Sunday, 10 January 2010

Extension cord

Today, sitting on a bench in Sucre's central park, I realized that our once novel method of unplanned travel is now months old. Since August, once or twice or thrice a week, we've arrived in a new city and found a new home, if only for the night. It used to be a bit scary, now it's just routine. It usually takes half an hour or so, sometimes less.

The routine continues after we've found a place. We shoulder our packs and walk to the hotel or hostel or guesthouse. We hand over photocopies of our passports and ask what time they serve breakfast, verify that the promised price still stands. We enter our room and each of us attends to our duties without discussion: Ewelina unpacks the soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toilet-paper (if the hotel hasn't provided us with any). I look for a socket and plug in our laptops, charge batteries for our camera, find a hiding place for our passports. Then we check how comfy the bed is and have a hug to celebrate reaching a new place.

But one the thing I've noticed about my part in this little routine, is I wouldn't be able to complete it without the crappy three-socket extension cord we bought in Mexico. It's white, ugly, about 2 meters long. It has American-style sockets and prongs; sometimes I have to use an adapter to plug it in. It always spits nasty sparks at me when I plug my laptop in.

I remember feeling a bit silly when I bought it, and Ewelina accepted the purchase only because it was cheap enough that we wouldn't feel bad about throwing it away. Except we never did. What kind of backpackers carry an extension cord around with them, from one hemisphere to another and across a whole continent?

Apparently, the Ewelina and Bjarni kind. It's one of very few things that we actually use everywhere, every single day. It's right up there with toilet paper!

And yet, I'm sure, extension cords aren't on any Lonely Planet packing list. I've never heard sage travelers warning neophyte backpackers to never leave home without their trusty extension cord. I'm carrying rolls of untouched dental floss, based on guide-book's advice, but the silly white cable I use every day still feels a bit like an uninvited stowaway.

But there it is, stretched out on the floor, enabling this blog post, a Youtube sound-track and charging batteries for tomorrow's amateur photography. It's been with us since Mexico and I expect we won't say goodbye until the airport in Rio.

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The past!