the life and times of Towels Packed
Funny how an idle pastime can sometimes take on a life of its own.
In a month or so this blog will mark its fourth anniversary. In that time, we have lived on three different continents and doubled our family size, first adding a dog and then a small child into our globetrotting mix. We also have managed to write 499 posts, making this one the big #500. Much like a long-running TV series that celebrates its milestone episodes with an extravaganza revue, we thought it would be fun to poke around in our past and revisit some of our favorite moments.
We launched the blog to little fanfare a few weeks after arriving in Nairobi in June 2011. We’re not quite sure about the exact date because S decided to backdate our initial posts. At the outset, it was a bare-bones affair with few pictures, intended to help us keep in touch with the friends and family we left half a world away.
With work largely a taboo topic, however, we increasingly filled the blog pages with photos from our safari trips and tales of our travels around East Africa, which attracted new followers. Several times WordPress featured our travel write-ups on its homepage, and before long the blog followers we knew became outnumbered by total strangers.
Although we don’t know most of the more than 2,000 people who now subscribe to our blog, it has facilitated a handful of surprising connections. We have contributed photos from our blog for an educational publication, and a museum curator once contacted us about using one of our images for an exhibition. Multiple FSO families have reached out to us through the blog with questions about serving in Nairobi and Chisinau, and a few people looking to travel in Kenya have contacted us to ask for travel tips. One even wound up staying at a guesthouse operated by one of our friends.
Most memorably, while on home leave two summers ago, D had coffee with one of our readers, who wrote to ask about life in the Foreign Service. The meeting felt a bit surreal — not only because it was a face-to-face encounter with a total stranger that materialized out of a virtual connection, but also because this person sometimes called D “Arthur” — the pseudonymous name attached to our TowelsPacked email address. The meeting was also overwhelmingly positive, as this new real-life acquaintance decided to take the Foreign Service plunge after meeting with D, and last summer joined the State Department.