Today I sent home five and a half kilos removed from my pack. Shirts, shorts, hiking boots, my shaving kit, a beach towel. Cost me about $50 and will take at least a week longer to get home than it will take me.

I could offer all sorts of reasons why this was a good idea, but I don’t think it was. Five and a half kilos, 12 pounds, was not breaking my back. The pack has wheels, after all, and could have taken another pound or two if that were rolled tight(ly). I’ve done most of my traveling by bus, with the bag down in the cargo hold.

So, there was little justification. We’ll just accept that. I sent the stuff home because I want to be without it. Instead of what I felt when first packing, that I shouldn’t be without it.

Boquete was the first place I could ship from, after this thought expressed itself. It even has a Mail Boxes Etc., which made it quite easy.

Some things weren’t being used, and wouldn’t be. They offended me every time I had to unpack them to find something I did need and included: Two brown shirts perfect for camping in Oregon. Two pairs of black shorts, perfect for back-to-back nights on the town, if I chose not to wear the long black pants with one of the two black shirts. I’ve not been “on the town” once, and have no need for three just-in-case outfits.

A beach towel I’d used twice, once as a towel and once as a beach mat. It didn’t work really well for either task. I bought a smaller towel, this one absorbent, just right for finishing off a shower. I will buy a beach cloth; smooth and synthetic, light and compressible, a print that doesn’t pick up sand between nubs of terry cloth for deposit in whatever room I stay.

My shaving kit: I have two, one-gallon, Zip Loc freezer bags, one for daily toiletries and the other for first aid. I have two more, empty, as back up. I can see through them for what I need, instead of rooting around in a black kit with smallish pockets for the one thing that’s never in the pocket I’m looking in.

The toughest decision was seeing off my hiking boots. But I’m not going up the side of a volcano — that’s something I do at home in Oregon. The trails here are not exactly roughing it, and though the pavement is often broken, snakes are not streaming from the gutter. Still, these are my feet! What if they need protection?

I had been strapping my rain shell and warm fleece on the outside of my pack; I’ve moved them inside.

I’ve changed plans, too. This actually felt like sending my hiking boots away. I was going to head down to Panama City, catch a ride through the Panama Canal. But it’s an eight-hour bus ride to Panama City. Then I would end up, after eight hours, in Panama City. I’ve spent a day or two there before, and don’t feel like it this trip.

Finally, going eight hours south takes me eight hours farther from where I lift-off, in San Jose to the north. Even though that’s nearly two weeks away, that’s adding 16 hours on the road and back, only to David, with another eight hours from David to San Jose, to go someplace I’m not that excited about.

I’m going to the Caribbean.

I will wander up the coast in Costa Rica, taking as long as I want in any place that’s more fun than I anticipated. Bocas del Toro is quite nice, I hear, and except for maybe 20 minutes, I’ve seen it only from the sea. At the end of the trip, I will have pretty much circled Costa Rica, leaving a couple of pockets for next time.

So, along with unnecessary items from my bag, I’ve removed the weight of doing something because I thought once I would do it, not because it’s something I want to do now.

Boquete has been a great break from the heat. I got a massage, have seen some fantastic flowers in a gorgeous mountain community, met some nice people. Today I actually had to put on a jacket. I didn’t send the jacket back, even though I’d only worn it once. Some things I keep, just to be prepared.

Everything is quite compact, now, light and tossable. It feels good to know it’s not too much, yet everything I need.

About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon
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2 Responses to Shedding

  1. Erik Dolson says:

    from: Jeff Zurschmeide
    to: Erik

    I did that with some of my stuff in Belize, too – except I gave it away – nothing there worth the price of sending it home. Perhaps it was forethought that I did my pre-trip shopping at Goodwill?

    Plus, it left more room for bringing home a colorful Guatemalan hammock, some recodah spices, and three liters of fine Belizean rum.

    Thanks especially for this:

    So, along with unnecessary items from my bag, I’ve removed the weight of doing something because I thought once I would do it, not because it’s something I want to do now.

    I’m carrying that with me to Spain.

  2. Erik Dolson says:

    Thanks, Jeff.
    I’m going to snorkel the reef of an outer island tomorrow, instead of spending a day on the bus. That’s the beauty of this kind of travel. We used to call it “Zen bumbling:” Finding the right path without intention, being open to fortuitous accidents.

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