Intermission (Part 2)

I’m on my way at the end of the week.  Back to what one military wag once called “the land of the big PX” and I like to think of as the land of 24 hour breakfast places, and people who (mostly) obey traffic laws…well except the ones about speed limits.

It’s all a fraud.  Well, actually it’s all ABOUT fraud.  I’m headed back for a one week class on detecting and fighting visa fraud, which is a growing problem here.  Some of it’s obvious and simple to deal with, but if there’s money to be made (and there is) someone will bring sophistication to the table, and we need to know how to detect it.

Visa work is a challenge.  We want to let the people into the U.S. who are entitled under the law to visit (or immigrate) and keep out those who are not.  Others have different motivations.  Some are people desperate to go to the U.S at almost any cost.  Others are people who see the first group as a business opportunity.  There are folks back in the U.S. who seem to think having any immigration laws is some kind of plot and who will well, to put it bluntly, lie to get people in.  Some of these do so in the name of religion, which is yet another reason I cringe at the “holier than thou” attitudes of the religious.

Almost all of us have an immigrant in our ancestry.  All my ancestors are immigrants, who came at a time when there were immigration laws, but they were, to be frank less stringent than now.  But they did come legally, through the port of New York.  I welcome immigrants to the U.S., but they have to play by the rules.  After all, I do.

There’s a bigger question, which is whether we have the right immigration laws for the time.  Right or wrong, I comply with them when adjudicating visas, but I wonder whether someone with just a high school diploma from an African country should be emigrating to the U.S., where people with U.S. high school (and college) diplomas are finding it hard to get by.  I know other countries do it differently, and maybe it’s time to take a serious look of immigration that goes beyond the Rio Grande.

But to get back to the beginning – a week at FSI, and then a few days visiting my sister on Cape Cod.  Interstates and 24 hour IHOPs, no smoking in restaurants and Mexican restaurants.

I’m trying a new route — Cotonou to Accra by car, then non-stop to Dulles.  Gets me into Washington about six hours earlier and no change in Paris, but the drive to Accra may make this a one time thing.  There’s another alternative opening up soon,  Brussels Air to Brussels and then United to the U.S.  I may try that one when I head home for R&R in October.



Filed under Foreign Service Stuff

4 responses to “Intermission (Part 2)

  1. Pat O'Neill

    I wonder how many of those who rant about illegal immigration can be absolutely certain that all their ancestors arrived in the USA legally under the laws of that time. I know I cannot be; I have no idea whether my maternal grandfather–who was a native of Venezuela–was here on a visa, or was a naturalized citizen, or what. All I know is that he married my grandmother, fathered my mother, then disappeared soon afterward.

    Likewise, while I am told my paternal grandfather came to the States as a small child from Ireland, I do not know the circumstances of that arrival. I assume it was legal, as in adult life he was a civil servant and probably could not have attained that position if there were questions about his legality. I do not know anything about my paternal grandmother’s immigration status.

    When I consider that, before the first world war, with the exception of entry from Far Eastern nations like China and Japan, the US had virtually open borders, it makes me realize that anyone whose family has been here more than 100 years probably experienced nothing like the red tape today’s immigrants face.

  2. Glee

    Never underestimate the value of your blog and its ripple effect. Seriously. I haven’t met you (yet), but I so relate to so much of what you “pen”. You haven’t mentioned your eG O lately — is it still running? Can we hear more about that, pls? Having taken showers in many corners of the world, I have always been
    grateful every time I step into my glamorous shower with its normal water pressure and gloriously hot water but, thanks to you, now I am doubly grateful. At night, I can see the field lights at the huge softball complex not far from me. Any news on the Cotonou softball front?

    I look forward to seeing more of our global village, but in the meantime I host a lot of fellow villagers via Hospitality Club and it’s always a blast. Two of my Aussie friends I host via HC are crazy about IHOP so the last time they were here I ordered the Swedish Crepes. Like you, I really enjoy going out to breakfast and I *love* waffles, but might I suggest that the IHOP menu item most pertinent to your third career would be “International Crepe Passport”?
    2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon, 2 sausage links, and your choice of Danish fruit crepes, Nutella crepes, or Swedish crepes with lingonberries. Yum!

    I sincerely hope that within my lifetime Americans figure out what they really want in terms of immigration. On that visit to IHOP the young Hispanic man who met us at the entry
    apologized profusely for the staffing situation in the restaurant that morning. He very politely explained that he was the ONLY wait person on duty, hence he was also the manager on duty. I noticed that the sole cook was also Hispanic.
    Of course I don’t know their legal status. I’m just glad they both reported to work that day!! And
    it’s so rare that I see a Caucasian face at ANY fast food restaurant on the West Coast — I just don’t know how any of them would be staffed were it not for our neighbors to the south and their decendents.

    I totally agree with your perspective on religion. Thank you for including it in your blog. Again, that all-important ripple effect.

    Now, about that 250 mile drive to Accra … Yowza!! Isn’t it still the rainy season??
    You’re gonna drive that solo?? Only in daylight, yes?? In a well-equipped vehicle (winch, come-along, spare tire(s)?

    Really hoping that goes surprisingly smoothly,


  3. rkolker

    The eGo is sick right now. Either the charger isn’t working, the batteries won’t hold a charge, or the key switch is bad. Some weekend I need to try to figure out which, but I’m not that electrically gifted. I’m hoping it’s just the key switch, which I can bypass in the short term and replace in the long ter. I’m afraid the charger took a shot of 220v one day by mistake and the person who did it just isn’t telling me.

    Cotonou softball…we’re practicing every week, but no games yet. We’re getting more local folks out, which is fun because we’re teaching them the game and they catch on really fast. Some weekend after I get back I’ll take some more pictures because we have a (portable) backstop now and a set of bases and they occasionally mow the weeds.

    The embassy is driving me to Accra this time. If it doesn’t look too painful, I may try it myself in the future. I can leave my car at the embassy there, or with one of the FSOs. One of the goals of flying through Accra (or Brussels) is to use my United Airlines miles for upgrade to business class!

  4. Glee

    Wow, cool! I know you’re going to be away from Cotonou for a while, but I have really good news for you! I asked my brilliant eGO scooter guru if he could help diagnose your sick eGO. Here’s his initial reply: “I skimmed your friend’s issues but need to take a closer look at your email to be of any real help. For a start, set his mind at ease about the charger perhaps being plugged in to 220. eGo has always used an international charger that can run on anything from 100 to 240 volts without problems. It senses and adjusts automatically. I’ll get back with a diagnosis as soon as I can read through it carefully.”

    That’s a relief, eh?? It wasn’t the 220V!! Woohoo!

    Trust me, Rich — this guy is a walking eGO/electric scooter encyclopedia. I have one of the first generation “EU” models, and his (virtual) help is the reason it’s still on the road despite (nearly) daily use for 7+ years! He’s not in the FB group, and he’ll probably have a few questions for you about your eGO’s symptoms. I’ll share his diagnosis with you off-blog, so check your email for that traffic, OK?

    And have a GREAT trip, in the meantime! I’ll be making my own pilgramage to the East Coast on a trip to a long-time librarian friend’s family farm in Vermont (via Massachusetts) in a few weeks. Workin’ on my high humidity hair styles! 🙂

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