Yesterday was another travel adventure! Now that I’m leaving, I finally feel like I’ve ‘got it’ in the sense that I feel confident about navigating this country sola. Last night, I caught a bus from Montañita to La Libertad, operating under the knowledge that two buses leave from La Libertad/Salinas overnight to Quito. Unfortunately, when I arrived and was taxied around to the different bus cooperatives I learned that ‘no hay paisaje.’ Well shucks. Unfazed (I’m telling you, once I get back to the states and things start happening more or less like I plan and anticipate, I’m going to be confused) I caught a bus to Guayaquil, and from Guayaquil an overnight to Quito. I arrived bright and early at 4:30 this morning, disembarked in an unknown location, and had a helpful taxi man take me to a cheap hotel I could rest in/drop my stuff off for the day while I wait for my midnight flight.
Things here always unexpectedly work out just fine. Last night, I was a little bit nervous. I arrived when it was dark in a big city I didn’t know, I had no idea what I was going to do until it was light out (or for the 16 hours until I had to get to the airport). Luck would have it I got off in a good area of Quito within walking distance to the coffee shop I was wanting to visit, the charming Coffee Academy where I am currently typing. Y’all–I’ve had a sandwich, a latte, and a mocha. I’m just really enjoying sitting here, and I have about six hours to kill until I get a taxi to the airport.
Now that I’m leaving, I have time to reflect on my summer–what I was anticipating, how it ended up, my different cultural experiences. This post I’m going to focus on my packing list, and what I wish I had brought and what I wish I hadn’t. I actually did a pretty good job packing, and didn’t end up with too much extraneous luggage and didn’t lack for much.
First, what did I not need or use?
My Eno Hammock and Straps. Didn’t use it once, surprisingly!
My mosquito net I don’t regret bringing this, as I easily could have ended up living farther out from the city center and needed a net. It just happened that I didn’t end up requiring one.
My sleeping bag + liner Similarly to the mosquito net, there are literally dozens of scenarios in which I would have needed my sleeping bag, the stars just never aligned to bust it out of the bag.
Too many swimsuits. Somehow I brought three? I don’t know how this happened. One, at most two, would have been more than sufficient.
My yellow rain boots I ended up purchasing black boots that were so much better than my rainboots. My rain boots ended up breaking, slipping, and causing me lots of pain and angst on my hikes. NOT ADEQUATE. The black ones I bought cost me less than $10.
What do I wish I had brought?
Nicer clothing Really! I didn’t know what to expect, and so I brought a lot of athletic clothing, apparel to hike in, simple cotton dresses, and very (what I thought was) practical clothing. I wish I had brought a few going out dresses, nicer shirts, and more clothing to look good and put together. I ended up purchasing clothing while here because often, I just didn’t measure up!
More makeup Similarly to the above, I brought the minimum and while luckily I was living with someone my age who had an abunnndance of makeup. But when I was traveling, I was limited to my very simple make up bag. I ended up going out much more often than I anticipated, and should have brought more.
Warmer clothing In the Orient, I was just fine. When I went to visit my friends in the Sierra, I was SUFFERING. I should have brought a few nice sweaters and a few nice jackets, rather than just a big sweatshirt that, again, made me look less put together than those I was with.
A purse/tote bag I only had my big backpack and my little backpack. I should have brought a good tote bag and a small purse–I ended up borrowing my host sister’s purse for most of the summer, and finally buying one to use when I left. A great shoulder bag and tote bag also would have been essential and made me stick out less as a traveling gringo.
Sufficient toiletries for the whole summer While I bought more shampoo, conditioner, soap, and contact solution, I was hankering for ‘my’ brands. Liquid soap isn’t a thing here, the shampoo and conditioner weren’t what I like to use, and finding contact solution is extremely difficult. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had just brought enough for the two and a half months I was here.
More shoes A nice pair of flats would have been invaluable, especially as here finding shoes in larger sizes (9 1/2) can be difficult.
What are some of your travel essentials? What is the worst thing you’ve ever either brought or forgotten?
- Montañita (pronounced mon-ta-nnnii-ta) (partysouthamerica.com)