I've packed, and repacked. I'm debating the roll vs. fold issue with myself. It is not easy trying to pack for a ten day trip in what really amounts to one carryon bag, especially since I keep telling myself I'm going to dress like a grownup this time instead of wearing jeans or cargo pants everywhere I go.
Today I am assembling the contents of my toiletries bag. This takes some planning. I have to take enough of my hair jism to last ten days, but have to get it into three ounce containers. I suppose that rather than trying to take things like shampoo and conditioner with me, I can pick those up when I get there. There are some things, though, that I would prefer to remember to bring with me...this time.
In 2004, the Innocent Bystander and I took a trip to Amsterdam, Paris and Rome. As I've mentioned in the past, we travel a lot, but we try to economize when we do by using frequent flyer miles, traveling in the off season and taking advantage of city passes. We do all of our booking ourselves, and the IB does a wonderful job of 'itinerarizing'. When he books our hotel, one of the things we always try to make sure of is that the room has a refrigerator. Once we have figured out the lay of the land, the first thing we do is find the nearest grocery store and stock up on beer for the room (we DO have our priorities in order, don'tcha know.) We also try to save money by getting stuff to make sandwiches so we don't have to pay restaurant prices for every meal we eat, especially in overpriced touristy areas. This time was no exception.
Our hotel was conveniently situated about five buildings down from the local chain grocery store, Albert Heijn, so we loaded up with beer, bread, and the local specialty, Gouda cheese. In Holland, you have a choice when you buy Gouda, niewe (new) or oude (old, or aged). I remembered that I liked the oude, so we got plenty of that.
The thing I forgot, the very important, very relevant thing I forgot about this oude cheese? It is an excellent BINDING agent, especially when it is eaten almost exclusively for four days. Despite all the exercise we got, despite all the beer drinking, which was considerable, despite the fact that normally I am one of those very REGULAR folks who have a 'food go in, food come out' system, I did not have a bowel movement for FOUR DAYS. Zilch, zip, nada. We were due to leave the next day on a train bound for Paris and I was getting, shall we say, SURLY, so I decided to take the bull by the horns, shall we say, and force the issue.
Now, they don't have Wallyworld in Amsterdam. You buy groceries in a grocery store, electronics in an electronics store, and pharmacy items in-you guessed it-a pharmacy. So we find a pharmacy, and I wander around looking for what I need.
May I just say, for the record, that Dutch is a HARD language to learn? I mean, I do my best, but I am hard pressed to remember the basics-numbers, colors, please and thank you. It never occured to me that I might need more than that because most Dutch folk also speak very good English. They don't, however, translate their pharmacy items, so I was having some difficulty finding what I needed. I looked around, but there was no one in sight to ask for help, so I got in the line at the cash register and waited my turn.
Finally, I had the attention of the young lady at the till, and I leaned over and quietly stated what I was looking for and asked for her help. Keep in mind, the line BEHIND me continued to grow, and I obviously had nothing in front of me to purchase, so I actually had EVERYONE'S attention. She never looked up at me until she heard my request, then her WHOLE BODY perked up and she looked up with interest and smiled, really big.
"A LAXATIVE?" she boomed. "A LAXATIVE. LET'S SEE. I KNOW WE HAVE LAXATIVES AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE." By this time she's grabbed me by the hand and is leading me around the store. "OH, HERE THEY ARE!" She grabs a box and drags me back to the cash register where I feverishly dig a five Euro note out and try to pay her whilst attempting to make myself as small and invisible as possible. But NO. This *eyes roll back in head, searching* this human foghorn CONTINUES. "LET'S READ THE INSTRUCTIONS," she booms. "WE WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO USE THEM." She looks up, concerned. I started to tell her I know perfectly well how to USE them, but she continues on, "TONIGHT, YOU TAKE ONE OF THESE PILLS. TOMORROW, YOU WILL POOP. IF YOU DO NOT POOP TOMORROW, YOU TAKE TWO MORE OF THESE PILLS TOMORROW NIGHT, AND SURELY YOU WILL POOP THE NEXT DAY!" Surely.
I know now that it is NOT POSSIBLE TO DIE FROM HUMILIATION. But I also know that forewarned is forearmed, and my ass is not EVER leaving this country without a blister pack of Exlax in my toiletries bag, so I'm outta here-I have some stocking up to do.