One of the scariest things about moving to the bush is trying to figure out what you need to take! It is a daunting task, for sure! The village’s little store is the only spot you can buy stuff-but the selection is limited. However, we are soooooo lucky that we live in a day and age where we can just hop online and order whatever it is that we need.
That being said, the mail service isn’t particularly stellar out here. Your packages will get to you…but you just never know how long you’ll be waiting.
So Ben and I had to do some serious planning and preparing…and even then, we are still learning as we go!
First thing’s first: Suitcases!
Now, between here and our semester in China, I’ve learned a thing or two about packing a suitcase. For China, I crammed in as much stuff as possible while trying to keep it under the 50 pound limit. Packing for Alaska was quite a bit easier because we planned on making a large online purchase for food and household stuff anyway. So if something didn’t quite fit or was too heavy, I just added it to our (ever growing) list of online supplies.
When we decided to come, I mentally started packing and figuring out which clothes I wanted to bring. Buuuuuuuuut as soon as Ben came home…and I took a look at his clothes, I changed my mind entirely. The water out here has a high iron content (read: rust)…so Ben’s clothes came back a little dingier. So I changed my packing list to clothes I didn’t really care much about. Also, Ben assured me that no one here really cares what you wear…so I kept my selection sparse. I was pretty proud of how few things I felt okay bringing-definitely a change from packing for China!
Above are just my tops. Not pictured are my jeans, a skirt, my under-things, PJs, and my running clothes. Which-guys! I only packed 5 running shirts-3 short sleeve and 2 long sleeve. This is pretty much a miracle for me considering I have like a mountain of running clothes now in storage (seriously! A mountain!).
Here’s all the shoes we packed between Ben and I. Please note that I have fewer pairs than Ben. Mwahaha! Never thought I’d see the day!
One of the main reasons I wanted to pack so light in my suitcase is so that I would have room for fabric! And sewing supplies! I definitely needed something to keep me busy so I am undertaking a (scary but exciting) sewing project! I will do a post on my project as soon as I get a little farther on it (it’s English Paper Piecing and I’m a total slow poke at hand sewing!).
Planning out our food took a lot of preparation and organization. We did a lot of research trying to figure out the best way to buy bulk food. Most new teachers spend a day in Anchorage shopping around at Costco and Sam’s club. They fill up several totes and then wait in line at the post office to mail them to their site. And then they have to wait a couple of weeks or so for their totes to show up in the village they are in.
We did buy some things in Anchorage-but only perishables or stuff we couldn’t find online. We filled up 3 totes with perishable food and just brought it on the plane with us. It cost $25.00 each tote on the plane but I figured it must be about the same to mail it. Plus we had it with us the whole way and didn’t have to wait for it to arrive on some unknown date.
For the bulk of our food, we decided on using Walmart…because they have free shipping on any order over $50.00.
I made a list of about 15 meals we could rotate through that didn’t require fresh food. Sad story, I know, but we knew what we signed up for when we came out :). Then I made a list of all the ingredients we would need to make each meal several times over the course of about 3 months.
I figured that would give us plenty of food, and we’d be able to reevaluate after a few weeks and figure out what was working and what wasn’t working.
Luckily, being Mormon (not to mention, I’m my father’s daughter…;), I’ve got a food storage mentality, so I’m pretty sure I over planned. And I’m already making a list for our next order…
The perishables were a little bit harder to gauge…we had some specific amounts (for example, I knew we wanted about 40 yogurts) but for most things we just kind of looked at each other and said, “Do you think that’ll be enough?” And in many cases we’d look back at the cart, shrug, and toss in a few more of whatever we were looking at.
Not pictured we have a fridge full or apples, cheese and eggs. The cheese I wish we had bought more of (I’m nervous we’ll run out!). And the apples I think we got too many of! In the lower 48, apples will last a good 2 months in the fridge…but Anchorage apples have been through a little bit more, so some of the ones we have are already going bad. I’m eating them as fast as I can!
We also have a snack cupboard with chips and craisins and crackers, as well as a cupboard of spices and a cupboard of cooking supplies, peanut butter and honey.
It’s definitely been interesting to see what we actually end up eating. For example, it has come to my attention that I eat tortilla chips like they’re going out of style. And we’ve yet to crack open a fruit cup (maybe we’re not desperate enough to yet?). But for the most part, our little system has been working.
We made our Walmart order around New Years. Not everything arrived on time, but we got all of our boxes within about a week of their promised delivery date-which was plenty fine by me!
So we’re learning and figuring it out one step at a time. I mean, I thought I would die without Lay’s Kettle Cooked Jalepeno potato chips (Walmart.com doesn’t sell them!!!), but I’m still surviving! I guess it’s all part of the Bush experience!
Now go buy yourself a hamburger just because, hey, you can!