July 29, 2014

Our First Typhoon

It's now Typhoon Season and it's been raining a lot. We had our first typhoon the same week as my trip with the Ambassador - in fact, the trip was cut short because of the typhoon.  Our pilots keep us safe and made sure we got back to Manila well ahead of the storm.

The folks at the Embassy allowed people to leave early to get home and safe before the typhoon hit.

Typhoon Glenda came through Albay Province and then hit Manila.  It was a pretty big storm and there was a lot of damage.

The trees got blown around a lot outside our building.

The wind blew the construction fabric.

This crane wasn't locked down and instead swung around - it was a little scary.

You could see the big gusts of wind moving the rain.

We spent the day at our place, watching the storm and playing games.  The power went out all over Manila, but we are lucky in that our building has a generator.

A trip with the Ambassador

Whenever the Ambassador goes someplace, an FSO is assigned to be Control Officer.  That person organizes and coordinates the trip - checking in with the Ambassador's Staff Aide, as well as all the agencies.  Eventually (after lots of meetings, emails, discussions, changes, etc.), a schedule is created and the trip begins.

On this particular trip - we got to take the special plane - very cool!

We went to Legaspi in Albay Province for the first ever Special Olympics - put on by the local Peace Corps volunteers.

There was lots of press taking pictures.  And local dancers as part of the welcome / opening festivities.

They gave us local outfits to wear.

The Ambassador was interviewed by local journalism students.

We visited Cagsawa Ruins.  Very peaceful and lovely.

The town is lovely.

And at the base of Mount Mayon - an active volcano.

We were entertained by local singers with a rendition of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance!

The Ambassador gave an interview at the local radio station.

I loved flying in this plane!

Mount Mayon is just beautiful!

Permanent Housing and Getting Our Stuff!

When we first arrived in Manila, we were put in temporary housing.  After two and a half months, we were able to move in to our permanent housing.

We were able to paint before we moved in - which is great and makes it much homier!

I love our kitchen - it has a lot of storage - a pantry - and a big freezer!

It's great for the kids to have their own space - and good desk space for studying.

One of my favorite things is the abundance of shoe storage. Welcome to the land of Imelda!

Can you tell I love shoes?

Once we moved, we were able to get all of our stuff.  Moving day is always tons of boxes.

It's a nice reminder to see the labels of our great moving guys from Brazil!

My cookbook collection

And so the unpacking begins!  I know most people hate moving, and it's certainly a giant pain.  But I really like the inventory that one is forced to take each time you move.  Both getting ready to pack, and unpacking provide an opportunity to really look at your stuff.  Each time, we end up getting rid of items that no longer work.  And also fall in love with stuff all over again as you figure out where to put it.

One thing you always end up with is a ton of hangers.  When you arrive at a post, they give you just a few - so we always end up purchasing a bunch when we first arrive.  And then our stuff arrives and we have all our usual hangers. Then - when you leave post, your stuff gets packed with the hangers - you don't bring hangers in your suitcase. Then you arrive and don't have enough hangers and the cycle begins again.

Getting out of town

The Fourth of July holiday weekend provided us a great opportunity to get out of Manila with some friends.  We travelled south to a nearby dive resort.

On the way, we passed this interest castle that we'll have to check out on a future trip.

It's really fun to travel with new friends!

When we got there - the view was tremendous!

Since we arrived on July Fourth, the resort did a Fourth of July celebration - Filipino style!

It was beautiful!

The next day, we all had fun by the pool.

Water slides are always a hit!

It's great that the kids all play so well together!

And then it was time for snorkeling.  So many great things to see.  It made us really excited to learn to scuba.