May 26, 2008

Settling In

Posted in Journal tagged , , at 4:23 pm by Jenn

Well we’ve been here for a week now and are trying our best to get settled in.  We are still in our temporary apartment, so still living out of suitcases and still eating most meals in restaurants.  The bad thing is that it’s expensive, the good thing is that we are learning the city and meeting new people.  Max isn’t quite sure that he likes it here.  He is rather disturbed by the lack of grass and parks.  He also doesn’t like the way people stare at him and all the stray cats are driving him insane.  This is definitely not a “dog friendly” country.  I guess people don’t really have dogs as pets here.  It’s funny to see the children’s faces with their looks of wonder and sad to see the looks of horror on the mother’s faces as they pull their children toward them fearful that Max is going to harm their children.  Our new apartment is more dog friendly.  Several of our neighbors have dogs and their is a nice grassy courtyard perfect for potty breaks.  We’re still searching for the perfect “off leash” area.

I haven’t tried any “Azeri” food yet, but have been pleasantly surprised that the food I have tried (pizza, chinese, nachos) have been flavorful.  There are little fruit/veggie stands all over the place including one 10 steps from the entrance to my current apartment building.  Strawberries, apricots and cherries are plentiful right now.  Cucumbers, potatoes, and tomatoes are also available.  There is a little green fruit that is sour and has the texture of an unripe plum.  It is really good and sour.  I don’t know the name but will try to find out because they are really yummy and in season now.   The bread is good, like in Belarus.  The lavash type that you need to purchase almost daily because it doesn’t stay fresh long.

The shopping that we’ve seen so far has been interesting.  A pedestrian only area (thank goodness) with shops of all types.  Our favorite so far is the one with knock off sunglasses, watches and purses, etc. 

This is a short work week for Scott with the Memorial Day holiday and also Republic Day later in the week.  We’ve also got a few parties to attend so will be meeting lots of new people I’m sure.

May 20, 2008

First Impressions

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 1:13 pm by Jenn

As far as first impressions go Baku is definitely not up there on “great” ones.  We arrived at day break on Monday and everything looked kind of dusty and dirty.  We were taken to our apartment where we were greeted with piles of trash, construction debris and loiterers.  LOVELY!  My immediate thought was where am I going to take my dog to the bathroom?  There is no grass anywhere near my apartment and in order to get to the grass (patch) 2 blocks away we have to walk through this trash, debris, broken glass, potholes, and loiterers.  Again, LOVELY!

The apartment thankfully, is our temporary apartment.  The inside is very nice (with a few repairs needed).  It is two levels with the bottom level being larger than our apartment in Minsk by at least 2 times.  Upstairs there are 4 bedrooms each with it’s own bathroom.  Plenty of room for guests, you know the one’s that aren’t going to visit me after reading about how dirty this city is!  LOL  The view isn’t so great because it overlooks the trash, construction, loiterers and debris.

Baku is a LOUD city.  You hear horns honking from the drivers that think they own all lanes coming and going.  Driving here is crazy and something that I definitely will NOT be doing.  I’m afraid to even cross the street at this point…these people are NUTS!  You also hear the policia screaming on their bullhorns in Azeri.  Screaming I’m assuming at these idiot drivers, but I’m not entirely sure.

People here are not dog friendly as evidenced by the stares I get when I walk Max and also by the 4 month old puppy with the broken leg that is now being cared for by one of Scott’s co-workers.  There are stray cats everywhere and the cutest little grey striped kitten on our walking path I doubt if it is even 3 months old.

So, here we are!  Thank you very much to whoever dealt us this “shit sandwich”!  If the yarn store isn’t worth it, I’m out of here!  LOL

Oh, and just in case you were thinking about visiting, bring your inhalers and your allergy meds.  I came across this interesting article today while looking for a picture to use for this post. 

May 18, 2008

On The Road Again

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 11:55 am by Jenn

I think Willie Nelson says it best!

Hotel living has definitely run it’s course.  Everyone else headed back to the states yesterday, Scott and I are the last to leave.  Today we leave Lithuania for Azerbaijan.  I am ready to get to my new home and settle in.  I’m not sure how long it will take for us to get internet arranged.  There is some talk of moving us to a temporary apartment before our “real” apartment so it’s hard to tell.  Just get me to the place that I will call home PLEASE!  I guess I’ll be spending lots of time in the CLO (Community Liaison Office) utilizing their computer.  Hopefully it is in walking distance!  Good grief. 

May 16, 2008

Minsk 11

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , at 2:18 pm by Jenn

As most of you know by now Scott and I were among the diplomats who left Belarus on May 3rd.  Ten (10) American diplomats were declared persona non grata and the 11th (Scott) left for administrative reasons. 

This news wasn’t widely covered in the United States, but did finally make the May 12th episode of the Colbert Report.  We also managed to make it to YouTube.  This video was taken on the day we left.  Max has a cameo.  I fortunately did not make the video.  I was probably off to use the restroom as my traveler’s bladder was calling.

What this video depicts is the pre departure and the convoy heading toward and crossing the border to Lithuania.  What this video does not depict are the friends and co-workers that we left behind.

Yesterday the US imposed further sanctions so I’m sure this is all far from over.  Stay tuned.

 

May 14, 2008

Iron Man

Posted in Journal tagged , , at 9:59 pm by Jenn

 

I went to the movies tonight (alone of course as my husband has no taste in movies and opted to stay at the hotel).   There are actually several movies that I want to see right now…Indiana Jones, Fools Gold, Horton, What Happens in Vegas and Iron Man.  I opted for Iron Man tonight and think I’m going back to see Fool’s Gold tomorrow.

So Iron Man was good, but I was a little disappointed.  There was so much press saying how good the movie was and that it was the “best” comic book movie ever so I was ready for a much better show.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie was good, but not GREAT!  Robert Downey, Jr is almost unrecognizable as the Robert Downey Jr that I remember.  Gwenyth Paltrow is just ok, but definitely no award for this role. 

The worst part of the whole movie was that I had to once again settle for popcorn with butter flavor and NO Milk Duds.  No wonder Europeans aren’t fat like us americans!

A few days ago a friend was debating whether or not to take her daughter with another mom (and her kids) to see this movie.  I’m so glad she decided not to go along with this other mom.  This movie is definitely rated appropriately.  PG – 13. 

May 9, 2008

R&R

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , at 1:21 pm by Jenn

Well, there’s nothing like being a refugee!  We are officially homeless.  We are temporarily hanging out in Vilnius, Lithuania waiting on new orders and taking a much needed break from the political craziness. 

We left Belarus via convoy last Saturday morning.  Crossing the border was uneventful, but I did get a salute from the Belarusian border guard so I guess that’s saying something.  Once we crossed the border we were escorted to our hotel by a police escort….AWESOME…except for the fact that I was almost Tboned at an intersection by a guy who obviously wasn’t paying attention to what was going on.  That was scary.

So here we are, haning out.  Max has made friends with all of the hotel employees and many of the guests.  He thinks he is big stuff walking around here. 

We are definitely on our way to Baku.  Azerbaijan.  Another place I never would have considered living and had never even heard of until this experience.  I am looking forward to it and hoping that with all the oil and gas companies there maybe I’ll be able to get a job as some sort of corporate wellness professional.  They speak Russian and Azeri (?) there so I’ll be able to get by with the basics.  I am definitely going to take advantage of the language programs that are available through the State Department to get more proficient.  I doubt that I’ll work at the embassy again.  This last experience was enough government for me I think.  I have finally been paid though which is a plus.

I’m off to the Agriculture Department here to pick up Max’s passport and export paperwork.  Pets require a LOT more credentialing than humans which I find just BIZARRE in today’s world.

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