Congratulations, Shannon and Ryan!

Wow it felt sooo good to see everybody over the weekend!  I have missed you all tremendously and was in major need of hugs.  A weekend was definitely not enough time - it was really weird to leave knowing you all were going back to Des Moines and I was going back to DC but Joey and I have such a jam-packed schedule coming up, Christmas will be here before we know it!  This weekend is my big marathon (getting nervous!), next weekend Mal and Steve are coming (yay!), then two weeks after that Lizz is coming for Thanksgiving (yay!), the next weekend our friend Lauren is coming (another yay!) and then Christmas is only three weeks away - and our move to Nigeria!  And one of the few empty weekends in there I think our friend Bill is coming to visit too so time is definitely going to fly.

Shannon, you were a beautiful bride and I loved your dress!  The wedding was intimate and gorgeous and Joey and I were really glad to have been able to be there.  And Ryan, the blueberry cupcakes were awesome!  We also really enjoyed our weekend in New Orleans.  What a cool city - from the stunning architecture to all the different street performers, from the rich food and unique cocktails to the coolest cemeteries I have ever seen, New Orleans and all of her charming residents were a welcome change from the "Northern charm and Southern efficiency" (JFK) of DC!

A "2nd Line" Procession
The preparation of "The Green Fairy" cocktail, made with Absinthe!
The taste of "The Green Fairy" cocktail
Seriously, does it get any cooler than this?
From a balcony on Bourbon St., about midnight.   People were just getting warmed up.

MMM!  Yummy beignets at Cafe du Monde tasted like funnel cake - perfect with chickory coffee!

When I returned home Monday, it was business as usual.  Moe had locked himself in the bathroom (went in for a drink of water and accidentally shut the door behind him with his cone) and somehow managed to claw the door frame beyond recognition.  His tail was also kind of bleeding through his bandage, and the vet recommended bringing him in, so after Joey got off work in Virginia (4 pm), he drove home to DC (5 miles, 40 min), picked up Moe and me, drove back to Virginia (5 miles, 30 min) to the vet.  The vet said everything was okay and actually moved up his appointment to get his sutures out to Thursday instead of next Monday - yay Moe doesn't have to wear his cone all weekend!  So then we drove back to DC (5 miles, 40 min), where we dropped Moe off, picked up some African beer and headed back to Virginia (you got it, another 5 miles, 40 min) for the 156th African potluck.  Just another day in the life!

Our dinner was actually quite enjoyable.  All of the people in Joey's A-100 class who got posted to Africa were in attendance, and most brought food from their country or the region.  I have to admit - I liked everything I ate!  Everybody shared their hopes and anxieties about their postings and it was really reassuring to know I'm not the only one who is apprehensive.  I also heard an even worse could-be-worse tale that I thought I'd share because this one makes Niger sound tolerable.

Single woman, 24, sent to Central African Republic.  Post size: 5.  Other 4 Americans?  Middle aged men.  Living situation?  Studio or 1 bedroom apartment, shared with another FSO.  Computers: None.  Not even in the embassy.  Apparently they are always stolen so no computer, no internet for two years - in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa!  Told to bring a gun.  Also told not to go anywhere alone or she will be raped.  Finally, told to bring all of her food for two years.  That's right.  Canned food.  Canned meat, canned vegetables, canned fruit.  Two years.  Nigeria is starting to look pretty nice!  (By the way, this woman is apparently in Joey's training and he says she is exceptionally positive about her move - she said everyone keeps asking her how she's doing and she says she is fine - no big deal - she is ready.  I can tell you straight up right now - no flipping way.  If that was Joey's post?  Honey, I love you, have a great time in Africa.  I'll see you in two years.  She is a waaaay better person than I.  That is probably why she is a diplomat and I am not.)

I thought I would start sharing some facts about Africa.  Today I got a Sherman's Travel Bulletin with the Top 25 Travel Deals for the week.  One of them was a Kenyan safari.  So I looked to see how much a ticket from Abuja to Nairobi would cost.  $1600!?!  Why?  Well, I looked at a map and Kenya is on the opposite side of Africa as Nigeria.  Which is 2137 miles.  Just to put that in perspective, the driving distance from San Francisco to Chicago is 2135 miles, and on American highways that would take you 31 hours and 18 minutes.  And both Nigeria and Kenya are situated where the African continent starts to narrow out.  Here's a great map I found to provide a frame of reference.