Archive for April, 2008

Flavia update

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Flavia finally emerged from her hole in the ceiling last night around 10:30 p.m., so she is safe and sound. She really scared us – there isn’t an attic and no other access up there except for this little hole she found. She had some difficulty getting herself back through it, but all’s well that ends well!

Two tons of stuff

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Part of our HHE

The big news this week was that our household effects (HHE) arrived! We spent Wednesday and Friday off from work, unpacking and putting things away. The house is looking great, and it’s so fun to have our own things again. We still have work to do, but everything is coming together. We were very happy to get our “media room” set up so we could finally watch movies again. First on the list was “Atonement” – very good.

I was in Hot Springs last Sunday and got to see a lot of relatives. Pete and Ginger came for lunch on their way home from a wedding in Texas, then several cousins came over – we enjoyed Mom’s back porch and her new patio furniture. Later that afternoon, David and Alison took Mom and me for a wonderful and relaxing boat ride on Lake Hamilton, followed by another relaxing dinner on their deck. I left Monday morning to return to Juarez – it was good to get home to John and the cats.

Thursday night, we listened to an immigration attorney speak – interesting. Friday night, we met a bunch of work folks at Los Bichis, which was a lot of fun. Saturday, John stayed home to organize more of his things and I went shopping in El Paso for the day. All in all, it’s been a good week!

We’re a little concerned this morning, because somehow Flavia has gotten up into the ceiling of the house. We just hope that she can figure out how to get out again, and that there is no way she can get outside. Fingers crossed.

Parties and travel

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

This week was really busy at work – most days we finish interviews by mid-afternoon, but several days this week we were still at the window at quitting time. The work is pretty interesting and varied – you just never know who is going to walk up and what their story is.

We had our first party at our house Friday night to welcome our friends Teresa and Michael to Juarez and to our neighborhood. We had a good turnout – it was great to have a house full of people having fun!

The next morning, I flew to Little Rock and am at Mom’s in Hot Springs right now. Last night we had a great dinner at David and Alison’s (David is on home leave from Diego Garcia this month). We sat outside on their deck overlooking Lake Hamilton, and watched Canada geese and mallards play while we ate fabulous grilled steaks and drank a bottle of wine. Being at their house is always so relaxing.

I’ve posted a few pictures from Juarez and of our house – click here to see the album. We haven’t received our shipment yet, so the house is still pretty bare with government bedspreads, no art on the walls, etc. but you can get an idea of the house and the city.

Windy and dusty

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

The weather here has been absolutely gorgeous since we arrived – sunny, in the 70s. Every now and then, though, the winds kick in and bring dust storms, like this past Wednesday. We had an admin day at work, followed by a volleyball tournament outside – the players really had a challenge fighting the elements! We stood outside to watch and eat a hot dog, and were covered in dust by the time we got home!

We’ve tried a few new restaurants this week. Last Sunday we went to lunch with some co-workers at Barriga’s, a local Mexican food chain that we had been wanting to try. It was very good, plus we had fun spending Sunday afternoon having a drink and visiting. John took me out for a nice steak dinner at Montana’s one night, and we celebrated Friday afternoon with lunch with our co-workers at a local Mexican restaurant that was quite good.

On Monday night, we went to Whitney and Ali’s house to watch the Final Four championship – what a great game!

The week at work was pretty interesting. We learned some about fraudulent documents, and have successfully caught a few applicants with them. We also had a video conference on Mexican gangs – they love tattoos. Luckily, I haven’t had any at my window that I know of.

Below is a photo of Flavia. After several years of using this kitty condominium for a scratching post, she finally decided it was OK to get inside it. She seems to be getting more used to our new home, and she’s playing more. She’s such a cutie!

Exploring New Mexico

Sunday, April 6th, 2008


At Ground Zero, Trinity Site

Our big outing this week was to New Mexico with a group from the Consulate to visit the Trinity Site and the Very Large Array. It was a long day trip with an incredible amount of dust and wind, but well worth it, plus we got to visit with co-workers along the way.

The Trinity Site is where the first nuclear bomb was tested in 1946 – it’s open to the public two days each year. There’s not a lot to actually see because it’s such a desolate place, but it’s very interesting and thought-provoking.

The Very Large Array is an astronomical radio observatory that consists of 27 huge radio antennas that look like big satellite dishes -it’s pretty incredible to see. You can see how big the antennas are in the photo below – those are humans next to it!

We did a lot of visa interviews this week, although the Consulate closed at noon on Friday for a party. The Ambassador from Mexico City came up to help celebrate a success in the Immigrant Visa section – we had a party outside with fajitas and beer, followed by a meeting for the entry-level officers (like us) with the Ambassador. He’s pretty entertaining – he is a political appointee of Pres. Bush and is married to the wealthiest woman in Mexico (she owns Corona beer).

We also went to an event Thursday night at our Consul General’s house to hear a reporter from El Paso talk about issues in Juarez – pretty interesting. Right now, the Mexican government has sent in 2000 Federal troops to patrol the streets and combat the drug traffickers. It’s startling to see three or four tanks or trucks filled with uniformed, armed and masked Federal soldiers driving down the main streets.

The rest of the week was pretty low-key. I think John and I are both suffering some from allergies, so we haven’t felt 100%.

The good news is that we found a housekeeper that I think will work out. I went to a friend’s house for lunch on Thursday to interview her, then brought her to the house this morning to show her around. She has worked for Consulate families for the past eight years, so that gives me a level of confidence in her – it’s tough to just hand over your house keys to a stranger here!

We had a bit of a scare with Mom this week – she drove herself to the emergency room one night because she lost some vision in her eye, and stayed in the hospital a couple of days while they ran tests. Evidently, a piece of plaque broke loose and went into her eye – luckily it didn’t go to the brain instead. Tests didn’t show evidence of more loose plaque, so hopefully everything is OK.

This week was also scary for a lot of friends in Little Rock and Hot Springs, due to all of the tornadoes and flooding there.

One of 27 antennas in the Very Large Array