We made it!

Thirty-six hours after we left the apartment in Monrovia, we arrived at the lake in Hot Springs Sunday evening! It was a good trip – Flavia did fine, we made all of our connections, and our luggage arrived – hip hip hooray! We are thrilled to be home with a very tough tour behind us. We made some good friends there, though, and learned a heck of a lot.

Saying goodbye was hard! I had lunch with my CDC colleague Denise on Sunday, then we had sundowners on the roof with other co-workers Theresa and Ginger. Monday night we finally had dinner with Steve K from INL after two years of saying we needed to get together – what a nice guy. Tuesday night, Matthew and I had dinner with contacts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, two ladies I like very much.

Saying goodbye to our coworkers — especially local staff — was particularly hard. With fellow officers, you’re likely to cross paths again, but with local staff, you will probably never see them again. John’s staff threw him a huge surprise party Friday morning in the atrium. They had the Ambassador call him in for a “meeting” with the DCM, then they walked him downstairs where probably 200 of his staff and other co-workers were waiting. They made signs, not only to say they would miss him, but also some of his favorite sayings he used in the office. Then the music started: “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” but with re-written lyrics that related to his work. It was hysterical and so very touching that they had gone to those lengths to let him know how much they admired him and enjoyed working with them (he has a staff of 250). From gardeners to accountants, they came out in force to say goodbye. The Ambassador also made remarks – it was all lovely!

My staff and I said our goodbyes on a much smaller scale and it was exactly what I wanted. We had a time to reflect on our year — and I wasn’t the only one who cried. I hired all but one of the seven, and this was the first time they’ve seen the officer rotation.

We also did some fun “photo shoots” with our IT guy Derek as photographer. We wanted a photo with the “Crippen Children” to put in the plaque they gave us, and I wanted a group shot with the consular staff. Here are the ones with the Crippen Children:

Back row: Norah, Kabineh, Alpha, Nico, Trypheana, James. Front: Anita and the fabulous Sedia

And my great consular team:

Back row: Alpha, Abel, Luc, Anita, Trypheana, Nico Front row: Mike, James, Kabineh, Matthew

A silly one

And our last evening in Monrovia:

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