My Rucksack

My rucksack isn’t worth much. I think I spent maybe $25 on it before joining up with Peace Corps Senegal. I wanted an adventure bag. Something romantic that I could envision on an African safari. I was, after all, moving to West Africa. I didn’t want anything too big, just a small day pack. But it needed to be big enough to fit a few days worth of clothes, a macbook, a journal, a good book, and some toiletries in. I wanted something specific, of good quality, and cheap.

I found it. It was perfect. Modeled after some vintage European rucksack. Two outside pockets for normal use, but easy to avoid while traveling in pickpocket heavy areas. A simple internal pocket in the one big pouch that I can keep my passport/money in. And a hidden back pocket that lies underneath the straps for easy access to my camera when I need it, but inaccessible to others when I’m wearing it. Perfection!!! Note: I found the link.

An original (but I think mine was tan).

The inside flap contains my name (for rather obvious reasons) and a list of the places I have been. Originally it was to be a list of the places my rucksack had been, but I think I was bored and in possession of a pen, so it became a list of my own. It is forever being added on to and re-written due to fading, although I have NEVER washed my pack. (see picture at bottom of post)

But with any romantic rucksack dream, you imagine it faded and warn and used. You picture it carrying the years of love on it’s face. When I embarked on my PC journey, it was new. Logic dictates that I shouldn’t try to destroy it to give it that Velvateen Rabbit type look, so I respected it and used it. Little did I know how far my bag would travel.

I broke my beautiful rucksack in on an Oregon Coast camping trip with two ladies in my PC-Senegal stage…

My rucksack started it’s real journey during my PC Staging in Washington, DC…

It acted as day pack in Africa where it carried my clothes, band-aids, Wolof notes, tree manuals and wretched purified water…

From there it went to Southeast Asia where climbed over the ancient ruins of Siem Reap Province and wandered the grounds of Angkor Wat…

It joined me in learning to drive a motorcycle on Koh Chang, Thailand…

It bravely entered the strip clubs and pubs of Walking Street in Pattaya, Thailand…

Then it went on to tote texts, homework assignments, and need-to-be-graded tests of my Cambodian students…

It converted into a pillow and travel pack on an epic backpacking trip through Northern India. Where it aided me in breaking into the train station (on accident, of course)…

…wandered the streets of Varanasi (Banares) and the banks of the Ganges…

…held my shoes as I walked barefoot through the Lotus Temple…

…accompanied me through the Red Fort, the “Baby” Taj and the Taj Mahal (not pictured). It lived up to it’s potential as my perfectly romanticized desert rucksack in Rajastan (sadly, I don’t have a picture of this either) and a mountain pack in the foothills of the Himalayas…
Then my rucksack and I flew to Mexico City. We lounged on the beach just north of Acapulco and climbed mountains to Aztec ruins where some strange little creature searched it for food…
It toured the Western United States with me. To towering and majestic places like Zion National Park…
…and was awkwardly behind me as I kissed a rock face at Antelope Canyon…
…it crawled through ancient Pueblo ruins ahead of me at Mesa Verde…
…and other such adventures where it was having shy days and avoided the camera.
Finally, it labored in the New Mexico desert, supplying me with water and a trowel during an archaeological dig and climbed the cracks in the cliff-face at Chaco Canyon…
It took a camel ride into the Sahara Desert of Morocco with me and slept in the dunes with nomads…
And most recently it accompanied me on my five month stay in England, waited patiently while I kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland and couldn’t help but join me as we overlooked the Cliffs of Moher.
The drawstring finally snapped in Jaisalmer, Rajastan, India. I temporarily replaced it until I could get some bootlaces, which I braided together and, after removing the metal rings that had worn down the original string, have been using ever since.
There is paint on the bottom of the pack from when I dropped a roller while painting mine and my roommates New Mexican adobe house ridiculously vibrant colors. I left it there. It adds another story.
Ever since PC Senegal, there has been a little piece of cloth tied to one of the straps. It is almost completely faded from its original, vibrant Senegalese colors and is just long enough to act as a blindfold. Coincidently, that is exactly what it was for. We were blindfolded and guided to a spot on a map of Senegal painted onto a basketball court.
When they were removed, we were standing in the mini version of our new homes. It has ever since been a permanent feature of my bag.
One of the straps is wearing down where I always grab it when picking it up and lobbing it over my shoulder. I mended it with black electrical tape and then later with duct tape.
The New Mexico desert finally destroyed the front pocket zippers and, instead of doing what is practical and purchasing a new bag, I am replacing them by hand in anticipation of my next adventure.
A good view of the paint and in-process zipper mending.
The black tape and PC Senegal blindfold.
The inside flap and the new drawstring made of bootlaces.
I mended my bag because of our history. I would never dream of replacing it. This bag has been through more adventures in two years than many people get in a lifetime! It carries within it the dirt of four continents and one subcontinent. The stains of sweat, blood, antibacterial ointment, vomit (yes, vomit, but I wiped it off), beer, and coffee. Most of all, within its threads are the tears I shed when Isaa died. I cried on this bag. And someday it will be there again for adventure. For loss. And most of all for love. It was with me when began my relationship with my soon-to-be husband, Jon (18 more days!)
It is now faded. Warn. More perfect than ever. It has been patched, sewed, glued, and taped. And it will last for many more adventures with the new zippers.
There are hundreds more countries’ names to add to the flap. Our next adventure fast approaches…
Advertisements

Say something!!!...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s