The air is amazingly crisp this morning. I’m on the front porch. A Buddha Air flight has just crossed over our house, headed for Bharatphur (Chitwan) or Pokhara. Load shedding is down to just four hours a day or so (unofficially; the schedule still has it at 12+) so there are no generator noises, just yapping dogs and screeching crows, the low din of traffic from Ring Road, some 1 km south. The sun is cresting, obscured by a partly cloudy sky, over the neighbor’s house, just hitting my solar panels. Time to swap from city power to the panels to power the network equipment.
Time to start the final countdown.
In two days, a shipping agent will come by our house and assess our household effects (HHE) for their weight. We have an allotted amount we can ship. These things will be separated into Unaccompanied Air Baggage (UAB) of a smaller amount and the main HHE shipment, the former will follow us to the ‘States for the majority of our stay, while we convalesce on home leave and while Jean is in training. Just seven weeks that. The latter will get packed up into well-packed cardboard boxes, which then in turn get packed into large wooden crates, which are packed off to the airport to be flown to Belgium, a major shipping hub, to sit until sometime after we arrive in Zimbabwe, after which they too will be sent to Africa.
Next week I’ll show our maid the house where she’ll be working next. We’ve found her a job with an incoming family. I’ll take Jhili-Mili, our Nepali grey tabby, to the vet for a health certificate.
In just over a week, we’ll ship our micro-safari vehicle, our Maruti Gypsy, to Zimbabwe. Zim doesn’t have any import restrictions at present, save that the vehicle is Right-Hand Drive, which it is. It will get loaded into a sea container, get shipped on the mind-bendingly dangerous road, the H04, west out of town and cross into India, where in Calcutta the crate will get loaded on a ship and sail for South Africa, where it will then get shipped up to Harare.
In 10 days we’ll get our “welcome kit” for departure; the two large trunks that have enough cooking and eating implements to manage in the kitchen, some linens for beds, etc. We’ll have our final going away party (one can’t do these things in one fell swoop can one now?).
All the food in the freezer is accounted for and I’ve planned meals (which will inevitably get shiffted around by social dinners) for the next 2 1/2 weeks.
In 11 days, we’ll pack our suitcases. Anything we don’t want accidentally finding its way into our major shipment, anything we’ll need for the next two and a half months really, will get packed into our bags and stowed in our bedroom. That includes shower curtains too!
In 13 days we’ll “pack out.” A shipping company will dispatch trucks and men to begin, like leaf-cutter ants, disassembling our household goods and packing them in boxes. Two days after that, our house will be bare save the welcome kit contents and our luggage, and the Embassy-issued furniture.
In 15 days Jean will have her last day at work. My mother will celebrate a birthday.
In 16 days we’ll sleep our last night at our house.
In 17 days an Embassy Motor Pool vehicle will leave the Embassy or come from it’s previous task, the driver will note his destination, will be cut off by motorcycles honking their horns, will bounce up our monsoon torn road, and arrive at our house. The driver will exit the vehicle and ring the bell. We’ll be waiting with our luggage. Our maid will have helped us strip the beds and launder the linens and will have washed her last set of breakfast dishes for us. She will be crying and Jean will hold it in. Jhili-Mili will be in her crate, with water and food enough for the two-day journey, though she won’t eat half of it.
We’ll lock the house for the last time. We’ll hand the house keys to the driver, and head to the airport. We’ll head in with our incredible load of luggage, check in (see you in Seoul, Jhili!), fill out our departure paperwork, and head through the diplomat line. The kids will fidget and jockey for position and will be full of questions. Merrill will need to pee just as we’re needed for processing. We’ll proceed through security and will get felt up and patted down. A few times.
We’ll wait an interminably long time in the lounge, waiting for our aircraft to arrive. The kids will be all nerves and vacillating between elation and confusion. So will I.
In 17 days and five hours, we’ll board our flight to the United States of America (with an overnight in Incheon/Seoul) and will leave Nepal.
Time for the next big adventure! Zimbabwe!