Dual Entry - El Dannemillers

"What We Brought"

Packing for this adventure was taxing.  I'm sure you have all felt the pain of trying to pack for a two week vacation.  Now, imagine trying to cram a year's worth of belongings into two bags.  Lemme tell ya', it's a challenge.

Our site coordinators (bosses) sent us a run-down of necessities for the year.  It looks like a list you might see for a slumber party scavenger hunt. Long underwear... peanut butter... batteries... wet wipes... a years' supply of feminine hygiene products, etc.  The items listed would fill a dump truck.  We had to whittle it down.  So... here's the list of what we brought:

The Pack Mules Head For Guatemala

  • 5 pairs pants (and/or skirts) each
  • 6-8 shirts each
  • 3 sweaters each
  • 1 rain jacket each
  • 15 pairs underwear each
  • 15 pair socks each
  • Waterproof hiking boots, 1 pair tennis shoes, 1 pair shower shoes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Flashlights
  • Pictures
  • CDs & portable player (need tunes from home!)
  • Notebook- Dell, of course
  • Books for "quiet time"
  • Children's books in Espanol like "Eres mi mama?" and "Huevos Verdes con Jamon"
  • Bilingual Bibles & a song book
  • Enough medicine, sanitary items and stomach drugs to keep us from having to use the bathroom until 2008

We went to Wal-Mart and got some of those really cool "Space Bags" as seen on TV... you know... the ones you can chunk your clothes into and then smush it down to take all the air out of the bag?  We did a test run at the Wal-Mart by going to the lingere section and compressing a bunch of mu-mus and nightgowns.  When the lady who worked the section came over and saw us on the ground pulverizing her delicates, she had a few questions. However, we were able to show her the results of the exercise... a bag of clothes smashed so thin that it now resembled a package of preserved beef jerky.  SOLD!

With the space bags, we were able to compress our clothes so they would all fit into our two large backpacks.  The rest of the items got stashed into one large rolling suitcase and a big 'ol duffel bag.  When we got to the airport for the bag "weigh in", we had a grand total of 210 pounds of American crap.  Amazing, eh?

We thought we would never have enough to last us through the year.  The craziest part of this whole packing adventure is that now that we're here, we feel like we have too much.  Most folks here wear the same clothes several days in a row without a second thought.  Some have only 2 or 3 outfits to last them the year. 

It's the rainy season here, so we get a downpour for abut 4 hours per day.  Rather than umbrellas and raincoats, people here simply carry around big pieces of rough plastic to cover themselves.  Our waterproof coats and boots from REI seem like a total extravagance but at the same time, a total Godsend. 

(Scott) I could say more about life here in Xela, but there will be much more to tell as the year goes on.  I miss America like CRAZY, and it's only been 6 days. I want my soft bed.  I want my clean sheets.  I want my ESPN and Oprah!  However, there is something very enchanting about the simplicity of life here.  In truth... the less stuff you have... the less stuff you have to worry about.  Our bags are getting lighter by the day and our hearts are filling up fast.

(Gabby) Man, after the Globalization discussion we had at Orientation, we were ready to send half our stuff back home, but we figured sending 2 sweaters, a hairdryer (which I haven't been using - ugh!) and a coupla books wouldn't lighten our load by a whole bag, so... we brought todos.  I'm really adjusting well to our new digs.  I'm happy to report that my stomach is making me proud.   While we no longer get meat every day or protein for that matter, we're having a blast.  After one week, our espanol es mas mejor que antes de nuestro viaje.

Until next time...