Thursday, July 24, 2008

they should sell pre-made kits for this sort of thing

When you've never actually lived in the jungle before you might come to the realization you have absolutely no idea what you are doing. That thought might float past your consciousness like leaves on a stream or might burrow deep inside like a nasty tick in the summertime. It's clearly possible that we are absolutely crazy, giving up good jobs and a kind life, involved in work we believe in and stability at home and community. It's also quite possible that turning our lives on our heads might have been much easier in our youth, sans toddler. It's these things I think about when trying to decide how the hell do we best prepare ourselves for all things unknown.

That said, we need to get it together and one way I do this is by compiling lists. These lists are the transitory sort, written on old receipts or the back of my hand. Our latest dilemma is how we get our stuff down there. Shipping is an option but it's complicated, and the whole point of leaving was leaving it all behind. So we decided to get rid of almost everything, throwing that last little bit of caution to the wind. We've decided we'll bring what we can carry.

Things I think I cannot live without:

1. One pot and one pan. It's possible to get these things there but I hear they are expensive and cheaply made. If I'm to, for the love of all things holy, homestead, I want a few pieces of relatively decent cookware.
2. Spices. See above.
3. Towels/sheets. These things are ridiculously expensive there (who knew?) and they take up a lot of room. So does a pot and a pan. But I digress.
4. Books. This was an issue until I got a Kindle. J's construction books however are not friends of the mighty Kindle. See #3 for obvious space issues as these are no pocket readers, these books of his.
5. M's most important possessions. This is a good time, seeing which of her belongings she's actually willing to part with. Right now she's adamant that her 3' long stuffed horse comes with her. This item needs to go on a separate list, the one titled how to cut off my own head in order to make room for the 3' stuffed horse list.
6. Important documents. That's an obvious one. Passports and medical cards and laptops and international drivers licenses and tax information and immunization records. Oh wait, immunization records, that makes me think of getting sick. We should bring some medicine, but what am I going to be able to find there? Last time I was there the little shack at the end of town had little bottles of gripe water. That may indeed be medicinal, but is it a cure-all? I know my village woman friend uses tree sap as some sort of remedy, but for what? I mean, what about run of the mill fevers? Cuts? Colds? Shit. Malaria? Good lord. Mosquito netting. Time for a new list.
7. Medicines. See above rant.
8. Clothes. This one is a bit freeing because we'll get rid of most of our stuff and only keep a few things each and I'll get ripped biceps washing all of it by hand. Every single day. Wait, maybe a few extra sets. Socks. Will we need socks?
8. Entertainment. This is easy because entertainment will be pretty scarce. We'll get used to playing with sticks and bugs, right? I love sticks and bugs. Wait. Anyways, we are narrowing it down to chess, cards and a few games for M. Oh and I like Scrabble. Scrabble is a good jungle game. I forgot about Clue. Who doesn't like a rousing game of Clue?

How all of the above and most likely more is going to equate into the things we shall carry is a bit lost on me right now. In fact, I'm starting to revert to the beginning of this post: We have no idea what we are doing. And don't even get me started on the composting toilets. That's the topic of a future post.

Bookmark and Share


Sober Briquette said...

Oh, I might get ripped abs, laughing.

Spices are light.

Forget the scrabble (tiny lost pieces?) and bring blank notebooks.

Cecilieaux said...

20 questions and "Store." Word games that require no equipment other than brains.

Omaha Mama said...

You could ship the books, right? Then if it takes a while, that will be okay. Right?
I have no idea what you are doing either, but am very excited to find out.
The only thing that keeps me from completely panicking for you is the fact that you will have internet. How, exactly, do you get internet in the jungle???

Deezee said...


(I'll be emailing...)

Anjali said...

What is it with those 3 foot long horses? They are popular here, too.

Pgoodness said...

I have no clue. Seriously, no clue as to how you will do this, especially with M. But I'm certainly along for the ride and hoping it gets easier to figure out what and how to take what you need.

alejna said...

Oh, wow. That's quite a lot to think about.

Can the horse be re-stuffed with socks and clothing, and turn into a horse-shaped suitcase? (Or would it look to much like a "mule" to customs?) Perhaps you could also just unstuff it, and restuff it down there with whatever stuffing stuff you can find.

Have you ever read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver? It's about an American family moving to Africa for missionary work. There are some bits in there about the things they brought with them that have really stuck with me. Because of the weight limits on baggage, though not on passengeres, the whole family ends up wearing multiple layers of clothing and stuffing pockets full of kitchen utensils and household items. (It's also a good book.)

Karen said...

um, scissors? I always pack scissors no matter where I am going.
Also, glue. Maybe the tree sap will be good for that. I don't know.
I'm just thinking you should pack tools & getting a better game than clue - clue with two players is kinda boring - try Carcassonne, or one of the other German games for two players.

thailandchani said...

Have you decided what kind of housing you are going to have? Are you building something?

It seems there would be a compromise between living the way people live here - and pounding your laundry over rocks.


patches said...

Might I suggest a skateboard? To haul the luggage.

Superglue comes in handy for sealing cuts.

Defiantmuse said...

dude, I'm all ABOUT the composting toilets. Let's talk 'turning poop into fertilizer' sometime. Really. Good dinner conversation, no?

QT said...

This was too funny.

I think you need to make one list of items that you are willing to ship. I just don't know how you will carry all of it. Take it from someone who carried everything she needed on her back for a week.

Take whatever medicines you can. When we go visit my mom's relatives in South America, those are the most requested items - cold medicine like Nyquil, nasal spray, and advil.

That, and Windex. Don't ask me why. They just want it.

jen said...

Alejna; mule! hilarious! i can't believe i didn't think of that. that's perfect.

Karen: Scissors. Such a good call. New list.

Chani: i don't think i'll have to use a rock, but there is no washer where i'll be at first at least. and it's not like Asia, can't just drop it off for 20 bhat. sigh.

patches: excellent. love it.

QT: Nyquil. True that. I know my first care package order to you, you've got experience. Windex? who'da thought.

Blog Antagonist said...

Good grief, you are brave. I mean it. I would never have the guts to leave my comfy little enclave of suburban convenience. I suck.

That said, for medicines, I would bring a truckload of Neosporin and, if you can get a doctor to prescribe them, a supply of oral antibiotics. Also, Peptp and Immodium, since it might take a while for your digestive systems to adjust to the local cuisine.

metro mama said...

Let me know when you need me to send you some new spices!

ALM said...

The wash board that you use for getting your amazing muscles could also be used as a musical instrument! For family sing along's - so that also helps with entertainment!!

And you can shake the pill bottles, for maracas!

(Not going to even talk about banging on the pots...)

I do and don't envy you this adventure -- and all these details... especially the stuffed horse. (And I second B.A. with immodium, antibiotics and pepto!)

flutter said...

dude I will just knit you some socks and mail them down.

Magpie said...

duct tape and WD-40. that's supposed to solve every problem there is. and bisquick, but i don't think you want to be hauling that to the jungle.

Magpie said...

and you can play scrabble on-line...scrabulous!

Lara said...

"free your mind and the rest will follow". I can't believe I just quoted En Vogue. Didn't even know it was En Vogue until I googled it but that was the refrain I kept hearing after reading this! LOL!
I think it's wonderful what you are doing. M will be one evolved little girl, and you'll figure it out - tylenol or not. It will be fun to see the "care packages" list forming, though!

Madge said...

wow. i've been out of touch and didn't know you were going. this is so wonderful. once you get down there you'll forget all the things you left behind.

Arwen said...

Dice and cards and a book about games to play with dice and cards. After that I am no help.

Kyla said...

You've talked about this...but your list made it so concrete! I just had a mild panic attack reading it. You're so brave to do this, it is AMAZING. But that bit about the medical records and the medication? Made my heart stop. There are no compounding pharmacies in the jungle. And probably no Qvar or Albuterol or Miralax or Pediasure or Phenergan or any other other things that keep a certain little body running around here. (damn, we use a lot of medicine around here) We have a hard enough time packing up for a weekend in another metropolitan city.

bgirl said...

oh how you continually inspire me.
last night i went to visit my dear friend who moved from a 5 bedroom house with her 3 young kids to a 42 foot boat. they set sail in 2 weeks to travel the world for the next 2-3 years. they couldn't be happier, free of so many things.

powdered coconut milk, makes everything good!

so damn exciting jen!

Missy said...

Jumanji. Best jungle game evah.

Jennifer said...

You will not need socks.

Also, dice and big ol' leaves fresh outta the jungle have make up some sort of game, no?


mamatulip said...

I would be lost - lost and UNHAPPY - without a pair of nail nippers and a pair of eyebrow tweezers.

marymurtz said...

This is like playing that old "Oregon Trail" video game, where you have to select your journey's provisions, and then find out if you chose correctly.

I can't wait to see your final list--please share!!!

crazymumma said...

I am getting tense now. Just packing to go away for aweekend makes me crazy. But then find we need so little of what we have packed.

I have written this before elsewhere, a friend of mine says this in regard to her acting.

and I have brought it into my life. Freaky thing is? it works.

Leap. And the net shall appear.

thats it.

slouching mom said...

i'm still stuck on the 3' stuffed horse.

Tabba said...

McGyver. I say rent old episodes of McGyver. Everything you need to know about making something from nothing. It's all right there ;)

I am in awe. Really. I feel like I'm moving to the jungle when I read these posts!

hele said...


You are so brave. I wish I could do the same yet I am so glad I don't have to make that list.

Words of caution in bullet points.

Amy Y said...

See now this is precisely why I can not do what you're doing. I don't have the balls. Everything I think I need would probably fill 10 suitcases!
You, my friend, are a brave brave woman. I admire you more than you'll ever know...

lost indie said...

Sewing supplies....needles and thread at least.

Medicine wise...immodium for sure. And benadryl.

Wooden spoons and scrapers.

Expatriate Chef said...

I would recommend a decent first aid kit, book and taking the class, plus CPR. I managed to live out of one duffel bag for four months, but the household stuff was there.

Sunscreen, ibuprofen, and addresses of friends who send care packages.

Are you going to be in the water? Might want to know how to handle jellyfish stings, etc. Snorkel gear is hard to get cheap, but available there. Hmmm. Garden tools?

Most reading info and recipes you can get online.

Beck said...

Oh, better you than me. I am NOT adventurous. (No, really?)
Do you already have the big compilation book of 20th century children's books? We've found that handy on our substantially less thrilling travels.
Pencil crayons don't melt, unlike crayons.
Those hand-cranked radios and flashlights. We have tons of those because my husband's motto is Be Prepared. Maybe you had better bring him with you.

painted maypole said...

please take a camera and share jungle pictures with us

Ally said...

It's so exciting, Jen! Your list cracked me up.

Gwen said...

I recommend making friends with the expats who are running the jungle bungalow thingies around there ASAP (I know they are there, because I've stayed near where you're moving). While it's admirable to live with the people, others like you who are attempting what you're doing will be an invaluable source of help.

My mom was just telling me yesterday that when they first lived in Borneo, they used to get yearly shipments of foodstuffs from Singapore. So they'd get the catalog and then pore over it, trying to decide how much powdered milk, for example, they'd need for a year. We also used to ship our stuff over in drums. I remember my mom packing four years' worth of toilet paper. And she always regifted our Stateside Xmas presents, although she occasionally gave them to the wrong kid.

The world is so much more connected now, you won't need to get quite so hard core. Plus, you don't need prescriptions for medications where you're going, just the knowledge of what's the right thing to buy.

I'm trying to think of what medications we always had. Lots of stomach stuff, for sure. And malaria medicine, although I don't think you need that in Belize, do you?

I liked what Crazymumma said: the net will be there.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

hey gorgeous, sorry I'm so behind in catching up with you - and you being the top of my reading list too - but here's a few suggestions if you want unsolicited advice.

-About immunizations documents. Get the doctor to give you the yellow fold sheet that you can staple to the inside of your passport. If there are eye glass prescriptions or any other important medical stuff (histories don't count) staple them in the back of your passport.

-Bring powdered gatorade for those times when there is works better then those nasty tasting rehydration stuff they sell in the jungle and it's easier to choke down.

-Duct tape. Don't ever go without the duct tape - you can always use it to make other things.

-for scrabble bring a magnetic travel one. no lost pieces.

-You do need sleeping mosquito nets but I think you can buy them there.

-extra socks are great when you are hand washing but remember that you'll mostly be wearing flip-flops since it's warm

okay...i'll stop with the unsolicited advise but if you have any questions I moved to and lived in the jungle of Africa for awhile so I'm happy to be someone to bounce things off of.