1. Chorcitos aka lycra shorts--you will be doing a TON of walking here and if your thighs touch in ANY area, you will be a raw mess by the end of the day. What no one tells you is that EVERYONE here wears a pair of shorts under their skirts. Buy enough for a week when you get here, and thank me later. They cost less than $3 a pair.
2. Camis--you will also be doing a TON of sweating here. If you don't want your shirt to look tie-dyed while out in service, put an undershirt or cami under your main shirt. It will absorb the sweat and save you a lot of embarrassment.
3. Water--I cannot stress this enough...DRINK...YOUR...WATER!! At least 2 liters every day. You are going to have crazy symptoms start showing up and what you don't know is that they're ALL related to dehydration. Like what you ask?
- calf or shin cramps
- UTIs or bladder infections
- crazy headaches
- extreme fatigue/just want to sleep all the time
4. Anti-bacterial soap--I have sensitive skin so was using Ivory here. I had a rash EVERYWHERE which itched like crazy and would NOT go away. Turns out it's asco literally means "grossness" and is super common when sweat mixes with the dirt/dust here. It's a fungus and everyone here has had it at one point or another. Only after recounting my dermatologist visits and specials creams did someone tell me to always wash with Protex soap. It's a hospital grade disinfectant soap and has helped us immensely.
5. Flip-flops--do not go barefoot here. Anywhere. Not even in your house. Not even in your shower. It's a hot, humid climate that parasites and fungus are in LOVE with. I think you catch my drift.
6. Gauze/band-aids--this is not the place to let your burn or cut "air out." Like I've mentioned before, the dirt here is not just ground up rock. It has human and animal waste in it, parasites, etc. You do NOT want that entering any open wound. Clean them well EVERY DAY and KEEP THEM COVERED.
7. Outdoor bathrooms--just a few words, ladies...keep your feet well in front of you or you'll have some scrubbing to do on your shoes later :( ew!
8. Trash--imagine what chicken skin or banana peels smell like 24 hours after being in 90 degrees. Better yet, don't. Take your organic trash and freeze it in a small bag until trash day.
9. Parasites--this is gross but important. How can you tell the difference between food poisoning and parasites? Food poisoning can come out either end, be accompanied by fever and stomach cramps, but lasts only as long as the food is in your system. Parasites, however, "wake up" so to speak only after you eat and will NOT go away on their own. If you've had bathroom trouble for more than 2 days, get thee to a doctor and do a parasite test! Here's the other thing no one tells you about...preventative parasite meds. Everyone here deparasites themselves every 3 months whether they have symptoms or not. Since I've started doing that, I haven't experienced symptoms.
10. Yogurt or probiotics--especially when you first get here your stomach will do a lot of adjusting. Eat a yogurt every day or even better, bring probiotics or kefer with you from your home country. It will help a lot.
Hope that helps! If anyone else would like to add tips that are common knowledge in their country but took a while for them to figure out due to it's delicate nature, please add them in the comments section :)