Sunday, June 22, 2014

Finding Beauty in Small Details

In one respect, the following is only tangentially related to life in the Foreign Service. But on the other hand, it is about finding beauty (and humor) in the small details of unfamiliar, seemingly unpleasant or uncomfortable environments - which is all about life in the Foreign Service. 

I hope to write this more via pictures than words.  I'm also including a link to a friend's blog where he documents 101 changes in his life - both good and bad - in the past year since his wife signed on the dotted line with the State Department and they moved to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.  

When my husband, the Tabbies and I drove west from Virginia to Ciudad Juarez over one year ago, we were somewhat prepared for living in a desert environment.  By "prepared," I mean that we obviously understood that it would be dry, beige, hot and windy.  It wasn't too many hours' drive out of Dallas that and got our first glimpse of the scenery in West Texas and the Northern Chihuahua desert and what our lives would be like for the next two years.  This was the first view from the car window:


We got your wide-open spaces here, alright.

Now I see why there are so many train songs in country music.

We began to explore our new home, and little by little, began to find beauty in the desert landscape. It's often a subtle beauty:
A small patch of standing water along the highway made us hit the brakes one day. 

Sidewalk markets are reliable sources of color and beauty. 

When flowers won't grow on their own.

Beauty persists in the toughest of conditions. 


But then again, sometimes it's a big, awesome beauty, which could compete with the architectural beauty of any cathedral:


Moonrise over the desert.

Sunrise makes waking up early worth it. 

Our own cathedral spires.

Besides being able to find beauty in a new environment, and recognizing and appreciating things simply because they're NOT what you're used to, finding humor in the face of sometimes ridiculousness is also necessary. Like when it rained last summer and the major avenues flooded.  (Driving on the sidewalks or in oncoming lanes can be exhilarating and oddly freeing!)

 Yes, that's a rebar fence hidden in the depths. 

I'll now hand you over to our correspondent in the Congo, for his take on what changes a year can bring to a life.  What I liked about this slideshow is that he picks up on this theme of noticing the beauty, the humor, and often the exasperation of life in a new environment. This collection illustrates my motto: when in doubt - do whatever will make a better story later!

Life Changes

Enjoy.

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