I consider myself to be a rational person. I don’t actually believe that objects have the power to protect people from harm, but that doesn’t stop me from covering my bases by traveling with a talisman. I never leave home without a bracelet wrapped around my wrist or tucked into my carry-on. My mom gave me the Nepalese bracelet 16 years ago when I left to study abroad in Ecuador. It is inscribed with symbols for good luck and protection. She donned a similar bracelet and it was intended to be an inter-continental tether to my family while I was away. While I was in Ecuador the Sucre (local currency) rapidly devalued causing economic and political unrest. There was a peaceful coup that replaced the President with the Vice-President and a dollarization of the economy a few weeks after I left. Guagua Pichincha, one of the many volcanos that surrounds Quito, became active periodically spewing volcanic ash onto the city. Anxiety was running high in Ecuador and I came to view the bracelet as more than a tether; it was my personal travel protector. Since then, I never travel without it.
Although on more than one occasion I have forgotten the bracelet at home, resulting in private mini-freakouts when I realized its absence. Not having it with me did not portend doom or result in disastrous experiences. I have been stricken with food poisoning in Copenhagen (of all places); forced to buy carpets in Morocco in order to leave a shop; and robbed of all my possessions (passport, camera, and clothes) in Chile. One of my more disastrous trips involved two concussions, a hospital visit, and a neck brace yet we made the most of three weeks traveling through France and a stop in Prague. Did I mention that the bracelet never left my wrist in all these instances? I believe that we as travelers label experiences that don’t live up to our expectations as bad luck and allow it to cloud the entire trip instead of accepting that not everything may go as planned.
Of course, that belief does not stop me from making sure the bracelet is always the first item on my packing list. I can always use the extra cosmic insurance, right?