I’ve been living out of a backpack for three years. Sleeping on couches, having adventures, being unfortunately poor, and man-handling jet lag.
The following is the final part a three part series on hitting the road! Read Part I here.
When I first started writing this part I spent weeks dreaming up all the tips and tricks on how to travel successfully. Here are the highlights:
+Have a bit of a plan and be prepared to drop it at a moments notice.
+Pack as close to nothing as possible. Save yourself the hassle of checking a bag.
+Talk to strangers, as many as will listen. Tell them what you need, they’ll help you get it. Be mysterious, they dig it.
+Be the last one on the airplane and sit in whatever seat is available. No one will bother you. Be the first one off the plane to avoid the line at customs.
+Bring something to comfort you. My staple is a 1 lb bar of belgian chocolate. It also makes a good present for the people who will comfort you even more.
+Do not judge, accept everything and everyone for who and what they are.
+Live in the moment. The past is long gone, the future is a mystery.
However, that’s only the distillation of thousands of words from the definitive “how to guide” that was supposed to give you some insight on how to get around effectively. I scrapped the whole thing after the third draft. Why? I realized that the document was essentially me bragging about my ability to find myself in incredibly unique situations. In order for that to happen it takes something entirely different…
Story time? I think yes!
There is no way to prepare for the moment a panamanian drug dealer stops you and in perfect english explains how “you will be killed if you go any further” because of the gang infestation down the road. I cannot further describe what kind of either stupidity or intuition it took to then ask, “Can I have a tour?” of said neighborhood. After years of dealing with strangers I felt he was okay simply by the way he looked me in my eyes. “You want to go down there?” he asked. “Yup.” He looked me up and down, laughed, then called me crazy.
Most every drainage grate and manhole cover was missing as we criss crossed through alley way after street corner “They sell em for scrap. It’s good money.” The gangbangers stood on street corners like vultures, my guide yelled in spanish to each of them as they stared me down. I couldn’t exactly tell if he was saying “he’s cool” or “don’t worry I’m going to bash his head and steal his wallet”.
“In that house the biggest drug lord was killed a few weeks ago” he pointed down a street with row after row of collapsed apartments. “Down that street a Canadian girl was raped. Stupid tourist.” He spit. “I’ve killed some people too. You got to. It’s how you survive.” I nodded my head, almost approvingly, as if I hear that kind of thing every day.
We stopped at the Central American equivalent of Kentucky Fried Chicken, I bought him some deep fried liver. He squeezed hot sauce into the bag, squished it around, and then dug in with his grime covered fingers. He took me to a bar where the girl commanding the front door didn’t make eye contact. “She’s cheap. She’ll suck your dick for ten bucks.” We wandered around, the whole place was lit in blue. He yelled at some of his friends in spanish. We passed the girl again as we walked out. “Ten bucks man…”
When he took me back to my original destination I gave him 5 dollars and he as he folded the bill to put it into his tattered jeans he looked at me, “You’re fearless kid.” I responded, “nah, I’m just an idiot- thanks for not selling me into slavery.”
Let go. See where life takes you. You’ll always be surprised.
This is the final part of a three part series. Read Part I here: Why Haven’t You Left Yet?.