Tight Pants: Packing for Peace Corps Jamaica

Packing for Peace Corps is a tough job. How can you possibly decide what you will need for two years and fit it all into two bags, weighing under 80 pounds. We PCVs in Jamaica thought we would share our thoughts on what you can and can't live without. Disclaimer: The comments on this page do not express the views of Peace Corps, the US Government, or any other organizations named in these pages.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More answers to the questions

Some more answers to questions posted:
Do you need adapters for the electric outlets? Or are they like the US outlets?
Power out of the sockets here is 120vA, 50Hz. The notable thing here is the 50Hz cycle speed. In the U.S., we use 60Hz cycle speeds. Normally, this has no effect on most electrical equipment. However, it affects anything that uses cycle speed to calculate timing. This is why plug-in clocks don't work here, they run alot slower than they should. There are a few other items that I have seen that have not worked as a result of the 50/60Hz difference, specifically Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) from one manufacturer and some microwaves. Luckily, alot of Europe runs on 50Hz, so anything made for European markets works fine here. Most everything that isn't time sensitive works fine. The only other major factors are power outs and surges and in some areas, severe lightning. The Jamaica power grid fluxtuates especially in rural areas, with spikes and dips a constant occurance. Anything that is electronic should go through a surge supressor. Lightning is also a powerful effect that no surge suppressor I've owned has stopped. This just means you should unplug stuff if there is a storm.

Regarding backpacks. Can you elaborate on the satchel instead of backpack? What is a satchel and where can you purchase one?

Here is our satchel bag, hope these pictures help. This one is from L.L. Bean.

Is a money belt recommended?

I never used one, even though I brought one. They are very conspicuous, especially when you have to retrieve money from them.

Do I need bedding of some sort (i.e. sheets, pillows)? They never mentioned that stuff in packing lists, but i figure I'll be sleeping in some sort of bed.
Well, here's the thing about bedding. Your first two months will be in a host family home where sheets and pillows and pillow cases,etc, are provided for you. You should use these, as changing the sheets to your own is culturally inhospitable. BUT then you will have your own bed at your site. This will most likely be a 11 inch thick piece of foam, which is a standard jamaican bed (if you're a cheapskate you can get the 8 inch foam). The sheets available in Jamaica are all either polyester, 50%poly/50%cotton, have little to no elastic, and pill severely after a few washes. Our US sheets (100% cotton, high threadcount over 400) were cheaper than the polyester sheets available here. The fact that you can get a sheet in the US with elastic all around it is a big bonus because it stays on the foam pad nicely. So the recommendation is to bring a sheet set with you, preferably a dark color to hide stains, 100% cotton. Don't bother with pillows, blankets, etc, you can buy decent stuff in Jamaica. PLEASE don't bring the T-Shirt material sheets as they don't stand up to handwashing and they become too misshapen to stay on the bed.


At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 10:24:00 PM, Anonymous Zack Bayne said...

thanks for the quick reply,



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