Clay Teuscher

I first met Duane in 1974 at his BMW shop in Marin when I stopped there to get my brother a few parts for his R75.  Duane waited on me, and I got the parts I was looking for and went on my way. 

My family and I lived in a very small and remote town of Ft. Bidwell in the very Northeastern part of California.  So I was surprised when a short time later while riding my dirt bike down the street, I came across the guy that had helped me at the BMW shop walking down one of the streets in Ft. Bidwell.  The big news in town was that Duane and his friend and fellow BMW rider Rod Miller had purchased properties and were new members of our community.

The next year I was a junior in high school, and I enjoyed spending as much time as I could at Duane’s shop working on motorcycles, playing pool, and discussing the economy and politics.

Duane loaned me many books that I would read so we could discuss.  I enjoyed learning about the banking system, the federal reserve, the trilateral commission, etc., subjects I was not learning about in school.  One of my favorite books that I remember, Non-Dare call it Conspiracy, left a last impression.

In 1975 I joined the Navy, and sometime in 1976 was stationed in Alameda for a couple of years.

Rod moved back to the Bay Area during this time, and my Navy friends and I were all riding BMW motorcycles, so the motorcycles helped us all stay in touch and maintain our friendship.

In 1980 while visiting with Duane in Ft. Bidwell, I mentioned that I was going to Oakland to interview for a job.  Duane asked about the job and wanted to know about my resume and letters of recommendation.

I told him I didn’t have letters of recommendation, so he quickly typed up a couple of letters (see below) that I used. I got the job, so the letters must have worked.

Duane and I have managed to stay in touch thru the years even though I have spent almost 30 years living and working outside of the United States.

My family and I are still here in Casablanca.  The New Consulate Compound project is still moving forward, and we will hopefully be moving on to a new adventure at about this time next year.  We spent last year’s winter vacation traveling through Italy and Spain, and we all had a good time seeing the sites. Nice to be able to travel by train!  The vacation was a much-needed break for me as our summer vacation to Asia wasn’t too relaxing for me.  I hadn’t been feeling really good for a while, so when we got to Thailand, I decided to stop by Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok and get checked out.  A few hours later, the cardiologist was scheduling me for a heart procedure.  The next morning I returned to the hospital and got the procedure done, all good and feeling much better. Thea, Angela, and Emily did see some of the city while I recuperated, and we managed a trip to Phuket after I was released; however, I did not feel too adventurous, so the girls explored by themselves.  We spent a couple of weeks in Bangkok while I recovered and made the necessary follow-up visits to see my doctor before I was cleared to return to Morocco.  Thea and the girls proceeded to Cambodia, and they were able to finish our originally planned vacation so they could make the most out of a difficult start to our vacation. and in the end, they had a good time. Tong had stayed at our house in Casablanca to work at the Embassy and care for the dog and cats, so I had company when I returned.  

Graduations are my big news for 2024. Tong graduated with his Bachelor’s degree from Toulouse Business School. TBS has three campuses: Barcelona, Spain; Casablanca, Morocco; and the main campus in Toulouse, France. He studied in Spain, did his final year in Morocco, and landed his first real job in the business department of Modoc Medical Center. Emily graduates from 8th grade this year from George Washington Academy here in Casablanca, Angela graduated last year so is a freshman in high school this year.  Both the girls are doing well and are trying to learn Arabic and French.  Angela made the varsity volleyball team for TBS, and the team won their final tournament in Tanger, finishing her first competitive sports year on a high note.

I feel much better these days, have lost weight, and have more energy.  Glad I was able to get my heart fixed.  I signed up for social security and tentatively plan to return to Modoc and spend time with my family. We will spend more time in Europe before leaving Morocco to ensure the family sees as much of this part of the world as possible in case this ends up being my last project. My kids have always traveled with me and are ready to call a place home.  As I mentioned, I tentatively plan on moving the family back to Cedarville and seeing how they adjust to rural life, as we have been living in cities while building Embassies.  I still want to see what opportunities are available when this project is complete. If I am offered someplace nice, I might have to reconsider returning to the U.S. and try to talk the family into doing one more project. I guess 50 years of traveling and living abroad is hard for me to give up.(hehe) Not sure I will win this argument, though, as the girls have been scheming with their friends in Cedarville for their return so they can finish high school together. They are really looking forward to spending a few years back in Surprise Valley, so my traveling days outside the U.S. might be limited. 

Casablanca is the fourteenth embassy project I have been involved with. I have held several positions (Electrical Foreman, Superintendent, and Manager) through the years.  As the Electrical Manager self-performing the electrical installation, I would hire approximately 60ty local electricians and approximately 6 cleared American electricians. The contractor has about a half dozen Management / Superintendent positions that they are required to hire cleared Americans. For countries where the security risk is low these 6 or so positions maybe eligible for family status.. Family status adds considerable cost to the contractor, so it is very limited, with a good American International School adding 2K plus dollars a month per student to the company’s monthly overhead. Of the projects I have been on it would be easier to rank them from least favorite to favorite as there are many countries that my family and I really enjoyed living in. I was lucky in that most of the less enjoyable assignments were for short durations, so I didn’t have to spend too much time there. Here is a list of the projects in the order that I worked on them.

Projects: 1. Moscow, Russia (NOB), 2.  Beijing, China (Remodel), 3. Rome, Italy (Remodel), 4. Tunis ,Tunisia (NEC), 5. Phnom Penh, Cambodia (NEC), 6. Quito, Ecuador (NEC), 7. Antananarivo, Madagascar (NEC), 8. Warsaw, Poland (Remodel),  9. Dakar, Senegal (NEC), 10. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (Remodel) 11. Bamako, Mali (Remodel), 12. Mbabane, Swaziland (NEC), 13.  Maputo, Mozambique (NEC) 14. Casablanca, Morocco (NCC).

It’s very hard to anticipate what countries you will like and which ones you won’t. The cost of living, things to see and do, quality of food, and ease of traveling around make a big difference. Another huge factor is the people you will be assigned to the project with. The embassy community is relatively small, so it’s hard not to make friends and get reunited somewhere at some point.

NOB = New Office Building / NEC=New Embassy Compound / NCC= New Consulate Compound 

A large new compound generally has a completion schedule of about 30 months, but projects come in all sizes.  Many factors enter into whether the contractor can complete the project on time. Supply chain, shipping, and design issues are the most common causes for delay and, of course, the construction team’s experience.  Timing is everything when it comes to onward assignments.  How much time you get between assignments generally comes down to completing your present assignment and being in a position to accept a new one.  I have had months between some assignments and the time it took to travel between projects on others. Each country’s vacation schedule is different, with some having multiple R & Rs per year and others having one.  If the project is behind schedule, the contractor may want to give you an allowance for your flight and buy your vacation time to keep the project moving forward. As a manager, trying to retain my staff from one project to another was always a challenge. Not because the workers didn’t want to go but because upper-level management wanted to spread the experienced workers out to new crews. In Phnom Penh, I hired three young Filipinos, a design engineer, a QC engineer, and an electrical foreman, and we worked as a team for the next 10 years, completing projects in Cambodia, Ecuador, and Madagascar. After Madagascar in 2013, I went to work for the Department of State, so this team was disbanded. However, years later, I convinced the contractor to bring the designer to Mozambique to help them with MEP coordination, and a couple of years ago, I was able to do the same here in Casablanca with my original QC engineer.  The electrical foremen are still building embassies; however, our paths haven’t crossed. It was fun to reunite and work with these guys again.

I have been very fortunate as I have not had any trouble with the people I have had contact with not liking Americans. Since my wife started traveling with me, she has made friends in almost every country.  Until I started with the State Department, I worked 70ty plus hours a week and traveled as much as possible on my vacations and time off, so there was little time for social gatherings.  Besides the countries I have lived and worked in, I have traveled extensively in neighboring countries, some with a reputation for being very dangerous, and have never had an issue.  Being aware of your surroundings and smart about the time of day you choose to get out and about can make the difference between enjoyable and safe or uncomfortable and sketchy. I’d say as long as you aren’t being an ugly American you will probably meet helpful nice people.

In all the countries I have lived in for work, there is security on the working front. There is an existing embassy or consulate with people whose job it is to ensure the safety of the mission. The construction projects have an additional layer of protection with the addition of local police and security personnel. The local workers are generally a great resource for translation and advice about where and when to go see the sites.

I have always traveled. As a kid, I attended numerous grammar and high schools. My time in the Navy also allowed me to see many parts of the world, and later, I worked for several years for companies doing  Department of Defense work.  This also allowed for travel and the opportunity to live in some pretty cool places like the the Marshall Islands for 5 years. Duane, give me a couple of years, and I will update you on my adventures in the United States.  I have explored every state West of the Mississippi, including Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands. I am really looking forward to showing my family some of the coolest places on the planet.  Then there’s the country’s Eastern side that needs to be explored so much to see.