Archive for the ‘Foreign Service’ Category

More fun in Monrovia

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

At a local restaurant

The weeks are flying by. I keep saying we’ve been here a month, but it’s already been seven weeks! Work has kept us crazy busy, but we managed to have a lot of social outings this week, starting last Sunday when part of our consular team went to brunch to welcome our new TDYer from Ethiopia, Fikir.

Monday was a holiday, and we were invited downstairs for a yummy home-cooked Indian lunch with Sujoya. Great food and company!

Indian lunch at Sujoya’s

We had an aborted attempt to have dinner with Jim Monday night, but he got stuck in horrible traffic that wiped out the evening. There’s only one road, and unfortunately traffic from a big soccer match paralyzed the city. Jim spent four hours trying to go 11 miles! One of the consular officers and the two TDYers were stuck for three hours trying to get home from the beach.

We re-grouped with Jim Thursday night, and he introduced us to a nice restaurant where we could sit beachside, literally yards from the beach (separated by chain link fence). It was so relaxing to listen to the waves crash and visit.

With Jim and John

Friday night, we had Sujoya over for drinks and order-in dinner – we talked for hours! Very nice.

Yesterday we went to a breakfast book club to discuss “The Power,” a Margaret Atwood-ish book where women take over the world and have an electrical “power” – very interesting, although violent at times.

We topped off the evening with Brooke and Ian, our downstairs neighbors who we worked with in Pakistan. Such a nice and fun couple – we had an excellent evening with them.

This morning I have woken up to some kind of gathering across the street with a couple of hundred Africans listening to a Sikh. There’s occasional music and cheering – not quite sure what’s going on. With Monrovia, you just never know!

Nearby on Sunday morning

 

Small world

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

Locals look for reusable materials at a recently demolished building down the street from us

The highlight of the week was getting to see our good friend Jim who’s in Monrovia for work – what a treat! We were so excited to see him that I forgot to take a picture, but maybe we can remedy that later in the week when we see him again. We talked for hours – he’s been coming here to work for a long time, and has a deep understanding of the culture and history. When we met Jim and Joan in the late 90s in Costa Rica, I never thought that (1) they’d be living down the street from our friends Mike and Wayne in San Antonio or (2) that we’d have Jim sitting on our sofa in Monrovia twenty years later! The kind of things that make life interesting.

John was gone all week to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, for a workshop all week. He had a great time, and came home with stories of a lovely city with modern streets, highways, and tall buildings (at least in the main part of town) – a stark contrast to Monrovia. (For example, his ride home from the airport in Monrovia took almost two hours, yet it’s only about 25 miles.)

Last weekend, a second TDYer arrived from Buenos Aires, so our consular team met her for coffee last Sunday morning. She is as delightful as our other TDYer from Chad. We had a very productive week and are learning so much from them. Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Minga on Friday as she completed her time with us. The embassy closes at 1PM on Fridays, so some of us went to a local restaurant for sushi. Afterwards, Minga, Fernanda, and I poked around in the little tourist shops to see if there were any treasures we needed, then we came to our apartment for sundowners – a very nice afternoon.

 

 

Drinking from the fire hose

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

Some of our neighbors

I think John and I both feel like we’re drinking from a fire hose at work, but we’re enjoying it! My section (consular) started receiving TDY (temporary duty) help this past week – a lovely woman from Chad came to help us out and she has been a godsend. She works for my good friend Barb in N’djamena, and I’m grateful Barb was so generous in sending her my way! A couple of the staff members and I met her at her hotel last Sunday for a welcome lunch; John and I took her to dinner last night at a nice local restaurant. She’s just delightful.

There were protests around local government buildings last Monday that got a bit rowdy at the end of the day, but nothing too bad other than a slight delay getting home.

We went to Justin and Stephanie’s Friday night for dinner and board games – they’re so nice and we enjoy visiting with them.

Time is already flying by – we hit our one-month anniversary at post this week!

 

Good riddance, 2019!

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh about 2019, but my six-month hiatus while my leg healed wasn’t what I envisioned this time last year! On the upside, everyone was exceedingly kind to me, and I am grateful we had the resources to get the care I needed – great surgeons, nurses, caregivers, and physical therapists. And Department of State was so supportive of John and me while we were delayed getting to Monrovia – so there were lots of silver linings…but OUCH.

We didn’t get too crazy on New Year’s Eve, and by that, I mean we were asleep by 10 PM! I spent most of NY Day at the office trying to get caught up (an uphill battle). This week, I started going to the office early in the morning so I can work out in the embassy gym before work – so I’m proud of myself for starting to get back in the workout groove.

Yesterday evening we went to the Ambassador’s residence for “sundowners.” We spent a lovely evening with her, her husband, and another couple having a cocktail and watching the sun go down – so nice to be able to visit outside the office. She sent us home with bonus lettuce from the garden – a treat!

This past week we spent several evenings upstairs hanging out with Lucy the Chihuahua while her mom was on vacation – what a sweetie!

Here’s hoping 2020 is accident free!

With upstairs neighbor Lucy

Enjoying sundowners and sundown

One of the many K-Ks around town

Beach view

 

 

Happy Christmas

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

I wouldn’t hold my breath on this.

We continue to get settled in – John got his 250-pound air shipment delivered this week, so we were able to enjoy great coffee from his espresso machine – a really nice treat!

We had a few social things to do this week – our sponsors Stephanie and Justin had us over Monday night for dinner and a couple of games of Catan – lots of fun. John represented Team Crippen at a Hanukkah gathering Thursday after work when I was under the weather for a day or so. Yesterday we went downstairs where a neighbor had set up a taco bar for the Marines, where we had the chance to get to know a few more people.

We’ve been good about getting to the gym this week, so my leg is doing much better (note to self: you cannot convince yourself that you are too busy for PT!).

Work continues to be pretty crazy. I worked last Sunday and on Christmas Eve – there’s just so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it in.

We had a quiet Christmas which was nice. We did video chats with family and friends – it’s amazing that we can so easily see and talk to folks! I remember when we were in Costa Rica in the 90s, email was just beginning and we heard the screech of the dial-up. (OK, boomer.)