Hurricane Harvey: Sorrow & Joy

As I’ve mentioned a time or two, I’m a Texan, born and bred on the Gulf Coast. In Corpus Christi, to be specific. A huge hunk of my heart is still there, tied to both the place and the people (all my immediate family, and many treasured friends and their families).

As those of you following the weather can imagine, the latter half of this week has been a surreal, tempestuous time. Harvey, a weather formation that began as a mere tropical storm (life-long Gulf Coasters tend to shrug at these) morphed into a monster storm almost overnight. Almost out of nowhere, a category 3 hurricane was barreling down–predicted to make landfall–on almost everything dearest to me.

Thousands of miles away in South America, I was obviously well out of danger. But it was sickening being so far away. I desperately wanted to be there to help my family prepare and evacuate–buy water and generators, board up windows, gather precious photos and important documents, offer a positive word, a hug, a hand on the shoulder and a prayer.

Continue reading “Hurricane Harvey: Sorrow & Joy”

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Settling Down… in Suriname

For some of my readers, this will come as no surprise. But for those of you who’ve been wondering just where in South America we’ve moved, here’s the reveal:

We now call Paramaribo, Suriname home.

If you’re like most folks, this “answer” just prompts more questions. Perhaps something along the lines of: Huh? OWhere again? Or even Suriname? Isn’t that in Africa? 

If so, you’re in good company. When I first heard this country referenced, I assumed its locale was somewhere in South-East Asia. You’ve got your Vietnam, then you’ve got your Suriname…. Continue reading “Settling Down… in Suriname”

Goodbyes & Going Forward

Today (way too early this AM) my husband and I leave for our new post (and home!) in South America. Our Home Leave has been full and wonderful, colored by visits with all the family and friends who make our lives textured and whole.

As always, saying goodbye feels a lot like having my heart tugged out of my chest. But I count myself incredibly blessed to have something (and someones) so beautiful, that it’s hard to leave it/them behind. (That’s my version of a paraphrased quote often misattributed to A. A. Milne.)

There’s no embarking on a new adventure without saying goodbye to your old normal. So here’s to our next step on this Foreign Service odyssey. And here’s to our lovely family and friends, sending us onward on a warm tide of well wishes.

Au revoir, America!

*Featured image is property of Wind & Wave Watersports (Peltier surf shop of choice).

The Pack Out Paradigm

Monday was Pack Out Day (cue Jaws dun-uh-dun-uh music), the day our entire household got disassembled and dissected, all our worldly goods boxed up and labeled for their journey to our South American onward assignment.

Kitchen Boxes
Boxes in kitchen.

It’s hard for me to express just how deeply I dislike packing out. Think the scene from Julie & Julia where Julia is packaging up a cookbook and mourning her impending departure from Paris…. Then graft in a bit of Oscar the Grouch. And there you have it–me on Pack Out Day. Continue reading “The Pack Out Paradigm”

Tree Lazies in the Mist

In honor of my husband and my onward assignment–our next post will be in South America, near the Amazon Rain Forest!–our Chinese teacher used this week’s class to teach us some related vocabulary. Some of the terms were intriguing, even charming:

yǔ lín (雨林) – Rain Forest

shù lǎn (树懒) – Sloth (the Chinese literally means “tree lazy,” which is adorable and accurate. This my favorite vocab term since I discovered the German word for raccoon: Waschbär, or “washing bear.” You know, because they wash their little faces with both hands?)

But then our lesson took a slightly darker turn:

è yú (鳄鱼) – Crocodile (or “hungry fish”)

shí rén yú (食人鱼)- Piranha (the Chinese literally translates as “eat man fish”)

wén zi (蚊子) – Mesquito

dēng gé rè (登革热) – Dengue Fever

wēi xiǎn (危险) – Dangerous

A sane person might have begun feeling a touch trepidatious at that point–might even have begun reconsidering their move to a locale that could inspire such vocabulary.

Me? I just gave a mental shrug and thought, “Eh? Why not?”

I guess that means I’m officially adapting to Foreign Service life.

*Adorable sloth photo courtesy of Flickr, Wikimedia Commons