Let’s be serious: home isn’t home until your stuff is there. Especially in this lifestyle, where everything is suddenly new and different, it’s such a comfort to sleep on your own pillow and eat off your own dishes.
Don’t get me wrong. The State Department does a great job of equipping newcomers with the necessities. All families receive a welcome kit upon arrival at post. I believe contents vary by Embassy, but our kit was fairly extensive, including linens, basic kitchen gadgets, cleaning supplies, a TV, and even an iron and ironing board. Clearly State doesn’t know that college taught me the practical life skill of ironing my clothes with my hair flat iron. Thanks, BU.
The best part about the welcome kit, though, is giving it back for the next
victim new arrival. Because that means your stuff has arrived! The Marine Security Guard program clearly understands the important of stuff and things. Exactly what and how much you’re allowed to bring depends on your rank, number of dependents, and post, but Det Commanders are allotted the following shipments:
- Unaccompanied Air Baggage (aka UAB aka express shipment) – This includes roughly 800lbs of kitchen gear, linens, clothes, and a few decorations. The movers came 2 weeks before we left North Carolina and packed up 4 big boxes with our UAB. We were happily reunited exactly 2 weeks after arriving in Tegucigalpa.
- Household Goods (HHG aka HHE) – We were allotted 1,400ish lbs if I remember correctly. Our goal was to pack light, so we weren’t surprised when our HHE all fit in one box (pictured above). It showed up at our door exactly 4 weeks after arrival, though our friends in farther off places are still waiting for theirs. We tossed in mainly decorations and some winter clothes, which will stay boxed up until our next post.
- Consumables – We didn’t rate a consumable shipment for Tegucigalpa, since there’s a wide variety of products and American goods here. It would’ve been nice, but truthfully unnecessary. That said, if you do rate a consumable shipment, use it, because that means you’re heading
somewhere where you won’t find your favorite cereal, shampoo, or dog food. I think the weight is somewhere around 800-1,000lbs and it can be filled with foods and toiletries that you’ll wantor need for 18 months (including liquids, which you won’t be able to mail yourself!)
We haven’t really been able to decorate yet. Our frames and batiks are laying hopefully throughout the house where we’d like to hang them. Turns out concrete walls don’t take to thumbtacks or sticky hooks very well. But we’re making baby steps. I
took the advice stole the idea of one of my favorite Foreign Service bloggers and decorated the fridge right away. Since we don’t have a dishwasher, I spend half my time in the kitchen anyway!