It's now been two months since I arrived in Cote d'Ivoire. I'm having a great time--I'm doing well at work and I'm enjoying my social life here. I think I really learned some things from my first tour and I'm getting established more quickly, which is a great feeling!
The month started on kind of a low note with my apartment getting flooded. All of the ground floor units got flooded to some degree after the pump failed during some intense rains. I hadn't realized it, but our apartments have no natural drainage and rely on pumps going 24/7 during rainy season to keep from flooding. It was a little alarming to have so much water coming in, and to look out and see that the water that was in my house was part of one unbroken puddle going all the way back over the terrace and into the back yard as far as I could see!
But the response from my apartment complex and from the Embassy's facility staff was very impressive. The apartment complex had a crew come out to set up an interim pump within just a few hours, and once our apartments were drained, they set up sand bags along all the doors and windows that will stay in place until the new drainage pipes they're installing are fully functional. The Embassy sent over a crew to clean all our apartments and provided me with two dehumidifiers that keep filling up with water at an incredible rate. I'm honestly kind of lucky, because this happened right before my unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) arrived, so I only had the stuff I brought with me in my suitcase meaning none of my furniture or personal belongings were really damaged, I just had to wash some clothes. Some people in my apartment complex had art and rugs end up seriously damaged.
In lighter news, I've been participating in a workout group on Sunday mornings, and one of the group members invited us all to an organized trail run through Ivoire Trail for her 40th birthday! It was a great chance to get out of the city and see a little more of Cote d'Ivoire, although their use of the word "trail" was a little generous at points.
I've also attended my first book club meeting and a few happy hours. Although it's still summer transfer season and a lot of people are on their way out, or at least gone on long vacations, we have a few new arrivals making the State Department-leased units in our apartment complex feel a little less empty. It's nice to know who I'll be living and working alongside for the next two years.
On the work side of things, I covered for my boss as Acting Consular Chief for a week, and despite a few challenging things coming up, I think I did pretty well! It was definitely a positive experience. I've also recently started conducting immigrant visa interviews. They're very different from non-immigrant visa interviews, but I'm starting to get the hang of it.
One great development has been that I've started with the post language program, where I take French classes twice a week. The teacher is fantastic, one of the best language teachers I've ever had. He makes class seem to fly by, and somehow I walk away with tons of notes on vocabulary and corrections but while we're in class it mostly just feels like a fun conversation. It's a great chance to improve the French skills that I use for work, but I've also asked to work on a few personal/aspirational skills and topics, like better understanding slang, or how to give a brief off-the-cuff speech at an event. I have a great teacher right now, so I want to take full advantage.
And on Thursday I received my household effects (HHE) shipment, meaning that all of my worldly possessions are now here in Abidjan! (Give or take a few small articles I've forgotten/left for safekeeping at my parents' house.) I spent a lot of time this weekend organizing everything and I think the place actually looks pretty nice. It's definitely a pleasure to have so much more to do--my French books, my viola, the paint-by-numbers kit I started in Mexico, etc. I still want to have the facilities people come by and hang up my wall art (which they'll do for you one time so that you don't mess up the walls), but that's not urgent. I'm amazed that my stuff is all here after just two months. Really helps me feel at home!