Sunday, June 28, 2009

Peru: The Departure

Our travels began with an omen of bad luck and the promise of doom, at least according to my mother. I left the Land of Many Uses in the midst of its usual spring downpour - I would cite my Chaucer, but at it was May and not April I'll spare you - and hydroplaned my car going around a large bend about an hour into the voyage. As I fish-taled out of control, my only coherent thought was something to the effect of "Well, it could be worse...," at which point my car went off-road, got sucked into a ditch, and scraped its headlight on a large wooden sign post. Still, I was fairly optimistic, and about 2 hours later I was back in my car en route to Maryland without even a citation.

The poor weather chased me all the way to Grantham, where Brice met me for a rendezvous and I left my car in the care of a friend. Nearly 3/4 of the way to his house, Brice's car - which had been making some strange noises but generally handling without issue - started screaming as we took an off-ramp onto the last leg of our journey. We got out, poked, prodded, and determined that his wheel had somehow fallen off. Not flat, not out of alignment: sheered right off. Well, it was fairly late by this point, but we called a tow truck (the second use of my AAA card in a single day), and his Dad came to pick us up.

We checked our flights, convinced Brice to finally pack his bag, and went to bed. I'm going to take a moment now and just offer some advice for anyone thinking of backpacking in South America: pack light and pack smart. Barring any heavy camping equipment you might need, this is what we each lived with and carried around for a month:

*3 pairs of pants (1 khaki)
*3 T-shirts
*1 long-sleeved shirt
*1 hoodie
*Socks and underwear for a week
*Sneakers (Brice also brought boots)
*Shower sandals
*Hair brush / comb
*Sun screen
*High DEET bug spray
*Rain poncho
*Nail clippers
*Bismuth tablets
*Antibacterial ointment
*Toilet paper, toilet paper, toilet paper!
*Travel Snacks & water (buy it when you get there)
*Small flashlight
*Small day pack / messenger bag (just one sufficed for both of us)
*Camera and accessories
*Pocket knives (bought once we landed in Peru)
*Money belt (with money & cards, obviously...)/ passport and document organizer
*Good Book
*Extra pens and pencils
*Did I mention toilet paper?

There are, of course, other things like lotion, antibacterial hand wash, and binoculars that were very nice to have, but those are luxuries compared to the things we really needed and used on a daily basis. We each packed a carry-on sized backpack, plus I took my messenger bag day-pack as a personal item to keep our books and travel documents on-hand in the airport. Each of us managed to cram what we needed into the space alotted, though I've got to say Brice's backpack was much more comfortable to carry than mine. His had padded straps and chest / hip cinches, while mine had an internal frame and drag-wheels with an extending handle. I, of course, rolled my bag when possible, but when we did have to carry them over long distances I usually ended up switching with Brice about 45 minutes in. I think it also helped that his bag didn't have as many toiletries as mine, but I did enjoy my luxury items - especially the skin lotion.

No comments: