Archive for July, 2014

Echoes

Saturday, July 26th, 2014
Moving Day

Moving Day

Our packout was on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, so the house is now empty – and leaving is becoming more real to us.

 

 

The days leading up to packout were hectic, to say the least! Spare time was spent organizing the house for the movers. The first day of packout went fine; the company brought eight men to pack, plus two supervisors. It was like an army of ants devouring our things and putting it all in boxes. The noise was deafening as they made boxes with packing tape. Day Two was not fun. They didn’t bring the same crew of men and we often had to stop them from cramming fragile items into boxes – very stressful. A Bloody Mary stashed in the kitchen helped!

At any rate, it’s all done. We’ll see how well they did once we unpack on the other end.

Flavie was not happy about the commotion and her suspicions that something is up are now confirmed.

Work was also crazy busy this week. I worked all day Saturday just trying to get through emails on active visa cases and find the bottom of my desk. I still have a long way to go. Luckily we are moving into Eid week, so we’ll have no visa applicants. I plan to work every day even though four days are holidays; it will be wonderful to have the office to myself and hopefully start chipping away on my to-do list.

Last Sunday, we hosted one last big brunch at our house with our good friends. It was a really nice day; Saleem made breakfast burritos and we had a chance to visit with everyone. Cesar and Lydia stayed afterward for a good visit before they departed Pakistan. Lots of fun!

Last night, we picked up our old friend from A-100, Eric and his wife Diana and went to the Thai restaurant for dinner – so nice to catch up with them!

It’s been very rainy this week; I guess monsoon season is here. The cloud cover has kept the temperatures out of the 100s, at least, but the humidity is stifling! I’ve about given up on my hair at this point!

I finally got around to uploading our Cambodia photos – click here to see them!

I’ll finish with some photos around our yard. The zinnias are gorgeous! Also, this year it looks like we have poinsettias, or something in that family. The leaves turn green, then yellow-pink – very pretty! And we also have several different colors of celosia (brain flower) – I love the gold ones. I’ll miss this beautiful home and yard!

Country Cousin, one of the cats across the street

Country Cousin, one of the cats across the street

Poinsettias (?)

Poinsettias (?)

Celosia

Celosia

Celosia

Celosia

Baby Celosia

Baby Celosia

Yellow Celosia

Yellow Celosia

Orange Celosia

Orange Celosia

Our wonderful home

Our wonderful home

Zinnias

Zinnias

More goodbyes

Saturday, July 19th, 2014
with Brad (left) and Mike at our carpet party

with Brad (left) and Mike at our carpet party

I don’t like this goodbye stuff, not one bit! Several good friends left this week – my BFF Brad in the consular section and Deputy Debby topped this week’s list. We had a consular happy hour on Monday evening since several folks left this week. John W. flew out after happy hour, and the rest left at various times throughout the week. 

Our gang of usual suspects, John (Crippen), Brad, Mike and I, went to the French Club for lunch on Brad’s last day. Julia had a dinner party for Debby on Thursday night – a fun evening and reminiscent of when I first started to get know Julia, Debby, Charlie, Zia, and Anna, so it seemed fitting to all be together again. 

Before the dinner party, John and I had farewell drinks with Brad and Mike at the Club. At the same time, Rick and Sarah were having a big happy hour there, as well, so we also had a chance to tell them goodbye. They’ve been great neighbors and I’ll miss exchanging basil for her homegrown lettuce. We told them to remember us when they become ambassadors! 

Friday night was a very touching retirement ceremony for our good friend Spence. He has been here with the Department of Defense, and I worked closely with him on getting visas for the Pakistan military going to the U.S. for training. He’s a great guy. 

In the small world department, an old friend from Hendrix who lives in London met my former boss from Tel Aviv, who also lives in London now! Patrick posted a photo of them together on Facebook for me to see – it made me so happy! So I guess even though I’m saying goodbye to folks now, you just never know where they will turn up next! 

Work was hectic and stressful as usual; I’m still trying to make a dent in all the work I have to do before I go! We also did a bit more shopping: we bought two more rugs from Herat Carpets on Monday during a lunch hour spree, and another one yesterday when a vendor came by our house to show us “a very special carpet” (why yes, it is!). 

One of my favorite things that arrived this week is the beer bucket in the photo above that’s been “trucked out.” Here, they decorate big trucks and busses with bright paintings and bells or pieces of metal chains that clink together (hence the name “jingle trucks”). So we ordered a big bucket to be filled with ice and bottles of beer or soft drinks for a party:

Beer Bucket

Beer Bucket

Relax and have fun!

Relax and have fun!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Saturday we stayed home all day to prepare for packout, which is zooming towards me in a few days. That means going through all those drawers where you stick things; trying on clothes to see what fits and what doesn’t; deciding what goes in suitcases, air shipment, or sea shipment; putting all those bottles of lotions, shampoos, etc. ¬†into ziplock bags; switching all of the linens and dishes in the house to the Embassy’s temporary stock; and going through pantries to see what gets tossed, packed, or given away.  

Flavie is getting suspicious of all this activity. She sees her carrier and our suitcases… 
It also meant that John had his last coffee roasting session. He took this photo to remind him of how pleasant it is to sit on our balcony and smell that wonderful coffee as it roasts. I’m throwing in photos of our huge mango and fig trees, too!

John's view while roasting coffee

John’s view while roasting coffee

Mango tree

Mango tree

Fig tree

Fig tree

Tick tock

Saturday, July 12th, 2014
Siem Reap Temple

Siem Reap Temple with special tour guide

Since we returned from Cambodia late Monday night, I think it’s starting to hit me just how short our time is here in Pakistan. It’s a bit overwhelming! New work keeps piling up while I’m trying to get my desk cleaned off for the transition to my successor and pack-out day is looming in the near future! And throughout it all, we’re trying to spend time with so many people who have become a part of our lives before we all go our separate ways.

We spent one such night this week to say goodbye to Joseph, along with Debby and Zia, at the French Club. It was a really nice evening, made more impressive by the massive storm going on outside. I had a wonderful view over the pool watching an incredible lightning show that went on for an hour or so – and when the rain stopped and we walked outside, it was gloriously cool! Wonderful.

We had Brad, Mike, and John W. over for pizza and beer last night since Brad and John W. will be heading out next week. We spent several hours laughing it up and teasing each other. I’m really going to miss working with them and hope we can stay in touch.

There’s also pressure to get last-minute shopping done! It’s been difficult lately since we’ve been pretty locked down due to security. This weekend we were able to get out a little (albeit in armored cars) and we went to a carpet shop we’ve been trying to go to for some time. The guy is very knowledgeable and is known for his tribal carpets. We bought two lovely ones. The house still looks like a carpet shop – we have a bunch here from the two recent carpet parties that we’ve been trying out. We’ll have to make some final decisions soon about what to keep and what to return.

Herat Carpets

Herat Carpets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
We have a little kitten that lives outside here at the house that we’ve been feeding and watching. He’s so cute and like to mess with Flavia through the front window. She is not amused.

Flavie and the little cat

Flavie and the little cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

The heat here is pretty awful. We’ve been around 108 every day with 40% humidity – heat index of 120. It’s the month of Ramadan for the Muslims, which means they awake around 2AM to eat breakfast before sunrise and prayers, then they fast all day until sundown, around 730PM. They only sleep about three hours each night – and even then, I’m not sure if they are able to sleep: it’s so stiffling hot and they don’t have the big generators like we do to run fans or air conditioning. I can’t imagine how very uncomfortable they are.

Here’s a shot of one of the places where they can (supposedly) get drinking water.

Filtration Station

Filtration Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My daily routine is to go to the gym around 515 each morning. The highlight of the week is our spin class that Meghan runs – it’s a great workout. And it’s introduced me to a couple of super nice folks, like Monica! A special hello to her mother-in-law!¬†

Temples, temples, and more temples!

Saturday, July 5th, 2014
Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Sunrise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
We arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Thursday and we love it! We’ve gone out early each morning to look at some of the temples and they are amazing! We love the town, too – nice people, excellent hotel, good food – it really doesn’t get much better than this.

We’ve passed the time by shopping, taking advantage of super inexpensive massages, and just walking around town. Last night we took a cooking class that was a lot of fun – some really nice folks in class with us. It poured rain the entire time, so it was a good evening to be doing something indoors. Another night we had a good steak dinner at the hotel courtyard and watch a traditional apsara dance.

We’re also fans of the tuk-tuks here, using them to get everywhere.

I really had no idea Cambodia would be this fun, but it is! Here are a few photos.

Banteay Kdei

Banteay Kdei

Ta Prohm

Ta Phrom

Bayon

Bayon

 

Cooking class

Cooking class

Baby Monkey!

Baby Monkey!

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat