Friday, June 24, 2011

Thievery: Pick-pocketed in Peru

I felt the hand in my bag the moment it happened. Adrenaline kicked in and I spun around. ¨Who was it?¨ I screamed into the crowd. I was angry and there had been witnesses. A woman pointed and we began to run. The crowd was moving quickly in both directions. It was useless.

I didn´t start to cry until 10 minutes later. My passport and wallet were safe in my bag. It could have been worse. But still, my camera and all my pictures of our trek--one of the best experiences of my life--were gone. I didn´t even care about the camera--it was just the memory card I wanted.

But it was just pictures. The camera can be replaced and the memories can´t be stolen.

And yet, I feel violated and unsafe. (I´m usually so careful, so vigilant. I mean, I´ve travelled to over 20 countries. I´ve worked in the developing world. In hostels, I sleep with my purse in my arms. I carry minimal amounts of cash. I lock my backpack in crowds. I always walk with my purse in front of me with a hand on top. Except for that one moment, the one I wish I could have back.)

I still can´t shake the feeling of the phantom hand. I´ve been reminded that yes, it can happen to even me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peru: Packing the Essentials

I love travelling, but I despise packing. In fact, writing this blog post is just another excuse to procrastinate from acknowledging the mess of bungee cords, clothespins, clothes and toiletries that are strewn across my bed.

There's a couple of packing challenges specific to my upcoming Peruvian adventure; I'm bringing a sleeping bag and Therm-a-Rest, my bag can't exceed 20lbs (we've hired a porter for our trek) and I'm going to be experiencing a range of weather conditions between Cusco and Lima. Luckily, in preparation for my Guyana trips last fall, I invested in some quality backpacking equipment, which makes things a bit easier.

After 10 year of travelling I finally have packing down to a bit of science. Regardless of the final destination, here's what you can always find in my bag:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chic Savvy Travels

When I first moved to Toronto, Vawn Himmelsbach was a huge inspiration to me. Ten years before I did it, she did it first. Originally from Cold Lake, Vawn moved to Toronto to study journalism in 1995 at Ryerson. Like me, she wrote for McClung's Magazine and the Ryerson Review of Journalism. And like me, she is an avid traveller.

In 2004, I interviewed her for a first-year newspaper reporting assignment. Here's what she told me then:

“I’m just going to be incredibly persistent. I'm going to do more travel writing and writing about women’s issues.”

Vawn's followed through on this promise. In January 2011, along with fellow adventurer Tanya Enberg, she launched Chic Savvy Travels: A Backpackers Guide for Grown-Ups. Check it out and don't forget to take a look at their amazing contests.

As for me, it's only been a couple of months since I returned from my Louisiana and Texas roadtrip, but I'm already packing my bag again. Peru, here I come!
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