Sunday, January 06, 2013

Where We Stand

It has been just over a week in our new apartment, our new country.  Things moved slowly at the beginning of our time here, giving us a few days to settle into our home and meet some of our neighbors.  The slow pace was lovely.  Dave began work on Wednesday, and the girls and I began our faux homeschool routine.  With this, our pace quickened a bit.  By the end of the week, life had ramped up dramatically and I can not even report to you all of the excitement that has been going on.  But here's where we now stand:

We've met a large number of people within the embassy community, and everyone has been warm and welcoming.  I went to a gathering on Thursday, and the group seemed to be half women who have been here for a long time and developed close friendship, and half women who were new and had been brought along to meet the group.  It seems this may be life in the Foreign Service.  It made for a good party.

Dave's adjudicated a few visas, with folks looking on.  He still feels that he's got a steep learning curve to overcome, but this is normal.  He's feeling a bit more confident in his Spanish, and knows what to study so that his interview Spanish will be stronger.  He likes all of his co-workers.

We've finally stepped out of our neighborhood.  This is a car city, and we have no car until probably April or so.  So the embassy organizes shuttle trips to various markets.  Yesterday morning, we all joined one to the Chacao market in the city.  It was the first time we'd been off of our hill, and the trip demystified the city a bit for us.  I took my camera, but didn't get any impressive pictures.  Its a market, just like the markets in Hungary and China - well, less crowded than China, but isn't everything?  With the confidence gained from this ride, we broadened our walking circles as well.  The family walked down to a grocery store and McDonalds at the bottom of our hill, giving the girls a very happy hour to play on the playplace and eat french fries while I did some quick shopping.  Lucky for us, a coworker happened to be shopping at the same time and drove us home.  Walking away from our house is easy - everything is a mile away.  Walking home is much harder - everything is a mile away, and at the bottom of a steep hill.  The lack of car seats makes me uncomfortable, and so I am looking forward to the eventual arrival of our car.

We hired a housekeeper, who will start on Tuesday.  She speaks no English, and I speak pathetically little Spanish.  But she has worked for embassy families for years, and seems entirely comfortable with communicating however is necessary.  She is older and she is a talker, which are both interesting dynamics within our home.  She will not end up seeing Lilly and Sophia very often, but should have plenty of time to chatter to Annika and me.

We have also been referred to a Spanish tutor who works out of the embassy.  We need to contact her soon.  I'd love my first few lessons to be on how to converse with our housekeeper.

Food continues to trouble us.  Without a car, we can't run to the store whenever we realize we need something.  And relying on others for a ride, I usually zip through the store as quickly as  I can.  I usually get to the last row and realize I never found something key - yesterday it was baking powder and individual bottles of water.  But by that time, there was not a moment left to search each row in the hopes of finding it.  Shortages are reality here - something I seemed to take as fable when I heard about them.  We haven't seen any flour or sugar since we've been here - others say they've not been seen for weeks.  We've only seen chicken once, and the same for ground beef.  I find things that I like, and they're not there the next week.  In itself, this is last part is not so difficult.  But with my kitchen still lacking many of the basic ingredients for cooking, those quick and easy meals that sometimes appear are worth their weight in gold.  I am told that everyone relies on Amazon for their food delivery.  That's a project for today - and maybe I'll have a better stocked pantry within a few weeks.

We are all happy and healthy, except Dave still hasn't knocked his cough.  We're still getting some crazy behavior problems, but many of those must be related to the lack of social interaction and boredom.  When the girls start school, we'll have new stresses for a few days to weeks and then I expect them to settle down.  Once they disappear, I rather expect my stresses to appear.

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