Last night I had to pack up most of my things even though it is a month (4 weeks Friday, but who is counting) before I come home. My director from Accra was here today to assess how I have done and was kind enough to take a big bag of my stuff back with him in the vehicle . This seemed so much easier (for me at least!) than going from bicycle to bus to taxi to bus to bus to taxi as I would be doing in a month. And after Friday I am going to be living out of a backpack anyway.
I am so disappointed in myself at how much I brought. Granted I had no idea what I could get here but I also realize that I don’t use nearly the same amount of “stuff” here as I do at home. Really, how much hair gel does one girl need in Africa? The thing that is most disappointing is that if I don’t need it here I don’t need it at home either but I am quite sure that I will go back to my old ways before long. Anyway I thought I would make a list of the best and worst things I brought just in case any of you plan to spend a few months in rural Ghana someday:)
Most useful things I brought:
- Headlamp. Vital for cooking, making it to the bathroom, reading, whatever, when the lights are out.
- Spices from home. When you are needing something familiar it is easy to do with a little dill or basil. Tonya’s idea I think, brilliant, thanks!
- Small laptop. Acer just came out with a mini laptop, the size of a hardback book, before I left and this has made a world of difference both for my work and personal life. It was well worth it to get the one with enough memory for pictures and music just to keep me going somedays. And a very good price, check them out….no they aren’t paying me.
- My sweatshirt. Who knew it would get cold in Africa at night? I’m wearing it pretty much every night now, just as soon as the thermometer drops below 29!
- Light, long sleeve dress shirts for work. Dressing up is important.
- A travel pillow.
- A sarong. This often doubles as my sheet and towel when I am travelling. It is super light and easy to pack.
- Anti-nauseants, malaria pills, pepto bismol, tylenol, muscle relaxants, bandaids and antibiotic cream. I haven’t needed anything else from my medicine kit (yet…knock on wood) but I guess you would have to assess this for yourself. I don’t really know why I thought I would go through TWO tubes of polysporin though.
- SPF 45 sunscreen for my face.
- Socks. These really help with the cold nights and also the super duper dry air.
- Cards and calendars with pictures of the Rockies. These are making great goodbye gifts for the people I have worked with and the girls at the convent.
- Pumice stone or foot file. The air is so dry and walking around in flip flopts all day even my feet are starting to crack when I’m not careful. (Yep, flip flops in December, it’s great!)
- Swiss army knife. Very handy.
Most useless things I brought:
- Wayyyyyyy too many clothes. I had some made here which were better for work anyway plus when you are washing by hand you don’t want to let them pile up. I mean, when you are having someone else wash them by hand you don’t want to let them pile up. Nobody cares or even notices that you wear the same thing all the time. That’s what they are doing too. I haven’t touched half of the clothes I brought.
- Too many “products”. I don’t know why but I have used less than half the shampoo I normally do and had a similar experience with lots of other “essentials.” Maybe the fact that I am having a 30 second cold shower has something to do with it and I put off washing my hair for as long as I can. Just about anything I would buy at the drugstore I have used less than half of what I thought I would. Wow.
- Running shoes. What was I thinking?
- Mosquito net. Yes this is important, it is just better to buy here than at home.
- Vitamins. They are only useless because I never take them.
- Yoga mat. What was I thinking?
- Peppermint oil. I was told that this would keep the ants away. Not true. It does smell nice though.
- A book of exercises. What was I thinking?
- Too many books in general. These were heavy and I have had no problem making friends who also have books and are willing to swap.
- Gum. I don’t chew it at home, why would I start here?
The list of things that are useless probably make up half of the total mass of what I brought. I really am surprised, but I guess now I know. I’m not sure if the things I would have left at home if I had packed later would have been the right things to go. Live and learn.
That sounds interesting, Uncle Don. I will meet you at Tim’s. By the way, there must have been someone who came here with a whole box of Tim Horton’s shirts because I see “Timbit” shirts everywhere. Or maybe that’s just a mirage. So good to hear from you Bev, Tonya and Kristen. I like to know you are reading, makes me feel connected. Hope you are well! Joseph, so glad to hear you got home safely. Jirapa isn’t the same without you. Both Brother and Peter seem to have disappeared. I suspect Brother got on the next bus and followed you to Wa and apparently Peter was just in it for the game:) I also forgot, “You will give me your hair” which is interpreted as, “Run if you see someone with scissors!” Enjoy the cold.