My special treasure

I have a tiny pouch that holds a special treasure that has travelled to multiple continents.    

This item:

1. Symbolizes access & information

2. Metaphorically holds my travel stories.

I purchased this apparatus from my local drug store for about $30 CAN years ago. It may not be of great monetary value, but it is sentimental, and of great use to me.

 This handy gadget is my “beloved universal adapter.”

Some of the country and continent names imprinted have rubbed off, leaving behind significant memories of journeys enjoyed.

How does it work?

1) Place the plug from home into the adapter socket

2) Select the appropriate country pin

3) Plug it into the wall outlet

VOILA – electrical access

Many countries use different voltages. A standard outlet in North America is about 120V (voltage), but the rest of the world (Europe, Asia, Australia) doubles to 200-240V.

My electrician friend explained that if I plugged my standard North American 120V plug directly into a European outlet (remember it’s a DOUBLE WHOPPER), it would BLOW UP!!! Therefore, it is crucial that the unit is a “combined” plug adapter AND voltage converter.

My travel blog pseudonym and hashtag is BrendaBeachBum, not BombingBrenda.

I will take you around the world offering snippets of my adapter’s travels…

Many moons ago, I was married with 4 young brats. We were lucky enough to tour the lovely southwest Ireland coastline. My family & I spent many wet days hiking through rolling hills, in search of the pot of gold left behind by the lucky leprechauns at the end of the rainbow.

An abundance of precipitation creates the luscious emerald green meadows, but that also meant 6 pairs of wet muddy shoes to clean. A mother’s workday never ends! I attempted to dry my family’s shoes, but initially, I did not have my converter. It was very unfortunate that the airline lost our baggage. I blew a fuse in “each and every” quaint village B&B that we were guests. The plug load would not withstand the demands of my 120v hairdryer. Some of us continued to wear soggy trainers as we set about our travels each morning. Jameson Irish whisky can warm chilled bones, but not wet feet. We were all relieved, especially the innkeepers, when our luggage along with the universal adapter finally arrived.

I really wanted to use the adapter in East Africa, but I faced other challenges. Power outages were prevalent at the Tanzania communal volunteer residence I temporarily called home.

 No electricity = useless gadget adapter.

I realized how one takes electricity for granted. The blackouts made me appreciate a more simplistic life. In general, my expectations decreased. Who needs light? I was just happy and relieved (literally) when I came across a functional flushing toilet. I shudder with embarrassment thinking about the bathroom pit stop on route to a traditional Maasai village. There was not even an outhouse. I un-discretely relieved myself in the middle of the barren desert trying to squat behind a scrawny cactus. When nature calls, it calls.

I was relieved my camera “unethically” used disposable AA batteries, and I was able to preserve photo memories of the Serengeti safari. I witnessed blue bum monkeys swinging eloquently from branch to branch, full belly pregnant zebras grazing outside our tents, lions mating (it’s almost faster than blinking), to the breathtaking wildebeest migration. My mouth drops reminiscing about Mother Nature’s animal children at work.

During the infrequent periods that I was able to find power in Kenya & Tanzania, I selected the standard British 3-pin rectangular or simply known as plug G (13 amp).

 In the Philippines, I was happy to refrain from the tools fuelled by electrical currents to enjoy the tropical beach. My general routine was to wake up, brush teeth, only to reverse good dental hygiene by tasting the sweet nectar of ripe mangos while swaying in a hammock tied between palm trees overlooking the South China Sea. My biggest concern was avoiding large dense coconuts falling on my head. However, my sis-n-law, over-utilized the adapter, following a high maintenance Kardashian-esque beauty regiment.

By the time we reached the capital city, Manila, my hair tangled in knots after not combing it for weeks. Our group decided to go out dancing. My sis-n-law made me over. She patiently curled my hair with the flat iron. The best part of an au natural “I just don’t care” non-beauty routine is my beach bum appearance drastically improved by simply blow drying my hair, picking a smart outfit, and putting on some make up. The compliments flowed. “Wow, you look stunning.”

I was able to overindulge in social media pleasures posting an obscene amount of pictures of my daughter and I messing around in the popular United Kingdom’s bright red telephone booths that we encountered in Edinburgh. I thought pay phones (similar to the antiquated typewriter) were museum item exhibits. My adapter helped charge my Iphone allowing me to snap photos of Loch Ness, the Highlands countryside, and artery clogging traditional English breakies (blood pudding, bacon, sausages, beans on toast, tomato, hash, eggs, button mushrooms) with a steaming cuppa of Earl Grey tea. I have no pictures of the “mythical” monster, Nessie. That moment is forever engrained in memory.

I backpacked through Portugal as a solo wander-luster. As fabulous as trekking across the world is, I became homesick and cherished contact with my family. Although my kids were jet setting in the Big Apple, it is important that we all remain in communication. Using the adapter, smartphone, & WIFI helped.

It was strategic to use my iPhone with WIFI to help navigate through the seven hills of the coastal capital city, Lisboa, in search of the best rooftop sunset views of the skyline. If one looked out far enough they can see where the Tagus River (Rio Tejo) meets the Atlantic Ocean. I loved watching the sky create impressions of varying hues: purple, blues, pinks, reds, and oranges surrounding the terracotta rooftops.

During breakfast, I debated if I should charge my phone or head past Ponta de Piedade to catch breathtaking views over the rugged bluffs one last time before departing Lagos.

I told my roomie that I planned to forego my purchased Eurail ticket through the Algarve to catch a ride with a local man I met on Tinder the day before.

She raised concern, “Are you crazy!?!! What if he’s a murderer? Very sketchy to go on a road trip with a stranger” I re-assured her, “its fine, we know each now…since we met yesterday.” That did not convince her, I continued to respond defensively, “this is no more dangerous than you travelling over steep rocky steps to the bluffs for the afternoon booze cruise with random strangers while you are limping in a boot cast & crutches. I enjoyed a “sober” boat trip days earlier, and my stomach experienced queasiness. It was calm in the caves, but we experienced rough waves further into the Atlantic Ocean as the wind fiercely whipped around.”

She & I held different definitions & tolerance of danger.

 Pedro picked me up as planned. He shared tales of local village fishermen’ violent deaths, stumbling as they climbed steep rocking cliffs, and being sucked into the ocean’s turbulent currents while we drove up the rugged coastline to Lisbon. We stopped to watch surfers moving athletically and acrobatically on the violent waves.

The picturesque views enhanced the taste of the juicy figs that he picked for me from his father’s gardens.

He remained a perfect gentleman up until the time he dropped me off at my Lisboa hostel.

We remain friends, and made a pact. In 2022, if we each remain partner-less, and although we have no romantic interest in one another, we will marry. Our vows will include: “I will make him laugh, and he will grow figs for me.” I do not want to be a solo adventurer forever, and practically, single supplement fees are expensive.

The beauty of this universal adapter is the amount of electricity that feeds through, and the power that it sparks within me as I visit more countries to create memorable stories. 

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