Tag Archives: Ciudad Juarez

FS Blog Roundup: Ciudad Juarez

Next week’s FS Blog Round Up optional talking point is to do a post on some of the pros and cons of your current post.  Since I’m in between posts, I chose to write about my previous post, Ciudad Juarez.  So, without further ado, 5 pros and 5 cons of a posting in Ciudad Juarez.

Pros

1. The people:  The FSOs, the locally hired staff, and even my neighbors in Juarez were really nice.  Juarenses are generally nice, open people and are willing to share a lot about their city.  I also met a lot of people who were doing really good work towards ending the violence and rebuilding the city which gives me hope about the future of Juarez.

2. Mail:  The consulate uses several addresses in El Paso to receive mail, so there are none of those pesky liquid, battery, or other restrictions that you might have with pouch or APO addresses.  There are some size restrictions, but they’re quite reasonable and GSO and the mail room can usually work with you on larger items.  So, order all the laptops, kindles, iPads, and jumbo bottles of liquids you want!  It’s close enough that you could even get your own P.O. box if you wanted to do that.

3. Proximity to the U.S.:  Juarez is right across from El Paso.  That means that you can go grocery shopping at U.S. stores, get U.S. standard medical care, travel home easier than you can from Nowhereistan, etc.

4. Cost of Living:  The cost of living in CDJ is very reasonable.  Groceries are less expensive than in the D.C. area and pretty much any U.S. product is available in Juarez or in El Paso, so no exorbitant costs for U.S. products.

5. Easy pet import: While technically you need a pet health certificate and whatnot to bring your pet in to Mexico, no one ever asked to see any paperwork for my cat any of the times I brought her in to Mexico.

Cons

1. Travel in Mexico is difficult:  Ciudad Juarez is pretty isolated geographically and Mission Mexico has a pretty strict travel policy where all trips have to be cleared ahead of time.  There aren’t too many great or cheap flight options out of Juarez, so travel in Mexico from Juarez is difficult and comparatively expensive to traveling within the United States.

2. Dealing with the border: While it’s nice that Juarez is so close to El Paso, getting back and forth is a hassle.  Imagine going through customs at the airport each time you want to go over to El Paso.  Now, imagine that the lines are much worse during certain times and that you might be waiting over an hour to get through customs, even with the trusted traveler express lane. The regular lanes can take over four hours during the holiday season.  Yeah.

3. Dust: Juarez is in the middle of the desert and it is a constant battle with the dust.  It gets in and on everything and you can dust one day and then it looks like you’ve never dusted the next day.  It’s worse during the dust storms but it’s a battle year round.

4. Visa work:  Some people love visa interviewing, but I am not one of those people.  Visa work in Juarez is high volume and many cases are really difficult. It’s very important work and I did learn a lot, but I’m glad to be done with it.

5. Violence: The violence in Juarez is the 800 pound gorilla in the room in any conversation about Juarez.  It was a tough two years due in large part to the violence.  It was really hard to have any kind of normal existence when you had to decide if it was worth it to go do something after hearing gunshots that were entirely too close for comfort, just hearing about a grisly multiple-murder along the route you need to take, or having seen something very scary on your trip home.

However, I will say that things improved quite a bit my last six months or so at post. I saw a lot more people out and about, the murder rate went down significantly, and it really seemed like the city was starting to come back to life.  So, I’m not sure that people going to Juarez now will have the same experience that I had.

That’s my contribution to the FS Blog Roundup.  I’m looking forward to seeing what other people have to post about their posts.

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, FS Blog Roundup, Mexico

Bidding on the brain…and paperwork

More news about the bid list!  The bidding instructions and the list will be coming very soon and I’m both excited and a bit terrified.  I’ve thought a lot about what types of things I’d like to have in my next post, but it’s all theoretical until I get the list and can see what the options are.  There may be things on the list that don’t really match the things that I think I’d like in my next post, but would be great opportunities and end up high on my list.  So, we’ll have to see what actually turns up on the list.

The optional topic in this week’s blog roundup is paperwork.  I have a lot of it.  I have stuff from several years ago that I will probably never need and other stuff that’s more recent.  It seems like the paperwork has multiplied since I joined the Foreign Service.  There’s a lot of DOS paperwork and then there are the complications that come from living on the border and needing things like car insurance, identifications, cell phones, and a few other things for both the U.S. and Mexico.

I’ve gotten myself a scanner and got a shredder for Christmas to take care of some of it, but I have to admit that I haven’t been very diligent about taking care of it so most of it just continues to sit in boxes, where it probably continues to breed and multiply to create even more paperwork.  I want to get as much of it scanned, shredded, or filed before I move to my next post so it doesn’t have to be shipped again if it’s not really necessary, but it’s hard to get motivated to sit down and shred/scan/file.  I mean, there are other things that I’d rather do, like watch a movie, take a nap, or give the cat a bath for fun. 😉

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Filed under Bidding, FS Blog Roundup, Paperwork

Going public

After talking with a few fellow FS bloggers and a few bloggers outside the foreign service, I’ve decided to remove the password protection from the website later this week.  There are a lot of awesome FS blogs out there that have been great resources and I’d like to contribute to that community.  I’d also like to make the blog more easily accessible to friends and family.

Before I started A-100, many of the FS blogs that I read helped me get an idea of what life as an FSO was like and gave me great ideas about how to handle packing and other logistical challenges.  Now, I read them to learn about other posts and to keep up with friends all around the world.  So, I’d like to pay it forward and make my blog public to prospective and current FSOs.

I know that a few of you read this site via RSS feed and according to Posterous’ help page, the RSS feed link will change when I remove the password.  Since I’m not sure if the old RSS feed link will work, I wanted to give y’all a chance to change the feed link in your reader.  So, I’ll take the password off on Wednesday and post at least a short entry when I remove the password.  So, if you read this by RSS feed and don’t see the short entry on Wednesday, you might need to come back and visit the site to get the new RSS feed link.

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, Mexico