Thursday 15 February 2007

our time is running out....

It only really dawned on me yesterday quite how little time I have until we leave for Ecuador. We fly out on the morning of Friday 2nd March. That’s only a touch over two weeks away. C. is away this weekend, so we’ve only really got one weekend together to pull everything together and to buy all the bits and bobs we’ll be needing for the trip.

Just looking down the list we’ve been given, this doesn’t look like an entirely trivial task: alongside the every day items like clothes, walking shoes, insect repellent, sun cream, hat, sleeping bag and head torch are such delights as gaiters, 1 litre nalgene water bottles, a breathable waterproof jacket / trouser set, a poncho…. They’re all items that should be fairly easy to get hold of, but I’m still slightly nervous about quite how little time I have to get it together.

I’ve also had to get on the phone to the nurse to arrange for the anti-malarial drugs. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds because there are a number of different drugs, each with its own set of benefits and side effects. We are going to be dipping in and out of malarial zones whilst we're away, so I had to decide if I wanted to take the drugs on a start / stop basis or if I just wanted to take them continually for three weeks (plus the run-off period). In the end, the fact that I have been told that the combination of malaria and the WTs would be absolutely knockout, I opted to play it safe and I’ll be on Malarone for 4 weeks. Expensive, but also the most effective anti-malarial prophylaxis available. I hear that weird dreams are a common side-effect, but given that last night I dreamt that a celebrity hairdresser gave me a cut that involved long hair stuck straight upwards all around the crown of my head with a shaven bit in the middle dyed purple, I think I’m having enough weird dreams already....

As I was thinking about all the things I needed to get done, my mind turned to my passport. I may be able to get many things when I'm actually in Ecuador, but a passport is the one thing you have to make damn sure that you remember. I’ve had mine for ages, and I knew full well that it expires at some point in September this year. It has long been at the back of my mind to check what Ecuador’s requirements are for entry, as I had a feeling that some countries need you to have a minimum of six months to run.... Sure enough, Ecuador is one of those countries (well, I read that it was, rang the Ecuadorian consulate to confirm this, and they didn’t seem sure. I decided that on the whole it was a chance that I couldn’t afford to take). Whoops. The postal application process for a new passport takes three weeks that I don’t have and involves sending off my current passport. This leaves me with little alternative but to apply in person, so this Saturday, I will be making an unscheduled trip to the UK Passport Office in Peterborough to get my passport renewed in person. I had to make an appointment and everything!

Well, at least it will be done then, eh?


  1. There is a express guaranteed 1 week service too.

    Also, I applied for a passport on the standard basis a couple of months ago, and it came back within a week.

  2. Oops. You're right. You have to show up for that one.

  3. That haircut sounds like a winner to me!

    Just what you need for a memorable passport photo!

  4. Wow, exciting stuff!

    Why on earth do you want to get a 1l water bottle, surely a camelbak type thing is much, much better. That's what I took to the Andes and I wouldn't swap it for a poxy bottle any day. 3l of water too so you don't need to skimp on a day trip.

  5. My friend R was caught out like this and had to make an emergency trip to Glasgow for a new passport. She was even less organised - she realised two days before she was due to fly!

  6. Hello - probably a bit late to comment on this now, but I took Malarone for the first four weeks I was living in India. I had no side effects at all (as far as I can tell), so I'd recommend them. They are quite expensive, but Malaria really isn't a fun disease to have so it's worth it.

    Only problem for me was I've never been able to take tablets, so I had to crush them in a pestle and mortar I brought with me and then have them with some jam.

    But no side effects, so that's the main thing.