Archive for February, 2008

Happy hour with Jim & Craig

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

We had our happy hour this week with our A-100 classmates since we are heading out soon – it was a fun night in at the Liberty Tavern in Clarendon – even better due to special guest appearances by Craig and Jim (above). Jim was in town from San Antonio – we saw Jim’s wife Joan just a couple of weeks ago and had a chance to meet Craig then, too.

Our good friends Jimmi, Sarah and Alex were also the “ambassadors” for the evening, because they, too, are close to their departure. Jimmi’s going to Mexico, and Sarah and Alex are off to Bulgaria.

Last Sunday night we met our friend Joe (Saudi Arabia) at Harry’s for dinner. Last Monday was a holiday, which was nice. I went to yoga and had a mani/pedi in between studying. The rest of the week was pretty low-key. We were just certain that we wouldn’t have class on Friday due to predictions of snow and ice, but alas, there we were in class Friday morning, as usual.

Mom is having a lot of dental work done, so she has been in quite a bit of pain the last week and a half – turns out that it’s a lot worse that heart or carotid artery surgery in terms of pain. Hopefully she’ll heal soon and start feeling better.

Jimmi, Janet, Eric and John at the Liberty Tavern

Getting antsy

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

So…we are getting into the countdown stage of leaving, and our days have been busy. I’ve been trying to get all of my doctor and dentist appointments done, we have consultation appointments during the week, and we are studying hard so we can test out of Spanish successfully. John met with the movers this week to arrange for our things in the apartment to be shipped, and I made arrangements for our things in the warehouse (I think they actually left the warehouse this week). And yesterday, we traded in the Saab and bought a new 4Runner!

Friday night we met friends for dinner at Chef Geoff’s (I had yummy gouda grits with shrimp), then we went to see the Capitol Steps – they were really funny. It’s a political satire show set to music – basically a series of skits, and it’s a hoot. There were jokes about Hillary, Obama, Larry Craig, immigration – you name it. Go to the web site, and you can hear a few of their songs, like “Huckabee” set to the tune of “Let It Be” or “A Leader like Barack” set to “Leader of the Pack.” Pretty funny.

A visit from Joan!

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

The highlight of the week was a great visit from our good friend Joan (our neighbor in Costa Rica, who now lives a couple of blocks from Mike and Wayne in San Antonio). She was in town for a conference, and came over with her friend Craig for drinks, then dinner at Huong Viet in the Eden Center. We had an excellent evening, and Noodle was glad to see her, too!

John and I were put in different Spanish classes than we were in prior to the Quito trip, so we spent the week getting adjusted to new classmates and new teachers. One afternoon I shuttled over to Main State to pick up our diplomatic passports with newly minted Mexican visas; another afternoon I met with my Spanish buddy Manuel and his wife. On Thursday, John and I went back downtown to start our consultations with folks in the Department who deal with issues specific to Mexico. Over the next few weeks, we’ll meet with about a dozen different people to get updates on what’s going on in Juarez.

We are really in the countdown to leaving! It’s hard to believe. We test drove some SUVs today, because the plan is to sell the Saab for something a bit more up to the task of Mexican roads.

I took the cats to the vet this morning for shots and to get their international health certificates. They weren’t happy about going, but they behaved nicely. The vet was great, and let me listen to Noodle’s heart murmur as compared to Flavia’s normal heartbeat – the difference is incredible. But she said they were both in great shape, and we’ll continue Noodle’s daily dose of Lasix with prescription food to help his kidneys.

Back in DC

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

After flying all night from Quito, we made it home to DC before noon today – we were so happy to see our cats! They have gotten a lot of lap time in this afternoon – I think they missed us, too.

We spent the weekend in Papallacta, which is near a volcano and famous for its hot water. We stayed at Termas Papallacta in a nice little cabina and enjoyed the spa. We got the strangest treatment – they call it a “deep massage with thermal water.” I called it water torture. They put you in a large shower, and a woman stands behind a wall of plexiglass and shoots water all over your body with a fire hose. No joke. It was humiliating and funny and, yes, enjoyable, all at the same time! I don’t think I have laughed so hard in a long, long time, which was probably more therapeutic than the treatment. The funny thing was that the woman wanted to chit-chat while this was going on, asking me where I was from, how old I was, etc. After that, we had body wraps with Andean mud and massages – all in all, it was a really good time! The rest of the weekend, we just read, hiked and studied – very relaxing and a good break from the noise and auto exhaust of Quito.

Monday night we visited with our friend Bo from our A-100 class. It was great to see him (and his cool apartment), and to hear about his work in the Embassy. He took us to a neat Greek restaurant with great food and a wonderful view of the city.

On Wednesday, we went on an outing to the equator, about an hour and a half outside of the city. There’s a very touristy little park with a museum (about what you would expect). But then, we went to another little museum that was fun – you can do different experiments, like watching water swirl in different directions in the different hemispheres.

Have I mentioned that there are casinos in Quito? Hmmm, well, there just happened to be one near our hotel, so we gambled a couple of nights – it’s great because the blackjack tables have a $2 minimum, so you don’t have to be a high roller. Both nights, we had good tables and enjoyed ourselves (and won!).

Another afternoon, I had a facial and some other stuff done at a local beauty shop, so we really did a good job of immersing ourselves. We also spoke only Spanish to each other, which we hope to continue back here in DC, just to keep up the practice.

OK, back to petting cats…here are a few photos from our trip. You can see the full set in this Picasa album.

The view from our cabina at Papallacta

Here’s looking at you