My desire to see the world and live in other cultures was considered a little strange sixty years ago. Not so any more. It’s all the rage and I’m tickled pink. My unofficial granddaughter, an artist extraordinaire, Jenny Vitello, is landing, as I write, in Nairobi, Kenya, and will be spending the next ten months as a volunteer with Global Vision International. She will work in villages as well as do oceanic research. Her headquarters will be in Shimoni, Kenya…a stone’s throw from the Tanzanian border. In fact, on a clear day she can see Mt. Kilimanjaro! In the next months I may send on some tidbits about Jen’s work, but in the meantime, if you’re interested in the scope of the project check out their blog:
A couple of months ago Jen came to me for advice on what to take and what not to take. Having made two world backpacking trips and dozens of other assorted journeys and treks, I have the reputation for being brutal when it comes to packing. I wear my heavy climbing boots, one pair of thin, easy-dry hiking pants, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a polar fleece. You certainly won’t need the latter in equatorial Africa when you arrive (except at night), but have you ever tried to sleep on an airplane these days when there’s a shortage of blankets? This leaves a minimum of undergarments (two bras, two pair of panties, four pairs of socks, including two smart wool, a pair of shorts, a couple of T-shirts, one acting as a nightie, and a minimum—absolute minimum!—of toiletries. You can buy extras of any of these things, which you probably will enjoy as mementos on your return).
Of course there will be a huge list from the leaders of any travel enterprise but the one thing I always stress is: DO NOT LOAD YOURSELF DOWN!! No matter how beautiful you may be, very seldom do you find a handsome man willing to cart your stuff for you. Chivalry is not dead, but it is on the wane big time. I stopped carrying my house on my back about twelve years ago when I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in a plate glass window in a tiny town in Tasmania. I was almost bent double from an overloaded pack and I had a small duffel in one hand and a huge camera case in the other. You’re out of your mind, I said to myself, and that’s when I came up with travel rule #1: Put everything you think you must take on your bed, look at it for a long time, and take half.
Jenny will do just fine. She’s smart and she’s incredibly organized. But she will have to learn the hard way that carrying eight tubes of sunscreen and a barrel of Deet, even if you are blonde and fair-skinned, is a little over the top. I told her that she should have bought the edible kind, so she could feed it to the fish rather than carry it back home. But, hey, she’s prone to mosquito bites, hates the thought of malaria, and sunburns like a slice of bacon. So who am I to judge? Good luck, fair damsel.