After about 24 hours of traveling, Flavie and I were greeted at the Islamabad airport by John in the wee hours of Tuesday morning! The trip itself went fine – my friend Mesfin drove us to Dulles Airport Sunday night, and we got on the flight with no drama (they did check Flavie’s papers). After a short layover in Istanbul, we flew on to Islamabad.

Luckily the Embassy sent an expeditor to get me through immigration and customs quickly. The airport was very crowded, especially outside where a crush of men in traditional Pakistani dress were waiting. Even at 4AM, it was hot, hot, hot outside!

I slept most of the day Tuesday, then went to work on Wednesday. The Embassy compound is huge – I haven’t even seen it all yet. Luckily, my office is not far at all from John’s, and it’s next door to the Commissary, which is convenient. The folks in my office seem really nice. I have a month or so overlap with the outgoing NIV chief, which I think I will need to get up to speed on everything. The officers had a nice welcome lunch for me on Thursday.

The Embassy has happy hour at the American Club every Wednesday and Friday, so John and I went on Wednesday (my first day). Friday night, we stopped by for a drink, then went to our A100 friends Jim and Kellee’s for drinks and dinner on their rooftop. Another A100 friend, Rob, was there, along with a few other folks. Their rooftop was very pleasant, and has a gorgeous view of the Margala Hills, as well as a large mosque. The evening call to prayer made the setting seem even more exotic.

On regular work days, we take the shuttle to work – the Embassy runs a huge motorpool of armored vehicles to take us to and from work (and really anywhere else around town we want to go). On Saturday, though, John drove us to work in our new little Toyota – he did a great job navigating on the left side of the road!

The house is very nice – it’s large with high ceilings. We have a beautiful yard that the gardener Mr. Khan lovingly tends to daily – lots of zinnias and roses, plus tons of potted plants in front and on the second floor terrace. The housekeeper Saleem keeps the house three days a week. And we have two guards that rotate duties 24/7 – one or two Embassy guards live in the quarters behind our house. John has done a wonderful job getting the house ready for me.

As nice as the house is, it’s really hard to keep it cool in this heat! Each room has its own air conditioning unit, but unfortunately we can’t cool every room because we are on generator power much of the day (Islamabad struggles mightily with electricity and water shortages – there are rolling blackouts all day, which they call “load shedding”). So, we cool the room we are in and that’s it, which is fine. This morning I woke up at 4AM (still jetlagged) and thought I’d open the windows to let in some cooler air in some of the rooms – wrong! The air outside felt even hotter and more humid than inside. Oh well!

So! So far, so good! Flavie has settled in nicely. John got her a big ol’ cat tree with several levels on it and she loves it. She also loves to lie on the tile floors and on the staircase. She seems to be doing fine. I’m so happy to finally be here!


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