There are some countries for which, if you are posted with the State Department, you get a consumables shipment. A consumables shipment is an extra allotment of weight that you can use to buy things you will use up during your tour. So it’s really great if you are already close to your weight limit and you’re going someplace where you can’t buy stuff like laundry detergent, wine, beer, liquor, peanut butter, and so forth.
You don’t get a consumables shipment for Bangladesh. It’s not really the end of the world because you can get most things on the local market or at the commissary.
Even so, there are some things we wish we could get here more easily. Like real maple syrup, chocolate chips, cheap sparkling water, good inexpensive jam, and scent and dye-free laundry detergent.
Luckily, State lets you do a supplemental HHE shipment if you are still within your first 12 months at post and you haven’t reached your HHE weight limit. So when we were back in the U.S., we figured that since a moving company was already coming to do a layette shipment, why not have them do a supplemental HHE as well? Plus, we’d already spent some time in Dhaka, so we had a good idea of what we needed.
We went to Trader Joe’s and it was, by far, the most fun I’ve ever had there in my life. Anything and everything that I thought I might want to eat before May 2017 (and didn’t need to be refrigerated) went into the cart. It was glorious. The limiting factor was the size of the cart; we stopped once we couldn’t fit anything else.
When Nate checked out, the cashier asked him if he was stocking a bomb shelter. Because who doesn’t stock a bomb shelter with baking mixes, fancy crackers, whole wheat pasta, massive bars of chocolate, whole coffee beans, and cases of sparkling water?
Then we went another grocery store and stocked up on even more stuff. Our cart was so heavy, I could barely push it.
The mini pack-out went well, other than a small incident in which Nate thought my dad’s cat Mango might have accidentally begun a global adventure in the shipping crate. The movers left the crate open and Mango likes to explore new places, and Nate couldn’t find her after they left. He called the moving company to ask if they had a stowaway cat, and they said they did not, but everyone still breathed a sigh of relief when Mango reappeared that evening.
Well, our supplemental HHE arrived a few weeks ago, and I’ll be damned if I did not actually squeal in delight as I opened some of the boxes.
It’s the things that I randomly tossed in the cart, like Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter cups, jars of fancy olives, scone baking mix, shelf-stable pepperoni, organic pumpkin pop tarts (why did I only grab one box?!) and dulce de leche that are the most exciting.
We also now have more maple syrup than we could possibly use over the next 15 months. If you’re in Dhaka, and you want some real maple syrup, let me know!
The best part is that we no longer need to ration things. We can pour as much syrup as we want on our pancakes, put salsa on everything, and not feel bad about pouring out the coffee at the bottom of the pot that we don’t drink.
And now it’s time to find some new pancake and maple syrup baking recipes to try, because I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I bought that much maple syrup.