Monday, June 17, 2013

Two months in

On Wednesday it will have been two months since we landed in Tirana, so it's time for an update.

The short story is that we still love the city and the region. Manila gave us many gifts, and one of them is the ability to appreciate everything this post has to offer. From the housing to the traffic to the weather to the air quality, from our perspective, this place rocks. I'm already sorry that Brian's status as an ELO means that we will only be here two years and cannot request an extension to three years.

Two years in a post that's a good fit is much too short. Two years in a post that's a bad fit is much too long.

Our final HHE shipment from DC arrived last week, so now I feel like we can really settle in to our house. We did a decent job with our consumables shipment, especially given that it's really hard to shop for consumables at a post that has changed so rapidly in so little time that no one's really sure what is or is not available.

As a newbie, here's what I wish I hadn't brought, and what I wish I'd brought more of:

Wish I could return it:

  • Canned tomato products. In my defense, I knew this sounded wonky, but when your favorite cooking media is a slow-cooker, a threat of unavailable tomato products must be taken seriously.
Wish I had bought more of it:
  • Peanut butter. 6 huge jars of Smucker's natural isn't going to be enough. I depsise PB with sugar in it.
  • Enchilada sauce. Only 4 jars!?? WTF? I think I told myself I would make it from scratch ...
Wish I had bought it at all:
  • soft toilet paper. In my old age I have come to appreciate high quality toilet paper. 
  • black beans - canned, dry, whatever. They don't exist here. 
  • non-sugary cereal. All they have here is museli and fifty different kinds of dessert cereal. I think the healthy breakfast cereal thing is uniquely American. 
  • body lotion. But NOT hair removal products. There's an entire aisle dedicated to hair removal, and a teeny, tiny corner of body lotion. Not a lot of dry, English skin around here. 
However, all of the above can be got around. Except maybe the black beans and the cereal. Those are hard to substitute.