Morocco!

April 15th, 2018

Olives!

Olives!

I arrived in Casablanca Saturday morning, connecting via Montreal. I’m here for a work conference – we’re staying at a lovely hotel on the beach, and lucky for me, it has the most comfy beds ever – I was wiped out when we landed (Casablanca is five hours ahead of Washington). A group of us went out for dinner at a nice little French restaurant.

Today my friend Julie and I went to the Hansen mosque to see the tallest minaret in the world – it’s beautiful, right on the water. Then we went shopping at a souk and had a delicious lunch. So far I love it here!

Garlic

Garlic

Rugs

Rugs

Crash-bang, take two

April 8th, 2018

I boarded a State Department bus last Sunday afternoon to go for a week of counter-threat training outside of DC (affectionately known as “crash-bang”). It was a great week refreshing a lot of skills I hope I never have to use. The training was fun and effective – all very hands on and the instructors are real pros. They also have a great sense of humor which helps keep things in perspective.

The best thing about the class was meeting a lot of new folks who were my classmates. Al, who runs disaster recovery around the world for the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, who’s been at virtually every natural disaster you can name. Vince who has his hand in every new embassy built overseas and also has a colorful personal history growing up in Brooklyn back in the day. Mark who works for NASA, who’ll be speaking to our astronauts on their way to the international space station later this week. We had a really good group of folks!

I got back Friday evening, in time to put my feet up and relax a bit. John made us reservations for dinner last night at the Blue Duck Tavern, and we had a delicious meal. Amazingly, John recognized our waiter Shankar, who used to wait on us ten years ago when we frequented Harry’s in Clarendon – he and his cousin Ram (both from Nepal) were two of our favorite waiters.

I also had a blast from the past this week – our shuttle driver for training used to be a shuttle driver for us at the Oakwood in Falls Church. Through him, I made contact with another shuttle driver I always had a fondness for, a guy from Ethiopia, and we had a fun chat on the phone over the weekend. The more things change…it’s fun to see familiar faces on these stints back in DC!

Welcome week at home

April 1st, 2018
Japanese magnolias!

Japanese magnolias!

I was able to spend all week at home! It was pretty quiet, which was nice. We met Barb, Edward, Tammy, Scott, and Amy for happy hour after work on Friday. Barb and Edward are getting ready to go to Africa – how exciting! Afterward, John and I stopped by Aperto’s for dinner – they have the most wonderful seafood stew that really hit the spot!

Saturday I worked all day – mostly on my employee evaluation. It’s always an exercise in stress management! Before going to work, though, I stopped to see the Japanese magnolias – John said I simply had to see this park, and I am glad I did!

New art on my walk to work!

New art on my walk to work!

Spring has sprung! But it’s still cold!

Spring has sprung! But it’s still cold!

Japanese magnolias!

Japanese magnolias!

Lovely Montevideo

March 27th, 2018
Sunrise

Sunrise

In all of the excitement of the weekend, I forgot to blog! I flew in from Trinidad on Friday, and headed down south to Montevideo, Uruguay, on Sunday and arrived Monday morning.

Montevideo is lovely. The town hugs the Rio de la Plata coastline – where the mouth of the river meets the ocean. There are numerous high-rise apartment buildings, and the embassy sits on the coast, as well. It’s all very tranquil and civilized. Montevideo is small, but charming and sophisticated, with a high standard of living. It’s really a gem! Click to see all of my photos. My A-100 colleague Leslie is the consular chief there, so I was able to visit with her and enjoyed a nice dinner with her family one night during the week.

I returned on Saturday morning after a brutal overnight flight through Miami – the nice thing about transiting Miami at 430AM is that the place is pretty deserted and it’s easy to clear customs and security. After a few hours in the lounge, I boarded my flight and was back in DC by noon.

John and I are estatic to see our good friend Rick and his wife Claire back in DC! They came for brunch on Sunday and we thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them. Welcome back!

Montevideo

Montevideo

Montevideo grafitti

Montevideo grafitti

Montevideo

Montevideo

Port of Spain

March 18th, 2018
Streetside mangoes

Streetside mangoes

I flew out last Sunday morning for Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, arriving there via Houston late Sunday night. I had a full week of work with a nice group of officers. It’s one of my bigger posts and this was the first visit by a regional consular officer, so every minute was packed.

We had a small group dinner Wednesday night at an excellent local place, then I met some of the junior officers for drinks after work Thursday before catching my flight shortly after midnight. I was home by noon with just enough time to do laundry and visit with John before heading out again today.

Port of Spain

Port of Spain

Impromptu cricket game in park across from Embassy

Impromptu cricket game in park across from Embassy

It looks like spring may finally be here – today is chilly but sunny and beautiful!

This week marked the eighth anniversary of the murder of my friend and colleague, Lesley Enriquez. She was chased and gunned down in 2010 in the streets of Juarez along with her husband. What a beautiful girl.

Lesley Christmas 2009

Lesley Christmas 2009