessary to make a reservation at the Mannheim
hut where I plan to stay. The normal way to climb to the Mannheim
hut is from Brand, Austria via the Oberzalim Hut and the Leibersteg
in about 5 1/2 hours (1,630 m). From the hut to the summit of Schesaplana
is about 1 1/2 hours over the Brandner glacier.
The Mannheim Hut
June 1, 2001 - It's now 9 days past May 24 and Fogg and his companion would have reached Suez and have boarded a steamer for Bombay. In the meantime, I've had a week to catch up on some long overdue tasks at Rose-Hulman and have barely begun thinking about completing the preparations for my trip.
What kind of preparation is required for this type of trip? A couple of months back I began getting quotes from Northwest Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines on an around-the-world airfare. There are several schemes by which the various airlines determine the price of an around-the-world ticket. For the ticket I chose from Northwest Airlines, the price depends on the total mileage for the trip. My trip comes out to 34,000 miles and the ticket costs about 10 cents per mile -- cheaper than you can drive your car! The trip can last for up to 12 months and the number of stops is unlimited. One must have a fixed itinerary in advance of purchasing the ticket. All flights don't have to be on Northwest Airlines, but they all must be on Northwest or one of it's partner airlines.
After the ticket was purchased, I applied for a visa to visit Ghana. Ghana is the only country where I will stop on my tour that requires a visa for American citizens. Ghana is also the most important stop on my tour as I will revisit the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic. In order to get the Ghanaian visa stamped into my passport, I had to mail my passport to the Ghanaian embassy in Washington D.C. I had a bad experience with this process in 1997 when I sent my passport to Washington D.C. by US mail for visas from Ghana, Tanzania, and Kenya. When the much awaited envelope returned to my RHIT mailbox, I found that it had been slit open and my passport had been stolen from the mail! This led to a frantic application for a new passport and new visas. In the end, I got my passport and visas but not with much time to spare, and not without paying several "expedite" fees. This year I sent the passport by FedEx and the passport and visa returned intact.
During the time I was getting quotes on my airfare, and getting visas, I was also making arrangements for my visit in Heidelberg. In Heidelberg I will be a visiting scientist and although I have made this visit for the past two summers, there are quite a few arrangements to be made. I opened a bank account in Heidelberg, this summer and made arrangements through the lab for my lodging at the university guesthouse. Now I have an apartment reserved at the guest house, a bank account, and a space in the lab where I can work. I and my two graduate students have made good progress on the work that we will continue this summer, but we have not completed the scientific preparations yet. The next three weeks will be critical in that regard.
I also made a doctors appointment and had a check-up and a consultation concerning which immunizations that I need for this trip. Because I have been to Africa a year and a half ago, my immunizations were mostly good to go. I have up to date immunizations for yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus and of course the standard childhood immunizations that one gets in the USA. I also got a prescription for mefloquine (Lariam) to prevent malaria. I have read that some people don't tolerate mefloquine very well because of some rare side effects (strange dreams etc.) but I have taken it on two previous trips and have never experienced problems.
I have also begun making some plans for the weekend trip to the Austria Alps described above. When the time gets nearer, I'll also need train tickets and probably a reservation at a bed & breakfast in Brand, Austria for one night. When I begin making plans for packing, I need to be certain to include my hiking boots, rain gear, backpack, water bottle and suitable warm clothes for a northern European, windy, snowy 9,724 ft peak.
Another bit of preparation I have begun, but not concluded is the purchase of medical equipment and supplies for the clinic. I ordered a hemoglobinometer and a hemacytometer kit but they have not yet arrived. We purchased some printer ink cartridges and a battery for the glucose meter. I also need to check into the purchase of a laptop computer set up for e-mail access. George is the first person in his neighborhood in Ghana with a telephone after we had telephone poles and telephone wires strung to the clinic. Now he will likely be the first person in the neighborhood with e-mail. We are still discussing other equipment and supplies that could be the most helpful.
Soon I will begin making a list for packing. Unlike Phileas Fogg, I do not plan to spend 20,000 pounds to buy anything I need along the way. The business of packing for such a trip is not simple. I want to travel light since I will be in and out of so many airports. When TAP (Air Portugal) lost my luggage last summer between Madeira and Madrid, it was a month or so before I finally recovered it back in Terre Haute, Indiana. The weather in Germany in the summer could be anywhere between 10 and 35 C (50 F and 95 F) and on the summit of the Schesaplana it might be below freezing. Ghana is a few degrees north of the equator and the temperature will almost certainly be 34 C (93 F). In Perth, Australia it will be mid-winter and the temperature may be around 10 C (50 F) and rainy.
Thankfully, my apartment at the guest house is furnished this year and I will not need to take along kitchen utensils, towels, etc. I definitely need to take along my laptop computer because I need it for my work in Heidelberg. Now come the questions? Shall I take a radio? CD's? Which books? A suit? Which gifts for my friends and colleagues along the way?
I have been reading a book by Rick Ridgeway called, "Below Another Sky," and in the book he writes of a poem he remembered from childhood. It also reminded me of something that Alexander von Humboldt wrote. Humboldt was a German explorer and possibly the first tourist/adventurer, since he explored using his own money. Humboldt wrote, "Nichts mahnt der Reisende so auffallend an die ungeheure Entfernung seiner Heimat als der Anblick eines neuen Himmels." "Nothing reminds the traveler so strikingly of the enormous remoteness of his home as the sight of a new heaven." I wrote the following poem which owes some credit to Ridgeway's childhood memory and to Humboldt's writing.
the World in Forty-Nine Days
I should like to rise and go,
as Humboldt many years ago,
to lands with equatorial snow.
Where beneath another sky,
snow-capped mountain summits lie,
at night above in jet black sky,
foreign constellations fly.
I wish to make a trek near Perth,
to touch the converse side of earth,
take time to ponder views of worth.
Finally what I hold most dear,
to touch good friends, remote and near,
and to finally know the world's a sphere.
I was reading through the enormous pile of junk mail which shows up in my mailbox regularly and I happened
across a copy of the Colorado School of Mines Alumni Association publication which contains an article about a visiting biology professor at CSM named Paddy Ryan.
The word Fiji caught my eye because I am planning to visit Fiji this summer. I started reading the article, checked the web site that was referenced and it caught my interest! There is a very nice picture of Fiji. The web site tells about the Ryan's company, Pacific Island books, which was founded in 1999 by Kathy Ryan after her husband's New Zealand publisher found it difficult to find a US distributor. Kathy set up the company in partnership with her photographer/ writer husband. Paddy and his wife sound like a couple who I would like to get to know someday. I read their bios and the similarity of their interests and mine is what really struck me. I wrote them an e-mail from which the following is an excerpt. I'm curious to see if I get a response.
" . . . This summer at the end of July, I'll keep traveling east and take a trip around the world! After I leave Europe I will visit the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic in Accra, Ghana where a colleague and I have helped to start a free medical clinic. After I leave Accra, I'll fly to Perth via Johannesburg where I'll spend a week visiting friends on the opposite side of the globe. After I leave Perth, I will travel to Auckland and then to Fiji. I'll only have about 3 days each, in Auckland and Fiji, and I'm visiting there purely as a tourist.
Do you have any suggestions for things I should see or do while I'm in Auckland or in Fiji? Places to stay? Things to avoid? Thanks for the beautiful photos of Fiji. I'm looking forward to the visit."
Leaving behind Fiji and the Ryan's, we need to check in on Phileas Fogg and his faithful companion on their way to Bombay. They are still between Suez and Bombay.
Verne writes, "The
distance between Suez and Aden is precisely thirteen hundred and ten miles,
and the regulations of the company allow the steamers one hundred
and thirty-eight hours in which to traverse it. The
Mongolia, thanks to the vigorous exertions of the engineer, seemed likely, so rapid was her speed, to
reach her destination considerably within that time."
In the next chapter he writes, "The Mongolia had still sixteen hundred and fifty miles to traverse before reaching Bombay, and was obliged to remain four hours at Steamer Point to coal up. But this delay, as it was foreseen, did not affect Phileas Fogg's programme; besides, the Mongolia, instead of reaching Aden on the morning of the 15th, when she was due, arrived there on the evening of the 14th, a gain of fifteen hours."
138 - 15 hours is a bit more than 5 days. Therefore 7 + 5 = 12 days after his 2001 departure, Fogg arrived at Aden two days ago. He departed the same day and Verne writes, "At six p.m. the Mongolia slowly moved out of the roadstead, and was soon once more on the Indian Ocean. She had a hundred and sixty-eight hours in which to reach Bombay, and the sea was favourable, the wind being in the north-west, and all sails aiding the engine."
Fogg spends his time playing whist for the next six days while the unfortunate Professor Waite has been "invited" to spend the next two days participating in the Rose-Hulman Baldridge self-assessment that, it is said, will serve as the basis for our reaccreditation. Oh, to be on a steamer in the Indian Ocean. . . !
The weather in Terre Haute is 32C, with clear skies and 52% relative humidity. Yesterday the weather was similar and I swam 800 m, biked 10km and ran about 4 km at the end. Today we had visitors from Singapore, at Rose-Hulman. It was an interesting meeting and a nice lunch. There was a group of ten or so visitors from Temasek Polytechnic. They brought me a very nice travel alarm/calculator/timer/clock/calendar for my desk. At lunch I sat by a Singaporean man who has children who are 8 and 10. He studied in Perth! Now is that a coincidence? I'm going to Perth in about six or seven weeks!! Why did he sit by me? It was a giant table with 20 or so people around it. THis man also met his wife at Western Australian University and they may send their children back to Australia for a university education.
From my point of view, the self-assessment meetings last week were a disaster and therefore I apologize for not having written in the travel journal much this week.
I received a fast reply from Paddy & Kathy Ryan. What a nice surprise. Paddy wrote:
"Three days in New
Zealand and three days in Fiji is like spending ten minutes at the Smithsonian.
In New Zealand the first thing to do is to get out of Auckland as quickly
as possible. I'd fly to Queenstown and base myself there for the whole
three days. A "must-do" is a visit to Milford Sound and Mitre
Peak ... described by Rudyard Kipling as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". Failing that, if time or money doesn't permit such a side extension then I'd go to Rotorua. . . . "
"Fiji is a stunning place ... you'll enjoy the integrity and sunny disposition of the Fijians. As with NZ I'd recommend getting away from the airport as quickly as possible. There are numerous small and interesting resorts just a few hours from the international airport. If you have the money I'd recommend flying to Taveuni (Fiji's third biggest island) and going from there to Qamea Resort. Given a choice I'd take a high volcanic island over a coral atoll or cay any day ... they are way more interesting biologically. . . . "
Kathy also wrote,
"I read Paddy's response to you and thought I should recommend another
place to go
in Fiji - Moody's of Namena is a wonderful small island with a single resort which can
hold a max of 12 visitors, along side of a small nature reserve. "
What a wonderful surprise to hear from such a nice couple who share a strong interest in traveling and adventure -- all jokes about engineers and/or biologists aside!
Update on Phileas Fogg - he has now reached Bombay, and should be making the transition from steamer to rail. Lucky Fogg -- no institutional self-assessment to work on, no departmental strategic plans to write, no equipment lists to prepare for the Dean. . . .
Six weeks from tomorrow I'll arrive in Perth! The opposite side of the earth. If you consider the latitude and longitude of Terre Haute, Indiana, USA (39 degrees 27 minutes north latitude and 87 degrees 18 minutes west longitude) and add 180 degrees to both, you would arrive at a spot 50 degrees 33 minutes south latitude and 92 degrees 72 minutes east longitude. Those coordinates correspond with a point in the middle of the Indian Ocean, very near the Indian-Antarctic ridge. If you draw expanding, concentric circles, from that point until one of your circles touches a continent, you will find that the furthest point on earth from Terre Haute, where you can stand on continental dry land is Perth, Australia!
Wait it's already tomorrow in Perth.
No wait, it is now 9:00 a.m. on Friday here that means it is 10:00 p.m.
Friday evening in Perth. - no wonder Phileas Fogg was confused. At 7:55 p.m. tonight it will be precisely six weeks until I am scheduled to arrive in Perth.
I have noticed an interesting dilemma in traveling around the world. Imagine that you could make a trip around the world, as I am planning. There may be some places that you would like to visit, but time is always limited. Let's say you decide to visit Europe for a week. Then your European friends begin asking where you will go in Europe. Now you pick 4 days in London and 3 in Amsterdam. Your friends might say, "Only three days in Amsterdam. Oh no! It's not enough! You need at least a week."
I have traveled more than nearly anyone that I know. On every trip I take, someone says something like, "Only a weekend in Kuala Lumpur? Only three days in New Zealand? Only three days in Fiji?" Now I realize that even if I add a week, and add another country to my trip, someone might still say, "Wow, you went around the world and you didn't go to Singapore? But, it's beautiful in Singapore!" In fact, if I had a bit more time I would probably include a trip to the Himalayas. I suppose it's best to save some destinations for the next adventure. The bottom line is this; you can't do everything. I guess the only alternative would be to stay home! I feel really fortunate to be able to make this trip and I am really happy with what I am doing. I'll certainly miss some "must-see" spots along the way. The joy in this adventure is the trip, not the destinations.
Today is father's day in the USA. One week from today, I will depart from Terre Haute. By now, Fogg and Passepartout have a 24 day head start. Had his plans gone according to plan, Fogg would have spent this past three days traveling across India, from Bombay to Calcutta by rail. Instead, Verne writes,
The train stopped,
at eight o'clock, in the midst of a glade some fifteen miles beyond Rothal,
where there were several bungalows, and workmen's cabins. The conductor,
passing along the carriages, shouted, "Passengers will get out here!"
Phileas Fogg looked at Sir Francis Cromarty for an explanation; but the general could not tell what meant a halt in the midst of this forest of dates and acacias. Passepartout, not less surprised, rushed out and speedily returned, crying: "Monsieur, no more railway!"
"What do you mean?" asked Sir Francis.
"I mean to say that the train isn't going on."
The general at once stepped out, while Phileas Fogg calmly followed him, and they proceeded together to the conductor.
"Where are we?" asked Sir Francis.
"At the hamlet of Kholby."
"Do we stop here?"
"Certainly. The railway isn't finished."
"What! not finished?"
"No. There's still a matter of fifty miles to be laid from here to Allahabad, where the line begins again."
A bit later, the author continues,
who had now rejoined his master, made a wry grimace, as he thought of his
magnificent, but too frail Indian shoes. Happily he too had been looking
about him, and, after a moment's hesitation, said, "Monsieur, I think I
have found a means of conveyance."
"An elephant! An elephant that belongs to an Indian who lives but a hundred steps from here."
"Let's go and see the elephant," replied Mr. Fogg.
While Fogg continues across India by elephant, I have been making progress on the details of my trip at a similar pace. I now have reservations for hotel accommodations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the weekend of August 3 and 4 and in Rotorua, New Zealand for the 6, 7, an 8th of August. I still need to make a plan for Fiji.
I also have a reservation for the one night that I will spend in Johannesburg in route from Accra to Perth.
I have also been
busily collecting supplies for the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic.
I have now purchased a hemoglobinometer, a hemacytometer, a glucose meter,
glucose test strips, and printer cartridges. We also have a list
of items that are being donated by the Visiting Nurses Association of the
Wabash Valley. I have now confirmed, with George, by telephone, which
of these items he can use. Now I have to find a way to fit them all
into my luggage!
June 24, 2001- The trip begins!
The trip is begun! I spent the day yesterday (Saturday), clearing my desk of important last minute tasks, packing (I hadn't started packing yet!), and buying the last minute items that I need. I finished packing at midnight. I was able to fit all of the donated medical supplies for the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic into a large trunk and all of my stuff into one rather large piece of luggage. Remember that I had to bring my computer and quite a few file folders, etc. for the work that I am going to do. Because it will be cold in some places (like in Perth and on top the Schesaplana in the Austrian Alps) and hot in others (Accra & Fiji) it was tough to pack. In the end, when the two pieces of luggage were full, that indicated to me that I was finished packing (by definition!).
I got up at 6:00 a.m. this morning and went for a 7 km run. I think that I can sleep much easier on the airplane if I'm physically tired. I'm not fond of early morning runs, but this was a good one and I felt pretty good after the first two kilometers or so. My good friend Wayne Sanders came to get me at 9:00 a.m., to drive me to the airport.
We were leaving very early for a 1:30 p.m. flight since it only takes a bit more than an hour to drive to the Indianapolis airport. We had planned to stop and have breakfast along the way. When we got to the restaurant, it looked very crowded, so we drove on to the airport with the intention of eating there after I checked in. I narrowly avoided disaster.
When I arrived at the Northwest counter to check in, the line was fairly short with only about five or ten people ahead of me. As I stood there fifteen minutes it began to dawn on me that the line wasn't moving, but it was rapidly lengthening. Gradually I noticed that a different Northwest Airlines flight had been canceled and it was taking a VERY long time to check-in those passengers and to rebook them. It took me nearly an hour to check in even though I was very near the front of the line. By the time I left, the line was painfully long. If we had stopped for breakfast, or even delayed 15 minutes, I might still be there!!
After I finished checking in, Wayne and I had a leisurely lunch. We bid each other adieu, with a handshake and a promise of future e-mails and postcards and Wayne drove back to Terre Haute while I, without further incident, boarded my flight for beautiful Detroit, Michigan. Detroit does not have the reputation as one of the world's premier tourist spots, so it was humorous to some that the first stop on my trip around the world was the Detroit airport. I took the very first opportunity to send Darrell Gibson a postcard from Detroit, since he asked me to send him a postcard from some exotic destination along my trip :-).
The Detroit airport is not so bad, really. The gates are clearly marked with signs in English. The shop attendants speak passable, if not always warm and friendly, English. They still accept payment in US dollars so I didn't need to exchange money. Despite the relative convenience, I feel certain that you will understand when I tell you that I'm not tempted to tarry long in Detroit. I expect to be here for about another 1 1/2 hours until 5:30 p.m. when my flight departs for Frankfurt.
It's a very satisfying thought that my bags are packed, and checked through to Frankfurt and that all I need to do is make sure I manage to get myself on the airplane. The weather is fine and the status board shows that NW flight 0052 is on schedule. With a little luck I'll be in Frankfurt in 12 hours and Heidelberg shortly after that. More later. . . . .
25, 2001 - Germany
Wow. You know that 1 1/2 hours that I mentioned two paragraphs above? Well, just as I typed it, I thought about the fact that Detroit might be (certainly is!!!) in a different time zone than Indianapolis. Because my watch was still set to Terre Haute time, I could have missed my plane! The airplane was already boarding when I realize my idiocy.. I was sitting just far enough away that I didn't hear the initial announcements. Anyway, all's well that ends well. As Phileas Fogg would say, it is all planned for.
Now it's 2:30 a.m. Frankfurt time or 7:30 p.m. Terre Haute time. Who knows what time it is here, at some unspecified latitude and longitude 30,000 ft above the Atlantic Ocean? I guess I can say that it's sunset. As I look out the window there is a beautiful dark, royal blue sky above a thin band of color that is light blue at the top and gradually changing to yellow, orange, red and then to violet at the bottom. Below this thin band of sunset, there is a dark gray horizon of clouds/ocean. In the time it took me to type this paragraph, the clouds and ocean are growing steadily darker, the blue sky above is becoming a deeper blue.
I am in the process of making a transition.. During the past week, my friends and colleagues continually asked, "Are you ready for your trip?" My answer was always, "no!" I was psychologically and emotionally ready, but I simply did not have the time to pack, to prepare . . . Now, with my luggage on board, with nothing to do but eat and drink and read, and type messages to you, I am gradually beginning to realize that there is no pressure to accomplish something tonight, or tomorrow. I am beginning to realize that I can be rather selfish in my attention to my own happiness and relaxation over the next seven weeks. It's a wonderful feeling. At the same time, I realize how selfish that sounds.
It's 5:30 AM Frankfurt time and we are about two hours away from landing. According to the map being displayed on the movie screen at the front of the cabin, we are just approaching Ireland. The sunrise is imminent and I can see the gray clouds with a brilliant orange outline at the top. Suddenly a bright disk has emerged from the clouds and within a minute, a bright fiery ball, too bright to look at, is casting a brilliant orange shadow on the interior walls of this DC10.
Even later -
I arrived in Frankfurt on time and beat the crowd to customs. I didn't have any inquires from the Herren in customs concerning my somewhat unusual luggage. I guess I just don't look like a smuggler. Once again, good fortune smiled on my trip or perhaps God looked after me. I bought a $12 train ticket and I was on a train headed for Heidelberg by 9:30 a.m. A luggage porter met me at the door of the train in Frankfurt Hbf where I had to change trains and even change levels. The price for the porter was DM5 although I would gladly have paid $20 for the service. I paid $5 for a cab after arriving at Heidelberg and was in my apartment by 11:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m. Terre Haute time). That's not too bad, 19 hours door to door. The most stressful part was the 4 hours between leaving home and taking off in Indy!
26, 2001 - Wieder in Heidelberg
It's good to be back in Heidelberg. Everything is nicely familiar, but there are always new surprises. It gets a bit easier to set up the computer each time. It's 11:00 a.m. central European time, and I've already got a work space, and a functional computer connection. It's a bit disconcerting to be typing in English and have people walk in and ask questions in German. It'll take me a few days to get used to that. My brain is switching pretty slowly today.
I slept remarkably well during my first night back in Germany. I guess I was pretty tired. I went to bed at about 9:00 p.m. and when the alarm went off at 6:30 A.M., it was a bit of a surprise. Today I feel good, like a normal day at work.
There has been significant turn over at the Heart Surgery Laboratory, but there are still a number of familiar faces. Karin, the lab manager, is still here and she is a genuinely friendly and helpful person. She always seems so happy to chat with me, despite my terrible German, that she makes it much easier to communicate. When I don't understand something that she says, she seems to perceive my lack of understanding and, simply repeats it in several ways as part of the normal conversation, until she can see that I understand.
Jan Tremper is a physician who works in
the lab and he has also been there since I started coming to Heidelberg.
Jan is truly a nice guy, who I think, shares with me a love for traveling
and an appreciation of foreign culture. Today when Jan and I went
to lunch, we ate with a group of international students who are studying
medicine and biology in Heidelberg. They were from Greece, Costa
Rica, Spain, Austria, and Finland.
I enjoyed a successful day at work. In fact, the work really begins in earnest next week when Gabor returns from vacation in Hungary. In the meantime I have my computer up and running and was successful in running Matlab and accessing the swine data files today. It's 10:15 p.m. now on an absolutely clear evening in Heidelberg and the sunset is remarkable as I sit at my desk and look out the balcony of my apartment at the darkening sky with a tiny crescent moon over Heidelberg. The sun sets pretty late so far north in the middle of the summer!
After work today, I skipped my usual afternoon run in favor of a walk. There is a pedestrian bridge across the Neckar just beyond the nurse's dormitory. I walked across that bridge to the south bank of the Neckar where the old part of Heidelberg is located. Today I went to the post office where I bought postcards and stamps (it costs three times as much for the postage to send a postcard to the USA from Germany as it costs for the postcard!). After that I stopped by the market to buy a few essentials.
June 27, 2001
While Phileas Fogg (without Passepartout!! - more on this later) is on his way from Hong Kong to Yokohama by steamer, I have been enjoying a nice few days in Heidelberg. It's really good to be back. This international city has some very pleasant memories for me, and even when a normal day passes by, the pleasant surroundings are enough to make it an exciting city.
For those readers who are expecting more regular e-mails from me, a few words of explanation are in order here. Upon arrival in Heidelberg, I have all the computing power of the University of Heidelberg, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, America Online, an Internet Cafe in the adjacent Mensa (student cafeteria), TWO laptop computers (one for the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic) and a data line connection IN MY APARTMENT. More precisely put, with all of this technology at my disposal, there is no chance of sending a successful e-mail at any given moment!!!
The typical attempt goes something like this. I'll try to log on to the Heidelberg network to send e-mail through my normal RHIT account. Without going into the boring details, there are some nice, quick, convenient ways to do this and when the RHIT servers are down, it is very tempting to wait for them to come back up, rather than going down the 10 or so other paths towards successful electronic communication. The good news is that this kind of monkeying around, usually sorts itself out within the first week.
I hope you won't consider me lazy if I skip the e-mail circus, leave work early and go for a run. That's right. Back in Heidelberg, and I can't resist a nice long afternoon run along the Neckar. I think I covered about 7 miles (~11 kilometers) in a bit over an hour. Here is a picture from an earlier trip. The picture is taken from the Heidelberg Castle, and the university is on the opposite (north) side of the Neckar. If you look carefully at the smallest of the three bridges, you can see the tallest residence halls to the right (north side of the river). My path started very close to those skyscrapers and I ran to the river, make a left turn (east) and ran past the two closer bridges in the picture and continued on to the next structure across the river, which is the Heidelberg Hydroelectric Power Station (not in the picture). Then I turned around and ran back to the west past all three bridges that you can see in the photo, and past the Heidelberg zoo before returning to the guesthouse.
The research is also coming along pretty well. I made some nice progress on getting the Matlab files up and running today. It seems like this type of research is often two steps forward and one step back, because the software changes so often and the files that you use one month, may not work the next. There is a lot of activity in the lab this year, because they are reapplying for funding in the fall. Like everywhere else in the world, funding opportunities are tight in Germany.
Here is another photo from the balcony of my apartment at the guest house.
June 28, 2001
What a wonderful evening! I remember that the day started out with some unpleasant electronic experiences (e-mail & computer troubles). There are also times at work when I feel like my German language is so bad, I might as well be speaking Japanese. I think my poor language skill causes me to have less contact with people than I would normally have in the USA, and I miss that. We don't make small talk much, for example. One of my favorite "left-handed compliments" recently came from a colleague who, while speaking about me, said to the others at our lunch table, "I think his German is astounding, for an American!"
I was however, looking forward to the "Sommerfest" which is organized by the folks who run the guest house and was scheduled for 5 to 10 p.m. this evening. The Sommerfest is an outdoor barbecue/picnic to which all of the residents of the guest house were invited. The university provided steaks, bratwurst, wine, and beer while a number of guests brought specialties from their home country.
I don't really know any good ways to walk into a party at which I know absolutely no one. I was pretty sure, however, that if I went to this party I'd figure out a way to have fun. I went for a short run along the Neckar after work (20 minutes), took a quick shower and went downstairs to the barbecue about a half-hour after it began. There were a number of families and quite a few small children.
As I said, I don't know any good ways to meet complete strangers, so I sat down at an empty table with a plate of food and a beer. A bit later, Andrea sat down across from me. Andrea, is a vascular surgeon from Austria. She is here in Heidelberg for a month to learn about vascular surgery techniques. She is married and has a six year old son who begins school in the fall. While I was talking to her, Olav and Dorothy, a couple of very friendly third year German medical students also sat down at our table. They were interested in the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic, which I never fail to mention to medical students. Perhaps one day they'll come to Accra to work! The four of us visited for a long time, drank beer, ate bratwurst , etc. I got up to refill my plate (I skipped lunch today AND went for a run!) and when I returned to the table I found we were joined by two more Germans from the bank where I have an account. The bank is adjacent to the guest house. Michael is a manager at the bank and Carola is a teller. They already recognize me (probably because I ask so many questions when I come to the bank).
I am beginning to realize a couple of new
things about Germans (or about Europeans in general) when it comes to conversation
about where I'm from;
1) Hardly anybody could identify Indiana if shown a map.
2) Almost everybody NOW has heard of Terre Haute, but it may not be a conversation in which I want to be involved.
3) Almost everyone has heard of Indy car racing and Germans are typically interested when you mention Formula I racing in Indianapolis.
By this point, I was having a really nice time. The next two people to arrive at our picnic table were Sumi and Carmen. Sumi is Japanese and has a quick, warm smile and a gregarious personality. She is a beginning German speaker, but she had a lot to say and when her German wasn't up to the task she filled in with English. She was surprised to hear that I had lived in Kanazawa for a year. Sumi is a nephrologist (kidney doctor) doing research here in Heidelberg and studying German. Carmen is from Madrid and she is also learning German, but couldn't speak ANY when she first came to Heidelberg. Carmen is Catholic, like many Spaniards, and was curious about the fact that there are so many different Christian denominations in the USA. She asked, "Does everyone in the US start their own church when they feel like it?" "Both Sumi and Carmen will be in Heidelberg three or four years altogether. There was another Japanese man and a woman from Thailand who also joined the group, but hey, I think I'm doing well to remember seven new names. The Thai woman was in the same German language class with Sumi and Carmen.
By the end of the evening (the picnic had a precise ending time -- like all good German parties - 10:00 p.m.) I was truly enjoying the conversation. It is good for my self-image that my German is good compared to most other non-native speakers, and at times I found that I could understand the "non-standard" German of the other foreigners better than Andrea (the Austrian). The food was good. The conversation was fantastic.
But I promised to report on Fogg and Passepartout who traversed India by elephant when the train wasn't available. They took a steamer to Hong Kong and then as Verne writes:
Fix and Passepartout saw that they were in a smoking-house haunted by those wretched, cadaverous, idiotic creatures to whom the English merchants sell every year the miserable drug called opium, to the amount of one million four hundred thousand pounds-- thousands devoted to one of the most despicable vices which afflict humanity! The Chinese government has in vain attempted to deal with the evil by stringent laws. It passed gradually from the rich, to whom it was at first exclusively reserved, to the lower classes, and then its ravages could not be arrested. Opium is smoked everywhere, at all times, by men and women, in the Celestial Empire; and, once accustomed to it, the victims cannot dispense with it, except by suffering horrible bodily contortions and agonies. A great smoker can smoke as many as eight pipes a day; but he dies in five years. It was in one of these dens that Fix and Passepartout, in search of a friendly glass, found themselves. Passepartout had no money, but willingly accepted Fix's invitation in the hope of returning the obligation at some future time.
They ordered two bottles of port, to which the Frenchman did ample justice, whilst Fix observed him with close attention. They chatted about the journey, and Passepartout was especially merry at the idea that Fix was going to continue it with them. When the bottles were empty, however, he rose to go and tell his master of the change in the time of the sailing of the Carnatic. Fix caught him by the arm, and said, "Wait a moment." . . . . .
The next morning---
Mr. Fogg then learned that the Carnatic had sailed the evening before. He had expected to find not only the steamer, but his domestic, and was forced to give up both; but no sign of disappointment appeared on his face, and he merely remarked to Aouda, "It is an accident, madam; nothing more." . . . . . "But there are other vessels besides the Carnatic, it seems to me, in the harbour of Hong Kong." How?" asked Mr. Fogg. "By going to Nagasaki, at the extreme south of Japan, or even to Shanghai, which is only eight hundred miles from here. In going to Shanghai we should not be forced to sail wide of the Chinese coast, which would be a great advantage, as the currents run northward, and would aid us. "Pilot," said Mr. Fogg, "I must take the American steamer at Yokohama, and not at Shanghai or Nagasaki." "Why not?" returned the pilot. "The San Francisco steamer does not start from Yokohama. It puts in at Yokohama and Nagasaki, but it starts from Shanghai." . . . . John Bunsby, master, at length gave the order to start, and the Tankadere, taking the wind under her brigantine, foresail, and standing-jib, bounded briskly forward over the waves.
The unfortunate Passepartout
is separated from his master, but Fogg continues on toward Japan on board
Return to: June July August
telephone - (my apartment)
cell phone in Germany- 49-151-12934270
Heart Surgery Lab - 49-6221-56-6260
fax - 49-6221-56-5305