I always have some level of anxiety before trips, regardless of the mode of travel or the distance covered.
In my latter college days, I was nervous about flying to Los Angeles. I hadn't boarded a jet since my first time flying (a 1997 chartered flight to Mexico). My uneasiness grew as I passed through security and took my seat in the back of the plane. It wasn't until We were taxiing on the tarmac when I remembered another aerial incident -- flying around Wichita in a tiny Cessna piloted by my friend, the newly licensed Nathan. I'd swooped over wheatfields in a teenage-helmed prop, but now I was nervous about a flight on Southwest Airlines? My pulse dropped as soon as my memory kicked in.
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On February 2, I leave for a two-week tour of Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. I would be too terrified to move were it not for the stoic leadership of Matt, my experienced traveling partner and trip planner. In fact, if either of us knew ANY Spanish, I'd be completely relaxed. As is, I'm only mildly concerned. My anxiety is largely subconscious, manifesting itself in two consecutive nightmares wherein my wallet was stolen.
A few weeks ago, Kim's dad asked, "What's in Uruguay?". I interpreted his question as "Why are you going there?". I didn't really know what to tell him. I find myself pushed south of the equator by seemingly independent forces. First, I was roundly chided by Barbara, Kris, Karsten, Nathan, et al for lacking a passport, so I got a passport. Then, Matt canceled his escape to India and made plans for several smaller vacations. For some reason, Matt was intrigued by Uruguay, and suggested the trip. I never imagined myself in South America, but is anyone really AGAINST the idea of Uruguay? And when you look at a map of the continent, doesn't Chile look like a neat place? And isn't Argentina between those two countries?
I had finally built up a comfortable level of vacation leave at work. My finances were adequate. I was still young, unmarried, with no kids -- at the time the trip was confirmed, I wasn't even dating anyone. I was relatively healthy.
The trip was unavoidable, a rare instance when the logical thing to do was also the most pleasurable thing possible.
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Lest you forget, both Matt (an esteemed member of the Literati) and I are experienced traveloguers. Who knows what updates we'll provide for you? It could range from nothing, to a paragraph from an internet cafe, to a album of photos or even a video (we're armed with both a videocamera and a standard digital point-and-shoot). We're laptopless, so any substantial pieces of prose, such as a full-blown running diary of an in-flight movie, are likely to be posted only after our return.
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Here's how I expect to enjoy each locale, from most enjoyable to least:
Iguazu Falls - unless we get malaria, this can't miss
Montevideo - "I guess we could just head over to the ocean."
Valparaiso - Ibid, minus all the grilled meat
Buenos Aires - delicious alfajores vs. skilled pickpockets
Santiago - possible smog
And you already know what Matt thinks about the itinerary.
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Should I never make it back, please make a big deal out of it. And please water my plant.