Monday, October 29, 2007

Locations in Morocco

Just wanted to post a map of Morocco and point out where I'll be going when I go on the Operation Smile mission. I'll fly into Casablanca, but travel immediately to Tetouan (on the northern coast, along the Mediterranean sea). We'll be spending about 4 days there, then return to Casablanca. Operation Smile will be doing operations in both cities. I'm very fortunate to be able to observe two mission sites. It's going to be an amazing experience...I can't wait to share it with you!

The Roller Coaster Continues! looks like I'll be able to visit Rob after all! Well...maybe...I'll never count on the Navy to follow through with their plans, but it's looking good. I can't say where, but of course it's over in that general region. I'll be leaving on Wednesday. Just booked the ticket today, so of course I had to take what I could get! The routing is horrible, but at least it gets me to Rob! He'll arrive on Friday, and then we'll only be together until Tuesday. That day I'll leave for Morocco and he'll head back out to sea. It will be a short but SWEET visit. If it happens, that is!

In other news, they anchored briefly in Bahrain yesterday and got a mail delivery...always a happy day on the ship! He FINALLY got the box that I sent well over a month ago. I had sent a couple other things since then that he had already received, so I was convinced that this particular box was permanently lost. I was very relieved to find out he finally got it!

Well, I will keep this short as I have a million things to do to get ready to leave on Wednesday. I'll have email access most of the time I'm gone, so send me a note if you have a chance. I'll update the blog if I get a chance. If not, I'll update with lots of stories and pics when I get back! (which is late on the 17th of November!)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gotta Love the Navy

Well, the title of the last post ("Things Work Out in the End") is rather ironic...because things have most certainly NOT worked out! I was supposed to leave today for Dubai to visit Rob; his ship was scheduled to pull in on Monday and stay until Nov. 3. I was packed, had all kinds of goodies for him, and had even worked things out with my job so that I didn't have to fly home from Dubai on the third, then turn around and fly to Morocco two days later...I was going to go straight to Casablanca from Dubai. I was so READY to see Rob...and then I get his email at about 10:45 yesterday morning. They cancelled their port visit in Dubai due to a "security concern." I cannot tell you how crushed I was. I spent the entire day in tears. They tried to send me home from work, but I couldn't justify going home... why would I want to go home and be alone after news like that?

I cancelled the hotel in Dubai, and convinced the airline to give me a credit for my airfare. I cannot believe that this happened. Apparently they had known about this threat for a week, but waited until yesterday to actually cancel the visit. As I expressed to Rob in an email, it seems somewhat counter-intuitive for the MILITARY to run scared from a terrorist threat. If the very people who are supposed to protect us are going to run and hide, then I wonder if I should ever leave my house.

They are possibly going to do an alternate port visit somewhere else, but I don't know if I'll be able to pull everything together that quickly to visit him. We'll see what happens.

As for things on the ship, it's the usual: very busy. They have a new CO who just joined the ship in the last week, and they had the official change of command ceremony today. That's making things quite hectic as you might imagine. Haven't heard too much yet about the new CO; I was looking forward to meeting him this coming week, but I guess that will have to wait.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Things Work Out in the End

Well, it appears that everything has worked out for the best. I will be visiting Rob later this month (can't say where on here, but email me if you're just dying to know!), and then I will be going on the mission to Morocco in November. It's especially good news that I'll be able to see him this month, as the port visit next month that I was originally planning on going to seems to have been cancelled. So this is probably my last chance to see him before he comes home! I'm leaving on Oct. 27 and returning on Nov. 3 from the trip to see Rob, then I'll leave again on November 7 for the mission to Morocco, returning on either the 17th or 18th.

As for Rob, it's more of the same: busy and sleep-deprived! The ship is back in the Persian Gulf after spending some time down off the coast of Africa. They had crossed the equator into the southern hemisphere about a week or two ago. That's always a big deal, as they have a tradition surrounding the's probably best to just let Rob describe it in his own words! "It is a big nasty little tradition where all of us shellbacks (those that have crossed the equator on a navy ship) punish all the dirty pollywogs (those that have not crossed). It should be fun since this time I will be on the shellback side as opposed to the pollywog. " I never heard any details about their ceremony, but it usually involves a great deal of humiliation and embarrassment for the pollywogs!

Tomorrow will probably be rather interesting for Rob, as he has an off-ship meeting...on an Iraqi oil rig. That should break up the monotony of the last few weeks! I don't know what the meeting is about, but I know he's looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Forget About Jordan

You know that post from several weeks ago about me getting to go to Jordan? Well, scratch that. It's not going to happen. Yesterday, just before I left for Charleston, they drop the bomb on me that there are too many people going to Jordan, so I got bumped off the mission. I don't know why I was surprised. I had said from the beginning that I wouldn't actually believe I was going until I actually got on the plane.

But the "good news" was that instead of Jordan, I'd be going to Morocco. Normally that would be great...that's another place I've always wanted to go...but in this particular situation it just wasn't that great of news. The mission to Jordan seemed like all the stars were aligning. Rob's ship was scheduled to be in the region, and I was pretty sure that when the mission was over I would be able to meet up with him somewhere (we thought we knew where, but I can't say on here). It was perfect because it would be a short flight and relatively inexpensive. It would have been for just about three days, but it seemed like the perfect situation.

Well, Morocco is nowhere near the Middle East. It costs as much to get to the Middle East from there as it does from the US. And it's not easy routing...9-15 hours. Again, it's almost like leaving from Norfolk! So, now I'm faced with a difficult and expensive trip to see him after the mission, and the sad thing is...he's not even 100% sure that he'll be there! Truthfully, he's barely 50% sure. I was willing to take that chance before because it seemed like the best situation for BOTH OpSmile and me. For me, it was affordable and easy to get to Rob (or where he should be!), and OpSmile benefitted by me only taking 3 vacation days. This wasn't the IDEAL situation for seeing Rob, as it is scheduled to be a short port visit and in a rather boring location, but I thought it was the most logical situation for everyone involved.

But now I don't think I want to spend $1100 to go to this particular location when there is a very good chance he won't even be there. So I proposed taking 5 vacation days near the end of this month to visit him somewhere else, but apparently that would be too much time away from work. I can't do both. As much as it breaks my heart, I'm passing on the opportunity to go to Morocco so I can instead visit Rob. It's hard to imagine that taking 2 extra vacation days would be that big of a deal, but I guess it is. In the end, though, this will work out better. Rob is about 90% certain that the port visit this month will go as planned (again, I can't say where), and he'll be there longer, so we'll get to spend more time together. This is probably the only time I'll get to visit him before he comes home, so of course that's going to be my priority. He and I are not only husband and wife, we're best friends...and this separation is killing both of us.

They say they will work toward getting me on a mission in the spring sometime, but I won't hold my breath. I knew better than to get excited about my supposed trip to Jordan, but I had actually started to believe it would happen. I had even gone and gotten my stupid vaccinations for the trip (six painful shots!!). I had my Jordan book all ready to go and had done research on the country and its customs...I'm so stupid. And I had REALLY looked forward to the opportunity to finally see WHAT it is that I'm working for everyday. I'm stuck in front of a computer in Norfolk, VA day in and day out. Sometimes it's hard to remember what that ultimate goal make a difference in a child's life somewhere on the other side of the globe. I couldn't wait to see the end result right in front of me...a living and breathing reminder of why I go to work everyday. But I guess that will have to wait and I'll have to keep relying on blind faith that I'm making a difference in some small way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm back!

Wow...where did the time go?? Sorry, I've been a little bit swamped over the last several weeks! Work has been nuts, then my mom visited for about five days at the end of last month, just has a way of happening...

I'm in Charleston, SC as I write this. I'm here for some training in the software that we use for our donor database at work. I drove down today and will be returning Friday evening. Definitely a short visit.

I've been able to talk to Rob on the phone a couple times this week. It was fabulous to hear his voice again. He also sent a picture of his current 'look.' He hasn't shaved in a couple weeks and...well...let's just say it's not pretty! The things they do to keep themselves entertained while underway!

I haven't posted anything since they stopped in Bahrain a couple weeks ago. It was good for him to have a chance to get off the ship, but since the visit was during Ramadan they were somewhat limited in what they could do and where they could go. During Ramadan, you can be fined if you're seen eating, drinking, smoking, or even chewing gum during the day. The fine is about $130. Rob said they were warned that the majority of the populace is pretty cranky by about 4:00 each day during Ramadan because they haven't had anything to eat or drink all day! Also, many of the stores are closed during Ramadan, so it made for a somewhat disappointing port visit.

In other news, we also learned recently where Rob will be going for his next tour. He'll be on the newest of the nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). It's still in the shipyard, as a matter of fact. It should be commissioned in late 2008/early 2009. Rob will transfer to it in the spring of next year...probably April. It's in Virginia, so we won't have to move this time. I don't know if we can handle staying in one spot for so long! :-)