Thursday, October 27, 2011

J-2 (or T-Minus 2 days)!

Note: I wrote this blog post two days ago, and promptly ran out of time to finish and post it. Although ironically, now that I'm in Philadelphia, the two day countdown almost works for my departure for Bamako! Happy reading.

In two days, just under 48 hours, I will leave for staging in Philadelphia. Thirty six hours after that, I'll be getting on a plane for Bamako! The excitement is mounting. I have so many thoughts and feelings rushing through me, and I am sure things will only get more crazy as the hour of departure draws ever nearer.

I find the French countdown format (J-2, for example) highly appealing in its simplicity, especially since I have been unable to track down the correct usage of "T-Minus" (hyphen or no hyphen?) and honestly as vexing as the question may be, it's not one of my top priorities at the moment. Top priorities include: spending time with family and friends, finishing packing and doing as many meaningful "last _____ for two years" things as possible. I might get a chance to repeat some of those things in the next two days or even in Philadelphia, but it's easy to justify having an extra serving of ice cream if you're not guaranteed another one before you leave. Actually, I'm now a pro at this kind of thinking, meaning a couple pairs of pants that I have been planning on wearing during staging may no longer fit. Oh, the travails of being a Peace Corps volunteer ...

Packing has been going well, if a bit rushed. So far I'm doing fine on space/weight, although I won't have a lot of wiggle room with bag size:
The Peace Corps’ allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag.
- The Peace Crops Mali Welcome Book
That's not a lot of space or weight to live on for two years. For me, those are the combined dimensions of my medium-size duffel and my large backpack. Fortunately that's how much stuff I've been planning to bring since the beginning, before I looked at the luggage limitations. My understanding is that we are allowed to surpass this allowance at our personal expense - Peace Corps will not reimburse us for the luggage fees we incur, but should we choose to bring more they won't stop us.

Update: Having now surveyed the luggage of three other volunteers, I am the only one who has managed to fit within the limits. Could have brought another bag! But so far so good, haven't forgotten anything too important.