Friday, November 4, 2011

Stickers and Squirrels

Today I purchased 4,984 stickers.

Do you think that perhaps I am over-packing?


The last time I traveled (and coincidentally the first time I traveled), I wasn't very well equipped. I didn't really know how to backpack, how to travel. I learned on the spot, through trial and error. I am embarrassed to say that I thought buying a piece of luggage (and this was a huge, boxy piece of luggage) was a good idea when it became clear to me, three months into my trip, that my 32-liter backpack wasn't cutting it. My Swiss hostel-mate at the time told me it was a horrible idea, but I didn't listen. What do you know, it was a horrible idea. Thanks Suzana, for trying to warn me.

After trying to lug it on and off of buses, hoist it into the trunks of taxis, and bang it up flights of hostel stairs, I ditched it. I decided to buy another backpack. It was taller than my first, and my sleeping bag fit strapped on the top, teetering threateningly. The problem was, my first backpack was shoulder-cut for a woman's body, and I had to wear it on my back. This meant that the taller backpack hugged my front, the top of the bag covering my face, the sleeping bag bonking me ever so often. I had to tilt my head to the left or the right in order to see where I was going. The drunken backpacker, that's what I was, bobbing and weaving in order to avoid injury or accident.

Ginna, Kate, Jess taking off for our hitching adventure through Ecuador and Peru. This pack on my back eventually moved to my front.

This time, though... this time I am prepared.

Maybe over-prepared?

For instance, I bought packing cubes. And 4,984 stickers. I feel like hardcore backpackers, off-the-beaten-path travelers are not allowed to buy packing cubes, or anything from Rick Steves. I have done both. What has become of me?

Is it possible that the fact that I am leaving for Hungary to teach English for six months (and with the intention to stay gone for a long time thereafter) has set in? I have my suspicions that I am part squirrel, gathering nuts, preparing for a bitter winter in a land unknown to me. It seems a natural reaction, to try and control anything you can when you're entering a situation that feels out of your hands. I, like most humans, prefer for my hands to be sticky, so that nothing can slip through their claws and clutches. So my hands are busy scribbling lists and entering my credit card information for countless orders of things I (think I) need.

Maybe I am still a drunken backpacker after all, sedating myself with sharpies, bulk toiletries, and stickers.

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