Today was an extremely exciting day from start to finish.

First, I attended the Global Explorers Summit (GLEX) in Lisbon, which was the most mind-blowing, amazing, and inspirational event that I think I’ve ever attended. And mind you–I’ve seen Kinky Boots live in Broadway Boston 😉 Among the many people I met and got to listen to were amazing figures in Space exploration–NASA Chief Scientist Jim Garvin, NASA program executive Alan Stern, NASA Principal Investigator Linda Elkins, as well as Astronaut and doctor Dafyyd Williams of Canada. Then, there was a term on Ocean exploration, where I heard Don Walsh and Victor Vescovo speak together (each are famous for their deep-sea records set in the Mariana Trench near Guam), as well as many conservationalists and hearing about different projects and startups that seek to innovate how we–as humans of a united planet–will save the ocean and the earth, where species go extinct at an alarming rate. Finally, I got to hear from a variety of Polar explorers: Felicity Aston, Liv Arnesen, and Tim Jarvis, each with incredible polar exploration stories. It was so amazing to hear these stories and look at their expedition photos. I don’t even think I could ever express what sort of emotions these speakers started to stir up in me–something between hope and fascination and awe. To get a sense of the drama that the conference was aspiring towards (and, I would say, achieved with grace), take a look at this video:

The building this first session took place in–fundação champalimaud in Belem–looked like something from a utopian future. the view of the Tagus river right outside the auditorium combined with traditional portuguese cork trees made it more connected to Lisbon and Portugal, the location of the building, but I think it could have really been anywhere, it was so futuristic. It was a beautiful venue–and a good one to choose as we’re learning about the past and future of exploration. Portugal is such an apex of both–future and past exploration, from Magellan’s circumnavigation 500 years ago to the budding space agency today–and this was an awesome way to commemorate this. I probably sound like I’m gushing, but it was just. so. cool. I feel like I learned so much and got to know so much about the world of exploration (which is, admittedly, an extremely wealthy but not extremely lucrative world, so a lot is fund raised or self funded), which before I knew little to nothing about. Also, with a topic like exploration, everyone from Artists to Astrobiologists to Activists to Astronauts to Academics got invited to speak. it was crazy.

I also got an astonishing amount of loot (maybe it’s called conference swag or tools or goodies) from the conference, which was cool. sorry for the brag photo, I am just very excited about the free toad bag!

Then, after the conference, I went home and changed in record time for the embassy 4th of July party–themed Western, so I had to improvise a little. That said, I think I did a good job.

It was such a fun party–I spoke for a long time with several people from the German Embassy, as well as the other Interns and their plus ones. There was a live band that played country music all night, and I did the swing, and the jive, and the rumba. 🙂 As well as the Cotton eyed joe, which was pretty great. all in all, it’s been an incredible day and a supremely exciting one.

Does that say “Manor House Saloon”? yes, it does.

Did they remove the doors to the historic Manor house and replace them with the saloon style swinging doors? yes, they did.

Was the ambassador’s entrance music reminiscent of “the good, the bad, and the ugly”? yes, alas, it was. apparently we have a long way to go when it comes to being aware of cultural sensitivities back at home that make things like that horribly inappropriate in my opinion.

Was there a mechanical bull for people to ride? yeah, indeed, there was.

Hats and beer and hot dogs and country music galore. I think this has been the biggest 4th of July party I’ve ever been to.

Much love!