I’ve learned a few things these past two months: I’m already sick of my clothes, I can’t live without face cream and lip gloss, and my hair brush takes up a lot of room so it’s time for a haircut. As I lay out the contents of my backpack, I’m once again faced with some difficult decisions. When we initially packed for our trip back in August – man, that seems like a long time ago! – we had a lot of leeway because for two months we were essentially going to be living out of our car. So, I packed an extra fleece, several books, and my precious goose-down pillow. I’m slowing coming to terms with parting with my pillow – although I did consider buying a special stuff sack for it, but I probably should use that premium backpack space for, oh, lined hiking pants and a rain jacket. But now that the car is gone, our lives need to be completely self contained in a 55 liter backpack. Do I really need that skirt? Will that bottle of face scrub explode at Machu Picchu? With less than 10 days until we leave the country, as Cory would say “shit’s getting real.”
These past 10 days we have had the luxury of getting spoiled by our moms in Phoenix, Arizona. But soon we will be living the hostel life. My breakfast of two eggs over-medium with toast will soon be replaced with I don’t even know what. Simple comforts like drinking water from the tap, hot water, soft toilet paper, toilets, and my goose-down pillow (have I mentioned my pillow?) will not be so easy to come by. And I know that I might be exaggerating a bit. I mean it’s not like we’re getting dumped off in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no services – as Cory will remind me, “we can buy dental floss in South America.” But when you’re about to enter the unknown, everything seems a bit more drastic. Plus, I’ve never been to South America so I don’t know what to expect. Since we’re planning to be in South America and Central America for the next 18 months, I want to be sure I have what I need. Even though I’ve already done without a lot of things these past two months, now that I’m about to actually get on a plane for Ecuador, everything is getting a lot more real. And yes, I’m getting a bit nervous.
We leave for Quito, Ecuador on the 21st, so lots of things are happening this week. We are finalizing our budget, confirming recommended vaccinations, figuring out communication channels, getting rid of our iPhones (yes, we will rely on email and Skype alone), and maxing out on post-season baseball – at least I am. Also, I’m realizing that I will not be at the opening night of Spectre… It’s these creature comforts that I willingly discarded two months ago to road-trip and camp to our hearts’ content – but we were here, I knew that we could run into a Walgreens in any town and buy a box of wine or find a clean bathroom at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere.
The point of this journey (one of many) is to get out of our comfort zone. I willingly signed up for this adventure. I am ready to embrace the unknown. I don’t really even mind not showering for days at a time. But, now that we’re actually about to begin the real adventure, I am processing my reality of traveling with only three pairs of underwear for 18 months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I welcome this challenge. I don’t think I will have too difficult a time adjusting to hostels, crowded buses and street food. In a few weeks, I’m sure I will be extolling the virtues of traveling light, celebrating the adventures of backpacking, and describing the joys of South American hostels – but for now, just let me grieve the certain availability of flush toilets and my goose down pillow…