Saturday, August 20, 2011

Welcome to Estonia

Wednesday was my first full day in Estonia. The lack of internet left me feeling disconnected and alone, so I wrote some entries on my ipad so I could post them later.

I arrived Thursday, having started my travels the day before. I am not a fan of flying, but this was worse than normal because I had never had to put my bird in the hold before. Bird flu has all the airlines scared, and many no longer allow birds at all. None allow birds in cabin anymore. Aside from the disfunction of the airport in Copenhagen, where it took every bit of my two and a half hour layover to figure out how to recheck my pets, they arrived no worse for the wear than I did.

My section is the greatest, and they came with my sponsor to the airport to greet me. It made me feel really wanted here...especially the "welcome to Estonia" sign they had the intern make. She is very talented...too bad Friday was her last day.

My sponsor and his wife brought me home, and they had unpacked the welcome kit and made the place as homey as a ginourmous apartment with no personal anything can be. His wife even made me lasagna, which has been dinner the last two nights and probably will be again tomorrow. Talk about tasty! I'd ask for the receipe, but I have seen lasagna made and I am far too lazy!

The apartment, as I said, is ginourmous. The views are amazing. I can see the Old City from one window, the Baltic from another. I can also see the tv tower, which if you know your Estonian history, you know is very significant. Especially with tomorrow marking 20 years of re-independence. I can also see the top of what I think it the stage for the singing celebration. Also super important culturally. The Estonians regained their independence by singing...not a single Estonian was killed in the effort. Truly amazing. And this morning, I awoke to a rainbow over the Old was fading by the time I got my camera so you can't really see the rainbow in the shot.

I meant Thursday to stay up and go to bed at a reasonable hour. I meant, after I unpacked my stuff and put my own sheets on the bed (word of advice...embassy bedding is notoriously crappy across the FS...if this has not been true for you, you have been yourself a couple weeks of bad sleep by mailing yourself a mattress pad and sheets...they make all the difference), to just take a short nap. When I woke up four hours later, I meant to get up and go to dinner with friends. But I just had no energy after getting no sleep on the plane, so I ate some of that lasagna, gave in, and went back to bed. All together, I slept, albeit fitfully, for about 15 hours.

I went to the office for the first time Friday. My APAO came and picked me up, and we drove the path I will walk to work. It is incredibly close. My office is great. It is huge with a nice window and doors on either side which I always keep open but everyone politely knocks on anyway. My desk is well stocked already, and they even put flowers and candy on it for me. For my part, I put out the spiced pecans I bought for the section when I was in Savannah.

I spent the first part of the morning trying to clean out some of my email so my mailbox could be transferred from DC to EUR. I didn't actually accomplish that until the end of the day, however. I did manage to walk with my APAO to Solaris, a local mall, where we had a pastry and I was able to buy some toilet paper. My apartment had almost none when I got here, and I was a little afraid to eat anything because if I got sick, I'd be up a creek without toilet paper! I attended the press briefing with the Ambassador in the morning, found some sushi with one of my classmates from language in the afternoon. I was shown the mail room, where a box of wii games I sent myself had already arrived (well before my wii, which will hopefully get here next week). In the box was a Druze table decoration we got when my wife visited the Druze village near Haifa when we lived in Jerusalem. I stuck it in the box because there was a small space and it kept the games from moving is now the only bit of decoration I have here.

After work, I went home, grabbed my dog and resolved to find the Stockmann's, a grocery store, and the dog park that were both supposed to be nearby. We found both, though the dog park is a little boring. I had expected that though...I had seen reviews of it online before I came here. But it is a fenced place where I can let her off lease and she can chase a ball.

Or a pidgeon, as the case may be. When we came back, there was one sitting on my doorway. My dog wanted to chase it, and it didn't fly away. Clearly it was sick, but my desire to help it was overcome by my fear of taking any disease it might have back to my own bird. It was still there after I took my dog inside and came back down to go to the grocery store we had just find, but before I got back.

I had hoped that meant it flew away, but when I took my dog out that night, I saw a woman across the street screaming at her dog, which had grabbed a pidgeon. I am pretty sure it was the same one, but the woman got her dog away from it pretty quicky and it waddled off. I hope it gets better, but I am not optimistic. It added to my meloncholy mood.

Friday night I went to bed at 8, got up at 10 to take Noostie out, and then sat to write this while listening to music I couldn't quite make out. I think one of my neighbors is having a party, though I hear the music better with my window closed than open. The music sounds alternately like American Indian music and a bar mitzvah. I'd wonder if I was going insane, but my dog seems to notice it too.

Perhaps we are both crazy!

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