After reading a couple comments that appeared on your last post, you felt it necessary to elaborate on just why you have so little warm clothing—and why, even when wearing all of it, you are persistently chilly.
ITEM ONE: Your normal body temperature is actually almost a degree lower than the expected 98.6 degrees. Perhaps this isn’t actually true, since the empirical evidence came from numerous visits to clinics located in New Haven, CT, generally in the colder months, when one might expect the outside temperatures to have an influence. Even so… you are always colder than your peers. Always. And this has come as a shock, since during all of your developmental years in Seattle, you were a fat kid, accustomed to the extra insulation of thicker adipose tissue. You remember the summer days during which you would stuff paper towels into your sports bra—no, not because you were flat-chested (far from it!), but because you would sweat so profusely that you would soak not only through your bra, but through the overlying T-shirt. In order to save yourself the embarrassment of visibly being the school’s “schweaty kid,” you stuffed. Years later in Connecticut, when you meticulously counted 2,000 calories a day, gave up alcohol, and did 120-180 minutes of cardiovascular activity per day, you swiftly shed 40 pounds of fat, and your body never found homeostatis again.
ITEM TWO: Women, you learned, divert more blood flow to their core organs (due to the priority of fertility) than men do. Thus, they are first to loose feeling in their extremities. Given your recent discovery that you have the fertility potential of an industrial baby factory, you are not surprised that your fingers, toes, and everything else rage indignantly against the cold.
ITEM THREE: Why not buy a down jacket, or a long sleeve, or something else from a sporting goods store? Good question, one you consider on a daily basis. Yours and Katie’s favorite habit in every city is to seek out the local Starbucks, split a venti coffee (best deal in Europe on caffeine), and then mentally masturbate about gear in any of the local outdoors stores. Oh yes… you wanted the hand-knitted authentic Irish wool pullover that would literally consume half the available volume of your backpack. Oh yes, you wanted to drop 60 euros on that 6-way merino wool scarf-hat-facemask-whateveritwas. You have stared with the pleading eyes of a lapdog at long underwear for 120 euros. But no… you simply cannot afford it. These items, while extremely warm, are not versatile enough to warrant the price, or the fact that once the warmer months come, you will despise your ownership of them for the sheer fact that you must carry them everywhere; that, or hate having to pay twice just to ship them home.
Traveling in Western Europe on 7 euros per day is no easy feat. Sure, you know a guy—Levente–who does it on 5, but Levente has fine-tuned an entirely different system: one which relies more heavily on the generosity of others.
You and Katie can, if the need arises, be 100% independent of others’ hospitality. You carry on your backs everything you need to survive outdoors, even in the snow (though you bemoan the possibility), for extended periods of time. 7 euros is more than enough money to cover the cost of food, and it leaves a little bit left over for cultural experiences such as museum tickets, local delicacies, and large luxuries like the privilege of vomiting into a bucket for 85 euros.
Rather than allocate funds to buying a warmer layer, you have more pressing financial concerns ahead of you. On the 26th of this month, you will be participating in a spiritual cleansing ceremony, not unlike the one you did two years ago.
Only this time you won’t be enjoying the comforts of your Irish homestead. You and Katie have been instructed to arrive at the train station of a certain town, at a certain time, and look for a certain group of people chatting about a completely different sort of travel.
You have been instructed to bring with you:
- A sleeping bag.
- Some kind of container to vomit into.
Your long-term readers should know that you were absolutely traumatized by your prior experience in this ceremony. You vomited up snakes and demons and tried to climb the walls and shrieked like a frightened infant while members of the group held you down to prevent you from accidentally harming yourself—or others. You laid on the floor, sobbing, for hours, feeling as though the air were completely toxic. You were afraid to breathe in the poison, and yet fearful of suffocating should you never take another breath. All the while, you wrestled with the drug, pounded it down deeper into your crippling nausea as your Shaman entreated you to simply surrender. And when you did, when you said, “I don’t care if I live or die anymore. If I vomit, let me drown in it!” you finally found brief respite.
Price tag: 85 euros.
And then what?
Shaken, beaten, defeated, you and Katie will probably have to face the snow, face the hitch hiking, face the hardships of winter travel. Make your way to Normandy as quickly as possible, with or without a map (because your dumb ass dropped an entire atlas worth of maps back in Brussels), with or without a couch, with or without a proper coat!
The day draws nearer. The anxiety comes and goes. You tell others that if you can confront this experience again, you can do anything on this trip.