Archive for July, 2022

La Rural

Sunday, July 31st, 2022

My big fun this week was going to the agriculture and livestock show at the expo center next to the Embassy (La Rural). John and I went mid-morning last Sunday before the crowds got really big. I was having so much fun watching the horses that he left me in the arena where I stayed the rest of the day. I tried to go back yesterday after going to the gym at the embassy, but there were hundreds of people waiting in line to get in – evidently the last weekend is the BIG weekend. It looked the same today with livestock and horse trailers parked up and down the street – right in the middle of the city.

The rest of the week was pretty routine – just back and forth to work and settling in.

Here’s some photos from La Rural.

Cheese and meats!
Creative use of Brazilian coffee bags
Very distinguished rider taking first place
Vacuuming before competition
Really big cows
Before the buggy competition (first place in their class)
More buggies
Sidesaddle and in heels!
Gorgeous horses
Really big sheep!
On my way to work Saturday morning outside the expo center
What’s up?

Whirlwind week

Sunday, July 24th, 2022
Capybara at the local park

The week flew by. I’m still doing several one-on-one meetings with the consular staff, and it’s been fun to get to know new people and hear their background. We have a lot of work to do, but everyone seems to be pitching in. The embassy had some COVID cases this week, so that can impact our operations and makes me nervous.

John and I got the chance to see our permanent apartment – it’s really nice and we can’t wait to move in. It was very foggy, so we couldn’t see much of the view (it’s on a high floor), but I can tell it will be pretty amazing. It’s across from a public building that has green space and monuments around it, which is nice.

The week was pretty routine – just back and forth to work mostly and finding something to eat at night – our temporary apartment’s kitchen isn’t great for much more than scrambling eggs or reheating something in the toaster oven. We’ve found a few restaurants nearby that open before 8 PM, the normal time for places here to open for dinner – yikes.

I saw the capybaras walking to the embassy gym yesterday – they are resident in the local park. It’s a huge park that is very popular on the weekends – they look like they just live there and don’t appear to be in an enclosure. And they are really big – the largest rodent. But pretty cute!

First week – check!

Sunday, July 17th, 2022
The Liberator catching the evening sun

We made it through our first week successfully! Most of the week was just doing our check-in process, including meeting (separately) with the Ambassador and Acting Deputy Chief of Mission. John had his first country team meeting on Tuesday – I went to be introduced (I’ll be in charge of the consular section for the next five weeks while my new boss goes on vacation). My boss took me to a coffee shop to meet contacts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs one morning – there’s already a lot going on I need to get up speed on.

John and I are staying in a temporary apartment – it’s OK but small and pretty bare bones. We annexed the studio apartment next door so we would have two bathrooms and space for both of us to dress for work. John and I ate in the cafeteria every day – they have a pretty good menu including some nice salads. Everyone seems nice so far – the consular section is about 50 people, which is much, much bigger than Monrovia. It will take some time to learn everyone’s names, for sure! Unlike Monrovia, the embassy here is old and we outgrew it probably decades ago. I have an office of sorts – they erected a glass enclosure around my desk, chairs, credenza, safe, etc but the glass doesn’t go to the ceiling so there is really no privacy, and one side of it opens to some weird kind of space above the radiators. That said, I’m happy to have more than a cubicle! We walked to work the first couple of days, but John dropped something really heavy on his foot and is in quite a bit of pain when he walks, so we switched over to taxis to get back and forth (it’s about a 20-minute walk from our temporary apartment).

My boss took us to his house Friday night – a lovely house with a yard and small pool – then we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner with his wife. They are both very nice, and we enjoyed seeing a completely new part of town. Families often live in the suburbs near the school, and while the houses and neighborhoods are nice, it’s quite the commute with a lot of traffic – so I’m very happy we’re downtown.

I explored some on my own this weekend – got a manicure, went to a couple of different grocery stores, etc. This morning I walked to the embassy and worked out in the gym. I hate getting out of my gym routine, and am still trying to figure out what to do while we’re in the temporary apartment. The weather is pretty chilly, especially in the mornings. It’s been kind of overcast and damp, too, but today was nice and sunny.

I also got some reading done – I finished “All that Remains,” a book by Sue Black about her work as a forensic anthropologist (with a lot about death, of course) and am now reading “Wordslut” by Amanda Montell.

Here are some photos from home leave taken at The Momentary contemporary art museum and Crystal Bridges in Fayetteville.

Howard Finster
The Frank Lloyd Wright House at Crystal Bridges
The oak hydrangeas at Crystal Bridges were beautiful
Just a bike outside The Momentary

Buenos Aires!

Monday, July 11th, 2022

We arrived safely in Buenos Aires this morning after flying from Little Rock via Atlanta. The trip went smoothly and Flavia did well on the long flight (10 hours from ATL) – we had a nail biter on Friday trying to get her travel papers from the vet in Hot Springs, but they finally arrived via email around 5:30 PM – I spent the day worrying if they would arrive in time which was not fun, but all’s well that end’s well. Chuck took me to lunch at a new-to-me Mexican place which got my mind off of it for a while, at least, and it was great to see him once more before I left.

We went to see fireworks with our friend Rick last Sunday night and got ensnarled in the thick of a traffic jam, but we had a bird’s eye view of the fun. He left Monday morning after breakfast; we spent that afternoon with David and Alison and Peewee, along with Alison’s sisters and brothers-in-law who we had not previously met. It was lots of fun and we had yummy hot dogs — and boy was it hot, too!

The rest of the week went by in a flash – the movers came to pack out an air shipment, I went to Little Rock for a haircut and had several other appointments for “self-care.”

We had a farewell dinner with David and Alison Friday night and enjoyed good margaritas and taco salads – and before we knew it, we were on a plane to our new home!

Flavia in her travel carrier

Old friends are the best

Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

I was happy to spend time with old friends this week, starting with brunch at the Best Motel for Chuck’s birthday – great to have time to chat and catch up with him. Monday, Ann came to the condo and we literally talked non-stop from lunch to 8:00 PM – just wonderful! John also showed her how to roast coffee:

Roasting coffee

Tuesday I met Jackie and Sonya at the Ukrainian crepes place (yummy), then caught up with my high school friend Kelly at Trejo’s on the Lake – we hadn’t talked basically since high school! Wednesday Mary came for dinner and to spend the night; we had a wonderful time with her. Friday I went to lunch with Kathleen, the deputy director at the Arkansas Passport Center, one of the few Department of State civil servants in Hot Springs.

The week was topped off by a visit from our good friend Rick who we worked with in Islamabad – he drove up from Corpus to spend the 4th with us. We yakked on the balcony all day yesterday, then hit downtown today to see the sights.

On Bathhouse Row
Gymnasium at the Fordyce
Wooden dumbbells at the gym

The fabulous PeeWee dropped off homemade bread and other goodies for us to enjoy yesterday – thank you, PeeWee!