Archive for January, 2014

Things I enjoy but don’t do myself

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

K2 on the Pakistan-China Border

This week I indulged in two things I like to either watch or  hear about: tennis and mountain climbing.

Years ago, I read “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer which was about the disastrous 1996 ascent of Mt. Everest. Since then, I’ve enjoyed reading articles about climbing; a few months ago I went to a talk given by a German woman who had climbed Everest. This week, the Embassy brought in Nazir Sabir for a brown bag lunch to talk about his time as a mountaineer. It was a fascinating hour with beautiful photographs of northern Pakistan. He started climbing in the 70s, and was the first Pakistani to summit Everest (2000). He talked mostly about summiting K2 (in the photo) in 1981. K2 is the second highest mountain in the world, but apparently much more difficult to climb. His talk was truly the highlight of the week!

We would love to go to this area of Pakistan, but unfortunately it is verboten, since last summer when the Taliban shot 10 foreign climbers and their Pakistani guide near another Pakistani peak. The scenery looks simply stunning.

Then on to tennis. While I missed most of the Australian Open, I did catch the men’s final today – lots of fun! I started watching the match during brunch at our neighbor’s house, then came home as the party was breaking up to see the last set. It’s always fun to watch the underdog win!

Brunch was lots of fun – a really nice couple from the Lahore Consulate is leaving this weekend, so this was a farewell. Lots of good food and conversation.

Another highlight of the week was having my first lesson with a Spanish tutor Saturday morning. I finally found a teacher here in Pakistan, a lovely woman from Argentina. I plan to work with her this month before I re-test.

The rest of the week was pretty low-key. I had a school board meeting one night. The Embassy cats are doing well; I’ve been trying to get them de-wormed this week with some success. And I made it to the gym everyday before work! Here’s hoping I can keep it up!

Break time’s over

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

I took a mental break from studying Spanish this past week – much needed. Last Sunday I finally sat down and did the paperwork for insurance claims, ran to the market, and then watched “About Time” with John. It’s by the same director as “Love Actually,” and while it was a cute movie, it wasn’t nearly as good as “Love Actually.”

Several people are back in the office after Christmas R&Rs. It’s nice to have our lunch gang back together again We even were able to sit outside a couple of days this week. And we had French Friday lunch – always a nice break.

Tuesday was a Muslim holiday. I went to the gym and did some work, then John, Spence and I played “Settlers of Catan” at Joseph and Sunera’s. They cooked a great lunch and we had a really fun Settlers game.

Wednesday was a welcome admin day at work with no NIV applicants. Thursday I gave a visa briefing to some folks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; I had never been to their office before, so it was interesting.

Saturday I went to the gym and worked a while. Sunday was a nice day at home after a trip to the spa. We topped off the week with a nice dinner out with Petit and Howie.

Now it’s time to pick up the Spanish books again…wish me luck!

Which do you want first?

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Honey's help paid off for John's Spanish test!

The good news or the bad news?

The good news is that John passed his Spanish test Friday night with a 3/3 (the score we need). The bad news is that I scored 2+/3 last Monday night, so I will have to retest in the speaking portion. Oh well! Hopefully I can knock it out in six weeks or so. I’m soooo tired of studying!

John took me out for sushi Tuesday night – yummy as usual. Wednesday it was cold and rainy. Ramonacita, the little cat that hangs out near my office, is enjoying the little bed in a box I set up for her. Someone told me they saw her and her brother Diego both curled up in it one day.

Yesterday I slept late, then worked all day. Came home in time to go to a really fun dinner party where we got to know some new folks – we laughed all night and didn’t get home until midnight!


Happy New Year 2014

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

With Buttercup in Costa Rica, circa 1998

Brrrr – it’s cold outside here in Islamabad. Last week had some of the lowest temperatures they’ve had in 40+ years. We’re so lucky to have hot water, heat in our house, and usually enough gas to cook – Pakistan is now “load shedding” gas in addition to electricity. It’s sort of hit or miss if you can muster up enough gas to cook with these days.  Don’t worry, though, we are certainly not starving by any means!

We had a fun New Year’s Eve. We technically got off from work two hours early, but by the time I finished my work and made the rounds to be sure all of our cat feeding stations were full, it was six or so before I got home. I also ran over during my lunch hour to pick up the Black Mama cat and brought her back to the compound.

John and I had NYE dinner with a nice group of folks from OBO (Overseas Building Operations) – he works a lot with them in his job. We had a good steak dinner, then went to one couple’s house for dessert (yummy key lime pie for me). Then we moved on to a dance party – a small group of folks with two fun guys playing guitar and keyboard. They played a lot of oldies and got everyone dancing. I was impressed that I could stay up past midnight!

New Years Day we stayed home all day to study Spanish. It was a good day, topped off by pizza for dinner.

We had fun Friday night at Konstantin and Carolyn’s – we had dinner up on their roof around their fire pit. Great food and fun! Carolyn has grown mustard greens in their yard – not sure how Konstantin cooked them, but they were delish.

We watched a good movie last night (good cast), “The Oranges.” Kind of a disturbing topic, but great acting.

John had our new treadmill delivered this week – it’s great. A fancy Nordic Track – it’s quite comfortable…and big! I told him when I step up on it, I feel like I am behind a big podium and should give a speech or something. I think we will enjoy having it. We’ve been sticking to our exercise regime – it’s great to have a workout done before starting work each day, but heavens, it’s hard to get up when it’s so dark and cold! Hopefully it will pay off in the end!

This morning, an acquaintance on Facebook posted a photo of herself with Buttercup, the famous sloth at Aviarios in Costa Rica – she is still alive and living at the sanctuary. It made me very nostalgic for the great times we had there, so I am posting this old photo to enjoy the memory of being there!