Backpacking bums.

3 May

When Charlotte and I finally left our home away from home down under to begin backpacking around Southeast Asia we made a little vow to ourselves. We agreed that while backpacking, we would do our best to continue looking like human beings.What I mean is, we would not to revert into the cavewomen with animalistic instincts that we became in our three months of backpacking through Central America.

There is something about traveling through the tropics that just makes you want to give up on your personal upkeep. When you step out of the shower and beads of perspiration form on your upper lip before you can even grab your towel, you just don’t even want to try with the toner (what does toner even do?) or lotion and definitely not makeup. Even shampooing and brushing hair starts to feel like a waste of time. It creeps up on you, the homeless bum look. You begin ruunning out of products, then you start debating whether you would rather buy dinner and a beer or hair conditioner. Dinner and a beer always wins.

I can’t specifically blame the tropics for this type of behavior. Backpacking in general seems to create very open-minded, cultured, soul-searching, optimistic stingy slobs. Buying $2 scissors to perform a self haircut in a Kmart bathroom in Australia seems to be entierly appropriate. ¬†Bartering over five cents is necessary and spending a couple bucks at the laundromat is a couple bucks too much.

And you do start to feel guilty, like you are slowly giving up on life. But I’m not! And I swear to you, everyone else is doing it. And in some cases their lack of concern concerning their physical appearance is far greater than my lack of concern. They have real dreadlocks and wear diaper pants and colorful head scarves, and walk mostly barefoot and smell terrible and brag about how long they go without showering and they perform on the streets for money and they don’t shave anything.

And the best thing, in the backpacking world, these people are the coolest. Yeah they stink, but they are wearing a bracelet from every country in Asia and their passport is duct taped together and they have a rad tatoo on their inner arm to remember that crazy trip to Papua New Guinea when they almost got eaten by a canibalistic tribal warrior.

In the backpacking world, there are actual backpacker posers.

People-watching is taken to a whole new level when sitting in the lobby of a hostel trying to drain all the wi-fi juice from the lousy internet router directly into your Personal-keep-in-touch-with-parents-internet-device.

But mostly I’m trying to look and feel as close to a human being as I possibly can…for now at least. I may look like a homeless bum wearing clothing stolen from a 2002 high school sophomore but I don’t mind, just as long as I’ve got a bit of soap.


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