we forgot the towels
Yes, in leaving for Nairobi 18 days after our wedding, which happened on the heels of our pack-out from Chicago, we failed to include certain essentials in our suitcases. Packing to backpack for several months or to drive cross-country to start grad school in a new city we have mastered, but packing up our entire lives in multiple pack-outs and shipments to move halfway across the world for 2 years, we do not have down pat. So, admittedly we made some rookie blunders.
Our first mistake was optimism when it comes to shipments. For instance, we were hoping that our 450 lbs of UAB (better get used to the abbreviations – during training D was given four separate acronym dictionaries to help us decipher the foreign service lifestyle; this one stands for unaccompanied air baggage) would arrive in 2 weeks and decided to pack mostly shoes, toiletries, and clothing in our luggage. In fact, we were told recently it would take closer to a month for us to see that shipment (if we’re lucky), and you wouldn’t believe how many small everyday things you wind up desperately needing when you don’t have them handy. Not to mention that everything else we own was packed as HHE (lingo for household effects). Crated in Chicago, Maine and DC, it will get consolidated in Europe and should arrive by boat at some point 3-4 months from now (we hope).
Our second mistake was thinking that the “welcome kit” provided by post would be welcoming to those arriving in a new country with only a few suitcases in tow. Lucky for us, they’ve just switched over to a disposable welcome kit that costs half as much and provides less than a quarter of what it used to. U.S. taxpayers can rejoice. These new kits include 2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 plastic cups, 2 towels, 1 shower curtain (for a 2 ½ bath home), and one set of military grade sheets that make you miss the sheets at summer camp. Now, these government-issued bath towels are just shy of being able to cover you in the way a bath towel should. And of course with only one set, we’ll be doing laundry weekly.
And thus, we have learned our lesson. Never travel to post without a towel.