Things I wish I'd brought to Bissau
So, that's it. You're moving to Bissau! You have your visa (that was an adventure, wasn't it), and you've packed your stuff. But you still have this nagging feeling that you might be forgetting something basic that will annoy you royally later on. So to spare you the hassle of having to drive to Gambia to buy stuff you didn't know you needed, I figured I'd compile a list of the must-have items I either wished I had, or was so glad to have.
- Rain gear. I love my wellies (especially if you won't have a car), and closed shoes/boots that cover your ankles (for the many muddy days). Everyone has massive umbrellas because when it rains, it pours. Make sure you have a spare umbrella that you keep in your car or in your office. If you're a walker, you'll also need a poncho.
- Contact lens fluid and contact lenses. Nope, you can't get them here. At any price.
- Your favorite toiletries. Trust me they are absurdly expensive here.
- Vitamins, iron tablets for the ladies, and the throat spray with lidocaine for when you get a nasty cold.
- Good nail polish and makeup.
- Mosquito nets and repellent. This is a counter-intuitive one because you;d think that this stuff would affordable and readily available here. The fact is, the nicest nets come from Europe and the States.
- Sheets and towels.
- A mattress, if you have the room.
- All the clothes you'll want to wear, including swim-suits. I am a fan of long sleeves and long pants or dresses here because they help me lower my risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes and getting malaria.
- A small flashlight for navigating the city's unlit streets, or even to make it from your parked car to the front door of wherever you're going. And a lamp that you can use in case the power goes out. I have a small lantern, and my room-mate has a head lamp. The head lamp is brilliant for navigating our flat when the lights go out.
- An external battery charger for your phone, and a spare battery.
- Things that can keep you busy during the rainy season, when everyone stays home. I strongly suggest an e-reader, enough movies to sink a ship and some nice speakers. But board-games and a computer to tv-adaptor cable can also be super useful.