Friday, January 30, 2009

What to Pack and How to Pack It


IN GENERAL: Mozambique is very casual, but “conservative” in the villages. We have been asked to “be sensitive to the poverty in the community by keeping leisure wear simple and kept to a minimum”. You will need mostly work clothes. Your other activities are still very casual. You may want something a little nicer for Sunday service in the village and for “R&R” activities, but still casual/conservative.
Be prepared for cool and dry. It‘s the end of the rainy season in March/April, so the months afterwards, until September, see less than 50mm/month. Humidity is around 60-70%. Temperatures will range from 18-22 degrees Celsius (get used to Celsius and other metric measures!) during the Habitat building and recreation time. To change Celsius to Fahrenheit just multiply the Celsius temperature times 2 (precisely it is 1.8) and add 32. To change Fahrenheit to Celsius just subtract 32 from the Fahrenheit temperature and divide by one half (precisely it is .56).
NEW NOTE: Last year, the team was quite cold on the safari. We even had blankets on our laps! However, that was in the middle of winter, and this year's teams are in the spring. We would still advise having a jacket of some type, and be prepared to dress in layers. Safari starts early in the morning when it's quite cool, and then warms up during the day.
HOW MUCH CAN I TAKE? Let’s start with that question because the rest of this will make a lot more sense, such as when we’re suggesting “wear your heaviest shoes on the airplane”. The bus from Kruger Park to Joberg, as well as the safari itself will be the limiting factor. The buses aren’t equipped to carry the amount of luggage that is allowed on international flights, and the safari vehicles aren’t either. You can check in 30kgs (66#) on South African Airways, including the flight to Maputo, and your carry-on can weigh 8kgs (18#). (Check your own airline for their weight restrictions). You can use your full weight allowance for your trip home to pack all your souvenirs, when you are ready for your final flight home. But for reasons of keeping it down for the bus and safari, we suggest that you keep your luggage to about 35# for your luggage and 10# for your hand-carry items. SAA allows you to check one or two bags, as long as the total doesn't go over the allowance. Two smaller bags would be a whole lot easier to handle and squeeze in buses and vehicles. If you pack light and in one bag, you may want to bring a simple roll-up type duffle with you in your luggage to use as your second piece going home if you think you might buy souvenirs.
NEW NOTE: Another good reason to bring along a smaller fold-up type duffel is for safari. Since most of you are going straight to the airport after leaving Kruger Park, you are going to have to take everything with you to the Park. All the luggage is transported in a pull-behind trailer. If you could pack all the stuff you DON'T need in your larger piece of luggage, that could all be packed towards the back of the trailer. Pack only the stuff you need during the safari time in the smaller duffel and then that's all that needs to be unloaded.
WHAT KIND OF LUGGAGE SHOULD I USE? On the Safari, they are asking that you pack in soft duffels or backpacks, not hard suitcases or packs with rigid frames. This will make it much easier for them to transport from camp to camp each day. I know we all like our “wheels” on luggage, but it is possible to have wheels on soft duffels. Soft luggage crams more easily onto trucks and buses, as well as smaller overhead compartments on airplanes. Check out your Salvation Army or Goodwill for used luggage if you don’t want to buy something new just for this trip. Also, Joe’s (formerly GI Joe’s) and other sports/outdoor stores have heavy-duty cloth duffels for under $25. We find that the kind of international travel we’ll be doing is kind of hard on luggage, so leave your really nice luggage at home for this trip.
HOW SAFE WILL MY LUGGAGE BE? This is what the State Department has to say about that (& I would agree from my own travels there several years ago): “There is a serious baggage pilferage problem at OR Tambo, Johannesburg and Cape Town International airports, particularly affecting travelers changing airlines and those flying on smaller airlines. Travelers are encouraged to secure their luggage with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks, use an airport plastic wrapping service, and avoid placing electronics, jewelry, cameras or other valuables in checked luggage. Make an inventory of items in checked baggage to aid in claims processing if theft does occur.”

Also, for those of you that will be overnighting in Joberg and checking back in for your flight to Maputo, I would recommend, for just that one flight, that you not use the zippered pockets on the outside of your luggage. Items packed in those pockets are too easily pilfered.


KEEP IT APPROPRIATE!: We are told to dress “conservatively”. At the worksite, males and females both can wear shorts, but not too short. Knees should not be showing. Males and females should not have bare or slightly covered shoulders (like tank tops). So, a no show of knees and shoulders. On Sundays, women should wear a skirt/blouse or dress and men should wear long pants and cotton shirt (not a t-shirt). It would be more appropriate for you to wear a “sarong” (laplap, lavalava) to the shower building instead of just wrapping a towel around you. And instead of wearing all of your clothes as an alternative, a sarong will help you get in and out more quickly, making room for the next person waiting. The shower building is attached to the rooms where we sleep, but you need to go outside to get to it.

KEEP IT LIGHT! You may find jeans and t-shirts to be hot and uncomfortable. Consider wearing lightweight pants/shorts and short-sleeved cotton shirts and blouses for work during the day. If you don’t have any, consider “scrubs”, those lightweight cotton pants/tops worn by your dental hygienists, nurses, doctors. They are looser than you may usually like, but that helps keep you cool. They usually have an elastic waist, which you may find more comfortable also. You can buy them at uniform stores, but they are also often available at Salvation Army or Goodwill or Value Village. If possible, get them with pockets. If you want to spend more money there is lightweight clothing available in travel stores and magazines.
NEW NOTE: While your dress can be less conservative when you're on safari, it's probably going to be cool enough where you aren't going to want to wear shorts anyway. If you have the kind of long pants that zip off the legs when it gets warmer, that would be a good alternative.

KEEP IT SAFE! We will be in a malarial area (have you talked to your doc about meds and other immunizations yet?). This is caused by mosquitoes that bite during dusk, dawn, and dark. Therefore you are going to want to wear long sleeved pants and long-sleeved shirts, as lightweight and loose as possible, but “secure” around your wrists and ankles (elastic or buttons - rubber bands work too). If you are wearing sandals in the evenings, wear a lightweight sock with them. There is currently no outbreak of dengue fever in our area, which is caused by a mosquito that bites during the day, so we won’t need to worry about that.. As well as protecting against mosquitoes, wear what is necessary to protect yourself from the sun: hat, bandana, etc.
NEW NOTE: Please read the email sent out August 19 concerning lice.

KEEP IT MINIMAL! You only need 2-3 changes of work clothes for the whole time you are in the village. There will be some villagers that will be preparing our meals as well as doing our laundry for us. They will doing laundry every day, on a rotating basis of some sort. And if that isn’t often enough, you can rinse out your own at night. That’s a good reason to keep things lightweight - they dry faster to turn around and wear the next day. Don’t count on laundry opportunities while you are traveling or during “R&R” - wash out at night, or bring enough to change - or just don’t change!

NEW NOTE: You do not need to bring bed linens. You DO need to provide your own towel. Sheets, pillow and pillowcase, blanket are all provided, and they were all very clean for us last year. Bringing your own linens would be a personal preference.

Sturdy closed-toe shoes (tennis shoes are OK)

Shorts, pants as described above

Blouses, shirts as described above

Work gloves - you could be working with cement as well as wood

Hat or bandanna - sunburn is a reality and a danger. Some people prefer a broad-rimmed hat, such as a straw hat, to protect the neck.

Water bottle (NEW NOTE: There will be bottled water available at all times. Some people find it less confusing if they pour the bottled water into their own bottles because all the bottled water looks alike at the work site!)

Day pack/small bag - It will be very helpful if you have a small, simple day pack or bag to put your valuables - camera, documents, etc. - when you are at the worksite and while on safari. We cannot guarantee security for these items if they are left in the Mission House. We won’t know until we get there, so just count on keeping these items with you at all times. You may want to wear a passport carrier around your waist or neck for documents, cash, etc, but put them in a zip-lock bag to keep them from soaking up your sweat!

OTHER CLOTHING YOU WILL NEED when not at the worksite:
Comfortable/casual walking shoes for travel & R&R - tennis shoes or sandals

Shower shoes - something to wear to and in the wash house - flip flops are OK, but you can also wear your sandals if they are waterproof and that would cut down on an extra shoe to pack.

Pants/shorts as described above

Shirts/blouses as described above

Light-weight jacket or sweater for evenings and cool mornings

Skirt/dress - for Sundays (but remember, not for evening because of exposed legs and arms) and no shoulders or knees showing

Socks - lightweight - enough to wear between washings


Sleepwear - it gets cool at night

Flexibility, patience, and a sense of humor

Passport with Mozambique visa

Spending money - for whatever you need for traveling. It is recommended to have $100 cash while in Mozambique for souvenirs, gifts, etc. You can change US dollars to Mozambique metical at the airport. We are told that you can use credit cards and ATMs in Maputo, but traveler's cheques are not widely accepted. Bob and I have found that to be true in other African and Asian countries so we don't bother with them. They are often times not even accepted at the banks to exchange money.

Insect repellent - DEET level of 30 or higher is suggested

Sunscreen or lotion

More patience

TP Kit (zip-lock bag with hand sanitizer & toilet paper for a couple of trips to the latrine)

1-2 rolls of TP of your own - to refill your TP kit


Alarm clock

Throw in an extra dose of “sense of humor”

Lightweight, small towel (something that dries overnight) - travel/outdoor stores have them, or use a small, thin worn-out from home

An extra dose of “flexibility”

Extra zip-lock bags - to put your own personal trash to carry out

Laundry bag (mesh, or old pillowcase) - please put your name on the outside of the bag/pillowcase

More and more patience

Prescription medication, contact lens supplies (could be very dusty) and any other personal needs, including feminine hygiene supplies

Flashlight, extra batteries

LED headlamp - a lot handier than a flashlight when going to to the shower/toilet building at night! These lamps come on a strap for around your head, or there is the kind that snaps onto the bill of a baseball cap

Waterless antibacterial wash when water is not available (towlettes not recommended because of disposal problem)

Personal first aid supplies for cuts, blisters, diarrhea ( we will also have a Team First Aid kit, but it helps for you to have your own available in your pocket at the worksite

Electrical adapters and converters, depending on what you are bringing (see note at bottom for more info)

What the heck - a little more won’t hurt - add even more flexibility, patience, sense of humor

Snack foods - This is something you can pack ahead of time, or you may want to consider buying in Maputo to take to Massaca, if you have time. it may happen that you don’t care for all the local foods, and find yourself hungry. There is not an opportunity to buy anything once we’re in Massaca. It wouldn’t be acceptable to bring your own food to a meal prepared by our hosts, but you could have something back at your own room. You have to keep in mind bugs and heat and humidity. Bring some extra zip-lock bags to store the food you purchase, and take care of any trash/packaging by packing it back out with you.
NEW NOTE: do not bring food to share with the children or any of our hosts. The most that we would share with them would be the cookies that are provided for snack at the worksite. The food you bring is for your own consumption, or to share with team mates, when we are in our own private space, which includes the breakfast & dinner "cafe" where team members only are eating. Jars of peanut butter and bottles of hot sauce were favorite sharing items last year.

Tools to bring if you can: (keep in mind weight and that they have to be in checked baggage). Tools left with the Habitat affiliate will be greatly appreciated, but you can bring along your own to take back with you if you would prefer. Do not bring tools that require electricity!

*Pliers - commonly used - "lineman" pliers are best, that can cut wire and grip
*Saws - commonly used (NEW NOTE: they use "short" saws - they are a regular saw, but are only about 16" long)
*Trowels - commonly used
*Tape measures (metric)
*Plumb bobs

DOES ANYBODY ALREADY HAVE A SOLAR SHOWER? Since there are only cold water showers at the Mission House, we'll bring the two solar showers that we have (5 gallons each, good for 3 people to take a shower). If we had 4 more, we wouldn't have to rotate with who gets to take a hot shower each day. Let me know if you have one you're willing to bring along.

NEW NOTE: we have plenty now!

OPTIONAL (consider value, weight, and security):
*Binoculars (recommended if you are going on safari)
*Back support - the work is all manual
*Extra prescription glasses
*Laplap (sarong, lavalava) to wear to the shower
*Poncho or lightweight rain jacket - it will probably make you hot to wear and you may choose to just be wet if it even rains
*Umbrella - small, collapsible
*Journal, paper, pencil or pen
*Bible/meditation material
*Games, cards to use at night with just team members (some may not be appropriate to be used with community members)
*Games to play with children - frisbees, jump ropes, finger puppets (do not give these to children directly - even simple gifts are not allowed. The kids can use them with you, but they must give them back when you are done playing with the kids each time. Then we will give them to the school to use for all the children when we leave)
*Laundry powder- in case you want to wash something out at night on your own - but we suggest just using your shampoo or other multi-purpose soap
*Bathing suit (there MAY be an opportunity at a pool somewhere
*A few photos of family and home to share with team and host (remember, pictures of who we are, not what we have - like boats, houses, cars, etc)
*Camera, batteries, extra memory and battery charger NEW NOTE: Bob suggests to not use your 110 battery charger with a converter, as he and others have experienced them burning up and melting! Bring a battery charger that has dual voltage so you don't need a converter.
*Pocketknife (not in your hand-carry!
*Small musical instrument - recorder, harmonica
*Ear plugs

NEW NOTE: you may want to consider Tea Tree Oil for lice prevention/treatment

*Illegal drugs
*Firearms, firecrackers
*Bad sense of humor
*Short tempers

In addition to items on the tool list that you may choose to donate, some of you may also, or instead of, want to donate to the community school and/or medical clinic. The following are the needs that they have sent to us:

soccer balls
colored pencils
drawing books
art supplies
pencil sharpeners

sticking plaster
general antibiotics


Read again the info at the top as to the kind of luggage to use.

For those of you doing personal traveling after Mozambique: if you are staying overnight somewhere on the way in to Mozambique, such as Joberg, and you are also going to go back through that same city using that same hotel, you may be able to leave a bag behind that you don’t need in Mozambique but want for the rest of your trip. Check with the hotel where you have your reservations. Don’t count on airport storage. You’ll have to make your own decisions as to whether you think it is secure enough. You’ll also have to check the baggage limits for where you are going.

Your carry-on should have a little of everything, to get you through several days of waiting for your luggage to catch up with you. You wouldn’t be the first team member that this has happened to.

For those of you having a tough time with the baggage limit, remember that they don’t weigh YOU! Wear as much weight as you can on the airplane to keep your bags lighter - wear your heaviest shoes, and possibly several layers of clothes. You can take some of those layers off and cram them in your carry-on after you go through the inspection of your carry-on.

Make sure you can padlock your bag to help insure against theft enroute. Do not put items in unlocked outside pockets. (a simple duffle, with no outside pockets works best).

Use a combination padlock instead of a key. Read the note at the beginning again about the safety of your luggage - there isn’t any. So really, leave the expensive stuff you don’t need (like jewelry) at home - there will be little to no opportunity to wear it anyway. Other valuables (cameras, binocs, etc) should be in your hand-carry.

Pack leaky items (shampoo, lotions) in zip lock bags - and tighten the cap right before you put them in. Pack most of that in your checked baggage. Read up on the current allowances for liquids in your carry-on. Right now it’s 3oz bottles that will all fit into one quart-size zip-lock bag.

Be sure your bag(s) are well labeled with your name and contact info (maybe a friend or family) - it doesn’t do any good for them to try and contact you at home about a found bag since you won’t be at home!

If you need an extra pillow to sleep, consider just putting your clean clothing in a pillow case or clean shirt and using that.

Simplify your toiletries - if shampoo will work as your body soap, and even laundering your clothes, that will cut down on number of bottles.

Dr Bonner’s soap - you can wash EVERYTHING, including your teeth, body, hair, laundry, dishes, your roommate …whatever! It’s biodegradable, “green”, plus the bottle is fun to read! Get it in “trial size” and there will be enough for you and a friend. One team member recommends “mint” as it leaves behind a nice tingle, and is best flavor for tooth-brushing. I think it tastes pretty bad no matter what, so I go for “lavender”. REI (outdoor equipment store) and natural food stores carry it.

A former team member recommended adding some mouth wash (she likes mint for this too) to a spray bottle of water, and using that to “spritz yourself” - it feels tingly, makes you smell better, doesn’t attract mosquitoes like perfumed sprays do, and actually kills some germs!

Roll-up style space bags are great for compacting clothing items….no vacuum necessary

Hair dryers can be cumbersome. If you can share with others while on R&R, that will help cut down on your weight and space. Those of us traveling on our own afterwards will probably carry a hair dryer, so the rest of you don’t have to (us girls can chat about that on our own).

NOTE about electrical adapters and converters:

Adapters - Mozambique uses the adapters that have three round pins. One pin is larger diameter than the other two. They may be labeled WA-9, WA-10 or WA-10L. You can get the kind that only has two pins, but it will be ungrounded. South Africa uses two different kinds. In some places they will use the same kind as Mozambique, but in other places they will use the WA-7, which also has three pins, but they are flat. One flat pin is perpendicular to the other two flat pins (one is vertical, the other two are horizontal). Which one will be needed where is anyone’s guess. We’ve been in places where one room may have two different kinds of electrical outlets!

Converters - A converter is not the same thing as an adapter. The adapter just makes it so that your plug can fit into their socket. The converter changes the voltage. Your appliance, such as a hair dryer, must also be able to change voltage from 120 to 240. If your appliance doesn’t have that kind of switch right on it, then you need a converter as well to accommodate the wattage of your appliance. Those who try to use an appliance without the converter will be providing exciting entertainment for the rest of us at the cost of your blown-up appliance. Converters come in different capacities (wattage). A hair dryer usually takes a pretty big converter so check that out. Converters and adapters can be purchased at a travel store or online ( Target, Joe’s (formerly GI Joe’s) and REI carry them. I have been told that Lowe’s does as well. Check department stores that carry luggage. These adapters and converters were NOT available in Mozambique last year.

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