I once met a girl in Central America. She was a New Yorker, her parents were Yemeni, I think. She was pretty, and smart. And I was seeing someone else at the time. So, over the few days we shared a dorm room, I busied myself trying not to develop a crush on her. Tried – she was striking. Although the thing that strikes me most now was just how light she travelled. A comfortably stuffed day-pack was enough to keep her clad, clean and groomed over several months of travel. This contrasted with me. A great hulking board bag, packed with two or maybe three boards. And still smelling of the ding repair kit which had leaked in it on the way to Mexico. In addition to the boardbag I had a day-pack that would barely close, filled with books, and note books, and tapes, and a walkman, and a camera. And then I had my pack. Contents – a tent, a sleeping bag, warm clothes for the south, cool clothes for the north, a few more books, a camp stove, and cooking utensils. I was cumbersome. I moved like a camel train. When she left for Honduras she just picked up her day-pack, scribbled me a note goodbye and sailed off over the border.
I’ve never travelled light. In the Cape Verde Islands I carried all the usual plus the wheels and axle from a pram, which I’d strap to my board bag so I could drag it rather than carry it.
I’ve never travelled light. Which must explain why, tomorrow, Jo and I, who are off to the Northern Territory for a week’s holiday – no surf, one temperature zone, no stove – are laden with my bulging-at-the-seams backpack. Key contents: deckchairs.
Yes people. I am travelling with deck chairs. Like I said, I never travel light.