Cue Creepy Voice: "Hellooooo! It's nice to see you."
Ok, so now that we're settled with all of our things and Brasilia isn't quite so new anymore, I'm starting to lose my motivation to blog. Obviously. But not so gentle prodding from family and friends reminds me that I should probably get going again. :)
It's been so long... Ok, so new things since the end of December: We have all of our stuff and car! It finally completely feels like home, albeit a temporary one, in our apartment. The only thing remaining to do is to have maintenance people from the embassy come hang all of our pictures. I know that sounds ridiculous, but our walls are made of concrete. I've already tried with my normal drill bits, and it wasn't happening. Also, because they own the housing, they prefer to do all of that work so that employees don't screw it up... Once we get them all hung, I'll provide some pictures of how our apartment finally ends up becoming our home. Here's a few of the chaos of our "moving day:"
Built in Bar - Dining Room
I tried to get a picture of the mess in the kitchen, but our maid already had it all put away!
I'm STILL waiting for my security clearance for the RSO job. So if you're one of the ones that the investigators are contacting, call them back! And remember what a swell guy I am. :)
The end of January, we were expecting it back any time so Sarah "talked me into" heading to Lincoln for a week while I still could. It was such a last minute decision, I didn't tell my parents about it and opted to surprise them. I went to my mom's classroom with flowers covering my face until she finally turned around. She was so excited, one of her autistic students had to be taken out of the room! I ruined that poor child's day, but I think my mom was pretty happy to see me. :) Later that night, I surprised my dad at home. I think the following pictures sum up his reaction:
The week I was back was a whirlwind of family and friends. It was so fantastic to see everyone. You don't really realize how much you miss some people until you spend some time with them. Playing cards with the family, spending time with my nephews and niece, and drinking scotch while smoking cigars with the boys are definitely the highlights of my trip. The Tam O'Shanter bar also never ceases to bring out the best in me.
I can't help but to also mention all the great food! I'm not sure I ate a single meal at home that week because of all of the places on my list I needed to hit up. Just thinking about all of my favorite restaurants is making me hungry! The Oven, Valentino's Pizza, Taco Inn, Olive Garden, Bison Witches, Oso Burrito, De Leon's, Taco Inn, El Potrero, Taco Inn... I am somewhat partial to Mexican food.
Since then, I've exercised quite a bit between tennis, jogging, and swimming and am now bach'ing it it this week while Sarah's away at a medical conference in Singapore. Both the time I spent in Lincoln and Sarah's time in Singapore is solidifying our resolve not to be forced apart for an extended period of time. While there are some definite advantages to the Foreign Service lifestyle, it comes with a healthy dose of difficulties as well. While it works for some to be separated while one spouse is at an unaccompanied post or away at training for some people, I just don't think we're cut out for it. There's a pretty high divorce rate for FSO's. There were briefings on what to do in divorce situations before we even were posted overseas, and paperwork they recommended that couples fill out detailing the rights each of them has regarding children and possessions. Almost like a prenuptial. I can't help but to think that part of the reason for the high divorce rate is the time spent apart.
Sarah gets back into town on Sunday night, 2/27 and has Monday off. She then works 4 days, and we leave for Salvador for a week! March 4-13th is a crazy time in Brazil, the home of spectacular Carnaval. We will be spending it in crazy Salvador for a few days, then going to a smaller fishing town to relax in a more peaceful environment on the beach. We are definitely looking forward to the trip!
A few random things about the last couple of months:
Abby has moved rooms. We had her in our spare bedroom, but almost of all of the doors in our apartment have levers instead of knobs. She watched us enough to figure out how to open all of the doors! We thought we had outsmarted her by closing and locking a door confining her to her bedroom and the hallway, but we came home one day to see that she had opened her bedroom door and realized she couldn't get into the rest of the apartment. So what does she do? She opened our bedroom door and was sleeping on our bed. It was so funny, it was hard to be mad at her! She's now living in the maid quarters now because it has a doorknob.
During the State of the Union, President Obama announced that he will be making a tour of South America to promote the United States' interests abroad. He will be coming to Brasilia in April! We've learned that the work going into a presidential visit is absolutely massive. He has two advance teams come to scope out the town and prepare for his, and almost 2,000 staffers and press, arrival. Hotels need to be wired for communication and security equipment, bulletproof windows need to be installed, and accommodations booked for the whole entourage. It is a HUGE undertaking! The coolest part about the trip is that a "meet and greet" has been set up at the embassy. We may be able to meet the president! We've realized how incredible this is, as some officers here have had 30 year careers without hosting a president, so we're very fortunate to host him in our first tour.
Our decision to bring our own furniture was proven a fantastic idea after hearing about the couple who lived in our apartment before us. Apparently, the husband was a renowned nudist, and walked around naked so much that they couldn't even hire a maid. I choose to ignore that we lived on that furniture for 3 months until ours arrived.... yuuuuuuck! Have I mentioned that there isn't a shortage of crazies who work for the FS?
Sarah informed me yesterday that she had a meeting with the head of the Health Practitioners at her conference. Med works differently from the rest of FSO's, so we've never been sure about our option to extend past two years. Apparently it's a possibility! She needs approval from a couple of people, and I'm sure it will come with a ridiculous amount of paperwork, but if we choose to stay the option is there. The major benefits of staying are that we wouldn't have to go through the process of moving for another year, not having to learn another language so soon and I wouldn't have to look for a job all over again. The only thing we're weighing that against is our enjoyment of Brasilia. It's a great place with great weather, but it comes with some downsides like how expensive it is to fly home, entertainment is sometimes limited, and I don't even know if I'll enjoy my job yet.
It is tradition in Brazilian places like Rio for everyone to wear white on New Years, then go into the ocean at midnight. I've heard that the color of underwear you wear is significant to how you want your next year to go, and there's also something else about hopping over the first three waves of the new year, but I don't know the whole story. Here's the US Embassy staff's interpretation of a Rio New Years: