Monthly Archives: April 2013

Amor por Juarez

The senseless violence that continues to plague Ciudad Juarez touched the U.S. Consulate General community last weekend.  Several gunmen barged in to a child’s birthday party and killed three men, including one of the consulate’s locally hired staff, who worked in the maintenance section.  To the best of my knowledge, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, celebrating the birthday of one of his neighbor’s children and tried to calm the gunmen down to avoid any danger.  Instead, the gunmen shot and killed him in front of his wife, children, and other party guests.

What happened to this man, whose only crime was to attend a neighborhood birthday party, is entirely too common in Juarez.  Despite all the violence in Juarez, however, I was always impressed by how many Juarenses loved their town and were working hard to make it a better place, a place where you didn’t have to worry about this kind of violence.  I wish them all the success in the world, because the violence continues to take innocent people from this world and to hurt those left behind.  Juarenses deserve better, they deserve a life without the constant fear and grief that the violence inflicts on the city.

So please keep his wife, children, friends, the Consulate community, and those working to make Juarez a better place in your thoughts and prayers.  Sending lots of love and strength down to Juarez.  Maybe it will make a difference.  Certainly can’t hurt.

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Sacrifice

Happy Happy!

Sooooo, as you might have guessed from the title, this is a happy entry!  I just got back from a great long weekend in the DC-area.  Now, why was I there?  So see my excellent friends L & S get married!  L is a Foreign Service Officer and was posted in Ciudad Juarez with me and she met S while living there and one thing led to another and now they’ve gotten hitched before heading off to Morocco for L’s second post.

Since the wedding was actually about an hour outside of DC and I wanted to do a bunch of shopping while I was down there, including getting some liquids, I decided to drive instead of fly.  It’s about 10 hours of driving to get from Ottawa to DC, which is doable in one day.  However, Mother Nature decided to make the drive down a bit of a challenge.  First, Ottawa was forecast to get 5-8 inches of snow on Friday, the day I left.  So, I left at 0-dark-thirty to try to avoid it.  I succeeded in avoiding the snow, but managed to drive through about an hour of freezing rain.  By the time I crossed the border in to New York, my car was covered in ice.  Not only was it covered in ice, but when I stopped to get gas in the car there, the gas nozzle was covered in ice.  Have I mentioned that this is in APRIL?  Yes?  Ok, then.

After Ogdensburg, it changed to regular rain and rained on my for another 3-4 hours.  Then it cleared up for a bit, but I wasn’t in the clear yet.  In Pennsylvania, I ran in to bad fog, where I could only see about 100-200 feet in front of me.  That obviously slowed me down a bit.

Finally, it cleared up and I made the rest of the drive to Maryland.  When I finally got to the hotel, I stepped outside and just basked in the glorious 78F sunshine for a few minutes.  It felt sooooo good to stand outside in the nice, warm sun.

The wedding on Saturday was wonderful!  It was outside at a nice vineyard and the weather was beautiful.  The ceremony really reflected L & S and was super fun.  The reception at the vineyard was also really nice.  The company was especially wonderful.  I saw several other friends from Ciudad Juarez and it was wonderful to be reunited with them for a bit.  My time in Juarez was definitely tough, but I’m really lucky to have come away with some really good friends from my time there and spending time with them made me realize just how much I miss them.  There was much laughing, much fun, and even some dancing.   And, of course, L & S got married. 🙂

On Sunday, I ran a bunch of errands, returning things I’d ordered online, buying new things, and so on.  I got a lot done and then finally checked in to my hotel closer to DC.  I also met up with some of the same and some different Ciudad Juarez friends for a nice dinner.  Again, it was really fun to hang out with them for a few hours before we all had to go our separate ways.  Several of them are wrapping up language training before heading out to their second posts.  One was on R&R from her second post and I’d driven down from Canada.  While we used to see each other every day, we’ll now see each other less and less and will almost certainly never all serve at the same post again.  So, it was nice to be able to get together before everyone heads off to their new posts.

On Monday, I ran more errands, and finally finished stocking up on all the stuff I was after.  Between shopping in Ottawa and in New York, I can find almost everything I want, but there are a few things like Shiner Bock beer* and whatnot that I can’t find.  So, now I have all the peach salsa, pepper jelly, frozen enchiladas, and so on!  Nom, nom, nom.

Finally, I drove home today.  The drive home was much less eventful than the drive down.  It was smooth sailing.  There was some rain, but not too much and it didn’t slow me down too much.  The Diplokitten was happy to see me and all the frozen stuff I got actually fit in my freezer here.

Tomorrow, I go back to work and will have to hit the ground running since this is a busy time.  Also, on top of the busy-ness, I now have to do an Employee Evaluation Report (EER) because I found out last Wednesday evening that I got TENURED!  Tenure in the Foreign Service is sort of like academic tenure.  It’s a decision to keep you around and it means that it’ll be harder to fire you. Mwahahaha! 😉  Kidding.  Still, it’s an important step and nice to have out of the way.

So, that’s been my last week or so.  A very happy one for a lot of reasons. 🙂

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Filed under Canada, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Ottawa, Spring, Travel, Vacation, Washington DC, Weddings, Winter

Curling!

So, I went curling on Saturday and it was super fun!  The embassy Community Liaison Office organized a curling outing for the embassy.  They got instructors to show us the basics and then they turned us loose to actually curl.  I fell down a lot and never actually got the rock all the way down past the hogline to the house (see all the curling jargon I just used!) but it was really fun and I’m glad I got to give it a try.  One more Canadian thing checked off my to-do list!

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Filed under Canada, Curling, Ottawa

Another fallen colleague…

Edit: Her family has made a public statement, so I have added her name.

This afternoon, I discovered an e-mail from Secretary Kerry in my inbox informing us that Foreign Service Officer Anne Smedinghoff was among the six Americans killed in an attack in the Afghanistan’s Zabul province.  Four other Americans were wounded, one critically, according to news reports.

As I’ve said before, the Foreign Service is small and a loss like this reverberates through the Foreign Service community even though many of us did not know Anne.  There are fewer FSOs than military band members according to former Secretary of Defense Gates, and it’s usually only one or two degrees of separation between any two Foreign Service members.

While I never met Anne, she joined the Foreign Service around the same time I did and served alongside friends of mine in her first post and again in Kabul.   So, I have several mutual friends with her and those who knew her spoke very highly of her.  As an entry level officer, she volunteered for service in Afghanistan even after serving her first tour in Caracas, another difficult and dangerous city.  There are not too many entry level jobs in Afghanistan and it’s quite competitive to get one.  For most other second tour posts, you simply submit a list of posts and a few sentences about why you’re bidding on them.  However, the process is more involved for Afghanistan and you need to write an essay and get recommendations from your supervisors and the leadership of your post if you apply to a job there.  So, to secure a second tour in Afghanistan, she must have really wanted the job and been highly regarded by her supervisors and her first post’s leadership.

The Foreign Service and the United States lost a dedicated young lady today.  So, please keep Anne, the others who died or were injured in the attacks, and their friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Kabul, Sacrifice

USA! USA!

I went to the USA vs. Finland game in the Women’s Ice Hockey World Championships today and it was super fun.  Team USA won 4-2 and it was an exciting and interesting game.  I’d never been to a women’s hockey game and have only been to a couple of ice hockey games at all, so I didn’t know much about the rules or anything, but a couple of people explained some of the rules, like icing, slashing, and whatnot.  I also got myself a nifty USA Hockey sweatshirt to have for future hockey endeavors. 🙂

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Filed under Canada, Hockey, Ottawa, Team USA