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the life and times of Towels Packed

Funny how an idle pastime can sometimes take on a life of its own.

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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.

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First tours in the Foreign Service are always memorable, but even knowing that we felt like we hit the jackpot with Kenya.

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.

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We didn’t really have time for a honeymoon, as we left for Kenya two weeks after our wedding. We took a month off midway through our first tour for an “anniversary-moon” trip, which included a visit to Madagascar.

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.

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We’ve spent considerably more time traveling abroad than domestically, and appreciated the opportunity to explore our native land on home leave.

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.

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Parenthood – the biggest adventure of them all.

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.

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We’re looking forward to more excitement as we wrap up our Moldova tour and head back to East Africa for our next assignment to Rwanda.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kara Freedman #

    Very cool! It’s awesome to hear how many people have benefited from reading your blog (including me, of course). I hope you continue writing!

    May 8, 2015
    • Thanks Kara! We certainly have no intention of stopping any time in the foreseeable future.

      May 9, 2015
  2. Love this post! So fun to take a stroll back over the years. I love the tale of meeting one of your readers to talk about the Foreign Service. The world is becoming a very small place!

    May 9, 2015
    • Thanks T! The world is, indeed, smaller than it seems at first blush.

      May 9, 2015

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