Round One, Round Balls, Round Wok, Round Trip

Round one of joining the Foreign Service is taking the FSOT.  The folks here in Cotonou who took the test at the end of February, beginning of March received their results this week.  Some made it, some didn’t.  Everyone who made the effort deserves respect.  They tell us on the average, people who pass the FSOT do so on the third attempt.  Those who didn’t make it this time can test again next year.  Those who didn’t take the test this time around, we’re giving it again in June.

The next step for those who did pass is a series of essays about experiences in their life.  Get past that, and there’s the Oral Assessment, back in the U.S.  There’s the bell for Round 2.

Round Ball weekend here at U.S. Embassy, Cotonou.  In the big round ball category, our soccer team, consisting mostly of local staff, came in second in a local tournament.  They play a brand of soccer here that’s five on a side, a smaller field, hockey sized goals, and no hands at all, even by the goalie.  The team’s not been playing together too long, so this is a big step forward for them.  In the smaller round ball category, we’re going to make an attempt to start playing softball.  There are no fields here, so we’re going to try to lay one out on the grounds of what will be our new embassy.  The land isn’t really graded, so finding a big enough flat spot will be job one.  We have some bases, bats and balls, but gloves are at a premium.  I may bring a few back from the U.S. when I go home in April.

Round Wok is the primary utensil in my Chinese food experiments of this weekend.  I’ve had the wok for quite a while.  I actually bought it from an infomercial back when I was living in Houston, but this is the first time I’ve pulled it out since coming to Benin.  We have pretty good Chinese food here.  There’s a large Chinese expatriate community in Benin (they’re everywhere in Africa) and that means you can get the ingredients.  At least most of them.  My Chinese cooking trends toward “stir fried whatever is lying around”.  I made a big wok full of that tonight.  But last night was my first attempts at egg foo yung.  I need to find a source of bean sprouts, and I need to chop the other veggies a bit finer, but other than that it was a modest success.  I had the leftovers for lunch.  My biggest surprise was that after only two tries I got the gravy more or less right.  Chinese cooking also gave me a chance to exercise my new food processor.  I never had one before.  Made a big bowl of cole slaw as well (it was a big head of cabbage).

Round Trip — I’m on my way home for a week of vacation starting next Friday Night.  It’ll be my first time back in the U.S. since I started in Benin, and I’m looking forward to family, friends, and food.



Filed under Foreign Service Stuff

2 responses to “Round One, Round Balls, Round Wok, Round Trip

  1. Absolutely awesome title! So creative.

    Hope you have a great time back in the US!

    And someday when you have the time, please post your recipe for cole slaw. Love cole slaw, but have never gotten up the courage to make it!

    Do you find that you have lots of fresh produce available there?

  2. rkolker

    Yes, there’s lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, although unlike the US they are seasonal, so you can’t find everything all the time. I don’t really have a recipe for cole slaw. Chop up some cabbage, sometimes a few carrots for color (or mix in some purple cabbage). A bunch of mayo to coat the cabbage (but not too much), then add wine or apple cider vinegar to taste, salt and pepper (I like peppery cole slaw). Mix a lot. Refrigerate. Mix again just before serving. If I had a recipe maybe it would come out the same twice in a row, but what’s the fun of that!

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