Tuesday, September 5, 2017

First Ten Days in Bamako

We're here...we made it.  We're in Africa!  Bamako, Mali, to be precise.  We've made it through our first ten days and so far so good.

Before we left DC, we made one last stop at the US Botanical Gardens to see the blooming Amorphopallus titanum.  The plant that has a ginormous flower that smells like rotting meat  Yep, that's the one.

After that, we were off to Bamako via Paris for two nights.  Ah, Paris, La Ville Lumière, you don't disappoint.  We stayed at a lovely boutique hotel in the 8th:  Le Pavillon des Lettres.  A truly charming hotel, well situated.  Maybe a bit of a splurge, but c'mon, we're headed to Mali for two years.  To top it off (literally, as we were in a room in the converted attic space), we had an Eifel Tower view.  Magnifique!

Mark and I on a tourist bus in Paris

Fun with forced perspective!

Yes, the actual view from our bedroom window!

Searching for Lady Marmalade (we didn't find her)

The flight to Bamako was uneventful.  Cosmo did great on each flight.  On the way to Paris, he even had his own seat - merci, Air France!

He even has his own seatbelt

Cosmo leading the way through CDG!

My "first" day at work was an embassy-wide celebration for Tabaski.  There was a raffle of lots of prizes for the local staff with the special prizes being mouton and a very special grand mouton.

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Over the weekend we found a local market with our embassy sponsor.

Our first Bamako market purchases - mats for the porches.

The actual work is good.  I have a great staff and the other employees seem welcoming and happy to be here, for the most part.  It's busy though.  Our house is also quite nice:  lots of space and storage space, really nice gardens, and a beautiful pool (that as of today, is now crystal clear).

Luckily, we arrived in time for two four-day weeks with a four-day weekend in between.  We got do a little bit of exploring in our neighborhood and around Bamako.  It's definitely different than what we're used to.  But, that's what we signed on for, right?

Cosmo makes friends wherever he goes.

You are here (or somewhere around there).

Kids are kids anywhere - a branch and a puddle = fun!

Goat of Bamako.

This little guy was fascinated by us.

Pirogues on the Niger River.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Nine Days to Go

The countdown is on...nine days until we leave.  Most of our stuff has left, including our car, so now it's just Mark, Cosmo, and I and whatever we can carry with us (well, two checked bags, a carry one, and a personal item each - plus I think we'll have one extra bag for purchases we may make in Paris).  We have our housing assignment, social sponsor, and work sponsor; Cosmo's paperwork to travel to Paris and then Bamako is in process; we have our Malian visas; I've got hard copies of all relevant and important documents that will go in my carry-on luggage; and we've (hopefully) got our airline seats all worked out.

One last training course to go:  Foreign Affairs Counter Threat training - aka Crash & Bang.  Here'a a clip from CNN about it:

During July and early August we've had some DC-area fun.  We visited some Virginia wineries

We went shopping for consumables at Costco

Day trip to Annapolis, MD

David visited us

We took a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building - we went to the House of Representatives Gallery, too (but no pics allowed of that)

BTW - I follow Frederick Douglass's Twitter @FDouglass2020

The inventor of American Beer - right?

The Apotheosis of Washington on the Capital dome 

It was sunflower time in the DC area.  These were blooming at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD

We went to see the new Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Hirschorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

We went to Monticello in Charlottesville, VA (unfortunately, no pics allowed inside the house)

 This is the University of Virginia Rotunda, also designed by Thomas Jefferson

The Man himself - Thomas Jefferson

 One last bike ride on the Arlington Loop with one last shot from Gravelly Point

And finally, one last stop at our local wine bar, Bistro 360

I'm pretty sure the next update will be from Bamako, so stay tuned!