Last week we had the pleasure of having dinner with five other people who will be joining us in Benin — a few we’d met before, and a few we hadn’t. “We’ll see you… well, in Cotonou!” I found myself saying as we exchanged goodbyes. Yep, the next time we see them will be in Africa. Because we’re actually going there. Finally. And pretty soon!
One sign that our departure is imminent: we have our travel orders!
What are travel orders, you ask? Besides being the name of a totally awesome blog, travel orders are what authorize an FSO to start spending the government’s money in the moving process — buying plane tickets, contracting a moving company to come get all your stuff, etc. We were very worried about not getting mine in time for our scheduled pack-out, because this would mean we’d have to stay in DC longer than planned and cut our time with family in the Midwest even shorter than it already is.
Amazingly, though, it only took a day and a half after we turned in Flynn’s medical exam paperwork for him to get his medical clearance, my travel technician to draft my travel orders and the budget office to approve and officially issue them. Yes, a day and a half. You FSO folks can understand how incredible this is. For you non-FSO folks: it’s very common for travel orders to take an inappropriately long time to come together, and we were told that during the busy summer transfer season things might go even more slowly.
Fearing the worst, I tried the “please take pity on me because I’m a new mother” approach and called to explain my situation to everyone involved in the process. Whether they felt bad about potentially denying grandparents any of the precious little time they would have with a grandbaby, or whether it was just dumb luck, I’ll never know. But I’m grateful.
There’s still a lot we need to do, but none of it is as time sensitive as getting the travel orders.
This moving business is tiring.
Yes, we still need Flynn’s diplomatic passport, but if that comes in after we leave DC it can be mailed to us. Yes, we still need to apply for visas as soon as we get Flynn’s dip passport, and yes it would be easier to get them while we’re still here, but it’s possible to apply by mail if necessary. We still need to buy some work clothes and some suitcases. We still have some hurdles to jump through for Abbey, but at least we finally know how she’s getting to Benin — and it will be a little easier and a lot cheaper than we thought. (I’ll let Andy tell you more about that later.) We still have to sort all our stuff and go through the pack-out process, but we have most of what we think we’ll need, as evidenced by the piles of Target bags and Amazon boxes stashed under tables and in spare corners.
So… this thing is finally happening.
For those of you in Dayton, Champaign or St. Louis — we’ll see you soon! Then we’ll be back in DC for a few days to tie up some loose ends before flying out on July 27.