Road trip!

My class took a road trip this week. We flew from Washington to Boston, then drove up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to visit two facilities up there. On Thursday, we went to the National Passport Center – a huge operation. They basically process all of the passport applications that are sent in through the post offices around the country. It’s pretty amazing! I got to see an old friend, Charlie, who was our boss when John and I worked on the passport task force back in 2007.

Friday, we toured the National Visa Center – an even bigger operation. They process and store all of the immigrant visa petitions. All of them. It’s amazing – huge file rooms (I was really interested to see the file rooms devoted to Ciudad Juarez, my first post!).

Then we headed back to Boston, where we met with several Customs and Border Patrol officers at Logan Airport – great to trade information and ask them questions about how our visa work interfaces with their work at the border.

The class I’m taking is interesting, and is helping to prepare me for my new job in Pakistan. We spent some time at Main State last week, learning more about the folks we’ll be interacting with from the field. I’ve met a lot of people face-to-face who I have been emailing with for years, which is a lot of fun!

Last Sunday, I watched the Men’s Wimbledon Finals in the morning, then Metro’d over to Clarendon to do some shopping. Found Chris Bojalian’s new book, and got a book for the plane.

Cathy and I sure have been having fun, too. Last Tuesday, we had a happy hour at Liberty Tavern in Clarendon with some folks from our A-100 class. We’ve also gone out to dinner several times (John is encouraging me to enjoy good wine and steaks while I can!).

I picked up a rental car when I flew back to DC Friday night – Saturday morning I had to take Flavia to the vet to get her international health certificate. She has a great vet (Seven Corners) who is very familiar with transporting animals around the world. Getting Flavie ready to go is my biggest source of stress – plane reservations and needed documents make me crazy. It’s often difficult to get information, and you remain worried until the time you land at your destination. Seven Corners makes it somewhat easier, at least in terms of getting your papers together. Then you have to FedEx them to the USDA Vet Services office in Richmond to get everything stamped and made official. One thing that makes it so stressful is that you have to do everything with 10 days of leaving. So after the vet appointment, I put all of the originals in a FedEx envelope so they will arrive first thing Monday morning for the official stamps…then you just hold your breath until they return the packet to you.

In the early afternoon, I drove up to Gaithersburg, Maryland, to get a final Ouidad-certified haircut. Mike in Hot Springs does a great job on my hair, but I just needed one last trim before I leave – still trying to work out the bad cut I got in Israel last fall! (I’ve decided this week that the two hardest things about my job are transporting the cat and tending to curly hair in a foreign country!)

Speaking of going to the vet, click here for a short video of Henri, the French cat, and his thoughts on life and going to the vet.

So now I am truly in the countdown! A week from today, I’ll be off to Pakistan, inshallah!

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