Monday, October 10, 2011

Rainy Day: Random Thoughts and Statistics

It's Colombus Day, which means no work for me and there's a nice thunder-n-lightning storm outside and I've done all my housework... so I thought I'd take this time to look at this blog's statistics of readers from around the world. As of today, here they are:

United States
New Zealand
United Kingdom     
I'd like to say "Hey!" and "Thanks for reading!" to the 49 Mozambican page-viewers (I visited and love the country - hope you're enjoying it, too), and the 58 Kiwis (ditto what I said about Mozambique). I must say I'm a bit disappointed in the number of pageviews of our fine neighbors to the north. Yes, Canada - that's you. Perhaps if I wrote more about hockey and less about cats, the numbers would improve? (I'm just teasing you.) I imagine the 123 Colombian pageviews are my husband (honey, you're skewing the stats!) but I'm curious about the Qatar and Japan readers...

I would like to know what information is most interesting and helpful to you all. I know that sometimes blogger makes it hard to leave comments, but if you can, let me know what would be interesting.

I figure two main types of readers work their way through my thoughts each week: those of you who are friends or family and are curious if we're still living and breathing (yes, thank you); and those of you who are aspiring OMSes and are looking for glimpses into this possible new career. And, according to the stats kept by blogger, there are dozens of people who hit upon this blog after searching for "Colombian Flag" on Google. Yes, there technically IS a picture of the Colombian flag (go back to late March), but this site probably wasn't what you were expecting, eh?

In speaking to the latter group (not the flag-Googlers): there is a brand-new batch of OMSes at FSI as we speak (24 of them, I'm told) who will be going through the excitement of Flag Day tomorrow. For all of them, I can't say that I wish you only your high bids, because if word-of-mouth is any indicator, many of my colleagues have been pleasantly surprised when fate brought them an assignment they never would have chosen for themselves. Today is the last day of your life as you know it. After tomorrow afternoon, your thoughts and focus will be on the coming horizon: what to bring, what can't I bring, what schools for my kids, what clothes for what climate, what languages to learn, what food, how many flights to get there and how much will it cost to ship my pet(s)? You will become fluent in all these questions and answers over the coming three weeks. Some find this exciting, some terrifying, some tedious - but it is an integral part of the life which you've just entered.

We are forever looking to the horizon and wondering what's coming. It doesn't end for this post, either. My co-workers, some with 20+ years in the FS, are still looking ahead and planning, plotting their career course, figuring out that even at age 53 they may need to spend nearly a year at FSI to learn a new language - but it would be worth it. I think if you weren't a day-dreamer or the type that asked, "But what's around THAT corner?" you mightn't be wondering about this life after all.

One of my favorite recently-overheard conversations on the van the other day summed up the FS mentality perfectly:

Person One: We're thinking of bidding on XYZ country, how did you like it there?

Person Two: Oh I loved it! It was a wonderful time.  Well, I did get dengue fever and dysentary and giardia - but other than that, it was great. You should totally bid on it!

We're not the typical breed of cat, and it is such a relief to finally arrive at FSI or at your first post, and be among people who understand your wandering motivations, people who talk about spending ten months to learn Estonian being a good thing, people who are fluent in the many forms of electricity and the appliances that can/can't work with them, and people who can discuss the various ways to keep armies of African ants out of the dog kibble bin.

However, if you're the person who said this to me while I was still back at home:

"What? Why would you want to leave here? Aren't we good enough for you?" ---
I don't recommend this life for you.

But I'm glad that you're out there, keeping the homefires burning while we scatter to each horizon. Believe me, we'll be envious of your easy access to peanut butter, rolls of wrapping paper and $3 boxes of breakfast cereal, for sure.

In the meanwhile, I hope these random thoughts give some of you an insight into our lives and maybe some inspiration or a feeling of relief that you're not alone out there as you try to explain to friends and family why moving to the Congo would be pretty cool.

Cuidate, y nos vemos!


  1. Looks like I'm gonna push Russia past Canada...

  2. I'm the latter (aspiring OMS) and your blog has given me lots of hope. A lot of dread as well, but mostly hope. I'm still waiting on Security Clearance. It's been nearly a year, but I blame that on my foreign family and friends. I've been reading your blog for hours now and I keep telling myself to stop because what if I don't get clearance, all I'm doing is getting my hopes up for nothing, but your blog is too darn interesting. Thank you fo doing this!

    1. Good luck to you Tea Gal (I say as I'm pouring myself another cup of tea, too).
      You're certainly not the only one whose security clearance can take that long. I imagine you've checked in with them, at that special "What's taking so long?" email they have set up? I can't recall the exact email address, but there is one to check the status. Enjoy life at home while you can, even though I remember how utterly impossible that was while you're mentally shuffling the what-if deck. Thank you for reading, and I'm glad that I can offer a glimpse into the FS life. You may notice a change in tone over the years, as the honeymoon phase has worn off.