When planning for a trip, you can generally find packing suggestions, day trip recommendations, and little tricks people have picked up along the way. No matter what information there might be, it’s clear that there are some things that slip my under the radar, and, whether they were mentioned or not, such items are now absent or scarce. In my couple weeks here, these are the things I’m realizing I probably should have thought about more thoroughly:
I just don’t think about this as often. In the States, I generally do not carry around an excess of coins, and I dislike dollar coins. So when they told me to bring smaller denominations, I thought of $10s and $5s. Luckily I brought a couple rolls of quarters and dollar coins, because I would otherwise be SoL. Bills work, but the general preference is for coins under five dollars. The change will be in coins, and the paper bills quickly seem like a nuisance. In the future, when they suggest small denominations, ask how small.
I am going to have to just buy a solid re-useable one. I should have brought one, but I figured it would be easier to find a semi-solid one here. The benefit of a water bottle is that you have portable water! This is quite useful anywhere, but particularly at an altitude of 9 000 feet above sea level at the equator.
Side suggestion: Bring drink powders, or buy some. Water is great, but after a point, it gets to be boring. Particularly when it is completely filtered and plain water (sorry, Colorado water snob coming through), it can be difficult to convince yourself to drink enough water. If you have to, bring some sort of flavoring or water enhancement just to make it more interesting. Besides, maybe then you’ll clean the water bottle sometimes.
Sweats and sweatshirt
I always forget that I spend time at the house or relaxing as well. For some reason, I decided not to bring sweats or an extra sweatshirt. It didn’t occur to me that it gets cold in Quito at night, and that sweats would be acceptable while hanging around after classes. Whoops.
I brought sunscreen, but I clearly underestimated the need for it. With a powerful sun even in the winter, burns are a huge problem. I’m using what I have, and then I will have to break down and fork over the cash for more so that I can avoid a major burn.
This was just me having a mental lapse. I had talked to one former student who said that the family generally had towels and washcloths for the student to use. But then I forgot to confirm this with my host family! I remembered a beach towel and a small washcloth for small trips, so my home towel is now a cute pink monkey towel for the next four months.
I don’t wear slippers. I usually even end up taking off my shoes to walk around campus outside. I am readjusting to shoes, and I really wish I’d accepted the slipper suggestion. My host mom doesn’t want me walking around the apartment barefoot or in socks, so I usually have on my flip flops with my fuzzy socks. This isn’t comfy, and even my two year old host nephew gives me the once over with a disgusted look on his face, but at least it keeps my feet a bit warmer.
Even without a few of these forgotten items, I'm loving where I am. I'm starting to understand more about the city and about myself within the environment, since I am still adjusting to a city at all. I'm more confident about the bus rides, more sure of myself when walking in the streets, and more aware of what's going on around me. I've learned that I like company when I'm walking around, if only for the sense of security and the friend with whom I can share the experience. After a long time of simply wanting to be alone, I'm realizing that I actually love the company when traveling because I can share their worries and their curiosity to see a new part of the country, having a new experience that constitutes an adventure in and of itself. I'm not always good at remembering that, but it's certainly improved so far!