I was expecting to spend October and November having cataract surgery, but when I visited my prospective surgeon at the Duke Eye Clinic, he advised against it. The good news: no surgery (ever since an appendectomy at age 11 I’ve tried to avoid hospitals and surgery). The bad news: my night vision isn’t going to get any better any time soon. Turns out, I have an inherited problem with my corneas that would require a transplant to fix, and they aren’t nearly that bad. Yet.
So, all of a sudden I had a couple of months with nothing planned. Naturally, I decided to travel. I had intended my next trip to be to the northwest quadrant of South America: Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, maybe a little piece of Venezuela, but the guidebooks said that fall here would be the rainy season there. So instead I looked still further south, where it should be drier. (I did consider flying to London, where for a brief window the cost in FF miles was reasonable, and on to Tunisia, but London in the second half of October wasn’t too appealing, and it turns out it may still be too soon to go to Tunisia.)
Going south instead of east was going to cost a lot of FF miles, as the planes seemed remarkably full, but I managed to find tickets at not too ruinous a price on American, flying into Rio de Janeiro and out of Santiago. I can only hope that I don’t get stranded in Miami by industrial action! I’m expecting some really good scenery on this trip, as besides Iguassu Falls on the Brazilian-Argentinian border, I’ll be heading south to the glaciers of Patagonia, and the lakes and mountains of the Argentinian and Chilean Lake District. I’ll even be taking a boat through the Chilean fjords!
Working through my “leaving home” list, I checked the CDC web site and discovered a recommendation for a yellow fever shot for visitors to Iguassu Falls. Since I’d also need one if I made it to Bolivia on my next trip I decided to go ahead, only to find the CDC recommending that over-60s NOT get the shot. Catch 22. Fortunately my doctor was willing to fax permission to the travel clinic, and I had no side effects whatsoever from the vaccination, not even a sore arm.
I’ve done enough trips now that I don’t have to do a whole lot of shopping, but since I managed to lose my iPod on my last trip, some kind of replacement was needed. It seemed a good time to finally give in and get a smart phone, which would replace both the missing iPod and the Motorola phone I’d been using for travel. I should perhaps mention at this point that at home I still use tethered, land line phones in the house (I’m waiting for them to stop working) and keep a very dumb Tracfone in the car for emergencies. I had not previously joined the cell phone revolution.
Several hours of on-line research later… I bought an unlocked LG P999 through Amazon, along with a 16 gig SD card, a case, a spare battery and some screen protectors, all for rather less than a well-cared for second-hand iPhone, plus a Passport SIM good in multiple countries from Telestial. Then I went by Barnes and Noble and bought “Android Phones for Dummies”. I had been having a nice time working through the book until last night, when I attempted to mate the phone to my PC and nothing looked like the screen shots in the book.
Eventually it dawned on me that I needed a new driver, which I found on the LG web site, but then the free Double Twist software I was using resolutely refused to recognize my SD card. Turned out that the phone version had defaulted to internal memory instead of the SD card. Once I got that sorted out, I was able to fill up most of the 16 gig with books on tape from the library plus podcasts and some music, which Double Twist neatly extracted from my iTunes libraries.
Meanwhile, I still need to check through my packing list, and I leave in less than a week.