Wow. That's really cool to say.
I live in Mexico now.
Who knew that less than a year after graduating from university, I would end up living in a foreign country? What's more, who knew I'd be doing it on government orders? Certainly not me. (Though, admittedly, I was definitely hoping for those things to be true about this time last year!)
There are so many things to describe and tell you about. I don't really know where to start, but here goes nothing!
First, let me describe the drive from Washington to here. I started out by driving over to Lexington, KY, to visit my brother, who recently became the youth pastor at a large church in town. Although I only stayed for one night, I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to see where he's living now and to meet some of his friends and youth group kids. He's pretty stellar at his job, as was evidenced when we went to a local roller skating rink to say hey while a hoard of middle school girls whirled around the room. Talk about feeling awkward (well, I did, anyway! Of course, it's his job, so it was totally cool.) From Lexington, I drove to Chattanooga then to my hometown of Huntsville to visit the parents. I spent the weekend there, which included a visit to my old church and an evening with my high school mentor and his wife and infant son. Because Monday was a holiday, I decided to make a trip down to Birmingham to visit my old university stomping grounds and see some friends. Good times were had by all, and it was really great to see everyone.
Now, on to the part that is actually interesting to you all, my random readers. I left Birmingham with my friend who jumped at the opportunity to take a road trip to Mexico with me. With 16 hours ahead of us, we hit the road on Tuesday evening and drove a while through Mississippi. You know, I didn't think there was anything worse than driving through south Mississippi. I was wrong. Try driving through southeast Texas. There are literally stretches of road where, for 80 or 90 miles, you won't see anything but a few cows. If you're lucky. What struck me most, though, is that, apparently, all of the hotels in southeast Texas are completely booked, every night. After a long day of driving, my friend and I tried to find a hotel room in the city of Victoria, Texas. It seemed like a decent sized city - not huge, but not like a village or anything. I called seven different hotels before finally giving up and continuing on the road to the next closest hotel, which was about an hour away. Thank God for the Best Western in the aptly named town of Refugio, Texas. The accommodations were.. decent.. and we were glad for the break after driving all day.
Which brings us to arriving in Mexico. You know, I had done my homework and read about all of the required documents for applying for my fast-pass border crossing card from CBP and about things I would need to cross the border that first time. Turns out, it's all unnecessary! I suppose being a Diplomat made things much easier than normal, but I was shocked at how quickly it all happened, and without showing one single sheet of paperwork. Oh well. I was approved, so I guess that's all that matters. (Dear CBP - please don't deactivate my card! You were great, I promise!)
When I pulled up to my house, I couldn't believe my eyes. Let me put it this way: Does anyone need maid's quarters? Because I have some, along with a humongous house! I'm not kidding, this thing is huge. I don't know what the square footage is, but it's massive. Have I mentioned that I'm single and just graduated from college? It's going to be difficult to fill the place and make it look like my home, but I'm not complaining. I've got tile floors, a marble-countertop huge kitchen with awesome stove, three bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, a sprawling back and front patio with outdoor grill/sink/foodprep area, and two-car garage. The house is furnished really nicely, and the wall colors are warm and inviting. If anyone wants to pack up and move to Mexico and live with me, feel free! I've certainly got the space! Once I get my (few) personal belongings, I'll definitely host a few gatherings at my place and have friends and coworkers over. I've been told that the hardship/danger at a post has a direct correlation to the housing. When you're as restricted as we are here, your home is where you spend the majority of your time.
Because of the size of my house and my just-out-of-college freshness, I've got a lot of shopping to do. My friend who roadtripped with me accompanied me back into Brownsville, TX over the weekend to make quite a few purchases, and we barely even uncovered the tip of the iceberg. Suffice it to say that I'll be spending a ridiculous amount of money in the next few months trying to make even the basic necessity purchases for this new casa.
As for the Consulate General, I'm really enjoying it so far. I've got a lot to learn, for sure, but I think I've gotten off to a good start so far. Arriving at 8am Friday morning, I met with the Principal Officer and then with various other offices to start my in-processing. By lunchtime, I think I had met almost everyone there, and by closing time, I think I had everyone covered. There's a lot to learn and remember, but I think I can handle it. And, I've my own cubicle and my own visa interview window to boot. Yep.. I'm a cube warrior now. I think I need to learn a few cubicle pranks for when things get pretty monotonous on the visa line. Kind of like this, maybe?
On Friday night, my amazing sponsor took us out to dinner and showed us a little bit of the city. On Sunday evening, she hosted a welcome-to-post party and all of the Americans came to greet me and hang out. After that party, we went to another person's house to watch the Oscars together. All of that outside-of-work time hanging out with the coworkers has helped a lot in getting to know folks.
Well, I think that's enough for this post. It's long, semi-boring, and not really interesting at all. Hopefully I'll have something more punchy and exciting for the next one. Thanks for sticking around.
Until next time... paz.