After nearly three months at post, Matt and I have finally unpacked and sorted out the apartment. We employed a trick well known to Foreign Service families: as soon as all the boxes and clutter started taking on an air of permanence, we invited everyone we knew to come over for Sunday afternoon cocktails. Nothing forces you to clear the cobwebs like having 20 of your colleagues stop by for punch and cookies.
Even a minor fest is a major effort in Bosnia. First, we had to devise a menu. So much for basic crudites and dip...the only crunchy vegetables on the market were red peppers. Then we had to find the one market in all of Sarajevo that had raspberries for the punch (everything is in season here for one or two weeks at a time, then they're gone forever). The worst part was buying ice. I cannot think of another country in the world where bags of ice would be so difficult to find. On Sunday morning, Matt had to go from cafe to cafe with a cooler on his shoulders, buying ice from waiters. (Our other option had been the 30-minute drive to the American PX in Butmir. There are only two large grocery stores in Sarajevo, and neither carries ice.)
However, the party went swimmingly well. We'd scheduled it from 2-5 pm, and the last guests left at precisely 4:59. This was a big change from our Bogota parties, where the last guests were forcibly shoved out the door at 4:59...in the morning. Matt and I munched on leftovers, played two rounds of Simpsons Monopoly, then listlessly wandered around the house with an air of "....now what?"
I will say that Sunday afternoon parties are awesome if you need to restock your bar. Everyone still brings a bottle of wine, but sips iced tea instead. We now have enough booze to last the rest of our tour.
In other news, I've been doing ferocious battle with Sarajevo's weather. It's unpredictable and harsh, and we're just finishing up a summer cold snap. Yes, you heard me right. A cold snap. In summer. I wore a sweater, scarf and peacoat to work on Friday. It rained for four days straight. No one seems to have noticed the fact that it's August. Not October. Not March. It's freakin' August. According to the locals, it has snowed in August before (and, in fact, it snowed at higher altitudes back in June).
Every morning for the last week I have woken Matt up with a poke in the ribs and a peevish, "What the hell kind of country is this? Why did you bring me here? Couldn't we have gotten posted somewhere more pleasant, like Siberia? I'm not going to work today. I'm not going to work tomorrow. It's winter. In August. And the only place that's an OK statement is Australia. Where's the coffee?" Matt's response has been subdued and pleasant, but if the cold lasts much longer he'll probably chuck me out the window. (By the way, doesn't this last bit make every last one of you wish you were married to me? Among my many charms is my sunny disposition in the morning.)
So that's about it for this week. Day after tomorrow Matt and I drive to Budapest for a long weekend (for those of you who watch the Amazing Race, that's Budapest....HUNGARY!) Then I've got a whole bunch of work stuff to do, as my co-CLO is going on maternity leave at the end of the month and I leave on September 2 for DC. I'll be in DC until Sunday, September 18 for a training conference. So if I start flaking out on blog entries, at least you'll know it's nothing personal.