Mars Can(‘t) Wait, Or, What to Do When Things Slow Way Down

What to do, indeed? If indexing a book was the equivalent of traveling, my itinerary during much of May might have looked something like this:
Monday, May 4
Early May, and I am experiencing a rare slow time between trips. I try not to let it worry me too much, reasoning that I can always use the down time to catch up on reading.
Just got word of a possible trip to Mars. I would be leaving on Thursday, May 7. Am looking forward to exploring new horizons and collecting photos of the Red Planet.
Meanwhile, in Canada …
Wednesday, May 6
An agency contacts me concerning the prospect of doing a Spanish to English translation. I write back discussing terms and a prospective time frame for doing the project. The agency POC promises to let me know what the client said. However, still no word back from the client as of this writing.
Thursday, May 7
The day comes and goes without any word on when I might leave for the Red Planet.   What could be the holdup? Has the spacecraft developed a problem that needs repairing? Has the camera lens developed a crack, thus requiring a replacement before the desired photos can be taken? Who can say?
Meanwhile, in Barcelona, Spain …
A legal document needs to be translated from Swedish into English. The Barcelona contact and I discuss possible terms. However, the client, as in the previous case, never responds.
Friday, May 8
Finally get word from the Mars trip contact. Apologizing for the delay, she reports that a few trip details will be changing. These will have to be finalized and incorporated into the overall plan before I can take off for the Red Planet. She hopes to know by Monday when the spacecraft can be launched.
Monday, May 11
Manage to get hold of an anthropology professor at the local university. He had sponsored me for a tour of several archaeological digs in Central America back in 2012. Might he be planning any future such trips? Yes, a trip like that is indeed in the offing, and there’s a good chance I’ll get to come along. However, that trip won’t be taking place until some time this fall.
Meanwhile, still no word on when I might be able to leave for Mars.
Tuesday, May 12
Have just gotten word from a history professor at the same university. Having taken me on a trip a couple years back that involved touring the sometimes troublesome U.S.-Mexico border, he now proposes to take me on another trip, this time to various parts of Mexico where development has been uneven. If all goes according to plan, this trip will start on June 9, so there’s plenty of time to get ready. As I eagerly anticipate this new adventure, subsequent days see me taking care of paperwork that I need to submit before the trip.
Wednesday, May 13
A Maryland contact writes to discuss plans for an upcoming trip that would involve traveling through the alimentary canal and likely also to places where tasty dishes are explored — all, of course, for the purpose of studying food and nutrition. I might even get a chance to climb the Food Pyramid. While certainly willing to be considered for such a trip, I must first send my qualifications, as well as an example of a description of a previous comparable trip. Only after gathering similar data from other aspiring travelers can she select the final candidate who is to go on this trip.
Still no word of her decision as of this writing.
Meanwhile, in Madrid …
Thursday, May 14
Three Spanish to English documents await translation. This task promises to keep me busy as I await word concerning the Mars trip.
Friday, May 15
Finally get hold of my Mars contact, who now hopes the spacecraft will be ready for takeoff on Monday, May 18.
Monday, May 18
Monday comes and goes. Still no takeoff for Mars.
Wednesday, May 20
Word arrives of an upcoming trip to Northern Europe. This trip would require traveling back in time to the early 1700s, when a war — known as the Great Northern War — broke out between Sweden and Russia. The European trip contact and I discuss terms. From the standpoint of technical details, the trip seems doable, but there’s still the matter of timing. Given the extent of all there is to see and do on this trip, will it be possible to cover everything and still make it back on time? The matter is of pressing importance because, following the trip back in time, the trip coordinator will need to leave for Sweden, this time minus the time machine, in order to get together with a Swedish general and also visit Sweden’s army museum. Negotiations on the trip departure date are still pending as of this writing.
Meanwhile, in London …
Thursday, May 21
A Swedish business letter requires translation. I agree to take on the job in order pass the time during the seemingly interminable wait for word concerning the Mars trip.
And then, in early afternoon, a miracle occurs. I finally get word that the spacecraft is ready to take off for Mars!
Meanwhile, in Denver, Colorado …
That same evening, word comes that a certain Spanish document needs a translation. I agree to take on the job. Work on that will give me something to do while the spacecraft is en route to Mars.
And that concludes my report of present and future “trips”. True, it’s all armchair travel. However, unlike physical travel, at least it’s cheap, and it doesn’t even require a passport.


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