Tag Archive for 'Texas'

Treking around El Paso

When I lived in Melbourne I never went anywhere without an umbrella, because inevitably every time I left the house without

Yep, that's a cow in the back of that Chevy. Only in Juarez!

one it poured rain. I think I’m going to have to start carrying sunblock everywhere I go, since I seem to be getting burnt every weekend.

On my list of things to do in El Paso has been the Wyler Tram Aerialway and hiking in the Franklin Mountains State park. Sunday I crossed the park off the list. The trek turned out be a little more adventurous than I hoped. I wound up getting a bit lost on my way back. I was following what I thought were ties on random trees and cacti meant to mark a trail. I think in reality it was just trash stuck in the branches. After an hour of hiking through a really “rough path” that was covered with shrubs and boulders it occurred to me that I had perhaps strayed off the path. Lo and behold I was hiking in a little gully next to the actual path which was delightfully flat and free of thorny bushes in my way. Sigh, I blame the sun for crisping my good sense.

Our chariot up the mountain

Today’s trek was little more successful. A friend and I decided to check out the Wyler Tram. On the way there were stopped behind a truck that was transporting a rather bewildered looking cow. The  poor thing was nearly pitched over the side about 3 times. I don’t know how he managed to keep his balance. We weren’t the only ones entertained by the poor cows plight. The street vendors seemed pretty perplexed by the  sight as well.

The tram was pretty cool too.  When we reached the top we were able to see New Mexico, Texas, and Juarez. It’s pretty neat to beable to look down and see the border between two countries.  Since I spend so much time in one small corner of Juarez I tend not to appreciate justhow big the city is. I have to say though, as cool as the view from the top of the tram was, that  the most impressive sight of the day was probably the cow in the Chevy.

Catching up!

It’s been a busy few weeks so I’ve sort of slacked off on the blogging. I’ll try to be better in the future! So in the past few weeks I’ve survived my first 4th of July party, obtained an open water dive certification (yes, in the middle of the desert), returned to White Sands for some sledding in 105 degree weather, attended a change of command ceremony at Fort Bliss, and adjudicated a lot of visas. The verdict on the sledding is that it is terribly fun, though it is much easier on the snow and next time we need to check the weather report before we decide to spend an afternoon frolicking in the hot sun. The 4th of July party was better than I expected. The 4th is the major representational event for most embassies and consulates overseas so it’s a working holiday for us.  The result is no one in the Foreign Service really seems to look forward to the 4th.  It is a big deal and we invite a lot of important members of the local community. I don’t have much to compare it to, since I’m in the first year of my first tour but I think like most things in Juarez, our party was a little different than those at other posts. It was held earlier for starters because of the Mexican elections and it had a county fair theme so there were games and cotton candy, which sort of set the mood for what I thought was a more relaxed and enjoyable event. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of interesting people from the Juarez community and I even managed to get through the night with my limited Spanish ability, or at least the lovely people I inflicted my Spanish on were polite enough to pretend they understood me. We also actually got to have the 4th or in this case the 5th of July off, which was an added bonus.

In other representational related events news I had the opportunity to go with a group to the Change of Command ceremony at

All lined up for the review of the troops.

Fort Bliss. Not having a military background, I found it really interesting. It was also just another example of how different a

Foreign Service post this is. In most places I would guess that a significant chunk of the representational events aren’t us representing to another branch of the government. Fortunately it wasn’t a hot day, which is amazing given that it was southern Texas in the middle of July. I would have felt bad for the troops if it was 100 degrees of blazing heat as usual.

On the downside, anyone who has followed the news lately knows the violence in Juarez continues and has been getting worse. Most days it is really easy to ignore. I spend most of my time at home, in El Paso, or at the Consulate, with the occasional lunch, happy hour, or dinner outings thrown in. There was an incident at the mall across the consulate which is one of the places I do go quite a bit. It starts to become a little more real when it encroaches on my little corner of Juarez. Last week was the first time I felt unsafe, it didn’t last long but there are moments when it sneaks up on you. Despite the situation here, I can’t imagine a better group of people to be at post with and we do have a lot of fun.

Outside of work I’ve spent the last three weekends doing class room, pool, and open water sessions for an open water certification. About 8 years ago I went diving on the great barrier reef and had a blast. I meant to come back and get certified then but being a broke college student it wasn’t in the cards. I was hoping to get posted somewhere near water so I could finally

Near Balmorhea- this is the slightly greener part of the desert.

get certified… but well, here I am in Juarez with all of the sand and none of the beach. But lo and behold, there is scuba in the middle of the Chihuahua Desert! Last weekend I went up to Balmorhea State Park in Texas for the open water sessions. It’s a spring feed lake and there were some interesting puffer-like fish there, not quite as spectacular as the great barrier reef but I think I was a little spoiled by my first dive. I’m completely hooked though now and I love the irony of having obtained my cert in the desert. The idea was to get certified before my trip to Cancun in November, though in order good news it looks like I may have the opportunity to hit the water a little sooner. I found out today that I’m going to get to go to Guadalajara for a 3 week TDY in late September. Guadalajara was actually one of the higher ranked posts on my bid list, so I’m incredibly excited to go. It also has the added bonus of being a 40 minute flight from Puerto Vallarta, so hopefully there is some more diving in my near future!

The Road to Juarez Part II

I have arrived in El Paso! Tomorrow morning I’ll cross into Juarez bright and early. Sunday morning

Thanks to the ban on flash photography this is a bit blurry, but I think this captures some of the glory that is graceland!

I awoke bright and early to get a taste of Memphis “culture”. I started the day at Graceland which was fairly amazing. Amazing in the sense of “wow, I can’t believe how tacky this is.” Yes, all my hopes and dreams were fulfilled. It was just as I hoped. I think my personal favorite was the Jungle room which was covered in green shag carpet.
Continue reading ‘The Road to Juarez Part II’