Friday, July 31, 2015

Bless America!

One of the many blessings of annual trips home is we appreciate our country in ways that people who don't leave it for extended periods of time can't.  I don't think I will ever tire of an American grocery store even after we retire and spend decades in one place. So much stuff. So many choices. Thank you America, for having sugar snap peas, fresh green beans, endless sweet corn, steak, bacon (both piggy and turkey varieties), hot dogs, Turkey Hill All Natural ice cream, any kind of otherwise dairy food in a dairy free option (Alex has eaten her own weight in Tofutti Cuties). And when I go through the produce section, it is possible that I may not find even one rotting piece of fruit, even if I am looking for it. I think I gained 5lb in our first week. We've eaten Chinese, Thai, BBQ, Nepalese, real PA pizza, cheesesteaks (No, NOT with "whiz". The better, Lehigh Valley style with Provolone and tomato sauce).

It's mostly the food, but it is not just the food. I speak the language fluently. "Graduate school in this language" level of fluency, truth be told. It means I can communicate anything I want with anyone I want. Customer service? Ooooh. Nobody does customer service like good ol' USA - except the Japanese. But here, as aforementioned and how we can distinguish from Japan, I speak the language. And, for the most part, things just work properly here. This bears repeating. Things just work properly here. Until you live somewhere that things just don't work I don't know if you can have the same level of appreciation. Maybe you can. I didn't.

It's easy to watch the news and figure our country is going to hell in a handbasket. But the on-the-ground truth is that there just isn't anywhere quite like home.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer vacation, Foreign Service style

It's summer in the foreign service, which means we are on a several week whirlwind trip to see as much family and as many friends as possible, plus handle a year's worth of medical needs, grocery, clothing, and other purchases, and maybe get some "relaxing" done at the cabin.

We had dentist appointments last week. While checking out one of the kids, the hygienist asked when we would go anywhere for summer vacation this year.  We both just looked at her.  "This is our summer vacation," I explained.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Istanbul was Constantinople ....

There was a conference that was supposed to be held in Nepal, but then the earthquake happened, and it got moved to Istanbul.  And then I was invited to go to the conference.  10 days before it happened. And two days before the family left to starts summer vacation 2 weeks before me.

The conference itself was awesome, I met a lot of wonderful people doing incredible work to make the world safer and better. I ate my weight in Turkish Delight, pide, kabobs, and one one night, Chinese food, because I could.

I flew in on Monday night and flew back out Thursday evening - both direct flights, thank you Air Astana!  The conference was Tuesday through Thursday. Needless to say, I saw more of the hotel conference room than anything else.  It is also worth mentioning that Istanbul is one of about 5 places left that I am dying to go but had not yet gotten to in my life. Of course, this was just an appetizer, but then it means I will still have a lot to discover together when I eventually go with my family!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Well, picnics and fireworks and red, white and blue weren't in tonight's plan here in Astana but I did manage to get a little of 'Murica ... went to see Terminator: Genesis and it was IN ENGLISH!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Astana Airport



Image result for astana airport photosIt has been quite a week for us, Astana Airport. It all started when my flight from Istanbul touched down at 6am on Friday morning. You had no idea that you'd be seeing me again in fewer than 24 hours, as I brought my family over so they could go home (a.k.a. 'Murca. Which is something I never, ever call it.) And then again 12 hours later to pick up the delegation.

Sunday is a day of rest, as we all know. In our case Monday was as well. But Tuesday our 5am date happened as scheduled. And Wednesday. Ah, Wednesday, when I went to Almaty for the day.

One pick up, one drop off, one inbound, one outbound. We've watched the sunrise together a lot this week, dear Astana airport. I'm glad to know I have a whole week before I see you again!