Archive for July, 2008

Rain, rain, rain

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Yesterday we were housebound because of pouring rain off and on all day. There is no drainage in Juarez, so the streets flood, and things aren’t a lot better in El Paso. So, our planned trip to Las Cruces and El Paso was postponed. One odd side effect from the rain (aside from a roof leak) is that our door bell rings for no apparent reason now. Last night during the rain, it rang a lot. Thankfully it stopped during the night, but it’s been doing it again this morning. It’s sort of creepy.

This was a pretty busy week. Last Sunday, I went to a brunch at Porto Bello’s for a newly-arrived officer, Connie, whom we had over for dinner with another officer later in the week. John got home from Uncle Perk’s party in the early afternoon – he had a good time at the party and was happy to see a lot of family.

Another new officer, Ryan, just moved in across the street from us, so he came over one night for a drink. In the small world category, he knows our friend Jim (of Jim and Joan fame) through the World Bank, or at least knows him electronically.

Thursday night I went to a girls’ night at another officer’s house – it was fun to sit around and yak. Friday night we went to Corralito’s for dinner, then watched “The Dead Girl,” a pretty interesting movie.

Here’s hoping the rain stops so we can get out to do our shopping…

Country comes to town

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

With my friend Scott in Monterrey

I got the opportunity to go to Monterrey to work this Thursday and Friday – it was a lot of fun. Monterrey is very pretty and cosmopolitan in comparison to Ciudad Juarez, especially in the part of town where I was. Starbucks on every corner, big malls, tall buildings, late model sedans (not F-150s), etc. My hotel was quite fancy, too.

Thursday night I went to a sunset happy hour with some of the officers – we were in an outdoor rooftop bar, surrounded by the gorgeous mountains of Monterrey, great breeze, then a full moon. It was great!

That said, I was happy to come home to Juarez. The house was empty when I got in late Friday night because John flew to Little Rock to go to Uncle Perk’s 90th birthday party. Many of you know Uncle Perk as the “hummingbird guy.” John got to see lots of his family, plus Mary, Doug, and Deb. Wish I could have been there!

Tuesday night I went to a Rotary Club meeting – I’m on a committee to help put together a college-level symphony concert here in Juarez with a symphony from El Paso.  There are 12 clubs here in Juarez and it was neat to hear about their charity projects – they are pretty active.

Last Sunday afternoon we went to Michael and Suzanne’s house for lunch. John took me back to Corralito’s on Wednesday night. 

Work was pretty low-key. John is already beating me in the immigrant section, doing way more cases than me each day. How does he do it???

The rooftop bar in Monterrey

The week that was

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

May 2008 with Steve and Pat

I think I spoke too soon last Sunday when I wrote that nothing too exciting had happened with the duty phone.

Shortly after I said that, I started getting calls. Long story short, at 10 PM Sunday night, I was at the Juarez morgue to identify an American who had been hit by a bus. He was a fugitive wanted for kidnapping and attempted murder – he had shot his ex-wife (she survived) and ran with their 9-year-old boy. He dropped the boy off at a church here in town, then stepped in front of traffic. After the trip to the morgue, I called his next-of-kin to notify him of the death. Wild night.

On Friday, I had the opportunity to help repatriate a US teenager who had been living with her boyfriend several hours from here. We spent the day driving south through the desert to get her and bring her back, so I got to know her fairly well. The day ended by walking her over the international bridge to return her to her mom. I hope she does OK – she’s a sweet kid.

They told us in school that we would have cases like the two I’ve written about here – I just didn’t realize I would get them so soon after arriving in Mexico! The good news is that I really enjoyed it.

As a side note, on the way back to Juarez with the teenager, we stopped at Villa Ahumada for lunch at a roadside burrito stand – they are known for their cheese, and it was delicious. It was a pleasant little town, lined with burrito and cheese stands. Um, I didn’t know that just two months ago, the narcos had conducted a massacre in the town.

We had a lot of rain here this week. The streets of Juarez flood easily, so we found ourselves slugging through pretty deep water on the way home from work Tuesday.

Over on the right side of this page, I added a “Free Kibble” link. You can click on it daily and it helps feed shelter dogs and cats. I usually don’t do stuff like this, but I saw the 11-year-old who set up the program on TV and it seems like a neat thing.

The rest of the week was pretty quiet. John took me to Corralito’s Friday night for a good steak dinner and to celebrate relinquishing the duty phone. Last night, we went to a fun cookout at our neighbors Michael and Teresa’s. Here’s a photo of Darren and grill master Michael:

Happy 4th!

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Most Embassies and Consulates around the world have some sort of a party for the 4th – I remember going to at least one party at the Ambassador’s residence back in Costa Rica. Our Consul General hosted a party Thursday night for friends of the Consulate here in Juarez. Lots of local dignitaries and some good carne asada to eat. It’s mostly a working event for officers, but it was fun nonetheless.

We continued on the party train with a cookout at our friend Silvio’s on the 4th, and a get-together last night to play games with some friends at Mark and Michele’s house. We’re headed out in a bit for another cookout – John’s boning up on a magic trick to do for the kids. (Meanwhile, I’m engrossed in the Nadal – Federer Wimbledon championship game.)

I was happy last Sunday afternoon to see Ellen Saad (my friend Bruce’s mom who lives here in El Paso). We had a quick visit over a Coke before her bridge game. I look forward to seeing her again.

On Monday night, we hosted John’s first bookclub meeting to discuss Joseph Nye’s “Soft Power.” It was fun and John was definitely in his element.

On the work front, John joined me over in the Immigrant Visa section. He passed off duty officer responsibilities to me – luckily nothing too exciting has happened so far. Fingers crossed.

John also tackled the yard this morning with more grass seed and top soil. We’re determined to have something other than dirt!