Please pardon my silence over this past week - it's been busy!
I was chatting with my OMS buddy in Pretoria today about our jobs and generally catching up and she mentioned that her section has quieted down and probably won't be hosting a VIP until later this summer.
Later this summer?! I wish! We don't have a visitor this week and that's about all the respite we're getting lately. And it really won't be a rest, because we're all running around getting ready for the Summit of the Americas that Colombia is hosting in mid-April. Perhaps you've heard about it on the news: all the "democratically-elected" leaders of the Western Hemisphere will be descending on Cartagena for a general pow-wow. The Castros decided to be good sports about it all and not come after Colombia's President Santos went to La Habana to chat with Raul on the subject. But if Raul's not coming, then his best pal Hugo Chavez probably won't either, which will cause a small domino chain of "well if they're not going, then either am I!" to fall through Bolivia, Ecuador and some islands in the Caribbean. So basically.. ALMOST all of the leaders of the free western world will be there. Either way - it's going to heat up around the embassy as we all prepare for a VIP group to the utmost degree.
A few months ago, most of the embassy personnel signed up to volunteer for all the various assignments for the Summit, from baggage handling in the airport, to site officers at high-level meetings, to manning control rooms in hotels. On Friday, after much speculation and wondering about who will be doing what, the assignments started to trickle into our inboxes. We all compared notes on the van ride home, and the reactions ranged from excitement for being named Control Officer for a particular CODEL (Congressional Delegation), to disappointment at knowing that one would be in the belly of the airport sorting and schlepping luggage into vans. I can't tell you what my specific duties will be, but let's just say that if you're hankering for green M&Ms served to you in a red glass bowl at 03:00 am in your hotel room, and you happen to be a certain VIP - it very well could be me who fulfills your wish. Or so my more-experienced co-worker described my assignment to me when I told her what I'd been given. Hey, why not - I can handle that!
It should be fun, this Herculean group effort for less than one week while enjoying the coastal sunshine (and humidity) of what is meant to be a lovely colonial city. I've never been to Cartagena, and I'm hoping that I'll see at least a bit more of it than the inside of an air-conditioned conference room somewhere.
Meanwhile, I've hired a Spanish tutor two days per week to help me prepare for my phone test scheduled for May 1. Yup - I have a concrete date now, a goal on the foreseeable horizon. Should all go well on the phone test, I'll receive bonus points to boost my standing on the Consular register. After that, it's just finger-crossing time to see what comes next.
So if you don't hear from me as regularly as usual - it's just because we're up to our eyeballs in work these days. Watch the news around mid-April, and when you see the 10-second news bit about the President and the Secretary's visit to the Summit of the Americas - just imagine all the rest of us behind the scenes making it all happen.