Two weeks

Two weeks until departure time!

I’m tying up the last few ends, working my last few days, and studying material for my WFR course.

The most exciting thing is that I get to start packing the backpack! Ben thinks that two weeks out is too early. Maybe it’s best he didn’t know that I made the packing list back in October.

Early as it may seem, there’s pressure to get things done and situated now. Not only is packing happening for the trip, all this ‘other’ stuff needs to move from Moscow to my parents’ house. My river gear has to be available to pick up and go to Syringa upon the May return.

With many checklists to complete though, it’s been easy to avoid actually thinking about the trip.

This realization came recently during a phone conversation with Ben. I was lamenting the absence of my friends, who are all on break, plus the loneliness of living alone (in a questionably haunted house). Ben and I’s conversation was the only extended exchange I had had all day.

I’m going a little crazy over here.

Then it dawned on me that my life will be incredibly different in two weeks. I’ll have nothing but time to talk with Ben, we’ll be 24-7 travel companions for better or worse.

I can’t even possibly conceive what experiences I will have, or what it will be like, but I won’t be lonely, and I’ll be far from any boring daily routine. Life may get a little hectic, decisions will have to be made every day. We won’t look back for one moment.

So maybe it’s a good thing I’m going a little crazy over here. Maybe it’s so that I’ll appreciate the trip a bit more. Maybe my loneliness serves to demonstrate to myself what it’s like to spend time with me, and I’ll lighten up on Ben a bit. Maybe I’m going a bit crazy now because it will take a crazy person to deal with some aspects of this upcoming trip.

I can’t wait. 

Goodbye!

No, not saying goodbye to everyone for my trip just yet. That’ll be in two weeks and three days*. That goodbye will be with mixed emotions: excited for the adventure that awaits, but sad to leave my friends and family for so long.

This goodbye is not sad, it’s a good thing. Today, I said goodbye to Wells Fargo. That’s right, today I officially exited the corporate banking world.

This has been a long process, with the trip to Argentina as the catalyst for the change. But first, the reasons for leaving.

Reason number one: Using my debit card overseas was going to cost me $5 per ATM withdrawal. And that didn’t count the ATM’s fee, PLUS a 2% conversion fee. I did the math, rather I estimated the math. If I had $2,000 to spend in Argentina, and I made all my transactions via ATM in $200 incriments, that would have COST me over $200 dollars in banking fees.

Reason number two: I won’t have an income while in S.A.  To avoid ‘service fees’ I would have had to set up a web of automatic transfers from my checking accounts to my savings, and then back again. It would have looked like this:

This would have been a pain to make sure that the minimum amount of money was in each account at all times. It would also have been stressful considering that the automatic transfers left me with only one more online transfer for each month form Savings to either checking.

If these automatic transfers from Checking to Savings did not happen, it would have been a total of $35 per checking account.

Reason number three: Wells Fargo might, might not, might? start charging more fees. There’s been rumors online of debit card fees. The personal banker today told me that the bank is considering having mandatory service fees for having an account.  Not good!

So, when I checked out a local Credit Union my decision was a no-brainier. A five dollar upfront membership fee was all it was going to cost me to open an account. There are no ‘service fees’ if money is not automatically transferred from Checking to Savings. They will charge only 1% in conversion fees for transactions overseas.

Sure, the website is not as user friendly. And they don’t have mobile banking. But I don’t have a mobile device to do such a thing. I can use any ATM for free that’s in their co-op network, and I can visit their co-op partners across the US to cash checks, etc.

So goodbye corporate banks, hello local, friendly, fee-free credit union!

*Yes, panic now.

Countdown: Three weeks

As of 12.23.11 I will be three weeks away from a plane ride to Montevideo, Uraguay. 

Three weeks! And then every day after that is 2 weeks and some days.

Then one week and some days.

Then it’ll be time.

At the beginning of December, it seemed as if the month would drag by. But, before I knew it my friends were taking finals and we were all celebrating graduations and saying good byes.

The good news is that this week I upgraded my living space from the basement to an actual room with heating and windows.

The bad news is that there’s so much to do before January 13th. 

These include, but are not limited to

  • buy a sleeping bag, cook-set, batteries for my steripen, H2O bottle and other nick-knacks for the adventure
  • close down my Wells Fargo account and move all my funds to the credit union
  • write Christmas thank-yous
  • study for and take my WFR re-certification course
  • Find a hotel or hostel for the day we arrive in Montevideo
  • PACK
  • move out of my apartment and have stuff river-ready for my return in May
  • oh yeah, and learn as much Spanish as possible before then (which is now going much better!).

This has to get accomplished while going to work and spending as little amount of money as possible. Finances will be tight and I must keep reminding myself that three dollars here will buy a meal in Argentina, seven dollars will get me a place to stay at night, twenty will get me a bus ticket to the next destination.

Save save save.

Do you have any recommendations for me before I travel? What do you wish you would have done before going on your international adventure? Or, any adventure for that matter.

Happy trails!