On a Mission – #4

Caffeine and Cinder

(This is my travel journal that I kept during a medical mission to Paraguay; part one can be found here)

                  September 25, 2015. 06:00 – 07:15

                  Café Pascucci & Gate 46, Terminal 3, GRU

The long haul from Heathrow left a lot of room for desire unlike my seat in coach, most of which was obscured by the seat of the guy in front of me that was twenty centimeters from my face. He was almost in my lap when the seat, most likely defective, was reclined further than the others, just from him sitting in it. I didn’t know this was possible, and being an engineer, I was frustrated about the inability of my chair to make the same maneuver. Despite melatonin, the discomfort of the shoebox seat I sat in prohibited sleep.


The heavy elderly woman next to me mumbled and coughed, from time to time. Surprisingly, she disappeared for several hours at a time, so it seemed. I was looking for her on the floor at one point so as to not step on her by accident while navigating my way to the toilet. I have no idea where she went on a full flight.

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On a Mission – #2

Comparative Positioning

(This is my travel journal that I kept during a medical mission to Paraguay; part one can be found here)

September 22, 07:30

Train, commute to work

It is difficult to avoid making comparisons. The inevitability of rationalizing the unfamiliar with the comfortable, or that which we often take for granted. Though not knowing what to expect, I anticipate such a motion on my part to construct comparison.

In travel, comparison starts from the beginning, from, “Where can I go?” to “Where have I not yet been?” as a desire for comparable or contrasting experiences. It continues with comparing costs to get there and equating currencies. One Swiss Franc (currently) is approximately 5,679 Guarani, 5 CHF approximately 25k GUR, and so on. The comparison, certainly, will continue throughout my journey. Preemptively, I envision comparisons to what is familiar to me; water, clothes, buildings, culture, food, kids, technology, and despite not knowing the side of Paraguay, I have already begun to question the familiar side in Switzerland. Water is very much taken for granted.

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On a Mission – #1

The Call

September 16, 07:30

Train, Commute to work

I received a call the other day which I did not anticipate; an offer to travel with a group of volunteers to Asunción, Paraguay. I had been involved with Operation Smile for the past three years, helping with various activities from leading a donation effort to South Africa to participating in charitable events (i.e bake sales, auctions, and a 5k run). Unexpectedly, this call was to join a global team of Johnson & Johnson employees, eight in total, for the first ever Operation Smile / J&J global mission. A commitment had to be given in less than 24 hours, and I wasn’t even sure where Asunción was located.

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