Well. A lot has gone on. I'm only going to say a few things about my trip to Africa. I don't know why I wasn't in the mood for a travel log while I was gone, but writing all the details seemed a little more tedious, this time. At a later point in my life, perhaps I'll regret not reporting more of the little details. But anyway, a few points come to mind.
First of all, Africans are some of the most genuinely friendly people I've ever met anywhere. This is not just a case of a westerner living in Moscow getting sour grapes. On my first day in Nairobi, as I was wandering around the city getting my bearings, I humbly asked a local for directions to the nearest shopping center. A friendly old man gave me detailed instructions and sent me along my merry way. As I was approaching my destination, he popped out of nowhere and pointed to where I was going. He explained that he hurried to catch up to me to make sure I didn't get lost. Now I don't want my Russky friends to get offended, but that would NEVER happen in Moscow. And so it went for the remainder of my time there.
I also saw some amazing aminales (please see my pictures folder).
There would be many fascinating things to say about our country's refugee processing program. However, USCIS specifically forbids blogging the details of this program. I can understand this, for several reasons. Ask me about it the next time you see me. I can give you an earful.
About two weeks after returning from Africa, I took a short 9-day vacation to Latvia, Estonia, and St. Petersburg. The summer solstice was in full swing, and I felt to take full opportunity of the 23 daily hours of sunlight. I went with my old friend from grad school and OLAG, Leah Blevins. This was her first time out of the good ol' US of A, and I imagine that it was a good starter trip. Latvia and Estonia will always be two of my favorite countries. Additionally, I was able to spend more time walking around St. Petersburg than was ever possible for me as a missionary.
So I'm planning to leave Russia at the end of the summer. A new job opportunity has arisen that will take me back to the microfinance sector with a German company called LFS Consulting. I initially interviewed for a position back in 2006 while I was still working in Tbilisi. Things didn't quite work out, but they encouraged me to keep in touch. They invited me back for another interview in Berlin this past April, and I'm now in for my fourth job change in as many years. This position will initially take me to Baku, Azerbaijan, where I'll work in the Micro Finance Bank of Azerbaijan.
One may well ask (and they do): Why the strange preference for obscure geographic locales? Why can't I stay anywhere for more than a year? I have a friend who recently told me that it's exhausting just thinking about my meandering career track. I honestly don't think anyone would believe me if I said that I'm not trying to be this way. Eventually I'll find something to settle down in. Until then, I'll leave no stone unturned.