Thursday, September 17, 2015

New Kid on the Block


Confused yet? Me too. I'm mostly through with the check-in paperwork and getting started with actual work, or at least orientation to actual work. Meeting people, background reading, trying to figure out who's who and what's what, what's important and what it all means. What I'm going to be doing with my time for the next two or three years. 

I hate this part, the feeling like an idiot part. It's one of the drawbacks of the Foreign Service life, starting over from zero every couple of years. But it's normal, and it's temporary. I just have to read the reports and talk to the experts and push on through until the day when it all starts to come together. And to have faith that, eventually, it will. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Happy New Year!

Yesterday Ethiopia celebrated Enkutatash, the beginning of a new year. Ethiopia has its own calendar with twelve 30-day months and five (or six, in a leap year) extra days that make a thirteenth "month". They also have different calculations as to when exactly Christ died, so as far as Ethiopia is concerned we have just entered the year 2008. 

Celebrations are mainly a private family affair, but it was easy to see the preparations on every corner. Vendors sold bundles of a sweet-smelling grass to scatter on the floor, and shepherds escorted herds of goats and sheep through the city for sale as holiday feasts. All the big shops had banners up to celebrate, and I even got a nice text from the local telecom.

In keeping with tradition I spent my New Year's Day at home with my family (aka the cat). Except for an hour or so after I learned the hard way that my front door locks automatically. Oops. The first couple of weeks at a new post are always challenging as you learn to adapt to your new surroundings, but between the door incident and a small microwave-related fire a few days ago this may be my toughest transition yet. But as my father always says, it's a good thing I'm tough. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Trick Is To Keep Breathing

Hello Addis! The Jabberwock and I both made it safely. There was a small hiccup with his flight reservation and for a while I was worried we might not make it, but a little "ah sure it'll be grand" at the airport saw us through just fine.

With a 7-hour time difference there's a bit of jet lag to get through. And at 7500 feet, some minor altitude sickness as well. Nothing compared to what happens in Lima La Paz I'm sure, but I can definitely feel my delicate sea-level lungs struggling to extract oxygen from the thin mountain air. I get winded from a single flight of stairs. Even just walking around feels different, harder. This must be what being old is like. I hope it doesn't last too long.