I suck at packing

I’m not a light packer.  I’m not a fast packer.  I’m not an efficient packer.  I’m not even 100% focused when I’m packing.  I can pack for hours, staring at my clothes, and come out with the difference of two tops either being in or out.  I’m just crap at packing.  However, I’m proud to say that I am gradually improving over time (lots of it. I also stress gradually).

To give you a sense of where I was, let’s rewind back to 6ish+ years ago..  You know how you generally pack one outfit for the day, and another for the evening?  I used to pack so that I was fully prepared for whatever weather Mother Nature decided to throw at me.  Be it rain, sun, hot, cold, slightly chilly, mildly warm, breezy weather, etc, I had the clothes.  Now multiply that by the time of day – day attire, night attire, and number of days on the trip.  That’s just clothes.  I haven’t even mentioned my toiletries, towels, hairdryer, shoes, etc.  I was THAT bad.

My bestie packs for a whole weekend away, with her clothes, toiletries, a little blanket, PLUS a standard sized pillow, carrying everything in ONLY her pillowcase.  I only believe this because my own two eyes have seen this on many occasions.  She’s my idol (for many things including her gift for packing).  I aspire to one day pack almost as well as she does (I’ve already accepted the fact that I will never fit everything into one pillowcase, unless it’s a day trip).

Fast forward to today, and I have learned many little secrets.  A huge one is to roll clothes when you pack, as this allows you to pack more  😉  I also re-use clothes I’ve already worn, trained myself to go without a hairdryer, know that going away for 3 days doesn’t mean packing 3 pairs of jeans, become a little more stylish in order to mix and match a greater variety of looks.  I’ve also realised I’ve been underestimate the scarf.  This lifesaver can protect you from any type of “cold” that one can be exposed to in South East Asia.  It keeps your neck warm, or your shoulders, or can double up as a little blanket!  Genius.

As you know, N and I are leaving for a 3 week trip to France and Portugal next Friday night (well technically 5 minutes into Saturday morning).  It is bloody freezing in France, and freezing in Portugal (keep in mind I’m from South East Asia so anything below 23°C/74°F already requires a scarf/light jacket).  So at T-6 days from departure, with a general gist of what to expect with weather, and under strict orders from N that I am not allowed to bring too much or I will be forced to carry my own bags, I’ve begun preliminary packing of some clothes.  This is what I’m staring at so far:

This doesn’t include the 2 jackets I’m probably bringing (my coat for the bloody freezing cold, and a furry jacket for the freezing cold), my toiletries (I bring everything, including my own shower cap), 2 pairs of knee high boots (one black, one brown of course, and perhaps even my trainers), perhaps another scarf or two to make 3 or 4 (two for outdoors, one for indoors post showering so that it’s clean), other tops that are being washed..

Oh, did I mention that when in Portugal for a week and a half, we will be staying it N’s mum’s house, so will have access to a washing machine?

Yup, I already know.

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Meeting the family

His family.

N and I are off to France and Portugal for 3 weeks (I’m soo excited to be able to spend so much time with him!). His sister in Coimbra just had her first baby last month making him a first time uncle, he needs to get a new passport, ID card, driver’s license which all need to be processed back home in Portugal, and he gets a week off for Chinese New Year. So all these things coming together, made this the best time to head there.

Portugal is where most of his family members reside. The only family member I’ve met is his beautiful mum. She’s just the second most lovely lady next to my mom ;), a true Mama. At less than 5 feet, on the rounder side, bright, constantly smiling, and is a happy soul. She speaks Portuguese, French and Spanish, but not a word of English. Luckily,vI took French when I was younger, but last studied it when I was 16. Needless to say, j’ai oublié beaucoup (I have forgotten a lot).

Nevertheless, we both tried our best to communicate as best as we could through my very broken, hardly existent rudimentary French. Even with the language barrier, we adore each other. She met my parents when she came to visit last year, and had a lot of fun with my mom (whose last French lesson was not too long before I was born). Mama and I even call each other for quick chats every so often to give each other bises (kisses), and at the end of our last conversation, she said “J’taime beaucoup beaucoup P” (I love you a lot, very much). I melted.

So Mama, love. Now I’m going to meet his father, sister, her husband, his cousins, his aunts and uncles. Level of nervousness is standard meeting-the-family level. The one family member I’m really nervous about meeting is his paternal grandfather. He pretty much raised N and has a huge influence over who he is today. To make it even more challenging, his Avô only speaks Portuguese, none of which I speak. Let that sink in.

N bought me a Teach Yourself Beginner’s Portuguese book, complete with 2 CDs which I have ripped onto my iPhone. Out of the 20 chapters, I’ve done 2 – Pleased to Meet You, and Where are you From? On top of that, Portuguese is nothing like French or English, so no shortcuts for me there either 😦

With a little more than a week to go, I don’t know how much more I can absorb. I’ll keep trying, but while there, I need to make sure I am accepted by his other family members so they can help pass on the good word 🙂 Overall though, I am really excited and nervous but rearing to go!

Love in a text

“I’m realising that work it’s important but without you I have no balance anymore.  You are my soulmate and you are more important than anything else.  I love you.  With you I’m a much better person and I thank you for that, really” ~ N

N usually uses actions to show how much he cares, but on the occasion that he does write, I can’t help but melt  🙂

Happy 2012!!!

Mabuhay from the Philippines!! I’ve been here with N and friends for the past week. Five days in Manila and four days in Puerto Galera. Here’s the view of from our lovely pool villa on top of the hill (just to make you jealous)..

I’ll write more when I get back.  In the meantime, wishing you all an awesome 2012, full of love, laughter, and good health!!