In December I'll spend two weeks in the Himalayan range, inashallah. I'm supposed to take part in a trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary and it's going to be special because it's exactly 20 years since Anatoli Boukreev died in his winter attempt to open a new route to the 8.000 m summit of the Annapurna.
I'm training hard since a few months but I didn't think my goal could be so close. My plann was to spend the winter in the Alps and the next Summer in the Altai, waiting to be in a better shape to try the most demanding mountains of Nepal. I had started reading up on it though and I had already made my mind up about the fact I wanted to travel with Avventure nel Mondo.
It isn't a travel agency but an association of travelers, or better a free union of adventurers who share their experience and contacts. It puts together people interested in the same destination offering a basic organisation (general information and flight booking). It also selects some senior travelers to act as 'coordinators'. In the wild good old times groups used to elect - and often to revocate! - their chiefs, but since a few years they are appointed by the association. In any case it isn't a organised travel and travelers are always free to leave the group. There is an itinerary based on previous travels but it isn't compulsory to respect it. The group is free to go where the majority want and accomodations are normally to find on the spot, in hostels, tents or private homes.
I traveled twice with Avventure nel Mondo, the first time in 1996: I spent 25 days backpacking in Central America. We visited Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize, mostly by public transport. It was a great adventure! in 2004 I went trekking to the isle of Madeira with my 2 yo son. I used to have him walking until he fell asleep, then I used to put him in my baby backpack and when he woke up he walked again, and so on. The other travelers were also single parents with their children so we went along very well.
Since that I have always traveled on my own, but you can't go to the Annapurna Sancturay on your own. At least, I can't. Avventure nel Mondo is a good compromise. And that's how I got to know the coordinator of my next trek: I liked him immediately and decided I had to go now to travel with him. In such a travel it's important to have a complete trust in your leader, even if this is a democratic, informal leadership. Lets hope my intuition is right.
Although I'm training and feeling good I suffered for a severe anemia some years ago so I decided to undergo a blood test. The result was a cold shower: many values were wrong, the iron level especially was extremely low again. 'Trek over!' I thought. Then I reflected on the fact I was feeling good, not exhausted all the time, able to afford long excursions or demanding gym session. I talked with the trek's coordinator and he said I was right to have a good talk with my doctor of course but also that probably my body was got used to work with a low level of iron and that a generous iron intake in the next weeks and during the travel is enough. My haemoglobin's value wasn't that bad and that's what matter at a high altutude.
My doctor confirmed it. I could book the travel! I went to look for my passport... and I found out it's expired. Ok! stay cool! I have the time! I ran to the post office to pay the passport tax, to the have my photos taken, I printed the format, I phoned my husband: "Hello, I need a photocopy of your ID document please and you should pass here to sign the format for my new passport demand so I can go tomorrow morning to the police office....", "Uhm... yes... well... I don't know where it is my ID document... I haven't seen it since August..." Silence. More silence. He always lets me down. Always. Always. I have always to pay for his messy life. We share a son so for the Italian law I have to get his authorisation to go abroad, and that's true for everybody, no matter if they are married or not, living together or not, if they are in touch or not. It only matter if the son or daughter is under 18 and recognised by both.
No panic. I DO have time. He said he was going to look for his document, I said that NO, he must go and get a new one. He did. So on Monday morning - inshallah - I'm going to go to the police office and apply for a new passport. It can take two weeks. I can't book the travel without having a valid passport. Deeply breathing. More breathing. I DO have time.
The trek's coordinator sent me a list with the equipment I need and I'll focus on this.