Settling in a bit

December 22nd, 2019

Ocean view from our apartment

The week was crazy busy. I went to the gym at the embassy last Sunday then worked the afternoon. There’s so much to be done and it’s pretty overwhelming, but I have good officers in the section which makes things easier.

Our neighbor Sujoya had us downstairs to her apartment for drinks last Sunday evening, along with a co-worker Selim. We had a good time yakking and ended up having pizza delivered. She also came up Friday night to visit, and she’s loaning us her car for a couple of weeks – so nice of her.

We took the car to the grocery store yesterday. It’s nearby and was my first time behind the wheel here. It was fine, but there are lots of potholes, little things like tuk-tuks they call kay-kays, and no traffic signs or signals.

We attended the Ambassador’s annual holiday tea Tuesday morning where we met a lot of Liberian officials – John met the President, a former soccer star. The residence is right on the ocean with a beautiful view.

We went to the gym on the OEC for the first time yesterday morning. I’ve neglected my physical therapy and am dismayed at my walking (very limpy) so I am trying to get back to my good habits now that we’re a bit more settled.

We arrived!

December 15th, 2019

We left DC last Sunday and arrived in Monrovia via Brussels Monday night. We’re five hours ahead of DC; it was almost 30 hours door to door. Little Flavia was an excellent traveler and seems to have settled in fine (she’s on my lap as I type).

Our apartment is pretty nice and has a beautiful view of the ocean. We are walking distance to work, although this week we took motor pool back and forth. It’s very hot and humid, and although I think it’s safe to walk, I want to get more comfortable before I do it as there are a lot of people out on the street, often just hanging out or selling food or vegetables.

Our social sponsors Stephanie and Justin took us to a nice sushi dinner at the Mamba Point Hotel down the street, and Thursday night the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM, our new boss) had us over for dinner.

Yesterday Stephanie and Justin took us on a windshield tour of the city, and we stopped at four grocery stores along the way so we could see what’s available. I’m pleasantly surprised at the selection and prices for the most part.

Last night we went to a progressive dinner on the nearby Old Embassy Compound (OEC) where many embassy people live, including the ambassador and DCM. The dinner was a good opportunity to meet new people, and we had a lot of fun.

Work has been chaotic but I have a good group of hard-working officers and family members (EFMs). We have a few challenges at the moment, but we’re hanging in there.

I haven’t taken any photos yet, but hope to soon. The city has the potential to be beautiful, given its wonderful location along the ocean, but the effects of the 13-year civil war are visible everywhere with abject poverty all around. Most of the entrepreneurs in town are Lebanese, which is interesting. Currently the country is undergoing challenges with liquidity, and some civil workers haven’t been paid. Despite the challenges, Liberians are very pro-American and the morale at the embassy is very good, so we are happy!

 

 

Today’s the day!

December 8th, 2019

Chairs waiting to go to storage

The packers and movers descended on us Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Tuesday was a long day, with them here until 10 PM. It was a stressful time – the movers were extremely disorganized and the day felt even more chaotic than a normal moving day. John and I just hope that we see our things unbroken on the other side! We also bid farewell to our cars on Friday; mine is going to Liberia and John’s will go into storage since it’s past the 10-year-old limit for import

And away she goes!

We kept Flavia and our suitcases in the otherwise-empty apartment, and are sleeping in a guest room in our building. She’s ready to go – we went to the vet this week to get her paperwork in order. I hate putting her through such a long and stressful travel day, but there’s no way around it.

I went to the office on Thursday to do my check-out and deal with some things for my soon-to-be office, and walked over to Main State to meet with the West Africa team and some others.

We did have some good times this week! John and I went to Aperto’s Thursday night after work so I could have their wonderful seafood stew one last time. I had lunch with my colleague Chris on Friday – we’ve enjoyed working closely together this past year. We laughed with Tammy and Scott over pizza in Georgetown Friday night.

Street selfie in Georgetown with Tammy and Scott

Yesterday morning, my step-brother Chris and his lovely wife Lisa happened to be in DC and met us for coffee – it was great to catch up with them and get to know each other better.

Last night, we had a wonderful farewell dinner with our college friend Neil and his amazing wife Emma – they have been so gracious to us while we’ve been in the area, hosting us for Christmases and Fourth of Julys.

At Ris with Emma and Neil

We’ve really enjoyed living in DC, and especially enjoyed our wonderful Columbia Residences apartment – the staff here have been so nice to us, as well as our wonderful housekeeper Rocio. We’ve been very lucky to have landed here and will be sad to leave it behind – maybe we’ll be back someday!

 

Final days in DC

December 1st, 2019

Rainbow colors at the Kennedy Center

We’re in our final week in DC – I can’t believe we’re actually heading to Monrovia. I worked this week, and went to the office on Tuesday for more consultations and to chat with my RCO successor.

I spent Thanksgiving day preparing closets and cabinets for packout, then we headed over to Roslyn to meet my high school friends James and Chuck G for a Thanksgiving meal, along with Chuck’s delightful wife Susan. We enjoyed the view and had a great time talking and laughing.

With Susan and Chuck

Yesterday I drove up to Maryland to get a good haircut before I go, and stopped at Walmart on the way home for a few more consumable items.

We’re definitely in the “OMG” stage that precedes a move!

Roger the Cat visiting the salon

PT Graduation!

November 24th, 2019

Love that Avisha!

After almost six months of physical therapy, I had my last session on Thursday! I got pretty teary telling everyone goodbye – what a great bunch of folks who literally helped me get back on my feet! I got especially attached to Avisha – what a doll. I also got to know and like a fellow patient, a  young guy going to university here who had a bad wreck. It’s been such a long, hard road back to walking but I made it thanks to so many people who helped me along the way.

We had two fun social events this week: Friday night, John’s co-workers Thomas and Adrian came over for a game of Catan and chili, and brought their girlfriends. We had a big time. Saturday, Juan and Gloria invited us and a few other Juarez folks out to Manassas for paella. We loved seeing them, along with Laura, Roger, Dee, Graham, Jaime and Arachelli! What a treat to be around such smart and interesting folks, and I was especially glad we got to see them before we head to Africa.

Love my Juarez folks!

With Thomas and his girlfriend, and Adrian

I had consultations at the Consular Affairs building on Monday – it felt so odd to be back in the building for the first time in six months. (Before heading to a new post, you “consult” with different folks about the work you’ll encounter there.) It was fun to see people again, and I had a fun catch-up with my former boss Angela. The rest of the week I was on annual leave, busy going though closets and separating things into piles – hard work!

Shout-out to my blog reader Katie!