Island Conservation

Bon Dia and hellooo!

Hey ya’ll!! I can’t believe ‘summer’ is almost over! And by summer I am referring to school starting again…not the end of a season. Because let’s be real…it’s pretty much summer all year 🙂 I am more OK with that than I thought. My head of school asked me recently if this school year went by quickly. And it did honestly. But, it was strange to realize that because for the first time, I have not marked the passage of a school year by the seasons. You teachers out there know what I mean. Being one season all school year has been strange for sure! Anyway, so yeah. School starts back on August 2 and students arrive August 10. Cheers to a new year!

My summer break has been wonderful. I went home to visit my family (in Florida) and drove up to Georgia to see friends and family. It was so nice to spend some quality time with those I love-and I appreciate the moments, as few as they can be, all the more for it. When I returned to the island on July 4, I prepared for Laura’s visit on July 5! Her visit was filled with excitement, stories from our youth, swimming and snorkeling, hiking (well, Laura hiked, I attempted), finding Vegan food, and exploring Dushi Curacao. We celebrated 20 years of friendship! Can you believe it?! I am so fortunate to have her in my life still. I love talking of the past, our presents, and what the future will hold.

All the pictures from her visit are on FB, but here are some highlights!

19748703_10101128950830679_2803783121652214521_n19875649_10101128950740859_6571285436176370037_n19944392_10103065936306093_2699152432533966810_o19679397_10103065936450803_4222634795167349996_o19780572_10103065931121483_4463714743761205771_o

19894564_10101132284000979_6451330526602335727_n19957024_10103072695505603_9213425281492962605_o19944234_10103072681179313_2020751365035155497_o19894987_10101129961754779_3555410276259800501_n

19884304_10101128950925489_1322170839180502224_n

The beach at the abandoned hotel. Laura wanted to show how you could just drive your car right up to the water!

20017614_10103078110783343_7681473755184484334_o

One of my favs of Laura. She was just telling me earlier how much she loves birds and their freedom with flight. Then, we saw this wall art. 

19894554_10101132284475029_4492537344732581112_n

19884108_10101132284509959_552576232138278961_n

Proud, contemplative moment as 1) I am afraid of heights and this is the TOP of the fort…and 2) just cause it’s so much Curacao. 

19989303_10101132284395189_8118941467725402886_n

After Laura left, I had a few days alone before Paul came back home. I did exactly what you thought I would be doing with an empty house and no one to entertain 🙂 Absolutely NOTHING 😉 But that only lasted about 2 days before I was wishing someone was with me. Luckily my friend and co-worked Allison was back on the island and we started a routine morning swim at one of the beaches where they have a ‘lane’ marked. Well, we are making it a lane…not sure that’s the purpose or not! These swims are exciting because I am exercising (booo) but also snorkeling (though at a brisk pace I might add) and seeing amazing fish (yay!) You have seen some of my posts recently on facebook about what I am seeing, but it is most definitely the best part of waking up in the morning to go for a swim. The more I am around the sea, the more she becomes a part of me. You will have to tear me away from this island kicking and screaming…unless perhaps it is to hop to another island. That will be ok sometime in the next few years (hint hint-for those wondering).

While Laura was here we met with the Sea Turtle Conservation Curacao so that I could get involved with that organization. I was hoping to start some volunteer work as it is an especially critical time of the year…nesting season! My first task was to go to Klein Curacao, the ‘small/little curacao’ which is not far from the main island, though with rough seas takes about 1.5 hours to get there. It’s deserted in that no one lives there. With three main tour groups taking several trips a week, it was approved to build facilities for the tours. Palapas, restrooms, etc. This takes up a very small part the beach. The rest is home to lizards, birds, hermit crabs, and flat land. You can find an old light house (that still works) and a couple shipwrecks that were grounded. That’s it!

Right now there is only one turtle nest on the island and that is not a very good sign. We were hoping for more during yesterday’s visit but alas, only the one. We spent the morning walking the perimeter of the island searching for fresh tracks and picking up trash…which let me tell you there was a lot! We only picked up 4 bags of plastic (straws, plastic baggies, shoes, medical waste [ewww], toys, bottles, etc)in about 400 meters of beach. This was especially important where the turtles should come and nest. They can’t nest if they can’t reach the sand! Well anyway, yeah. The morning was tough out in the sun hiking in the sand and collecting trash. We ate lunch and then others (3 others) went to clean more beach while I went snorkeling to try and photo turtles. We are working on making information boards about the sea turtles to post for tourists to learn more about them, including what not to do. Also, this helps everyone get to know the ‘locals’. It was a very long day…6:45 Am to 6:00 PM including travel time. I look forward to other ways I can help sea turtles!

As always, I am still doing coral restoration and working with CARMABI on sharks!
That’s it for me and the little rock I call home.
Ayao!
K + P

20141023_070234

At the Pelican beach on Klein Curacao after a snorkel in unknown waters by myself. I didn’t go very far because the current was strong and again, all by my lonesome. But, it was amazing swimming with NO ONE around, so here is the after shot! My world!

20141023_065904_0120141023_06564420141023_064750

20141023_062933

Klein Curacao. Sand and rocks…some cacti, blue sky…that’s it!

20141023_062930

The cove just at the top of the picture is Pelican beach (you can figure out why it’s named that). I was snorkeling this spot. So lovely and without anyone to disturb. 

20141023_062922

Sail boat in the distance and can you sand land ho? That is Curacao main land. Not too far really. 

20141023_054446

Hard to see, but I LOVE this last stretch of sand/coral before a severe drop off! WHOA!

20141023_062122

SO I nearly deleted this photo because I took it with my ‘go pro’ and not sure why it took like this while the others came out fine. But I thought it looked rather artsy, so I kept it. 

19990144_10101134185565229_8695466510801099934_n

One of Laura’s photos of the shipwreck on the north side of the island.

19989644_10101134185670019_6038009685268127496_n

Laura’s photo of the light house. 

19961616_10101134185789779_678657764569050796_n

Laura’s photo of the beaches where the boats have their guests. This is it…for the whole island. Really the ocean is just on the other side. Can walk tip to tip the long side in maybe an hour? The short side maybe 30 minutes?

20141023_062048

20141023_054019

My first photo attempt to identify a sea turtle. Need to work on it a bit and get more angles. 

Advertisements

Spring has Sprung!

Bon dia people! Pelli here.

The last post covered oh about 4 months, so it’s only proper to do the same in this post. I mean, who really needs a month to month record?
IMG_8346

18156660_10102895952330343_6628957821243813727_o16825989_10102750604852853_4063318976431085312_o15392783_10102607793373203_5850882131000774181_o (1)18209274_10102891016631523_2236544915673520671_o17017182_10102759113765923_4530793330452926037_o

The last post ended with New Years which ended 2016 with a spectacular bang. It was a good year, filled with lasting memories and new change.

SO, what’s happened in 2017 so far? A little of this and a little of that.

School is going well. We are winding down with just about 3 weeks left to go. Lots going on as we prepare to end the year. I have 2 field trips planned before school is out…one is going to the local marine education center, CARMABI, so the kids can learn why protecting our coral reefs and sharks is important work…especially since we are a small island! I don’t think there is enough education for our local children about the awesome responsibility for our tiny hub of land. I hope to change that for them. After the presentations and tours, I am taking the entire 3rd grade snorkeling. Yep, you heard that correctly. I am hosting 25, nine year-olds in the ocean. *looking at corals* *enjoying life* *not drowning* Yeah what am I THINKING? Wish me luck and patience next week, June 2 starting at about 12:30 after we finish our beach side picnic.

Random shots for ya: Mmmm Good local food! Keshiyana is chicken, cheese, prunes, yummy! Cuban soup is like a nice Japanese curry! All from one of our favs, Gouvenour. And of course, token sunset photo from Mambo beach.

Shark week is coming up!!!!! All the Dutch Caribbean islands + Holland is banning together for 1 week to educate locals on all the dangers sharks face. The shark population has declined so rapidly in our own local waters, that a healthy population hasn’t been recorded since the 1970s. That is crazy, ya’ll!!! So anyway-not here to preach…here to say that I am volunteering and sooooo excited!
IMG_8328

  1. I am the new DATA consultant (or whatever you wanna call me). I am the link between CARMABI and all the dive shops on the island. I am sending out data collection sheets and compiling the data 🙂 As dive shops go out and play, they keep a record of any shark or sting ray sighting. Then I come collecting monthly. Yes!!! Plus, I hope to build some good relationships with dive shops + get the inside scoop on the sites I want to dive most!
  2. Secret Spy…who knew that would ever be in my repitoire…though to be honest I am crap at it as I haven’t done anything yet. I am supposed to go to stores and  the Chinese (small shops owned by Chinese people-we all refer to them as going to ‘the Chinese’) to look for shark meat and fins…and find out where they come from. I am a little shy about this I think…
  3. The Amazing Shark Race: If you know me aaat alllll there are a few things that I looooove. Besides the standard +family+husband+dog+wine, there is HARRY POTTER, sharks, and The Amazing race. And somehow I was roped into planning the Amazing Shark Race, at the local mall, for about 50 kids. No pressure…and it’s not like I don’t have things to do at school! LOL, no worries. I am actually so excited and almost done with the planning 🙂 Let you know how that goes, later.
  4. Finally, as if that’s not enough, I will be helping Kids for Coral with an underwater shark quiz for 3 days (after school). Should be fuuuun!

It’s all volunteer work, but it’s the kind of things I can get behind easily.

I am still working with the Coral Restoration Foundation and helping maintain our coral nurseries. Because I do this we were given 2 opportunities recently.

  1. Last weekend I went diving at the aquarium (all natural water enclosures) for the Animal Encounters dive. Now, we won’t go into animals in captivity. I have my feelings on that and yada yada. This was an opportunity to swim with sea turtles, huge rays, Jack, tarpin, goliath grouper (daaaamn) and nurse/lemon sharks. We were feeding them too, which was neat to see their feeding techniques. Of course my camera wasn’t working (Charged?) so I am waiting on others to send me photos. But the 7 ft rays were friendly and a little bit shovey as they fought for extra fish. The sea turtles shy but magestic and the sharks. Of course that’s why I went in the water in the first place. We were only separated by a net and that’s ok. Probably for the best as the lemon sharks were mating… Such a cool dive. I am eternally thankful to a student sharing her photos with me because my camera wasn’t charged enough! She actually has a few photos and videos of me too! Yay!
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0598.JPG

The sting rays were rather bumpy and rough on top and the bellies seriously smooth, like velvet! These guys were NOT shy!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0603.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0602.JPG

These fish were huge. You can barley see (me, I think trying to turn my camera on) on the other side, and that’s not an optical illusion. They weren’t shy either.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0613.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0617.JPG

Lemon shark baby!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0621.JPG

Meet Herbie, the 400 lb goliath grouper. He was big, one eyed, and fast when he thought someone had food…at the end, just cameras really.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0625.JPG

More big guys hanging out under the boat.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0629.JPG

Tarpon I believe, they feed like torpedoes.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0630.JPG

Shark!!! Hi baby!!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0633.JPG

Awesome shot of the Nurse shark. They eat by making a sucking sound! Like the hose of a vacuum cleaner on your arm, but much stronger 🙂

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0632.JPGDCIM100GOPROGOPR0662.JPGDCIM100GOPROGOPR0618.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0615.JPG

There were 3 feeding areas like this. Rule #1-never put your fingers through the fence. Fingers look like fish!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0597.JPG

That’s me swimming with the fishies.

  1. This weekend we celebrate the 2 year anniversary of the CRF (coral restoration foundation) in Curacao. They are putting together a big soiree that involves some exciting fun dives, BBQ, +Cake+ and music. I am looking forward to that.
    **Update: Dive completed! Arriving at 2:00 we got geared up and did our prep talk about what to expect. We took the boat to a new location between Mambo beach and Jan Thiel beach area called Sweet bottom. There isn’t really ‘good diving’ there as there isn’t anything currently but sand. We are making a reef there! The morning crew planted about 200 corals using the epoxy method where they make a glue type putty and attach the coral to an existing rock. The afternoon dive was using zip ties to attach corals to either an iron table or grid. We are continually testing different methods. The zip tie works best (which is the one I prefer). The next project will start using bamboo to make grids instead of iron. We planted about 200 corals too! A total of 400 new corals made a home in a new place today, all from we regrew on the nurseries! It was a great day. We ended with a bbq, beer, and chocolate cake. I can’t wait to see the official video and pictures. I’ll share when it’s ready! Happy Birthday CRF!! Here is a brief snapshot of the work we were doing yesterday. (note: the zip ties are cut down low after we all finished). Thanks for sharing Jen!

Backtracking a bit more…Spring break was something like 16 + days? I lost count. I enjoyed being home, swimming in the pool, going snorkeling, and playing video games. It was nice to relax and explore without much responsibility.

17389030_10102794007528543_5822405471106321532_o

Oil paintings done under water while scuba diving!

17389121_10102794007523553_7428727259961935789_o

Amazing!

17358630_10102794007533533_3533467404227042485_o

Together 14 years!

Carnival was back in March and we had another week off (lots of holidays). Paul’s parents came to visit (Paul’s dad finally got a passport, yay!!!). They really enjoyed themselves and getting to know the Caribbean a bit. Carnival parade was an exciting experience. There are 2 main ones for the adults and the best is the evening parade to close the holiday. We bought tickets for a stand which included food, shirts, music, and bleachers. It was a nice spot, if not a bit loud (google tumba music for a taste). The costumes were amazing and were full of color, lights, and extravagance. It takes months to plan and prepare, make a costume-then you walk 2 parades for over 6 hours? And pay about 1000 guilders/500 ish dollars to participate. That does include the costume, booze, and food all day for 2 days. Some local teachers from school do it every year and a few have suggested I do it next year…not so sure about that ya’ll. But it was fun to watch. Next year I might do what a lot of the Dutch do during carnival…find a place to visit for a week that doesn’t celebrate it…it’s busy here! Also while here, we spent the day on a gorgeous sail boat. We went snorkeling at a couple places, enjoyed delicious food and drinks. It was perfect!

What’s next?

I have my tickets bought to go home to mummy and daddy June 22!!! Yeah 🙂 I haven’t seen them since December, and I am ready to squeeze them tight! They have relocated to Pensacola, so I get to explore a new city. I am very OK with that. West Palm beach was OK, but I am really looking forward to Pcola. I hear it’s more ‘southern’-which will feel more like home. Hopefully we get to drive to GA to see my sistah and the kids, then maybe catch up with some friends I haven’t seen in ages…feels like I should almost say the ‘years’ word. That seems impossible!

More random photos for you:
Discovering a new beach-behind me is an abandoned hotel from 20 years ago. Beautiful beach, cool graffiti, and no tourists. Delightful goat cheese sandwich…my new fav! View of the salt flats (one of 3?) from the hill top before going into Landhaus Groot, where the abandoned hotel is. Oh, and my newest hair cut 🙂 Googly eyes on that!

After that one of my oldest friends is coming for a visit!!!!! Hooray! Laura arrives on July 5 for ten days to celebrate the ending of her training and official Dr. Adkins status of a fully employed and qualified Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Plus it’s her first real vacation in years…so I am super excited. It will be quiet as a lot of people leave for the summer but we will yoga and hike, swim and snorkel, cook up new recipes and hang out. I am always happy when I have visitors and I am especially happy to host Laura for 10 days and show her the Caribbean way. Now if only she would finish looking at the extensive google doc of things to do that I probably have overwhelmed her with…hehehe.

I am at the end of my memory 🙂 See you in a few months for another update!?

K
Continue reading

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.

14409508_10102416240476743_4485386287955975930_o

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

img_7694img_7686img_7683

img_7692

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 🙂

14434819_10102425615828463_7087123717089738287_o

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!

image-0-02-01-2e96751665122262aab12a1485bcf655c2d57f97ae01686dc7707950648583b1-v

The good witch…for the school festival. 

img_7752

The evil witch and her enchanted gangster 

img-20161029-wa0000

I’m digging my new look. 

img-20161030-wa0000

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.

img_7872

Old Fort

img_7873

img_7871

Old Fort

img_7870

Old Fort

img_7869

Old Fort

img_7868

Old Fort-the cannons were cool!

img_7867

Old Fort

img_7866

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

img_7865

Sunsets on the beach=never get old

img_7860

img_7852

Shete Boka National Park

img_7843

Shete Boka National Park

img-20161012-wa0010

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

img_7834

Shete Boka National Park

img_7833

Shete Boka National Park

img_7824

Shete Boka National Park

img_7826

Shete Boka National Park

img_7812

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

img_7811

Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel-Oldest in the Americas!

img_7810

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

15025648_10102520905916363_7119909030999436122_o

Old Fort

15042275_10102532321205033_3907132794665337435_o

Kokomo beach-the day the iguanas at my nachos

15181638_10107209311883128_6496633751612449846_n

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

15110322_10107209304986948_9142688567874099240_o

Downtown Punda

15110508_10107209298709528_4247000881347621202_o

Hato Caves-home to Native Arawak indians and runaway slaves

15137620_10102541061259893_2364655270117467359_o

15123327_10102541062452503_4349805855395491263_o

Shete Boka National Park

15178067_10211100848133995_3085241975639030361_n

Hato Caves

15219458_10211100847493979_9172388701858300257_n

Hato Caves

15193551_10211100846733960_4596043094373196644_n

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

15195885_10107209298215518_634886865571495540_o

View from the caves

15202671_10107209297476998_4852825967461129012_n

Godzilla?

img_7807

Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel-It was beautiful

img_7806

Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel They had an organ!

img_7803

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

15194550_10102543397163723_6438131606227313136_o

Shete Boka National park

img_7802

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

15135978_10211124166556941_1975991134885649112_n

Hato caves

15181323_10211100975057168_1894775875004947418_n

Shete Boka National park

15194574_10211100834013642_2730844292083819539_o

Singing in the rain-Punda

15193644_10211100848454003_8079676663258068652_n

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.

img_7876

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!

img_7882img_7881

15585359_10102589939387733_5912008604710721809_o

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.

img_8014

One my my favorite beaches!

img_8008

Having drinks at st. tropez and playing with snap chat

img_8006

Happy New YEar!

img_8005

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

img_8003

img_7954

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

img_7920

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.

img-20161230-wa0000img_7854img-20161012-wa0012img-20161012-wa0013img-20161012-wa0006img-20161012-wa0007

img-20161012-wa0003

Looking for unique shells!

img_8066

Yogurt breakfast after yoga

img_8065

Building art by local artists all over Punda-stunning

img_8064

img_8057

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

img_8050

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

img_8047

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.

 

img_8016

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

15392783_10102607793373203_5850882131000774181_o

15800371_10102626224701673_7310747929682232909_o

New bar-love it!

img_7818

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.

14379935_10102410473818173_9047282311944233164_o

Captain Paul has his own ship on Kokomo beach

14556781_10102443824163813_294630885568167799_o

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!

img_7801

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

img_7797

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

img_7792

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

img_7783

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

img_7755

img_7753

Just driving dirt roads to get to the blue water.

20161204_144534

and another beach day.

img_7645img_7738

image-0-02-01-c1874e8f94688bc02d87a2325be4991343ce6c97ea247b184cd485fd57a44d80-v

Comparing shark teeth at the aquarium

image-0-02-01-423ade771f2e5c0ce4cccabe90003ae2205fd4834fb355685a7d628856573852-v

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

image-0-02-01-2d9d20da9abd50d526f344f26a84cb22daac801709e1e7440709670f9a58aac6-v

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

20170120_182753

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!

20170120_182401

20170120_182313

Sunsets are beautiful!

20170102_210011

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

 

Coral Restoration

Bon Dia!

This is a special blog edition! I know…two posts in 1 month?! It’s unheard of! Well, I had a lot of pictures and information to share from this weekend’s diving extravaganza, so I figured I might as well blog it. Besides, I’m too tired on this Monday to do much else..so I figure I will let my mind replay the weekend.

By the way, 3 dives in 2 days between working is no joke. Plus, this coral restoration stuff is hard work! It’s fun…but it’s work. I have cuts, scrapes, bruises, sore muscles, and burning/stinging skin (from fire coral, ouch!) to prove my point! This post will have great photos taken from my underwater camera (gopro knockoff) and some information on coral restoration. Enjoy!


It started out a bright and beautiful Saturday morning. Well, it ended just as bright and beautiful, but it’s a good way to start, right? 🙂

8:00 am and I pick up Jen to drive to Ocean Encounters where we will have our coral restoration course through Padi and Coral Restoration Foundation Curacao. Why did we do this? Well, there is a dive club at school who works monthly in the nurseries here, and we thought diving with the club would be a great way to get in the water frequently. Another reason we chose to take this course, is because divers and snorkelers contribute largely to coral destruction each year. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are so many more contributors to coral destruction than divers. But, if we intend to enjoy the ocean, we should help to replenish that which is being destroyed. Makes sense to me. Plus, you get to play underwater while doing it. It’s a win-win!

20160911_103028

Gearing up!

20160911_103051

Dive buddies!

20160911_142001

Hello from below!

 

I’ll do a little plug now, check out the link to Coral Restoration Foundation Curacao to find out more info about restoration and coral in general. There is a great video on how the nurseries and restoration project started! You should watch it as everything I did this weekend is a direct result of what happens in the video. Good stuff.

https://coralrestorationcuracao.org/

So, back to Saturday morning. I pick Jen up for our course. We are due for a theory class in the morning and a dive in the afternoon. During theory we learn about the foundation, about coral, how they have been destroyed and how they reproduce. We learn how to clean the nursery “trees” and how to affix new coral to the tree. It was very interesting. Especially how we are “cloning” the coral by cutting off pieces (asexual reproduction) and growing the coral bigger from those tiny cuts. There are two kinds of coral in the nurseries: elk horn and stag horn. This weekend we worked only on the stag horn (both corals are a hard coral). Anyway, so the theory was very informative!

After our lunch break we suited up and gathered our cleaning materials. We use sophisticated equipment folks: toothbrushes, green brillo scrubbers, and white scrub brushes. You read that correctly 🙂 An army of 7 divers walking into the ocean with toothbrushes in hand. Fighting the front lines of the battle again coral destruction. Arming ourselves for victory against the foe that is…okay enough of that. Sorry.

I won’t lie, I was a little nervous. I haven’t been diving since my certification in March so I was rapidly remembering all the stuff that I needed to do. Everyone on the dive has their open water certification and at varying levels. My dive buddy, Jen, completed her 199, 200, and 201 dives on this course. She’s a rescue diver among other certifications…so she knows what she is doing. I felt better knowing she was there. However, I am proud to announce that I didn’t need the mind and experience of anyone else during the dive as it all came back to me. So, that was a relief. I needed some support on setting up my kit as the hookups were a different model than the ones I used previously, but it was easy and no biggy.

There were a lot of firsts for me with this dive-first time without my instructor (who I depended on!!), first time new waters and on my own (minding my own wits), first time working underwater (that’s no joke), first time walking into the water from the sand (beach diving)…so yeah. A lot was going on. I actually rather enjoyed the beach entrance better than the boat entrance. Just walk right in, put your fins on, mask on, and go under.

Because the dive site was so shallow (3-6 meters tops) we stayed under for ages! Seriously…I think my longest dive was 45 minutes or so in the Philippines…I’d have to check my log. Our first dive was 88 minutes! Whoa!

As we swim to the nursery we get to observe and enjoy the world around us. That’s the main reason we dive anyway, right? To be a part of that world (thanks’s Ariel!)…and it was beautiful. Visibility was great-maybe 15 meters (with a clear mask…mine started to fog early on). Lots of sea life all around. Well, we take a 7 minute swim to the site and are appointed our trees. Starting from the bottom (and standing on the sand) we start cleaning. Using the green brillo pad to clean the algae off the tree itself, then off the line that is holding the coral. Using the toothbrush, we clean off the connector/clamp that’s looped and secured around the coral. There are little bits of algae that get stuck in the small crevices that need to be cleaned. Sometimes, the little white snails get in the spaces and eat the coral. So we had to watch out for those guys and get rid of them! We then used the big white brush to clean the main base or stand of the tree. Here, we had to watch for fire coral or clams that would just add weight to the trees. We could clean those off using pliers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The two instructors were coming around to each tree to frag coral. Ones that are getting big enough and have enough fingers on them would get cut and rehung. We worked together to cut and rehang the coral. Each tree can hold about 100! We pretty much did that the whole time! It was enough though because it takes a lot of energy to clean and not get blown away by the water surges (they were pretty intense, especially on Sunday!).

On the way back we have a look at the elk horn nursery. No time for those on this trip. We were on our minimum air limits as we swam back (I kept up with everyone else, not using up all my air before them! GO me!).

Overall Saturday was a great day-lot’s of information, a great dive-and some giving back. I sure was tired though…

Sunday morning we started around 10 since we worked efficiently it wouldn’t take us long to get going. We had a briefing about the day’s tasks and suited up. Today, in the morning dive, we’d do some more cleaning while the instructors got the coral ready. I finished cleaning my tree (it’s so pertty now) finally, so that’s good. To prepare today’s restoration, we clipped medium sized elk horn coral from the tree and used zip ties to secure them to an iron grate like thing which is anchored in the sand. It’s long and low and domes in the middle. We affixed the corals (fitting them together like a puzzle). This was especially hard work as the surges were coming in stronger. We had to keep ourselves buoyant and anchored to the grate so we could work. It was hard letting go because we needed to hands for the zip ties to work…but when we let go we would get pulled away (hence the sore muscles I spoke of…). We had about 8 corals to attach together-and of course we did. We are awesome, right! That dive was 90 minutes! Yowza!! It was a much nicer diver for me as my mask was clear the whole time which gave me much better visibility…and just overall I felt more comfortable with our tasks the second time out.

20160911_142722

The big blue…and lots of fishies

20160911_142713

20160911_142407

the nursery

20160911_142709

grid/grate thingy

20160911_142305

We swam back to shore and had lunch-an hour later we suited back up and went in for our 3rd dive of the weekend. I was so tired and as I sat nibbling on my fries and ginger ale I remember telling Jen…is it bad I just want to go home a sleep? She agreed…but then we both grinned and said once we are back in the water we forget alllll those things that made us want to go home in the first place. It’s true. It’s pretty much perfect under the sea (Geez, I think I need to watch The Little Mermaid or something!).

We had a briefing on what we’d do this time…which was a different type of restoration from the morning dive. This time we armed ourselves with hammers. And two containers holding separate gooey agents (like putty) that we mixed together make a earth friendly glue like substance. For this dive,  the bigger corals were getting placed directly on the house reef. We were give about 8 corals, one tagged, a hammer, and apoxy…or epoxy? I think it’s a combo. I felt either really funny…or really important walking to the beach with two large hammers clinking to my BCD. We are walking among beach goers who watch us going out. It’s kind of fun 🙂 I felt like I was going into a Minecraft game. Anyway-hammers at the ready we made our way back out to the nursery.

This time, we played around and explored while they gathered the final corals for this weekend’s project. Lazy floating, making water bubbles with our hands (pow!), floating upside down, exploring fish and corals…we had about 10 minutes or so of this playtime, and it was fun! I didn’t do that last time, but I am learning to explore the limits and possibilities of the equipment, and it’s just plain fun!

20160911_142331

Can you spot the fish?

20160911_142319

Jen and I were given a part of the reef to work on. We had to find the spots (again, like a puzzle) where the coral would naturally fit and lay on 3 points. Then we hammered and chizzled the algae off the rock, make apoxy/epoxy balls the size of a blueberry (we took turns. One hammers, one makes the balls). Then we fit the balls onto the clean, white spots. Form the balls into little volcano like mounds (on all three spots) then attach the coral. Make sure it surrounds the tips of the coral a bit…throw some water at it. If it moves, start over. If it doesn’t move…success! Start the next one. This phase of the restoration was almost harder because the surge was even worse. The weather did become a bit windier and more overcast on the surface. I had a really good grip on two rock pieces so I didn’t blast away.  Jen was having a hard time staying in one spot too, so it wasn’t just me. Most everyone else finished first, so either we were slow, or we had more. Granted, some of them had done this before, but were just now taking the official course. Either way, our instructor Paul came over to help us with the last coral. It was one we started with that was giving us such a hard time. He struggled with it as well. In fact, a poor fish was decapitated as it got in between the rock and his hammer…”free food”-between the fishy guts and sound of the hammers, quite a few fish came to investigate and began eating the poor headless fish. Nature rules!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We finally affixed that coral to the rock and we started to head back. That dive was about 85 minutes. There were lots of little things that made the experience cool. Paul said after a post-dive briefing, “even with all this good work you were doing, did you get the chance to stop and experience the beauty and wonder surrounding you?” And he was right. I was really focused on my work. Making sure I did it right-not damaging the coral as I worked. Remembering my breathing, and trying to not float off! I did take some time, especially the third dive with my camera to experience the wonder that is the ocean. The fish were so curious. They were hovering by us the whole time. A couple cuties were playing with my mask and kept swimming right into it (my eye or his reflection…not sure). They would nip at your fingers, swim through your fingers. It’s so beautiful! I saw an amazing array of fish and even a few squid (who love to explore the algae we are kicking into the water). I missed the huge tarpon though…Jen thought is was a shark swimming away it was so big (apparently their aren’t sharks in our waters…? I might need to investigate this more).

When we arrived back on the beach we floated for a bit talking about what we saw, and how we felt about the weekend’s work. We then marched back into the shop, cleaned up, took a “we did it” photo complete with hammers out! Finished some paperwork, took photos for our new certification cards, and called it a day. It was a loooong day full of hard work, but it was so worth it. I went home exhausted but feeling great. It’s strange how you can be both at once!

So after 2278 words, you know how my weekend went. My hands have the story written all over them…and my arms, and my ankle I think. Fire coral burns and cuts and scrapes from the coral…a few unknown bruises…would I do it again…yes. Three dives on a weekend in between work is a lot. Especially for this newbie. But it felt good to challenge myself and force myself to do what I set out to do. I came to the island saying I wanted to dive, to work on coral restoration, maybe volunteer at the aquarium, work with the turtle conservatory program…and just enjoy island life. So far, I am meeting my goals rather quickly. I’ve dived, worked on coral (and will continue, at least monthly), and am in contact with the aquarium. Things are good. Life is good.

Thanks for listening and being a part of my journey.

K

 

img-20160912-wa0000

Done. Deal! Officially Coral Restoration Certified!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 month in…

Bon Dia! One month in. We’ve been island side for 30 days or so now and I know the question on everyone’s mind…the inevitable…How is it? DO you love it? Could you live here longer than two years?

You know those are your burning questions…and I won’t disappoint by waiting to reveal the answer. In short, we love it. There are certainly things we need to get used to (heat being the biggy)…but I think once we acclimate all around, it’s a great place to be. I think the staff at my school can attest to that. People have been at the school for 10+ years. In fact, the middle school principal came to the island for ONE year…it was only meant to be ONE year (from somewhere in the USA). She’s now been here 19 years. Working on citizenship. She’s been at the school + the island for about that long. That does say something…to me anyway.

How is the school you ask? It’s a good school. Everyone cares about their students, and each other. It’s a close community yet everyone has their “niche” as most schools will. I have felt very welcomed and for the most part, supported as well. My buddy aka my landlady has been the most welcoming and helpful. Since she lives upstairs, it’s been very helpful to have her around. She was born and raised on the island, moved away for several years at 18 for schooling, lived in Spain with her husband and family for several years, and finally moved back here 5 years ago. Her daughter is in college in the Netherlands and is obsessed with Japanese culture (go figure right?) Her son is a junior, into technology, water polo, and diving. He’s been a GENIUS helping us out with various things. Her husband has also been very helpful in driving us around and offering advice and tips. Without these key figures, the transition would have been much more painful.

It was a different transition from Japan…and I can’t really explain how. Two opposing cultures and societies. There are so many similarities to starting out in a new country that I doubt it will be much different wherever you are. Some key things still remain: getting used to government policy…slow government pacing…odd hours for paperwork (and odd requests). The language isn’t an issue…which is nice for a change. Though most people speak Dutch or Spanish (or the mixed local language), everyone can speak English. We try using some local dialect in greetings, thanks, and good byes, but mostly we speak English. That’s helpful when trying to buy things, ask questions, look for cars, etc.

Hassles? BANKS! This is has been the focus of my ire for a couple weeks now. The school could be a bit better at communicating with us…that’s mostly one person though and I won’t get into that. We have been given fairly late and conflicting information in regards to our car search. That’s been the slowest process of this transition. We spend our 3rd day on the island car shopping in excruciating heat for an automatic within 10,000 guilder (loan maximum). Ya’ll, that was nearly IMPOSSIBLE. There are so many freaking cars on this island…seriously. And they are all so expensive. We could have had a really nice newer car if we had brought about 3,000 of our own USD…that’s not going to happen. So once we finally found our car…the loan process started, which should have been simpler as it’s through the bank and school. Not so much. I won’t go into those details, but it took 3 weeks of “one step forward, two steps back” before the loan was delivered to the car dealer. Luckily, Bruce was a cool, chilled guy (for a car salesman no less) and he was easy to work with. He took care of the paperwork, transfers (waiting in lOOOOOONg lines) and had things ready to go. That’s a big battle one as it takes AGES to wait in lines for government things. Even picking up a package at the post office can take half a day. You heard me right…half a day! Who’s got time for that? In fact, no one does really. It’s so bad, that the school has a hired man. You pay him 25 guilders (that’s nothing) and he will go wait in line for you. I mean come on. You literally can say, “I gotta man for that.” I guess that’s island time. And it’s real. And it sucks. Especially if you like efficiency and punctuality. I suppose I will adjust.

This was a week 1 accident…tripped in my drive way and busted up bad. It’s finally healed, though the fresh skin is whitish/pink and looks funny on my tanned knee. Oh, you wanted evidence of this random act of clumsiness…fine. Here. Locals said soak it in the ocean for 3 days, at least 15 minutes each time. It will heal faster. Took me almost a week before I could get to the beach…and yes, it healed faster. Locals know man. The ocean is amazing!

Let’s see…on to some fun stuff? Yeah, if you’ve read this far, you deserve it! The past couple weeks have been busy in a good way. We are actually kicked out of school at 4:30 each day…to save electricity costs and to have a life outside of school.It’s a novel idea, but I guess I can deal with that. It was hard at the beginning because new school, new grade…lot’s to do. I’ve had to lean to manage my time really well. In fact, though the school closes at 4:30, most people leave at 3:30 (school is out at 2:00 for elementary, 3:30 for secondary). I’ve adjusted to that ok as it seems now by the time 3:30 rolls around I am usually ready to go! Crazy right? I do bring home some things…but that’s minimal and might be some grading needed for the next lesson or homework planning over the weekend. Stuff I can do from a computer at home. After work, I come home and swim, read, check London for ticks (don’t GET me started on the tick problem here). Wait for the sun to go down so I can cook dinner…(did I mention there isn’t any AC in the living room/kitchen area?)…with a gas stove/oven (that I have to use a lighter to light), it gets reallllly hot in the kitchen as the sun is setting. We face west, so the hot sun + no AC + fans doesn’t cut it. So we either eat outside during the sunset if we are just too hungry to wait, or cook when the sun in down. It works out alright. I can find anything I need for cooking. That’s a relief after going so long without those “must haves” that remind you of home. This is a different experience from Japan all around. But I wouldn’t trade either experience for anything!

This random grouping of photos was from a day at the salt lake…muddy and smelly. Doggies run freely and play in the water. Not London of course…too proper for that. These salt lakes are home to flamingos! A couple weekends ago we went to another beach about 45 mins away where there was a salt lake on the way. More flamingos! Paul tried to get a good picture.

I’ve already finished one book and on the way to finishing another as I read by the pool after school. That’s a novel experience. (bahahhahahah, get it…novel…reading?) I crack myself up.

We go to the beach mostly on the weekends, although I am keeping my eye on beach options for after work.  We get discounts at different places because we are staff at ISC…there is someone who owns something attending the school. That’s helpful, right?

Photos of the beach at Port St. Maria. We drove about 45 minutes on various desert roads. You’ll see a picture of one such desert road…and then suddenly the horizon looms in front of you with a spectacular ocean view. Love it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We get a discount at a local gym. Spa, cafe, AC, classes (yoga/pilates/boxing-dancing hybrid thing, Zumba…). Looks good. We also get a membership discount to the Hilton Hotel beach club. Beach, spa, pools, gym, cafe with discounts. I can’t decide which….one has yoga and other classes I am interested in and is also closer to home. The Hilton is a 25-3o min drive without traffic. But, it offers more (like the beach!). There are some people who already have the Hilton membership and go after work several times a week. Workout, swim/snorkel, snack, drink at the bar, then go home. That’s what I am thinking I’d rather do. Leave school at 3 or 3:30, go straight to the beach-do some snorkeling, swimming, tanning, have a drink…chill out. Could leave by 6:30 or 7 and come home to cook if I didn’t eat there or go out. Sounds perfect to me! We shall see 🙂

Paul’s schedule is shaping up. At the moment he is teaching English classes to the community through the school twice a week from 6-8pm. Other classes might start in November. He is also talking with a retired local teacher who is trying to set up an education center, not unlike a tutoring/after school center. Shall see where all that goes.

Speaking of Paul, Happy Birthday Darling! Fantastic tapas dinner at Kome. Check out these plates! We had cupcakes at home after 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Have my first diving trip scheduled for next weekend! The dive club at the school does coral restoration and next week Jen and I (another diver and new teacher) are taking a locally credited certificate course in coral restoration. It will be classroom time Saturday morning with an afternoon dive, then a dive on Sunday morning. Not very deep-but it will get us up and going to work with the students during their monthly dives. The greatest part…when we go with the students it’s only 45 guilder (that’s like 25 bucks or something) for the trip and gear rental. So cheap! Yeah!!!

Random photos…

Our little house is cute. It’s the basement (1st level) of the main house. 2 Bedrooms (both with AC) and one bath (no AC). The living room, dining room, and kitchen are all one big space. We have a washing machine in the kitchen and we line dry outside. It’s great though because it all dries in a couple hours with this wind and heat!

We have our water, internet, and cable tv included in rent (which school gives money for). We have to fill our own propane gas tank for our stove. That’s handy. No monthly gas bills there! And we pre-pay for our electricity. Which is also handy. We go to the registered places, give money and our account number. When we get home, we key in our account number on the little electricity key pad and voila! We have updated electricity. SO no monthly payment there. As for my cell phone, I have my unlocked galaxy type phone from home, and a prepaid local sim card. I just add money and there you go. Pretty easy. Mom can’t stand that we don’t have “hot water”…technically you turn the left tap and nothing. We have the option to get a hot water box for the shower…but you don’t need it! The water is delivered to houses in giant cubes. So it sits above ground all day in the sun. When the water comes out the tap, it’s warm to hot-ish anyway. Usually, I wish it were cooler…and when I shower? I like the colder water. Remember…it’s hot! Now these are the two hottest months of the year. Everyone says it will cool down (75-80ish) starting in October. It’s windy year round which in the shade, makes 10 degrees difference. Right now it’s been about 95-100 degrees in the direct sun, maybe hotter. Today it’s storming and raining (thanks tropical storms north east of us!) which has cooled things down.

Volleyball tournament! For charity, we put together our “company” team to compete against other company teams. We signed up thinking only 4 games…nope. Try 8! Sheesh that was a long night. It was great fun though. SO fun in fact, we are now playing Fridays after school. Maybe next year we can take 1st place, rather than 3rd 🙂 (3rd is really good considering we practiced one time!).
Oh, and I won a raffle! Whoa! Dinner voucher at a local beach club. SO pumped!

IMG_7616

Wearing the school soccer uniform…because the soccer team wanted to wear the school volleball uniforms. What?

IMG_3186

So much fun! We had a star! The girl jumping is a former ISC student, volleyball player, and PE teacher’s daughter. We were allowed one non-employee to play. She’s studying art at SCAD!

Yesterday we went to explore the Hilton to see if I want to become a member. We ate at a pirate bar (food was ok, view was most excellent). Dinner at Indonesian restaurant and an evening on the beach after. The local beach area known as Papagayo and Zanzibar kind of turn into a club Saturday nights. It’s free parking all over the island after 6pm and no cover fees or rules really. We didn’t want to be in the middle of the club chaos, so opted for tiramisu gelato and sat on the beach chairs looking at the stars and listening to the outdoor club music. It was nice…until about 10 when the crazies came off the dance floor for evening swims-in various states of undress 🙂 They weren’t wild and crazy and loud, but we had been out for about an hour and decided it was time to head home and let the 20 somethings have their fun.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, one month in and things are settling down. Now we have our own wheels we can explore more. It’s been fun getting to know the island and learn the local way. I look forward to more memories, diving, beach time, and hopefully having some familiar faces join us in our little blue lagoon.

Pasa bon dia (have a nice day),

K + P + L

Settling In

Bon Dia from Curacao!

It’s day 3 and we are settling in well. The journey was fairly easy. My parents drove us to Miami Sunday night. We stayed overnight and headed to the airport early Monday morning. Paul and I were on two different flights, so he waited with me and London while we checked in and then we split off. He, on a different airline, went to their waiting area and we (London and I) went on to security. London did sooo great! There were no problems what so ever with him. Proud mamma!

IMG_7464

In his carrier resting 🙂 We did give him some anti-nausea meds. Just in case.

IMG_7466

All packed in ready to go. First time flying. Success!

20160724_142935

At the vet getting everything verified for travel.

IMG_7467

 

Someone was very happy to have daddy here with us. He passed out when Paul got home.

IMG_7469

Morning snuggles. I think we both woke up Tuesday morning saying, “You’re really here!!!!” 🙂

————————————————————————–

I timed it right so we only waited about 40 minutes before boarding. It was a nice new place, American Airlines (not my favorite though…) and arrived around 3 pm. Customs was OK…I got grilled because they saw I was staying for 3 months (at the Hilton-school said to put this) and they weren’t convinced that I had enough money to stay that long. Eventually, she stamped me through (luckily, I get my stuff next week…I think).

Then I got my luggage…all is well. The 3 other new teachers were on the same flight. All traveling with pets. We all met on the plane, which was nice. However, this posed a suspicious problem for locals. We had to have our pet paperwork checked out before actually exiting the airport. They also got suspicious of me. Asked questions. I was starting to sweat…well, nerves. It was hot anyway! I was already sweating. Then another teacher walks up with her cat. And the other teacher walks up with her dog. All 3 of us had pets, were staying for 3 months, at the Hilton. On the same plane, from Miami. Curious? Coincidence? We hoped we convinced him is was coincidence. They kept asking if we knew each other and we said, “Nope, met on the plane.” That was true. Maybe we should have told him we all knew each other? Not sure. Oh well…after more suspicious looks, we made it through. That was pretty stressful!

Once through, we all nervously giggled and walked outside to be greeted by several ISC staff with welcome signs and balloons. It was a very nice welcome. We loaded our things in and each of our buddies drove us to our new homes.

My buddy/landlord/co-worker is a native islander who attended school in the US, lived on and off the island over the years, and married a man whom she met in Spain. They are a lovely family. Their 19 year old daughter is obsessed with everything Japanese…so this has been a fun week of talking with her. She heads off to school soon (either in Spain or Holland…I can’t remember).

They have an old golden lab who is deaf…and a blind-in-one-eye London have become friendly. We have lots of space and it was nicely furnished for us. We still have some things to pick up to complete our home, but it’s coming along.

Some pics of the house before we arrived. Will take better ones when we get our stuff out.

Monday night we went back to the airport to collect Paul. He got through customs no problem…but his luggage was still in Miami. Ooops…Incel Air fail. About 20 people were without bags. We picked those up Tuesday night with no problems.

The rest of our time here so far has been in the car being shown the island. Grocery shopping. Sim cards (pay as you go…soooo easy). Car shopping. Some paperwork. And relaxing.

Going to the grocery was exciting…there are two main stores to shop in. One is Dutch only with a bunch of European/Dutch items. The other…some Dutch items and all American stuff. It was sooo easy to find what we wanted-quickly. That’s a nice treat!

We have a bank with a debit card (unlike Japan) so that will be handy. Car shopping is interesting because there aren’t many regulations on cars. So people can make a car look pretty to sell it, then it will crap out on you and then your SOL. So we have to be careful and there are a few people helping to make that work. We are going out today for more car hunting. Can’t get by on the island without one. It’s too hilly, too dusty, too hot for walking (too far apart). Same for biking. So, a car it is. There is a mini cooper, convertible. I want it sooooo bad. Too expensive and also a stick 😦 I could learn it…but remember the hills? Yeah, not a good idea.

We officially start orientation tomorrow (Friday). All teachers report Monday-Wednesday and school starts next Thursday. There is so much to do…but I am already procrastinating.

Oh, ya’ll, guess what? I just realized this year, this wonderful 2016/17 school year, marks the beginning of my 10th year as a teacher. Amazing, eh? I thought it was my 9th, then I counted again. Crazy changes.

Cheers to 1o years! Celebrating with new schools, adventures, and maybe a new attitude (goal: leave work before 5 everyday!!!) Let’s see if that goal will be a reality. Really, I need to leave by 4. If I leave by 4, I will get home in 15 minutes. If I leave by 4:31 it will take 45 minutes. wow! I’d have to stay until 7 or 7:30 to get a 15 minute drive. Apparently…there is only 1 main road across the island. And everyone is on it. Rush hour. On a two lane road. Not a good mix. So, let’s hope it works out!

That’s it for now! Stay tuned for more and welcome to our little blue lagoon!

Bon ayó!
K + P + L


After 2 years of trying to meet up all over the world, my sister in law (Claire) and I finally get together in Miami of all places the night before we left. Great memories!! Can’t wait to see you again…maybe in Curacao!
IMG_7463

For my sister’s birthday we did a sister’s trip down to Key Largo for some snorkeling. We had a great time and I really enjoyed spending some quality time with her. It doesn’t happen nearly enough, so these moments are precious to me. Love you Brandie! Check out the awesome pictures my knock-off go-pro took!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sayonara, Japan

Konnichiwa-for the final time! I am not going to dwell on the goodbyes and the leavings…I want this post to be a celebration of a wonderful two years.

So, as we all knew, Japan was coming to a close in June. I did a good job of keeping my feelings in check throughout the process of paperwork for the new job, closing out accounts in Japan, packing, shipping, cleaning up my classroom, end of year paperwork, and prepping students for summer 🙂 It was a crazy busy time of year so it was easy to bury myself in the work.

The end of year flew by, as they all do.  We had dinners, games, and travels to try to “fit it all in” before we left.

Ellie sent a picture of a gorgeous dragon at a temple she visited. Now this, this is a dragon! IMG_3489

My grade 5 student I mentored for the PYP exhibition. I also tutored him in preparation for his journey to Boston for boarding school. I love he’s using some of the vocabulary words we were studying. Such a great kid! I guess I still instill fear in students. Means I still got it… 😉 We were a perfect match for his project as he was studying over fishing, with a focus on tuna. He did some great research and hopefully helped make a slight impact on our local community…one who frequently consumes tuna.

IMG_7097

So the primary teachers (girls only) have a group dinner (monthly usually). Great dinner, drinks, and bonding with a group of amazing women! This particular night we went to a Romanian restaurant…lots of meat…meat, meat. And all you can drink. Sometime…during this night…we ended up at karaoke…and I found my way home. I should probably thank Ellie for being sober enough to get me a train ticket since I couldn’t find my train card. Great night! Will miss working and hanging out with them! Can’t wait for the reunions!

IMG_7150

Walkathon- NHS (National Honor Society) is the group is advised-(will miss them too!!). Each year the community and NIS get together for a charity walkathon. The past two years NHS helped make the walk itself more entertaining-by providing booths with games along the route. This is the opening of the walk for this year. It’s a beautiful park. It was hot…but we had a great turn out. This is a huge event for us so it was all hands on deck…this also happened to be the weekend I was at the end of my pneumonia. Glad I got through it!

IMG_7171

I don’t look that sick…do I?

IMG_7179IMG_7181

Anniversary dinner on the river downtown. Lots of cities in Japan have beautiful riverbanks throughout downtown. Nagoya has maybe one. Or two. This is one of them. It was short…but lovely. On this night we had a light breeze and enjoyed dinner al fresco…which is also unusual in Japan. It’s a nice treat to find a place to dine outside. The food was Hawaiian, and in this case, average. Drinks were good! Company of course was perfect too 🙂

IMG_7232

These sweet kids. It was a great year. After 8 years, one of the best classes and years. This sweet girl! Someone said she could be mine. Looking at this picture…I can see it!

IMG_7250

These girls go straight to my heart! Will miss them and their quirky, silly, question the world attitudes. Love!!

IMG_7251

Messy hair bun club. Game night shenanigans. Hannah aka B Waves, aka A’Zalea…darling girl, ink buddy, gamer, friend. Love her!

IMG_7257

This boy-he also tugs all the heart strings. We went to dinner at his parent’s restaurant- Burmese food. It was sooo delicious. If you’ve never had it, think a blend of Thai food and Indian. He didn’t know we were coming and was so excited to see me there. His smile lights up the room!

IMG_7283

Our final ladies night dinner was at an American BBQ place we went to often. Tiger Lily! I told them it was our last dinner together as 4/6 of us were leaving. After dinner, they brought this out. This thing was huge! Japan sure loves crazy sundaes. This one was ice cream and whipped cream in the cup, topped with a huge slice of chocolate cake, a donut with powdered sugar, and a chocolate cookie. Can’t forget the pancake topped with caramel and powdered sugar on the side. Can you see the glass jar rolled in chocolate and topped with  m&ms around the lid…

IMG_7305IMG_7306IMG_7308

The last week of school was busy finalizing details. We packed up and shipped some boxes to FL and some to Curacao. We finalized our paperwork for leaving. Paul was busy cleaning…and on Saturday we got the truck from the school and like a good community does, we helped each other move furniture from our homes to the school…to await their new homes. That night we drove to a hotel. We decided to stay at a hotel the last two nights in Japan so we could be comfortable and we could clean our apartment. We spent Saturday/Sunday eating and drinking with friends, going to a science museum, and walking around the city. It was a nice end to our two years in Japan. All our stuff just barely fits in the rental car…:)

IMG_7321

Love hotel for the win!

IMG_7322IMG_7323IMG_7324

Cait (unicorn shirt) was flying back to the states too (we just realized we were on the same flight…after weeks of everyone talking about our flights home…lol). Iz and Hannah drove her to the airport, so we had a lovely little sayonara party at the gate. Enjoying coffee and non-goodbyes before security. Apparently I missed the memo for sad face. I am smiling…though that’s just for the camera. I am very sad here…lol. I promise!

IMG_7335IMG_7336

Another great cider find. I almost thought I was done with ciders until this beauty. New Zealand knows how to grow and ferment apples!

IMG_7341

Welcome back! Thank you Seattle for giving me this delicious biscuit, with avocado, bacon jam, cucumbers, and goat cheese. Well, this is Paul’s biscuit. Mine is blurry in the background. No less significant. So yummy and amazing with coffee on my first morning stateside. Oh yeah!

IMG_7342

 

We had a whirlwind trip through Seattle on our layover. Loved the EMP museum (basically, a pop culture museum) with music, video, games, Nirvana, Horror films, scifi and fantasy! It was really cool. We ended up with the city pass allowing visits to all the cities “attractions”-some worth it, others not. That’s ok 🙂

This Hello Kitty stature belongs in Japan…something you’d see there for sure! IMG_7344

Lyrics to music written on hotel paper…you might recognize the song…I recognize the handwriting…it looks just like mine!!! It was creepy. Minus the lowercase a…something in common with the great Jimmy Hendricks.

IMG_7345IMG_7346IMG_7348IMG_7349IMG_7350IMG_7351IMG_7352

This isn’t the first time I have been called a maiden warrior 🙂 Guess it’s true!

IMG_7353IMG_7355

City pass success: Ferry boat tour. Great breeze, smooth ride. The summer in Seattle is amazing!

IMG_7357IMG_7358IMG_7359IMG_7361IMG_7360IMG_7362IMG_7364IMG_7365IMG_7366IMG_7367IMG_7368

Went to Chinatown in the search of Chinese food (American style of course). Food was soooo good!

IMG_7373IMG_7379IMG_7375IMG_7378

It was so great to see Ayda! I asked her mom about places to eat and things to do in Seattle since they are from there and as it turned out, we would be there at the same time! We planned to meet and surprise her. It worked perfectly! Ayda was attached to me all day and it was a pleasant way to spend the day, walking through Pikes market.

IMG_7384

 

A flight for Paul. Beer.IMG_7387

 

A flight for me. Cider. Lets see…in order left to right. Pomegranate…score 2. Mint and basal…5. Grapefruit, 3. Lemon something I think…3.5

Now, the Schilling cider in the back…chai. Now, that was good. 8.IMG_7388IMG_7389IMG_7391

West Palm Beach-my parents new home. I am enjoying getting to know the new city…as I so often do. These are creatures of our backyard. The pool and scenery of course make it so sweet. The sunrise was lovely…I usually do not rise early enough to see it. It was worth it though.

IMG_7398IMG_7400IMG_7402IMG_7401

And finally, though it happened in April, evidence of my pride and joy…my Deathly Hallows ink. It’s perfect. I love it! I of course want more. 🙂 I bit of HP, a bit of me, a bit of Tara (artist) and a bit of Japan.

IMG_3467IMG_3454IMG_3456PZEA1187

This is the last post of our Japan adventure. But don’t fret…it’s not the last post. I will be changing the name of this blog to reflect new adventures. I am cooking up a new name, so As I begin writing about our move to Curacao, all will be revealed. Sayonara Japan. It’s been an amazing two years. I have grown and learned. I have explored and reflected. I have new friends that will last a lifetime. I am eternally grateful.

Sayonara-584x384

K + P