I feel like I’ve been a little negative in my posts lately…or at least focusing on some of the potentially negative issues like the danger and hazards overseas. So I’m feeling inclined to daydream and find some silver linings today.

Silver Lining Item 1: Housing. We did find out that we’re going to be living on the compound in Belize, so yaaaaaaay!!! We also found out that we’re going to have a two-story house that’s 2700 square feet with three bedrooms and four bathrooms. That is simply wonderful. We’ll have enough for our family and a room for visitors, which hasn’t always been the case in the past. All those people who’ve slept on futons and couches in the living room will finally be able to sleep in a real bed. I believe this will be the largest house that I have ever lived in.

Not having left the country yet, I’ve already picked up on the fact that in the FS the countries that are the most difficult to live in generally have the largest and nicest housing. I imagine that is because it is not only cheaper to obtain than in more developed countries, but it is also extremely important for safety and morale. If you’re in Western Europe you’re probably going to be in an apartment of some kind.

My friend M is going to Moscow and they actually have several housing options: a compound in the center of the city, apartments, or suburban townhouses. I remember reading the same thing about Bangkok. You can either live in a spacious apartment downtown or a resort-style house in the suburbs with an hour commute. But it’s close to the international school. So there are always lots of things to consider when you’re deciding which locations to bid on. I recently came across a blog by a Dutch girl living in Belize and she had this to say about the compound:

There is a humongous American embassy in Belmopan, amazing for such a small country as Belize, and the American staff live in a highly secured compound guarded by over 55 security guards, which is probably more than the number of residents. Once inside you feel like you are in a completely different world. Elegant houses, perfectly maintained lawns and sports facilities. […] The homes are dark and cool inside, with central a/c all day as if they don’t have to pay their own electricity bills, and everyone has gadgets. Giant gas barbecues, special beer coolers on wheels, espresso makers, yoghurt machines, ice cream makers, fitness equipment, fancy kids toys, 20-gear bicycles, computers and TVs in every room (always on). I can imagine that it is very tempting to stay there all the time.

It is always interesting to see what other people think of us. Here’s a link to her site, if you’d like to read more.


Silver Lining Item 2: Wardrobe. It’s relatively casual. As much as I want to be one of those high-fashion, gorgeous professionals (think Milla Jovovich in the July 2009 issue of Harper’s Bazaar), the truth is that I’m a tad lazy, and some of those looks take way too much effort. I like to be comfortable. I love pajamas and jeans and sweaters and sweat pants, which is probably why I spent so long in the Antarctic. My hair is almost down to my waist because it’s easy to take care of and sweep back into a chignon or ponytail. I’m also a size 18 (I blame it on the baby…even if he is almost a year old). So I don’t feel particularly high fashion in anything. I love platform shoes, but now that I’m almost 40, they’re starting to strain my knees.

So you can see that I have some challenges in the wardrobe arena. The dress code at most embassies is either business or business casual. But from what I’ve heard, the one in Belmopan is an even more casual business casual thanks to the heat. So at least I won’t be completely miserable in a suit. I’d also like to think that I’m going to take advantage of the next two years with all the fresh fruit and good weather and really get into shape. So maybe I can fit into a nice dress when we get posted somewhere that does have a Marine ball. 🙂

It wouldn’t kill me to get a new hairstyle though.

Silver Lining Item 3: Next Post. Yes, I’m already thinking about it. Our first two bidding cycles are different than they will be through the rest of our career because they’re “directed”. You get your 20 options and you rank them and they send you where they want you to go. Belize was 14th on our list. Our next bidding cycle will be slightly larger as it will include other posts from entering OMS classes this summer, but it still won’t be as big as the one after that. For our third bidding cycle we’ll be able to choose from EVERY open position out there for the summer. There are two seasons: summer and winter, and there are over 800 OMSs. So I’m really looking forward to seeing THAT list.

Two years from now I know they will have at least one priority: getting us into a different region. The State Dept separates the world into six different regions or Regional Bureaus. They are Western Hemisphere, Europe and Eurasia, Near East (North Africa and the Middle East), Africa, South and Central Asia, and Eastern Asia and Pacific. I’ve included a fun little map. If you’d like more info about a particular region, please visit the State Dept’s website at www.state.gov/countries.

So that means, if they play by the rules, that our next post will be nowhere in Central or South America. Moscow and Ukraine were at the top of our list last time, and you can bet they will be again next year (the bid list comes out a year in advance). And I now have two years to brush up on my Russian. Da, dahling.