I went up to the embassy yesterday morning to be formally welcomed to the country by the Ambassador. I was going to take my picture with him but you can’t bring any electronic equipment at all into the embassy – security against electronic eavesdropping, no doubt. The US Ambassador here, Tulinabo Mushingi, is a very impressive and dynamic guy, just the sort of person we need looking after our foreign policy. He was originally an immigrant from Africa, from today’s D.R. Congo, I understand. He worked for Peace Corps in a variety of places and has generally gotten around the world – Africa and South Asia mostly – during his time in the US Foreign Service. He has two Superior Honor Awards, which are pretty hard to come by, and he’s had a bunch of high-level jobs.
He met with me and the other Fulbright professor, Jean Ouedrago, in his office, with his newly-arrived Deputy Chief of Mission (only two days on the job) and the Public Diplomacy people, Brenda and Todd. He was very welcoming and charming and said he had a lot of faith in the Fulbright program as a way to improve relations between people. Jean and I were appreciative of the assistance we have received from the embassy staff. I was sure to mention how kind the Public Diplomacy staff were to me when I first arrived.
It somewhat spoiled the effect of the formal welcome that I had already met the ambassador, at church Sunday before last.
And that was that. Jean has a car, he drove me back to my house. I also now have a library card at the American Embassy library, and I checked out a book, Jared Diamond’s The World Before Yesterday: What We Can Learn From Traditional Societies. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, since I use Diamond’s earlier Guns, Germs, and Steel in my Humanities classes at Mount Angel.
In the evening, Djibi came by with a man who had a mountain bike to sell, this time for a reasonable price, 75000 CFA or about $140. The bike was Chinese-made, a brand-X. It was barely big enough for me with the seat all the way up. It seemed almost new though he said it was used. The shifters are not well-adjusted, and I could not get it to shift into the 3rd register in the front. The guy himself rode it and did get it to shift. My own bike in Oregon has the same problem, and in truth I rarely use the upper register. Anyway, I didn’t buy right away though I might get it later. But I want to try out a few other ones too. I also still need a helmet, as traffic here is crazy and I need my brains to earn my living.