Is 'Backpacker Geek' an oxymoron? We shall soon find out, because I'm afraid I'm becoming one.
When I first started backpacking in Europe in '96 I proudly wore gigantic frame pack with full camping gear, a couple weeks worth of clothes, a small library of books, several pairs of shoes, a CD player and a few dozen CDs. I saw people trembling in awe at my skinny body with a small house strapped to its back strolling through narrow ancient streets. It was only a later I realized they were suppressing their peals of laughter.
Since then, every successive trip found me carrying less and less. The external frame pack shrank and then didn't have quite so much hanging off of it. Then it became an internal frame bag, then a smaller one, and then even that wasn't full. And finally I to a point where I could comfortably do a month with a pack the size of a large book-bag.
But since, my undeniable geek nature has reared it's head. I've now got a slew of electronics that I feel should join us on the journey: a GPS, a digital camera or two, an Iriver MP3 Player (and recorder/radio/Harddrive), and a couple walkie-talkies. And then, if all of this is to be documented to you, my dear reader, we'll need someway to write and post along the way. There should be plenty of internet cafes, but they don't help out so much with the posting pictures or do anything we'll need to run programs on. If you'd like to see pictures from the road, alas, we'll need some way to do some sort of downloading and editing. Which, I'm reluctant to admit, might be to bring my tiny 12" powerbook computer.
On one hand it'd be great, and much easier to write, tweak photos and make this blog groovy from a tiny cabana in the mountains during the regular afternoon thunderstorms (has anyone else noticed we'll be in Central America during hurricane season?).. But then, of course, are the myriad of issues with traveling with a delicate, heavy and expensive piece of hardware. As we'll be traveling simply in a developing country we'll likely not often be able to leave stuff safely at the hostel or campground. Which means we'll need to have it on us most of the time. And as much fun as it sounds to carry a five pound block of burnished aluminum to a beach or a danceclub it doesn't exactly follow my minimilistic budget backpacker ethic of yore.
So my backpacking hippy and geeking engineer personas are engaged in a psychic battle to the death over the contents of my backpack.