Saturday, March 01, 2014

Cresting One Year in Juarez and Three Years in the Foreign Service

I think the title says it all: we've recently hit our one-year mark here in the northern Chihuahua desert and are now, as my friend called it, on the back nine.  For me it was an important moment because even though I've been in the Foreign Service for three years now (this month!), I haven't been at any post for more than one year.  We curtailed from Bogota just weeks before hitting the exact one year mark to join A-100, so in a way I feel I haven't been able to see an assignment all the way through to completion.  

Time has so many ways of passing, depending on what's going on in one's life.  This is one of the reasons why my husband and I decided to take on a life of continual change, actually.  I find that when someone is in a routine, any routine, time truly flies.  Each Wednesday begins to feel like the last, each weekend blurs into the next one until you realize that one, three, seven years have gone by.  But when placed into new environments, where our senses must be active to adapt and survive, time passes far more slowly.  Each day brings a new sight, smell, taste, fear, joy - something, anything - that makes us feel more alive instead of simply living on muscle memory.  

In some ways it feels as though the next year will take forever to pass. We still have one heck of a summer to get through, which in early March is already teasing us with days as warm as Seattle in late July.  We'll have another rainy, road-flooding season, another Christmas, another tiresome annual employee evaluation to write (just turned mine in yesterday, thank you) etc...  However, given the theory I proposed in the paragraph above, I believe the year will pass quickly as we have definitely settled into a comfortable routine.  I'm really enjoying my work and have reached a level of confidence that each day doesn't feel like I'm a fish on the carpet anymore.  The Tabbies certainly have their days mapped out: breakfast, quick tour of the garden to "read" who shinnied down the tree to invade their turf the night before, grab a few winks on the couch, then up to the bedroom to catch the mid-day sunny spots, then we're home for dinner and some more time in the garden before bed.  It's a nice way to pass a life when you're 15.5 years old (or about 80 in human years). 

But for those of us who are not 80 in human years, I feel that this is my young life and I don't want it to pass so quickly!  My husband and I have started making lists of places we need to see and things we need to do before the buzzer goes off and we have to leave Mexico.  I've recently applied (again) for a rotation into the American Citizen Services section at the Consulate which would mean learning a whole new set of consular skills.  If I'm not selected for that spot, I'll raise my hand for a TDY to another other post in Mission Mexico this summer, like I did last June in Monterrey. Anything to make the most of our time here, both personally and professionally, and milk every drop out of life.  Otherwise it's just too easy to let the years march on and before I know it, I'm 80 and just looking for a sunny spot to rest in.  

To add some color to this contemplative entry, I'm going to close with some photos of our most recent weekend escapes. First to Guadalupe National Park in Texas for a day hike. Later we visited Silver City, NM and finally we had a great camping trip to Aguirre Spring National Recreation Area near Las Cruces, NM.  These little trips are all ways of trying to brighten up our otherwise regular, suburban existence.  (Speaking of which, please notice that I've started to add a list of blogs from and about Juarez, in case any of you are reading this due to being assigned here in the near future.  I understand that there was a recent A-100 flag day wherein NINE new Juarez-bound Consular Officers received their tiny Mexican flags.  Bienvenidos todos!)

Homestead in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX

Canyon view from Devil's Hall Trail in Guadalupe Nat'l Park

Is that standing water? View from the highway towards Guadalupe Nat'l Park and the highest peak in Texas

Lovely campsite in Aguirre Spring Nat'l Recreation Area, NM
Bad moon on the rise - looking east from Aguirre Spring

New day dawning with a huge horizon, Aguirre Spring

Organ Mountains, eastside view from Aguirre Spring

Gila Cliff Dwellings Nat'l Monument, near Silver City, NM

Living room view for Gila Cliff dwellers

Some little friends near our kitchen window in Silver City, NM. I saw 16 different bird species here!

Funky downtown Silver City, NM

How the Tabbies pass the day

An older gentleman loves his basket