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!