Even though she is a foreign service career veteran, the new normal of “doing business” has presented challenges for Eliza F. Al-Laham, the recently arrived U.S. consul general in Guadalajara.
“Getting to know your contacts over a screen is harder to do,” Al-Laham told the Guadalajara Reporter in a telephone interview last week.
Although most in-person meetings are currently on hold, Al-Laham has managed to conduct dozens of “virtual courtesy calls” on government officials, politicians, businessmen, academics and members of civil society, and has even taken one trip to the lakeside area – along with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau – which included brief visits to two of the largest expat organizations there: the Lake Chapala Society and the American Legion Post in Chapala.
Despite the restrictions in place and reduced opportunities for mobility, Al-Laham said she has quickly discovered why so many foreign service employees are keen to snag a posting to Guadalajara. “It’s a fascinating place and people are extremely friendly and hospitable. There’s also a lot of expertise and efficiency here. You don’t always get that combination.”