Mewy Christmas from Catnada!
Category Archives: Pictures
Earlier today, I finally accepted a handshake to go back to the Washington, DC area for the Foreign Service Institute’s Economic Studies course. It’s six months of economics training followed by either language training for an onward assignment or a six month stint in an economic job at the Department of State or another economic department like Commerce or USTR, a think tank, or a private company.
It was a nervewracking couple of weeks waiting for something to work out and by my last tally, I sent more than 75 e-mails inquiring about positions that seemed to be open in the bidding system, but that turned out to be spoken for, just not yet registered in the system. I was not feeling excited about many of the options left, until I had a brainwave and remembered the FSI Econ course. I’m super excited to get it as an onward assignment, since I don’t have an extensive economics background and could get a lot out of the course.
All’s well that ends well. 🙂
Last weekend, I went to Mont Tremblant and met up with a friend who’s now posted in Montreal. It was Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, so the resort area was really packed, but we had some fun wandering around a couple of the lakes in the area, shopping, etc.
Fall is in full swing in this part of Canada and the foliage was just beautiful. The drive up there from Ottawa was mostly two lane roads through cute little towns, and despite my GPS not being able to find the road I was driving on (and it was not a new road!), the drive up there and back was very enjoyable. I wish I could have taken some pictures while I was driving, but that would have been a bad idea, especially given my recent luck with raccoons. 😉 (I got my car fixed by the way, but that’s another whole story).
The most exciting thing of the weekend had to be finding a Mexican restaurant that actually tasted like Mexican food from Mexico. I’ve been to a few Mexican restaurants in Ottawa and they’re not bad, but just don’t taste at all like the food I was used to in Mexico or the Tex-Mex food that I know from home. This place, however, was amazing and tasted like the real thing I remember from my time in Ciudad Juarez.
I didn’t take a picture of the delicious Mexican food, but without further ado, here are a few pics from the weekend.
I haven’t been great about updating this, but life gets in the way. I’ve been settling in here in Ottawa and things are going well. On the personal front, I’ve found an apartment, gotten my household effects from Mexico, found some furniture, and so on. I’ve still got a lot of unpacking to do, but it’s easier to unpack your clothes when you have a dresser to unpack them in to.
On the work front, I’m getting a little more used to my work, am learning about the topics I’m covering, and learning how the embassy works. I worked with a Canadian organization and within the embassy to plan and host an event which, while stressful, was a really good experience and helped me learn a lot more about which office does what, what the embassy can and cannot do, etc. So, slowly but surely getting my feet under me.
And now, some more pictures!
Here are a few pics I’ve taken while Ottawandering around…
The first time I’ve seen Dr Pepper that speaks French.
The milk comes in bags, though I did find 2L cartons.
The Rideau Canal – during winter, it freezes over and becomes a gigantic ice skating rink.
The Byward Market area
More Byward Market
More Byward Market
The Rideau Canal – this time looking across the Ottawa River to Gatineau, Quebec
For about two months during the summer, there’s a light show called Mosaika on Parliament Hill every night. The show depicts Canadian history and culture. It’s really neat and the rest of the pictures are all from that show.
This weekend, I went to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a ton of fun. I didn’t know much about hot air balloons and still don’t, but it was really neat to see soooo many balloons and to be able to walk around them as they set-up and launched. There were balloons and balloon crews that traveled from all over the world to participate. There were also some fun fair things, like souvenir shops and fair food, and it was just nice to be able to sit outside in a big park and enjoy the awesome weather and the park, since I don’t get to do that very often. So, I highly recommend the Balloon Fiesta if you ever get the chance to go.
Here are a few pictures from the Balloon Fiesta.
This weekend was nice and relaxing. On Saturday, the Consulate’s Employee Recreation Association held a really nice outing at a restaurant outside of El Paso that’s actually located on a working ranch with lots of animals and wildlife that you can see and feed. It was really nice to spend some time out with my coworkers and their families, and it was so nice to do it in an environment where we felt safe and could just relax and enjoy the good food and good company.
Today was a pretty lazy day around the house. It was awfully windy here this weekend and, according to the news here, we had 70 mph winds in the area. Around here, strong winds like that cause dust storms, so it seemed like a good day to just stay in the house. The diplocat and I both took advantage of the opportunity for an afternoon nap.
Other than that, not much news. I tend to have low key weekends since I’m usually pretty drained by the work week. I did spend some time reviewing my car insurance stuff since it’s time to renew my policy for Mexico and making sure that it provides enough coverage for when I go in to the US, but the insurance/phone/customer service issues I’ve encountered here will take up another post in the future.
As some of you know, I adopted a cat last summer. She’s a plain, brown tabby who is really sweet and also very entertaining. She pounces on feet (or anything that moves) and generally tears around the house like crazy. The floors are all tile and wood laminate, so she occasionally slides and crashes in to things while running around the house or chasing after something. She may also have some distant canine relatives since she likes to play fetch. She likes to bat around bottle caps, twisties, toys, and milk jug rings, and she will bring them to me to throw and then chase after them and bat them around, then she brings them back to me to throw again. It’s highly entertaining. 🙂 Since I spend a lot of time at home here, she plays a big part in my life and will likely make appearances in future entries.
Due to the violence here, there are a lot of police in CDJ. We have municipal police, federal police, and military police and they all have big pickup trucks that usually carry 2-4 policemen or soldiers inside and 2-5 policemen or soldiers in the bed of the truck. Sometimes, individual trucks are patrolling but sometimes you see them in groups of two or three. Sometimes, when something’s going down, you see a bunch of them racing past you and you get out of the way as soon as you can.
Here are a few pictures I found around the interwebs of the federal police trucks to show you what I’m talking about.
As you can see, they are also armed a bit differently than the average policeman in the US. I’m not a weapons expert, nor do I play one on TV, but from my observations it looks like they usually carry machine guns or assault rifles as they patrol the city.
So, now that I’ve explained the police situation here, one of my coworkers hosted a Super Bowl party yesterday and as I was driving from my house to hers, I stopped at a red light and there were two Policia Federal trucks in the lane to my left. The rear truck was about even with my car and the other one was a little bit in front of me while we were stopped at the light, and when the light turned green one truck pulled in to my lane in front of me and one pulled in behind me. So, there I was with 4 to 6 guys with machine guns in the truck in front of me and 4 to 6 guys with machine guns in the truck behind me. I decided that that was not really where I wanted to be, and moved left into the lane that the police trucks had been in, they proceeded to pull over the SUV that had been stopped in front of me at the light, and I went on my merry way to the Super Bowl party.
That was the first time I’d been sandwiched between two of the trucks, but I have stopped behind them or next to them at lights before. When I first got here, being stopped or driving next to them made me extremely nervous and I was concerned that I was one speed bump or pothole away from a gun shot to my car or me. However, probably the thing that surprised me the most about the whole thing that happened on the way to the Super Bowl party was my reaction. If this had happened when I first got here, I probably would have freaked out and probably would have thought something along the lines of “OMGWTF! What the hell are these guys doing!?! I’m going to die! Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.” However, yesterday, I just felt annoyed and inconvenienced more than anything since I was going to have to make a right turn soon and they were in the way. Experiences like these to show me just how much my life has changed since I got here, just how different “normal” is now, and how, despite the violence, there are still very normal things going on, like the police pulling cars over.