Actually, no, that’s misleading.
A more accurate description of my day’s activities would be “Thinking about Packing.” I don’t leave for over a month yet and haven’t received any flight information as of yet. Today I started combing through the Peace Corps-provided packing list for Morocco invitees, combining it with lists provided on blogs by current volunteers and the advice of several former Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) who were logged into Facebook at the time of my list-making. Thank you, Whitney!!
I’ve started entering the suggested items from my various sources into a spreadsheet, split into different sections based on clothing, luggage, gear, toiletries, and other items that may or may not be needed at some point during my two years in Morocco.
Progress has been made on the actual luggage front, however. I get to have two checked bags and a carry-on, with the two checked bags not weighing more than 100 pounds total and not more than 50 pounds each. I’ve decided, after a thorough reading of several blogs and thinking back on my study abroad in France which introduced me to the joys of attempting to wheel multiple suitcases at once, on one wheeled suitcase and a large hiking backpack for my checked items. Super excited about the backpack. Mom and Dad ( = most awesome parents EVAR) are buying me an Osprey Ariel 65 pack, which we ordered today, as a Christmas present. So if I have half my stuff strapped to my back, wheeling another suitcase shouldn’t be too bad. And I did order a backpack airplane cover so it doesn’t get destroyed in the travel process.
And for the carry-on, I’m thinking of purchasing a duffel bag (not a huge one). That will leave my school-sized backpack for my computer and any things I need right on the plane.
As much as clothing is the easiest thing to worry about, from what I’ve heard so far, it’s also the thing that’s easiest to take care of once you get to your country. And, surprisingly, cold weather clothing is the thing to bring. Morocco, you might think “Africa” or “desert” or “dang hot.” As the Peace Corps representative who left me a voicemail earlier this week said, “Think Alaska, not Africa.” I’m not sure that’s honestly taking into account how cold it can get in the Upper Peninsula, let alone Alaska, but the point is, it does get quite cold in Morocco, and as it’s often colder inside than outside, the key is warm clothes and layers. So I won’t be leaving behind my beloved Cuddl-Duds just yet, more like buying a few extra pairs.
If living in the far-northern reaches of Michigan has taught me anything, however, it’s how to dress to keep warm, so I’m pretty set on winter clothes. As far as summer clothes go, I figure I’d better be capable of buying clothes in country by the time I need some cooler items, so I’ll worry more about a summer wardrobe when I see what people actually wear in Morocco. I’ll bring a few items, of course, but I’m hoping to optimize my space by bringing some quality cold-weather items. And then hope I get placed somewhere in the mountains.
As far as shoes go, I’m pretty set. A nice pair of Keen “Mary Janes” that are comfortable for walking, but can be used for dressier outfits. A pair of nice walking shoes. A pair of Keen hiking sandals. Flip flops. Maybe some hiking boots? I haven’t decided yet. And I still need to buy a new pair of running shoes, as my current shoes are about to disintegrate.
That leaves a long list of toiletries that will need to be purchased shortly before leaving. And assembling my various electronics – definitely taking the computer along, plus an external hard drive, plus my camera.
And then gifts for host families – I’ll be staying with a family for the three months of training and then again for the initial few months at my site.
Once I get my full list made, I’ll post it and in a year or so, I’ll let you know what I actually used and what I wish I would have taken instead.