If it seems like we had a long trip to the US, we did. It’s not the kind of thing that I get on a regular basis. In fact it’s the longest vacation I’ve had since was teaching school in Switzerland many, many years ago.
There are a couple of reasons that this one happened. One is that I had a ton of vacation days that were accrued and needed to be used by the end of the fiscal year. Last year I ended up losing a couple of days because I never used them. Another reason was that I had a fairly difficult period in the months from January to May. Some of this was mentioned in this blog and the rest I’ll refrain from going into here. But I was encouraged to take a healthy break. Lastly, there was a strong chance that I was going to change positions/countries sometime later in the year and it was unlikely that I would be able to schedule a break in between.
So we were gone a long time.
The last leg of the trip was to Idaho to see my family. It’s a long way from Burundi in more ways than one. I had a number of objectives other than just visiting relatives. I needed to check on our house (rental), organize my belongings in storage (long story), various medical appointments, go to the bank, and so forth. It’s surprising the percentage of an expat’s vacation time that is spent doing things besides vacationing. It’s your one shot to do hundreds of things that you cannot do where you live, particularly if it is one of the poorest places on earth.
|now that's a mountain|
After a brief stopover in Boise we were off on a camping trip. That’s always a big priority for me – head to the mountains. Other than the need to run errands, I think I could spend my entire break there. I feel like it’s the only place that I can think clearly.
|fishin' with John|
Camping consisted of entertaining the girls, getting the reacquainted with getting really, really dirty. We spent our time swimming at the hot springs pool, eating copious amounts of food, sitting by the campfire, mountain biking (no bloody crashes for me this time), inhaling the occasional waft of forest fire smoke and various other things. I didn’t read nearly as much as I would have liked but it’s hard when you have snotty-nosed kids that are vying for your attention and rare time to hang out with family members. My brother flew in from Portland, which was nice, since we weren’t sure if we were going to see him.
We were also able to stay at the former family cabin for a couple of nights (as a result of an unlikely encounter in Burundi a few years ago). It’s one of the highlights for given that a dream I have from childhood is to own a cabin in the mountains. As time goes by I figure that the dream is becoming increasingly unlikely but I at least can enjoy the thought.
Finally we also spent a considerable amount time in southern Idaho at my parents’ place. It’s one of the few places I can truly unwind. There is plenty of space. No traffic. Everything is relatively nearby. Surprisingly lots to do. Get to visit old friends. It will be interesting to see what happens once my parents don’t live there anymore. Will I still return there with no family living in the valley? Possibly not but who knows. My life has been rather unpredictable thus far. I’m not sure what the odds are for a kid with my background to do what I do for a living but me thinks they’re not great.