Felicitations From Fairhope #04
30 March 2020
[Productive Sideline Sidebar - This series of postings - six in total - was completed before we were all engulfed by the advent of The Virus. We now live in a time when learning to make a protective facemask may soon count as extra credit on a citizenship exam. We can only hope…]
Six Postings on Five Continents (cont.)
Accra - Tourist opportunities were a bit limited, although the horrific slave forts at Cape Coast and Elmina deservedly draw a lot of visitors. The Ghanaians were working hard, however, to improve their tourist service infrastructure and I think it would be interesting to return and see the changes. Countries visited: Ghana, Benin, Poland (for CLO training), Senegal, Togo, Uganda.
Pretoria - Completely off the hook. Southern Africa absolutely abounds with wonderful places to visit and we still have an unfinished list. Countries visited: South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland (now known as eSwatini), Zimbabwe.
Washington, DC – In the USA, air travel is unbearable, the highways invite sudden death, and the passenger railroad system is lame to the point of embarrassment. But, WTF. It’s a big country and DC has a lot of great stuff to see.
Buenos Aires - Argentina, like South Africa, was outstanding for gringo tourists. Another unfinished list. Countries visited: Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay.
Yangon - I have a photo of a sign written in English and Burmese: “Warmly Welcome and Take Care of Tourists.” We enjoyed travelling in Myanmar and SE Asia, although tourist infrastructure varies in its development and in some places the hustle is a bit much. Countries visited: Myanmar (still known officially as Burma), Australia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.
Rome - Are you kidding? Countries visited: Italy, Austria, Malta, Norway, Portugal.
[Travel Clarification Sidebar – Countries listed do not include those visited solo by A.J. as part of her job. Now THAT is an interesting list.]
[Note: This category is based on day-to-day experiences. It is worth mentioning that both of us worked, so late nights were not habitual occurrences. In addition, the CLO (Community Liaison Officer) at each post routinely organized events for embassy personnel and their families. And, obviously, the arrival of visitors tended to reorder things a bit.]
Accra - Once the Embassy relocated to the fabulous Cantonments neighborhood, the quality of social interaction improved markedly (e.g.: “Movie Night at The Hamptons”). Our compound often had community parties and the Embassy, including the Marine House (aka, party central), was a short walk away. In addition, the American and French ambassadors regularly held soirees at their substantial cribs.
Pretoria - Redeemed by the fact that Anne’s excellent boss, who employed an excellent cook, loved to throw excellent parties. Also, the Ambassador was very generous about opening his doors to events for Embassy staff. And the Rosebank Sunday Market in Joburg was a dependably great outing.
Washington, DC – Pretty much what you’d expect. It was also very nice to be able to visit family and friends on a more regular basis.
Buenos Aires - A.J.’s boss, who lived in a killer high-rise apartment, was a fine hostess and the Ambassador’s residence, which is literally a palace, has a lovely outdoor venue for events. We also went to art exhibits, a few movies, and numerous concerts featuring great music in historic theatres with horrible seats.
Yangon - The exemplary staff at “The Shang” went out of their way to plan activities for the residents, and going out to eat, especially Sunday Brunch at The Shangri-La Hotel, was a thing. Events at the Ambassador and DCM (Deputy Chief of Mission) residences were very nice, although getting there in Yangon traffic was an adventure.
Rome - There were the normal plethora of options (museums, galleries, churches, scenic ruins, etc.), but going out at night, especially school nights, was not all that convenient for us, although we did make it to the opera and ballet a few times. The Embassy hosted the usual line-up of family events, but the Ambassador’s residence was, in contrast to previous postings, largely inaccessible to the hoi polloi.
To be continued…