Happy Halloween…and Thanksgiving…and Merry Christmas…Happy New Year

Bon Anja! Happy New Year!

OK-You are all officially allowed to stone me when you see me in the flesh….so sorry. I honestly haven’t written a post since September and that’s fairly inexcusable. I have no excuse.

Ok, maybe just one. I guess I felt nothing ‘interesting’ was going on enough to write about it. Perhaps that’s wrong though. So, I suppose I should do a little updating!

I have done a handful more dives since my restoration course. Perhaps 6? It’s just amazing to me that I can go out and dive whenever I want. It’s what I’ve dreamed of for many years.

Sept. 21-My Birthday!
It’s been fascinating celebrating my birthday  in other countries. This year at school everyone sings to you, congratulates you, and in general showers you with love. That’s not totally uncommon in other places, but when the staff and students sing happy BD to you in 4 different languages at different times of the day, it tends to stay in your memory 🙂 A group of us celebrated with dinner and drinks at the only local craft brewery on the island, and it’s always delicious.

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Finally getting a pumpkin spice latte…and it was free!

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Got this snap from the boys. Miss them so much!

Sept. 24-Curacao Clean up!
Most people on this day (businesses and other community members) come together to pick up trash around the beaches. There’s t-shirts, snacks, music…apparently it’s a good time. I however, and about 25 other like minded souls, opted to pick up trash under water! We gathered ourselves at the Sea Aquarium beach and suited up. We carried huge potato sacks and spent about 75 minutes swimming around the lagoon area collecting trash. In total, about 55 bags of trash were collected from the depths. Some we had to leave (bottles and plastic cups) as marine life had eventually started making a home out of it. We found mostly bottles and plastic cups, with the random plastic bag, sock, goggles, or can. I did find a dirty maxi pad…that was disgusting. I don’t even want to think about that…or how it became lodged in the sand. After we brought our trash to the surface (btw, it’s tough carrying a heavy potato sack around while swimming. Just saying), a local restaurant thanked us by giving us 2 drink tokens for the bar plus several plates of grilled food. I suppose we cleaned their waters…so it’s only fair to feed us 🙂

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Enjoying beverages and our new hats…complete with bottle openers. Stay classy ya’ll! 

Oct. 21
Going home for a visit and UN day. -so one of the many reasons we moved to the Caribbean was for the proximity of home…of family. This was proven by a last minute trip (literally, tickets were bought 4 days or so before I left) to visit my parents in Florida. My sister and eldest nephew were already heading down for a visit, so we decided to make a weekend out of it. The day started out wonderfully as it was UN day. Since it technically wasn’t a “normal” school day I didn’t have problems leaving early (around 1) to get to the airport. UN day basically celebrates the families of our school community.We begin with a huge celebration in the gym where students perform dancing acts for a specific country (or continent) to the community. Everyone dresses up in their national costume (or tacky like us Americans). Then, everyone exits for FREE food! All the families have set up brilliant booths for each country and the community goes all out making delicious food for everyone to sample. Soooo good! Most of my students went home with their parents and the few that remained stayed with Elizabeth (teammate) until they were picked up. I was whisked away to the airport and easily made my way to Miami where my parents picked me up. After that it was a quick hour drive home! The weekend was lovely. I left Sunday evening and was back home by 10pm…ready to work the next day.

I wish I had something better to wear to represent the USA other than this…maybe next year I will come in a southern belle hoop skirt…Luelle is modeling a traditional Curacao costume. Apparently the hat is important. Your status in the community is designated for all to see…based on where the bow/flower is placed on the hat.

Visiting with Family-got to see Garrett and Brandie on this trip home!

Oct. 31
Halloween- On the island holidays are pretty much celebrated to it’s fullest. The biggest difficulty I found was buying decorations for the house or classroom. So I ended up with nothing 😦 I guess I should bring some from storage (right Brandie??)! I used what I had for a costume. For the school Halloween carnival I turned into a “happy” witch and for the wicked party we attended downtown my happy witch turned into a “dark” witch! You know I love my dark costumes. We ended up buying tickets for a party being held right on the water at a small French bistro. There was a DJ inside and about 11:30 a live local band started up on the terrace. We drank and danced (I attempted salsa) for several hours into the night until I about dropped dead. Around 2 am we headed home. Haven’t been out that late in AGES!

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The good witch…for the school festival. 

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The evil witch and her enchanted gangster 

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I’m digging my new look. 

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From left to right…a widow, a cat witch, a devil, an evil witch, and a gangster. 

Nov. 24-Thanksgiving week

To celebrate the day of thanks the whole elementary participates in a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Each grade level is assigned a dish and everyone brings in their supplies. Parents volunteer to serve and we enjoy our half day of school with a morning assembly and a fantastic lunch. This is also the week we hosted our first visitors. We think Angelo likes being our first as he was also our first visitor in Japan! This time though, he brought a girl!!! We had a great week showing them around the island and relaxing. We did a few touristy things with them that we hadn’t done yet ourselves, so that was nice. We visited the Hato caves which are natural limestone and volcanic stone above ground caves that were originally used by the Arawak Indians, and later protected runaway slaves. They were really beautiful to walk through. We also went to Shete Boca National Park and saw the gigantic waves on the North Western end of the island. It’s generally too dangerous to swim there because of the extremely high winds that force the ocean to bash (literally) against the cliffs. The giant waves are formed when the tide comes in and the small space weathered out over time sucks the water in and BAM. Beautiful things happen in the air. While there we visited a couple other spots that had lovely views of the water and natural limestone bridges. Otherwise we visited a lot of beaches 🙂 It rained a lot while they were here (boo) so we spent time indoors playing poker and dominoes. Oh…gotta tell you about the day at Kokomo beach when the iguanas decided to share my lunch! You might have seen the photos on FB already, but haven’t heard the whole story. We had ordered natchos (which are amazing) and were laying on the sand eating. As we eat, we notice some lizardy like friends creeping closer. Lynae was just saying how she wanted to see more iguanas…and there they came. A huge one leads the pack as he saunters confidently towards our towels. He only hesitates once…and literally hops into my bowl. He is no more than 6 inches from my face! As he tears into the leftovers, I get a close up of this beautiful green iguana. Up close, he so resembles a dinosaur and it was spectacular! Anyway, a few other types of iguanas join him and we start feeding them mint from our drinks. A lot of people came to take pictures because it was so unusual and just plain funny. He was shaking his head as he ate, flinging guac and sour cream all over the place. On Thanksgiving, which is a Thursday, also happens to be the same day Punda (downtown) does their Punda Vibes. This week was a holiday edition where santa rides in a convertable down the street (listening to rap music?) on his way to light the big Christmas tree. We watched the tree lighting, ate fresh Stroup waffles (omg caramel waffles) and watched fireworks.

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Old Fort

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Old Fort

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Old Fort

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Old Fort

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Old Fort-the cannons were cool!

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Old Fort

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Old Fort-I bet it would look different now after all the rain we’ve had

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Sunsets on the beach=never get old

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Shete Boka National Park

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Shete Boka National Park

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I have no idea where we were…but it’s pretty!

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Shete Boka National Park

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Shete Boka National Park

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Shete Boka National Park

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Shete Boka National Park

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Floating market-boats come from Venezuela to sell fruits and veggies.

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Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel-Oldest in the Americas!

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Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel: right in downtown Punda. The museum was closed, but through those gates.

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Old Fort

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Kokomo beach-the day the iguanas at my nachos

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Shete Boka national park-known for this spot. Can’t swim here…

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Downtown Punda

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Hato Caves-home to Native Arawak indians and runaway slaves

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Shete Boka National Park

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Hato Caves

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Hato Caves

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On the wall of an old for in Otrobanda, looking over to Punda!

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View from the caves

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Godzilla?

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Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel-It was beautiful

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Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel They had an organ!

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Had to wear a yamaka- it wasn’t so bad Paul!

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Shete Boka National park

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Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel The floor was nothing but sand! No shoes allowed

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Hato caves

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Shete Boka National park

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Singing in the rain-Punda

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Hato Caves

December: Sinterklaas and Santa Claus

December 2 was an interesting day to say the least. The Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas, a bishop looking, white bearded man who has a list of students who have been naughty or nice. He is accompanied by his Piets. I will post a brief explanation of their history. The piets are ‘elves’ I suppose, and they come along with Sinterklaas. They actually arrive on the island in a boat (historically a steam boat from Spain) and bring treats and toys to the boys and girls. The piets wreak havoc on homes and classrooms (like leprechauns would). They came to the school and we had an assembly where students and piets danced together, we all did the mannequin challenge (slight fail I think… I am not sure though as I haven’t seen the evidence), and then each class visits them in the library where he reads out each students name and gives them a present. Teachers get gifts too! We got a new basketball and a new kickball! Oh yeah!
Chirstmas on the island is another big deal. All of the roundabouts are decorated with gigantic Christmas scenes and lights, music is played everywhere (which is always strange on the beach), and Christmas dinners and specials are offered everywhere. There are concerts, and pageants, and parties happening every weekend. School was out with a half day on the 23. We had a wonderful day with another assembly as an elementary and gift exchanges in the classroom.

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Had to show the bulletin board! It’s one of my favorites and says hello to a couple holidays this month. 

I was looking forward to the break-just time to relax, read, swim and explore. Though I didn’t do much exploring! I went home to visit my parents again for Christmas. We had a nice time. I spent 5 days reading, visiting, and relaxing with just a bit of shopping 🙂 Christmas was quiet as it was just the 3 of us, but I really enjoyed seeing my parents. I can’t explain how thankful I am. I am so close to home now. It’s the best of both worlds!

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Posted on FB, but decided to chop the hair off. Much happier! I was going to our staff Christmas party!

After Christmas, I came back to the island life on the 26th and literally spent the rest of the break reading and swimming. The pool, the beach, another beach, reading…it’s what everyone dreams of for a break. I am glad we didn’t travel to South America liked we planned because I just wanted to stay home! I can’t believe I admitted that! We are still working out our trips and finances though. The island has a fairly high cost of living. We are making plans…not sure where we will end up first.

New Years Eve!

If Christmas is done big, then NYE is isn’t just done big, it’s another monster of it’s own! Fireworks are only legal here for a week before NYE and a couple days after. Bangs and booms started early in the week. There is literally a schedule of all the fireworks being set off during a 5 day period. Downtown on the Queens bridge is the biggest celebration. Tradition has everyone standing on the bridge drinking at midnight when the fireworks start. We opted to avoid the crowds downtown (think Time square crowded?) and stayed home. Our neighbors/landlord/lady up stairs/coworker (Goumana) invited us up to celebrate with her family. Since her husband is Spanish, we celebrated by eating 12 grapes in basically a minute…or less? Not sure. Haven’t eaten that many grapes at one time in like, ever. When you eat the last grape just as the midnight bells toll, you drink champagne! Hopefully you ate all the grapes as each grape you eat will bring a month of good luck in the new year. I managed all 12…I think. Hopefully I have 12 months of good luck and not 11. The best part of the night though was the view. Because our house sits on a hill, her balcony has AMAZING views. At midnight, and on to about 1:30 am, we could see almost 360 degree views of the island’s fireworks. For over an hour everywhere you looked was a brilliant display of color, sparkles, sound, and glitter. We then went out front and (Paul helped of course) set off our own big booms. They were professional grade fireworks. And they were large. and loud. and sparkly. It was brilliant! London didn’t think so…he couldn’t decide where the best hiding spot was…behind the trashcan, toilet, or under the bed 😦 Poor boy had to deal with big booms for a week…it was so bad for him he refused to go outside. When he did, he stood there and cowered, shaking, with his tail between his legs. It was so sad. In fact, it was so bad that now, a couple weeks later, if you fart he will jump. No joke. It’s pretty funny. Poor boy. A night of beans is London’s own personal hell!! bahhahaha.

January!

Now it’s a new year…Hellloooooo 2017. We are back at school…and everyone gives big hugs and kisses saying Happy New Year. They follow it with wishing you good luck, happy feelings, and other Hallmark card things. I tell you, people here like to congratulate and well wish. It’s nice though.

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One my my favorite beaches!

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Having drinks at st. tropez and playing with snap chat

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Happy New YEar!

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Beach days-Heineken, music, waves, and books.

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Filed trip to the rock quarry-GReat views of the island. AND off limits to the public…so a special day!

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Look at that view! This is the Spanish waters. Our house is in the top right corner (but not walkable to any water). You can see the old fort from here…just beautiful.

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Looking for unique shells!

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Yogurt breakfast after yoga

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Building art by local artists all over Punda-stunning

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Free drinks at the Chopped Bar tender competition! It was a school night…shhhhh.

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London thinks he’s coming with me to work….

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So I woke up one morning with this on the ceiling above my head. Directly. Of course without glasses/contacts it just looked like a dark blob. We have never gotten out of bed so fast before! Turns out it was a baby lizard.

 

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NYE Spanish (Spain) tradition. Eat 12 grapes during the final countdown to midnight…then drink champagne, then watch an hour of fireworks.

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New bar-love it!

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OMG finally had ‘real’ ramen for the first time! A new place opened called Katsu…and this. I almost cried I was so happy. and it’s goooood.

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Captain Paul has his own ship on Kokomo beach

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Forgot to post…in September we had a staff putput tournament. Doug (head of school), me, and Goumana…we won first place as team red! Of course we had to dress up and decorate hats!

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My final painting. Happy with some…hate other parts. Oh well. It was for a good cause and it was a fun night.

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This is the orginial painting by a local artist. We were painting these to raise money for high school sports.

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This farm is called Hofi Cas Cora…and I looove it here

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Another painting by the same artist. It was being auctioned off…too much $$ for my lil pockets.

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Just driving dirt roads to get to the blue water.

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and another beach day.

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Comparing shark teeth at the aquarium

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Bearded dragon at Amazonia. I think it gave me a disease on my hand… 😦

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Totem of animals carved by local Brazilian artist. It was spectacular.

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The farm at Hofi Cas Cora this weekend…a huge full/double rainbow. I have never seen one so bright…and I saw all the colors on the spectrum. Never seen that before!

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Sunsets are beautiful!

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Traditional New Years local dish. There are popular in many Caribbean islands and goes back to slave times for some cultures. These are in my paining too! Ayaka…mixture of beef, pork, chicken, raisins, capers, and olives wrapped in cornmeal dough, folded within plantain leaves, tied with strings, and boiled or steamed afterwards.

 

What’s next?

Paul’s parents are coming to visit in February sometime. Yes, his dad finallllly got his passport. It’s about time! They are planning on coming during carnival…which is just another crazy holiday to experience. We have about a month of school or so and another 3 weeks off over Easter, so we are deciding if we will travel then or not.

 

There really hasn’t been much going on–all pretty normal stuff I think. I think I have fallen behind on writing because though Curacao is soo different from Japan…Japan was sooo different from EVERYTHING else. There were a lot of experiences to share…and maybe I feel my life here is more mundane. It’s still exciting, it’s still slow and different, but it’s peaceful and warm. It’s island life man.

Until next time….the boys are looking at me to start dinner…
Bon noche,
K + P + L

 

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