I was not at all expecting to be able to get back to the US before my sister’s wedding in November – but I realized I had some funding leftover for a trip to UPenn that needed to be used before June 30 – so I made a very last minute trip happen! Thankfully Jennifer was willing to plan her a bachelorette party around the weekend I was in the US. As you can imagine this was a lot to fit into a week!
I flew into Philly on a weekend and spent Monday, Tuesday, Wed, Thurs doing my usual routine of running around to meetings, lectures and working with various faculty at UPenn. This was my second trip so thankfully less stressful than my first when I had to meet everyone for the first time. Now that I have worked with many of the residents, faculty and medical students, it was great to reconnect and catch up with new friends that I have made. However, I am still pretty overwhelmed by the Penn Med Center and all of the very prestigious people working there. I feel like such an imposter among the ranks of the physicians and scientists there….. and am continually in awe of how welcoming, kind and generous they are with me. It is all very surreal! This trip was also much better because I had more time to explore the city. I stayed in Rittenshouse Square area and loved wandering around the smaller surrounding neighborhoods.
Thursday afternoon I flew direct down to Austin and got picked up by my parents. We went straight to get some Tex-Mex – obviously! I thought I had died and gone to heaven at Lupe Tortilla. With such a quick trip it was too hard to meet up with my friends in Austin – but luckily since Michelle lives so close to where we were staying downtown I was able to spend some time with her.
It shocks me more and more each time I go back – things just keep changing. Now even more than the new buildings, I feel how different the energy of Austin is. It is hard to describe ….but it has lost the homey small town feel it had when I lived there. Now there is definitely a less inviting big city vibe. I cannot believe how much more there is to do and see – the number of restaurants and boutiques is overwhelming. I can’t wait to get back for a longer trip in November to do some exploring!
On Friday my sister, parents and I headed down to the hill country. We made a stop at her wedding venue first – which was awesome because I had not seen any of this. Jennifer wanted to do her bachelorette in Wimberely (not too far from the wedding venue) which is one of her favorite places. She usually visits at least once a year to hang out with all her Texas friends for a weekend. It made it super easy that all she really wanted to do was hang out at the house! We rented an awesome place that she has stayed at before – situated at the top of a hill with a beautiful pool that looks out over the hill country – and has TWO waterfalls ☺
I have met most of Jen’s friends before but it has been ages since I’ve seen most of them! Thank goodness they are all so sweet and helpful or I would never have been able to pull this weekend off. The food alone would have been impossible. Also my parents being willing to drive up from Houston and bring all the stuff I ordered from Amazon for decorations was crucial!
Everything worked out great – the only thing not in our favor was the weather. It was cloudy and a bit rainy which put a damper on our visions of a whole weekend outside by the pool. But none the less – we had a great time. It has been so long since I have been around a group of American girls – it was just really nice to talk about normal thing and hear about their normal lives. In Botswana, my life is pretty extreme. I am either working my ass off at the insanely dysfunctional hospital, or talking about the problems of the hospital with doctor friends, or hanging out with other locals, or on some fantastical wildlife journey – all just so different from my prior lifestyle in the US. I loved taking a pause from my life in Botswana to relax and catch up on how things are with my sister and all her friends.
Most importantly Jen had a great weekend! It was awesome to see her so happy and among all the people who love her the most. Also great to get to hear more about her fiancé who I have not even met yet – crazily enough! Most of her friends have spent quite a bit of time with him. They love him so much – so that was great to hear! The whirlwind week was fantastic and made me so excited to come back in November and celebrate Jen and Max again with all these awesome ladies!