This post is for those who are coming with UZ19 in January (or are you guys UZ18 since we skipped August installation?)…
OK. Everybody knows I did not pack lightly when I came to Uzbekistan almost one year ago. I pushed the airline limits over the top, and by luck only, did not have to pay for any overage. Despite cutting all the labels off my clothes ; ), I had weight…and mass. I’m writing this now to calm your nerves from all the horror stories you’ve been reading about having to pack everything onto a crowded marashuka, sitting on one bag while hugging another on a six hour ride to Qarshi. I can tell you that if I made it with all my stuff – to Tashkent, to training site, to my host-family, then to my second host-family, and finally out to Andijon – then you will, too. People will help you, from your arrival by Peace Corps staff (Peace Corps even had designated luggage trucks available whenever we had to mobilize en mass), and by the kind locals when you’re trying to stuff the biggest suitcase ever into a tiny Tico trunk. If its definitely not feasible, worse case scenario is you’ll have to give away the twenty pairs of socks your mom packed, or maybe the clothes steamer your least favorite Aunt bought for you at the airport. Also, you will get two trips to lug all your stuff out to site – once during your site visit and again after swearing in…so don’t worry.
Having said that, there are definitely things I wish I hadn’t brought…six months supply of vitamins (medical will give you plenty), the Jenga set gift to my host-family (they were not impressed, and it was a freaken heavy block of wood), extra toiletries (there is plenty here and readily available), two thick towels (they’re an animal to hand wash, and mold as they’re drying), 20XPF film shield and film (its heavy, unnecessary, and I haven’t taken many pictures with my attention hog of a SLR camera anyway), Pac-Safe system (haven’t felt a need for so much security), stationary and envelops (I mostly email and there’s plenty of paper here you can recycle; plus, you have to use Uzbek postal envelops to mail letters anyway, even postcards!), thick thermals (light-weight and thin silk ones work best and travel easier), and Scrabble (no takers).
I don’t regret…all the shoes, sleeping bag, two Nalgenes (already lost one), laptop, digital camera, jump drive, and nice clothes.
I wish I had brought…a good pillow, more DVD’s, more music, more books (via M-bag), two jump drives, and a digital short-wave radio.