Archive for April, 2010

More Culture

Monday, April 26th, 2010

So this past week I went to three very different shows. However, in the time honoured tradition of Nora not actually reviewing anything, I’m just going to say what I went to and whether I liked it or not. Also any highlights from the production will be included.
First up we have another visit to the Comedy Store which was better than first because they were all professionals. Granted it was a very different format (improv vs. stand-up) but the highlight, beyond the penguin farm opera/musical/mystery/Bollywood sketch, was Phill Jupitus. He’s probably one of my favourite comedians and at this point is the sole reason I still watch Never Mind the Buzzcocks (sorry Noel, you’re just better with a script). The entire show was absolutely hilarious, but the things that stick in my head, besides the penguin farm bit, was the sketch that incorporated the three following elements: sci-fi, talking sheep, Mars, and music. Absolutely brilliant. If I get another chance to go to the Comedy Store I definitely will.
Unforunately Private Lives, written by Noel Coward and starring Kim Cattrall and Mr. Darcy (2005 film)/Keeley Hawes’ husband wasn’t as good. Sure the lines were pithy which is what you would expect, but the two leads had little to no chemistry (which isn’t a good thing in a rom-com) and Kim Cattrall’s attempt at a British accent came across as a screechy parody of Brits in 1920’s films. It wasn’t bad and the supporting cast were very good, but you’d kind of hope that such famous leads would be better.
Finally, there was “Cinderella” as performed by the National Royal Ballet. It was beautiful and a joy to watch, even way, way up high. The Prince’s hair was a bit creepy, but the dancers were amazing and the music (which was live!) was beautiful, though oddly sad for such an, ultimately, happy story. My one complaint, and it is a very minor one, is that there were no frogs. While I’m absolutely certain my ballet school was just trying their hardest to give me roles in our productions, but not seeing any animal (frog) attendants during the transformation scene was a bit disappointing. And, coincidentally, Keeley Hawes and some friends were at the same performance as me, though probably in seats with armrest and a slightly better view. Aaah, the wonders of Twitter.
Well that’s it. My grandparents are actually visiting this week (damn you Icelandic volcano) and I’m seeing Sweet Charity and “A Night of 1,000 Voices” which has as its theme this year Stephen Sondheim, which should be good. I’m still waiting on my law paper to be marked, but I’m none too worried unless he’s the toughest grader known to man or I really screwed up. Until next time, don’t panic.

The Lujan Zoo

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Saturday I went to the “World’s Most Dangerous Zoo,” according to Google. It is also the world’s most depressing zoo, according to myself. But I am glad I had the experience and might even sign the online petition to shut it down..

It was here I also learned that I am afraid of animals. I never realized this until recently, because I like them so much, but really sometimes I am scared. Or just think they are really dirty and won’t touch them when other people will.

I hope you all don’t freak out at the end but I can assure you I am alive and whole in my bed and it will probably never happen again. So enjoy the pictures!

We finally made it! The bus was dangerous too, I had to stand at the front for awhile just past the stairs, crammed inside as we were speeding down the highway.

It is also a tractor graveyard. Very bizarre place.

I rode an elephant!

And a camel!

We saw baby lions:

And baby tigers:

And bears, but I didn’t take a picture of the bear because he was on a lot of drugs and it was sad.

And then, the highlight of the trip, and the reason for this blog entry:

I fed a tiger!!! Above, I am scared and doing it wrong

Below, he is licking my hand! AHHH!

San Rafeal

Monday, April 26th, 2010

My third weekend trip recently was to San Rafeal in province of Mendoza. We were outdoorsy adventurers and went to two different wineries.

The hotel…

…and around the hotel. We had a free morning and then went hiking that afternoon.


My dog Lizzie would not have lasted 2 minutes with these guys. They were insane.

Day 2 we went repelling!

Here you can see someone else repelling:

And my friend who has an amazing camera took this picture of me on the zip-line:

That afternoon we visited two wineries.

Delicious Cabernet grapes!

And then, look who I found beside a pile of grapes!:

And that’s when I decided I was adopting a kitten.

The next winery was more “family-oriented” than the first, which was international instead of local.

They also had more animals.

The last day we went rafting. That was quite an experience…I had no idea class 2 rapids could be INTENSE. Very early on, one of the guides from the other raft pulled up close to ours, grabbed my life jacket, and tried to pull me out! Into the water! I am seriously afraid of rocks, probably due to a previous traumatizing rafting experience, and wasn’t a huge fan of this. It was really unexpected and I didn’t know what was going on. It turns out we were in for a pirate rafting tour, so to speak, including “stealing the girls” from other rafts and capturing them. I didn’t read the pamphlet, but I don’t think that was what I signed up for. There was also a lot of yelling involved and our guide purposely leading us into the sides of cliffs. It was actually fun though, in a scary sort of way. But I would rather have had previous knowledge of the surprise. I probably wouldn’t do it again considering how I felt afterward, which was freezing cold and really tense and banged up. I still have bruises on my legs to this day!

Here is an after picture. I am happy to be alive:

This blog post is so long. My trip is almost over though. We headed back to the hotel and I took a hot shower in the middle of them serving lunch (yes the service was that slow, sorry Mom for being rude- I didn’t have that much time! It had to be done).

I was super exhausted and wanted to go to lay in bed, finally safe and warm and dry, but I knew I had to sleep as best I could on the bus ride home so I went on a trip to the dam instead. We fit 23 people into a 13 passenger van.

I’m glad I went, because this is what I saw!!

Gorgeous! The End. The bus arrived back at our University 9am the next morning.

One last week in Belize…

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Say what?!

I’ve been putting off writing this post for quite a while because I just don’t even know what to say to express the mix of feelings I’m experiencing right now. I leave the Belize City Airport 2:00pm on Sunday, May 2nd and get into DC early (like 1am…) Monday morning (I have a MAD layover in Miami.) I’m definitely ready to be back and to see everyone I miss so much, but I’m not by any means ready to leave this place that four months ago seemed like the exact opposite of home. I have been touched, amazed, and incredibly grateful for the kindness of everyone I have met here, and can’t imagine getting on a plane in exactly one week to leave this new home and new life I have built in Belize.

That being said, I am going to live this last week to the fullest (or as full as it can get with a jam-packed final exam schedule) and “go out with a bang,” so to speak.

Friday I had 2 major presentations: The first for my Applications of Sustainable Development course to present on my semester teaching environmental education at St. Barnabas. The second was for Horizon 2030, a consultation program that has kind of bombarded the country in the past few weeks (as in everyone is talking about it) and aims to create a framework for where the country should be in 20 years by sending representatives around the country to “listen” to what the people think. I was required to present my “vision” on solid waste management for my environmental economics course, but I honestly felt a bit uncomfortable because I felt that since I’m only going to be here a total of 4 months, it’s not my place to tell the government what they should be doing for this country. I haven’t lived through the history, and while I have every intention of returning to Belize, I don’t know how much of the future I will be involved in. After sitting through some of the other 2030 presentations, I think the other international students and many of the Belizeans in the audience agree. Anyway, both the presentations went smoothly, and it’s nice to know that the only school work I have left are 3 cumulative finals on Monday and Wednesday of next week.

The greatest project partners I ever could have asked for; Tommy, Tony, Hannah. I’m going to miss them more than they will ever know.

After my presentations, I went to Branch Mouth, the swing bridge over the Macal River with Lauren, Kate, Ashton and Eddie. Hopefully that won’t be my last trip to the bridge, but it very well might be…I’m going to miss being able to just walk to such a cool place whenever I want.

Branch Mouth!

On Saturday, we went to our very last Saturday market (!!!) I remember our first trip to the market like it was yesterday, and here I am, 4 months later, eating my last pupusa and saying goodbye to Christopher (aka. the Peanut butter man) and his 10-year-old brainiac of a daughter, Jasmine, who I have become so close with in what I previously would have considered a short period of time.

Our favorite pupusa stand at the Saturday Cayo Market.

PUPUSAS-thick corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and beans!

I’m going to stay busy this week with finals, goodbyes and last minute adventures around Cayo, but I’ll try to keep you posted and I will be back to the states in ONE WEEK.

A good ol visit from the good ol ma and pa.

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Well for the past two weeks my Mom and Dad came to visit and as you can see by the lack of posts we went non stop while they were here!  We did so much and I am now regretting not posting earlier this week as I hope I can remember everything we did!

When they first got here I took them for a tour of my campus and we got “flat whites” and lattes. My Dad got a kick out of the different coffee names and I think both of my parents will agree that Australian coffee blows American coffee out of the water! I think I heard my mom say at least a dozen times “Well we’ve only had two coffee’s today..” and everytime I heard this it wasnt even lunch time! haha! We had great dinners along the Brisbane river and lots and lots of Aussie chocolate:) We also took a day trip down to Surfers Paradise and even though it was quite cloudy and windy, we still had a great time shopping and eating..of course!

Our first weekend we flew up to the Whitsundays where we met Mary and Dan for a long weekend! Mary and Dan have been exploring the coast in their hippie camper van!! We got the Airlie Beach Wednesday evening and went out to dinner with the newly engaged couple for some delicious fish and chips! We spent our first two nights in a cute little camper park where we rented out a small cabin. Thursday consisted of hiking, McDonalds 50 cent ice cream cones, and a great homecooked meal! We got tons of fruit and veggies and aussie meat and made a big dish of stirfry (and fruit salad on the side). It was great, we cooked out on a public grill in our camper park! Friday we boarded the Alexander Stewart for our 3 day 2 night sail boat trip through the Whitsundays! The weather was perfect..we had sunshine to bronze our bodies, a little clouds so we didnt fry, and a little rain to cool us off! We snokelled twice and got to see tons of beautiful, exotic looking fish and coral and on the last day Mary, Dan, and I did some jumping of the front the boat! We went for a few bush walks where we would hike either to beautiful beaches or to the top of a mountain to look over all the islands! What a site! At night time we ate candybars and watched the millions of stars twinkle! I must say I have never seen so many stars at once, not even on a the clearest night on the farm! As soon as the boat docked Sunday afternoon we were off the the airport to catch our flight back into Brisbane and Mary and Dan headed off towards Cairns for the rest of their honeymoon trip!

This last week while I was in class, Mom and Dad did a lot of exploring through Brisbane. They went to a few musuems, toured St. Johns catheral, and did a lot of walking through the Botanic Gardens. Thursday morning we left for our final trip down to Byron Bay! If you ask any Australian around here where you should visit, I swear every one of them will say Byron Bay. And since I had yet to see it, I figured it would be a great place for the three of us to take a little trip to!…Let me tell you, they were all right. Byron Bay is this adorable little town that used to be a hippie town, but has since grown into a more surfers town, but still with a hint of hippie:). There are no sky scrapers, no cross walks, no business people pushing there way through crowds, and no one trying to out do one another. The beaches are spectacular and they wrap around the most easterly point of Australia! At the top of the hill there is a huge lighthouse and a great path that winds all the way to the top, looking out over cliff ledges and rolling waves. The town has tons of great restuarants and little cafes that are locally owned and run. We spent most of our time relaxing on the beach, playing in the water, and drinking beer at the local pub that looked out onto the water. There were little surfing families everywhere and everyone seemed so content with was very refreshing! I will definitely be spending a lot more time down there:)

Last but not Mom and I went SKYDIVING in Byron Bay!!!!!!! I can garentee that my mom is WAYY cooler than yours haha! The whole morning we were questioning our sanity, but it ended up being the most amazing experience! We took a tiny little plane up to 14,000 ft and jumped (tandem) out, free falling for 60 seconds! Once our parachutes opened up the guys that we jumped tandem with floated us near each other so we could be together as be reached the ground! Ahh what an experience I will never forget, and to say that I did it with my mom will make it that much more unforgettable:)

We returned home from Byron last night for our last night together:( Mom and Dad left this morning at about 8 to catch their 12 hour long flight back to LA. I felt like their time here just flewwww by, but I cannot express how happy it made me show them this little area of the world that I have fallen in love with. As sad as I was to say goodbye and I cannot forget all the great times we had together over the past 2 weeks! I cannot believe that I am over half way done with my semester..and before I know it I will be back in good ol Berryville:)

Miss you already…la ya.

Gym in Edinburgh

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Today was the first time I went to the gym here! I used my flatmate’s (Josie’s) gym card to get in. Otherwise it would cost 3 pounds each day or 60 pounds per semester. I decided not to get a pass for the semester in the beginning of the year because I will be walking around the city a lot. I have been walking around a lot, but I just wanted to go to the gym and use the weights too. At Mary Washington, the gym is free and all the exercise classes are free. I think it costs money here because the tuition is way cheaper. People who live in Scotland do not have to pay for tuition for colleges in Scotland.

The gym was really new and really nice. I would say that it is nicer than the gym at Mary Washington. I wish I could take exercise classes, but I would have to pay for them and I would have had to start in the beginning of the semester. I will definitely go back to this gym.

To microwave or not to microwave. That is the question.

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

The other day, I was discussing with my flatmates about how many things I microwave compared to everyone else in the flat. Here is a list of things I put in the microwave at home…

  • Water (to boil, for tea and instant coffee)
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Sausage
  • Potato (Baked Potato)
  • Bacon

I am sure there are more things…but these are the things that my flatmates are totally weirded out by. In the beginning of the semester to make tea I put a mug with water in the microwave. Everytime I did that there was at least someone shockingly asking, “You put water in the microwave?!?” They look at it like it is the weirdest thing ever. Everyone uses a kettle here. I think every house has one. We do not have one at home, so I always heat up the water in the microwave. Now I use a kettle because it is definitely faster than the microwave. I think we should get a kettle at home. Now it will be weird to go back home and not have a kettle!

My flatmates were also suprised that I put bacon in the microwave to cook it. However, the bacon here is pretty different to the bacon in the United States. The bacon here is not crispy. I am used to American bacon, so that is what I prefer. People here use the grill a lot to cook bacon. We do not have a grill at home, but it is right below the stove, but above the oven. I cannot explain it…but I have never used it here because I don’t see the need for it.  I remember a few years ago our microwave broke and we could not get one for one week (I can’t remember why) and it was the hardest week ever! We boiled water on the stove and had to heat leftovers in the oven. I am sure most of my flatmates would be fine if the microwave broke, but I would definitely have a hard time.

Castellano 101

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

So Castellano (Cas-te-cha-no) is the name for the dialect of Spanish spoken in Buenos Aires. They pronounce certain letters differently and use lots of words that are different from the rest of the Spanish speaking world.

The biggest difference is the pronunciation. In Spanish classes in the U.S. you learn that a “ll” is pronounced like a “y”. Well here a “ll” and “y” are pronounced as “ch”. Examples, street in Spanish is calle so in class you learn to pronounce it “ca-ye” but here it is “ca-che” or when you say “my name is..” you learn to say me llamo (ya-mo) but here it is pronounced me cha-mo. This is crazy to get used to and I still have to be conscious of it sometimes to remember to make the “ch” sound.

The three biggest phrases used here are: che, jaja and dale. Che is kind of like for a joke or with friends. Jaja is the same as haha in English. The most Argentina phrase of all: Dale. I feel like there is no clear definition of what this word means and it can be used as anything but mainly:  lets go, it’s ok.

Different words(word in Castellano, word in regular Spanish, word in English):

Chamoyero- Mentiroso- Liar

Pomelo- Toronja- Grapefruit

Chocla- Maize- Corn

Manteca- Mantequilla- Butter

Chau- adios- Bye

Chico- Pequeno- Small

Medias- Calcetines- Socks

Remera- Camiseta- Tshirt

Pollena- Falda- Skirt

Aca- Aqui- Here

Barbaro- Fabuloso- Great/Fabulous

Re- Muy- A lot

Boliche- Disco- Club

The also like to rearrange letters to make new words. For example pizza can be “zapi” or cafe is “feca.”

Sometimes they give a word a whole new meaning such as jodar which is spanish is to have sex but here it is to go out dancing or with friends (imagine my shock when I typed that in google translator from a text from a friend, lol).

The other huge difference in the colloquial language here is that they do not use the tu (you) verb form. They use the vos form which is not taught in the US and is only used in the region of the Rio de La Plata. It is actually easier to form than tu but means the same so I kind of like it. Just wonder if my classes back at UMW will let me use it when I get back or not.

Punta del Este

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

My trip to Punta del Este was over Semana Santa. I didn’t take that many pictures of this weekend, but it was very chill, I caught up on reading and slept on the beach.

We experienced a little mix-up getting there. We went through Buquebus and were supposed to take the ferry to Colonia and then a bus from Colonia to Punta del Este. We thought the time on the ticket next to the bus meant the time the bus was going to leave, but really it was the time to arrive. Whoops. They very helpful in fixing the situation (a reminder that I wasn’t in Argentina anymore) and it all worked out anyway. Although it took a lot longer and included a trip to Montevideo. Here we are wasting time at dinner in Colonia, waiting for the bus that had already left:

I promise this is not what I thought I ordered.

The first day on the beach I could wear my bathing suit! Well, it was a little too cold with the wind. Definitely didn’t have appropriate clothing so I basically wore the same strange mix of layers everyday.

Day two at the beach was a little different. This is how I found my friends:

That’s our hostel! My bed in the hostel was more comfortable than my bed at home. Although I’m sure much dirtier. On that note, I like hostel living a lot more than my Mom would think.  (Okay maybe only for a few days). And you can meet a lot of interesting people. Punta del Este was really expensive (compared to BA) so we made pasta one night and had tomato soup and grilled cheese for Easter dinner!

Marisa and I both bought this tapestry. There was only one left so we fought over it but then the guy said he could go get another one from the store. It turns out there are many uses for a tapestry. Towel, blanket, decoration, cape, slipcover, bedspead…the list goes on.

Iguazu Falls

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Well here it is!! I kinda already talked about the Iguazu trip before so this will post will be mainly pictures…

Woke up to the sunrise after a long bus ride (15 hours maybe? I don’t remember now) to loud, obnoxious ’80s music. Also the bus driver had opened the door to the outside and our bus was infiltrated with mosquitos. Lovely.

We had stopped at San Ignacio Mini, a site of Jesuit mission ruins of the Guaraní indigenous peoples

That afternoon we went to an estancia and had an asado, swam in the pool and relaxed in hammocks!:

Mate fields

We finally checked into our hotel that night, after another bus ride that took a lot longer than it was supposed to. Apparently there was a strike and the streets were blocked on the road, but I’m not sure if that’s true. It could have been an accident too. I think it took 3 hours (or was supposed to take 3 hours). We were late for dinner at our hotel but excited to sleep and go to the falls the next day!

So it rained. A lot. All morning. Even though it looks really bright and sunny in this picture, it wasn’t until the afternoon when we were leaving. Luckily I carry a poncho with me around everywhere, so I finally got to use it! Kidding, I don’t carry it everywhere…but I have had it for a long time now

So close!

Argentine side. “Argentina is the stage, Brazil has the seats.” It would cost me $131 dollars to get into Brasil

The boat in the above picture is the boat I was on in the pictures below!

That’s the end of Day 2!

Ready to go to the Guaraní village

Really cool experience- he showed us animal traps they used to use for hunting. They don’t hunt anymore but they still teach it to the children. There is a bilingual school there too- Guaraní and Spanish.

Precious baby.

Sunset on the flight home!