Saturday, July 18, 2009

i swam in the pacific ocean.

Sorry that I didn't blog yesterday--I couldn't get the internet to work. Also, I had sweaty palms from the days activities that kept my fingers from remaining on the keyboard long enough to type. Yesterday we did the canopy tour through the trees and over valleys and through dangerous winds. There were 12 zip lines, one free fall and a tarzan swing. Being that I am not a fan of heights, I was proud of myself for participating in all of the zips and free fall. A couple of times I inadvertently stopped in the middle of the cord and had to pull myself across the rest of the way. One time I had to get rescued. I couldn't muster the gumption to do the tarzan swing. I swear, for a few of the zip lines, we were hundreds of feet in the air and some of the zip lines seemed to last for 300 feet. Then afterward, we did horseback riding through the mountains of Costa Rica. That was pretty amazing. It was an exhausting day. Today we transferred to Jaco Beach and swam in the Pacific Ocean. The sand is black and the beach is rocky. The water feels amazing. Before we got to the beach, we stopped at a bridge over crocodile river and saw about 20 crocs basking away in the humid tropical air. Unfortunately my camera fogged up, so my pictures stink. What can you do.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

i survived the road to monte verde.

We have discovered on our travels in Costa Rica that many of our students have motion sickness--unbeknownst even to them. This problem became evident as we traversed the roads in Costa Rica, none of which goes straight in any direction for more than 50 feet. We had several vomiting issues. Today we drove for about 3 hours to a local school in Monte Verde. The roads were dirt and windy and hung over large precipices. There was an instance where our bus driver had to drive our motor coach over this 8 foot wide bridge, which is the exact width of the bus less a centimeter or two, held up by what looked like dental floss. We had to get off and walk over the bridge as he did a 100 point turn to line up the bus exactly so as to fit over the bridge. It took a good 10 minutes for him to succeed. Then when we finally go to the school, whose population of students totals 15, we got to see a typical Costa Rican folk dance done by several of the students. We joined them for some dance time afterwards, a little Macarena, Hokey Pokey, and ChaCha slide. The roof of the school had been blown off in a storm and the students were meeting in another decrepit building. Many of our students were moved to donate their personal funds to help this school. We're hoping to get more Murray and Ashley students to donate supplies to we can mail them when we get home. Our bus ended up getting some sort of transmission malfunction and we missed a rain forest walk this afternoon. Instead, we walked into town and relaxed for the afternoon. Tomorrow is our canopy walk and horseback riding. Sorry I can't upload pics right now, 11 mbps doesn't lend itself to uploading. I will try again since I have some good ones! Adios!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pura Vida

We are having great difficulties getting to phones and internet. The hotel we're at for the next two days doesn't even have phones and we had to walk into town to get to an internet cafe. I will have to keep this blog brief since I'm almost out of minutes. Yesterday, we drove to a biodiversity park and saw a 3-toed sloth, iguanas and caimens. Then we drove to a volcano and hiked to the cater. It was too foggy to see much. Then last night we saw an erupting volcano (from a very safe distance). The lava shows well against the pitch black sky. Being near the equator means that the sun is up at 5:30 am and it's dark by 7 pm. Today, we went kayaking in the largest man-made lake in Costa Rica and then we hiked this crazy trail to a waterfall for swimming. Tonight we will go to hot springs. Everyone seems to be having a marvelous time and there are plenty of rice and beans for us all at every meal--including breakfast.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I've changed venues

So I've changed venues. I'm in Costa Rica with some students and parents. We landed here around 2 pm East Coast time and 12 pm Costa Rican time. Needless to say, the normal travel exhaustion has set in, I'm ready to sleep on my somewhat questionable sheets. I gambled for my first time ever in Costa Rica and won 1500 colones (which amounts to about $1.50). It's pretty awesome. We ate at a local restaurant and I drank this papaya and milk drink concoction that was pretty scrumptious. As we walked to the restaurant, I noticed several interesting things: a chevorlet dealership (are they not bankrupt here?), and gutters that are about 2 feet deep to help with the monsoon, wet season. We leave tomorrow morning to see an active volcano, biodiversity theme park and some other magical things. We're off to our Costa Rican dinner and then to bed.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

bon nuit

it's 11 pm, and I just finished my last French dinner. I have to be at the bus by 4:45 in the morning, so I'm going to bed. I'll update when I get back to Wilmington.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Everything seems better when you're eating a baguette and cheese

Wow, my blogging pattern has slacked to every other day--quelle dommage!! Yesterday, we went to a authentic French pottery village where we were able to see how they made various pieces of pottery using clay dug near the Rhine river. Then we went to a German town, had a picnic lunch and lounge in a park, and we finished at the Roman baths. While in the German town, Baden-Baden (incidentally, Obama spent some time here on his visit), I was walking with some students. We all turned back to look at a store. This fatal mistake of not looking where I was going lead promptly to me falling off a curb, twisting my ankle and skinning my knee. I guess we can all acknowledge this has been a trip full of injuries for me. But I really didn't care about my knee as I ate my baguette and cheese for lunch. We walked to the baths, where all of our students were able to enjoy the soothing mineral-filled waters in a variety of temperatures, as well as a steam room with menthol vapors to clear the sinuses and the pores. It was the perfect way to end our official activities in France. When we got back, we all went to a school dance with the French students replete with strobe lights, smoke machines and rocking techno beats. This dance lasted until 10, and by the time everything was cleaned up and all students safely picked up, it was 11 pm before I got home--thus the delinquent blog entry. My apologies. Well, I'm off for a bike ride on this resplendent day. A bientot.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Europa Park in Germany

Today we went to an amusement park in Germany. We crossed the Rhine river and were there this morning. The boarder between France and Germany, as with many European countries, is open--they don't check passports or anything. Fun was had by all today. I myself rode the newest roller coaster in the park: the Blue Flame. It goes from 0 to 100 mph in 2.5 seconds. That's how the ride begins--shooting you off like a rocket up this 120 foot drop, where you go down and into a 360 degree turn. There are some corkscrew turns and everything in the ride. It's crazy. It's weird to think that we will be leaving France in a few days. On the way to the park, we saw the Hotel Ibis that was burned in the anti-Nato riots last week. I wanted to get a picture, but I couldn't. We returned this evening, and the teachers got together for dinner and France's favorite past time: soccer. I've reflected a lot today about this experience. We worked so hard to get here, and the kids have seemed to enjoy their time here and have learned many new things. I'm looking forward to the next trip already...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Holy Crepes, lunch was good today.

Wow. Sorry that I missed another day of blogging. I am usually on it, but I have been crazy busy. I am happy to report that on our trip to Paris yesterday, we were able to get all of the students there in back in one piece. We walked through the streets holding hands like the little students in kindergarten.... Only one casualty, sorry Mr. and Mrs. Cole's parents, we had to leave him behind--he got stuck in the protective gating around the Eiffel tower.

Kidding, of course. After our 2 hour train ride from Strasbourg, we took a bus tour of the city of Paris. Many students had to fight their stereo types of Paris, I kept hearing, "Is this Paris?" "I didn't think Paris would look like this." We stopped at the Notre Dame for a few minutes. We went to the 2nd level in the Eiffel Tower and we spent a short amount of time at the Louvre. All in all it was a great time in Paris. What beautiful history.

Today, our students participated in this crazy French revision of dodge ball. Wow, what a great work out this game was. There was a red box where each team had to stay, then the gray area outside of the box was a prison for the other team members. Needless to say, there were balls flying, kids flying, me running around like a crazy fool getting exercise. Then we went bowling. My first game was tres mal. By my second game I was more respectable. After this, we ate at this amazing restaurant that served the best crepes ever. I'm totally in love with them. We ended the day with a tour of the European Parliment.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Je suis fatigue

Tomorrow is a big day for us. We will travel to Paris at 5:45 in the morning. I am convinced that everyone in our group should hold hands all day. This way we are assured that we will lose no one. Today, we met up with an old colleague from Murray--Ian Cotton--and had lunch at a cafe. After that, I got to meet my friend from Germany. I went to college with her and haven't see her in years, so that was fun. We drank coffee at a cafe. Then all of us went to one of the French teacher's houses for dinner. We also played ping pong. I don't have pictures yet, I will have to hijack them from someone. So, until then...

Je suis desole

I will post twice today since I didn't post yesterday. Yesterday was the big day of NATO protests because the NATO meeting, and its 60th birthday, were yesterday. I saw a group of protesters dressed as clowns yesterday, firing balloons and riding toy horses through the streets. I really wish I had gotten better pictures of this. But I had a battery crisis and by the time I fixed the batteries, they protesters had moved on. I didn't think it was wise to run after them carrying my camera. They were laughing and smiling, and making horse noises, etc... There was another man staying on the corner dressed as a Charlie Chaplain, or maybe a Hitler figure, singing "Happy Birthday" to NATO in protest. All of the violence and tear gas on t.v. was far removed from me. It was very frustrating the other night when all of the teachers tried to meet up for dinner. Every road we turned down had a police barricade. Every person we talked to told us to go a different way. Wow. Everything is cleared up now since the heads of state have left. Obama is actually in Prague now. So life resumes in Strasbourg. As a note on life in the States, I was up until about 4:00 am watching the UNC final four game...Go Heels!