Monday, March 1, 2010

Fitting It All In

One of my favorite things about traveling is packing. Not just packing for like a long weekend away, but packing for multi-country, multi-climate extravaganzas. And I'm totally vain and prefer that it isn't immediately obvious from my appearance that I dressed out of my backpack.

The adventure I'm about to embark on will include:
-winter in NYC
-winter in Istanbul
-the beginning of the rainy season in Ethiopia
-the end of the rainy season and resumption of the heat in Tanzania
-end of spring in NYC
-beginning of summer in DC

I also refuse to bring more than one bag with me; must have room for plenty of textiles on the way back; and on the way there I need to make room for the $35 worth of granola bars, fruit snacks and trail mix I bought last weekend (yes, the Trader Joe's checker did give me that look that silently expressed concern/disgust with my nutritional habits and/or cooking skills). I will be living in a hotel in Ethiopia and don't want to rely on hotel food meals three times a day.

In order to minimize the space that some essentials are taking, I went to Lush to load up on beauty products in bar form. I'm now on day three of a shampoo bar/blow dryer free hair style test run. Results are not pretty.

Other newly-acquired essentials include two pairs of Action Slacks and a black fleece. In my opinion a black fleece jacket is a dangerous clothing item. It's so practical! It works in a variety of weather situations. It's the kind of thing I will wear constantly, but it's never fashionable, flattering or exciting. Others feel similarly about my new black flats with a wide ACE Bandage strap across the arch of the foot, though I maintain that they're a Spanish brand and my loved ones just don't understand such sophisticated style.

I was second-guessing my new shoes and contemplating switching them out for something more neutrally appealing until I read an article on the ethics of collecting data with orphans and vulnerable children internationally. The article talks about how what seems like simple data collection can bring up sensitive subjects for children and one example they gave was collecting data on whether or not children have shoes. It suggested silently noting whether the interviewee was wearing shoes or not rather than directly asking them. This guideline helped bring it all home for me- why I'm going to Ethiopia and how very unimportant it is what my shoes look like and how very fortunate I am to have a choice of shoes to bring with me. Though I'm struggling to make the best clothing choices and make everything fit in one bag, it's a luxury that my wardrobe is bigger than my backpack. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of privilege that I'm about to confront. Watch out.

(Even so, I promise that there will be still be some of the regularly scheduled First World naval gazing on this blog.)

1 comment:

  1. You enjoy packing to go around the world? I don't even like packing to go to work! Should I bring a book? My laptop too? Snacks? I definitely need a granola bar, but I don't want my sandwhich to get crushed, but I really, oh I don't know. But I admire your tenacity, your fortitude, AND your action slacks. Yea, I definitely admire those.