News from Jamaica

I’m not sure if its fair to say that life in Jamaica has been the only reason that my blog has been so neglected the last six months.  But it has certainly been a significant factor.  The city is small and much of it is off limits to me, and I feel the fish bowl effect often.  My initial curiosity about the place has not been replaced, as it so many other countries, with a growing appreciation and knowledge of where I am.  The reason why is not a simple explanation, but the subject of a longer blog post for another day, perhaps.  For now, let’s just say I just haven’t made the usual connection with the place.

Glancing back at posts from other places we have lived, I’m amazed how many memories come flooding back from the smallest things and I think that in future years I will regret adding such a small Jamaican chapter here.   To break the silence I’m going to try a vehicle used by others:  A-Z.  Its a way to cover small things that remind me of Jamaica with the alphabet as my guide.  I’ll start tomorrow with A for Ackee…but in the meantime…some news…

The Foreign Service bidding season has kept us busy and we finally know where we are going next.  The news is good and we are very excited to give the following clue on where we will be living next summer:


Any guesses?!


Ding! Ding! Round Three….

'... and no hitting below the belt like this...'

Ladies and Gentlemen!  In the right corner, still wrapped in a heavy duty robe, the voluminous State Department rule book.  Let’s hear it for the bidding process!  And in the left corner, coming out blindly swinging, are this year’s bidders. Let’s hear it for this year’s suckers!

I can’t believe we are at this again! Its foreign service bidding time and round three for us. Which country will be next?! For the last two locations we’ve have been on directed tours, which simply means that we get to say what our preferences are from the list of available posts but, ultimately, the powers that be pick our next location uncontested.  You’re going to Manila.  You’re going to Kathmandu…and like it or lump it, off you go.  I didn’t love that routine, but I am as starting to look at it with nostalgia, as the selection process for the third post is a whole different ball of wax.  What was originally touted as “from the third tour onwards you can pick your own post” quickly became a series of reality checks:

  • You have to pick from the series of posts available when you are.  That drops options radically.
  • You have to interview for the position and compete against what can be a considerable number of other candidates
  • “Who you know” starts to pay a big role.  Getting a good word in from other colleagues is important and this can really go against you if you are bidding on a post where you have no connections.
  • There are all sorts of rules on which post you can bid on depending on your grade or where you are located right now
  • And –probably worst of all – once you are made an offer you need to make a decision quickly.  If the offer is from a less favoured post, you have to decide whether to accept it, or reject it in the hopes that  your number one option will pick you (or not)  Ugh!

Does it sound like fun yet?!  Its very weird to have a job and still have to interview and compete for your next position.  Very unsettling.  I can’t disclose the countries that we are bidding on, but really hope to be able to announce somewhere next month.  Fingers crossed!