Monday, September 5, 2011

Left Behind

This post--the last about my travels--is the counterpart to the one I published last September on packing to leave for Europe. As always, it is amazing how much stuff one can collect in (almost) a year, in my case mostly papers and books (see photo). I ended up lugging about 25-30 pounds of belongings from Berlin through Poznan to Warsaw. I thought two weeks' worth of clothing was plenty to pack, so I was surprised to come home and discover I had an entire bureau and a small closet full of clothes! Over the next couple of weeks I will post a final few retrospective entries about living and researching in Germany, which will bring this first phase of my blog to an end.

After packing to leave Berlin at the end of July, I made two lists: one of things that I acquired in Germany, and one of things that got "left behind." Here they are:

Bible (Die Gute Nachricht)
bike pump
CDs with scans of documents
2 DVDs (one a gift, one I purchased, unfortunately both Region 2)
expensive air mattress I bought for the cave-camping trip on Christmas Eve
external harddrive (I was starting to get panicky about losing my photo collection, which is too big for the free online storage sites)*
Handy (= cell phone) and charger
USB stick
vegetable peeler

bank statements (I had to print these out every month, or the bank charged me a fee for mailing it)
bicycle and bike lock (sold online)
drying rack for laundry
the "little pot" I bought to cook oatmeal, soup, and single dinner servings 
lunch box (worn out)
2 pairs of sneakers (1 worn out, 1 too small)
pair of dress shoes (worn out)
pair of khakis (tangled in my bike chain one too many times)
shower poof
Tupperware I bought in Germany (what I brought over with me I carried home again)
umbrella (broken by the wind)
vase for the dozen red roses DH sent when things got stressful over the summer
wicker basket my Christmas present from DH came in (fruit and more fruit: does he know me, or does he know me?)

Although Dear Husband traded me for a larger suitcase on one of his visits, and he even carted home some winter clothes, photocopies, and books for me, when packing up I still found myself with juuust enough carrying capacity. Or rather, capacity to stuff my belongings into an enclosed container and drag or otherwise lug it behind me. I still had my winter coat, a lighter and a heavier jacket, my bicycle helmet, and a steamer basket that I didn’t use as often as I thought I would, since I usually ended up cooking my vegetables with the potatoes in a little olive oil. For the trip through Poland I also had an extra bag of apples, snacks, and rolls with what was left of my meat and cheese. I figured I had already paid for this food, could eat it whenever I was hungry, and wouldn’t have to worry about factoring as many meals into my budget of Polish zlotys. Although I am used to buying just as much food as I need for a week, I discovered that I am reeaallly bad at estimating how long toiletries like shampoo and shower gel last. At least I was able to repack the rest of my laundry detergent into a little juice bottle. I opted not to mail anything home, because I found that even a not-very-heavy small-medium box could cost 30 Euros (= $40) to mail to the States. So because books are heavy (= expensive), and because I have heard horror stories of research notes getting lost at customs, I would have ended up mailing back clothes and lugging the books and a ream of copies anyway. Cheapskate me would rather endure the sweat and blisters than pay the money. As it was, I ended up paying over 100 Euros in luggage fees for the privilege of traveling with all my stuff.

*--The external harddrive made the journey in my suitcase. I sat in an exit row, and a thought occurred to me while reading the emergency landing info: "If the plane goes down, I lose my suitcase; that means in order to save 10 months' worth of research photographs, I would have to take my laptop, which is against the rules. I may not "meet the requirements" for sitting in the exit row after all!"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments let me know that I am not just releasing these thoughts into the Ether...