Unwanted Souvenirs

I’m a light packer. I learned how to pack light the hard way. In 2003, I took a large rucksack and a sizeable sports bag with me for a three plus month tour of Mexico. Within a week, I’d ditched the sports bag. And, obviously, a sports bag worth of stuff. Travelling light is a habit I’ve kept to, and one that has become suddenly popular. A 10kg carry on bag does me most of the time.

This does mean that I bring very few souvenirs back with me. Fridge magnets. Maybe a Starbucks mug. From Uzbekistan, I returned with a jar of honey and a couple of silk scarves. And Covid-19. Mrs P and I both bought a dollop of Covid back with us. My best guess is that the infection was gifted by the lady with a hawking cough in the row of seats behind us on the flight home.

Not that we knew about this particular souvenir immediately. It took a couple of days. Mrs P showed symptoms first. I woke up a day later feeling a bit off. I got ready to go to work anyway. But before I went out the door, I checked the roster. I was due to work with a 70 year old chap, not in the best of health, who has spent last few years battling cancer. So I did a quick lateral flow test. Just in case. That turned out to be a good call. The second red line spelt a few days off work for me or a potential death sentence for him. I thought I’d best go with the former.

I went from ‘a bit off’ to ‘a bit miserable’ in the space of a few hours. The illness was persistent. I tested positive for eight days, Mrs P for ten, both of us symptomatic from start to end. Not that we were ever particularly ill. Worse than a cold for a few days. Never close to being a flu. Short spells of feverishness. A mild cough. My main symptom was fatigue. I slept nearly 11 hours a day most of those days. It was, at its worst, unpleasant.

That’s my Covid ‘22 story. It’s a lot better that the Covid ‘20 and ‘21 stories that many folk would tell, if it hadn’t killed them. Nothing dramatic happened, not least because Mrs P and I did the sensible thing. We’re two and a half years into this pandemic. It boggles my mind that so much coronavirus discourse is still directed by misinformation, old information or plain old fashioned conspiracy theories.

9 thoughts on “Unwanted Souvenirs

  1. I agree about the travelling light aspect of touring, of course my iPhone has become a surrogate for my cameras. In the late 70’s and 80’s I’d load up the sidecar outfit as there is plenty of room for a six man tent, double gas burner and cylinder and an assortment of tools and a spare crankshaft. Still plenty of room for a passenger plus my three cameras, lenses etc. I thrashed that poor beast everywhere through Ireland England France and Spain. Why the large tent you may ask? Well I could roll the bike in for any major surgery in a thunder storm. Such as the time I rebuilt my rear shocks at a camp site near Dover in 1982.

    When we travel I try to buy a pair of liqueur glasses or maybe shot glasses to remember our holiday. They don’t have to be regular souvenirs. We have glasses from everywhere and they come out at parties and each has a story! Occasionally we’ll get fridge magnets as gifts too as they take up little room and send the odd postcard. Small glasses are easy to tuck into a pair of shoes for safety. One particular year I made the mistake of buying a delightful selection of Limoges pottery when touring in France only to smash most of it in a water filled pothole on the way to the ferry in Cherbourg! Another year I bought hand made jewelry which was a more sensible idea and took up very little room.

    We managed to dodge the Covid bullet so far although four members of our family managed to contract it this month alone.


    1. The digitisation of stuff has made packing light a lot easier. In that sports bag I dumped was a Zip Drive, to store more photos on. Along with all the cables and stuff, it was too much. Nowadays my iPad has my music, books, photo storage etc.

      Glad to hear you’ve escaped Covid thus far. But I’ve got bad news…it’ll almost certainly find you eventually.

      The only side note of worth to my Covid story, is that is left me with earache and a sore throat which persists to today. Nothing that needs painkillers, and its slowly subsiding. But it did mean a trip to hospital to have a camera stuck down my throat, just in case. I tick three high risk boxes – male, used to smoke and ‘as good as 50’. Pft.


  2. Linda and I did a touring vacation a half decade ago in Belize, southern Mexico and Guatemala, about three months. We used two wheeled tool bags and one soft sided cooler for holding our gear. Everything rolls together, the cooler slides down over the tool bag’s pull handle, the computer/camera/book bag fits over the other tool bag’s handle. Weight wise, it is twenty pounds a bag or less. The bag room allotment was a half bag for me and the rest for Linda. She gets cold at times. I could sleep in a snow bank; I need far less clothing in the tropics. We pack a two cup coffee maker with two big tin cups for cooking in the room. The burner on the machine cooks the morning tacos in seconds, fixings in the little cooler.
    We did a week or so in every stop, moved around by bus and taxi. We rented cars when there was no bus service to the local attractions.
    It was our last big trip before the grandchildren started being born-probably our last. The balance of being there when they are little or gadabouting through the back lands of Latin America. The littles ones win every time.
    As to what we bring back: rock hand samples are my weakness, we both like textiles-we shop the night before we leave, leave all of our clothing for whoever is cleaning our room the next morning. They can throw it out, sell it, whatever-we’re done with it, we need the room for our treasures.


      1. Rocks always have a story to tell but the fact is, they will lie to you if you’re not careful. Kind of why I like picking them up for a closer look.


  3. I too have often traveled lightly, but tomorrow I am leaving for Mexico, and I am checking two heavy suitcases and carrying on two smaller bags. The reason for so much luggage? Next year I am going to move permanently to Mexico. I am buying the condo that I have been renting, and I am starting to take things down to my future home.
    Knock on wood, I have still not come down with COVID. I hope that you both are now completely better.


    1. Every now and then I try to comment on your blog, but whatever I write just disappears into the ether! But I have read about your move to Mexico. Go for it, I say! What is not to l,ike about Mexico City?

      I hope to get back there soon. We are eyeing next February maybe.


      1. I know, the response program is messed up. I cannot even reply on my own blog under my own account. I have to type in “Retire Teacher”.
        Well, I will be down here the entire month of February next year. You will have to let me know, and we can get together.


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