Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Summer living

I mentioned before that we've spent every summer since 2006 Somewhere Else. It may sound glamorous and adventurous to spend our summers away from home, and in some ways, it is. But there are plenty of aspects of summer temp living that get tiresome after a while.

The one I struggle with the most is what to pack, what to buy when we get there, and what to do without. You can only pack so much in a suitcase, so when we get to our destination (and the apartment whose furnishings I usually have no information about before we arrive), it's time to take stock. What did I bring that I shouldn't have? What did I leave behind that would have been really nice to have right about now? What should we buy, even though we will only use it for a few months? What should we just do without for those few months?

What did I bring that I shouldn't have? A booster seat, it looks like. We have a portable booster that folds up very compactly and we've brought it with us overseas a few times already, with great success. The glitch this time around is that in this apartment, we don't have any chairs to put it on. Oops.

What did I leave behind that would have been really nice to have right about now? Peanut butter and chocolate instant breakfast. You can buy peanut butter in Egypt but it's expensive and it's not the kind I like, and I had a jar in the pantry in Ithaca, so why didn't I just bring it?? And I forgot instant breakfast, too. I always bring instant breakfast. Not this time, I guess. Sigh.

What should we buy, even though we will only use it for a few months? This is the hardest category for me, because it goes against my cheapskate instincts. Plus, this decision has to be made immediately, because if we're going to buy it, it should be NOW so we get the most use out of it. This summer, we ended up buying two (2) children's plastic chairs (see 'no chairs in the apartment,' above), a laundry drying rack (more on that in another post), and a small foam mattress for Miriam to sleep on (because there is only one double bed). AND THAT'S IT. Or at least it had better be.

What should we just do without for these few months? This category is too populated to list in great detail. Let's just say that if it doesn't fit in a suitcase, you can bet we're doing without it. And there are a great many things that might fit in a suitcase but didn't make it into ours.

Here we are taking home the mattress we bought somewhat begrudgingly. I have to say, after years of seeing other people take home bulky items awkwardly strapped to the roof of their car or taxi, I was excited to finally BE one of those people.

The kids' chairs we bought at a small store for 20 pounds (about $4) each. I thought that was astronomically expensive, and I told the store owner so. He made a big show of punching numbers into his calculator and showing me the result, as if he thought I was questioning his math, not his pricing. It hurts even more because, like I said, we will not be taking our massive $8 investment back to America with us.

The drying rack we bought at what I can best describe as Egypt's equivalent of Jaffco. Does anyone else remember that store? Just like Jaffco, this Egyptian store had an odd, incomplete, and somewhat random assortment of clothing, appliances, bedding, and tools. They also did the thing where a worker wrote out a ticket for your purchase, you took the ticket downstairs to pay, and only then could you collect your item from behind a desk.

Coming soon: the back story of the drying rack, featuring our lack of washing machine; and the mystery of our disappearing stroller - did we end up buying another one?!?


Liz Johnson said...

Life without a washing machine SUCKS. Do they have laundromats? Or are you stuck doing your wash by hand?? I've done both, and... blech.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I remember shopping at Jafco--we still have stuff we bought there in the 70s, like a tiny dresser lamp that is way past its prime now. They later changed their name to Best but that's gone now too. It sounds like the third world (is Egypt 3rd world?) is about a generation behind us.

Merkley Jiating said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog! I was just telling Sam that I hadn't heard from you for a while!

Also, thank you for saying that you like my hair how it is, too. Everyone was so excitedly telling me to cut it that I began thinking everyone has known it was ugly all along and never said anything.

Susanne said...

Enjoyed your list! LOL @ your telling the guy how overpriced the chairs were. I always have to console myself by thinking I'm helping out the economy. :)

I only recently noticed your "About & FAQ" page and really enjoyed that feature.

Have a nice weekend!

Ashley said...

Oh I can give you tips on the no washing machine, but you were a life saver when I didn't have one...

Jeremy Palmer said...

Bridget is now a master planner of kitchen and household items for our short trips. She saved us by bringing kids utensils and dishes, peeler, good knives, cheese slicer, ikea dish scrubber and more!

Mary Q Contrarie said...

It sounds so exciting to be able to travel like you have. I have never been outside of the US. Barely out of the mid-west. What I wanted to share with you and your readers is that I have voluntarily given up my dryer in favor of clothes drying racks so that I can save money and most importantly resources. I would like my children to have the opportunity to travel. So I figure if I can do a little bit to save resources there will be more available for them when they are adults.

Kristen said...

$4 for a chair is expensive? Those things are probably $12 at WalMart.


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