Archive for December, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

John and I are enjoying our four-day weekend – thanks to President Obama for giving us the 26th off! We spent a nice Christmas Day at home. I enjoyed a delicious latte while opening presents. John surprised me with a digital frame; we’ve really been enjoying seeing old photographs pop up. We carried on our Christmas tradition of drinking mimosas and watching “Love Actually,” our favorite holiday movie. We also talked to Mom and Pete and Ginger – and I was happy to get a call from Ann and Pamela! We also had a good chat with our friend Rick in London (thank you, Skype!) and John talked to Phillip. A good day all around.

We continue to chip away at getting the house in order and it’s starting to feel more like home. We’re really happy with the rugs we bought in Pakistan – they’re pretty and look nice on the marble floors in our apartment. John put up two hummingbird feeders and we have delighted in watching the hummers on the balcony. We’ve identified at least two kinds: broad-billed and violet-crowned. John says the violet-crowned look like little penguins sitting on the railing, waiting for their turn at the feeder. We plan to put up a seed feeder as well to see if we can attract some of the colorful birds we see in the trees up to the balcony.

I was the duty officer this past week, meaning that I take after-hours emergency calls. Some turn out not to be emergencies – which makes me very happy (Americans can ask some crazy questions and think you should know the answer!). Other calls are tragic. This week alone, I had two calls to let me know Amcits had died in horrible accidents while they were in Mexico – what was supposed to be a happy time for their families turned into a nightmare for them, one that they will undoubtedly remember every holiday season from now on.

It turns out that America isn’t the only country that gets crazy calls at their Embassies. The Australian High Commission recently gave notice to their citizens that they needed to be more self-reliant while traveling. Click here for an entertaining article about it; suffice it to say that the questions we get at our Embassies aren’t a heck of a lot different than this article talks about!

(And one note of advice: if you are traveling, you may want to consider some sort of insurance that would pay for a medical evacuation, especially if you have health issues and are going to a country without good medical care – or check your insurance policy to be sure it would cover you overseas.)

On Christmas Eve, we went to a nice get-together at a co-worker’s house. John made his famous Hello Dolly cookies to take – but he’s re-named them Hola Lola’s since he is using Mexican ingredients – they were a big hit, whatever you call them!


Sunday, December 21st, 2014
Santa gig

Santa gig

Last week’s socializing concluded with a nice outdoor party at the Consul General’s residence last Sunday evening. It was a nice event and a good way to top off the week.

Monday through Wednesday of this week, I filled in for the non-immigrant visa chief. It was a lot of fun to get back to NIV work; it reminded me a lot of our work back in Juarez.

Friday night we went to Ana’s house for her annual posada – she is a local staff member in my section and she has done this annual party for at least the last 25 years. It was very quaint with traditional singing and tamales.

Yesterday morning we Skyped with a young lady who is interested in the Foreign Service, which was fun. Other than that, we had a “no progress” day, a term they use back at FSI. For us, it meant ignoring all the work still left to do from unpacking; instead we watched a lot of TV and ordered a pizza – a day of recharging our batteries. We were treated to a lovely sunset at day’s end.



Big Week

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Wow, you go along with not a lot happening, then BOOM! Everything happens all at once!

Last Sunday afternoon, I flew to Mexico City to work for a few days. I stayed downtown on Reforma, very near the Embassy. I stayed until Wednesday around noon, then flew home. During the time I was there, I attended a conference about migrant children, met with my good friend and former boss Laura along with several other folks I work with via email, and did a lot of observation of their passport operations. My last night there, I ran into three other people from the Consulate in Guadalajara and enjoyed a nice dinner out with them at a lovely restaurant. I ordered beef tongue; I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite – it’s somewhat of a delicacy here but I just couldn’t get past the fact that it’s – well – tongue. Luckily it came with a tasty rib that I thoroughly enjoyed. I really enjoyed Mexico City – much more than I thought I would. The part of town where I stayed was very walkable with lots of nice restaurants and shops. I really enjoyed my trip.

Thursday, the movers came with our stuff! By the end of the day, I was absolutely pooped. Our housekeeper helped us start putting things away, but we still have a long way to go. I am going to try hard to get rid of some things, but it’s hard. John and I recently read a de-cluttering book that our cousin Jeanie recommended so I am hoping to put some of the author’s tips to good use as we unpack. But, it’s so nice to have our lovely rugs, artwork, linens – and more than four forks, knives, and plates!

Here’s the mover unpacking our John Bell cabinet, one of my favorite pieces:

John Bell cabinet

John Bell cabinet











Friday night we had our Consulate Christmas party, where John got to be Santa for all the kids (you can imagine how much he loved that!). He did a great job – and we were tickled pink to see our friend Martha who is here on a TDY from the Consulate in Nogales; we worked together in Juarez. She came over for a glass of wine with Santa before the party:

Martha and Santa

Martha and Santa











Saturday morning we met an old Hendrix friend, Allyn, and his husband Scotty (and two adorable doggies) downtown by the Cathedral for breakfast – we had so much fun! I had not seen Allyn since college but it felt like yesterday. They are living in Puerto Vallarta, so hopefully we will see each other more frequently.

After a long day of unpacking, we cleaned up and went to a party given by the Canadian Consul General – it was lots of fun. He’s young and so personable.

This morning we went to breakfast with Martha and her husband Enrique at a popular Sunday morning spot. On the way home we stopped by a crafts fair, but they were still setting up so we didn’t get to see much.

So there – how’s that for keeping busy this week?!


Sunday, December 7th, 2014

I continued to fight a cold most of the week. Sofa-fest from last Saturday carried over to Sunday with lots of TV – multi episodes of “The Killing,” plus an old Harrison Ford movie, “Frantic” (also directed by Roman Polanski who did last week’s “Venus in Fur”).

I went back to work on Monday and just tried to take it easy. John had a super-busy week with the folks from the Office of Buildings Overseas in town. We did try a little steak place after work on Tuesday – it was very homey with pretty good steaks and service – nothing fancy, but enjoyable.

Saturday we stayed home all day and I finally got back to the gym. Late afternoon we got cleaned up and went to my boss’s house for a homemade Italian dinner with the other consular managers. It was lots of fun and the food was delicious!

Today we ventured out for lunch and ended up back at the GastroPatio since most restaurants don’t open til one or two in the afternoon on Sundays. We had a nice little lunch and enjoyed sitting outside to enjoy the beautiful sunny day!