Yesterday, my good friend Jesse flew to Florida where he’ll sail someone’s boat down through the Panama Canal. He told me once he gets the boat delivered he’ll probably just take a bus up to his house in Costa Rica (that he built himself of course) to take care of “some business”. Knowing Jesse, I suspect this business involves an important board meeting, a surfboard that is. He’s a pretty damn interesting dude, to say the least.
The night before he left we talked on the phone for a while and he asked how my travel prep was coming along. I told him that in staying with my all too common M-O of waiting until the very last minute to think about packing, things are just a tad hectic in that department. Jesse, being as philosophical about travel as I am, brought up the point that if we really thought about it, what things are really so important that if we forgot them, it’d alter or diminish the experience?
I told him the one thing that I was most concerned with was finding the right journal, one I’d want to write in. I told him that’s the one item I travel with that’s personal and I can be pretty protective of it. I then told him how I’d found a plain black one at McGuckin’s then came home and put a couple of my favorite stickers on it to give it a little personal flair.
Jesse then threw out a good question. He asked me to suppose that I’d somehow managed to forget it for this trip, what would happen? I’m always up for a spirited round of what-if scenarios so I replied that it wouldn’t be the end of the world because I could just search around and find one once I got where I was going. I honestly like finding one beforehand because it kind of adds to my pre trip experience and helps put me in that travel frame of mind.
Ironically, when we were traveling down in Southern Mexico a few years ago, I’d actually forgotten a journal I’d bought specifically for the trip. I realized the error mid-air when I dug around through my carry-on pack for it. Had two pens, but no journal! Of course by then it was too late to scour the airport gift shops for an overpriced, crappy replacement.
The morning after we arrived I took a walk through the neighborhood near our hostel and found a little tienda where I bought the only thing available…a cheap ass little 5×7, 100-page notebook. It was the kind with that spirally wire binder thing that invariably comes partially unwound leaving a pointy protuberance which will soon find its way under your fingernail while you’re blindly fishing around for it in your backpack…just sayin’. Anyhow, the price was right at about USD $0.20 so I bought it. Okay, that’s not exactly true, it was actually about USD $2.00 when I added churros y café con leche into the transaction. Damn those churros.
Throughout our trip, that little notebook/journal was brutally bounced around in my pack, rained on, used as a coaster for an “occasional” beer or margarita, used as a file folder for ticket stubs and maps, used as a flyswatter, a fan, an address book and of course, used from time to time as a place for me to record my thoughts. That thing was like the ultimate multi-tool! At one point when we were sitting around having a beer, I peeled the label off the bottle and taped it to the front of the journal just to give it more character. In the end, it turned out that that crappy little notebook/journal is one I have incredibly fond memories of.
Jesse and I concluded that if we’re true to our beliefs about travel, the experiences we have shouldn’t be altered by the kind of journal we keep or the possessions we take. The important thing is that we simply travel and experience.
It was nice to have that little philosophical wandering session with Jesse before we both head off to different parts of the world. Also kind of fun to think about the fact that everything I’ll put in my backpack for this trip is really nothing but a convenience item and could easily be replaced or done without all together. I also take a little pride in the fact that I can travel internationally for an extended period of time in a style where one backpack is all I’ll require.
All I really need is a ticket to ride.