Thursday, August 17, 2006

We Made it to Day 3

The cease fire is still holding after three days. The port of Haifa has finally resumed normal operations as a result. This may not seem like such a big thing to folks not here, but it is a very important thing for those at the consulate, especially all the new arrivals and those who will be arriving soon. All our HHE goes through that port.

For those not in the foreign service, HHE is acronym-speak for Household Effects, or, in English, all your "stuff." You get two deliveries of "stuff" when you come to post, your UAB (unaccompanied baggage) and your HHE. Your unaccompanied baggage is about 250 lbs of all the things you think you will need immediately minus the weight of the packing material. So maybe 225 lbs of "stuff." You are supposed to receive it within a couple weeks of arriving at post. Mine included lots of clothes that I discovered I would not use here, plus my tv and stereo, some dishes and pots (like I cook...I was here for over a month before I realized I didn't know how to turn on my stove!). Your HHE is the rest of your stuff, and usually there is a lot of it. There are usually two categories of things in there: the stuff you didn't realize you needed immediately until after your UAB arrived and the stuff you could throw away and never miss.

Getting your HHE can be like Christmas, especially if you packed out a long time before you get it. One of my friends here can attest to that, as it was 9 months between when she packed out at her last post, Djibouti (which she assures me that the fun of making your family say that name is not worth actually serving there) and when she got her HHE this week. M was in Baku a good 6 or 7 months before she got hers (she was there 4 months before she got her UAB, the stuff you need immediately!).

The stuff in your HHE is often sentimental and makes your apartment feel like your place (particularly since it goes with the government-issued furniture that looks exactly like what you had at your last post). Receiving it is lots of fun, plus you get a couple admin days to stay home and unpack it all. So imagine how distressing it is to think that all your stuff is either sitting on a ship that can't come into port (daily increasing the likelihood that the ship will either sink, throw your stuff overboard, or leave and deposit your stuff in a unknown and undocumented port, never to be located again) or worse, is actually IN the port waiting to be aired out by a qassam rocket.

So Haifa being back open in really good thing!

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