For the next 7 weeks, I'll be screeching around by freezer-cooled buses through the traveler hotspots of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, updating Lonely Planet's South America guide and smiling sweetly when people tell me what a charmed carefree life I lead. After multiple days/weeks/months of bluffing my way past bored front desk clerks so I can check out rooms, explaining to suspicious shopkeepers why I'm writing down their opening hours and racing across town to get into museums before they close, the charm can feel a little thin.
Here are a few things random items I've squished into my backpack:
- a SteriPen, which magically kills all water nasties (no more buying overpriced bottled water!)
- fistfuls of non-recalled granola bars I scavenged after the recent salmonella scare
- my dive mask, newly tricked out with prescription lenses
- two pounds of pecans for the friend I'll be visiting in Caracas (supposedly he can't find them there)
- a groovy-green edition of writings by the 18th century Orinoco River explorer Alexander von Humboldt