Category Archives: Belgium

Yeah, so about those updates…

I’ve been lousy about updating.  And, I can’t promise that I’ll be much better in the future.  But, a lot has happened over the last year and a bit, so I’ll at least do a quick run-down of some of the highlights.

  • Spent seven weeks in Berlin as part of a really cool program organized by the German Foreign Office for “young” diplomats.
  • Traveled to Istanbul, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Luxembourg City, Madrid, and Split for fun.
  • Traveled to Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, and Munich for work.
  • Covered for my boss for three months while she was out on maternity leave.
    • Also covered for two of our locally engaged staff who were out for significant parts of that time.
  • Got promoted (finally).
  • Visited my host families in Belgium.
  • Worked my first Secretary of State visit.
  • Worked the Vice President’s first trip overseas as VP.
  • Worked a ridiculous number of other visits.
  • Wrote some cables.
  • Went home to Texas twice.

Looking forward, I have a couple of trips planned in the next couple of months and some thoughts about some other travel goals for my last year or so here.  My boss will rotate back to DC and her successor will arrive this summer.  I’ll bid on my next assignment this fall.  And, I’m sure plenty of other stuff will pop up.

If the motivation strikes, I may write up some of what’s happened over the last year in more detail, but sadly can’t guarantee I’ll get around to it.  But I’ll at least try not to wait another year to update this thing. 😛

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Filed under Amsterdam, Belgium, Berlin, Bidding, Bucharest, Croatia, Family, Frankfurt, Germany, Hamburg, Holidays, Home, Istanbul, Luxembourg, Luxembourg City, Madrid, Munich, Pictures, Romania, Spain, Split, Stuttgart, Texas, Texpat, The Netherlands, Travel, Turkey, Vacation

Here and there

Well, true to form, I’ve been bad about updating my blog.  The last three months have been pretty busy and I’ve had a chance to do some traveling, too.  And, I had my first visitors!

October continued to be quite busy with official U.S. government visitors, primarily from DC, but also from Berlin.  In November, the consulate’s Marine Security Guards held their annual ball and I went to Brussels, Belgium for training.   December was a bit slower, as both U.S. and German contacts were on vacation for much of the time.

Christmas was really, really nice.  My mom came to visit for about 10 days and we made it to three different Christmas markets, did some sightseeing in and around Frankfurt, and also visited Munich for a couple of days.  My aunt also came for a couple of days.

And, on New Years’ weekend, a friend of mine from Ciudad Juarez, who is now posted in Berlin, came to visit and we did some sightseeing in and around Frankfurt.

So, it’s been a busy few months and I’m still very much enjoying my tour here in Frankfurt.

Without further ado, here are some pictures from the last couple of months.

Munich's Christmas Market

Munich’s Christmas Market

 

Frankfurt's Christmas Market

Frankfurt’s Christmas Market

 

Brussels City Hall

Brussels City Hall

 

USMC Birthday Ball

USMC Birthday Ball

 

Downtown Frankfurt at Night

Downtown Frankfurt at Night

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Filed under Belgium, Berlin, Brussels, Christmas, Ciudad Juarez, Family, Frankfurt, Friends, Germany, Holidays, Mexico, Moving, Munich, Pictures, Thanksgiving, Winter

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

Ok, ok, so there aren’t any rumors of my demise (that I know of) but I obviously haven’t posted here in more than two months.  So, the 3 of you who read this thing might have been worried that I’d met my demise….or not.

In the last two months, I’ve been busy with getting settled in to life in Frankfurt, learning the ropes of the consulate and my job, and a couple of quick trips.

Frankfurt’s a great place to live and settling in has gone fairly smoothly.  My HHE, UAB, and car and all arrived without any apparent damage.  I say apparent, because I still haven’t fully unpacked my HHE, even though I’ve had it for more than a month now.  But, I’m making progress.  That counts for something, right?  😉  I’m through most of the hoops and paperwork for things like my diplomatic ID, car registration, internet set up, etc.  There are couple of things I’m still waiting on, but most of the paperwork has at least been submitted.

Work has been busy.  Even though the consulate here in Frankfurt has more than 1,000 people working in it, I’m working in combined Pol/Econ section that’s much smaller than any section I’ve worked in before.  That has a number of advantages, in that I’m getting experience in a lot of new areas, but also means that the pace of work is generally a bit more hectic and I’m also having to learn a lot of new things.  But, all in all, it’s going pretty well.  My boss and coworkers are great, which can obviously make or break a tour.

I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of trips, so far too.  I’ve gone to Stuttgart for work, to Mainz and Wiesbaden with my aunt who was in town for work, to Belgium to visit one of my host families from when I was an exchange student, and I just got back from spending Labor Day weekend in Paris visiting a friend from Ottawa.

So, I’ve been busy with getting settled in and taking advantage of some of the travel opportunities around, now that State has finally let me get on a plane and go overseas, not just over rivers. 😉

Hope all is well in the blogosphere!

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Filed under Belgium, Canada, Family, France, Frankfurt, Friends, Germany, Moving, Ottawa, Paris, Stuttgart, Transfer, Unpacking

Belgium!

I know that I haven’t updated for about 3 weeks now, but I have a good reason for once.  I just got back from a super-fun, 10-day trip to Belgium!  Once upon a time, I was an exchange student to the good country of Belgium, where I had an amazing year and met a lot of wonderful people.  I’ve gone back to Belgium several times to visit them and it had been a couple of years since I’d last been back, so I decided it was time for another trip.

So, after work on Friday, I went over to El Paso and stayed at a hotel near the airport since I had a super early flight and didn’t want to risk missing it or having any issues on my way from Juarez to El Paso.  Last time I had an early flight, I did not stay over in El Paso and met some lovely federal police officers at a checkpoint on a deserted street in the dark then finally made it to the border only to find no one at the booth and to have to wait awhile before someone realized I was there and finally came over. Since I didn’t think I could handle so much fun again, it just made sense to stay in a hotel.

Saturday morning, I got up on time, checked out of the hotel, made my way to the airport and got checked in and through security with no problems.  I had a 5-hour layover on the way over, then got on the airplane, we started to taxi to takeoff only to find that one of the planes behind us saw that our plane had a flat tire! Of course, this had to be checked out, two tires had to be changed, and 3 hours later, we were finally on our way.

Other than the delay, the flight to Brussels was fine and I finally arrived, exhausted but thrilled to be back in Belgium!  One of my host families met me at the airport and we proceeded to drive back to their home. After spending two years in the desert, and not getting out of the area in four months, I was dazzled by how absolutely green everything was!  Even though it was still winter and not everything had its leaves/flowers/etc, it was so much greener than life here in Ciudad Juarez that it was dazzling.

While I was there, I saw my other set of host parents, all of my host siblings and their children, members of the organization that facilitated my exchange, and generally had a great time catching up with people, seeing people I hadn’t seen for awhile, and trying to remember my Dutch.

I also went shopping several times and enjoyed just being able to walk around in (mostly) nice weather without worrying about my safety, shopping in a pedestrian-friendly area, and so on.  The first time I took the bus back to my host family’s house from shopping, I accidentally got off the bus too early and I decided to enjoy just sitting outside in nice weather and waiting an hour for the next bus rather than trying to walk back or find another way to their house.

It was also really nice to have a nice break from work and not worry about anything work-related or even have to talk about work that much.  In hardship postings, the line between work and personal life gets really blurry since you end up spending a lot of your free time with coworkers and while my coworkers are pretty awesome, it’s nice to have a break from them, socialize with other people, and not spend the whole time talking about work.

The trip back went really smoothly.  I didn’t have any delays on the way back, made it through customs in plenty of time to make my connecting flight, and had a smooth trip back to my house in Mexico. So, overall it was an amazing trip and I’m really glad that I got to go back to Belgium, see wonderful people that I’ve missed a lot, and really relax.

I now only have a little over a month left in Mexico.  My packout is in a couple of weeks and then I’ll need to do some final cleaning, wrap up a few work projects, and then I’ll be on my way to home leave!  Hard to believe it, but the end is almost in sight. 🙂

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Filed under Belgium, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Travel, Vacation