Saturday, January 28, 2012

Onward and Upward!

It's hard to believe that our time here is almost up. Since this is her first post, Sophie's tour in El Salvador is only for two years. Bidding time for Sophie came and went back in November, and this time we were bidding for a four year post. We had a few cool choices: Bangkok, Cairo, Tel Aviv, and Addis Ababa. Since Sophie is an engineering officer and there aren't many of them, we knew from talking to the others that it was likely that we would get whichever post that we put first. We spent a good bit of time mulling this over. Here are my opinions - I can't say that they're well formed, but this is what was going through my head back in November.

It's hard to pass up Bangkok. Neither of us have been to Thailand, and we've both heard great things about it - beautiful scenery, good & different culture, great food, etc. We've had a lot of friends that have traveled through Thailand, and all of them seemed to really like it. The reservations that we had were mostly based on my job prospects, as well as the type of work that Sophie would be doing. We had heard that it's hard to find a job as an family member in Bangkok - there's no work agreement in place for family members. Also, the time zone would make it such that I think I would find a hard time working remotely for anyone. While working at my current job, our team had 4 people from India on it and, although I liked working with them, the time zone difference made it extremely hard to move quickly - I was always cognizant of half the world that separated us. I figured, if I have a choice, I don't really want to subject someone to my remoteness-by-time-zone. Hah. That said, Sophie would have been traveling a lot for her job and the embassy doesn't have many older, more experienced engineers, so we kind of felt like it might not be the best position for her at this point in her career. So, we weren't really opposed to Bangkok, but we were hoping for something that was a better match.

I kind of submarined Cairo. While the people we talked to at the embassy in Cairo like it, I just couldn't get over one of the big complaints that kept coming up when talking about Cairo: the traffic. Almost every person we talked to mentioned the horrific traffic. Although the 'American' area of Cairo may not have horrific traffic, I just didn't like the idea of having to fight that every day. Also, I like it when it's easy to get out of town whenever you want. I was thinking that it would be much better to visit Cairo, rather than live there. On top of that, the political situation there could get interesting... which is not necessarily something I'm looking for. Of course, the projects that Sophie would be involved with in Cairo sounded really interesting. Oh well.

We didn't think that much about Addis. Maybe in a few years, but not now. We have a friend who was posted there and absolutely loved it. I would love to live there simply because you're in the mountains, but I just couldn't see myself working there. The internet service didn't sound good enough to allow for remote working, and I didn't really want to work for an NGO there. On top of that, another engineer was looking to go there, so we would have had to fight him for the position. At the end of the day, we were interested in the area and Sophie's work, now just didn't seem like the right time.

Somehow, we ended up putting Tel Aviv first. Initially, I was pretty opposed to living in Israel. I knew enough about the political realities of Israel that I didn't really want to live there. As an outsider, I just don't feel I understand anything about the area, and I've never really wanted to find out. However, as a place to live for 4 years, Tel Aviv has a lot of things going for it. It's modern, it has lots of tech companies, there's a good chance we'd live along the Mediterranean, it's close to Europe, etc, etc. Also, there are a good numbers of engineers in Sophie's office, which means she'll hopefully have a lot of people to learn from. So, we were excited when we found out in December that we'll be going to Tel Aviv in July!

What I've found funny (or interesting?) is what people's reaction is when I tell them that we're moving to Tel Aviv in July. I expected people to be awe-struck - wow, you're going to Israel!? I've always wanted to go there! The truth is - people have been way more reticent about us going to Israel than coming to El Salvador. Even though El Salvador has a very high crime rate and I'm probably much more likely to be robbed or worse here, people are terrified of... something... in Tel Aviv. Rocket attacks, suicide bombers, nuclear weapons... something. Maybe I should be worried, but I'll be blissfully ignorant for now.


  1. How exciting Case! Have a wonderful stay. Look forward to reading about your travel in and around Israel. Should be a fun adventure!

  2. Hi -- I am a new "trailing spouse" and I just recently discovered your blog. My husband and I are heading to El Salvador for our first post this summer. I will definitely read up about your experience! Do you know of other El Salvador bloggers (FS or otherwise)? I did see that you had linked to Tim's El Salvador Blog, so I will check that out. Good luck in Tel Aviv!

  3. Cool! It's a great country. Here are some great blogs:
    * What's Up El Salvador - Blog by an American couple who moved here from San Fran last year. They're opening a brewery in August in El Tunco (a beach 45 mins from San Salvador). You can follow the beer news at their other blog. Their writing on their blogs is very fun, and I'm upset that I won't get to see their new brewery.
    * Life in the Armpit - Blog by an American who married a Salvadoran who was then deported. She's currently living in San Francisco Gotera, in the eastern part of the country. She's recently been running the story of how she got to where she is, so for those stories, you'll have to go back in time until you find her first blog entry on it, then move forward. It's a really interesting read, and gives you some perspective on how most of El Salvador lives. It's easy to ignore that when you're in the embassy community.

    Those are the three I read regularly. I really should post some new articles....

  4. Wow, thank you for those kind words Case. I am Jennifer of the armpit and I must say that I am truly flattered by your recommendation. Good luck on your future journies I will be anxiously waiting to read about them.