It's the eleventh hour, literally, and I am nearly ready for our trip to Honduras. The day or two before one of my trips is always the hardest part for me. It's hard to leave my wife and boys. I'm even going to miss the cat I recently dropped $500 to repair at the vet. That's like, 9,500 Honduran Lempiras. It sounds even more expensive that way. Good old Henry the cat. I thought about taking him with me, or perhaps Maggie the Cocker Spaniel. But she would bark at people on the plane...
"Sir, you're going to need to control your animal. This barking is unacceptable and in violation of TSA regulations."
"Sorry, she just has to go to the bathroom. Can we open the door and let her out for a minute?"
"Sir, we're at an altitude of thirty thousand feet."
"If I could just hold her rear end out the door..."
Right now, tumbling in the drier, are the lightweight quick-dry clothes that I always take with me. They can get wet (from rain, rivers, and sweat) and dry overnight. My routine is to wear them right into the shower, wash them with a bar of soap, hang them up on a bungee clothes line. They're ready to wear by morning.
On the kitchen counter are the following items, in no particular order:
1) knee high rubber boots, size 13
2) two tool bags with hand tools, a soldering iron, a volt meter, and a laser tachometer
3) a bottle of Benadryl for allergic reactions
4) doses of both Imodium and ex-lax: the ones and zeros of engineering trips abroad. I can't pack them next to each other because they would cancel each other out, leaving only empty containers and the fear of untreatable gastrointestinal distress.
4) the following books: "When Helping Hurts", and "Solar Engineering of Thermal Processes"
5) several thermocouples and a temperature-measuring data logger with a USB connector (check it out)
6) a very worn out baseball cap that has accompanied me on ever trip I have taken since 2006
After I got back from Kenya in 2006, I refused to put my ball cap in the laundry; how could I wash Africa down the drain? A few years later, however, working in the heat and humidity of Honduras, my sweat soaked through the cap and mixed with this Kenyan souvenir. The muddy stain was gross, so I abandoned sentimentality in favor of hygiene.
By now, it is nearly midnight. I have procrastinated packing another hour by writing this blog post. I'm thinking about going to Wal-mart to buy some sunscreen and travel snacks. I'm too excited to sleep.