Travel Information - Things to Pack

A list of “things to pack” is provided by Schools for Chiapas and can be obtained from their website. The most important thing to notice is to travel light and to try to bring as many donations as possible. When traveling in Chiapas, you will be changing types of transportation many times, and you might even be expected to walk with your luggage. This means absolutely NO SUITCASES. Any type of bag which allows you to walk with it on uneven terrain will do. The following list is the list provided by Schools for Chiapas, followed by what is recommended by STAC. More details will be provided during the STAC training session. This list can be viewed in MSWord format by clicking here.

I. Clothing


Temperature in Chiapas can change dramatically depending on which community you visit. Oventic, which is where volunteers spend most of the time is cold at night, but gets very hot during the day. Most other communities you might visit will be closer to sea-level and will therefore be much warmer at night and even warmer during the day. It rains nearly every afternoon in the jungle, but most of that time is spent indoors.
• Clothing for bus and/or plane
• 2 work pants (1 pair pants + 1 pair shorts)
• 3 T-shirts* + 2 work shirts
• 1 work gloves (Very important)
• 5 Socks (Unless you are caught in a cold/wet environment, most of the time will be spent in sandals and 5 pairs of socks will not be needed.)
• 1 Swimming suit (Very important – For bathing/washing)
• 1 Sweater (Important – Oventic gets cold at night)
• 1 Jacket + 1 Rain suit* (A jacket is not required in order to keep you warm – a sweater will do fine. 1 normal poncho/rain-proof jacket will do.)
• 1 Tennis shoes + 1 Hiking boots* + 1 Rubber boots* (Sport sandals/Flip-flops for bathing + 1 pair strong, preferably water-proof, boots)

II, Personal Hygiene


Participants are urged to listen carefully to caravan orientations regarding health and to follow these directions. In particular, it is important to drink only purified water and to drink at least two quarts every day. During kitchen duty you will be taught to carefully wash every dish in a series of containers of purified water.
• Personal water container (Very important)
• Bug spray (Less important than mosquito net)
• Tooth brush and paste*
• Toilet paper* (Can be bought in the communities)
• Two small towels (1 towel is probably enough)
• Sun screen (Very important, at every time of the day)
• Biodegradable soap (This is very important as the Zapatistas are being increasingly criticized for not taking care of the environment. Nearby factories and army bases also cause a lot of pollution. Why add to it?)
• Hair brush
• Deodorant* (Most people stop using deodorant during the course of the caravan. Your body gets used to the level of sweat and bodily odors naturally go away)
• Shaving equipment* (Non-essential. Shaving cream can harm the environment)

III. Sleeping equipment


Night time is always cold in Oventic (to 32 degrees farenheitght in winter or to 44 degrees in summer). In Realidad, Roberto Barrios, and Fransisco Gomez it will be much warmer. Donations of bedding always welcome.
• Sleeping bag to 65 degrees F
• 3 blankets* (Heavy and not absolutely required)
• Pad or hammock (Cheap good quality hammocks can be bought in San Cristobal. A pad is easier to set up, but a hammock may be nice to have for reading in the afternoon or just talking with friends in the evening)
• Mosquito net (Very important – Nights in communities other than Oventic can be very warm and you are often given the option of sleeping in a warm sleeping bag or being eaten by mosquitoes.)
• Travel pillow (Non-essential – Takes up room)

IV. Misc.


Your purchases in a Zapatista Aguascalientes will help support the autonomous structures, therefore we urge you to buy as much as possible of you needs directly from the stores in the Zapatista civilian centers. Also, remember to pack light. Books/CDs/Walkman’s take up a lot of space. Also, bags are often left in the open. Some communities have problems with thefts
• Personal comfort foods** (Can be bought Chiapas or along the way. Be careful of what you eat, food sold on the street will often make to very sick)
• Cup, bowl, plate, spoon* (These are provided by the community. You might like to have your own cup though, that you don’t have to worry about cleaning and bringing back)
• Swiss army knife (A knife is very useful for cooking. Be careful of travel restrictions. You might not be able to carry it across the border)
• Watch*
• Zapatista paliacate (bandana)* (Very important – Straw hat to shade you from the sun)
• Flashlight* (The caravan pretty much ends at night. Preferably long lasting flashlight, for reading or going to the bathroom, than strong powerful flashlight)
• Candle and matches* (A long lasting flashlight should do the trick; matches may be useful in smaller communities where you are required to light your own fires. Tools such as Magnesium lighters, which are used to light fires can be very useful and make good donations when you leave)
• Batteries for lights and other machines*
• First aid kit
• Writing materials*
• Reading material* (Long rainy afternoons might leave lots of time for reading)
• Audio, photo, and video recording equipment (Very important – Chiapas has a beautiful scenery. Taking pictures and documenting your stay is also part of bringing the experience back home)
• Film, tapes, disks, etc. to record (See above)
• Basketball, soccer, and volley ball equipment (Remember to pack light. These make good donations for the schools once you leave.)

V. Donations


Many caravan participants donate personal items at the end of the caravan. In addition, you might want to purchase items to donate before your trip. Below is a short list of urgent needs. Remember that cash is always the most useful gift! Remember NOTHING should be donated until the autonomous authorities are present to publicly receive the caravans' donations. This means you might have to hold on to your donations for a while. Remember to pack them in a practical way, which will allow you to carry them for up to a week,
• Clothing and Blankets
• High carbohydrate, organic food
• Sports equipment
• Music and musical instruments
• Money (cash, travelers checks, credit cards vouchers, personal checks ***)
• First aid equipment
• Spanish language student dictionaries
• Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolebal, and Chol to Spanish dictionaries
• All types of school equipment
• White and black boards
• Audio and video recording and photo equipment
• Copy machines with supplies
• Personal electronic calculators
• Word processing computers and printers
• Spanish language software
• Primary and middle school Spanish library books
Art materials

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*Things that can be bought in Oventik, Aguascalientes II. Remember that shopping Zapatista helps build the movement! Wonderful indigenous crafts and artwork can also be purchased in Zapatista territory. Bring extra cash!
** A brief note about comfort foods:
While living and learning in the Aguascalientes, caravans prepare a balanced and organic diet based on corn and beans. This is more or less the diet typical to the indigenous communities which are our hosts. Caravan participants always have more than sufficient food; however since this diet represents a great change for many participants we suggest brings a few food items from home to overcome the cultural shock of adopting to an indigenous diet. Bring extra cash because there are many interesting foods available in Zapatista territory!
*** On the importance of cash donations
The autonomous indigenous authorities are masters at pinching pennies and stretching dollars. Every donation is appreciated, but donations of cash allow the maximum flexibility for building the alternative school systems and represent the most efficient use of your donation dollars. Carry as much extra cash as possible!