Packing Light

Are you pondering upon what to pack?  Well, if you’re a backpacker and plan to be forced into roughing it unexpectedly now and then, packing light could prove to be a godsend.

It’s often that we witness backpackers with huge packs gnawing into their spines, while they perspire profusely, slowly moping up a mild incline feeling like they want to collapse.  Drifting or vagabonding ought not to be reminiscent of military boot camp.

While in Ecuador just over a decade go, I was with my worn out red backpack that a sibling got via Marlboro miles a couple of years prior.  I’d ripped the Marlboro patch off, giving the pack a wonderfully generic appearance.  The light backpack easily draped over my mid to lower back area.  It consisted of one set of clothes, a bar of laundry soap, a mini cosmetic kit, flashlight, notebook, black ink pen and Andean night gear.  In many areas of Andean South America, the nights can be bitterly cold, necessitating a jacket, gloves and hat.   Otherwise I had with me my awe, wonder and excitement, which I’d deemed was better than any material crap that may have been cramping my freedom.

After crossing the border into Ecuador from Colombia by foot, I’d purchased a bus ticket for Quito, the capital, about five hours though Andean Ecuador.   While way out in a rolling rural landscape, about two hours into the relatively comfortable bus journey, I heard the man say in a rather serious tone:

We’re turning around and going back.  There is no way that we can go farther.   Either you get off the bus or you come back.”

I was in a state of innocuous shock thinking: I’ve got to get to Quito.  I don’t want to go back to that border town.

Even the most remote idea seemed completely absurd; thus, with my trusty red, generic backpack dangling so gently on my back, I intuitively waltzed off the bus.

The air was rancid.  I saw gigantic boulders and burning tires juxtaposed, forming a blockade of the already narrow, two-lane highway road.   There was absolutely no way the semi-luxurious, full-sized bus could get around such a hilly blockage surrounded by mountainous forest.

I easily walked around the pathetic mess, seemingly unnoticed by the 25 or so semi-disgruntled looking protesters.  After about 50-meters, there was a flat stretch of narrow road.  I gleefully walked along easily in bright daylight, with the majestic mountains all to myself.

Roughly 45 minutes later a small, rickety, peasant bus pulled up.  The conductor, for perhaps the one-hundredth time that day, hollered out:


I hopped on, found a seat and practiced Spanish for three hours or so until we arrived in Quito.  Thanks to packing light, I’m able to recall a wonderfully unique and real life travel episode.


2 responses to this post.

  1. DAVID: Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. It was good to talk to you the other day.
    I can’t wait to follow you as you roam the earth.
    I enjoy your writings!
    May the roads rise to you in 2011.
    Best regards,


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