Tomorrow we’ll hit the road again, but tonight – our last in Salt Lake City – we’ll be celebrating Junebug’s first birthday in the company of our friends. The date snuck up on us somewhat, as we have been wrapped up with transitions and trip planning the last month or so.
As with our previous Foreign Service assignments, we have decided to mark the end of our tour abroad with an American road trip. After Kenya we had spent three weeks driving around California; following two years in Moldova we had returned home just long enough to drop our bags before heading to the Southwest. This time we strung together an itinerary that starts off in Salt Lake City and takes in parts of Wyoming and Idaho before culminating in Boise.
After one final morning in the office – to pay bills, tie up a dozen logistical loose ends, and formally hand over to his successor – D walked the 45 minutes home from the Embassy, something he had been meaning to do but never quite found the time or energy for. He got a bit of the typical mzungu treatment – an exuberant shopkeeper offered passport photos, a handful of kids recited “give-a me money” in heavily accented English, several passing moto-taxis honked to offer a ride – but mostly D was left alone with his thoughts as he soaked in the sights and smells of Kigali one last time.
You’d think that after half a dozen major moves in as many years, we’d be pros at this, but this transition is shaping up to be the most chaotic of our Foreign Service tenure. We have been so focused on tying up a thousand and one loose ends that we have almost completely neglected planning for our home leave. We have our sights set on another road trip out West, but have done next to no research and have just now booked accommodations, with the trip only a week out at this point.
After a record-setting rainy season that wreaked havoc all over the country, Rwanda has settled into a sweet spot. Each day for the last couple of weeks has featured clear blue skies, ideal temperatures, and gorgeous sunsets. It is almost as if Kigali has decided to showcase its best side to make us rue our imminent departure. Last weekend, we took a brief break from packing, taking advantage of the beautiful weather to do our family photo shoot.
The mileposts keep flashing by. Thursday was Munchkin’s last day of school in Rwanda, and yesterday the school held a graduation ceremony, which featured a hilarious, if somewhat bizarre, theatrical production in which the kids wore “bedazzled” underwear and pretended to be aliens.
As we prepare to bid adieu to Rwanda, we have been making mental notes of the things we will miss (and others that we definitely won’t). One thing high on D’s list – not just for Rwanda, but rather for the entire continent – is the region’s incredible birdlife.
Roughly four centuries before bitcoin captivated the public’s imagination, a similarly unlikely commodity fueled the world’s first recorded speculative bubble. At the height of the Dutch Republic’s tulip mania, a single bulb of some tulip varieties sold for more than ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. The bubble burst in 1637, but the Dutch obsession with tulips persists to a lesser extent to this day, as we learned during our brief stay in The Hague. We missed National Tulip Day, but even better — our visit coincided with the heart of the tulip season.