It seems like a lifetime ago when Tyler and I were running around collecting things to bring on our trip. I just clicked back to the old post I wrote about what sort of electronic gadgetry I wasn´t going to be able to live without and am shaking my head in disbelief. Slowly but surely Tyler and are dropping weight out of our packs, something small is given or thrown away in most of the stops we´ve made. I´ve already dumped about a third of my clothes, and most of those electronics are far more trouble than they are worth.
First of all, the shiny new Palm Pilot (with detachable keyboard) I bought as my computer subsistute hasn´t worked out nearly as well as I´d hoped. I wrote a couple e-mails and a little story on it mostly to prove that it was doable. The trouble is the tiny little screen, while readable, isn´t something I found myself wanting to spend an evening staring at. So far we´ve run across a plethora of inexpensive internet cafes along the way (now I´m paying, roughly, $0.50 per hour), so if I feel the urge it´s easy to take my time writing and pondering on a big screen connected to the whole world. Worrying about few hundred dollars of delicate and expensive electronics is far more trouble than it´s worth. Thats why I was almost relieved when it stopped working (the battery instantly discharges) so I don´t have to feel bad about tossing it.
The MP3 Player, on the other hand, started this journey very loved but quickly caused the most divisive sibling conlfict of this whole trip. The vast majority of non-live music down here is recycled 80s pop. Old school Madonna, ABBA, and Michael Jackson are very much at the peak of their careers down here and are played constantly. I have a daydream of meeting a Latin American Radio DJ and telling them "Greetings Earthling, I am a visitor from the future and in order to prove it Í´ll make some predictions. One day there will be this band that changes the face of contemporary music. They will be called Nirvana and ...". There is, of course, a fair amount of Latin American music on Latin American radio, sometimes half of the airplay if you´re lucky. But at least half of that is the song "Gasolina" by the Daddy Yankees. It´s a catchy little dance song that I´ve heard is slowly coming to the US and Europe. Here it´s played constantly, hourly on most radio stations, booming from bars and on repeat out of the HUGE speakers set up by most of the sidewalk CD vendors. I´m not really complaining (ok, maybe a little) but it was nice to occasionally be able to sit back with our 40GB MP3 player and dial in any music we missed as we drifted off to sleep or sat reading a book.
But then, one fine evening, Tyler reformatted the whole $%&/ing hard drive. Puta Merde! We went from having all the music either of us have ever owned or loved instantly accessible to having to look after a small but heavy expensive electronic brick. The fact that both of Brothers MacAllen lived through Tyler telling me about the disaster means that we´ll be able to get along for this whole trip and beyond.
Now we`re looking forward to mailing a bunch of things back to NY to lighten our packs a bit. As well as the above gadgetry we´ve both started using the detachable top of our rucksacks rather than bulky daypacks to carry things throughout the day. The GPS has yet to prove handy, but I´m holding onto it in the hope that one day it´ll help us out when we´re hopelessly lost.
There is a bit of gear I put together along these travels which has proved invaluable. I got a little zippered pouch and a woven cord for a couple dollars from an 8 year old master saleswomen with big brown eyes. I strung some stuff I came down with on it and use it to carry day to day money (I carry my normal wallet in my back pocket while travelling as a decoy). There is a little flashlight, a compass, a Leatherman plier-pocket knife, all clipped onto my belt loop with a carrabiner. This little kit has yet to be more than 5ft from my body since I put it together and I´ve easily used it more than the $1,000 worth of advanced electronics (save my Camera) I´ve been hoofing around all combined. Live and learn.