Should it stay or should it go?*

23 February 2012 20:50 

I bought a one way ticket to France. I’ve three bags to check, one carry on bag, and my computer briefcase. My return date to the USA is unknown. Mailing stuff there is costly. So the question is, of the many things I could bring, what should I actually bring?

It’s a bit like being god, deciding what gets raptured to France, and what gets LEFT BEHIND. British Airways will charge me a $100 per extra bag (up to 23kg/50lbs each), and while that’s steep, it’s much cheaper than any shipping alternative I’m looking into.  More of a limiting factor is how many bags I can manage between Dulles and Marseille (especially in England, where I must change airports).

Here’s the list of stuff that was strewn about the room and what happened to it.

What:  Peets’ coffee
Comment:  There’s plenty of strong coffee in France, but strong and good are harder to find. I’ve had coffee from French Polynesia to France itself, and Peet’s is the still the best.
Stay or Go?  Go. I cleaned out the local store of their supply.

What:  Stainless steel coffee press
Comment:  We have a heavy duty, stainless steel coffee press. While I’d prefer to bring it, it weighs a few pounds. We can make do with the inferior press at our apartment in Marseille.
Stay or Go? Stay

What:  Annie’s clothes
Comment:  She’s been complaining about wearing the same things over and over.  Is there really a choice?
Stay or Go? Go.

What:  Kids’ clothes
Comment:  It has been surprisingly cold in Marseille, and there’s even been a little snow. No winter jackets have been brought over.
Stay or Go? Go

What:  New Hampshire maple syrup
Comment:  You can find Canadian maple syrup in Marseille. It comes in small bottles shaped like and costing as much as perfume. We need it for the crepes.
Stay or Go? Go.

What:  Extra cameras
Comment:  My original D70 is dying; the LCD screen always shows white, and half the time images aren’t written to the card. My old film Yashica (circa 1984) just no longer cooperates. There’s a back up D70 in Marseille.
Stay or Go? Stay

What:  Books
Comment:  For this first time I wanted some sort of digital reader, brand unimportant. I travel heavy when it comes to books, so in this case I will have to pick and choose carefully, and look for a good used book store with English titles in Marseille.
Stay or Go? Compromise. Biggest single volume I took: The Royal Shakespeare Company ‘s  ‘Complete Works” (2.483 pages). Of course, others were brought, too.

What:  Large computer monitor
Comment:  Very helpful for all sorts of work, and electronics are more expensive in France.
Stay or Go?  Stay. I’m better off buying one there and using my luggage space for more important items, like coffee (see Peet’s above).

What:  Swim gear: fins, paddles, buoy.
Comment:  Chlorine is tied with alcohol for keeping me on an even keel.  There are many pools in Marseille, and there’s some big body of water nearby, too.
Stay or Go? Go. And it looks like I’ll be joining an awesome swim club.

What:  Miscellaneous tools.
Comment:  My inner McGyver needs some complement of tools, duct tape, and epoxy nearby. But I can’t take it all, because they’re all so heavy.
Stay or Go? A very, very small subset will go.

What:  Shoes
Comment:  At the risk of being a male Imelda Marcos, this was a bit of an issue.
Stay or Go? Compromise: brought the tevas, top siders, and loafers. Vasque hiking boots were left behind (see RAPTURE).

What:  Plastic, play food
Comment:  Needed to round out Catherine’s stove play set. Thoughtfully provided by some great hosts.
Stay or Go? Go.

What: Baguettes
Comment:  Damn, they are already so good here.
Stay or Go? No need.


* With apologies to the band.

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