Archive for January, 2009

A walk in the park

Sunday, January 25th, 2009


Last Sunday after our weekly shopping in El Paso (with milk and yogurt in the ice chest), John and I went to Rio Bosque Wetlands Park in El Paso. It surrounds the old Rio Grande river bed – now dry – but they are trying to recreate the wetlands by diverting some water from the nearby water treatment plant. Each month, a guide from UTEP takes people on a two-hour introductory walk, and it was so fun just to get outside and see some birds, including the cutest burrowing owls, coots, mallards, and lots of hawks. It was an odd juxtaposition, though, to be walking through this park and to our left, see the border fence being erected – cutting off any hope of wildlife migration.

Monday was a holiday and we just hung out at the house, reading and smoking more meat in the new smoker – and cheese, too, which is really delicious.

We were on the visa line during the inauguration on Tuesday – darn it! – but we watched his speech when we got home.

Friday was a crazy day – a key system was down during the week that kept us from printing visas, but it started working again on Friday. John and I stayed late to help the admin teams get caught up. Afterwards, we met our friends Mike and Rebecca at Los Bichis for dinner.

Because we are so overloaded with work, we have several TDYers in to help over the next few months. We try to get them out and about as much as possible, so they aren’t stuck in their hotel room. Saturday, we dropped two of the girls from Mexico City off at the outlet mall in El Paso while we went on to the Las Cruces farmers’ market and bookstore. I think they bought out the mall, and then later, Wal-Mart! They were so cute and so happy to find bargains!

We made it back to Juarez just in time to meet our neighborhood group (pictured below) for a wine-tasting dinner at a little restaurant nearby. It was lots of fun – good food and good (Mexican) wine. We all ended up on our back patio until almost 2 AM, so yes, I think it was a good night!


Smokin’ in Juarez

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Wow – John tried out his new meat smoker yesterday and it was incredible! He did a chicken, and it was absolutely delicious. Not only was the food good, but he loves tinkering with the wood, charcoal, etc. I can’t wait to see what he cooks up next!

This was a busy week at work. Instead of riding together with John, I drove myself most days so I could stay late. We’re so busy interviewing all day that I don’t have time to work on complicated visa cases or special projects. While John was setting up the new smoker yesterday, I went to the office just to get caught up.

The rest of the week was pretty normal – to Juarez Sam’s one night after work and another night watched the movie Persepolisan animated movie about an Iranian girl. Friday night, we went to our neighbors’ house to talk about an upcoming trip to Chiapas, Mexico. Yesterday we also watched several episodes of The Wire – love it!

Movin’ slowly

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

John at the birthday party with friends

Last night we went to a surprise birthday dinner for a co-worker and ended up at an after-party…lots of fun, but I’m moving a little slowly this morning – although I did make it on the threadmill while watching the Sunday political shows. I was suprised when Newt Gingrich brought up the civil war in Mexico on George Stephanopoulos’s This Week, commenting that it was a civil war on our border, fueled by U.S. drug money, yet no one in the U.S. was paying attention to it. It may be the first time I’ve agreed with Newt!

We had a pretty social week, starting last Sunday afternoon when we went to our friend Pam’s house to meet her son’s godfathers – they were great, and it was pleasant to visit with someone not associated with the State Department.

Tuesday night we went to Whitney and Ali’s for tamales and King Cake to celebrate Epiphany. The person who gets the baby in the cake has to buy tamales for everyone on February 2nd, Día de la Candelaria.

We had two birthdays in our NIV section at work this week, so I was a regular at the local supermarket bakery picking up cakes. It’s fun to stop our visa work for a few minutes to celebrate – especially important since we are all away from friends and family.

Friday night we had an early dinner with Michael and Teresa at Los Bichis – fun to catch up with them at the end of a long week (we got pretty spoiled over the holidays with all of the short weeks!).

Work has been demanding. I stayed pretty late one night, and then John and I worked yesterday all day. We each had extra projects to work on (there’s never time during the week), and they needed Americans to supervise some local staff who needed to come in. So, we’ll get paid OT plus get our extra work done.

My Christmas present from John – lined Crocs – the best houseshoes ever!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

We rang in the new year at a party with co-workers and I actually stayed awake till midnight – hooray! At midnight, we each ate 12 grapes – one for each month of the year – and made wishes. We had even more fun on Thursday when we had three couples over for a mid-day meal of black-eyed peas, cornbread, Muffy’s yummy red cabbage, roasted rosemary potatoes and pork tenderloin. A good time was had by all.

Earlier in the week on Monday night, we had book club – although for December we watched a Frontline documentary, “Is Wal-Mart Good for America?” instead of reading a book. As you might imagine, it sparked a good discussion.

We started the weekend with delicious burrito’s from Crisotomo’s (absolutely addictive), then on to El Paso for our weekly shopping, with emphasis on finding accessories for John’s soon-to-arrive-in-the-mail smoker. We also tried a new restaurant (or new to us) that was quite good, Geske’s Fire Grill.

We watched a few movies this weekend: “Wanted” (extremely violent), “Elizabeth, The Virgin Queen” and “Elizabeth, The Golden Age.”

The last couple of weeks have been pretty slow at work, which has been a nice break.