Sunday, November 9, 2008

Getting Gone!

The hardest thing about travel is leaving the cat. Now, I do have an outstanding cat care person, a woman who works at my vet’s, but it doesn’t make it easier. Once I start to pack up, Tiffany sits on the duffel and howls. She knows! The care person assures me Tiff is very good with their routine when I’m gone. But until I walk out the door - when Tiff is lying on her chair with one eye open - I get a bad time.

Also, when I return: I am ignored, totally ignored, until Tiff gets hungry enough to ask for food. Which has some advantages, for I can empty the duffel‘s contents into the wash, look at the mail and brush my teeth before I have to deal with her. She should be used to all this for in the three places she’s lived with me, travel has been the constant.

Packing is the other chore. Since I take only a carry on sized duffel, choices are limited. After two bummers with checked luggage some years back, I’ve used carry ons only, even before airlines started charging for checked luggage. Toiletries I replenish after each trip, so they are not a problem. Copies of my passport and driver’s license reside in the duffel along with travel clock, extra batteries and the like.

So it’s roll up several pairs of pants, throw in the t-shirts, figure out the quick dry underwear, and add a pair of sandals. Some times, I have to think about which items to pack but mostly it’s the same things - or whatever old stuff I can leave. And wear the walking shoes, sweater, jacket, hoodie and/or rain gear I’ll need. I seem to take about the same amount of stuff, whether I’m going to city or countryside, gone for a week or a month.

I have traveled in the States, Canada and overseas for over twenty-five years. No longer hampered with a Day Job, I’m now gone about a third of the time. From two to six weeks. For the cat’s sake, I try to stick to three weeks but I’m not always successful. And I tend to travel on the cheap, often with small, budget priced British or Australian groups. Many American groups charge more than I’m prepared to pay, use upscale accommodations beyond what I need and/or stay close to conventional itineraries. The Brits and the Aussies tend to wing it, much as I do when on my own.

Choosing destinations isn’t a problem. I have a long list but, fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t always get to new places. I keep returning for further exploration. This year I returned to the UK - probably my 20th trip there - and Ethiopia - I had been in the North, to the so called Historical Circuit, but wanted to get into the tribal lands of the South; I will be back in Jordan in a couple of days for an archeological dig related to TE Lawrence and WW1’s Arab Revolt.

But Yemen and Afghanistan were new to me. And come December, a hike into Mali, where the Turang and Timbuktu should be eye openers. So three new and three old add to six extraordinary trips for 2008.

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