Tuesday, June 17, 2014

And finally something is for certain!

Well, well, well. June 17 finally came: Flag Day! (No, silly, not the holiday—the day when Foreign Service Officers receive their assignments!)

I am pleased to announce that Jeff Collett has been assigned to serve as a Foreign Service Specialist—Facility Manager at the consulate in Ciudad Juárez, México.

We don't have our pack out date yet, but based on the training schedule, we are expecting to leave sometime in the beginning or middle of January. We will live there for two years.

I think it is appropriate to post this 2005 photo of me in a Mexico shirt with my roommate Diana.

Here is another good picture. Jeff and I stopped in Mexico during our honeymoon in 2006. It was Jeff's first time out of the country, and I remember him saying how much he loved being in Mexico, the food, the people, and speaking Spanish. He casually said that he wouldn't mind living there someday. Well, someday has arrived!

Some of you may be worried about us going to Juárez, because you remember the stories that have been in the media, but the city is gradually getting safer and safer. It is no longer the murder capital of the world; it has fallen to number 37 on the list of most violent cities in the world. And the Foreign Service takes a lot of precautions to keep us safe, and Mexicans (for the most part) like Americans (in general).

We do not feel unsafe. We are excited! I am relieved to finally have something set in stone. I can try to push my Portuguese back in my brain and start focusing on Spanish. We can figure out what school Jill will go to. (There is no American or international school there, but there are some good private bilingual schools.) We can get ready to move forward instead of waiting, waiting, waiting.

I am looking forward to learning how to cook tamales. And I know it is a Mexico City speciality, but maybe someone there can teach me how to cook pambazos, too. Delicious. If Jeff is really lucky, I may learn how to make that soup he likes. I can't even remember its name right now! And maybe I will learn the secret to homemade tortillas!

And maybe my Spanish will finally get better, so I no longer have to almost always speak in first person present tense. ;)

We are looking forward to immersing ourselves in the culture of our post country!

Friday, June 13, 2014

So close!

I feel like my life has been full of waiting with little ability to plan ever since we joined this ride of working for the government instead of in the private sector. And I really love to plan things, so this has been hard for me. I really like having everything all laid out, every detail described, and every minute scheduled on my calendar. I even go back and put past events on my calendar that weren't planned, just so they are there and my life is still laid out neatly in daily columns.

But ever since Jeff started contracting with OBO, it has all been unknowns, ifs, and maybes. Maybe he'll be in Germany. Maybe he'll be in Costa Rica. Maybe he'll be in Zambia. Maybe it will be two weeks. Maybe it will be five days. Maybe it will be three weeks. Maybe we'll be in Brazil three months. Maybe eight months. Maybe five months. Maybe the contract will be signed. Maybe this office will send the paperwork on. Maybe this. Maybe that.

Nothing planned in advance!

It has been a little stressful (only a little) on me to feel like I am living at the whim of another who doesn't even know me or seem to care about how far in advance I can plan.

But no more! Jeffrey has one week left of orientation for the Foreign Service. (Let me interject—orientation has been surprisingly full. They have been cramming Jeffrey so full of information that he is going to bed early every night. They even schedule seminars during lunch break. I am glad for all of the information, because going overseas and living this lifestyle is definitely complicated, but wow. I didn't realize there would be so much. It seems like there is a department for everything. (And sometimes it seems like there is more than one department for the same thing.))

Anyway, he has one week left, and then he begins training, which will last about twenty-six weeks.

And soon—soon!—I will be able to start planning everything out as much as I want.

On Tuesday, June 17, we will be told where we have been assigned. It will be one of these eight places.

  • Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
  • Asunción, Paraguay
  • Manama, Bahrain
  • Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
  • Mbabane, Swaziland
  • Paramaribo, Suriname
  • Yaoundé, Cameroon
  • Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Anywhere-in-the-whole-world has been narrowed down to those eight cities, and in a few short days, I will know where I will live for the next two years. I will know when I am moving. I will know what language I need to start learning. I will figure out what school Jill will go to, what shots we need, what belongings we are going to take. There are going to be lots of things to plan, and I am so excited!!

If you are curious, this is a link to an article that explains simply what the Foreign Service of the State Department and USAID do.

And just in case I've never mentioned it, my husband is now a Foreign Service Specialist in Facility Management, so he will manage the embassy/consulate and its grounds, as well as housing.

We have been going on lots of "adventures" now that the weather is nice. We recently went to Great Falls National Park. The Potomac River was very swollen due to recent rainfall. It made the rapids look pretty impressive. I definitely wouldn't want to raft them. Everything is so beautiful and green right now from all the rain—well, except for the river. The rain made the river brown.

And not to be left out, here is a picture of Alice in her swimming gear. So cute.