The last stop on our Slovenian tour, the Vipava Valley, had been the deciding factor in our decision to visit this tiny post-Yugoslavian country. Long after we had agreed to spend two weeks in Croatia with S’s parents, we were still debating what to do with our third week of our R&R. Slovenia was a possibility, as were Serbia, Montenegro, and several other Balkan destinations. What tipped the scales in Slovenia’s favor, in addition to recommendations from friends, was a timely article in the New York Times travel section.
Initially, we thought we would hold off on the announcement and simply share our observations on the bidding process. After all, we still have nine months left in Moldova and, when training is taken into account, almost two years will pass before we arrive at our next post. However, various friends wrote to say that the suspense might literally kill them. We wouldn’t want that to happen, so it’s time to spill the beans.
On Monday, the State Department issued handshakes for summer 2015 jobs, which means we now know where we’re headed after our tour in Moldova ends next year. Our onward assignment, with which we are quite happy, was the last in a string of good career news over the last several months.
The First World War put Kobarid on the map, and Ernest Hemingway immortalized it with a throwaway line in A Farewell To Arms. “I remembered it as a little white town with a campanile in a valley. It was a clean little town and there was a fine fountain in the square,” wrote Hemingway, whose experiences driving a Red Cross ambulance at the Soča front helped shape one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.
There are several lodges in Karlovy Vary that are variously cited as the inspiration for Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. We have yet to visit this Czech resort town, but in Bovec we stayed at a small boutique hotel that can accurately be described as the Grand Budapest’s spiritual cousin.
We’ve commented elsewhere on how much joy we derive from watching Munchkin expand his mastery of the world — seeing it through his eyes, watching him figure out how it works, and enjoying a vicarious thrill of breakthrough every time he reaches another milestone. With time, we’ve come to appreciate another aspect of the long arc of his learning curve. Even as we help him learn the ways of the world, there is quite a lot he unwittingly teaches us in the process.
Arriving in Bovec at the tail end of a rainstorm, we caught barely a glimpse of the stunning Soča River, but even that glimpse left us at a loss for words. The water, a ghostly grey on a foggy day, turns an ethereal shade of teal when it is lit up by the sun. With the exception of a tiny portion of the Rio Celeste River in Costa Rica, we had not seen anything like it, and beautiful though the Rio Celeste is, it is a poor comparison to the Soča, which runs for miles, starting as an underground spring in the Julian Alps before emptying out into the Adriatic Sea.
From the moment he was born, we have speculated what Munchkin’s first word would be and whether it would be in English or Russian. S thought it might be some variation on “Emmie,” the name of our dog, who is Munchkin’s constant companion. For his part, D tried his utmost to work the word “papa” into his conversations with the little man, recognizing all the while that this was a losing battle. Munchkin has been babbling up a storm for quite some time, but has yet to make anything even remotely resembling the “pa” sound, the letter p being especially difficult for babies.