Sep 10, 2015

Buried in Things. (Packing for Kibungo).

I've spent 1/4 of my life abroad.

I know what it's like to buy a year's worth of tampons, coffee, and face cream. For years I have "stocked up" on cat treats, $.99 cat toys, face cream, boxes of tea, sports bras, and hair spray. Packing to go abroad is old news. 

But not this time. 

"Rural" (meaning not in a capitol city) Africa is throwing me for a loop already and I'm not even there. I've been bemoaning the task of packing and finally this week got my act together. You see, I've been to 33 countries, most of which I showed up with just a backpack, some hand written notes in sharpie on a scrap piece of paper, and my passport and visa card. It just works nicely that way, being underprepared. It's an adventure and really allows you to experience a place and allow it to care for you. 

But for this trip, I am having to pack while thinking of the big picture - What does my university need? (speakers, a projector, books). What will my office need? (scissors, a stapler, sharpies). What can I do to prevent malaria? (Off wipes, bug spray, malaria pills). How can I keep my cat happy? (friskies treats, puppy pads, and a plastic litter box). What can I bring to my community? (stickers, phonics flashcards, bananagrams, art supplies). It's a whole new world of thinking. And I have to be organized - which is NOT my forte. I like to wing it. But winging it will not help me in 3 weeks when I'm sitting in my house in Kibungo wishing I had thought things out a little better. I feel (intrinsic) pressure to do a good job and doing a good job means being prepared.

I will be living 2 hours outside of the capitol city of Kigali, where living is "easy" and most everything can be purchased for a price. I know that most of the things I am bringing can be found there, but I am not sure how soon or often I will make the journey so I want to be prepared initially to make a smooth transition until I can scope things out. 

There's always a contradiction in my head when packing like this - en masse. I know that I should buy 100 bottles of pepto, tylenol, dayquil and nyquil. But I also know that there is a hospital in my town and that they care for the Rwandans and they can care for me. I know I should take my malaria pills, but the thousands of Rwandans who live in high risk areas don't take the pills because they don't have access or the cost is too high and how can you take a pill like that for an entire life? If they don't - why should I? You have to trust a place to care for you because it cares for its own. But I also have access to the greatest shopping mecca known to mankind - Target - and so I am being responsible and preparing like an American going on a safari. Not like an educator that wants to integrate as much as possible. 

It's a little embarrassing, but here is my packing list to help anyone who might be making a similar move to a rural area abroad: 

work clothing, lounge clothing, gym clothes, maxi dresses, nice dress, jeans, swim suit, scarves, socks, underthings, leggings, sweatshirt, raincoat, bandanas, running wristlet, money belt
Chacos, Birkenstocks, running shoes, flip flops (for the shower), rain proof sandals, Toms flats
For the Office/Electronics: 
stapler w/ extra staples, scissors, notecards, paper clips, planner, extra cords for all electronics, external phone charger, kindle, waterproof phone case, convertor, headphones, external hard drive, laptop, unlocked iPhone  
For School: 
portable projector, Bluetooth speaker, tripod, work bag, dictionary, thesaurus, teaching materials, adult coloring books, markers, sharpies, crayons, backpack 
pepto, benedryl, cortisone, neosporin, bandaids, day/nyquil, tylenol, malaria pills, vitamins, probiotics, eye drops, cough drops, bug spray, Off wipes, malaria pill prescription, baby wipes, sunscreen, tooth paste, toothbrushes, floss, diva cup 
makeup, nail polish, nail polish remover, face wash, toner, face moisturizer (day/night), face mask, eye cream, hair spray, hair conditioner, argon oil, deodorant, mini perfume bottles, tweezers, nail clippers, glasses, sunglasses, contacts, vaseline, razor w/ extra blades, baby powder, hair ties, brush, jewelry, ear plugs, mini-everything for the first week in a hotel
For the cat: 
plastic litterbox, sandwich bags of food (for the first week in a hotel), treats, puppy pads (for the first week in the hotel), international health certificate, import license, toys, ear mite drops, nail clippers, fur brush, flea medicine, collar/leash/harness
For the house/kitchen: 
duct tape, alarm clock, can opener, corkscrew, measuring spoons, spices (cinnamon, vanilla extract, Mrs. Dash, ground pepper), batteries, rubbermaids, plastic hooks, quick dry towel, hair towel, sleeping bag, 10000 boxes of peppermint tea, coffee (just enough for until I can find some), french press, photos of family, nostalgic magnets, Florida postcards (to give away), world/USA maps, nalgene, flashlight, lint roller, clorox wipes, cash 
Personal development: 
Chinese textbook, Chinese character practice paper, kinyarwanda dictionary, kinyarwanda notecards, a few paperback poetry books, Bible, selfie stick, digital camera, stickers (to give to kids)

To buy on the European layover:  chocolate from duty free. :) 

Wish me luck as I (probably unnecessarily) drag this crap around the world...

walk slow. xoxo. 


reanew79 said...

Did you buy a portable projector? What did you end up getting? See you soon, in Africa somewhere! -Rebekah

Anonymous said...

Hey girl! I got the "Cube" projector on Amazon that Jessica Uganda showed us in the technology session. Also got some bluetooth speakers and a tripod from Amazon. I wonder if there's a version of amazon in senegal? I leave tomorrow, hope to see you sooner rather than later! ~Jessica