machete on the flag, y’all

Three days remain of the 153rd A-100 training.  I imagine everyone’s heads must still be spinning from the infamous flag day ceremony on Monday. I am certainly a member of camp vertigo, if not its chief of operations. It’s a ton of information to digest in a small amount of time. My mom and stepdad are en route from Battle Creek, MI, slated to arrive this evening. Snakes’ family arrives tomorrow and Friday morning. All are here for the formal swearing in ceremony taking place that afternoon.  My intention was to cook up a “post-themed” dinner-cocktail party for Friday evening. Imagining tapas and paella with a crisp Albarino if Madrid was announced, maybe some sort of pulled pork tacos with fresh warm corn tortillas, cilantro and lime with citrusy margs if Mexico City, or some version of BiBimBop if Korea was our destination. I’ll admit to not having a plan for Luanda.  How exactly do you ferment cornmeal paste and do you think I can get that rollin’ before Friday?

Before leaving the house Monday afternoon, I seriously considered having a glass of wine, even poured one, but then decided against it because I wanted my wits about me entirely. I regretted this puritanical decision almost immediately upon arrival at the FSI as the pre-ceremony anxiety was as palpable as it was infectious. I settled in next to my fellow spouses, pouring over my high-lighted and dog-eared copy of the bid list, reminding myself to breathe. Ceremony under way, FSOs going up to collect their flags, excitement, disappointment (?), confusion, relief. When Snakes’ name was called as the Angolan flag flashed across the overhead projector, a mispronunciation made me hesitate to understand what I was hearing.

“Wait…. that’s me. I mean him. Wait a minute- What? Where did they say?”

“Luanda, Angola. Did you guys bid that one high???”

Yes. Yes, we did. Our rationale: we are so delighted to have this opportunity, to be members of the FS community, to serve where ever we are needed. (I know it sounds nauseatingly altruistic, but bear with me here). We’ll learn to speak Portuguese fluently. We get to stay in DC until February which means holidays with families and more time to get “Project: Bun in the Oven” up and running.  Snakes will get his “consular” rotation out of the way (which I believe all FSOs must do within the first 5 years). Those logistics all look great.

Now for Luanda in particular… I have MUCH research to do.  I just got an email from Amazon letting me know that my big sis has 3 books about Luanda/Angola/Africa on their way to us. (Thanks lady! You’re the best.) I look forward to discovering some non-biased information, instead of the post reports I’ve come across which seem a little hot headed and emotional. I know it’s going to be very expensive, but so are DC, Paris, and Manhattan. I’ve survived those, pocketbook still intact. I think the important thing is to not be afraid of what I don’t know.  And if it turns out that I am required to defend myself against pythons and aggressive backyard weeds with a machete, you, my friends, will be the first to hear of it.

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14 thoughts on “machete on the flag, y’all

  1. I do so love your writing style Eve. Like Devon, I’ve been checking back to hear how you feel about this post. So glad you are happy. It really sounds exciting & interesting from what I’ve read. I sure hope you’ll keep blogging when you get there as I want to learn more secondhand. Congrats!! Will you take portuguese too? And good luck w your special project!! 🙂

  2. You’ll do great. It’s an adventure! There will be great textiles… you’ll meet amazing people. The dogs can go, right?
    Can I put in the first order for a bag made from wildabeast hide? Or some other random local (legal) specialty?

  3. Hi, I love reading blogs of foreign service officer! I just came across your blog as I was searching on wordpress. Good luck with the tour in Angola! Someday I hope to take the test for FS but not sure yet (as I yet to become a US citizen first!!). I look forward to reading about your adventure! 🙂

  4. Firstly, I think it is quite awesome you got Angola as your first posting. You getting your adventure start off well I’d say. Angola is considered an emerging power in Southern Africa. You probably know this already, the last president of OPEC was an Angolan. There’s still lots of developments and infrastructure that needs to happen, but it is considered by the expert to be the country with enough economic potential to rival South Africa in many form. Your husband specialty being public diplomacy should be well serve with this posting – there’ll be constant flux. The expat community is sizable so you’ll have good social resource. You’ll also have the opportunity to travel all around the region, even do weekend shopping trips to South Africa if you wanted to. However, for best outcome, I think it is important to get with people who has a sense of adventure and of fun first off. Most literature you read about the place will probably prepare you for about 10 – 20% of what to come – there’s nothing like experiencing a place first hand. Get there, put your pictures up, buy yourself some plants and hunker down. And congratulation, welcome to the new frontier.

  5. It’s Friday, and that means that the Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up – and you’re on it!

    Here is the link:
    http://bit.ly/aic8FC

    (If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)

    Thanks!

  6. Good luck, Eve! I hope you’re happy with the assignment. My first post had a sword on the flag, too – all we need is to find someone going to Mozambique to have the weaponized flag trifecta!

  7. All good reasons to bid it high. . . (And glad to hear it WAS a high.) But, wow. . . yeah, I was in shock, too, when we were given Kenya. (It was high, but still. . . somehow a shock. . .) Glad y’all will be around awhile longer, too. *grin*

  8. paraphrasing a little bit, Happiness is in the eye of the beholder. You can make things chicken sh-t or chicken salad, it’s up to you.
    Learn about Angola, read good an bad, highlight the good. Meet people now that are going to be close and network here. Don’t worry about minutiae…
    Babe, who the he’ll are you kidding! You lived in Detroit – everyone, including people that live there, hates Detroit, yet you had it a paradise!!! You had you little garden, your studio, your market , your dinner parties… Come on, now…
    I see the title of you new book…
    My Angola, a diplomat’s wifes’s paradise!
    Both you and David are great people. Others always flock to you to share in your joy and craziness.
    Sleep with a smile, never a dull moment, enjoy it!!! What the hell, your a diplomat baby!

    P.S. We loved your house, neigborhood, party, dinner and if course milkshakes. My personal MVP you spices watermellin with cheese…delicious

  9. My darling, adventurous daughter~I shall never stop sending you positive vibes and prayers the entire time you are there…PROMISE LYTP Mom

  10. You are probably familiar, but if not, check out http://www.talesmag.com. It’s an awesome collection of input from expats. Some is positive, some not, so take it with a grain of salt, but feel good knowing it is first hand account.

    Agree with the sappy 🙂 go where they need us part, we feel it too. And we wanted to be thrown in the fire right out of the gate. Don’t give us refinement, give us adventure and a tour full of memories. Best of luck to you!

  11. I’m a Canadian dip who just got back from Angola in Feb (and did several rounds of the US Embassy there). Shoot me over an email if you have any questions- I can try and help!

  12. We cannot do it all, it takes a long time, for women especially , years in fact to learn this lesson!!! I am still learning it. You will chose language lessons or your craft and it will be based on what is important for you now and what will give you greater satisfaction and peace and enjoyment. Just make the decision so that your life can be more centered and peaceful…….

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