Hello again! Since everyone wants to know how to stay in touch over the next 27 months, here's all the info you should need for writing me letters. Peace Corps tells me that snail mail is the best way to communicate back and forth. While I may open a local P.O. box once I have my permanent site, the following address will be valid for my entire service:
Kristen Walling, PCV
Bureau du Corps de la Paix
Poste Zoom Ankorondrano
I've heard a lot of different suggestions for how to help make sure that the mail gets there. Peace Corps says that sending padded envelopes is better than boxes because boxes usually have heavier customs taxes. Sending things via airmail (write both "airmail" and "par avion" on it) is likely to arrive faster, though is also probably more expensive. For packages specifically, current volunteers recommend declaring on the customs form that the value is $20 or less, and that it contains religious material. (Writing "God is good" or similar phrases is apparently a good idea.) I guess all of this makes it less prone to "sticky fingers."
I also say....don't bother sending things through express or priority mail. It will be crazy expensive, probably significantly more money than whatever is contained in the package. I don't mind waiting for things, and there's a good chance that after training I won't even be in the city where my mail will be delivered to very often. Sending it through faster services will likely mean you spend extra money for it to sit and wait for me.
If there happens to be some small, time-sensitive item to have to send, you can use DHL. (I personally recommend avoiding this just because it will be so ridiculously expensive!) The address for sending anything via DHL is:
Kristen Walling, PCV
c/o U.S. Peace Corps Madagascar
Villa les Lierres
Lot IIk76, Bonnet Invandry
You'll also need to include the PC phone #: 261-20-224-3820.
Since I haven't even left yet, it's a lot easier for me to say that I'll be fine without a lot of things. But it's probably true. So, if you are inclined to send things, remind yourself that I don't need much. What I'd appreciate more than anything is letters and cards so I know what you're up to.
It can take several weeks or even months for things to arrive....so start writing me letters now and you may get a response by Thanksgiving!