It is nearly a month since this woman posted her initial question, and she has yet to decide even the type of bike she should buy. I suggested she concentrate on that....
I can´t resist cutting a quote from dkoloko. I almost became a farmer this month too, so I have struggeld with quite a few decisions during these past months...
Anyways - you have been very helpful - I thought I let you know what bike it is going to be.
Ta da! http://salsacycles.com/bikes/2012_vaya
The brakes will be upgraded, the gearing might be a triple and the tires won´t be that fat.
No criticism intended for time it took you to choose a bike. I questioned side-track to ultra lightweight bicycle travel niche. I thought as a novice you had enough to think about in choosing a bike to buy. I stated even type of bike, because earlier you had not settled on a touring bike, considering also a cross bike. Best wishes on your choice, and may you have a very enjoyable and memorable tour.