Over the years, I have learned more and more about what gear to bring with me, to keep me warm, healthy, useful, and light:FOOD
In 2010, I was reading The Penguin Gandhi Reader
, and discovered that when Gandhi was in South Africa, setting up the Satyagraha
nonviolent resistance movement, he ate nothing but fruit and nuts for 5 years. And he was walking an average of 20 miles a day during this time. He wrote that he never felt better than when on this diet. I had my answer! Fruit and nuts. They travel well, they are delicious, they don't need cooking, and they must have everything a human needs for health and strength, because there is no way anyone would walk 20 miles a day for 5 years on this diet if they didn't.
The next time I was in charge of my own food, I went to a grocery store, and had a most interesting experience. I gave myself, for the first time in my life, permission to purchase as much fruit as I wanted, of any variety, and as many nuts as I wanted, of any variety. In doing this, I realized that I had been carrying around with me some guidance from childhood which was no longer needed. The guidance? "Fruit and nuts are expensive. Only buy a few of the cheapest ones, if at all." I grew up in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota in the 1950's. Fruit and nuts were indeed expensive back then, in the frozen northland. So all the years I was making good money, I still was careful when buying fruit and nuts, and would indulge in something as extravagant as macadamia nuts maybe once every 2 years. Imagine!
So when I gave myself permission to buy as many fruit and nuts as I wanted, I felt like the wealthiest person in the world. And when I eat them, I feel like I am indulging in a luxury. No more filling starches of bread, pasta, potatoes for me!
I do not restrict myself to only these foods, but I always have them with me, and eat a lot of them. I no longer am concerned if I am hosted by a family who does not realize that vegetarians need protein as well as vegetables. I just pull out some lovely nuts and add them to my plate.
Lately I realized that most nuts have nearly twice the protein in an egg, and nearly as much as hamburger! Two typical hens eggs would be 100 grams. There are 12-13 grams of protein in two eggs, and 21-23 grams of protein in 100 grams of most nuts! Hamburger is marginally more protein per 100 g than nuts, at 23-25 g. It is recommended that I get 46 grams of protein a day, from all sources, but I know I have been fine on far less than that when I was in Kashmir.
In addition to nuts and fruit, I also carry with me my own knife. Right now I actually have two knives. One is an inexpensive serrated one with a plastic protective cover. CLOTHING
In order to pull their weight, and make them worthy to be carried in my backpack, my clothes need to multitask. My tops and pants must meet these strict criteria before they are admitted to my bag:
- I must be able to sleep in them, ride a bike in them, and they must look good enough that I can go to church in them. Plus:
- They must be lightweight
- They must not wrinkle noticeably
- They must be comfortable, and not noisy (I got rid of some lightweight pants which swished as I walked or rode my bike. Drove me nuts.)
- Pants must have at least one good pocket
- Tops must be long enough that there is no gap between my pants and top when bent over riding a bike or gardening, and have at least 3/4 sleeves so I don't get sunburned as much on my bike.
- Socks must be long enough that I can tuck my pants into them for riding my bike and they will stay put. Short socks result in ripped pants. Not good.
- All clothing must not be expensive. Used clothing is preferable.
My shoes must look good, be slip-ons so it is easy to get them off and on when entering and leaving a building or tent, and be good for bicycling and walking and hiking, and fairly lightweight. I usually have one pair of all-rounders, and a lightweight and flat pair for church.
I have found that Indian tops generally work well for my tops, when I can find them, and for my pants I have definitely found my solution: black surgical scrubs. I buy them from Scrubs and Beyond
in Rochester, Minnesota. I can buy new for as low as $10 and they meet all my criteria.
For my jacket, I am wearing a GoreTex jacket I bought during my first big travel adventure with Dominique, in 1996. It still looks great and is still waterproof.
For 3 season warmth, I have a black thermal top, which looks beautiful under my black Kashmiri wool embroidered jacket. I also carry a yellow Kashmiri hand loomed wool scarf given to me as a gift the day I volunteered at the Free Medical Clinic
in Srinagar with the Healing Hands
group. And one pair of wool socks which I wear on cool nights in the tent. If I need to spend a real winter somewhere, I won't be traveling by bicycle, so can carry a bit more for warmth if needed.