Wednesday, July 27, 2011


My things are here! I have so many, and I love them all. It's going to take days to get it all unpacked and washed and sorted and put away but I am up for the challenge. I did my consumables shipment first. Surprising best addition: bottled Starbucks mocha frappuccinos. I put them in kind as an afterthought, since I was already buying half of Costco anyway, but I was really happy to see them come out of the box. I guess I underestimated my addiction to overpriced vaguely coffee-flavored milkshakes. The biggest waste of money? Two giant bottles of detergent for my nonexistent dishwasher.

The arrival of my earthly effects has driven home how totally I have lost all green credentials in my new lifestyle. I used to live in half of a modest apartment and walk places and take public transportation. Now I live in a house powered entirely by diesel generators and go to work in my massive SUV full of leaded gasoline. I used to move by wrapping my stuff in newspaper and old towels and packing it in boxes rescued from dumpsters. Now as I watch my dining room fill with virgin forests' worth of once-used cardboard boxes and special packing paper my inner Captain Planet curls up in a ball and sobs. There's no recycling in Guinea - the standard trash disposal method here is to toss it in a pile on the side of the road and set it on fire once the pigs seem to be done with it. And let's not even think about the carbon credits involved in getting me and all of my stuff here from Washington. Maybe I should go club some baby seals while I'm at it.


  1. Do all FSOs get a consumables shipment? Do they all use it? And maybe a more important question, what does it do for your street cred when you drink starbucks in Guinea? ;) Thanks for the posts by the way, yours is one of my favorite FS blogs.

  2. I wish we all got a consumables shipment! Funny how I didn't really expect what I was going to miss here. But the things I miss the most (like cheese, oh my god, I miss cheese), wouldn't make the trip anyway.

    Here in the Philippines people sell the boxes for money (I guess to people who recycle?). Even in my building I had random people knocking on our door asking to take a couple of boxes (PLEASE DO!). And since we were still painting, our helper set aside a few of the papers to line the floors.

    By the way, what a waste of packing material. Do you really need 3 sheets of humongous packing paper for each bottle of shampoo I own? (I use a Brazilian shampoo and conditioner, so I must have at least a dozen bottles of each to get me through our tour) I think the movers do that to up your weight so they can charge more from State. I wouldn't be as pissed if fragile items were packed the same way and didn't show up broken. Or if their exaggeration didn't cause the people unpacking my stuff to miss two very small canvas paintings that were probably also wrapped in so much paper, it went out with the garbage (and yes, I'm still sad about that).

  3. Jennifer - Whether you are entitled to a consumables shipment depends on your post and the availability of Western-style products there. Not everyone uses it. Most posts also have a commissary where you can buy root beer and peanut butter cups and similar comforts of home, but the quantity and variety of products available there varies from post to post. If anything Starbucks only enhances my street cred - everyone else here would drink it too, if they could.

    Carla - Oh my god, cheese! We can get some kinds here at the fancy expat grocery store for an arm and a leg, but only aged cheeses, no cream cheese or ricotta. Last night I had a dream about those little marinated balls of fresh mozzarella. I'm thinking about trying my hand at cheese-making while I'm here. I've heard it's not that difficult.