The grass always seems greener on the other side, so the saying goes, but there are exceptions, and this was one of them. There was no doubt in D’s mind as he transited three airports over the course of 27 hours that the return alone from Portland to Kigali was going to be a bit of a downer. What he hadn’t quite counted on was to find the saying to have literal implications as well. Rwanda is a lush, verdant country for most of the year, but D returned during the height of the dry season to find the countryside sere, the grass wilting brown, and the air pregnant with dust.
Posts tagged ‘bucket list’
This week marks the 5th anniversary of D’s entry into the Foreign Service. While our first two tours flew by at breakneck speed, with hardly a break between them, the last half-year of language training has offered a measure of calm. Emerging from a long winter and even longer break in our travels, we are looking forward to the new adventures that await. Rwanda beckons this summer, and before we turn our attention to Africa there is also an overseas language immersion trip in our more immediate future.
Visiting the Grand Canyon is likely on most Americans’ bucket lists, as well it should be. Though it is far from the longest or deepest canyon in the world, its vast breadth is simply breath-taking. With our hopes of securing a permit to hike The Wave temporarily dashed our first morning in Kanab, we headed to the Grand Canyon to pick up our spirits.
“Learning French is a lot like joining a gang in that it involves a long and intensive period of hazing.” The words belong to David Sedaris, but one can hear similar sentiments echoed along FSI’s corridors by our fellow students. We have both committed to devoting the next seven months to the intensive study of this beautiful but at times utterly maddening language. The experience has not been entirely disagreeable thus far, but then again we’re still at the very beginning of our journey.
Topping our admittedly short bucket list for our remaining months in Moldova was a visit to the Danube delta. The mighty river that courses through much of central Europe empties out into the Black Sea just south of the Romania-Ukraine border. The resulting estuary is a vast network of reed-lined canals that host 90 percent of Romania’s 390 bird species.
At times we struggle with the identity of our blog. Many posts are born of a desire to include our faraway friends and families in our lives, while others are the result of pent-up creative energy in search of an outlet. Even those posts, however, do not aspire to greatness or widespread recognition. We are happy if people derive enjoyment from the photographs and stories we share, but we don’t really think of what we post as “art,” so it is flatteringly disorienting when other people view it as such.
In much of the world, it is easy to become disconnected from the farms that supply our markets and grocery stores. In Ecuador, for example, there was a popular joke that if one asked an American child where milk comes from, the child would answer, “the supermarket.” One of Moldova’s biggest selling points is that most of the fresh produce here is locally harvested. Moldova imports bananas from Ecuador and citrus fruits from Costa Rica, Turkey, or Israel, but the rest of the fruits and veggies are homegrown. Though we still shop at the supermarket, we’ve loved buying most of what we consume directly from farmers at small outdoor markets.
A day before leaving DC for Moldova D went to the Foreign Service Institute one last time in order to take his Swahili exam. Even if you know very little about our soon-to-be new home, you probably know enough to figure out that Swahili is not one of the commonly used languages in this part of the world. However, this was D’s only opportunity to gauge how well he had learned Swahili during our Nairobi tour and to document officially his newly acquired language skills.