No matter where they are from, where they’re going, or where they are at any given moment, all backpackers must live by a few defined certainties. These certainties are known as “Matty’s Law”.
To be clear, Matty is not some guy in a position to pass a law governing backpackers the world over, nor dictate aspects pertaining to the backpackers lifestyle that all must adhere to. It’s known as Matty’s Law because every backpacker on the planet will have met a backpacker named Matty at one time or another. Most likely the Matty they met had scruffy, sun-bleached, blonde hair, probably some form of facial hair, and rarely ever wore anything other than shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals of some kind. So when asked who came up with these certainties, a reference to some guy named Matty was probably made, thus giving the the law it’s name.
The laws of certainty are:
Law #1: If you don’t absolutely need something you brought with you, you will end up throwing it away rather than carry it.
Law #2: Whatever you need most urgently will be buried in your backpack where it will not be found until everything is dumped out.
Law #3: Whatever is lost or misplaced will remain so until the need for it has past.
Law #4: Travel guide books will always contain outdated or wrong information you will count on as being correct.
What I left behind in Tapachula, Mexico…
In accordance with Matty’s first law governing backpacker certainties, I discarded duplicated stuff, items of clothing unsuited to the climate and things that just did not make sense to lug around.
The pants contained polyester and in almost 40 Celsius heat would get hot enough to burn skin when stretched tight across one’s thighs. The shirt was cotton, but had long sleeves. The shoes were Hush Puppies and very comfortable, but hot. They were replaced by flip flops. Not as comfortable to walk in, but far more sensible in the heat. The leather belt matched the shoes and was heavy to carry. Plus it soaked up sweat and stretched. I replaced it with a military style canvas belt that is machine washable.
For some reason I packed two electric tooth brushes. I replaced them with the old school manual style of toothbrush. Far lighter to carry, and they’re never out of battery power. I had 3 cables to connect a laptop to an Internet jack. With most places offering WiFi, two direct connection cables was enough redundancy. I will miss my leather bound note pad holder because it doubled as a workbench, but it was heavy. The leather computer bag and briefcase was an insanely expensive luxury, but it’s value was diminished by it’s empty weight. I bought a decent canvas backpack with a special compartment for a laptop and other compartments that were perfect for the limited camera equipment I carry. Best, the backpack has a ventilation system that uses motion to pump air in and out of the pack, so humidity is vented away from the electronics.
Most backpackers try to beat the inevitability that is Matty’s Law. This is Sue’s very creative attempt to not misplace or lose her dorm room locker key.
Anyone unfamiliar with hostel living will probably see only a crazy woman with a key tied to her head using a dread. A seasoned backpacker will see it for what it is, a cleaver use of resources brought to bear in an effort to thwart Matty’s Law. The fact is, Sue never loses her hostel locker key.
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