The unintentional hiatus (aka Hello, Stuff!!)

Arriving at a new post involves a huge transition in every aspect of one’s life. In a material sense there are always two and sometimes three major events that mark this transition: UAB, HHE, and POV.

UAB: Unaccompanied Air Baggage. This is 250 lbs of stuff (450 for a couple and 600 for a family of three, increasing by 150 lb increments for each additional member) that gets separated out from the bulk of stuff you want to ship over for your living quarters. It gets sent by air and arrives roughly 2 weeks after you do. Until that point, all you’ve got is what you brought in your suitcases, perhaps augmented by some stuff you mailed to yourself in advance of arriving and whatever you can buy on the local market.  Most people put in kitchen and bedroom essentials. I mostly had kitchen utensils and my pillows with a small amount of bathroom stuff such as some toilet paper, shampoo and conditioner, and so on. 250 lbs isn’t much but packed wisely, it can make a huge material difference in the quality of life.

HHE: Household Effects. This is the bulk of your stuff, sent by ship and typically arriving 2 months or so after you. Most housing in the foreign service is furnished and each family gets up to 7000 lbs of stuff.  You can have up to 18000 lbs total possessions, 11,000 goes into storage while posted abroad.  If you aren’t in furnished housing, you get a bigger shipment but I forget offhand if its 14K or the whole 18K.  Some posts also qualify for a Consumables allowance if the local economy isn’t developed enough to provide for the food and other stuff (shampoo, toilet paper, etc). I get 2400 lbs of consumables above and beyond the 7,000 limit for household effects. You can break the Consumables shipment into two parts and get the second delivered after the first year of a 2 assignment.  I didn’t have near the 7,000 limit for HHE and so packed all of my food and whatnot just as regular HHE, leaving the full 2400 lbs for delivery later on. I doubt I’ll bring that much over then, but it is nice not to have to worry about going over weight.

POV: Personally Owned Vehicle. Pretty self explanatory.  This also gets delivered by sea.

For Abuja, my HHE sailed to Europe and then was flown into Abuja and delivered by truck. My POV sailed into Lagos and then will be carted up to Abuja before being uncrated. Getting my UAB really helped with life here, but getting the HHE two weeks ago changed this experience from feeling like I was on a long vacation into living here. The first weekend I had my stuff I was totally occupied with unpacking, organizing, and setting things up.  I got most everything down now but there are still some piles of clothes and books that need to be put away.  But now I’ve got my TV, stereo, DVD player, XBox, computer desk, rowing machine, beer (!!) and food.  This is MY house now. But I was too preoccupied with taking care of business to update this blog. I’ve been reading a lot more too, which is nice, but MAN, do I have a lot of books.  If I read one a week, I might finish what I brought before I get out of here…

During the week, there isn’t much going on to report here. I get up, go to work, get home between 5 and 7, eat dinner, work out, go to bed. Without a vehicle, I don’t really get out of the house much on weekends either. There are barbecues and dinner parties, but those aren’t really good fodder for this either (not because they are scandalous but just because they aren’t very interesting after the fact). There is a really good community here that I am very grateful to have, but really, it’s just hanging out with friends.

The following weekend I was still settling into the house, but was surprised to find how much at ease I was at the weekend parties. I know people now, so the whole self-introductions and “I met them but am not sure if I remember names” is mostly past. It was the best weekend I’d had here, really just relaxing with friends and then of course celebrating the Eminent Child’s birthday.

She had a great weekend that started off with a pizza party with friends after school. They each got to make their own pizza and then made their own ice cream sundaes for desert. Her closest got to sleep over and the Eminent Wife set them up with a futon and goodies downstairs and just them stay up and play.  The Eminent Friend got a little unnerved when the lights went out (which is understandable considering that Japanese families often sleep in the same room well into elementary school), so the E.C. got the E.W. to come downstairs and provide a sense of security. E.C. emphatically pointed out that she was just fine without adult supervision; she just called her mom down to help her friend out.  Of course, the E.W. wasn’t allowed to sleep on the futon with them though and had to make do with the nearby couch.  At first I thought I’d dodged a bullet by being here, but then realized I wouldn’t have been invited down anyway because of my monstrous snoring.

This is all a long-winded way of saying I’ve been distracted the past few weeks as a result of getting my HHE.  Life is pretty good though. I still need to get some UPS (I mistakenly bought 60Hz units and Nigeria is 50Hz; was sure that I’d checked that out before buying, alas) and some propane tanks and attachments for my burners for the beer brewing and I’ll be fully settled in.

My POV has yet to arrive but it’s in Nigeria and just waiting to get processed through the port. It was supposed to be here last weekend and then this weekend but the beloved system here in Nigeria couldn’t deliver on those expectations, so I’m holding out hope for next week.  I did get my license and I know my plates are ready, so once its here, I’ll get to go out and watch it come out of the container, pay my local insurance fee, and I’m ready to roll. A new arrival at post agreed to include my new camera body in their UAB (thank you for giving me some of that precious early arrival weight!!), so hopefully within the next two weeks or so, I’ll have my car and my camera and can start exploring the city on my own.


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1 Comment

  1. J-man

     /  October 1, 2011

    Ahh yea, the monstrous snoring……”Why is all this stuff on me”


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