Several years ago, while I was wistfully speaking about all the places in the world I’d like to someday see, my husband looked at me over the top of his computer and said these words:
“I’m not doing an overseas flight with you unless you get some Xanax.”
I was terribly offended, of course. I mean, come on. Sure, I get a little tense when I’m worried about making a flight on time- who isn’t? But given the state of TSA lines these days, I think I’m justified. Overall I’m a pretty good traveller. I go with the flow. I don’t panic about stuff.
OK, even I couldn’t get through that without a guffaw.
“Let me get this straight,” my sister said to me when I called her this afternoon to talk me off the ledge. “You’re worried about getting eaten while you’re in the Amazon? And you want to make sure that if you and your husband, who will be 6,000 miles away, somehow manage to simultaneously perish that someone knows where the wills are?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“And what are you doing right now?” she asked.
“Um, driving,” I said, while hurtling down the freeway at 75 mph. “But I’m using the Bluetooth.”
What she was implying, correctly of course, is that the chances of me perishing on the banks of the Amazon are infinitesimal compared to the risk of me tripping on an escalator at LAX and breaking my neck while struggling under the weight of all the bottles of DEET I stuffed into my bag.
Once I get to my final destination (ha), I will be great. It’s just the downtime beforehand that kills me. It’s the person who sent me a link to a thread on a messageboard called “Nature, you’re scary” that was started by a guy who just got back from- of course- the Peruvian Amazon and encountered a 13 inch centipede. In that thread, someone thoughtfully included a YouTube video of a carnivorous centipede who hangs upside down in caves and drops down, pincer-first, on unsuspecting bats. And, I would imagine, vets.
Then, an Australian came on to say that he, too, was scared of the Amazon. An Australian. His reasoning was, “but in the Amazon, death comes from above.” That’s right, scorpions on the ground in your shoes, snakes and centipedes hurtling at your face through the air. This is nature at its most raw here, people. The Amazon eats bobcats for breakfast. A wee wilty blossom like myself doesn’t stand a chance.
Then I figured it out.
Of all the things I had thought to include on my packing list, there was only one that I had missed when I compared my list to the official one: a good towel. Once I packed it, I felt instantly better. I couldn’t figure out why at first, and then I remembered the immortal words of Douglas Adams from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
If it’s good enough for Arthur Dent, it’s good enough for me. I don’t need Xanax. I have a towel, which can smother a scorpion, strangle a snake, and in the worst case scenario, work very well as a tourniquet. I am Dr. V, Pet Medicine Woman. I’m ready for anything.
Whoa, I don’t remember Tarzan being a part of the show. Who’s that guy? And where’s her towel?