OMG, what don’t I lug back?
You don’t have to be an expat to relate to this. Every country around the world has its delights and its lacks. Whilst the world has become a multicultural place and “free” trade has allowed many products to circulate, there are always things people will lug to and fro.
There are two kinds of trips I take. One is travel, and it’s with a carry on. Not much room for even gifts. Then, there’s the shopping trip. As much as I love carry-on packing, this is a trip where a carry-on simply will not do.
Here’s what I’m bringing back to Tropica after my Chicago retreat.
Black licorice (even that’s getting scarce in the U.S.) Twizzlers will do in a pinch, but I’m talking salty Dutch licorice or English pontifract cakes.
A digital oven thermometer. A waiter’s corkscrew. A mini bottle of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap for future travel. Secret deodorant. Lily pad silicone food covers. Bodum one-cup French press. Snack size (half size) sandwich bags. Love these! One book. Eagle Creek packing cubes as a gift for DD that I found at Nordstrom Rack. Birkenstocks.
Special purple shampoo for my lovely silver hair. CVS Teeth whitening strips.
A changing array of spices and condiments, like anchovy paste, or curry paste. These things may appear once or never in Tropica.
PG tips tea and especially, decaf teabags.
Duh, clothes! The U.S. is the world’s shopping mall. Selection and low prices make shopping an aerobic activity. Jeans, tops, sweaters, hiking gear for a future trip, lingerie. On this trip, Birkenstocks.
Usually something in the electronics area. Costs a third less in the U.S. It seems that the world’s leftovers and last year’s models are dumped in Tropica’s Coscto at double the price.
When I visit a place like Mario Batali’s Eataly (God bless him) I am so overwhelmed with the beauty and desirability of absolutely everything, that I buy nothing. It feels better that way.
Then there is the curious issue of things costing less in your home land than they do in their country of origin. Take Swiss chocolate for example. A Toblerone bought in Zurich will cost at least 50% more than if I purchase it in Mexico. Go figure.
In the past I have lugged an ice cream maker, a Cuisinart, a pizza stone, (that was fun…) a waffle iron to name a few of the odd shaped items I fit into my suitcase. Today, I can find these things in Tropica — of course at higher prices.
Why don’t I shop online, you ask? Here’s the thing about living in Tropica: no vendors want to ship into this country. The mail system is corrupt, archaic and chaotic. Ditto for customs. There is no tracing or registering of items. U.S. carriers will not sell you insurance. There are abusive customs duties. Then there is the wait. Your precious things languish in customs warehouses for months, if you even see them at all. My DD ordered a pair of shoes from ASOS in March. As I write this in July, they haven’t arrived and it is doubtful they will. The wedding is over, she made do. (No store carries her size nine foot.)
When I travel, I marvel at what first world countries have in their stores. I am boggled by the variety and the choice. So to my readers in “normal” parts of the world, where the mail works, where there’s food in the grocery stores, where L.L. Bean will ship… be grateful. For the expats out there…well, what can I say? Keep packing.
Gotta go. I’m packing now and in the customary panic that everything will fit. Next week, I’ll write you from my home in Tropica.
P.S. Happy Fourth of July to my U.S. readers!
P.P.S. What things do you lug around the world? What do guests ask you to bring to them? Let’s hear it all, below in the comments section. That’s what makes the blog fun!
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