If you have ever served in Frankfurt, read some older entries on this blog, or perused the Real Post Report on Talesmag then you know the housing in Frankfurt leaves much to be desired. It is basically old military barracks that have been made over for the FS. Charming they are not. Some genius put all large families on the top floors. Seriously! All four, five and six bedroom apartments are two story apartments on the third and fourth floors. We get to drag strollers, groceries, kids, toys, and garbage up and down three and half flights of stairs every day. The people downstairs get to listen to our kids bounce around on the floor because ever little sound is transmitted very clearly to the apartment downstairs. Makes us pretty popular as you can imagine.
Additionally we have no air conditioners. Yes, I know that it isn't that hot here, but trust me by mid-May my kids will be sleeping on the floor downstairs because the attic rooms will be too hot for sleeping. Once it gets into the mid 70's it is usually 10+ degrees hotter up there than it is outside or downstairs. No A/C also means no air filtering. People with allergies should really consider bringing a freestanding air filter if they are serving here. You would not believe how many trees and plants here bloom. It's gorgeous, Achoooo!
For us the big thing about no A/C is the lack of white noise. You just don't think about it until it is gone, but that steady drone of noise drowns out a lot of little noises that keep you awake at night. Noises like the baby downstairs that wakes up every freaking morning at 3:45. I will say this, that kids has some healthy lungs, very healthy. We have been looking at white noise machines online. It seems like the ones with decent reviews are very expensive, especially since we haven't much time left. We haven't slept through the night since returning from England. The kid is seriously cute and his parents are lovely, never complaining about the noise my kids make, but 3:45 A.M. Every. Single. Night.
On to the ash cloud, yesterday Kolbi commented:
"I can't imagine this thing immobilizing an entire school! But I guess it totally could. That is crazy!"Think again, it hasn't just immobilized a school, it has immobilized an entire continent. The British have deployed some of their largest navy ships to the channel to help the ferries move people back and forth across the channel. This hit right during many children's Easter break so families had traveled all over Europe for holiday and then just as it was time to travel home the volcano erupts, people are stranded all over the place by the thousands. The trains can't even begin to make up the difference. Here in the consulate community the mail fairy has had her wings clipped. Our mail arrives by air and there are no planes flying, no planes, no mail, no amazon orders, "Sniff, sob!" Think about all the freight that moves by air. None of that is happening, nothing, zip, nada. The economic impact of this is going to be huge, because of that they are opening some flights today even though the volcano is still erupting and there is a new ash plume which will likely shut down air traffic again as it moves south. The hope is just to move some people and cargo before that happens.
Cody asked last night what the big deal is, it's just ash. Volcanic ash is not at all the same as the ash from your fireplace. It isn't a soft fine powder of burnt wood, it is microscopically fragmented rock. Think of a pumice stone like you use on your heels. That is a volcanic rock. Now grind it down to powder. Now feed a bunch of that powder that through a jet engine. Do you want to be on that plane? Me either. The pilots either. Unless that volcano stops erupting soon things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.