I’ve been keeping busy cleaning up loose ends from moving (like confirming AGAIN with the trash service that they need to stop billing us for picking up trash), and now I’m adding to that preparations for ANOTHER international move, this one back to the States.
I found a place to rent that seems like it will be good for a kid, and I’m thankful for craigslist, friends in VA who help out with looking at places, and a woman who seems like she’ll be a very cool landlord.
I’m enrolling Mal back in school in the States, with much sadness. The only plus is that the school system there hits the STEM classes harder; Mal is way beyond the math and science they are doing here. But I really appreciate the work they do here on language arts and history.
I’m trying to find after school activities for Mal, which looks like it will be tae kwon do again, instead of the rather awesome selection he has here (soccer, swimming, beisbol, cricket, climbing wall, legos). I’m making a list of all the stuff I’ll need to buy to live in a rental for at least 6 months, until we can move back into our house (like winter clothes! Going back into winter will be tough!), and it’s all going fine. I really thought I’d be back at work in the States next Tuesday.
It turns out that I can’t get travel orders out of here, because I never officially arrived here. Nor did Mal. Which explains why we haven’t been receiving the right amount of COLA (cost of living adjustment), in part. So even though we turned our passports in to the Venezuelan government via the American embassy a month ago to get our carnets, the embassy never registered that we were here.
(A side note about carnets…most countries have a national identity card, and diplomats living in the country get their own version of it. It’s what you show when someone demands “Papers, please.” Which has in fact happened to us, back near the end of the Cold War in Eastern Europe. There’s lots of stuff you need it for. For instance, here you need it to buy groceries. Yes, every person has to show their papers to the cashier, who enters them into the computer, before they are allowed to buy food. It’s been a month, and I don’t have my carnet yet, so just like in any bureaucracy, the system is in working around the system.)
I’d been worried about how we were going to be able to leave without our passports, but that got solved. Now it’s more that we have to arrive here first, so who knows when we can leave? Again, trying to look on the bright side, I’m glad we are finding this out now, and not while being evacuated…or not being evacuated, as the case would be.
In other fun stuff, the moving company who packed us up now says we were over weight, so we are being personally charged a lot of money. Apparently even though they estimated us as at weight, and even though I then sold a lot of stuff including really freaking heavy furniture, they can just say this without proving it.
Also, we were planning on selling our car here, which most diplomats do. There’s a 3-year wait to get a car if you are Venezuelan, so it’s a good market…and for us, it makes sense, because once you leave post, your car remains here for at least 7-9 months before being put on a ship, so you are without a car for a year anyway. I’d been trying to figure out what to do about a car once I’m back in the States. I can get the Miata out of storage, and that’s fine for me and Mal, but not for trips to IKEA to furnish the place, and not for when the DH comes to visit. We hadn’t wanted to buy a car just now though, because we want to use that money to buy plane tickets so we can all see each other as much as possible. Anyway, the thought had been that it might not be so bad to buy a car if we are selling a car here…today, the Venezuelan government announced that people can no longer personally sell cars here.
We aren’t as affected by that as Venezuelans, of course, but it’s an annoyance in a week full of them.
And I don’t even want to talk about how much money we are out of pocket personally as a result of having to move here. When someone talks about Federal employees sucking at the government trough, I will gladly explain how much we pay personally for the privilege of serving our country.