What to take on a tour of Central Asia where there are no Laundromats, Beauty Salons or Drug Stores

The dog keeps eating the guest soaps spread out on the guestroom bed, leaving the wrappers on the carpet in the hallway. It’s amazing how she selects just the soaps from among the 3 oz. bottles of shampoo, conditioner, spray net, shaving cream, tooth paste, scope, deodorant, perfume, moisturizing cream, hand antiseptic sprays, powder, pill bottles, vitamin bottles, emery boards, q tips, tooth brush, comb, razors, hair dryer, first aid kit, spot removers, pantiliners, wet ones, room deodorizer, and Kleenex. Plenty of Kleenex. In Lithuania, the bathrooms never had any toilet paper. One of my friends who goes back and forth to visit her family in India recommended the pantiliners. You can wear the same pair of panties several days, she told me, just change the liner.

I’ll be gone for almost 4 weeks. There are no stops at laundromats or beauty salons built into the tour. Nor is there a CVS on every corner. I’m used to traveling on my own. When my husband and I were in Italy and running out of underwear, we simply found a laundromat. The only problem was that it was Sunday and we had to wait until Church let out for the place to open. We didn’t have the right change in liras, but the bar down the street opened at the same time the Laundromat did and we got change and lunch. In Lithuania, there were no drug stores that you could wander through, selecting your favorite brand of cough drops; you had to ask the pharmacist for them and she produced them from the back of the store. But at least there was a pharmacy. In Central Asia, there may be a place in the large cities to buy cosmetics or deodorants, but I’m not expecting to find them in the small towns along the way.

So I’m packing several of those 3 oz bottles of shampoo and tubes of toothpaste and packages of wet ones. It amounts to an awful lot of little stuff. Carol has one of those beautiful traveling kits to put all of her things in. I’m using baggies.

And I’m planning on putting together a one night baggie in my duffle bag just in case the airlines lose my bag. Deodorant, tooth brush and paste, comb, pantiliner. I’m a bit sensitive about lost luggage. Going to my first Conference as an educator in 1965, I arrived sans my luggage. Back in those days, men and women dressed to look professional. It was only a few years since I had gotten married and I had packed much of my trousseau (Is there such a thing these days?). My luggage never arrived. Then there was my trip as a consultant to TVA in Chattanooga. Once again I arrived but the luggage did not. All of my slides were in the suitcase. I spent the night trying to recapture my presentation on an easel board. My luggage finally arrived just in time to put it back on the plane home.

I’ll be carrying my Kindle and Netbook in the plane with me on this trip.

Filed under: Central Asia

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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the Univiersity of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also travelled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For the past 10 years my husband and I have been traveling to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. Last year I joined a tour to Central Asia. This year I'm going to China to work with the pandas. A new adventure. Another banquet.

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