We had an unusual visitor to the base last week. The U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan came to our base. Seriously. He was in Balkanabat for some civic events related to some U.S.-Turkmen programs and had some time in his schedule. And rather coincidentally, I was the one to greet him when he arrived. And not just because I'm an American. The week before, someone from the embassy called the main number at the base. Like all general calls, it went through reception and ended up going to me. It didn't go to me as an American. It more went to me because the particular set of people who might have otherwise taken the call were all out of the office at that particular moment. Thus, I ended up taking the call, trading some e-mails, and ended up as their point of contact prior to the visit.
Why visit us? Why not? We're here, largish (in a relative sense), foreign (and one could argue that we're foreign no matter where we are), and do have a couple Americans working here after all. What we discussed was a mix of business, industry, and regional. No specifics will go here like always. You know, because the six people who read this are undoubtedly corporate/government spies. No, it's just that while most of the conversation was mundane and I'll discuss it in person, it just doesn't feel right to put it into the internet. And to be clear, it's not like I hung out with the Ambassador one-on-one for an hour. He was here with a Public Affairs person and a local embassy staffer. And I was with two people who are from the set of people who, had they been in the office, would have fielded the original call. Mostly, we discussed some of the basics of what we do here as an oilfield service company since they were not oilfield people. Then, we discussed some of the challenges of doing business in Turkmenistan. The specifics are what I will not share, but like many developing nations, the lack of consistent rules and procedures makes it difficult to conduct business. A phrase I have taken to using to describe some of the difficulties is, "Not your house, not your rules." It is largely irrelevant where you are from and how things get done there because now you are here and this is not the system of law and culture that you are familiar with. This fact, as aggravating as it may be, must be accepted. You are not in your home country and things will not work the same way here. If you wanted it to be like home, then you needed to stay at home. Again, not your house, not your rules.
If you see me in person, I'll be glad to share more about the Ambassador's visit, but I won't post here for the inter-tubes to cache forever. Oh, and ask me about the minders if you see me in person.