Visit to Samarkand, Part II

In the first half of my Samarkand travelogue, I talked about our visit to the Amir Temur Mausoleum and Registan Square. In this follow-up companion post, I will describe our visit later that day to the Shah-i-Zinda (“Living King”) complex, a masterpiece lined with tombs.

The complex was founded between the 11th and 12th centuries, named for Samarkand’s patron saint, Kusam ibn Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. A serious list of rules greets all visitors just past the ticket booth, where I paid barely two dollars for V and I to enter.

Visit to Samarkand, Part I

Two days ago marked four months since my arrival in Uzbekistan, and for that entire time, I’ve been settling in here in Tashkent. But finally, last Saturday, two weeks after my husband’s arrival at post, we traveled to the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand along with eight others from the embassy community. It was a great opportunity to change the scenery, even if only for one day, and begin exploring other parts of this beautiful country.

On Balance

On Tuesday, thousands of pounds of household effects (HHE) including consumables were delivered to our home.

Given that I live a short drive from the embassy, I scheduled the delivery in the late afternoon so as not to interfere with visa interviews. I had a couple of business days’ notice while my shipment sat in Customs, so I was ready. Before the appointed time, I zoomed home to sequester my free-ranging yard tortoise into a shoebox. I dug out the shipping inventory in preparation to oversee the unloading of four huge wooden crates of our stuff, and steeled myself against possible aggravation.

On Wheels

Last Friday morning, I learned that within a couple of hours my vehicle would have its green diplomatic license plates and become street legal. I was already in possession of my Uzbek driver’s license and diplomatic accreditation card, so the issuance of dip plates was all that stood between me and the open road. The car had been sitting in the far corner of the embassy parking lot for nearly three weeks after clearing Customs, and I was grateful and elated that I would finally be able to take it home and stop going everywhere on foot or by taxi.

Your Questions Answered

This blog post is dedicated to the people who sent me questions about my life here in Uzbekistan via Facebook, LinkedIn, and email. If you have a question you would like me to answer in an upcoming post, please contact me through one of those mediums or comment this post to let me know! I will tag these posts “Your Questions” in the future.

Life Lately

I’ve unintentionally been on hiatus from blogging for the last few weeks, as I ramp up to meet new responsibilities and additional training at work. All is going well and I have plenty to keep me occupied.

At work, more days than not I look up and ruefully see that I’ve been there 10-11 hours and probably should trudge home, through the dust, to my quiet sanctuary of a home. The only thing that could possibly make it feel more like home would be the much-anticipated arrival of my husband, and our HHE sea freight, in that order.

Nesting Instinct

Over this past three day weekend (Happy 4th!), I have noticed two predominant types of posts on my Facebook newsfeed: those of my friends in the United States barbecuing and enjoying fireworks while decked out in red, white, and blue, and those of my Foreign Service colleagues taking the opportunity granted by an extra day off to travel to nearby countries.

One Year On

One year ago today, the members of the 178th Generalist Class made their way to Main State in northwest Washington, DC for the first day of A-100. Arrival time requested: 07:45. That morning kind of felt like holding onto an electric fence with both hands, for so many reasons.

Additional Cylinders Begin to Fire Up

I was fortunate when I arrived here in Tashkent last month that the consular officers and local staff already working in the section facilitated a great orientation training and familiarization period for me. This helped me quickly learn what consular work looks like relevant to conditions in Uzbekistan; it was a specific and fine-tuned addendum to my ConGen training that took place in this spring.

And what is consular work about, exactly, for the uninitiated? In my opinion, it is very important work – protecting the borders of our great nation, while facilitating legitimate travel, study and even immigration to the United States, as well as serving the needs of our fellow American citizens traveling through or living in Uzbekistan.

Small Wins

As those who know me well would attest, I’ve never been much for competition. I used to work for someone whose top strength, according to StrengthsFinder 2.0, was Competition, with a capital C.

I wasn’t surprised to discover this fact during a staff retreat/training because it described her perfectly. Her competitive nature was an incredibly useful attribute for her, especially in leadership and in motivating teams. But I was surprised to read in the book’s description that such a person isn’t happy just to win, but must absolutely outperform (crush!) all competitors in order to be satisfied.

Holy Air Freight, Batman!

Thursday, May 21, the night I arrived in Uzbekistan, I heard that my UAB (otherwise known as unaccompanied air baggage, or “air freight”) had beat me here. This was totally shocking for me (in a good way), as my air freight had only been packed out less than two weeks before.

I’ve heard dozens of times from officers in all different parts of the world that it generally takes UAB at least three weeks to arrive in Customs in the host country, sometimes longer.

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