Wow. It's been over a month since I posted anything. And that period encompasses the election!
Well, since last we blogged, I returned home from Melbourne, Australia. I went down to Recife, Brasil, for my birthday (October 13) to hang out with my girl, Ana. Previously, I would have described her as my fiancee. Truth be told, I don't think it's going to happen. She is very young and reluctant to move. She has so far been unwilling to discuss custody of her son with either her son's father or a lawyer. So we're in limbo, for now.
I returned to the US on October 14. I spent the following week working downtown at the CA Support Desk. The Support Desk is the help desk that people from consular sections all over the world call for technical help. People like me take turns taking shifts downtown to share our experience from the field with the guys that work the desk. After that I took off for Mozambique.
I left for Maputo on November 1 and flew to Frankfurt, had a long layover, flew to Johannesburg, had a short layover and arrived in Maputo on the afternoon on November 3rd. I caught some of CNN's early morning election coverage in the Baobab Lounge in the Johannesburg airport. It was around mid-morning, so it would have been after 3:00 am in the studio. At that point, it was still close, still undecided but things were looking good for Bush. I had missed all the early exit poll drama! By the time I got to work Thursday morning, Kerry had conceded and all was right in the world. Pheww!
Maputo was all right. Definitely in the "better-than-I-would-have-thought" category. We stayed at an old, colonial hotel, the Polana. It looks out over the Indian Ocean (the Mozambique Channel, as the stretch between the coast and Madagascar is known) and is quite nice. The weather this time of year is quite warm. The hotel had a gym and tennis courts, so one of my colleagues and I hit some balls.
Our first (and only) weekend we went on an outing to Kruger Park, South Africa. Kruger is very large and pretty famous. (I always think of Marlon Perkins and "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" when I think of it.) We spent most of Saturday driving around the park. We were lucky and saw the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, water buffalo) that first day. We stayed at a nice lodge right at the gates of the park. We were up early the next morning for a game drive. After breakfast, we headed back to Maputo.
We worked all that week and then flew out Saturday afternoon, arriving back in Washington on Sunday afternoon. I'll be posting pictures from Kruger on Ofoto later. My next trip is to Sofia, Bulgaria on Dec. 7th.