Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Modern Traveler

Once upon a time I went to Europe with only a carry-on. I went to Jamaica thinking I could wing it. I went to stay with a bronze-age culture in Sumba with only a letter of introduction.

Once upon a time friends and I could just jump in the car for a road trip and make it up as we went along.

(Kelley and MC in Washington; thanks K. for the photo!)

That was then:

This is now:

Four days to go and it will take me all weekend to pack and prep. Hitting the road with a change of clothes, a pack of cigarettes, and a passport is over. If Kerouac were alive he'd have changed and adapted to. Here's part of my current to-do list:
  • Download Season 2 of Ugly Betty onto my i-phone (check)
  • Download Portuguese and Spanish lessons into my i-phone (check)
  • Start tanning, teeth bleaching, and home micro-dermabrasion (in progress)
  • Get a pedicure (check)
  • Print Google Earth maps of the neighborhoods I'll be staying in (in progress)
  • Check out Manhunt for potential amigos.
  • Set aside clothes for Vizcaya and the clubs in Rio and Buenos Aires.
It's all so very modern. The kid in the first photo would've been horrified.

Though some things don't change - I have about 60 hours of flight time total, and have picked out two very, very fat epics for the journey: Robert Fagles new translation of The Aeneid, and Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's new translation of War and Peace.

I tried War and Peace once before, but got lost somewhere past the middle. The language in this translation seems much more dynamic and poetic, so I think I'll have an easier going. I've read the first chapter, and it's brilliant.

And of course, I am not flying the extinct, and possible mythical, PanAm (above). I'm flying American (below). I'll dress nice and wear a jacket regardless. I'll be fabulous just to spite the bean-counters. The second half of the trip is on Aerolineas Argentinas, which was just nationalized. I hope that's a good thing - Latin socialists can't possible be as dour as Eastern European ones.

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