Pre-Launch Checklist

September 16, 2010 in North America, Travelogue, United States

James, helping me test my new Deuter backpack

We’re sitting in the airport… waiting on a flight… but not ours this time.  Today we pick up a friend who’s flying in to spend a week sitting around campfires with us, sipping limoncello and laughing late into the night.  Of course none of us can avoid considering the fact that in six short weeks we’ll be sitting in an airport 1200 miles from here preparing to board a flight for Guatemala City and our winter’s Edventure on Lago de Atitlan.

Nearly three years in, the pre-launch sequence is getting easier.  Perhaps because the kids are older.  Perhaps because we’re comfortable untethered in the world and we’ve got enough mud on our boots not too worry too much about the fact that we’ve got no lodging lined up on the other end yet.  Perhaps because we’ve just done it so many times now that we’ve got the details down to a science.

We’re asked, often, what is involved in launch with four little kids toward a new life and a new adventure.  It’s not that complicated, but the devil is definitely in the details.  Below is a partial list of the considerations for a simple six months in Central America:

  1. Backpacks for everyone, with attention to ergonomics and weight limitations for the children.
  2. Clothing… three outfits each, plus one long sleeved shirt, one swim suit and one set of jammies.  Nothing more, nothing less.
  3. Health care: $300 invested last week at the local drug store to restock the kit, including the upgrade of a suture and syringe kit, after needing one and not having one last winter.
  4. Attention to the CDC site’s recommendations for anti-malarials and disease maps for the area.  Happily, the anti-malarials we have will cover us for our short forays into southern and coastal areas.  Our base location is malaria free! 🙂
  5. Airfare
  6. Lodging… we’re hoping to rent a house, that’s not coming together quite as smoothly as we’d hoped… worst case scenario: we’ll show up homeless and figure it out in person.
  7. Education… designing personal and portable schooling for kids aged 8-14.
  8. Tech Upgrades… ipods with e-book programs SIGNIFICANTLY reduce our weight and increase the educational experience on the road.
  9. Secret Stash… the stuff the kids pine for after a few months: Kraft Mac & Cheese (I just pack the cheese packets) chocolate chips, peanut butter and for Mama: TEA.
  10. Christmas Plans… the tiny bit of extra space we have will be sprinkled with little Christmas trinkets for stockings that will be impossible to get on the road and little treasures that will make even a Guatemalan village in the highlands feel like “home for the holidays.”
  11. Work… Tony and I are both lining up our winter’s work and making plans for how to get it all done and keep the family fed while we’re on the road.  Happily, this year we finally seem to have sorted out the self sustaining work on the road and the financial climate is warming up in keeping with the winter destination’s climate.
  12. Home fires… it looks, on the surface, like we just take off and life works itself out smoothly for us.  We absolutely could NOT live our lives the way we do without our support staff at home.  Two sets of excellent friends who sort mail, forward important details, pay the occasional bill, cash the (hopefully not so occasional) check and hold the keys to our bank deposit boxes, and the really important life details that we leave at home.  We pay them… but NOT ENOUGH for their faithful love and support.
  13. Passports… two of the boys are expiring this year… so we’ve sunk the huge chunk of change into reupping them for the next five years.  We’re hoping the new ones arrive without incident this week… I awoke in the night last week sweating because I realized I’d forgotten to write their estimated heights on the form.  If that turns out to be a deal breaker, it’s going to get tense!
  14. Visa extensions… we’re hoping to stay five or six months, the standard tourist visa is three.  It’s not difficult to get an extension, but there are a few details that we’re reading up on.

The weather is turning cool in New England.  Pumpkins are appearing on doorsteps and  our pond has become a stop on the flight route south of hundreds of geese.  We’ve enjoyed the summer in southern Massachusetts and we’re sucking the marrow from the last few sweater wrapped evenings, lit by campfires, before we follow the geese south and head for warmer climes.

Marshmallows- taken by Bryan Powers