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Care Packages for PCVs

Last week three packages arrived for me at the post office (after 3-4 weeks of anticipation). Before moving to Ethiopia, I never realized how wonderful receiving letters and packages from home really could be. Receiving something in the mail can instantly improve an entire day or even week, or make a good one even better.

This is by no means a request for packages, I’ve just been asked on many occasions what should be included and decided to do an update for everyone. You can always find a list through my contact page.

For starters, just getting a letter is wonderful in its own. As connected as I am able to be through the internet, there is something magical about opening and reading a physical letter or card. I LOVE writing letters and promise to write you back! The Ethiopian stamps alone are worth getting a letter from me. 🙂

  • Art supplies – I brought some oil pastels and pencils, but really wish I had brought more… Sharpies, watercolors, colored pencils, even crayons, I would take anything you might be able to spare! Also, sketch pads always come in handy.
  • Stickers – Very, very useful for many projects. Plus, I really love stickers.
  • Velveeta Mac & Cheese – I’ve always said mac & cheese would be my last meal, I really love it, and the boxes of Velveeta Mac & Cheese are easily the best around. Velveeta travels well and tastes absolutely amazing.
  • Candy!! I love M&Ms, Hershey’s, Reese’s, Twizzlers, Twix, Snickers, gummies (cherry & cola), Airheads, Skittles, Sixlets, etc, etc. I will eat most candies.
    A fun trick I learned about candy, is to use it instead of packaging peanuts to fill in all the little gaps. It works remarkable well.
  • Salty snacks such as Goldfish, Cheez-Its, various crackers.
  • Miscellaneous food – sausage, cheese, trail mix, jerky, tortillas, black beans & salsa.
  • Tea – you can easily find black tea here, but it’s really difficult to find any herbal teas.
  • Just add water drink mixes – anything from hot chocolate, coffee drinks, apple cider, etc. Boiling water is easy, making drinks that taste like home is not. Also, any cold ones like Mio or lemonade mixes are fun as a treat on a hot day (which is pretty much every day).
  • Gum & mints – super expensive to buy here, unless you’re buying banana flavor.
  • Baby/Make-up wipes – I get really dirty. REALLY dirty. And a real shower only happens once every few weeks, if I’m lucky.
  • Vitamins – completely balanced nutrition is not always easy… or even possible. Vitamins are always helpful.
  • Books/magazines – I like travel magazines, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Yoga, Runner’s World and any magazines related to finance or current affairs.
  • Miscellaneous stuff that you think would remind me of America – anything from photos, to candles, to blankets, to clothes, to artwork I can hang on my walls. Seriously, if it reminds me of home, I’ll love it. It really is little things that make all the difference.
    If you’re still not sure what goes under miscellaneous, here are two examples:
    Before Christmas, my parents sent me a nativity, small candles and a Fiesta garland that I have strung across my main room and my friend Annie sent me a Body Scrub & cuticle cream.

And, since I’ve updated that list, here are a few things I’ve learned about sending packages since I arrived in country four months ago:

  • If you are going to send a bunch of heavy stuff, flat rate boxes are the way to go (even with the recent hike in prices).
  • If you are going to send light stuff, use a padded envelope… it is much cheaper!!
  • I’ve never had a package opened and anything taken out, but a couple have busted at the seams. Tape well.
  • I love the disposable ziplock tupperware containers (I know that’s not what they’re called… but you know what I mean), so feel free to pack things inside those if you are sending. They come in really handy for everything.
  • Don’t send electronics or anything pricey… I’ve heard customs can charge twice the value of the item for the package.

I borrowed liberally from my friend & fellow G8er Sarah’s awesome blog post on care packages.

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