We have finally arrived at what is our post for the next two years. And the city is still fabulous. Our sponsor picked us up at the airport, gave us a bit of information on our ride into town, and then deposited us to rest at our first of two temporary accommodations until our permanent housing is ready the first week in October.

And our cat arrived safely, if not in a timely manner. We’d paid the extra fee for customs to deliver her so we didn’t have to wait an additional three hours at the airport. But they tried to deliver her to the wrong address. So even though we arrived a little before noon, she wasn’t delivered until after 6:00pm. I figured she’d explore the house tentatively as usual, but she practically sprang out of her carrier after being in it for nearly 20 hours (we had to drop her off four hours before the flight in DC).

We arrived on a Friday, so we had the weekend to recuperate. Usually they want you at work at the embassy the day after you arrive, if not the day of, so I was happy to get a short break. We took the opportunity to head downtown and check out the small area around the Thames, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye.

Our son got to ride on a little carousel and a carnival-type kids’ car ride, and pose with a street artist dressed up as a royal guard. We also stopped into Zen Aji Canteen for lunch and watched him try to use chopsticks for the first time, which he was surprisingly successful at considering he just turned three.

Walking along the Thames in central London.

Walking along the Thames in central London.

This weekend we took our son to a lovely little playground in a small park attached to an old church in St. John’s Wood. Then we stopped at a French café for cider and a banana and chocolate crepe with caramel ice cream. Yummy!

So the touristy stuff was fun. But the transition hasn’t been a particularly smooth one. We had a relatively turbulent flight toward the end and our son got motion sick and threw up when we landed at Heathrow.

At work my computer profile was trapped in Belize for the entire first week, so I couldn’t access the majority of the computer programs that I needed, including our basic office calendar. I’ve also had to tutor myself on two online programs that I’d never had to use before, which was rather frustrating.

On Tuesday night our son was jumping on his bed, lost his balance and cracked his head on the windowsill. He cried so hard, and it looked so bad, that I called the duty nurse, who didn’t sound too concerned. But we still ended up bringing him into the health unit after less than a week in country.

On Wednesday we had to move into our second temporary accommodation…and the place is an absolute dump. I’m shocked that the embassy is even using the place for housing. One of the living room windows is cracked in several places, the paint on the ceiling is peeling and falling down in three rooms, the space heater doesn’t work, the base of the fridge won’t stay on, none of the heated towel racks work in either of the two bathrooms, the walls are covered in nails from the previous occupants that apparently moved out less than a week ago, and one of the mattresses is absolutely filthy. And it’s definitely not in as nice of an area as the first one. So coming home to it after a stressful day at work has been a bit of a downer.

And then to top it all off, my husband dropped his iPhone in the toilet yesterday. He’d been rushing around London all week to try to find a suitable sim card so he could have some form of communication (the phone in the apartment doesn’t work, of course) and mapping for getting around town. He finally picked something up on Friday, and now it sits in his phone in a bag of rice on the countertop where he prays it isn’t completely destroyed.

So, it hasn’t been an ideal start to this place that we’ve been looking forward to getting to for the last year. But I’m trying to remain optimistic. Our son is starting nursery school on Monday (with a shiner) and will hopefully enjoy it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my computer profile will be transferred this week, and I can be somewhat functional in my job. And we have two more weeks in this crap housing, but I’d like to think that morale will improve when we get into our permanent place and get our HHE. Then we can finally settle in, feel a little grounded for the first time in three months and really begin to enjoy the city.