Tuesday, 4 March 2008


I must have written about half a dozen lists in the past couple of days since I have had the time to think properly about the practicalities of actually leaving the country for six months on Monday. I have even managed to tick a few things off.

After a sleepless night panicking about how to arrange my money I now have that sorted.

I was worried because I had heard that traveller's cheques are next to useless outside of large towns and cities, because I didn't want to carry six months' worth of cash on me, and because I suddendly worried that I don't have a credit card and would I be able to make payments with my card?

As it happens my card should work as long as I inform the bank that I will be using it abroad (otherwise they might think a fraud is being committed), and I am taking one month's worth of cash ($1/5/10 dollar bills - anything larger is to big to change), and the rest in traveller's cheques that I will change when travelling between stations.


I have booked a quite nice hotel for my two nights in Quito.

I decided that I have too much else to think about. With having to register my visa at the Direccion General de Extranjeria and having my induction at the Jatun Sacha office, and what with still not being overly confident with my Spanish, I wanted to make sure that I am somewhere reliable in a safe area.

Hotel Quito is four stars, and at £48 for two night's is expensive by Ecuadorian standards, but I am volunteering, not backpacking, and the reassurance their competance has given me has been worth double that already.

They have arranged for a taxi to pick me up from the airport (one less worry), and have said (in good English) that although check in is not until 2pm I can safely leave my bag with the porter when I arrive at 9am, leaving me free to go to register my visa.

When I booked the room on Expedia, I also booked tickets to the Jacutinga National Ballet for my second night in Quito (when all administrative worries have passed, I hope). The dance is a mixture of classical and indigenous styles, apparently, and it will be a true luxury before heading to work.


My Spanish is rubbish. It is shameful. Even now that I have finished work there have been too many distractions to sitting down and studying. I have been listening to my linguaphone, but keep stopping at the same point. I will try harder, although this last week is filled up with tasks.

I will be taking my linguaphone with me for on the plane, in Quito, and when I get a chance on the bases, and I will be taking grammar books and dictionaries as well. But I think that if I manage to get to the first station safely I will certainly pick it up very quickly. A person who likes to natter as much as me will be forced to learn in no time. And then in any case, it may do me some good to have to think before I speak a little.



  • Sleeping bag
  • Head torch and hand held torch that doubles as a radio and phone charger
  • A great pair of walking boots that fit well, boot treatment cream, and knee length gators
  • Wellies
  • Water bottle and water bladder
  • Binoculars (that I don'tknow how to use)
  • Camera


  • A discreet/ invisible zip money belt
  • Moquito head net, or a mosquito net for the head
  • Waterproof camera case
  • Spare batteries
  • Ziplock bags
  • Pocket knife
  • Travel pillow

Health/ hygene:


  • Malaria tablets
  • Ginko - for altitude sickness
  • Some high DEET insect repellent, but not enough. DEET frightens me, it is so caustic/ toxic. Apparently it dissolves synthetic fabrics, destroys the quality of cotton, and has killed at least on camera. Surely a mosquito bite can't be as bad as what this will do to my skin?
  • Cortisone, antibacterial cream, antiseptic wipes, antiseptic cream
  • Ibuprofen, antihistamines, oral rehydration powders, immodium
  • One bar of Kendal Mint Cake
  • Washbag
  • Scissors and tweezers


  • More DEET
  • Biodegradable soap, shampoo, deoderant, detergent, toothpaste
  • Tampons (can't find my moon cup, so the yoghurt weaving stops here)
  • Sun screen
  • Chocolate and energy bars
  • bandages/ gauze
  • Safety pins
  • Permethrin-containing insect repellent for clothes and sleeping bag
  • Iodine water purification tablets
  • Chocolate with a high cocoa content (for the altitude sickness, of course)



  • 2 x really good fast drying and hard wearing work trousers
  • 1 x nice trousers for the ballet and evenings
  • A few short and long sleeves t-shirts (light colours, to detract mosquitos, cotton, for the sweat and DEET)
  • Warm pyjamas (jogging bottoms and t-shirt)
  • Short and long socks
  • 2 x long sleeved shirts
  • Swimming costume
  • 2 x pairs of heels (you never know)


  • Sun/ rain hat
  • Strappy sandals
  • More socks?
  • Cotton underwear
  • Fleece/ warm top
  • More long sleeved shirts - to ruin while working
  • White cotton long sleeved t-shirts - several


  • Notebooks
  • Books
  • Address and date books
  • Playing cards
  • Photos

To Do:

  • Write out malaria tablet schedule in my diary - I am skipping a few weeks when I am in places that are low/no risk, because the tablets were so expensive, and very chemical.
  • To start taking ginko one day before departure
  • Put the possessions I have accumulated over the past seven and a half years in the flat into storage (a spare room)
  • Learn Spanish
  • Clean camera memory and upload photos as needed
  • Copy itinerary and important documents, visa and flight details to leave in Britain
  • Confirm flight and ballet booking
  • Phone bank to tell them I will be using my card overseas
  • Get a photocopy of my passport and visa documentation to carry with my at all times in case of spot checks while in Ecuador
  • Print and copy all emails, information and confirmations from Jatun Sacha

Have I missed anything?

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