Happy Thanksgiving

November 29th, 2020

Under an almost-full moon at the Ambassador’s residence

Our wonderful Chargé (acting ambassador) and her husband arranged a take-out Thanksgiving dinner; later in the day, we went to our neighbors’ apartment downstairs for pumpkin pie. We topped off the day with video chats with John’s family and David & Alison. We were invited back to the Ambassador’s veranda last night to enjoy turkey leftovers, too – it was a pleasant evening listening to the ocean with a nice breeze.

I was thankful for a nice end to Thanksgiving Day, because the day itself was quite stressful. In between an appointment with the hairdresser, we were running around printing, notarizing, scanning, and getting documents to the DHL office to ship back to Arkansas. We’re trying to close on a condo on the lake near David & Alison next week; now I’m glued to the DHL tracker as I watch the package move slowly across Africa. It’s been a wish of mine to have a place back home for a long time, so I’m happy we’re getting closer to making that happen.

John and I both had pretty stressful weeks; we treated ourselves to a sushi dinner on Wednesday at the Royal Hotel. There’s just a lot going on and we’re still not out from under COVID-19.

I had a nice video chat with my friend Pam in Toronto last Sunday, and chatted with Pam in Little Rock yesterday.  John and I finished the latest season of “The Crown” this week and really enjoyed it. I just finished reading “The Vapors,” a really interesting of Hot Springs’s history of illegal gambling that was shut down in the 1960s – it was interesting to see familiar family names throughout that made me think, “oh that was so-and-so’s dad” – who knew it was such a famous (infamous?) place!

Kimbap treat

November 22nd, 2020

Kimbap

Just as I was complaining to Jamie and Jackie on our video chat last Sunday about the lack of good food options here in Liberia, a co-worker’s wife dropped off this beautiful assortment of Korean sushi (“kimbap” made with cooked fish) – delish! This week she also made professionally decorated cupcakes for our local staff appreciation day and sent me a piece of a wonderful apple tart (that also looked like it was made by a professional chef). And I wonder why I can’t lose weight…!

We’ve been spoiled in November by having short weeks due to holidays, but this was not one of those weeks. We had a full five days, plus I worked late Friday night and all day yesterday. We work an “African schedule” here, meaning office hours are 8 – 5:30 Monday through Thursday, then 8-1 PM on Fridays ostensibly, although that never seems to work out for John and me. I did sneak out at 4:30 Wednesday for a pedicure (at a safe salon) which was a huge treat.

In addition to talking with Jackie and Jamie last Sunday, I also talked to Mary and Pam this week for brief chats. John got up at 3AM Friday night to attend a Zoom birthday party for a friend back in Arkansas – fun!

We watched the remake of “Emma” this week; Emma is played by the actress from “Queen’s Gambit.” We’re also following “The Undoing” with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, and we started the most recent season of “The Crown.” I’m so glad there’s some good TV options to relax with in the evenings.

 

Queen’s Gambit

November 15th, 2020

 

On my morning commute

“Queen’s Gambit,” a limited series on Netflix, totally captivated us last week! It was beautifully done, great acting, and a terrific story – bravo! We’re also engrossed in “The Undoing,” a new HBO series with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, and we’re watching an Irish crime drama called “Blood.” Good TV lately.

Wednesday was Veteran’s Day so the office was closed; I worked most of the day anyway, trying to get caught up and learn more about the new (and confusing and frustrating) hiring process we’re now using. I worked again most of the day on Saturday, too, and just spent the last couple of hours working from home today. The work just doesn’t stop, and we’re completely backlogged on processing immigrant visa cases due to COVID-19. We’re gradually restarting services, but it will take a long time to dig out of the hole.

Friday afternoon, I had a chance to meet with the new Foreign Minister which was interesting and hopefully productive. I appreciate the support of our Front Office on consular issues.

Wednesday evening we went to a small, sunset rooftop BBQ to celebrate Veteran’s Day – delicious smoked chicken and beans cooked by our Southern host.

We stopped by a rooftop happy hour Friday at sunset – it’s a lovely view and a chance to say hi to friends.

Last night, we attended a small dinner on the Ambassador’s veranda. I love listening to the oceans crash on the rocks right below us. It was a low key, casual dinner and I really enjoyed it.

Sundown at dinner last night

Happy birthday, John!

November 8th, 2020

Happy birthday!

John celebrated a birthday this week! Pablo organized a nice get-together on the embassy balcony and we had cake to celebrate. John fell for his ruse to get him down there and had a pleasant surprise. Shortly after that, his assistant organized another pop-up celebration complete with more cake and singing by his local staff employees – fun!

It was a long election week, and now the hard part begins. Hopefully we will enjoy a peaceful transition of power despite the rhetoric of the last few days; I hope Biden and Harris can bring Americans together again over the next four years.

I had a good video call with Pam, Jackie, and Ann last Sunday and Pam took us on a tour of her wonderful new house! I’m thrilled for her, and especially love the location – a lovely street very near our good friends Bruce and Beth.

Thursday was Liberian Thanksgiving. I worked most of the day trying to get caught up, then John and I met the new IT officer and his #2 for dinner outside at Mamba Point Hotel. They’re both really nice and we had a good evening.

I worked yesterday, then we had our neighbors Michael and Karisa up for a game of Wingspan – fun!

Happy Halloween

November 1st, 2020

A peninsula of trash mars the view of gladiolas and ocean at a particularly stinky part of town where raw sewage and trash flow into the ocea.

It was a beautiful full moon last night and the bats returned to the embassy compound this week – happy Halloween! The embassy had a nice socially distanced Halloween get-together on the patio at the Ambassador’s residence at sunset yesterday that everyone enjoyed – especially the kids who’ve been cooped up at home with on-line classes. There were fun costumes and some much-needed social interaction for all – and how could you not have fun with the ocean view from there and a lovely breeze?

I tried to go to an arts fair yesterday, but it was indoors with no A/C and I just got too hot and had to leave – dry season is definitely coming back. I headed in to work to continue working on an adoption case. Afterward, I had a nice, long video chat with my good friend Cathy who’s now working in Canada – it was great to catch up with her.

The work week was pretty calm with a few conference calls. Our team also did a malfeasance prevention training which prompted some interesting discussion. I stopped by for a quick hello at a rooftop happy hour with some co-workers Friday on the way home at sunset, which was nice. We’re lucky we have outdoor spaces and the weather that lets us have a few get-togethers but be safe about it.