January 5th, 2010

Since it’s been so long since we went, this will just be a quick post on our trip to Montreal over Thanksgiving. Photos are on our Flickr page. We took an overnight bus on Wednesday, arriving in town early Thursday morning. We had to stop briefly in the wee hours of the morning at the Canadian border, but otherwise we slept pretty well. We were able to walk from the bus station to our hostel in Old Montreal. The streets were cold and quiet. The hostel, La Maison du Patriote, was a lovely little place. The owners have another hotel around the corner, so leave you to your own devices at the hostel. There were lots of chalk boards everywhere with instructions and guidance. But it was colorful and friendly. The breakfast was nothing but slice bread, however, so we dropped off our luggage, freshened up, and went out in search of something more substantial.

Old Montreal was still quiet at this time of morning, and a lot of restaurants were closed. We did find a restaurant, though the food was mediocre and we were the only ones inside, it was just nice to have some hot coffee and a place to sit and plan our day. We decided to do some walking and see the city. We walked through Old Montreal and the Latin Quarter to McGill University and Mont Royale. We went up the hill to the Chalet, where there is a lovely reception hall and a great view of the city. We kept walking, all the way to St. Joseph’s Oratory, no small distance. It was a really spectacular church, with a huge dome. The decor was very modern, but beautiful.

We were exhausted by then, so we took the Metro back to the hostel, napped, and then went out in search of Thanksgiving dinner. We hoped for some French food, but Old Montreal was pricey and we were too tired to go far, so we settled on a little Italian place, L’Ursine de Spaghetti. It seemed promising since all of the expensive, fashionable restaurants were practically empty, but this place was full of happy people. The food was affordable and delicious, and the servers were very friendly. It was a great place, full of wood and wine bottles and Christmas lights. A perfect choice.

The next day, we found a better breakfast spot and got some great croissants and coffee. We walked up Rue St. Denis to the Plateau, a really lively area full of shops and restaurants. Unfortunately it began to rain and became really cold, and we were soon wet and shivering. We walked to a famous Jewish deli called Schwartz so Tommy could get a smoked meat sandwich, and I had soup and a sandwich at a little bakery nearby. Then we walked to the Musee des Beaux-Arts, which had a special John William Waterhouse exhibit. I was so thrilled; I had always seen pictures of his paintings but had never seen one in a museum. It was spectacular.

We returned to the hostel to rest a little and change, and then went to dinner at a little French restaurant we had passed on our walk, Le Flambard. It was a tiny place, but the staff was so friendly and the food was amazing. We had a three course meal. It was “apportez votre vin,” so we bought a bottle of our favorite Argentine wine to drink with dinner!

Our last day in Montreal, we walked down to the old port and then downtown. We briefly entered the “Underground City” but it was closed down and empty. We saw Mary Queen of the World, a cathedral that is a replica of St. Peter’s Basilica (1/3 the size). Then we took the Metro to Marche Jean Talon, a ways north but probably worth the trip. It was full of vendors selling fruit, cheese, bread, vegetables, and little snacks like fried seafood and samosas. We got a lunch of bread and cheese, listened to some carolers, and headed back. Our next stop was Juliette et Chocolat, a chocolate shop with divine hot chocolate. We briefly walked through Marche Bonsecours on our way to mass at Notre Dame Cathedral. Wow. We have seen a lot of churches on our travels, but this one might have the most spectacular interior we have ever seen. Not a space was left without color, carving, or elaboration. Nowhere was there one line or arch when there could be two or three or four. Nowhere was white or brown when it could be colored. But it was all done tastefully, beautifully. It was truly stunning. I don’t know how Montreal can have three such amazing churches.

The last thing we did was return to the Plateau to try poutine, Montreal’s signature dish. It’s french fries and cheese curds doused in gravy. We got it at La Banquise, a 24-hour poutine restaurant with quite an assortment of varieties. It was full of young people–looked like a really fun spot. Poutine seems like a recipe for indigestion, but I felt great after eating a big plate of it!

That night, we caught the bus back to Boston! We arrived early Sunday morning and had time to get a Christmas tree and decorate it. Tommy will follow soon with a post about Christmas and our trip to Mexico–but that was Thanksgiving and Montreal!


Fall Fun

November 25th, 2009

It has been a long, lovely fall here in Boston! The leaves turned beautiful colors, and not a day passed when we didn’t walk outside and marvel at the changing of the seasons. It’s just something you don’t get in Louisiana, not like this. It’s nearly December and the weather still isn’t very cold.

We’ve tried to get out and enjoy Boston as much as possible in the lovely weather, and though school keeps us both pretty busy, we’ve made time for some fun things. One Sunday we went to the SoWa (South of Washington St.) open market and the South End Buttery cafe. The market was fun, with a lot of really interesting (but expensive) crafts and a great antiques section inside a big, gorgeous old building. We had fun wandering around and perusing it all. And the South End Buttery is a great cafe!

One Saturday we drove out to Ipswich to go apple picking at Russell Orchards. This was the perfect, quintessential New England fall day. First we enjoyed hot cider and cider donuts while we watched families pick out their Halloween pumpkins. Then we took a hayride to the apple orchard, where we filled our bag to the brim with apples off the trees. We drove to Gloucester to try some of Woodman’s famous fried clams, which we ate on the chilly beach. For dinner that night we made butternut squash soup and apple pie–yum!

On Halloween we went down to Faneuil Hall for “Howlloween,” the annual dog costume contest. It was, need we even say, unbearably adorable. You can see the pictures for yourself. There were some really creative entries, including the three winners: one dog dressed as the U.S.S. Nimitz, chicken “poodle” soup, and “shark attack,” a combination of costumes which we didn’t quite get, but as there was a three-legged dog involved it was hard not to root for them. Public transportation is a kick on Halloween. As we took the T to a party that night, everyone inside was in costume, looking quite out of place.

And finally, we made two trips to New York this semester. In October, we went to the annual conference held for winners of the Soros Fellowship, which was ridiculously nice. They put us up in the very unique Hudson Hotel and basically wined and dined us for three days! And last weekend, we went to Irvington to see Tommy’s relatives there, along with his Dad who flew up for the weekend. It was relaxing and fun, and really great to see everyone. Unfortunately we didn’t really take photos of either, except the requisite skyline and central park shots that everyone has seen a million times. Sorry!

Tonight we leave for Montreal! Happy Thanksgiving!

Boston Harbor Islands

September 19th, 2009

The Saturday before Labor Day, we spent the day on the Harbor Islands. We took the ferry to Spectacle Island, where we walked around, enjoying the beautiful weather and the lovely views of Boston and the Harbor. Then we went to Georges Island, which has a fantastic fort on it, Fort Warren. We didn’t leave nearly enough time to explore it properly. We’re looking forward to going back sometime soon! Photos are on Flickr.


September 7th, 2009

We’ve returned from Peru, and life in Boston has begun right up again, making it hard for us to find time to post pictures and write. But here is the brief story of our trip. We met in Lima, Tommy coming in on an overnight bus from Trujillo, Katie an all-day flight from Boston. People say there’s not much to do in Lima, and it’s true, but we enjoyed walking around, being together, and enjoying lots of cheap but delicious food.

Two days later, our parents (Katie’s mom and dad and Tommy’s mom) flew to Lima from Louisiana. We picked them up at the airport, spent one brief night in Miraflores, and then flew to Cusco the next morning. We spent several days exploring the city. We toured some of the ruins in town and around the outskirts, as well as the Cathedral and the Jesuit Church in the Plaza de Armas. We went to the Mercado Central to buy snacks and have a hot bowl of soup. We shopped for souvenirs at the many, many stores and stands. And we ate lots of delicious meals and had many a Pisco Sour.

After being in Cusco for three days, we took a taxi to Ollantaytambo, the last town on the road to Machu Picchu. We spent a brief evening there and caught the 5:30 am train to Machu Picchu. We had a great day exploring the ruins and taking tons of photos. It was very foggy in the morning, but we stayed until mid-afternoon and the sky cleared entirely. We beat the rush of tourists and then stayed until after most of them left, so we felt like we had a lot of good time there.

A train back to Ollantaytambo, a taxi back to Cusco, one more day there, and it was time for us to part. Our parents spent one more day in the city before flying home via Lima, and we hopped into a van to begin our tour to Manu Biosphere Reserve. With our friendly and extremely knowledgeable guide, Enrique, we drove up and over the Andes and down through the cloud forest of the Manu Road to Atalaya, where we switched to a boat and rode down the Madre de Dios River. We stopped to bird the whole way, and saw some spectacular sights. We spent our first night at the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge in the cloud forest, where we got up early to see the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, a unique and wonderful experience. Our second night, after a couple of hours on the river, was spent at Pantiacolla Lodge, and the last five at Manu Wildlife Center. We floated around a couple of oxbow lakes, spotted Tapirs at their nightly clay lick, went up into canopy towers, and had a spectacular breakfast while watching hundreds of parrots and macaws converge at their clay lick. We saw over 200 species of birds in our roughly 6 days on the trip. It was fantastic.

To return, we flew from the “airport” at Boca Manu, which consists of little more than an open-air, thatched roof building with one counter and a scale next to a grassy field and landing strip. Our small plane flew us to Cusco, affording wonderful aerial views of the rainforest and the Andes. From there, we flew to Lima, spent one more night there, and then headed home.

That is a short and very stripped-down version of the trip, but to do it justice would produce a blog much longer than anyone (even our parents) would wish to read. We have ridiculous numbers of photos on our Flickr site which may begin to convey the experience.

Now… back to school!

Life in Trujillo

July 9th, 2009

So many things have been going on lately. So much so that I can’t even believe that today marks the halfway point of my time in Trujillo. In just three short weeks, it will all be over, I will have Katie happily at my side again, and the all too familar routine of study-sleep-study-sleep will be back! Though I’m not feeling overly stressed or overworked right now, it will be wonderful to feel like I’m properly on vacation for the two weeks before I start school—no mornings that begin before 8:00, no interviews, and no writing!

On the last Saturday of June, IRO had a “campaign” day at the clinic, which meant that they made a special advertising push, announcing that Saturday would be a designated day when individuals older than 50 could come get their vision screened for free (it normally costs $4 to be seen). The “campaign” day was certainly a jackpot day for me as I got 11 interviews done in 4 hrs, nearly as many as I normally do in 3 or 4 days!

That Monday was a national holiday (the feast day of Sts. Peter & Paul) so I got to enjoy two and a half days of rest. Noon on Saturdays is a sacred hour for the residents as it marks the start of 40 hours of rest for them (if they aren’t on call, of course). Per their tradition, I joined them for the ceviche lunch they have every week. Ceviche is one of Peru’s most famous culinary exports. It is a dish served cold, consisting of “raw fish” that has been soaking in lime juice for hours, thus denaturing the proteins and effectively cooking the fish chemically (a raw egg left in vinegar will do the same). There are also lots of onions, cilantro, and spices thrown into the brine. Served with yuca, cancha, seaweed, and lima beans it is absolutely delicious.

Trujillo does not have particularly much on the touristy circuit nor does it have any lovely cafes like Buenos Aires, so my days are almost entirely spent in the clinic and my apartment in the evenings. Spending enough time in one place can really familiarize you with its peculiarities.  For example, practically every other building here looks unfinished. Steel reinforcing rods jut out of brick and walls remain unpainted. Apparently, only “finished” buildings are subject to property tax. So when the tax collector comes around, one can claim that one is still working on his home (most home are built by their owners) or one is still planning to add onto it, and therefore, skip out on the tax that year.

Many owners also keep dogs on their roofs as cheap alarm systems. They’re hardly cared for, fed only intermittently, and seem to all start barking around 2:00 AM. Other slightly richer owners (or groups of them at least) employ private security guard to patrol their street. Every few minutes the guards will toot their whistles, as if to announce their presence. And taxi drivers drive honking their horns every other block, announcing their “availability” lest anyone nearby need a ride. The inglorious symphony of noise that all of this can produce has been a bit ridiculous, so I’ve started sleeping with ear plugs.

Per HMS requirements, I followed the CDC guidelines for travel health, which included bringing malaria prophylaxis with me. But since it is winter, there aren’t any mosquitoes. With the exception of the risk of getting stomach troubles from food (which I haven’t had yet), the single biggest danger I face on a day to day basis is cars. The only stop signs I’ve seen in the entire city are in the parking lot of the (American built) mall. Right of away seems to be determined by who is driving the fastest and least likely to be unable to yield. Rather than slow down, adamant drivers may raise their hands out the window to announce, “I’m not stopping!” If I were to describe it in other terms, imagine that every driving habit that you learned in drivers ed. does not exist here, with the exception of direction of travel, but even this gets fudged from time to time. I’ve taken to sitting in the center, rear of taxis, with a knee pressed against the seats in front of me and my booksack worn in the front as an airbag. It is increasingly clearer to me why vehicular accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the third world. The only other places I remember being this crazy were Egypt and India, countries that also had really screwed up social classes.

This is one of the strange peculiarities of Peru and many other developing countries. They have one foot in the first world and another stuck in the third. I live next to a mall. It has a Radio Shack and a Starbucks. I could have used my iphone here on a local carrier.  Yet, at the same time these trivial, simple dangers exists that no one bothers to try to fix. We’re trying to solve really big problems like XDR-TB and HIV, yet intervening in the simplest ways like traffic safety would make such a difference in health and quality of life. Years ago, recognizing the money to be gained from tourism in Cuzco, the government cracked down on many of these habits. From the hills, the city gleams beautifully as all the buildings in the historic center have been well cared for. Police officers stand at important intersections, lest anyone blow through without yielding. What could possibly be so difficult about doing this here?

On Tuesday in the clinic I had a small victory. A resident told a patient and his adult daughter that the reason his vision was so poor was due to a cataract and he needed to get surgery. They said that they couldn’t pay for it and were afraid of getting it anyway, and just wanted to get glasses instead. Eyeing the stack of charts on his desk, the resident told them that glasses wouldn’t make a difference, but gave them an order to get refracted anyway. Since he technically still was a cataract patient, I invited him to participate in my interview. At home, I have a collection of important anatomical diagrams on my iphone and several times this year I have pulled it out and drawn for patients exactly what was going on inside of them. I did it again here, except this time with pen and paper of course (How outdated and 20th century, right? :-).

After the interview, we talked about cataract surgery, its complication rate, and how they could qualify to get it free. As I was bidding them farewell, I gently told him and his adult daughter that they would have to pay a lot for the glasses and wouldn’t really get much improvement from them (his cataracts were so advanced he could only see hand movements in front of his face), but I told them that I understood their concerns and didn’t want them to feel pressured. I urged them to think about what I had told them regarding the relative risks and benefit and to come back if they changed their minds or had any other questions—a few minutes later, they were knocking on the door asking when they could undergo pre-operative testing!

The rest of the week my mornings were spent with a third year Bolivian resident doing cataract screenings at distant clinics around the periphery of the city. These areas are basically slums that squatters settled years ago and within the last few years have received infrastructure, like electricity, basic health services, even a formal name. It is bitterly ironic though what names were chosen. The names of the four neighborhoods we went to this week were Happiness, Miracle, The Future, and Ocean view. The last one technically was true, but there was a wasteland of garbage miles long between the slum and the sea. My late uncle in Poland lived in the Soviet built “Sunny” neighborhood. (The joke being of course that the nearby steel factory spewed out grossly huge amounts of sky-blackening smog)

And so came Saturday and another week concluded! Ceviche at our now regular place, Mar Picante, was followed by much needed rest and relaxation! When I’m not interviewing, I really am just spending my days writing, reading past publications, and peeking at interesting retinas. I’m continuously eating delicious food, having my eyes opened to something new every day, and learning amazing things from my patients.

¡Saludos desde Perú!

June 28th, 2009

Since a little more than a week has passed since I arrived in Peru, I thought I would post a short blog on how everything has been going.

I arrived in Trujillo quite anxious. I had no idea where I would be living, how I would be received, if my work would go smoothly, or if I would have unlimited internet! I landed at 5 in the morning in Lima, but I took enough melatonin the evening before that I slept for almost the entire flight and awoke clear minded at Chavez International. The downside of course was that I had nearly 12 hrs to entertain myself as I awaited for my flight to Trujillo, the third largest city in Peru and where I would be spending nearly my entire summer break.

Katie and I promised each other we would Skype everyday. It had become a bit of a habit for us to chat back and forth on Google during the school days and that was also something we hoped we would be able to have in Peru. Having restored the Asus (which is an absolutely delightful little computer) with my “My Documents” folder and all of my Mozilla bookmarks, opening my computer in the Lima airport to tell Katie I had arrived safely felt completely natural, as if I had never left the US.

The flight to Trujillo was notable for its amazing views of the Andes. We flew over the coast, maybe 10 miles from land, and the mountains just loomed next to us the entire time. Trujillo is located on the coast and apparently some of the world’s best surfing is located here—I certainly saw several surfboards checked as baggage! My bag was one of the last to emerge and after a quick check to see that my semi-valued things were still intact, I emerged and was thrilled to see that my local mentor was there to pick me up! The first test had gone well!

The drive from the airport to town is down a long dusty road. Technically Trujillo is in the middle of a desert, but its proximity to the ocean keeps it mild. A third year ophthalmology resident from Venezuela told me that she had been warned by older, foreign residents to arrive at night so she wouldn’t see Trujillo when she first arrived. It certainly has a gritty feel. I should mention that the ophthalmology program has 12 residents here; several are from Chile, Bolivia, and Venezuela.

My mentor said I could stay with him a few days before I found a place to live.  So after dropping me off at his home, he went back to his private clinic, and having nothing else to do, I thought I would go out and explore the town a bit. The first night I felt as though I ended up covering most of the center of this fairly small feeling town, including the Plaza de Armas. Most of the “formal” restaurants downtown were filled with tourists so I thought I’d do something a bit more local. Wanting to warm up my fragile gringo stomach slowly to the new flora, I thought it be best not to start with street food, so I went instead to a diner with just a few tables. It appears as though I’m going to come out of this summer quite well—the huge dinner I enjoyed only cost me $2.00.

The next morning I went with my mentor to the eye hospital. I felt as though my first few days were going to set the tone for the entire summer, so I was quite nervous as to the reception I would get! Fortunately, the other faculty and far more importantly the residents, are all extraordinarily friendly. One of them, Daniel from Santiago, Chile, speaks excellent English and has proven to be an unequivocally indispensible part of my stay. Between helping me negotiate red tape and inter-departmental politics to giving me a place to stay, I am tremendously grateful to have him on my side.

The same morning, my mentor approached me with the idea that I could go with Daniel and a nurse that night to a tiny pueblo, Santiago de Chuco, high in the Andes to do 1 month post-operative exams on cataract patients the next morning. Having nothing else to do and excited for my first medical adventure, I readily agreed, even though it wasn’t really a part of my project.

That night, we spent the first of our long 5 hour bus ride listening to a salesman pitch his all natural, Peruvian medicine that comes not from a factory but “from the earth.” Daniel told me that there is virtually no regulation of pharmaceuticals, either their distribution or manufacture, in Peru—huge numbers of his patients say that they are self-prescribing themselves barbiturates. The bus ride really took me back to my previous travels. Buses in the third world frequently blare their music/movies at all hours of the day and night and it is apparently a mark of good service (if you don’t own a TV, don’t you want to enjoy theirs the whole time?). I also don’t know what it is about the native Ameri-Indians of Bolivia and Peru but they truly have a distinguishable olfactory note. The best guess I can give to its etiology is that it is the smell of their woolen clothes mixed with weeks of sweat and sun. It was really remarkable—I was taken back to my last time in South America, but not anywhere else.

As we started ascending up the nauseatingly steep, windy roads I realized that I had left my altitude medicine in my bigger bag and so I would be at the mercy of the 2500m altitude. When we were about 2 hrs away from our destination, one of the driver’s helpers went around the bus passing out little plastic bags, lest anyone start throwing up from the windy road! We arrived a little after midnight in tiny Santiago de Chuco. There was only one hotel in town and it was on the plaza de armas, so being easy to find, we still managed to get into bed at a pretty reasonable hour. Fortunately too, I didn’t need to use my sleeping bag—the beds were immaculately clean and had warm blankets!

The post operative screening went well in that it was fairly smooth and orderly, but the visual acuities were pretty abysmal. A lot of people had eye infections such as blefiritis. I also saw what would become my first of many cases of ocular toxoplasmosis. I am starting to learn slit lamp examination and indirect ophthalmoscopy. Thank goodness Katie let me practice direct funduscopy on her (undilated) eyes before I left—I’m really perfecting my technique now and I couldn’t be where I am now had I not had such a patient volunteer! I am going to see so much unusual pathology while I am here.

We caught a 4:00 bus back to Trujillo, which was great, because it let me actually take in more of the spectacular country side of the town. If you look closely it suffers from the classic third world problems of litter and pollution, but I imagine once things improve, this area could become a classic destination for travelers.

On Sunday, I moved out of Dr. Caceda’s house and moved into Daniel’s apartment. It has two tiny bedrooms, a small but comfortable living room, and a little kitchenette. Despite its pint size, it is very clean and homey and most importantly, only costs $120 a month. Apparently, for what we pay in Boston, we could pay the mortgage of a large house here!

After dropping off my stuff, we went to a cevicheria for lunch (it was delicious!) and then to a newly built, American-style mall to buy an extra chair and sheets for my bed. The last time Katie and I were apart for any extended period of time was nearly two years ago, again when we were both in South America. Our 6 month trip had us together 24 hours a day, every day for 6 months. So to be so abruptly removed from each others company has been just awful! Fortunately, both of our days are speeding up now and filled with lots of other people and things to keep us a little bit distracted and not missing each other quite as much, but we have both already started counting down the days until we reunite in Peru!

My weekdays will become likely routine from here. On Monday, during the day, I accompanied a resident to the public hospital across the street to do a consult on an HIV patient with a CMV infection of his retina. There are also so many cases of retina destroying toxoplasmosis here. As I start learning microscopic examination of the eye, I feel like Robert Hooke looking at a cell for the first time—a world that has always been with me but out of view. In fact, as I wrote this paragraph at my desk in the clinic, I paused to go look at a patient under slitlamp with a textbook case of a Herpes Simplex corneal lesion. The procedures and exams are just so much fun—sorry, its going to be just hard to return to typical internal medicine this year at HMS.

On Tuesday morning, we went to Haunchaco (the surfing town 10 miles down the road) to go on campaign. The goal of my summer research project is, broadly, to evaluate the effectiveness, accessibility, and sustainability of Peru’s recently created national cataract elimination program. Patients with cataracts qualify to receive free, or nearly free, cataract surgery. Additionally, there is a strong emphasis on prevention and screening, so physicians go on campaign to screening events occur during the week. Out of 20 patients screened, one had cataracts and I got to interview him.

The pedagogical goals of this summer stand sharply in contrast to those I had two years ago. Whereas in Buenos Aires my goal was language learning as fast as possible, my goal now (defined loosely as any period of time from this very day to the next 10 years) is learning medicine. I am so absorbed in reading papers and preparing manuscripts from my summer work that I am neglecting Spanish. Though I am becoming significantly more comfortable and colloquial with the Spanish I do know, I am not dedicating enough time to learning new words so I don’t feel like I’m advancing much. Fortunately, the questions I ask my patients involve asking them to give quantitative rather than descriptive answers, so the biggest limitation thus far has been when patients stop me in the hallway, “Doctor, doctor! Una preguntita!” and begin rapidly telling me something about being out of eye drops and can I help them get some more because social services, something something something, can not help. No matter how many times I tell them I am a student, I think a white coat + a white face= a doctor.

I finally got my ethics approval document on Thursday from the clinic so I am officially cleared to fully engage in research. My project has three major components to it, each of which can lead to an interesting publication. Regardless should I get one, three or no publications from my work this summer, I think its going to be a fun experience and a chance to see and learn a tremendous amount from extraordinarily grateful and gracious individuals.

Whale Watching

June 15th, 2009

On Saturday, we drove out to Gloucester with our friends Brian and Ashley for a whale watching trip! We had coupons for tickets to Cape Ann Whale Watch. Gloucester is about an hour north of Boston, so we rented a Zipcar and drove out there. Our boat departed around 1:30. Though it had been gloomy and raining all week, the sun came out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was a beautiful ride.

We went out to Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, and came upon a group of Humpback whales! There was a juvenile that kept breaching out of the water so we could see at least half of its body. We followed a mother they called Nile with her calf and and another whale. Mostly they would surface and blow air and water out of their blowholes, doing this a few times before finally diving back under, giving us great views of their tails. But right when we arrived, and just when we had to leave, they rolled over on their backs and slapped the water loudly with their fins. The guide said this seems to be a form of communication. As we rode away, Nile was repeatedly slapping the water with her tail. It was a really fun experience, and something totally new for us!


Springtime Fun

June 10th, 2009

Over a month since the last post! We’re just too busy. Lots of fun things have happened since we last wrote. The week following, Tommy’s parents came to visit. They stayed for a week, and then we all drove out to Westchester County, New York, for his grandmother’s 80th birthday party. It was a great time! It was held at a very nice club, with plenty of great food and a fantastically corny Polish DJ. It was wonderful to spend that time with family.

Memorial Day weekend we went camping at White Lake State Park in New Hampshire. It was a little crowded—the sites were very close together—but it was the best we could do on short notice. Who knew how quickly campsites book up around here! We still really enjoyed it. The lake was lovely and so peaceful. We did some hiking, some canoeing, and lots of reading in our hammock.

It has definitely warmed up in the past few weeks, but it’s still nowhere near hot. As far as we’re concerned, it’s springtime perfection. This kind of weather is unheard of in June in Louisiana—it barely approaches 80 degrees. We are loving Boston! We’ve done some bike riding and had a beautiful picnic on Boston Common a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend we rented a kayak and went out on the Charles River. It was lovely.

We have done a lot of cooking lately, and ventured into more culinarily difficult dishes. During a short Thai phase after a particularly inspiring trip to our local oriental food store, we made pad thai, curry, and chili fish all from scratch.  Next on the list is drunken noodles. We’ve also enjoyed making sushi.

Now summertime is quickly approaching. Tommy will be leaving soon for Trujillo, Peru, and Katie will be staying in Boston continuing her research until meeting him there in late July. We’re already itching to travel again, so we’re quite excited!

Winter in Boston

April 22nd, 2009


Okay, we are very bad bloggers. We’ve had this site for months now and haven’t posted a thing. We blame school, of course. It keeps us both pretty busy. But hopefully once we break the ice with a first post maybe we’ll be able to keep it up a little better.

We arrived back in Boston in January late at night to snow on the ground. The next morning, the sidewalks were so iced over that it took me twice as long to get to the T as usual, inching along and trying not to slip. Tommy left the apartment and promptly wiped out on the ice. It was perhaps an appropriate beginning to our first Boston winter.

Luckily, despite what we thought that first day, the conditions are usually much less treacherous, and we came to really enjoy the snow. Everything was just constantly covered in this lovely white blanket. Sure, around the sides of the road and in parking lots and such, the dirty ice began to pile up. And waterproof shoes are a must for the snow, slush, and puddles. But we didn’t find the winter nearly as treacherous and depressing as we felt some people made it out to be. The next big snow, we made a snowman across from our apartment. We could see him through our window until he melted a few weeks later.


Our snowman in front of our apartment (were on the second floor, on the left)

Our snowman in front of our apartment (we're on the second floor, on the left)

Tommy moved into the apartment and we made it our own. It’s a perfect comfy home now, and we look forward to returning to it each day. We’re so happy here we’ve decided to certainly stay another year before we look for anywhere else to live.

We’re both usually quite busy, especially during the week, but we have had a lot of fun as well. We posted pictures from two of our weekend outings, one to go duck watching with some of my department from BU, and another snowshoeing in New Hampshire. We also spent a few days in Washington, DC—Tommy went to the American Medical Association’s National Advocacy Conference, and I tagged along since it was my spring break. As soon as we returned to town, my whole family came for a visit. It was a lot of fun!

This is far too short a summary to do justice to the last four months, but it will have to do for now. We plan to post more frequent updates from now on!

New blog (from Boston)!

December 27th, 2008

We wanted a space to talk about our new life up here.  You can check out our blog from the trip we took last year around the world at Around the World 2008, but check back here for more domestic updates.