It's January 2010. Just in case you didn't know. And that means two things. I leave in less Zambia in less than 4 months and a new group of Peace Corps Volunteers are preparing to come to Zambia. This blog is for them!
A few helpful hints as you prepare to move to the bush for 2 years.
Bring a Solio. I didn't but have become dependent on the Solio that was handed down to me by another volunteer. I charge my iPod with it everyday. Without it I wouldn't be able to listen to my music everyday. And I would probably be even crazier than I am already! (This isn't an advertisement for Solio. Just make sure the solar charger you buy has good reviews and is dependable. Even Solio starts to lose its full charging power after about a year!)
Bring an iPod/cd player and speakers that don't run on batteries. I listen to music everyday. Like I just said, it keeps me sane – even if its very little!
Bring a shortwave radio. I didn't think I would need or want one but after being in the village for a few months with no news, I was beginning to feel a bit isolated. My radio has now become one of my two links to the outside world in the village. (The other is my cell phone!) I can get BBC, VOA, and 2 FM stations in my area. (Just remember, it will be different in your village. I'm not remote by Zambian standards!)
Bring some things that will remind you of home and make you smile. I brought pictures of family and friends but also my Dwight Bobblehead from The Office. If you love The Office as much as I do, you know how happy it makes a person!
Do you need coffee? Consider bringing a french press and some of your favorite coffee grounds. I drink real coffee everyday and it makes my day in the village so much more enjoyable. Now, my french press broke so now I have a rigged up system but it works. (Read: buy a plastic one!) Plus, I have a mom who loves me very much and constantly sends me Starbucks coffee grounds! Thanks Mom!!!!
Bring clothes with elastic. This one is more for the ladies. Bring tank tops with elastic because after a year of hand washing your clothes they stop shrinking back into shape. I have a few cotton tank tops that are 3 sizes larger than when I brought them. They stretch to my knees. Literally. The ones that fair the best have that elastic/cotton blend. I know this sounds weird but after a year in the bush, you'll be thanking me! Same goes for underwear!
Bring water flavor packets. I hate the way the water tastes out of the filters. They help a ton!
Bring a rain coat and boots. Rainy season. Enough said!
Keep in mind! Africa breaks everything. And I mean everything! So don't bring anything you would be heartbroken over when Africa breaks it!
Other than that remember: necessity is the mother of invention. If you find yourself without something you think you need, you can usually find something here that will work. Or if all else fails, you can get a loved one to send it to you from America-land!
Good luck packing! And if you are an education Volunteer, maybe I'll see you on first site visit when you get here!