I feel so self-absorbed right now. Even more than my last year spent seeing, hearing, talking, living graduate school every second of every day(and that was major self-absorption). Now this sorting, packing, and preparing has me focused on the past me…the current me….the future me…and all of her needs/wants…..me me me. What should I take that I won’t be able to get in Nepal? Is there anything I should buy here that will make my adjustment to a different climate, culture, comfort level….easier? Where will I sleep? How will I sleep? Will I sleep? Etc…etc…etc…The advice I get is very very helpful….sometimes too much so. I still remain confused.
How much clothing should I take? The current volunteers say not to bring too much in the area of clothing….enough to keep you going between wash days. (and laundry is done by hand, so you don’t want too big of a pile of dirty laundry….less clothes…better) But, on the other hand, Nepalis are of smaller stature than an average sized American, so you might not be able to find clothing sizes that fit you….should probably have enough quality clothes that will last the two years. OR…..you could have family and friends send clothes to you…course…it costs an arm and a leg to ship to Nepal. Ah….and make sure your clothing choices are quick dry (as well as towels) The humidity here makes it really hard to dry anything. (At this moment, I’m looking at my plush cozy American towels and shaking my head)
Electronic advice from ‘those who have gone before’: You’ll need your electronics for book reading, picture taking, music listening, and internet access or you’ll go insane. But….don’t bring so much electronic equipment that you look like the typical rich American or you’ll be pestered never endingly about giving things to the natives….wait….you’re going to receive a never ending amount of pestering because you are a rich American anyway….just try to keep your shit hidden. Oh….and all of your electronic stuff will die over here due to climate and unpredictable power surges, so don’t bring expensive stuff…but, do bring quality stuff that will be durable.
And about food: Some of the Peace Corps volunteers in Nepal experience malnutrition issues while in country. Makes sense when you consider “Food Security” is the umbrella we are all working under over there. Lack of technology puts our American ‘eat local’ campaigns in a whole new ballpark, eh? Not much in the way of refrigeration in Nepal. And food is cooked over a fire. (Wood stoves were a recent project worked on by the current Nepal Peace Corps volunteers. Meals are cooked on open camp fires in the houses without cook stoves ….smoky smores, anyone?) So, should I use half of my luggage weight for dried food? Wait….can I dry food over there? Ummm…humidity is really really high, I don’t know what resources they have to dry food….I’m not confident of that. But, seriously, maybe I should be researching food preservation, right?? Or should I take a two year supply of nutritional supplements with me….will two years of nutritional supplements make it through customs? Even the crops that are growing have some major pest issues. A friend of ours serving in Nepal just this morning mentioned that over 200,000 monkeys have moved into his area and are decimating the corn crop. 200,000 monkeys? *shudder*
I think my biggest current concern revolves around how I’m going to deal with the change in hygiene opportunities and what I can take to help me out in that area. I’m a little on the quirky side compared with most Americans in the area of hygiene. To the point of worrying that someone will notice the number of times I wash my hands and shower….and I dunno…turn me into the water conservation police? But, in Nepal, hygiene is not always easily accessible. Water can be limited and bucket showers are a strong possibility. I’m sure bucket showers get people clean, I’ll just have to learn how to do it correctly and….learn to shower with cold water and less often. (bucket showers involve wetting your body down, soaping it up, and pouring water over your body to rinse…. but, what happens if you use all your water for rinsing…and still have soap on you?) In Nepal, I’ve heard, bathing is done while clothed. While clothed? Huh?…..how is that even…? Never mind, I’ll figure it out when I get there. I’ve also been told I should consider leaving the toilet paper at home, cause it would have to be burned in Nepal after use…..and it really isn’t needed. Not needed? Huh?….how is that even…? Never mind, I’ll figure it out when I get there. Should I pack tons of baby wipes and containers of hand sanitizer? Soooo…..yeah….a different world ahead in the hygiene department.
Different world altogether ahead. And to be totally honest, I don’t know which of my numerous “Vee personalities” will show up in Nepal…..trust me….they would all pack differently. And the collective Vees have a 100 lb. luggage limit. All about me me me….