Thursday, June 9, 2016

Journal Entry for July 2, 1999: Hitting the Ground Running*

Well, I got through my first week and as of 7pm last night, I am chargé d'affaires of the US Mission to Brazil. It is a big operation. We have hundreds of people working just here in the Embassy compound. Diplomats, secretaries, information management personnel, admin personnel (including mail room clerks, repair shop folks, gardeners, budget analysts, drivers, guards, procurement specialists, etc) Marines, USAID personnel, public affairs officers, agricultural specialists, anti-drug personnel, FBI officials etc. A lot, really.
Moved into our house today. Decided to do so despite plans to redo plumbing. It is just too nice not to use right away and we'll deal with the plumbing as necessary. It is two levels with big patios, a pool and lots of space -- including seven bedrooms. It is light and has a great view of Brasilia and the lake. I give my first big reception there on Tuesday. But the actual work will be done by my three domestics, four from the Ambassador's residence (which is it self empty and will make a good weekend getaway) and my protocol officer. I just have to show up and be nice.
The weather is nice. It is hot today, especially in the sun playing volleyball at the picnic we are having here at the embassy. I read Clinton's July 4th address in my shorts and wearing my Budweiser hat. Also reviewed the Marine Honor Guard and then worked selling sodas and beer for a while. The Brazilians in the government I have met all speak English better than I speak Portuguese. But I am using the language to watch the telenovelas every night. These are daily soaps that usually run for a year or so and then change. They are really good and I have already become hooked on "Andando Nas Nuvens," or Walking in the Clouds. Found two good restaurants so far. In one you can eat the salad, in the other, as I learned, you can't. This weekend I will spend a little time in the office catching up and also exploring the new house.
 *An old saying used in the foreign service to indicate getting right to work as soon as you arrive:  "Hit the ground running."  Always hopefully without a splat.

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