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Current Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

09.10.07

Price of beer in a bottle: No earthly idea, though I’m sure it would offend me.
Song currently stuck in my head: Get Innocuous! (LCD)

I’m sitting in relative luxury, hanging out at [name withheld]’s parent’s house
for a few days before we drive back to Chicago.  Since my last update
I’ve pretty much just hung out in Buenos Aires, walking, shopping,
museum visiting and contemplating poisoning some pizza to leave in the
fridge for whoever has been stealing our food.

In retrospect:

Garlic may or may not repel mosquitoes.  I was quadruple dosing on
garlic pills in South America, trying to reach that point where you
begin sweating garlic.  That’s supposed to do the trick.
Unfortunately there weren’t many sweaty, mosquito infested areas in
South America.  Inconclusive.

Nalgene bottles are to American backpackers as maple leaf patches are
to Canadians.  Nearly all Americans carry them and almost no one else
does.  This was pointed out to me often.  I don’t advocate Nalgene
usage (though I carried two), but I also don’t shy away from this
image.

Best items:

My Honduran knock-off crocs- they look ridiculous but are comfortable
and indestructible.  After initially breaking them in I could wear
them for hours of hiking without issue.  I destroyed a pair of sandals
and a pair of water shoes and discarded a pair of hiking sandals that
rubbed my feet raw any time they got wet.  The crocs took 6 months of
abuse and don’t appear to have aged much at all.  Only being left in a
180 degree sauna for hours harmed them at all, and it only slightly
reshaped them and they had to be broken in again.

Airseal packing bags- you fill these with clothes and then squeeze the
air out of them, decreasing the size by about half.  A must have,
these let you carry a smaller bag, add almost no weight, and segregate
the dirty and smelly from the fresh and clean while keeping all of
your clothes safe from spills in the bag.  Also, since most body odor
is caused by decaying bacteria the bags tend to make smelly close
smell less when removed (the lack of air inhibits the decay, I
believe).

Gladware- anything that you do with a ziplock I did with gladware.
It’s can be easier to pack and doesn’t puncture or leak as easily.

Aerosol sunscreen- I’ve raved about enough already.  Bulletproof.

Ugly, beat up duffle bag- used at my friend Scott’s suggestion in
place of my more expensive, shinier backpack.  The first thing my
Belizean friends said when the picked my up in Mexico was “you look
like a local” (not a native, mind you, but a local gringo running
errands or taking a weekend trip).  Cabbies hassled me less, as did
everyone else.  The big bright backpack often screams “naive gringo
with money to lose”, and even when you’re savvy and broke it attracts
the annoying attention of those who would profit from the naive and
careless.  Plus my bag was much, much less likely to be stolen from a
baggage hold on a bus, train, or plane.  It was the crappies bag in
the bin.

Padlock- a good padlock is worth the added weight (which is
substantial).  I used this everywhere and it’s 10 times safer than a
lesser padlock (in persuasiveness) or one provided by a hostel (in
access restriction).

Slax- portable linux for secure computing when financial accounts
needed to be accessed.  The bootable USB stick was a pain, too few
machines could boot to it, but a burned CD was a breeze.

Less impressive items-

Rough Guide Central America/ Rough Guide South America- Terrible.
I’ve used great guides from this publisher before, but these condensed
guides were abysmal.  The organization was inconsistent, essential
info like bus and train info was omitted.

Moisturizer- taken for high altitude dry climates, never needed.
Sunscreen would have done the trick had a trick needed to be done.

Too much DEET- I took way, way too much insect repellent… Over 4Xs
too much.  98% DEET goes a long, long way.

I’ll be sorting and collecting photos over the next few weeks and will
email when they’re available.  Attached are a couple of current
favorites.

Take care everybody

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