Friday, January 8, 2010

Postings from Pretoria #27

09 January 2010

Hello there... Rodger French here.

Photo Update Alert:


I hope your Holidaze were enjoyable and that your New Year has arrived accompanied by some appropriate mix of relief and anticipation. A.J. and I did some traveling, visiting the Sondelo Nature Reserve (and Wildlife Centre) for Christmas and Malapo Country House, just down the road from Blyde River Canyon (a breathtaking place), after New Year’s. We faced down holiday traffic, torrential rains, and ubiquitous potholes… and returned safe and/or sound.

The big news, in case the grapevine doesn’t run by your place, is that Anne has gotten her next assignment. It’s for two years beginning in September, and definitely a hardship post: Washington, DC. I know, I know… how bad can it be; at least there’s a common currency and language. And we’ll be closer to our U.S. family and friends, not to mention all our possessions currently in storage and in desperate need of reorganization. And I am looking forward to decent bike trails and first-run cinemas. This is all good.

The downside is that housing is heinously expensive, DOS logistical support is basically bupkis, and 2010 is a mid-term election year. But I’ve decided to try approaching our DC assignment as I would any foreign posting: Enjoy the good stuff (free museums, proximity to NYC and New England, Ethiopian food), try to avoid danger (teabaggers, downtown ATMs, the Beltway), and generally ignore things that are just plain annoying (the “Village” media, the U.S. Senate, The Capital Steps). It is also my avowed plan to continue these postings under the sobriquet “Dispatches from D.C.”

Meanwhile, we will be coming separately to the States for “R & R” (Rest & Relaxation… possibly Rock & Roll) very soon. I arrive in the ATL on January 21, whereupon I will be engulfed in a frenzy of musical events, about which you will unavoidably be hearing more. A.J. joins me in February and we’re off to the Gulf Coast in pursuit of merriment, specifically Mardi Gras in Nuevo Orleans and a family wedding in Pensacola.

Then it’s back to South Africa, where, in our remaining few months here, we will endeavor to travel to as many places as possible still on our “must visit” list, Namibia being destinazione turistica primaria. And, of course, the 2010 World Cup begins in June, so the Mission is already becoming a beehive of hyperalert activity. I fully expect to be working steadily soon after our return. Personally, I think it’s going to be a memorable time to be in ZA and am most grateful for the opportunity to be part of it. I hope the South Africans pull this off; it could be a great boost for their country.

Meanwhile, we’re slogging through yet another ”wildcat” strike by rubbish collectors (probably the same people who stole one of our bins), summer vacation (the “silly season”) is over, so every motor vehicle in Gauteng Province is back on the roadways-still-under-construction, and President Jacob Zuma just took another wife. Business as usual.

See (some of) you soon. Onward.