Your life in 80 Lbs
1 --- represents reading the piece of paper and saying sure I'll go and not really thinking about what you'll take until about 45 minutes before staging. Bob and his anatomical model of the human ear would probably fall close to a 1
10 --- represents the person who has their English/Samoan dictionary, has read every weblog from every Peace Core in the South Pacific, and packed the day after getting the offer. Mari would probably be closer to the 10 scale
Ground shipping can realistically take up to six months to get here.
I've heard stories of a package taking a year and it took a package of
mine three months.
Air mail takes between three to five weeks to arrive though legends
are abound about the mysterious package that took six months to arrive
with customs stamps from all across the globe.
Bike Accessories At the end of training, you will be given a bike. The bikes we got were fairly nice Treks. They are supposed to provide you with locks and a couple other things. Now, the issue is that it's not easy to get decent locks and stuff in the country. One option is to goto the hardware store and buy a chain/padlock. You can take the receipt and be reimbursed. If I would have known, I would have just brought my u-lock from the States. If you have one, and some free weight, I'd throw the bike lock in my bag. I also brought a patch kit, small hand pump, extra tube, and a chain tool. Later on I had a rack, some extra tubes and toeclips sent. The panniers are on their way. Tools I brought a small tool kit (screwdriver, vice grips, dikes, etc), a set of hex wrenches, and a bike multi-tool with me. These have been pretty useful. Clocks Any clock worth having here is relatively expensive. Those that I can afford on my salary don't look to last too long. When I came I had an old Timex that made it most of the way through training. However, it disappeared somewhere along the way --- along with my swiss army knife. My roommate brought a nice small travel alarm clock. It's about 2 inches by 2 inches, glows in the dark, runs of a watch battery, and has a sturdy aluminum housing. I'd bring something self contained like this or a durable wristwatch. Computer Accessories If you have a laptop, I'd definitely bring computer speakers. Nothing really fancy, but something that can compete with the sound of rain beating down on a metal roof.
backing up I'm really paranoid about loosing information. Most of the work I'm doing here is on computer, so I like to back things up. If you have a cd/dvd burner in your computer, bring 10 or so rewritable disks. If you have the space, you might want to grab a 50 disc spindle. If you have a USB or Firewire external drive, that would probably be ideal.
warranties If your warranties are going to expire on things like computers and cameras, you might want to see if they can be extended for the duration of your service.
cables Back home most cables are relatively inexpensive and when you need them and do not have them you are screwed. Some cables I could have used if I had remembered to bring them are: male to male mini-din stereo cable. Male to male audio/video cables. A stereo male mini-din to female left/right audio cables.
clothing When you stay in the village it's going to be the beginning of the rainy season. This means that it's going to be humid all of the time. There wont be washers and dryers available, and so your clothing probably wont get very dry. My advice is to take two sets of clothing: stuff you'll wear during training and everything else. Most of my clothes from training have a unique and characteristic smell about them. There is of course my own personal oder, of which I am quite fond. This mingles nicely with the aromatic molds that are so pervasive her. I'll probably leave most of my clothing here to avoid bringing back any invasive mold species.