WEST AFRICA JOURNAL: Here I Come!

In less than 24 hours, my body will begin its journey to the Mother Continent. My mind and soul are already there, impatiently waiting.

No more planning, no more packing. The only thing left now is the going. And for me, the going can’t come soon enough.

The façade of the cool, sophisticated, veteran traveler has already crumbled into dust. I knew it was over when I went to the store to pick up some Italian seasoning:

CASHIER: “How are you doing today?”

ME: “I’m G-R-R-R-R-REAT!”

So tell me, Greg, exactly how long HAVE you been a walking cereal commercial? I’m as giddy as a 5-year-old, traveling cross-country by train with his Mom.

Oh wait…that was me, too.

I’ve packed and repacked the rolling duffel about five times, each time determined to take something else out of it. For this trip especially, it’s been a challenge. The reason, the huge flux in temperatures over the course of the trip.

This journey means leaving leaving the coastal desert of San Diego. with its dry temps in the 70s Fahrenheit, to fly into Washington DC, where it will be damp and literally freezing, in the mid-30s. The following day, the ice is to be replaced by rain as we fly out of Washington Dulles, bound for Senegal.

When we step off the flight eight hours later, it will be Thursday, humid and approaching 80. A few hours by bus and we’ll in Banjul, capital of the Gambia, where we’ll be spending most of our week. There, the humidity will be just the same, but the temps will be a good ten degrees higher.

The challenge is to pack for this range of temperatures while still keeping your bag’s weight under that of a World War 2 battleship.

International airlines typically allow you two checked bags. If either of them weigh more than 50 pounds, you will be charged $150. three or more bags and you’ll be charged $150 per bag, regardless of what it weighs. If those extras bags also happen to weigh more than 50 pounds, you’ll be out another $200 per bag.

All of that, of course, is each way.

All of this is aggravated by the fact that airport baggage scales lie.

So I’m all but fanatical about lightening my load, to the point that I even sing an old Rolling Stones song while I’m packing:

“I’ll never be your BEAST of BURDEN! I walk for MILES…my feet HURT!”

I’m ready to go, with a light heart — and matching luggage.

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