This may seem obvious to the well "seasoned" traveler, but it's a simple thing that we sometimes forget: be prepared for the unexpected to happen. Quickly, dramatically. This year has been full of big changes, altered plans, or unexpected events: a blizzard during spring break in the Eastern Sierras, our "funemployment", getting married, typhoid fever, and so on.
How does the toilet paper fit in? I was taking an overnight bus from Santiago to Mendoza. We hit the border at the middle of the night. I opened my pack to find that my kilo of yogurt had exploded. While the other passengers were waiting impatiently for their bags to be searched, I was frantically cleaning out my gooey mess with the only thing I had: half a roll of toilet paper. Within minutes I had a shimmering white pyramid of globular goodness, 20 centimeter tall and uncomfortably sticky. Luckily I was able to clean my pack well enough to pass security, though the guard didn't like that I was taking garlic across the border.
Bombtastic yogurt was a small surprise that toilet paper was able to fix. The day earlier, however, I had learned that my mom had to cancel her flight to Chile. She tore a tendon in her leg and was going in for surgery and would then have crutches for 6 weeks. We were looking forward to this trip for 6 months, specifically, but a whole life of dreaming. K. and I were crushed. I can't even imagine what my mom was going through. We'll meet somewhere else, hopefully still in South America, but for now it's too hard to believe that I won't be spending the holidays with my mom.
(Mom: These horses are waiting to take us through the Andes. Just let me know when you can visit!)
At the same time, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, I got news that my good friend Piero was coming to visit us in Mendoza. He is an Italian friend who had spent a year studying in Davis. That year we was filled with many an evening eating and drinking wine, and most weekends in the outdoors. He is currently working in Bolivia but is going home for the holidays. With only a few days of advance notice he was able to get a short flight to Mendoza. Thanks Piero!
Both stories make me glad that K. and I are taking the big leap and spending this time traveling. You just never know what tomorrow brings. Really, to take the leap was hard, but now that we're in mid-air I hope to keep floating. I can't even think of landing.