Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The could-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall disolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
-The Tempest, William Shakespeare
On the RoadPlane rides: 43
Train rides: 11
Long-distance bus journeys: 19
Car journeys (excluding pick-up trucks, tow trucks and other unlikely vehicles): 11
Helicopter rides: 1
Overland border crossings: 7
Pages of reports written or curricula developed: 849
Number of affiliate organizations worldwide: 13 (including 4 U.N. bodies)
Number of program beneficiaries worldwide: exact figure TBD, estimate is over 4,000
First time working with ex-combatants
First winter in a hot climate
First time participating in a disaster relief mission
First motorcycle ride solo
First dive near coral reefs
First time I saw a moon rainbow
First monsoon season (and first Tropical Storm and first 'dry season' and 'wet season')
First time I saw a baby being born (and helped her into the world)
First time I saw a woman being beaten in public
First viewing of a censored version of a film
First time someone attempted to earnestly buy me in exchange for camels
First climb up active volcano
First participation in mass grave exhumations
First time I met a pirate
First hike through a cloud forest
First time without my own computer for an extended period of time
First project involving outreach to indigenous populations
First time working with children (and first time getting along with children)
First time being mugged
First time as a redhead
First time correctly identifying a constellation
First time lying in bed and doing absolutely nothing for a whole day
First time sleeping in the desert
First time delivering programming in a language other than English
Longest transportation experience: 30 hours on a train from Luxor to Cairo. Ride 2 kms, stop by the Nile for 4 hours, ride another 7 kms, stop inexplicably for another 7 hours. Watch the cows literally come home. Receive no information, compensation, or apology, only to find out the delay was because the train in front of us had hit a cow, killing 18 passengers and injuring over 50. For my friend Reid, the news was not that we spent 30 hours on a journey that should have taken 12, or that we had a near-brush with death, or even that a cow could cause so much trouble, but that "you guys, Roxanne did not pee for 30 hours!"
Strangest transportation experience: Getting kicked off a bus and being dumped on the side of the road in the Sinai desert. Tied with having a rental car break down on what I later found out was the Damascus-Baghdad highway, resulting in hitch-hiking ona tow-truck and riding inside the actual car that was being towed through the Syrian desert because a Western woman's presumed lack of virginity was enough to disqualify her from a seat outside the tow area.
Number of doctor or hospital visits: 9 (in 7 different different countries.)
Frequency of attempts to self-diagnose malaria/dengue/other tropical disease via the internet: Weekly.
Conversations exceeding 10 minutes on the topic of one's poop, the contents of one's stomach or the state of the larvae popping out of one's thigh: Unacceptably many.
Strangest medical experience: The time a doctor/pastor in Gulu, Uganda attempted to cure my conjunctivitis by saying a prayer two centimeters away from my eye, blessing it with his hand and sending me on my way.
Most unlikely place to discover a hint of Greece: Book fair in plaza de Armas in Havana, Cuba. Sold a used copy of "My life with Che", written by one of his alleged Greek lovers. Two hours later, I had a Cuban band serenade me in Greek as I watched the Champions' League in a pub in Havana, but that was a story for another time.
Strangest sight at an international border: A Dunkin' Donuts at the Lebanese-Syrian border Green Zone. Because, apparently, more than "America runs on Dunkin'"?
Most played song: Good Woman, Cat Power (closely followed by Home, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Blood Bank, Bon Iver, El Doctorado, Tony Dize)
Most cups of coffee in a day: 6, all before 10 am at the Pereira airport in the coffee district of Colombia. If I could have lugged that coffeemaker home, I would have.
Most mosquito bites at one time: 143 in the Amazon and, yes, I counted. Girardot, Colombia is a close second with 96 and yes, I have counted more than once in my life.
Most consecutive days without a shower: 6.
Most hours spent attempting to gain admission at an international border: 14. Thank you, Syria.
Number of different languages in my areas of work: 11
Number of First Ladies met: 2
Number of roommates: 13
Number of natural disasters or epidemics during my days in the field: 4 (swine flu does not cut it).
Highest altitude accessed: 9,252 ft (2,820 m) in Quito, Ecuador
Lowest point on land accessed: Dead Sea, Israel
Number of photos taken: TBD; initial account is over 10,000.
Mediterranean dish most often cooked when asked to show the world the culinary wonders of my country: Bruchetta (on 3 different continents)
Number of times there was dancing on tables: 11
Number of tables cracked or broken as a result of such activity: 1.5
Number of nights that blended into dawn: 27 (in Guatemala: 9)
Number of friends met through Couchsurfing: 46
Most memorable animal spotted: An anaconda in the lake from which we gathered water for our bucket showers in the Colombian Amazon. Tied with a jaguar at the same location and a black mamba near Paicho, Uganda.
Most unconventional holiday experience: This one requires a sublist.
- Thanksgiving at a diving site in the Red Sea, spotting my first corral reefs and lionfish, and celebrating 'turkey day' with Indian food and a power outage;
- Christmas Eve crowded outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, drinking Palestinian beer, eating shewarma and listening to a Reggaeton performance by a woman who proclaimed "I am African, just like all of you" to the decidedly non-Africans who were subjected to her glory;
- Christmas Day at a tapas bar with a floating Santa, sangria, chips and salsa in Ramallah, Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Part II of A Year in Lists and Numbers coming soon. If you have a question about the year, the traveling or the projects, leave it in the comments or send me an email.