Everyone who knows me knows that I like to be prepared. I scoured PCV blogs for months looking for items other Volunteers found useful. Sometimes Volunteers would update packing lists for the next-arriving cohort, and sometimes I could find lists of favorite items. No one was writing about what they used during PST, though. The training part of service in Swaziland occurs with only one of your checked bags, and we received little advice on what would be needed. So that leaves me to write the blog post I always wanted and I hope it helps a future Volunteer.
I arrived in Swaziland in July in the depths of winter. I knew winter here wasn’t anything like winter in Ohio or Utah, but I brought just enough warm clothes for the Manzini region. I would need more to live in the mountains of Hhohho. On the coldest days, I wore long yoga pants or leggings underneath a long skirt. I also have a light Patagonia puffy that kept me warm, especially when sleeping in my sleeping bag under my two Peace-Corps-issued blankets. I slept in flannel pjs every night with heavy Smartwool socks. I even wore my winter headband to keep my ears warm on a few nights. I have loved having my slippers here as well.
You may say that you don’t need winter wear because you want to be placed in the warmest region, but there are no guarantees when it comes to site placements. And Swaziland is such a tiny country that you can easily travel anywhere, and you do not want cold temperatures to stop you.
Cold weather gear I have loved:
- A 30-degree sleeping bag
- Winter pajamas
- Heavy socks
- Long yoga pants or leggings
- Hat or headband
- Lightweight gloves
Starting in 2018, each intake group will arrive at the end of September, rather than in mid-June. This means that it (likely) will not be so cold when Trainees arrive. The heavy winter wear mentioned above will still be important for you once winter arrives, but it is no longer essential PST gear. I’ve made a new post about how to dress for Peace Corps eSwatini here.
I love cooking and baking so I also came prepared with kitchen gadgets and many other items:
- Measuring cups (dry)
- Measuring cup (liquid) that I use for pouring water from big buckets into my large kettle and to pour water on myself while bathing
- Oven mit and pot holder
- Wash cloths
- Toiletries organizer from LLBean that I’ve hung above my “bath tub”
- Salt and pepper
- Good pens
- Kitchen shears
- Pairing knife
Things I wish I had brought:
- A mirror
- A suit jacket
- Plastic food storage containers
- A hoodie