Sunday, April 12, 2015

Bulletins From BA #41

Bulletins From BA #41
12 abril 2015

¡Hola! there… Rodger French here.

So the word has been made official: Our next posting is, in fact, Burma (Myanmar), specifically the city of Rangoon (Yangon). Beginning in late August - exact date soon to be confirmed - we will begin a two-year posting. It’s a very exciting prospect, so I am told. Burma is a serious focus for the State Department and Anne’s job promises to be challenging and important. Plus, literally everyone we’ve spoken with who knows anything about the place has raved.

We’ve just begun our background reading in earnest, so here’s a few glittering generalities I’ve gleaned so far: (1) Burma is primarily Buddhist, but extraordinarily diverse culturally; (2) a complicated civil war is still being fought 60 years on; (3) there are three seasons: Hot and humid, hot and dry, and monsoon.

[Nomenclature Sidebar: There is some uncertainty concerning whether one can/should use the old colonial names (Burma/Rangoon) rather than the newer traditional names (Myanmar/Yangon). Said confusion is abetted by the fact that both DoS and the Burmese themselves freely mix the two. Me, I’m getting older and so choose to continue using the names I grew up with, as long as it doesn’t create any stress.]

I have mixed emotions about traipsing off to this exotic place on the other side of the world. I’m sure it will be a grand experience and all, but first we have to actually, you know, move. This will be our fifth packout in nine years and I am seriously grateful that we have no kids, no pets, and no car to deal with.

But the primary reason for my current, albeit temporary lack of enthusiasm is simply that I will miss living in Buenos Aires. In spite of a lamentably tenuous grasp of español, I have enjoyed Argentina, and Buenos Aires has somewhat infected me. I don’t harbor any pretentions about going native in just three years, but I have developed a deeper understanding of why porteños feel such a profound attachment to their city. And, por supuesto, there’s the music. What a wondrous circumstance for an accordionist.

[Privilege Check Sidebar - Obviously, being furnished a very nice apartment in a very nice neighborhood never hurts. Diplomats live an intriguing life and, in a civilized locale where no one bears you any particular animosity for being an “American,” being an expat can be a very nice state of affairs. We are most fortunate and ever appreciative of this.]

So… with two months left (we leave in June for home leave in the States before continuing onward to post), it’s time to suck it up, get out the multitudinous checklists and heaps of boxes, and begin to get after it. ProTip: It. Never. Gets. Easier.

Tourist Update - Just in case you were wondering, T & A, our buenas amigas from E.E.U.U., made it home safe and sound (and laden with wine and olive oil) after a three-week visit that took them from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, La Rioja, Iguazu Falls, and back. They were excellent guests as well as great tourists, and we thoroughly enjoyed their company. Our very nice apartment seems much emptier without them.

Until we fill it up with boxes in preparation for the movers.