Pen Pal Fun: The Snail Mail Collective


One fun fact about me is that I spent a large portion of my childhood abroad. It was before the days of internet and email and Skype, so for the most part we were a bit disconnected. I lived in Thailand for third through fifth grade — my brother was in junior high at the time — and we were completely out of touch on trends, music, news and pop culture. We didn’t have tv to watch (it was all in Thai) so I was blissfully naive and happy spending my afternoons playing tag and with dolls rather than drooling over my favorite New Kids on the Block band member or chasing boys. I actually still have a letter from a friend in the states asking me who my favorite band member was. I had no idea what she was talking about.

I loved getting letters from friends back in the states when I was living abroad. It was really my only way of staying connecting with things back home in America. My best friend in Cali was so faithful in her letter writing when we were kids, and I always looked forward to anything that came from her in the mail, even if it took weeks to get to me.

When I heard about the snail mail collective I was instantly transported to my childhood abroad. Basically, the snail mail collective was started by two brilliant  bloggers who live abroad themselves — Lost in Travels and The Nectar Collective — as a monthly gift exchange where you can meet people around the world. It’s pretty simple: every month you get paired up with someone who lives in a different corner of the world as you and you spend some time getting to know one another through emails. After a couple of weeks it’s time to gather a small gift worth about $5 and send it to your new friend.

October was the first month that I ever participated in this pen pal fun, and I truly loved it. I was paired up with Amy, a lovely Brit living the expat life in Africa (currently Tanzania but at the time South Africa). Amy has been following her man around the globe for a while now, living in places like Russia, Libya, Quatar and Angola and experiencing all sorts of culture shocks and adventures along the way. While I know she often longs for home and creature comforts like a good British cup of tea, she embraces the challenges and excitement of living abroad with such grace and courage. She and her husband JUST relocated to Tanzania after such a short stint in South Africa, so I’ll be praying that she gets settled in quickly there and finds a few treasured friends while she aims to finish up her studies.

The theme for October’s snail mail collective was autumn, which didn’t really apply to South Africa (it is currently summer weather there), but I loved the collection of goodies Amy sent so much. Her care package included:

– cranberry, apple, cinnamon tea: perfect for this cold, dreary weather that is rolling into San Diego right now

– sliced Biltong (ostrich jerky): for my adventurous side

“Coconut” by Kopano Matlwa: Amy loves to read books by local authors when she travels so she sent me this book. I can’t wait to read it!

– a “We love Mandela” pin from the Mandela museum in Johannesburg

– a piece of chocolate because chocolate is the best (of course)

– a sweet letter from my new friend

I’m excited to keep in touch with Amy and read about all of her travels on her blog. And maybe, if we’re lucky, some day we can share a pot of tea somewhere and swap travel stories.

If you want to learn more about my new friend Amy, I recommend that you check out here blog, The Tide That Left. And if you’d like to join the Snail Mail Collective, this is the last month! You have until Dec 7th to join. Learn more here.


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