Archive for May, 2009

Home again, home again

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

After a nice visit with Mom, I came back to Juarez on Monday afternoon. Pamela met me at the LR airport for a cup of coffee before I caught my flight. John picked me up at the airport in El Paso and grilled an arracharra steak for me for dinner.

Tuesday I woke up to a dead battery in the Volvo, but John got it fixed for me after work. The car seems to eat batteries, but otherwise plugs along!

We had another massage Tuesday night – I’m really getting spoiled!

It was a super-busy week at work on the passport front, since everyone is trying to get theirs before the new WHTI law goes into effect June 1. Wednesday after work, we had a professional development event with our local FBI liaison. It was interesting to hear him talk about his experiences.

Friday night we went to another great party at Matt and Daisy’s. It was a going-away party for them, and for Beth and Tom. We are going to miss all of them – we’re approaching the time of year when a lot of people start transferring to their next post. It’s exciting for them, but sad for us! The party was a lot of fun – lots of people, food and drink, as usual – and they hired a nice Mexican trio to play old Mexican songs for an hour. It was a lovely night outside. I hope the next family who moves into Matt and Daisy’s house understands that they are obligated to continue the party tradition there!

Saturday night our bosses Roger and Rodney hosted a small get-together to talk about bidding for our third tour assignments. We won’t do that until 2011, but it was great to hear their advice. It was also a good reason to eat and drink a lot!

News flash – John has been riding bikes the last couple of weekends. He went for a check-up last week and his doctor invited him to go cycling with him and his friends the next morning. No bike? No problem – the doctor called his friend who owns a bike store and got John fixed up with a loaner (soon to be permanent). So, he’s been riding with them both Saturday and Sunday mornings over in El Paso, along the road to Las Cruces. He’s loving it!

On the road

Sunday, May 24th, 2009


View of Chihuahua City

This was definitely a week for trips. I left super-early Thursday morning with Mike, a member of our local staff, to drive down to Parral to visit an American in prison. It was a long nine-hour drive through the Chihuahua desert. After an interesting visit at the prison, we turned around and back-tracked to Chihuahua City, the state capitol (above) for dinner and overnight. Friday morning, we went to the state prison there to drop off some vitamins and other toiletries for another inmate, then headed back to Juarez.

This was my first prison visit, but won’t be my last. The U.S. government makes these visits to Americans to monitor their treatment, provide them with a list of lawyers, etc. I was glad I had an experienced local staff with me to walk me through the process. All went well.

Saturday morning, I got up early again and headed to Hot Springs for Memorial Day weekend with Mom. I stopped by Alison’s gallery on the way into town, then picked up Mom and headed out to Kay’s for a pot-luck dinner with family. I was happy to eat some of Aunt Gusta’s delicious corn bread, along with Lacey’s beans – yum! It was great to see everyone, and a perfect evening to sit on the porch and watch the hummingbirds and bunnies in the yard (along with Kay’s three-legged cat trying to stalk the bunnies). It’s been a rainy Sunday today.

 Earlier in the week, we had another massage at home – what a great treat! The rest of the week was work as usual.

I finished reading “Three Cups of Tea” – very good book about an American mountain climber who falls in love with the children of Pakistan and starts building schools in the most remote regions of the country near K2. Great story and true. Soft power in action.

Lots to do

Sunday, May 17th, 2009


Party at our house with one of the cutest kids ever

Lots of social activity this week…starting last Sunday with a party at our house to welcome our three newest officers in Juarez. Nice turnout, good food and conversation.

My birthday celebration continued with another cake in my new department on Monday. Then on Wednesday, several of the local staff took me out to lunch, which was the sweetest thing ever. We had a great time and laughed a lot. They are all just wonderful.

Monday night we met our friends Tom and Beth at a nice Argentinian restaurant here in Juarez to celebrate Tom’s birthday. Excellent food.

Tuesday night, we indulged in a much-needed massage…at home. It was the first time we had tried this. The woman is a friend of one of our local staff and a good masseuse. She was very professional and set up her massage table in the living room. We were both sore afterward, in a good kind of way. She’ll be back next Tuesday!

Wednesday was an admin day at work, so no applicants but plenty of meetings. Thursday night, I went across the street for a small birthday dinner for our neighbor Ryan while John went on a boys’ night out for a Diplimatic Security agent who is leaving Post soon.

Friday, we wrapped up the week with an outdoor happy hour and burgers at the Consulate. Our neighbor TFran came down later for a glass of wine before we turned in.

Saturday morning, we hosted a small gathering at our house for John to demo coffee roasting. He already had our friend Reid converted, and used Saturday to teach both Reid and Tom how to roast. We had a nice breakfast spread, including Galloway casserole with a chorizo twist (quite yummy).

Saturday night, Lara and Neal threw a luau birthday party for Ryan across the street – lots of good food and company.

This morning, we went to an early show of the new Star Trek movie, which we really enjoyed, then spent the rest of the day with John working in the yard. I bought a few vegetable plants and made a half-hearted attempt to plant them in the yard – I told John it would have been more humane just to throw them in the trash…but we’ll see!

I finished reading a fun book today called “Shut Up, I’m Talking – and Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government” by Gregory Levey. It had been recommended by one of the visiting retirees. It was really funny – the book jacket describes Levey as a cross between Thomas Friedman and David Sedaris.


At the luau with one of my favorite local employees, Alex

Happy birthday to me

Sunday, May 10th, 2009


I had a great birthday on Friday. Sweet Martha and Ali Petit decorated my cubie with balloons, and my NIV manager baked me a surprise cake. I got lots of great emails and hugs, and to top it off, John took me out for a steak dinner. It was one of my favorite birthdays in a long time!

We were off work last Monday for swine flu and Tuesday was a holiday. I kept busy on Monday getting a new officer and his toddler across the border and settled in their new home. On Tuesday, he and I went back across the border to get him stocked up on supplies.

John and finished watching “The Wire” series – it was so good that I’m sad we finished it!

On Wednesday, I started my new rotation in American Citizen Services (ACS). I love it so far. For starters, I have a nice big cubie with a window. Right now, I’m just learning to adjudicate passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad for Americans who have children in Mexico. So far the workload is fairly light and it’s nice to have a bit of time to work on other projects, too. Lots to learn.

Yesterday we pretty much lazed about the house. The heat is coming back – already up in the high 90s – and John has re-started his efforts on the yard.

We don’t have swine flu

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009


Mailbox, Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM

We spent a lovely weekend in Santa Fe, NM – Friday was a Mexican holiday and the office closed early on Thursday, so we drove up Friday morning. It’s about a 5-hour drive if you drive straight, but we stopped along the way for a famous Buckhorn burger. It lived up to its reputation.

We got to Santa Fe around 6 PM, early enough to stroll around the Plaza and have dinner. The next morning, we went to the Santa Fe farmers’ market. Funny story. Last Labor Day, we flew to San Diego. The plane stopped over in Albuquerque and this hippy chick got on and sat in front of me. The plane was jam-packed and she was really rude – immediately laid her seat all the way back and kept flipping her long curly gray hippy hair all over me. I asked her if she would mind not reclining her seat, to which she retorted, “Everyone has a right to lean their seat back!” I got up and moved to the one lone middle aisle seat left in the back of the plane. Well, who should we see strolling through the farmers’ market looking all BOBO’d out with her pull-along cart but rude hippy chick! What are the chances?

Anyway, we got a good laugh out of that and continued on to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, which was really nice. We had brunch at Cafe Pasqual’s, which I remembered from 20 years ago when I was there. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking and driving around town. It rained some, but didn’t interfere too much with the day – and we got a beautiful end-to-end rainbow after the showers. John found several good used book stores, then we finished the day with delicious Mexican food with New Mexican chile sauce at Tomasita’s.

We drove home this morning – and still have Monday and Tuesday off! Tuesday is another Mexican holiday, and the Consulate closed for business on Monday due to swine flu fears. Although we don’t think there have been any cases reported in Juarez, applicants come from all over Mexico, so we closed to try to limit travel. John calls it a snow day, since we don’t get any of those here.

We had book club at our house last Monday to discuss “The Closing of the American Border,” by Edward Alden – small group but a great discussion. Wednesday night we went to a dinner party at Matt and Daisy’s with some friends. Thursday we had a girls’ “swine flu vacation” happy hour at my friend Pam’s house.

We watched “Australia” tonight and thought it was really good. It got mediocre reviews, but we liked it.

Mom and Aunt Bonnie left this week for a 2-week Alaskan cruise – lucky them!