Friday, July 27, 2012

Transitioning: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

I am home in Portland for about a month and then Otto and I head off to our new post. We will be there for 2 years. We are both excited about the change.  with the change in location, i will also change the look for my blog. hope you enjoy the next 2 years with us!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Turn: Goodbye Ouagadougou

Hard to believe i have been here almost 20 months. the time has both dragged and flown. my first 9 months here was very hard, but i can say the last year has been fantastic. full of great friends and exploration of this small, unnoticed country. i will leave with fond memories of Ouagadougou and my first post with the Foreign Service.

It was a very busy last couple of weeks.  Packing out was a pain (stressful, trying to decide what to ship immediately...gear...what can wait), but the packers did a great job. the clinic was also very busy the last 2 weeks. no matter how many times i encouraged people to come see me before the end, of course many waited. i had 3 patient appointments on my last day!!! and i had to turn 2 others away. it is nice to be liked. it was very hard to say good by to my staff in the Health Unit. they graciously let me come in and completely mix up the place (but hopefully for the better). Alphonse, the lab tech, and Helene, the secretary, are the backbone of the place. i could not have excelled without them. i would take them with me in a heartbeat.

i have some photos of my last days. in the end i felt ready to leave, but mostly because it was sad thinking about leaving, and my departure felt drawn out and looming. i had really been missing my close friends that left before me, but had some great evenings out with my other close friends. one really big bummer - i missed my last Sunday bike ride with the gang. i had been so healthy the whole time in Burkina and that weekend i got a severe case of 'Ouaga belly'. i was loving the toilet for 48 hours.

here are some photos of my last days...

Packing up the pantry.
My dining room/living room. After everything was gone it was like camping in a house.
Goodbye picnic for Ronald. He left a few days before me to go to Aruba for a teaching job there. it was a great gathering.
This is the park where i have been running for the past year. it is pretty amazing that it exists in the city and hasn't been deforested or taken over by homeless people. it is fairly well maintained and well used.
I continued running this year through the hot season, telling myself it was cooler in the park (probably not, but it worked to trick myself to keep running outside). After a relatively cool winter of running outside, i just couldn't go back to the gym.
Ronald in the back, then Ernst and Ronald's wife Sarah. Some of my favorite bike buddies!
My staff took me to lunch at Chez Valentin the day before i left. i will miss these guys so much. i was always happy to go to work because we all got along so well and my staff was very competent and ready to do anything i asked. And most importantly, they laughed at my jokes. Helene, Dr. Soli and Alphonse.
Dinner at Gondwana with Ernst, Chad, Karsten, Henneke and Teresa. before dinner, we had a big screen slide presentation by Ernst and Henneke of Bishkek - they took vacation there in the summer of 2008. they loved it there. i hope to have some visitors during my stay.
I had to take this photo because it is strongly associated with my time in the Embassy. this is Helene with her great smile and bright personality. she greeted me every morning as i came to work and was there in the evening to wish me well and to say "A demain." (see you tomorrow). 
It really is the people that make the time at post enjoyable.  It was so hard to leave all of my friends. i hope to see many of them again. the bike group is talking about trying to meet somewhere in Europe or the Mediterranean to do a tour somewhere. We ended up being such a tight group. i hope to find such a great mix of people in Bishkek.

Au Revoir Ouagadougou and Burkina Faso. A la prochaine. Merci beaucoup.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Trip to Paris. Otto says good bye to Ouagadougou

These last few weeks have been bitter sweet. first i spent 4 days in Paris with Otto as he headed out of Ouaga for the last time. he is so sad leaving his friends. this has been a very good couple of years for him. then i got to spend a couple of days extra in Paris on my own. FUN! i love that city. I have been saying goodbye myself to my very good friends here - it has been hard.

Otto at Luxembourg park - beautiful overcast mid 60's day

one of the gardens at Versaille palace. this is completely man made and as always much more impressive in person
Versaille palace
The garden/grounds at Versaille. There are about 20 separate gardens - i spent 7 hours wandering around looking at each one as well as walking to the end of the water way that you can see in the distance. it was a lovely day!