Because I drove from Tucson Arizona to my chosen town of San Miguel de Allende Mexico, then the space in my mini-van, afforded me the luxury of moving not just my clothes but many items including a 52″ flat screen televison. Although I do know a few female friends who may be the exception and my mini-van would be only just big enough for their clothes, and shoes.
When I began to unpack the items I bought, from the cardboard boxes, I was soon rolling my own eyes and asking myself “what was I thinking” when packing certain items. I had packed a small canister vacuum cleaner. Stupid idea. First off 99% of flooring in Mexico is tile or concrete of sorts. Second, I had a maid that was included with the apartment rent! Third, the maid like all other maids that I had heard of here, did not like using such complicated contraptions. My maid was typical of all the rest: a broom, a mop and a duster, cleaned the floors and walls just fine. I bought too many dishes and glasses and they did not fit the decor of my very Mexican style home I now had. I bought far too many tools with me; it’s a guy thing I suppose. Living in a home without my own full set of sockets and several adjustable wrenches seemed somehow “wrong”. I arrived with one and a half cartons full of tools including an electric drill. However, I left Mexico with a large zip-lock bag full of hand tools. The electric drill was useless anyway. First when you rent, someone else does all the work and second, the walls were very, very solid masonry walls about 20 cm thick.
My van actually ended up being a boat anchor! First of all, parking in my small town was at a premium and knowing where to park legally became a nightmare on holiday weekends. This is Mexico and religious holiday weekends are all the time! After my car was towed 3 times, I decided that a car was more of a liability than an asset. The van did a great job of transporting and storing my stuff, but now Mexico’s great buses and local taxis whisk me around at low cost and in great comfort. I sold the van.
OK, now for silly things I brought to Thailand. Socks. Ten pairs of them to be exact. Really nice good quality cotton, dress socks. Just one teenie problem. I wear flip flops or sandals 99.99% of the time here! My white, no-show, sports socks I have worn a few times because they can be more comfortable with slip on shoes. I have worn them 3 times in 4 months. I bought two 30 inch suitcases with me and each one was full to the allowed, USA, limit of 32 kg each one. Even now, I think I overpacked coming to Chaing Mai and I think if I had really been more brutally honest with myself then one 32 inch suitcase would have been just fine with a small backpack.
Be very careful about what you take with you. If you just “think” you will use the item, then chances are you won’t. Plus there is very little that can not be replaced new or used in either Thailand or Mexico, and also Ecuador I would imagine.
I did bring some very useful items! San Miguel is about 2,000 meters above sea level and winter nights are chilly often less than 7 Celcius. Remember that in Mexico very few homes have central heating or cooling. My apartment had a nice gas fire, but the bed would have been very chilly to get into and to sleep without my heated mattress pad. I can highly recommend THIS mattress pad to do the job; no heavy blankets, easy to pack and very low cost to keep you warm.
A cool idea, says me: paper is very heavy! So, instead of packing photographs, medical records, paper memorabilia and other paper items I photographed each item. If I get the urge to print out any of those images I can do that here in Chaing Mai for very little cost. I also scanned hundreds of slides and photographs before moving to Mexico and hundreds more before leaving Mexico for Thailand. Everything is now digital and stored safely on a local hard drive and 2 online backup services.
A good take way from this story I think: One of my greatest personal achievements in recent memory was arriving in Chaing Mai with just 2 suitcases. Trust me, it is NOT easy to do. The “what to keep what to take” task is not easy at all. I have no storage locker full of stuff somewhere in the USA and my family in England have nothing stored for me there in over 30 years! The freedom I feel in my life at the moment is wonderful. I rent my condo and have my “stuff” in such a small amount that I can leave here whenever I want and head someplace else. That sounds like a segue to a story that I have NO idea where that will be staged. Stay tuned.