Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Dear Friends,

We’re writing to wish everyone Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Our adventures continue in Russia, struggling to understand the language and culture. We’ve been blessed along the road by meeting interesting people, happiness and continued good health. In lieu of a formal Christmas card, here’s a short update on our lives over the past year…

We rang in 2008 in London with Tristan’s training classmate from the Foreign Service Institute, Stacy, and visited Carolyn’s uncle and aunt, who live outside of London.

The two of us at the London Eye.

Carolyn and Uncle Lee.

Tristan--you know where!

In February, we took a much needed warm trip to Thailand where we laid on the beach (or Tristan did when Carolyn went diving), and ate wonderful spicy food. Thailand was a welcome respite from the cold Moscow winter!

Street Food Delights!

April was filled with packing and preparations as we said goodbye to good friends in Moscow and moved to Yekaterinburg. In May, Carolyn traveled back to Moscow to host a Fulbright planning delegation on US-Russian community college cooperation, and then traveled with friends to St. Petersburg, where she experienced the White Nights (24-hour sunlight) and appreciated the beautiful architecture and European ambiance of Russia’s “window on the west”.

Just past midnight as the first bridge went up!


In August, we took R&R (rest and relaxation or the perk of a tough post) in the US, visited friends and family in the Seattle area, and went camping in the north Cascades. It was fantastic to be home, although it rained more than we’ve ever seen in a NW summer. Tristan headed back to Russia and Carolyn stayed on for a few more weeks of travel to New York and Texas.

Camping at Heart's Pass in the North Cascades and the Pasayten Wilderness

We’re taken several trips around the Urals region, including Nevyansk, home to a famous leaning tower, and Verkhoturye, the oldest Russian settlement east of the Urals and home to the oldest Orthodox monastery in the region.

The church at the old Kremlin in Verkhoturye

The famous leaning tower of Nevyansk

In August, we traveled to Lake Baikal in Siberia, the deepest, oldest and largest freshwater lake in the world. After a four hour flight and a five and a half hour taxi ride, we finally arrived at Olkhon Island. It was spectacular, but too cold to swim in!

Carolyn pointing at swimmers on the beach

Day trip to the north side of the island--super windy!

Shamen Rock, a Buryat sacred site, behind Tristan. We had a perfect view from our room.

Today, we are in Yekaterinburg, Russia and have been here just over eight months for the second half of our tour in Russia. The weather here is finally cold with average temperatures hovering around 8F in December. We’ve been lucky to have some sun but it rises at 9:30am and starts to set around 3:30! There’s not too much snow yet, but we’re sure that will change in the New Year!

At the border of Europe and Asia (check out who is standing where!)

Tristan is finding his job rewarding. In a two-person Consular section, he’s been able to take on many management responsibilities and has recently coordinated the local diplomatic community’s first round table on visa fraud. Carolyn finished her first year with Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group, an executive search firm serving the nonprofit sector. Her projects have been meaningful and challenging including closing searches for an Asian American domestic violence agency, a research institute on race and ethnicity, and a national service organization working with older adults. In June 2009 at the first company retreat, she’ll finally meet her boss in person for the first time! It’s an amazing world of technology!

Leading a discussion (with Carolyn) about the US Elections at the American Center

We will welcome 2009 as we did 2008, in London visiting friends and family. Carolyn then heads to DC to witness the inauguration of the first African American President (woo hoo!) and church meetings in Dallas. After a mid-winter thaw in Egypt, we’ll be just about at the end of our Russian adventure.

In just under three months, we’re heading back to Seattle where we'll spend home leave followed by a cross country road trip, and then on to the Foreign Service Institute for six months of Spanish in preparation for our next post in Quito, Ecuador.

We look forward to new adventures in 2009!

Blessings to you and your family!
Peace and good tidings in this holiday season!

Carolyn & Tristan

Caroling on December 26th with FLEX Alumni at the Children's Library in Yekaterinburg
(The kids are dancing to Feliz Navidad)


Unknown said...

Hey Carolyn! It's Sara, camp Sara, My dad forwarded this to me, so neat to see all the pics and see what's going on! You guys make me feel better, I thought we moved a lot, nice to know there's someone out there that beats us on that one! :-) What interesting travels you guys have, I'll be checking back! Take Care Guys! Love, Sara:-)

Jack Good said...

Carolyn: What a delight to read of your adventures! And the pictures are stunning.

I am sure there is a down side to the remarkable life you are leading, but you both seem to be handling it well—perhaps relishing it.

If your visits to the States bring you close to central Virginia, please look us up. It would be wonderful to see you again.
Grace and peace, Jack and Diana Good

bvsouders said...

Hey Carolyn! S novym godom to you and Tristan. It sounds as if you kids are having an amazing set of experiences in Yekat. Won't be visiting you there, but maybe in Thailand. :-)


Unknown said...


Awesome pictures. Thanks for sharing. Russia looks so interesting. What an experience you are having. Just returned from celebrating Chinese New Year in Malaysia. My mum and sistas says Hi!. Have fun, and keep your tales of adventures coming.

Be safe, and hope our paths cross again sometime soon.

Mei Wan.