As I travel from Buenos Aires to Santiago in the coming weeks I'll be on my feet much of the time, and so I am working to minimize the size and weight of my luggage. Today I packed the bare essentials, which took two bags. Yet while neither is full, I am re-examining the essentials to see if maybe they aren't essential after all.
I can see me, at the end of a long hot day, walking from the bus station in search of the hotel, in a country where I don't speak the language. When I doing this I'll value feel every pound I left behind.
The left one in the picture, an old Jansport backpack, has been to Peru and a few times to Europe. It contains clothes and books. The right is new REI carry on with toiletries and electronics. Most of the weight is from the two guidebooks (Argentina and Chile), novel, D800E, 24-120, 10.5, 35, and 50. I think I might get a tablet before my next trip so I can ditch the books.
If I ditched the camera (or switched to a mirror-less) I could get it all in one carry on bag. But I'm not ready to give up the dslr; I've yet to read a review of a mirrorless body that left me tempted.
Back to packing. The hardest decision, harder than choosing a lens, is choosing the one novel that gets to accompany me. (I'm madly readfing the last 150 pages of Anna Karenina which is too, too big to carry.) The novel must be a small old paperback, of course. I've narrowed the choice down to Sense and Sensibility, Great Expectations, or In Patagonia.
Paris is always a good idea. Audrey Hepburn
Should one avoid a place because it's associated with violence? And if if so, what's left? But before I look for those places that are left I've decided to revisit places I've been. (And note that I'm jumping over lots of history; this isn't comprehensive, just what comes to mind.)
I'll start with the most recent place, Bali. It's had a bombing or two recently, then prior to that battles between pro- and anti- communists, and then before that were occupations by the Japanese and before that the Dutch.
Spain. I passed through Madrid's Atocha station several times, a bomb target not long ago. I marveled at Picasso's Guernica (the fascist Franco) and read about the Inquisition.
I've ridden London's underground, which has been bombed. I've also been to Paris, Istanbul, and Nice, all sites of recent attacks. Of course there are reminders of the Nazis in much of Europe and of communist occupations in the east, such as Prague. And while in South America I saw monuments to the disappeared in Argentina and Chile. The list of places with a violent history just goes on and on.
As to the US, I lived in Boston (marathon bomber), Madison (UW bomber), and traveled to NYC (9/11) and DC (ditto).
And I can't forget Texas. Netflix recently reminded me of this act of violence when they dropped a movie about my high school friend Garth, his mom Madalyn, and his sister Robin. It's their story, most of it is in Austin, and it ends with their murders.
Also in Austin, but going back a bit, on 1 August 1966 I was with my family driving to the university when we found ourselves a mere car length from people crouching in fear of Charles Whitman's bullets raining down from the tower above. (We were shielded by a building.) A mass murder that dominated headlines at the time but now seems rather ho hum.
And, still in Texas, there was 22 November, 1963. My father was on his way home, stuck in Dallas traffic. A cool fall day, he had his windows down when he heard the distinct sounds of gunshots echo through downtown.
I'm thinking I shouldn't worry.