Monday, July 4, 2011

First week in Amman...

Greetings from Amman, Jordan! So I have just completed my first week in Amman and so far so good. I thought I would share a little bit about the journey so far, minus photos, because of course I havent gotten that organized yet. So where do we about at MSP...

On the 21 st I hauled my incredibly overweight and too many in number suitcases to the airport with my parents, we said our goodbyes and I headed off to check in. The gentleman working then informed me that it would be $400.00 extra for my luggage-ouch! I couldn't bring myself to pay that, so after going back and forth for a while he called a supervisor who agreed on $75.00, significant difference andone i could live with. So thankful I kept my cool with the agent as 4 hours later, after hanging out on the Tarmac waiting to get to Chicago and connect to royal Jordanian , I found myself in his line again having never left Msp and having my flight canceled. He was awesome and rerouted me for the next day through Paris and even put me in first class the whole way. Thankfully my friend Susie was available to bring me back to my house, that is after we indulged at fern's for a few hours:-) The following day I was at it again and actully left Msp to Paris with no problem and no neighbor in my first class area- wonderful and relaxing. Not sure if I can ever do coach again lol

I was met in Amman by embassy folks who got me to my new house. It's an apartment in a new building in a great neighborhood. I am the only person in the entire building right now which was a bit strange the first couple of nights. There are many new noises, like those horrible noises of wild street dogs and cats (wondering if I made the right decision on opting out of the rabies shot lol). I have some interesting neighbors, one imparticular is a little street boy who every time he sees me he makes the hand in the armpit fart noise at me, which then leads all his little buddies to go into laugh attacks- apparently farting is really funny in every country! Not sure if he likes me or he's being mean.

The city (what I've actually seen so far) is really amazing. I have not yet figured out where things are and hAve spent most of my time at the embassy getting acclimated to the work. I am not used to the sun-thurs. work week and i am always on the day or time- maybe after a month or so i'll know what day it is lol. In the short time I've been here,however, I have attended an event by the Embassy of Spain, at the King Hussein cultural center, of flamenco dancing. It was a wonderful venue and an incredible show. I also went on a trip to mount nebo where Moses died. I visited with a monk there and heard him tell the story of Moses. It was a beautiful and peaceful spot overlooking the dead sea.

Everything is coming along and i think I can do some incredible things here in the next 2 years. So here are a few things about my first week for you...

*every morning I've been eating yogurt and some granola. Turns out this yogurt is really pudding. Hmmm wonder why it has the sour flavor of yogurt?
*I've tripped over things in the sidewalk more times than I can count because in Amman there are huge trees in the middle of the sidewalks and curbs the size of cliffs. this apparently provides endless entertainment to all who witness, especially the neighborhood guards who think I'm crazy for walking already.
*the weather is as close to perfect as it can get. Warm to hot during the day and wonderfully cool at night- all with no humidity.
* the people are warm and kind, and appreciate all my attempts at communicating in Arabic, god only knows what I am saying, but when people break out in hysterics that can't be good.
*my car is not here yet, but that may be a good thing as the driving here is a bit insane. I feel like I need to take behind the wheel Amman.
*there are some amazing malls and a ton of shopping, enough to last for two years.
*for my fellow chili heads I went to the chilis here, very similar, but my margarita wasn't giving me my tequila fix, turns out it's a dry chilis and I was drinking a lime slurpy at $5-not happy and miss the presidente!

I have the embassy 4th of July event tonight which should be a great way to meet people and enjoy the holiday. Celebrating the 4th abroad and in the middle east gives me a real sense of pride in being American and recognizing the fortune we have in our freedom and stability. Enjoy the holiday and be safe!

I will follow this with some photos if my belongings make their way across the ocean and through customs o.k. Insh'allah!

Miss you all and wish you peace...


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Has it already been over a year...

...and am I the worst blogger ever? Rhetorical! Yes I am, I know, but thanks for your patience and for some- thanks for your smartass comments-your humor is appreciated ;-) I think my day to day/month to month reports from DC would have been a snoozefest for most of you. However, I will be much more vigilant about keeping the blog up to date once I depart from DC. However, I thought I would recap some favorite moments from the past year... perhaps a little bit out of order...

 Some incredible women- colleagues, diplomats, and also friends. Each has left for their own post around the world representing the United States in Columbia, Dili, Saudi, Belize, and Mexico.

The Kennedy Center from my kayak. Kayaking on the Potomac is an incredible way to see the monuments and spend a DC scorcher on the water with friends!
My parents and sister Cammy came for the swearing in ceremony. So wonderful to have them here and share this moment-it meant a lot to me. One highlight was definitely our Segway excursion- so fun and of course my Mom added a whole new level of adventure. I won't share publicly, but for those who know her just ask...

This photo was taken at a local pub after the Flag Day ceremony. Fun night celebrating our new destinations!
This was my 2nd 4th of July in DC so I had one of my brilliant ideas- pay way to much money to go on a boat on the Potomac- surprisingly it was worth it- the view was spectacular and the company was stellar!
Two of my favorite girls on our last hurrah weekend get away in Vegas. Not much to say because it's staying in Vegas. Although I did discover a new love- Grey Goose Pear Vodka- please tell me they like you in the Middle East!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yes I am still alive-sorry for the delayed blogging...

مرحبا والسلام عليكم أصدقائي وعائلتي

Just a quick note to say hi to all and let you know that I have not melted away. How am I going to live in the Middle East when I just might not survive the Washington DC heat??

All is good-just busy studying and struggling with Arabic. Things are coming along, but wow I have a whole new understanding for my students and how homework can really get in the way of living LOL The schedule is tight for me right now, but I am enjoying it on the days I'm not banging my head against the wall.

I have a colleague who is already in Amman and I love hearing about my new home in his updates. I'll try to fill you in as I hear things of interest. I have attached, just for fun, a video of Queen Rania of Jordan-good humor, the more I learn about her and her efforts the more impressed and excited I am to serve in this country-enjoy...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Four weeks of Arabic completed- 8 months to go...

Sorry for the extended break in posts-I have completed my first four weeks of Arabic and WOW this language is difficult and challenging, but really exciting to learn. I have my doubts that I will ever shake my Arabic with a Minnesota accent speech impairment, but I am trying to get the sounds as authentic as possible. Last Friday, we (a class of 6) put on our first play using the Arabic we knew after our first two weeks- it was an exciting, edge of your seat thriller- (Spoiler alert-girls meeting boys in a coffee shop, exchanging pleasantries, and all going to the movies after a bit of flirtation- most likely with a sequel to follow after phase 2-perhaps even a marriage)-stay tuned...  After I got comfortable being uncomfortable learning and struggling with the language has become really interesting and fun. I am now in a class with just me and another student- so far so good.

In addition to Arabic, we have a lot of area studies. This encompasses the entire Middle East and is really interesting. I never realized how little I actually knew and I love that we are being exposed to the culture, the politics, and the foreign policy- good times!

DC is great, lots to do, but wow it's warm-I feel like my skin is going to start bubbling at anytime. Just trying to get into my groove. I am working on kayaking on the potomac and getting some use out of my bike. There are some beautiful areas and great paths to explore. I broke down and got a navigator so I can stop driving aimlessly through the district and honestly everywhere else- I really do have a terrible attention span LOL. I took a great cooking class designed for diplomats and learned how to have a successful dinner party- apparently drinking fishbowls of Cabernet did not make the good idea list. Clearly I have been doing something wrong my entire adult life.  I hit the golf course last week which is probably what began my homesick week. The course was rough to say the least (not challenging-rough where I thought I might lose the wheels of my cart) and I definitely need to find a better one. I miss Minnesota and everyone there-wish I could be living two lives at once!


Monday, May 3, 2010

It's official for the 2nd and final time...

Hi all- what an incredible week! I took the oath of office on Friday and was sworn in by none other than Secretary of State herself  Hillary Clinton. For those of you who know me well you know that this was an incredible moment for me as I have long respected Clinton.

It was an exciting ceremony and now I will be beginning Arabic and area studies. Can somebody pinch me please??


Sunday, April 25, 2010

On my way to Amman, Jordan "En'shallah"

Exciting and happy news...

I am so thrilled to have received my flag for my first post-Amman, Jordan! An amazing place and the position I will have is in public diplomacy (my cone) so I will be on track in the work I want to focus on-perfect fit!

Friday was flag day and my first tour will be in Amman-one of my top choices! I have a lot of work to do to learn Arabic, but there is an excellent language program available at the institute so I am putting myself in their hands-poor teachers LOL. I'll post more info on Amman, but for all you Oprah lovers Queen Rania was just on her show this past week-great interview!

I'll follow up with more information, but just wanted to share the great news!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

3 down and 2 to go...

Hi all-I returned this weekend from the leadership retreat. Overall it was a pretty good time and a great way to get to know people better-some good, some not so much LOL We spent most of our time doing outdoor leadership activities and a major operation called "Death Star- I was a leader for our group and the entire operation was actually amzingly smooth. We solved the death star and got the keys to the chest which held the torch of knowledge- so Star Trekky I almost expected Captain Kirk to beam in at any moment, good times and a welcome relief from 8 hours inside a classroom! Recap for the week: we worked again on writing Foreign Sevice style- apparently not my forte as I received my first cable back with an awful lot of red marks- makes me feel like one of my students. What was interesting is that we were able to watch footage of an envoy touring Rwanda during the genocide and read sample cables that reported back on what was happening there as a U.S. group of officers toured the area. It was an important reminder of how powerful those cables can be in certain times and places-literally life changing.  One of the other highlights was a panel discussion with FSNs (foreign service nationals) who were in town for training. These are local folks to the country where the Embassy is located. They shared some pretty funny stories about new officers and the blunders we make. I made a list of what to avoid!Wonderful folks and a true asset to our work. Cultural understanding and exchanges were also emphasized this week and the guy who taught the course was awesome- made me reflect on the many mistakes I've made over the years. Friday is the big day and is referred to as "Flag Day"-we find out that afternoon the country we will be assigned to for the next 2 years. I cannot wait and have the flags I hope to see memorized! 2 weeks to go...