From some Cruising Friends

(This may not post correctly due to me using the wrong format. I fixed what problems I noticed. If anything is goofy, please come back and I will try to repair it ASAP.)

Darramy on tour No 25: Vanuatu Cyclone Pam and Aid Work

April – July 2015

Hello Hello,

More Darramy tales!

Home not so Sweet Home

After a lovely time in NZ for over 3 months and a visit home to see family, friends and Sue’s new Grandson Henry. We arrived back in Fiji in mid April and prepared Darramy for sea once again. We had watched news clips of some of the devastation that had taken place on the some of the Islands in Vanuatu caused by cyclone Pam in March. A grade 5 cyclone, (They don’t get any worse). This made us think about changing our plans for this year. We have had such a fantastic time in the Pacific for the previous three years, Sue and I both felt we would like to put something back, and maybe Vanuatu would be the place to do that.

Pam left her mark

After contacting all the usual large aid organisations and getting fobbed off, we discovered there were a couple of small organisations that were interested in what we could offer. We settled for “Sea Mercy” who although small they had the motto of giving “Health Care and Aid to Remote Islands” in our area of the Pacific. We had come across one of their medical boats last year in Fiji, so we volunteered our services to them in Vanuatu. Now medics are not our specialised subject, but we understood there were many more things that were needed besides health care. In some islands the whole infra structure had gone. Roads or tracks blocked by fallen trees, often completely washed away. Water, sanitation and shelter were a big problem.

The well known aid organisations (NGO’s) and governments of first world countries were quick off the mark to offer initial relief. All in all they seemed to do a good job, but after the first couple of weeks the NGOs apparently seemed to want to grab territory, and put their own mark on their area. We understand it became quite political, but eventually the Vanuatu Government managed to regain some control over the NGO’s, after all, it was not their country. We were still in Fiji at this time hearing various stories of what was needed, what people should take to assist. Fortunately it was not every island in Vanuatu that was devastated, Vanuatu was still open for business, don’t forget, tourism is their main source of income. But the information was very mixed and confusing. We spent time trying to source fruit and vegetable seeds, as we were told all the crops were washed away. Well after a week and what felt like I had obtained a degree in biology, we gave up it was just too hard, too many regulations, controlling imports etc. In the end we had a collection in Vuda Point amongst the Cruisers, and came to Vanuatu with some cash towards buying what we needed when we got here.

Fijian Send Off

Well we eventually got a weather window for the 550 mile passage to Vanuatu, so we left Fiji, with only two days of the boat visa left to run, and a little tear in our eyes. It had been a good place to be. We even had a farewell Fijian song sung to us by the marina staff as we departed from the Marina. (how cool is that)?

Four days later we arrived in Port Vila after a good sail, but not even a bite on the fishing line! We met the other Sea Mercy boats, two of which we were going to be with “Buffalo Nickel”, (Stan and Val) and “Persephone” (Brian and Sandy) both US flagged boats. We also met with three other Sea Mercy vessels, of whom we knew. They had just finished a three week medical/aid rotation in the southern Islands of Vanuatu. It was useful meeting up with them as they were able to give us much needed information about what they had experienced, and also an understanding of the culture and customs of the Vanuati people which is very different from our own.

Meetings are not for all of us!

Aid stuff starts arriving

We were straight into a few meetings which although useful, and probably necessary, were not what we were there for. We managed to get through our own meetings quickly and do the hands on stuff, Val took on the secretarial role to report to Sea Mercy and liaise with other NGOs, Sue and Sandy researched, the education side and the needs of women and children, as we had been given to understand that schools needed assistance, and this society was male dominated, and the females were not always on the top of the list of priorities. It did not take long for yours truly to get tired of “send me an e mail”, it seems that nothing can happen these days without everyone e mailing each other, what happened to lets just get on with it? Seems to slow everything down, and you spend half of the day at the computer screen.

Our destination was the Shepherd Islands, where the Governor of the Shepherds had asked Sea Mercy to assist on the remoter Islands. At last, right up our street.

 

More goodies, we left the children!

Stan’s little dinghy, large loads!

Brian, Stan and I took to procuring hardware to take with us, as we had three boats with various amounts of space to carry needed supplies. Whilst Sue went shopping, buying things for the women’s groups. Sewing supplies, material, and school supplies. There was also lot of gear donated from Australia by small organisations, and we were able to source much needed stuff from that, also going to the local hardware store for roofing nails and simple but essential building tools and supplies. Large rolls of tarpaulins anything that could be used to give improved shelter until rebuilding took place.

So, we loaded up our boats to the gunwales, and set off, we had various briefs to follow, one was from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and that was to assess outlying medial centres, and drop off lighting and water purification systems and much needed medical supplies for the temporary medical shelters that they had had erected on two very remote islands. This is the nearest yet we have come to drug running! You may recall we did some money laundering in Columbia years ago! Yes, we know how to live!

So we had a fast sail up to Emai in blustery conditions. Emai, looking at the chart seemed a good place to be based, with a reasonably sheltered anchorage from the prevailing winds.

Consulting room

When all three boats arrived we went ashore to meet the local Disaster Relief committee. They were please to see us and wondered what goodies we had for their communities. Well we could not tell them that as we did not know their needs, and did not want to build their hopes up by making promises we could not keep. Also we had to remember we had other places to visit, so we did a once over on the island the next day. It soon became apparent that the school side of things were fairly well cared for, apart from a few supplies everything was functioning reasonably well. We went to the medical centre, which definitely showed signs of need. One of the problems we discovered was water storage, no natural supplies of water here, just storage tanks. All supplied by guttering off the roofs. Problem: many roofs damaged, and no guttering thanks to Pam.

Trucking

We also learned that a couple of the community fishing boats had been damaged, so they could not go out fishing. One in a remote village 8km away, The village used to sell the catch and make some money, but the usual problem no boat, no fish, no money. Now I could see where we could help. Can it be repaired was the question. We need to see so we all piled into the back of a truck and of course the two Brian’s ended up in the load area, whist everyone else got in the cab! It was ok we got with the local guys and had a good laugh.

Main road Emai

After 6k, the track was blocked by fallen trees that they had not yet cleared. We began to realise the devastation caused by Pam. It is hard to imagine the track had fallen trees over it for 8 solid km. Exactly like making a clearing through a jungle, just to access one village. We had to walk the last 2 km along the beach. We found our little village, and it really brought home to us all how bad it was and still is for these people. One house left standing, just debris every where, they had a tent provided for storage, and a couple of tarpaulins dropped off by NZ aid. The boat was up amongst the trees a fair distance from the shore line.

Chief George and family

So we met the chief George, and went to see the boat, It was aluminium, and although a bit bent and battered. We three blokes thought we could probably get it sea worthy again, we agreed to return the next day which was a Sunday, a religious day here, but we were given dispensation to work on the Sabbath as it was a good cause.

Important to involve the locals in our task

Buffalo Nickel had a super big tender so we loaded it up with all our supplies needed to do the repairs and aid things we were going to leave in the village. Instead of the long truck ride, we went by sea. When we found the village we had to unload our stuff and get ashore. Thankfully, some of the islanders were there to help. We had to anchor the boat then pass tools and supplies down a line of people who kept everything above their heads in the swell that was running, and carried it all ashore. We had then to dive in to get ashore to start work!

Boat repairs Sea Mercy style

Amazingly, nothing got wet apart from our clothes! At the end of the day we achieved more than we set out to do. We repaired the boat and had a naming ceremony. The boat was named “Sea Mercy” (good for our photo shoot)! We also repaired the village generator, put up some tents for those people who having to share living space in the one house.

The village team

Stan, a vet by profession, did some medical stuff on a chaps injured foot. We then had to reload the tender, a reverse of the mornings unloading and head back to the boats before it went dark. This was a really rewarding day, the village was very grateful, we felt we had done good work, and our efforts had enabled a small village to begin functioning again. We all gelled together well, and worked as a good team, even though the two American’s had a strange way of describing some tools which led to a bit of confusion and much hilarity. (Why did they insist on trying to ruin a perfectly good language)!

The night ended with a BBQ that the ladies had arranged.

It’s gutter repair time

 

Wheel chair user gets that sinking feeling!

We had many days similar to that one, we spent the next day repairing or putting up water catchment systems at the medical centre, attaching a sink to the wall, and generally trying to bring some normality back to their lives. There are many things still to be done on Emai, we could only just scratch the surface. We found another damaged community fishing boat in another village. Also there were plastic water tanks that had been delivered by an NGO, sadly there were no taps on them so they were just lying about unused. When you consider it is coming up to the dry season, they need the water. We started asking questions through Sea Mercy as to whom had supplied them, the NGO’s said they did not know, it was not one of theirs it all went very quiet.

It seemed sad to us but also annoying to think someone had delivered them and as they were, they were no use, a total waste of effort by all involved. We began to see more and more of, not sure if you call it incompetence by the NGO’s, certainly inefficiency, they apparently were on a lot of the islands with clip boards making notes, but here we are now over three months down the line, and besides the initial burst of activity all the people have seen is more people with clip boards making even more assessments.

WHO medical tent and lights

Tangoan children all smiles

Old School

New School

We sailed to Tongoa another island to visit and check on the temporary clinics put up by the World Health organisation, and deliver medical supplies and lighting, and fill in crazy questionnaires (probably thought up by some fellow in an office who had no idea what life in the real world of disaster areas was about). The first clinic was really good, but then as we travelled on unmade roads we saw that there were very few houses left standing without some cyclone damage, but every village we travelled through the inhabitants all gave us a cheery wave and a big smile. Their spirit was amazing to see, and despite the fact that many had lost nearly everything, they still carried on with a positive attitude and, I say again a lovely smile. We found the other clinics, well, they were in a sorry state one was completely unusable, but sadly, so was the tent put up by the WHO. So the villagers had to walk about 5 miles to the next clinic for any medial needs. The final clinic on the island we visited had the WHO tent up, but they preferred to use their existing building which although damaged was usable. We showed them how to connect up the lighting, but we realised that if we did not install it for them, nothing would not happen, so Brian and I set about installing the lighting system, although basic would enable the clinic to function more efficiently. Oh, I forgot to mention each clinic had been issued with a new generator. At this place I don’t think they had even started it up so we had to show them how to use it, I found a whole bag of tools and spares that they had not even opened. When I asked why had they not used the tools supplied to them? They said they thought it belonged to the dispensary committee, and not them, so would not use it. Maybe I went against their custom, but it was going to get dark, and we had to get back to the boats, so I found a couple of villagers who appeared practical and armed with some tools they helped to install the lighting. At the end of the job I asked them all to put their hands in the air, this they did and I switched on the lights. Explaining the old Chinese proverb “many hands make light work”! We left them all smiling under the bright lights.

Bright lights in ward 34

Heading home at the end of a busy day

Fred, transferring our load for Buninga

We made it back to the boats just before nightfall. The weather was not being kind and we spent an extra day waiting for the strong winds and big seas to abate before heading to Tongariki and Buninga with more deliveries. Meanwhile Buffalo Nickel had headed off to Epi (another island) to pickup more supplies for Emai. We agreed to meet back at Emai in a couple of days. Persephone and Darramy set off for Tongariki, in the still strong winds. Persephone made better time than we did on Darramy, and by the time we had arrived Brian and Sandy had done 2 loads ashore. Well when I say ashore, they anchored the dinghy and dropped back on a rope to near the shore line where the waves were breaking. A team of local men waded into the surf and carried the loads on their heads often their bodies were completely submerged, but they kept the load dry. We arrived and used Brian’s dinghy to unload our supplies. Another extremely rolly anchorage that night, and the following day we were due to go to the next and final island Buninga. We had already checked out the landing place and it did not look good. The village was up a hill, and it seemed we would have to land first just to get assistance. Fortunately a local boat from Tongoa came into our anchorage to drop some people off, and we asked them if they were going to Buninga, the boatman Fred said yes. Before he knew it we had talked him into taking all our deliveries to Buninga, so that would save us having to put ourselves and boats at risk on such a dodgy landing and anchorage.

Within half and hour we had transferred all our aid stuff to Fred and were on our way to the smooth waters of Emai. It is always good to get back into a quiet and smooth anchorage. After three nights of rolling we were all knackered.

Who sent Stan to fetch a bottle of water?

The last few things to unload

The next day Stan and Val returned from Epi, and we had a busy afternoon getting their boat unloaded. They had managed to carry 4,500 litres of bottled water, 50 cases of tinned tuna and quite a bit more as well. It took 12 dinghy loads to get everything ashore. The locals all joined in and we left them with everything piled up on the beach. We were coming to the end of our Sea Mercy Rotation we had nothing left on board.

Finally unloaded over to the shore crew

The six of us had a final supper, and then the next day Persephone set off for Australia to continue their cruising, while Stan and I went to fix another community fishing boat in a village. This was a fibre glass boat, and a bit beaten up by Pam. We had no fibreglass on board, but the Green Peace ship Rainbow Warrior had been in our anchorage, delivering cement and building supplies to the Island.

Rainbow Warrior. (No Frenchies allowed)

I had previously spoken to them on our SSB radio net, so called them on the VHF and they generously offered some repair stuff. I went over in the dinghy, and was invited onboard this well known ship.

(This particular one is a replacement for the previous one which was blown up by those naughty French in New Zealand a few years ago). I was invited to stay for lunch but sadly had to decline as I knew Buffalo Nickel was due back at any time and needed to be unloaded.

Stan and I went ashore the next day to repair the fishing boat, by this time I had a nasty tropical infection on my ankle, and was not in the best of humour. However after circumnavigating local politics, we managed to repair the boat so they could go fishing. We named the boat “Mercy Warrior”

Nearly the end!

T’was only a small scratch

We headed back to Port Vila to pick up some supplies for ourselves, have a much needed rest and see a Doctor about my ankle.

But those water tanks and no taps really had got to me. So in Port Vila, we located all the parts needed and bought them. This was funded out of the rest of our kitty and a few donations from other cruisers.

Bring on the rain and fill me up!

Job well done

Subsequently, Sue and I have returned to Emai and shown them how to fix all the taps on the tanks. Thus enabling them to store over 30,000 litres of water. Good result!

Although we say it ourselves, this was a very satisfying end to a hard and tiring four weeks.

Question: Would we do it again? To right we would!

It may appear that I have a bit of a downer on these large organisations, I know we can’t do without them. Their initial response in humanitarian aid is vital. But having seen the end results, I just wish they could get their acts together a bit more. That person on the street corner in your home town with a collecting box is doing a great job, but what percentage of the collections gets to the disaster victim, how much is wasted?

So if giving a donation look at organisations similar to “Sea Mercy” there is a place for everyone and they seem to make your donation go further.

Any way for us we are going to stay in Vanuatu to enjoy some of the northern Islands for a while, do some diving, I know there is a water cistern to be repaired in the Maskalin Islands, so will be picking up some sand and cement in Luganville. Then I think we will head towards Australia via New Caladonia for the cyclone season, who knows we may even see in the New Year in Sydney Harbour. Oh, what about Indonesia I hear you say. Maybe next year!

So as usual it’s TTFN

(Delete as applicable)

*Best Wishes* *Kindest Regards* *Love and Hugs* *Cheers*

Brian and Sue

You can view this and all our previous travelogues of the last ten years on our OCC site.

So try this link, you will see travelogues 1-20, keep scrolling down and see No, 21,22,23, 24and now hopefully this one No 25. Click on the blue print and hey presto: (Boredom unlimited)!

http://www.oceancruisingclub.org/index.php/forum/links-to-members-blog-sites/882-brian-wallace-publishes-his-accounts-of-darramy-on

www.seamercy.org A small charity organisation that gets a big job done.

This was sent to me by a Swiss cruiser in Vanuatu:

Yesterday we met some French people who work here since 2 years. It was interesting to speak with them about Pam. They said: We have had 2 cyclones: One was Pam and the other was the big “help-organisations”

They came from different places: more than 1000 people, big discussions, no efficiency, Friday pm they stopped their work….because…. weekend!!!!!”

The Dream Team!

See it not just me!

 

Good news/Bad news

Now, the bad news is, that this post is about death. Few want to talk about that or even hear the word. And pretty much nobody wants to be are reminded that that is coming.

However, that’s not a choice you have to make. It’s coming.

The good news is that if you do just a little homework, you can make it almost guaranteed to turn out the way you want it to.

The choice you have is how painful it will be for you and your family. The choice you have is, ‘Will your wishes be a respected or not.’ The choice you have is will it be mediaeval torture, financial ruin for your extended family, or something that everyone understands, and goes especially well, for everyone involved.

There’s a lot of information about this online. I encourage you to read the excellent article at
http://thesunmagazine.org/issues/460/the_long_goodbye

But, there’s lots more information out there.

http://deathoverdinner.org/ has been recommended to me

and  https://www.everplans.com/

A 2012 survey found that 82% of people believe that it is important to put wishes for their final days in writing, yet only 23% have followed that task through to completion.

(And that also makes me wonder if 18% of the population is brain dead already.)

It is absolutely imperative that you have completed a complete collection of paper work. A CURRENT will, for starters.

It is not bad luck. It is just making it more likely that your wishes will be followed.

Let us suppose that you have someone in the family that you really love dearly, and one or more people that you wish you did not know. Do you really want the deadheads to get all of your estate? Do you really want the people that you love dearly, to destroy several years of their life, making some sleaze ball lawyer ridiculously rich, while the deadheads legally torment your wonderful and lovely relative or friend or wife?

Each state has its own rules. You do not need to hire an attorney, but, if you hire a good one, that may be the safest thing to do. There’s a great deal of information online that is absolutely free.

Do a little bit of homework to become confident that you’re doing it right, under the laws of your home state. Here is just one example of a web site. I have no idea if it is correct, but if you compare several opinions, you should get pretty close.

I was told that if you just write out a very clear set of instructions in your own handwriting and sign it, preferably in front of some witnesses that can be found later, that that is legal. HOWEVER, I’m not a lawyer, and so that maybe nonsense. And by the time you would find out, it would be too late to do it right. So, do your own homework. Here’s that link:

http://www.floridahealthfinder.gov/reports-guides/advance-directives.aspx

Funeral expenses can be greater than the Gross National Product of a small Central American country. So, this is a very important thing to think about, and make your wishes known. If you do not get them down on legally binding paper, all it takes is one nut case cousin, or uncle, or whatever, to create a travesty of your wishes, and cost the surviving members of your family a huge amount of money and anguish.

I have found that the hospice people, seem to know the very least expensive way to deal with the body. In our family, we prefer cremation over burial, especially NOT wanting a lavish expensive ceremony. In most states, cremation can be done for about $500.

The Celebration of Life that we had for Janet cost about the same. My mom and dad did not want any ceremony. Exactly what do YOU want? Write it down.

Janet and I like to recycle things and have things be useful. We like to not waste stuff. We like to conserve resources. We like for people to learn whenever possible. So, Janet wanted very much to donate her body to the local medical school. Which was totally free, and they were very respectful. We looked into the situation and came away feeling that it was a wonderful opportunity. A new Doctor would learn a tremendous amount from her that could not be learned in the other way.

Janet & I also strongly support organ donation. But, advanced cancer patients are not so good for that.

But this idea is abhorrent to some of you. All I’m asking is that you decide what YOU want. You may find that if you can get a discussion going with the rest of your family, that there will be some surprises. Better to solve these things NOW, than later.

I think that it is YOUR life and your body, and your choice. But, if you want to adjust those choices to accommodate family members that’s up to you. But if you do not have this conversation, you literally have no idea what’s going to happen. And it is pretty much guaranteed to be bad. Someone will be very unhappy. Probably lots of people. A lot of money is going to be wasted. Not all vultures have feathers.

This whole subject gets very intertwined with religion, and the laws of your home state. I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just telling you that you must have this conversation at least in your own head. And you must do something. Even if you’re only 20 years old.

And when something changes in your life, or at least every few years, you should review your decisions, and make sure you’re still happy with them. That cute little girl that your son married, may turn out to be Dracula in drag.

Poop happens. People step in front of the wrong bus every day.

More info at

Click to access TCP-StarterKit.pdf

The Best HealthCare System in the World

This post is going to be another of my examples of the iniquity in the American healthcare system. So, if that idea turns you off, just quit now, and wait for my next post.

If you do still think that America is doing a great job, then you might want to read this article.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/27/health/exploring-salines-secret-costs.html?hpw&_r=1&&pagewanted=all#h[]

By the way, I have noticed that if I read more than 10 articles in the New York Times in a month, they stop me and require that I subscribe. However, I have several browsers on my computer.

Some years ago I found that I preferred Firefox over Internet Explorer because of a security problem with Internet Explorer. The universe has changed so much now, since that was years ago, that I honestly don’t know which one is best. But I’m used to using Firefox and continue to do so. But, since I also have Internet Explorer, I noticed that if I open the same webpage in Internet Explorer I can read this article, and presumably 9 more.

Google has a browser, called Chrome. It has some nice features and I have also used that in the past. You may want to see if it appeals to you. It is my theory that the thing that counts ‘how many times you have read articles on the New York Times’, is dependent upon the browser you’re using.

If you don’t want to click on that link, the summary is that it is a nice article about selling bags of sterile saline. Which are about the most common form of IV fluid. They admit that the typical company that makes these bags, turns a nice profit and is very happy at selling them between $.50 and $1.05 depending on various factors. Their executives live comfortably. Their workers are very happy. They have a nice building with clean toilets, in a nice neighborhood. Life is good.

The rub is that the kind of Mafia, or cartel, that controls the American healthcare system, commonly charges the victim, or is the term the pigeon? Oh no, I guess it’s ‘the patient’ because they are very patient. These people get charged typically, $546.00 and often more. For one bag that cost less than a dollar, including all fees, the pension plan, stockholders dividends, etc. And that $1.00 is the production cost. The total materials probably cost much less than a penny.

This is what I’ve been whining about for several years, and some of you are quite tired of it I’m sure.

Capitalism is a word that has a lot of baggage to several of the people that I know that sometimes read my blog. For some of them it is synonymous with evil and the end of the world. For others it is wonderful. So let’s avoid that word. Let’s just say that I, personally, have for years been of the opinion that a system where, if other people are making bags of salt water for a dollar, and I have enough manufacturing expertise, and the funding, and the property, and know where to get employees, etc. etc., and I think I can make them for $.80 and still have a nice return on my investment, then I might want to do that.

I think that sort of mentality is usually very good for the consumer. You get competition, that keeps people from gouging on the prices. Over the big picture, it usually keeps the prices close to what it actually cost to make the item. There are lots of ancillary costs. I have no problem with the fact that the water and the salt and the plastic bag cost less than a penny. You need to factor in the cost of the machine, the lights and heat , keeping the paint in good shape and all of the countless expenses of running a factory.

It’s complicated. But people have been doing it for hundreds of years. It’s become synonymous with commerce. But with the American healthcare system we have a gigantic conspiracy of secrecy and smoke and mirrors.

People die every day, because they cannot afford treatment. But, for the vast majority of those people, the reason they cannot afford it, is because the cartel, the Mafia, has jacked up the price shamelessly.

There are million half-truths and spin doctor statements that can tear my opinion apart. Go ahead, if you want to pretend I don’t know what I’m talking about, feel free. It will not change the truth.

According to many third-party studies, the US citizen, pays on average, more than twice as much as the 2nd most expensive health care system in the world. Yet, for that high price, they receive care that is worse than the 33rd country from the top. Yes. There are about 33 countries in the world that have better health care than the US, overall. I realize that it’s tricky to get exact comparisons. Apples to apples and not apples to oranges or not apples to Crescent wrenches. But I think anyone that does a remotely fair evaluation of the situation is shocked.

If you want our system to stay that way, and probably get much worse, just do nothing. Don’t tell anyone else. Don’t write letters to your government representatives. Don’t complain to your insurance company. Don’t spread the word. But most important, don’t get sick or injured. And if someone you love more than anything else in the world does, “Well, there is nothing that can be done.” Right?

Dave

Update on Dave

I’m doing fine, although the chaos aboard the boat is approaching epic proportions again. I get too many projects underway all at the same time. I need to learn to be more selective on what I have going. I also need to learn to put away everything that I possibly can, every chance I get.

And then yesterday I screwed up and washed my brand-new residence permit and my US passport. The US passport seems to have survived. I don’t think it’s any worse than it was before washing it. But it was pretty bad because, I was told that you’re supposed to have it with you at all times, which meant that it got very sweaty. I suppose I could learn to carry a purse.

In the night I had an idea for a better pick pocket proof place to keep it. But I can’t start that project until I finish at least a few of these others. Even I realize that.

On Monday, I got up about 5:30 AM and went off to Kemer about 730, because they had overcharged me for my residence permit and much like the bureaucratic circus in Portugal, it created a mountain of paperwork. Also, on that day there seem to be no one around that spoke very much English, and so as a result I have essentially no clue as to what really happened. What I think I learned was that they were going to give me back US$60 that I was overcharged. However, it turned out that they could not give it back to me. They had to deposit it into my Turkish bank account. So that meant I had to open a Turkish bank account. Fortunately, I assume it was fortunate, I was with several British ex-pats who told me a bank that was right by the Marina that is very easy to set up an account in. It actually was kind of a hassle, but I did succeed.

I say I assume it was fortunate, because in the master scheme of things, I might’ve been better off just to abandon the $60 then to go through all of the hassle that I have gone through. Plus I may end up spending more than $60 on bus fare going back and forth to sort it all out.

So, on Monday 29 July, I went to Kemer and I think that they are going to deposit the money in my account, effective 17 August. Bureaucratic nightmare again. It had to be carried around the building and signed by a whole bunch of different people. And then they kept my paperwork proving that I was owed the money. So, I certainly hope it works. Because the very poor copy that I have of it may not convince anybody that I was ever owed any money. I need to remember to take a really clean copy of everything that I might need copies of. But that means getting the scanner working properly again. But that’s another story.

I got done with that early enough in the day that I took advantage of being already more than halfway to Antalya, and took the bus on in to Antalya, and was able to get a bunch of chores done there. It is a major bother to go that far. So, some of these things on my to-do lists were many months old.

However, it involves a great deal of walking, in the hot sun, with my pack getting heavier and heavier all the time as I kept buying things. By the time I got home about 830 in the evening, I was getting kind of tired and my feet were sore. Actually my feet are still not up to speed even today. Thursday. Due to the heat I was not wearing socks, and so had a few chafe problems.

But, I am definitely on the mend, and it is wonderful to get a bunch of those projects done. Not many would notice, but I was able to clear up some of the collection of stuff that has been growing like some kind of wild mushroom or kudzu. If you’re not familiar with kudzu, perhaps you’ve seen how morning glories just take over an area. Well, it is like that here, even though almost every day, I make a concerted effort to try to put away what I can put away at that time. I’m sure Janet is just shaking her head, but in the distant past, when there was a spell of total chaos like this, then, afterwards, I tended to be much more careful about keeping things put away.

I certainly hope I can learn that lesson again.

There is no place for more than one person to sit down at the moment. But, hopefully soon there will be more room.

And my computer projects continue. I hesitate to use the word upgrade, because whether it is an improvement or not has yet to be decided. At times it seems like a downgrade. But I changed the operating system on my main computer over to Windows 8 a couple weeks ago. That has been taking a huge amount of my time, but was definitely on my to do list. And I have gotten a lot of computer related to do list jobs done. But I have many more. Anyway, there are all sorts of problems with having changed operating systems. Not having a clue how to even do the simplest thing is only one of them.

I will admit that Windows 8 does seem to do several things much faster than Windows 7 did. And that is good. However, I’m having trouble finding drivers for my scanner and printer and some hardware things on the computer. Of course, some of the problems may be just operator error. It is certainly not a user-friendly program. At least if you want to do is many different diverse things as I am expecting to be able to do. So, the jury is definitely still out.

So, I will get back to that project, but I wanted to bring you guys up to date.

Dave