Life in Juarez

I have been very, very bad about updating. I can’t even blame it all on the lack of internet because thanks to my amazing sponsor I had internet after a few days. It’s hard to believe that I arrived at post exactly a month ago! I haven’t been out much in Juarez because I live about 10 minutes from the border and thanks to the SENTRI pass it is just so easy to cross and go shopping in El Paso. Next weekend the CLO is organizing a city tour of Juarez and I am hoping once I get a better feel for where things are in the city I will start doing more in Juarez other than basic grocery shopping.

My impressions of Juarez, what I have seen of it are that it is a dusty border town. I have seen a fair number of police around but I don’t feel like I am living in a police state and I honestly don’t feel like I am in danger every second of the day. That isn’t to say I’m not being careful or taking it seriously, but Juarez really isn’t what it is being made out to be in the news. It is a city where normal people are going about their normal business in a bad circumstance.

My house is amazing. It is a 3 bedroom house with a small yard and 2 sitting rooms. It is by far the nicest place I have ever lived. After about a week of orientation-type stuff I started working on the Visa line in the NIV section, though I was working really easy cases for the first two and a half weeks. After a few days of doing full interviews I can honestly say, thus far I really enjoy it.  I

This is my dust bowl of a backyard, don't be fooled. I took a picture of the grassy half. The other side is just dirt.

feel like my Spanish has improved a little bit and that I am getting more comfortable speaking Spanish. I’ve heard that since visa work can get a bit repetitive most people feel like their Spanish deteriorates.  I can also see how after a few weeks since I am going to be having the sameish conversation over and over again, that my Spanish inability might once again start to slack off, but for right now I’m getting a bit more comfortable working in another language. Outside of work I have up until now mostly been just going home and getting my house in order. I spent a few days last week gardening. I toiled away in the 100 degree weather to plant a few new bushes in my empty backyard and throw down some new grass seed to try to fill in the barren spots. I was rewarded with 3 blades of new grass and 2 of my 5 plants, still clinging to life. I suppose these are the joys of living in the desert. Perhaps I should try this exercise in futility again in the fall when it isn’t insanely hot.

I’ve been going a little insane in the evenings since I’m used to either going to my martial arts class or going for a run or a ride in the park. I lived next to a really nice park in Maryland and I’m not sure whether there really is a good place to run in Juarez or if that is really a good idea. So instead I’ve decided to pick back up the martial arts and try a few new things too. I’ve been studying Aikido in Maryland for the last few years and found a class in El Paso. It is a different style of Aikido, but that is fine with me. It should be interesting. I’ll start that again in 2 weeks which should be fun.

I also decided now was the time to take this class I’ve always wanted to take… I haven’t had the time or the money before to invest but since I am in the middle of the Chihuahua desert where there is such an abundance of ya know, water, it strikes me that this is the perfect place to do my PADI Open Water Dive Certification. Yep, I am not even joking. I went diving in Australia a few years back and I’ve always wanted to go ahead and get certified. I even managed to find a dive center in El Paso. Really what this is all about is that I appreciate the irony of learning to Scuba dive in the middle of a desert. The other motivating factor is that I have two trips scheduled in November, the first to Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead and the second to Cancun and I’d like to dive while I am out in Cancun. I’m all signed up and I’ve got my dive books so I am pretty jazzed!

Other than learning my job and settling in to Juarez I’ve been to a lot of parties at people’s houses and done a little traveling. Last weekend I went to Mesilla, New Mexico and the weekend before I went up to Santa Fe and Acoma Pueblo. I will have to update my blog to write up that trip. I can’t promise that I will always succeed but I am going to try to update this more regularly!

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