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Confessions of a Backpacker
“Just remember, if you run out of clean underwear, you can always turn them inside out.”
This was the last piece of advice my dad gave me before leaving on my around the world trip, much to the dismay of my mother who gave him the look. You know- that look that anyone who has been married 30+ years can give to their spouse which will be completely disregarded. Little did my mother know, I would be taking my dad up on his advice. There are many things about my trip that are probably best left unpublished on the World Wide Web- but, being ‘professional’ (aka serious) just isn’t my style, and I like to keep things interesting so it’s time for me to go to travel confessional.
One: I went commando in Cape Town. As desperation set in, I had no choice. For the first time on my trip I was going to have to pay to do laundry, since a single bathroom sink shared with 20 other girls was not an option. I was hoping to wait as long as possible so that I would have clean clothes when I flew to Thailand. However, as it turns out, I waited too long, and after the ‘turn it inside out day’ I was forced, yes there was no choice, to go…. Commando. That’s right, I turned in every last bit of clothing except what I was wearing, including every last pair of underwear. You see, I would have been okay, except for point two (see below). I would like to say, though, that it was only semi-commando because I at least wore running shorts, which attempt to have built-in underwear in them.
Two: I left a pair of underwear hanging in a tree in Botswana. I was camping and had the perfect tree with branches that were good for hanging my freshly washed laundry from. Unfortunately, as I scrambled to collect my clothing in the dark the next morning before heading to the bus station, I didn’t grab everything. Bummer.
Three: There are days when I absolutely hate being a backpacker! Days when I have to haul all of my stuff on my back for a few kilometers, days when I can’t find a place to stay and all I want to do is sleep- those days are hard. My friend in Southeast Asia was flying to Madrid when I was off to Berlin. I hoped to have a limo waiting for me at the airport in Berlin. It didn’t happen. When I decided to travel long-term I knew I would be on a shoestring budget. And I was okay with that. But I have promised myself that I will take at least one hassle-free, all-inclusive vacation in my life that is stress free!
Four: I had a complete meltdown on my 14-hour flight to Bangkok. I’m not talking just a tear or two either. I was leaving behind Africa, my favorite continent that I traveled through. I was leaving behind boys in Kenya that I dearly missed already. I was reflecting on my experience in a South African township with a woman that has more courage and determination than I ever will. I was thinking about the stories I heard about the Rwandan genocide, and my guides there that lost their families to brutality beyond comprehension. I cried for myself. I cried for the African people. And finally, I cried over the guilt of crying for these people who have gone through experiences I will never go through. What gives me the right to cry? Yes, I was a mess. Luckily for me (but not for her) the woman next to me was not mentally stable as the result of a brain injury so I think she was completely unaware. Of course I met a close friend in Bangkok and that was the end of my cryfest!
Five: I wore the same outfit four days in a row (although this time I wore clean underwear everyday!). I froze my ass off camping in Africa and wore everything I owned.
Six: I had a wussy moment in Kenya, and rather than facing the lizards, cockroaches, and possible tarantulas in the squat toilet at night, I decided to go in the bushes. After that I realized how ridiculous I was being and got over it the next day. Of course a toad jumped on me as I was passing the pig pen and I squealed like one of them.
Seven: I didn’t brush my hair for a week because I misplaced my hairbrush. I still washed it though, so that’s not really a big deal, is it?
Eight: I ate a grasshopper. And convinced my friend to do it too! This is one confession I’m really proud of :)
Nine: I sat on the side of the road in Laos, thinking about giving up, as my friend patiently looked on. My bike was stuck in the highest gear, we were on a long uphill ride, and I was just so over it! Luckily, I got it together to finish, but I thought about lying there forever.
Ten: I got a violent stomach bug that left me puking in Bali. I thought, ‘if I have to suffer through this thing physically, my family has to suffer through hearing the details of it!’. Too bad I sent it to Adam of SitDownDisco.com rather than Adam in my family. Yes, it was horrifying for me, but this poor guy I just met a week ago had to read about it!
I would consider this list just the start of my confessions. Or at least, these are the ones that I was actually willing to write about. I know many of you have a few things of your own to admit from your travels (hint hint, please tell the world about them here).
Note: I would like to point out that even though there seems to be a multitude of hygiene confessions, I’m really not a dirty girl. I promise! I travel with three toothbrushes!