Fall has arrived

October 15th, 2017
Skateboarder

Skateboarder at the Lincoln Memorial

It feels like fall may have finally arrived in Washington. It was drizzly and overcame all week, and the temperatures dropped some. I took advantage of the cooler weather and walked around the Mall some yesterday. It only takes about 20 minutes to walk from our apartment to the Lincoln Memorial, and from there I went to  Constitution Gardens, the Vietnam Memorial, and the WWII Memorial. On the way home, I stopped in front of the White House and watched a group of guys play street hockey in front of the Old Executive Office Building. I love living downtown and just walking out the door to go sightseeing!

Hockey in front of the EOB

Hockey in front of the EOB

Lincoln Memorial view from WWII Memorial

Lincoln Memorial view from WWII Memorial

Pearl Harbor Vet at the Vietnam Memorial

Pearl Harbor Vet at the Vietnam Memorial

Friday after work, I met Tammy and Amy for drinks. We had a great time yakking and gossiping.

Last night, we went over to see Jim and Kellee — we were in A-100 with Kellee and we were good friends in Islamabad. After drinks on their rooftop, we walked to a BBQ restaurant for dinner – so much fun to see them and catch up.

Constitution Gardens

Constitution Gardens

Guyana

October 9th, 2017
Caribbean view

Caribbean view

After working some last Sunday to get ready for this trip, I flew out Monday well before dawn to start the journey to Guyana – it’s not easy to get there since we are required by law to use U.S. carriers and the total trip time from door to hotel was about 20 hours. Guyana is in South America on the Caribbean coast. The country is very poor and has bad infrastructure, but a recent mother lode discovery of off-shore oil has everyone there excited.

This was my first solo trip and I was a bit nervous, but I was met with a very warm welcome by the consular chief, who I knew from Mexico, and all of his staff. I ended up having a great time and felt the work went well, and next time I plan to stay a few extra days so I can do a little sightseeing, namely birding. There are 300 species in the capital city Georgetown alone, including the Scarlet Ibis, a bird I’ve always wanted to see (I saw a large red bird fly overhead, but trees obscured it, so I couldn’t tell if it was the ibis or a macaw). Once you get well out of town, it turns into rainforest, including howler monkeys! Next time!

The highlight of this trip was feeding and touching a manatee! I saw at least seven in one of the city parks in a pond – they are so cute. I pulled long grass and swished it in the water, and they came to eat if out of my hand!

Manatee nose!

Manatee nose!

Waiting for the mini-buss

Waiting for the mini-buss

Cattle egrets roosting at the park

Cattle egrets roosting at the park

On this trip I just worked and stayed close to the hotel – high crime kept me from walking the beaches, but I enjoyed the ocean view. I ran into another State Department guy who I had met in Quito a few years ago, so we had dinner a couple of nights at the hotel. The consular chief also had me over for dinner at his house one evening, and I thoroughly enjoyed an authentic Mexican meal cooked by his wife who grew up in Hermosillo.

Getting home on Saturday was not so fun – after sitting on the tarmac in Miami for over an hour waiting for a gate, I missed my connection and had to overnight there. Luckily the airline sent me to a hotel, but then I was up again early for a 7AM flight in to D.C. – but I finally made it!

Flavia was glad to see because John had left for Fayetteville on Friday. Wishing a speedy recovery to Ginger after her surgery – all reports are that she is doing well.

Click to see my photos from Guayana.

Workshopping

October 1st, 2017

This week was the regional consular officers workshop here in D.C., so I was able to meet the eight other folks around the world who do what I do. Four of them are in their second year of this work, so it was a wonderful opportunity to learn from them. We did a couple of team building activities after work, including going to a Washington Nationals baseball game and doing an escape room – something I’d never heard of before. You’re in a room as a team and have to solve a series of puzzles to get out. Our theme room was based on popular culture from the 80s (yes, we managed to escape!). Afterward we donned some goofy hats for a photo.

My new gang

My new gang

Yesterday we drove to Maryland, a little north of the Chesapeake Bay to go to a rug show at Kristin’s house. Obaid, one of our rug sellers from Islamabad had a lovely variety that he brought over, and of course we left with not one, but three. I had forgotten how much I love looking at them and the process of deciding which of these little children to bring home.

With Obaid and Kristin

With Obaid and Kristin


From there we drove to Alexandria for dinner with Kevin and Helen Stewart from Arkansas. We had a blast – they are so smart and funny. And as a bonus, Kevin’s sister Abby is a chef, so we enjoyed her wonderful cooking.

Another busy and fun week!

On the go

September 24th, 2017

With Mr. Irshad

With Mr. Irshad

OK, I’m having fun but I’m pooped!

All of our household goods from Mexico were delivered on Monday, so the house is completely topsy-turvy! I think it will all fit eventually, but it’s difficult to go from the very large apartment in Guadalajara to a two-bedroom condo in D.C. – but we’ll make it.

The hardest thing is just finding time to organize the house in between work and catching up with old friends. Last Sunday, we met Kelly and Brian Hight for brunch at Founding Farmers – Kelly was in town for a conference.

Wednesday night we met Richard Silver for dinner in DuPont Circle. He’s retiring from the Foreign Service.

Thursday night we were invited to a nice dinner party hosted by Angel V. We had a really nice time and we’re happy to reconnect with Annie W. and her husband.

We topped off the week by having dinner with Mr. Irshad, the local staff supervisor in Islamabad who was in town for a class. He is just as delightful as ever! We went to a Yemeni restaurant and had so much fun catching up with him.

Then yesterday we drove a couple of hours out of town to rural Virginia to the Becky Thompson’s house – she and John worked together in Islamabad. Several former local staff were there (they received special immigrant visas due to their years of service to the U.S. Government), along with one of my managers from Islamabad. It was a fun day in the country visiting with old friends.

Today I went to the office to try to catch up! Oh, and I met my new boss on Friday. He seems great. He is based in Germany, so this was our first time to actually meet.

Between trying to get the house in order, learning and doing my new job, and seeing old friends, there’s hardly time to sleep…but it’s fun!

Catching up with friends

September 17th, 2017

This was a fun week! Aside from getting more comfortable at work, we were able to catch up with several old friends.

Friday I went to Main State and had lunch with my A-100 classmate, Aaron. After work, John and I met Scott and Tammy for happy hour, plus two other really fun women from work. It was fun to sit outside and laugh. On the way home, John and I ducked into an Italian restaurant for dinner, and I had a yummy seafood stew.

Saturday night, we met another A-100 classmate – and one of our favorites – Jimmi, who just arrived back in DC this week. We walked up to DuPont Circle and had a nice steak with her.

John was in a class this week up near my building, so we had lunch together several days, which beats my normal sad desk lunch. I also had coffee with a couple of folks during the day, which was nice.

I’m happy to report that Flavia is much more comfortable in the new apartment, thank goodness. I felt so bad for her when we first arrived. But now she’s out exploring and hanging out in the living room with us, looking out the windows, etc. Good for her!

Click to see all of my Iceland photos!