3 weeks out and I can finally edit the packing pictures without the panicky feeling coming back. Everything fit and made it back. I would say with no problems, but packing day was stressful enough that it was a problem at the time. I made it down to Mexico for Peace Corps service with 2 huge checked bags, 1 large carry-on suitcase, and 1 stuffed computer bag. However, I then proceeded to bring my climbing stuff down to Mexico and buy new clothes and plenty of souvenirs. I took one suitcase of stuff back at Christmas-time to leave in temporary storage (a.k.a. the parent’s attic) for future retrieval. On the real trip back, I had 3 checked bags, 1 large carry-on suitcase, and 1 stuffed computer bag. Technically only 1 extra bag, for which I paid dearly, but moving always costs money and 2 years of climbing and camping in Mexico were not only worth it but some of the highlights.
The “What to bring for Peace Corps?” is a lively and important topic for those at that stage. Overall, I think I did pretty well. I probably brought too many business clothes. I should have brought my stove-top espresso maker and my kitchen knives, but those were fairly easily re-purchases and couriered down on the “family is coming to visit, who needs something?” express. The business clothes are a somewhat controversial topic. For me, what I experienced, is that even in top-notch research centers, people still wear jeans. Other Volunteers in Mexico are in truer business environments, so I know they are getting more use out of slacks and button-downs. Or, that is just how they roll. I transitioned my navy and black pants to everyday use and tried to wear them out. I succeeded in this plan with a lot of clothing, even more shoes, but then I bought even more. Also, I say that you always have some personal fashion choice. I feel strongly that it is important to maintain a professional relationship with work partners and this involves appearance, but there is still some leeway concerning wardrobe. Take my advice at your own risk. I don’t always play well with authority and may have worn flip-flops a few times just to make a point.
I’m not trying to desperately cling onto my Peace Corps experiences, but it is hard to come up with posts when the days involve mostly going to the gym and sitting in front of a computer. Things are in motion, and that feels good. I will say that there was a bit more emotional stuff to the transition back than I expected. Things seem more even now. Coming back from a large city in Mexico to Texas is also not the most extreme change to make. I really respect what other Volunteers must have to go through on their transitions back.