As the temperatures drop here on the east coast, so do the number of days I have left until I’m out! As I am writing this there are under 30 days left. See?
Knowing I have only a few weekends left, last weekend I started to collect the items I plan take with me, in one place. Spread out across my little couch, it didn’t LOOK like that much stuff, especially not for a year; a handful of tops both sleeveless and short-sleeved, bottoms of various lengths and bathing suits, electronics and wires, a cell phone, an old and new passport, bug spray, hairspray and deodorant among other things. Nothing in the pile was unreasonable or unnecessary, but still, I could tell it was too much.
To find out exactly how too much, I did a rough pack. I put most things into packing cubes and plastic pouches and stuffed them into my backpack (seen below) in a somewhat realistic fashion. I lifted it onto my back and felt a pang of panic; umm no, I cannot walk around with that on my body! I like to think I’m kind of strong for my size, but I’m clearly no She-ra, Princess of Power. So, a bunch of this stuff has to go! But what?!
And herein lies my packing problem: I am going to be gone for so long and in so many different situations that I need a large variety of things. I need clothes that can take me from the beach to the jungle, from a church to a bar, and they all need to fit on my back. Plus, in Latin America, when you dress like a true gringo (yoga pants, flip-flops and most other clothing that we would find completely acceptable) you stick out like a sore thumb. While some of that is unavoidable, I’d like not to be the sloppiest person in sight. So, I need things I can hike in one day and wear to a restaurant the next. This is hard! Plus the full-sized shampoo, conditioner, hairspray and curl cream I am packing, are adding definite weight. But, smaller sized items will just be replaced by full-sized ones later, so it seems better to budget the space and weight from the outset.
So, this weekend, I looked at everything again and made some progress in lightening my load; I guess I don’t need this white t-shirt, these boxer shorts, this mouthwash or so many hand sanitizers. I stuffed my backpack again, and felt a definite difference, but I would still like to cut it down further. Afterall, no one is going to carry this backpack for me, and I don’t want to be struggling every time I have to move. So, there is still work to be done and I have a feeling it’s going to take me the rest of the weekends I have left to fully solve my packing problem.