I began writing this on a flight home from Uganda, which was Normal beyond my wildest expectations. There were small signs, of course, that things weren’t quite right: the key wouldn’t extract from my hotel door unless it was in the locked position. Trip two is delayed. Whoever organized the marathon forgot to leave pinholes in the bibs.
But there was a marathon! The cell network still works when it rains; guns were not everywhere. Buildings are painted different colors, and ads on the radio routinely extol the virtues of condoms. There’s an app, SafeBoda, that you can use to hail motorcycle taxis with tested drivers and reflective vests; the division I interned with at USAID a few years ago provided seed funding for this, so using it felt like closing a tiny circle (do not tell my mother, part infinity). The English, a still-reverberating repercussion of colonial ghosts, was a game-changer. I know why I was there, and I did feel like I made myself useful, but all of this gave me pause: why was I there, again?
Continue reading “Part III”
I’m packing again (she says, as though having not also lived out of a suitcase for the past four months) – this time for only a month abroad, book-ended by haphazard weeks on the East Coast. Not long enough to justify attempting to create a sense of home elsewhere, but just long enough, and logistically convoluted enough, to complicate the process of selecting contents for one’s hermit crab shell.
Cobbling together a set of munitions to ensure decent functioning and preserve sanity at the end of the earth is a tall order. These sorts of lists have disappeared from circulation since the global health/development/natsec blogging heyday, but I have gotten good at this, have a number of friends striking out for assignments soon, and wanted to jot down my less-obvious recommendations.
Target audience: early-mid career folks and graduate students who work in international locations with few amenities for 2+ month stints between re-fuels. A step above Peace Corps, a rung below the point where your organization pays for you to ship things over, no diplomatic pouch privileges, little access to major urban centers. Continue reading “Packing for the Wild West”