You don’t consider, most days, how much consumerism affects you. I like to think of myself as less of a consumer and buyer than most people, but the lure of buying things is always there. Living out of a backpack makes me more aware of it, though, because the space and weight restriction prevents my acting on the urge to buy. So, rather than buying anything, I will regale you with stories of things I have so far resisted buying.

First and foremost is a hammock. In my first week in Latin America, I slept in a hammock, and it was wonderful. They’re also comfortable for napping, chatting, blogging, and reading, and I would love to own one. I haven’t finished exploring Latin America yet, but I am confident in stating that every tourist stall from Mexico to Argentina has at least a dozen hammocks in different colours, styles, and weaves. Sadly, I am already carrying a tent as my mobile sleeping arrangement, and tents are more practical. They provide protection in all weather, keep mosquitoes away, keep your belongings away from prying eyes, and don’t require sturdy trees or beams from the ceiling to set up. A tent is a much better option than a hammock, but that won’t stop me drooling over hammocks whenever I see them in shops.

Pure comfort right there, baby!

Pure comfort right there, baby!

A digital SLR camera comes in a close second in terms of temptation. Ellen and I are travelling with two cameras – my cellphone and a five-year-old point-and-shoot Canon digital camera. The battery charger on the Canon has died, so we briefly discussed replacing it before discovering that universal battery chargers are about $2, so the camera lives on. Still, whenever we take pictures, we comment on how a camera with more options would allow us to improve our photography. We could adjust the focus to exactly where we want it, something I’ve been playing with when taking pictures of flowers with a cityscape background. With a true photographer’s camera, we might have a chance to capture scenery or sunset shots that more closely resemble the beauty we see. For me, the digital SLR will remain a pipe dream, unless Ellen decides to splurge.

Sure, it LOOKS pretty, but this isn't half as nice as it could be.

Sure, it LOOKS pretty, but this isn’t half as nice as it could be.

Finally, there are all the little things that tempt me to spend money I don’t have on things I don’t need. I have five outfits, for example, and only one of them keeps me warm enough on a cool evening. I absolutely don’t need to look at pretty summer dresses. (I have not yet been tempted by a long-sleeve shirt or a sweater. This is frustrating, as that’s what I’d allow myself to buy if I found one.) I don’t look at the jewelry (much to the disappointment of street vendors everywhere) but lovely handmade woven purses catch my eye again and again. I already own a purse (and it’s handwoven) so I really don’t need another one, but I can’t help but look. I have two pairs of glasses with me, but both have broken and been repaired repeatedly, and both fall off my face if I make sudden movements. I could replace them, but I can still see just fine through them.

Usually, Ellen and I are travelling mostly in the countryside, so we don’t get many chances to be tempted to buy things. In Costa Rica, we had to walk twenty minutes to buy a beer, which was the only thing there was to buy in the village. When we did make our way into towns, we had lists of things that had worn out and needed replacing or repairing. This month, though, Ellen and I are right smack-dab in the middle of town. We’re trying to keep our purchases limited to groceries, but the temptation to buy things we don’t need is always with us. Luckily, the weight of my backpack and my reluctance to lug it around with yet more stuff in it keeps the temptation at the back, rather than the front of my mind.

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