Olfactory Overload

It took me three days to make it to Perpignan, France, and as I arrived just past 10pm local time, my journey still wasn't over. Grabbing my green Teton backpack off of the convertor belt at the terminal, I was quickly the last one in the lobby as families reunited and left. Standing there, the lost duck that I was, Aline and her eldest son, Matisse, emerged from around the corner to greet me. I probably smelled like a lovely bouquet of stale, sweaty traveler, with a tinge of vomit from the half a dozen times I keeled over in motion sickness on take-off and landing. (Just talking about it now makes my stomach flip; I can hear the jet engines ringing in my ears. I am permanently scared by airplanes.) 

Aline looked lovely and tan in turquoise; her son: just as tall as her, and with a haircut that would have made him one of the cool kids in my old middle school. Que awkward exchange of hellos--I stick out my hand to shake "hello," while Aline simultaneously leans in to kiss my cheek, putting a hand on my shoulder in an almost-hug. My brain couldn't handle the translation. I defaulted to a nervous laugh. "Désolé." 

My bags were tossed into an old European work van, and we were off into the night. Latour-de-France is about 20 minutes away from Perpignan by highway. Aline asked me a few questions, but we rode mostly in silence. The darkness expanded as we drove further away from the city. All I could sense were the smells. 

The air outside was thick, the sea breeze cooked off by the humidity. Inside, the car smelled familiar: straw, dirt, grass, dog breath, poop, animal dander. Farm smells. I had arrived. 

All of Latour is situated on the rolling hills of the Pyrénées-Occidentales region. There is a steep driveway up to the house. Salvia, lavender, basil, and mint line the driveway in various repurposed containers. I could smell them clearly as night cooled the earth. Despite the late hour of my arrival, the French doors in the kitchen were opened out onto a rainbow tiled patio. Aline's husband and her younger son were at the table. True to French hospitality, I was fed fresh bread, local goat cheese, and their homemade, sparkling wine. The first real food I had had in days. Heaven. 

Entry Fees

Packing for this trip is expensive. Full stop. I felt so clever back in January when I purchased my series of international and domestic flights for just $9.00 over my thousand-dollar goal. But the 10-day countdown to my trip started ticking two days ago, and those lists of preparation need to turn into action. What needs to by done? What do I need?

The answer is a fair amount of backpacking gear. My bank account is draining just talking about it. Backpack: $80. Sleeping pad: $90. Backpacking sleeping bag: $50. Power adapter & voltage converter: $40. Packable daypack: $7. That last one was a lucky Amazon add-on.

Boots (because all of mine are lined with fur for the winter): unfound. 

There are guest house accommodations for me at the farm, but when it's reserved for tourist use I get bumped out to the "tent down by the river." It's not as bad as it sounds. I'm told there's a lovely meadow that the tent is situated on, at the curve of the river on the edge of the property. Regardless of where I end up spending the majority of my nights, leaving for this trip requires planning for the worst: tentville. 

The trick of all this, I'm learning, is cost-benefit analysis: spending enough money to ensure a base-line quality of durability without ballin' out on all the designer brands. Research. Research. Research. On one hand, I feel productive while still in sweats. On the other, 45 minutes of research is typically a $17 difference between products, while the product itself is still expensive to begin with. 

Ultimately, this preparation just makes me hungry for a snack. As the dial of my credit card shifts from "paid off" over towards "maxed out," I tell myself that these are initial costs--an investment on potential future travels.

X destinations = $500 in travel gear

I'll update as I get closer to solving for X.