Camping in Canada

This year we went camping in Madawaska, Canada. The 7 hour drive up was nice for me, as I enjoyed napping in the back. Once we crossed the Peace Bridge we lost all cell service. Good thing Google tracks you no matter what connections you have ;). We found a cabin that was on a river and even had our own dock to enjoy. Along with the cabin (with AC and heat) we had access to canoes and kayaks, making it one of the best stocked places we’ve gone to.

During the week we came across a Moose on the side of the road. We were on the way to the national park for a day of hiking, and noticed quite a few cars on the side of the road. There we found one moose just eating and popping its head up for a photo or two. It was quite an experience to see such a large animal up close! I had to contain myself from clapping my hands in excitement.

The park had quite a few different trails that we could hike. The beaver lake one was a shorter one, but had hills, roots, and boulders to climb over. Mum wasn’t happy by the end of that walk. It was neat to walk though areas that has been impacted by the life of beavers. Up to 14,000 families of beavers in the national park. One of the other trails took up to the top of the tree line, looking down into the Vally and a few lakes. Dad and I make the trek up and it was a stunning view and worth the climb up (which felt like the path went straight up). While I had to stop a few times to catch my breath, the fact that I could keep going was encouragement.

One day Dad and I took the kayaks out and did the 40min. paddle to the waterfall we were told about.  I expected we would reach the top of the waterfall and look over as the river contained. Rather we came to the bottom of a fairly large waterfall and the end of that part of the river. It was very peaceful and tranquil to just sit and listen to the water coming over. Well worth the wander out and not a bad way to pass the afternoon.

Maybe the best part was just sitting on the dock and watching the river life around us.  Mostly bugs, and boats going through, but it was relaxing and a good reading place. I also enjoyed watching the sunset with a glass of wine each night with mum. Some of the evening the colors were brilliant.

We had a great week exploring a new park, and on to enjoy the rest of the summer.

Last Week in The Bahamas

 

The middle of July took me back for one last week in The Bahamas. This trip was already planned as a co-worker was getting married.  Married, outside. In The Bahamas at 2pm.  We were all worried for the heat and no-shade prospect.  For better or worse, there was a small tropical storm that kept the rain coming most of that day.  As around the world it seems, the Bahamian tradition claims rain on the wedding day makes for a blessed marriage.

The festivities started that Sat. with a surprise bridal shower.  The bride, being from England, had friends and family flying the distance. It was a lovely afternoon, helping G celebrate and meeting new friends, while catching up with others.  Monday Brought the rain and wedding bells.  The ceremony was absolutely stunning and the bride was gorgeous. It was a quick ceremony, but elegant from start to finish. The reception was at Blue Sail and brought in a lovely sunset as the weather started clearing off. The food was great (Bahamian buffet) and the atmosphere was lovely for the couple.  While the original plans were changed, the transition was smooth and the guest would have never guessed the stress the bride and party went through in the hours leading up to the big moment.

I had to take this week as the last opportunity to move out of the island and island life.  My dad came down with me to help pack up and to haul all the suitcases back. I was able to take him around to the place that was home for the last 2 years, and that was a great feeling.  We did beach days / evening, VIP showing of the Lion King movie, boat rides, game night with my landlord, dinner with students, dinner with friends, and of course all the stressful running around.  In this short week I had to obtain my pension check, cash the check to close out the bank account, sell my car, last doc. apt, cancel the dentist apt. say goodbyes, enjoy the beaches, and remember to breath.  In the end, everything worked out. I was glad to have the company and someone to balance out the self-made stress I caused.  A few goodbyes were not said, but that just means I have to go back and see those friends again.  As The Bahamas is so close, I know I’ll be back and I have many friends who will welcome me and that’s a great feeling.

Things I’ll miss (already missing):

  • Friends, friends who become family
  • Beaches
  • Ocean swimming/floating
  • Conch
  • The friendliness of the island
  • NRC and all those I’ve rowed with
  • Blue waters
  • Junkanoo (still need to go see)
  • Fusion complex (VIP movie going)
  • Visiting family island
  • My students
  • Co-workers
  • Irma (my car)
  • How small the island is and 2 degrees of separation

Things I won’t miss:

  • Current cuts
  • Sound of generators
  • Soup for air in the summer
  • Electricity bill
  • Potholes
  • Hurricane prep
  • How small the island is

Bahamas, you were a great place to live. The send-off memories were great and I’ve left several life-long friends on the island.

 

 

 

 

When Life Zigs

My last post was on May 19th 2019.  Only a few weeks left in the school year, getting ready for summer and then planning for a new year.   11 days later, I was called in for meeting with the head of the school, who informed me I no longer had a job the following year. It’s hard to leave when the choice was not yours, and when you know the community supported you.  In the end though, I ended my time in the Bahamas  on a high. With send offs from students and friends, ensuring the final memories were sweet.

The emotions ranged from surprise, hurt, and finally anger. Anger at a school that would let teachers know with less than 3 weeks left (breaking contract), anger at a head of school who chose the timing in such a manor that I was left in a hard place. Anger that I had been lied to by this leader on 3 different occasions.  As the months have passed, the anger has faded, but I still have bitter thoughts towards the situation.  Especially as I see post from co-workers about getting ready for the upcoming year.  I’m not too sad though, as the outpouring of love and support took me by surprise and showed me the amazing people that are in my life from around the world.

Though even now, I’m having mixed emotions, as I don’t miss the low grade dread of the start of a school year. I’ve been a library for 10 years now, a TOK teacher for 3.  I don’t know who I am without these labels, and I think for the me the blank future is the hardest to get used to. Most of the time I see it as a new adventure, one where anything is possible. I’ve applied for a few different positions from library director (not hired) to outreach librarian for the library system, to a research librarian at a university. Soon to apply for a prison library position as soon as that job is posted.  This could be the time I move away from education. It could also be the year I supply teach and start looking for my next international job come Jan. Is it exciting? Yes. It is also an uncomfortable place, as I do like to know what’s coming next.

Through absolutely everything, I’ve had my parents supporting me which has made all the different.  I’m enjoying the time back home, re-connecting with the rowing club here, catching up with some friends in the area, and thankful for the blessings of family.  They have made a hard transition a smooth one.

This too shall pass and I will be who I am because of it.  Life has zigged, it’s time for me to zag.  This phrase comes form an amazing podcast ZigZag of which two incredible women share their experience on trying to start a new company in an every changing world. You should go check out all the seasons.

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When in doubt, take a break

I’d like to say the end of the year is close, but we still have over a month left.  Essays to mark. Children to teach, teenagers to calm down for exams, it’s coming to the end.  Our school has a fun tradition of two graduations, one for grade 11, which is the official one and one for those grade 12s who stayed on to complete the IB program.

To get to the end the path only a few obstacles stand in my way:

  1. 25 IB essays- though I just failed the second seed so who knows if I’ll keep going. I’m kinda ok to fail out at this point as I’ve read 51 so far
  2. 21 Research papers from my own students, apparently a final grade is needed so they can graduate
  3. Feedback on the EE students (31 students) more these are following up with other teacher to make sure nothing can come back and bite us in the butt next year
  4. Teach 5 more weeks of grade 6-8, even though they are all starting exams this week…
  5. Keeping up with book returns. It’s hard when it’s only you as the K-12 librarian and students are busy studying. That cart is just piling up, and I’m ok with that
  6. My own mental battles. This one was a harder one this weekend.  Last week felt like the end, and now it’s a matter of building myself back up to keep going strong
  7. Students who are done! It’s a deadly combo when both teacher and students are ready for the end!

Till then, I”m only 5 days away from a weekend in the Bahamas

New Year, New and same challenges

As I sit here writing, Cujo is in the attic scampering around like it owns the rafters…. this scenario is far better than the one I imaged two nights ago, of someone living in my attic and I could hear them moving around.  Cujo is the name I’ve give to whatever has decided that 3am is the best time to run circles.  Thanks to the  Criminal podcast, my imagination is working overtime.

Last week it was a frog that had me jumpy.  Silly thing landed in my bathroom (?!) and I had to battling the fear of it jumping on me for 12 hours before I got it to jump in a plastic bag and  I ran it outside.  At one point it jumped over the bag I had, and it’s tiny sticky webbed feet were heading straight towards my face, in which I squealed and rammed my knee into the side of the toilet.   I deal with cockroaches far better than frogs. To be fair, I’ve killed 2 frogs in the hurricane shutters on accident, so I’m hesitant with all frogs now.

This holiday break is not my time for critters it seams.  I’m also being overrun by those dumb little centipedes… always dying at night in my pathway to the bathroom.  A nice crunch under your barefoot will wake you up quick.

Last week KA and I few Pineapple Air to Eleuthera for 4 days.  One of the rowers very generously opened his beach house. We had perfect weather, and even tried ocean rowing most days.  With the keys to his truck, we explored the island from South to North. The stunning beauty of Lighthouse Point took our breath away and the fun discovery of the Queen’s Bath was a thrilling way to end a day of adventure. It was loads of fun and I’m planning on when we might get back! See pictures below.

 

WNY Visiting

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Soon after B left at the end of March, a good friend from home visited to enjoy the endless sun and beaches.  BT arrived ready to relax and unwind from a busy school year so far.  He was able to relax after making himself at home in my little place and determining what the best action for the week would be.

We started off at Compass Point for a meal while overlooking the beautiful blue water and slowly getting used to the heat.  J/K there is no slowly when one is not used to it!  That night we stopped by one of the small bars to listen to local bands playing.  While on the small side, it’s a cute place and gives off good vibes, plus local music is always a plus.

Sunday we headed off to Sandy Toes on Rose Island. No pigs on Sunday, but lots of delicious beverages to be enjoyed while on the beach! The water color was perfect and while I thought the water was a bit chilly, BT found it very refreshing and enjoyed a lovely swim in-between soaking up the rays (in the shade).  It was a great way to spend the Sunday and enjoyable by all.

Monday was a day to relax a bit and we decided to try the Zoo. I had not been (nor really realize we had a Zoo). Unfortunately this was the saddest zoo I’ve ever been to.  The animal did not seem well taken care of and in this heat were less than motivated to move.  They did have free roaming flamingos, some of which were part of the performance at the time.  BT and I were slightly amused that there was a raccoon in a cage.  It’s not often I feel bad for raccoons.

Part of the fun during the week was the road construction! Always a fun time, especially when the main road you use is blocked off.  Only adding 40mins to each ride in the end.

The next day we went out west to embark on an adventure of snuba! Ever wanted to try to scuba dive but not take all the classes? Why not snuba, which joins the ease of scuba and the ability to dive.  It sound amazing and a great way to enjoy the underwater world.  BT had a great time and told me it was fun to be down so far with all the fishes.   For me, the act of trying to breath through the scuba thingy was way to much like an asthma attack and I wasn’t able to join in.  I tried, freaked out, panicked and decided I will remain on top of the water from here on out! It was great just enjoying being on the water while everyone around me went under.

We did lunch while overlooking the blue water (this was the theme of the week) and try the local national park out west as well.  This park give tribute to the local slaves and plantations they worked on before slavery was outlawed.  It wasn’t like Primevile  park, but had trails to walk through and lovely beaches to enjoy!   BT went snorkeling out to see the massive statue in the water, which he enjoyed.  I stayed back to ensure no one stole the beach.  It’s a lovely park, but I would recommend to enjoy more during the cooler months for sure.

That evening we enjoyed a dinner cruise around PI and watching the sunset.  It was a great evening and stunning colors and we ended up eating/ talking with a lovely mother daughter couple who were on vacation.  I did end up trying to see if phones can swim.  They can’t, they sink and fast, in cause you were wondering. BT was kind and found the strongest rum and coke to make up for the loss of phone!  It sill ended up being a Loveling evening and great way to to wind down the week.

On BT’s last day we did more beaches and swimming. It was our goal to ensure that he had enough sun to make it though to summer back in WNY!  We had a great week seeing even more of the island and after I said my goodbyes, I found my apt. was too quiet.

Year in Review 17/18

Thursday marked the end of my first year here in the Bahamas and my school.  As an IB teacher, I’m always asking my students to review their process of reaching a goal, so it’s only right that once again I review reaching my goal of finishing a year.

Happy Memories:

Friends: I’ve made many amazing connections with wonderful people. Both those who have always called Bahamas home and those who call this island home for a short time.  Looking backing I have many rich memories that I’m thankful for. There were a few goodbyes to say this year, which is hard.  I’m always thankful that the hard goodbyes as  the friendship was powerful.  Next year will be even more and that I do look forward to.

Rowing: Early on I found a great rowing club that welcomed me in quickly.  When the lungs are doing well, it’s a beautiful place to row. The friends through rowing are wonderful and nothing beats a 7AM sunrise while gliding across the lake.  I’ve had to take a break due to the lung getting jealous of less time spent on them, but I hope to be back on the lake come Sept.

TOK:  My co-teacher and line manager made this year fantastic and hilarious with this class.  He trusted and pushed me to do more than I ever trusted myself in this subject. Every time we had to prep, talk about, or make decision for the class, I ended up laughing at something. This helps to realize everything will work out one way or another and the kids will learn in the end.  Even if you have to force them.

Library Team: We made a good team after I started to figuring out what was going on.  The team was nothing but supportive, helpful (buying batteries for me as I didn’t know where to go), and all around a great group.  The conversations at the desk (when students didn’t need help) were between hilarious and very educational.  Any question I had about culture, perspective, or life, most everyone was more than willing to help me understand what I didn’t.  I’m grateful for the team I’ve walked into.

 

Fun Challenges:

Housing: When I first arrived on the island, I didn’t have a place to live or really know a soul anywhere.  During my first week I was treated to the hospitality and friendliness of many soon to be co-workers.  Through a chain of emails I finally met my soon to be landlord and a cottage that I’m happily staying in.  It wasn’t long before I started making connections to the local staff and making brilliant memories in the process.

Hurricanes:  Not a fan.  You spend a week preparing, stocking up, watching the weather channel, checking the apps, and by the time the storm is supposed to hit, your exhausted!  Nassau was lucky this year as Irma turned and we were not hit, and really its was a good run through for me to know what to expect in the coming years.  I can do snow storms, heavy rain, sand storms, but this was something else!  The kindness of those around me really took me by surprise though, and that is part the memory that will stay with me.

All the TOK classes:   So when I interviewed I had suggested I’d like to teach one class of TOK at the grade 11 level.  This is what I was comfortable with and wanted to keep in the subject.  When I got my schedule, I was co-teaching ALL the TOK classes.   Fake it till you make it right?  As long as the students believed I knew what I was doing, all was good.   I’ve fallen more in love with the course and what it brings to each student’s education.  At one point my co-teacher and I joked we needed to keep track of the students that cried in our class by tear drops on the wall.  I also learnt more of who I am as an educator and she’s not all that bad.

Library:  I’ve been less of a librarian than in the past 8 years.  More of my focus has shifted to research classes, TOK classes and homeroom.  While I do enjoy each aspect of my job here, I know I’ve neglected my primary passion of the library.   With the team, we’ve made some small but powerful changes, but I want to do more.  I want this library to really be the Hub of the school, to be a reading culture and to have several programs going on at once.  This will be even more challenging as I immerse myself more in TOK and growing that program as well as trying to create a new research class for grades 9 or 10.

Culture: Any new place has cultural difference that takes time to get used to. Here for me it’s been the friendliness of everyone, the different pace of big business, and learning to say hello to everyone I interact with.   The food has been good, sometimes on the spicy side. The local culture has history and I know I need to learn more about it and how the Bahamas is what we know today. The only really frustrating moments came when I was sick, trying to find my way through the back roads and having strangers asking me for money and then telling me off for not giving them anything.

Driving:  They drive on the wrong side of the road, so I got a car with the steering wheel on the left.  After a few days, I did get used to the switch, and most of the time I’m better with my right and left now!  For anyone who’s known me, turning based on verbal commands of right or left does not always work out well.  The only other thing to get used to is the potholes.  They can take out your car if your not careful!   I’ve had to used my skills of defensive/ aggressive driving from Dubai mixed with my skills of dogging potholes form NY.   Life does work towards one common goal!

Health:  This has not been fun.  In Munich I had 3 different doctors tell me to find a hot climate with salt air such as FL.  I thought I had done one better and found the Bahamas.  As for breathing, this has been a rough and trying year to say the least.  I started in Oct. with 2 tours of the ER, only to find out that the insurance didn’t really want to cover me as I have a preexisting condition.  Thankfully the school worked hard on my behalf and got a waver for this year.  The ER nurses were lovely but in the end I came home as I could do the exact same treatments they were doing just in the comfort of my own place.  I was recommend the best lung doctor on the island, who on the second visit told me I’m above what he can help.  Till now he’s being trying to get me on my feet, which hasn’t been easy.  Several bouts of chest infections, antibiotics, and many days off just to work on the breathing. The team at work have been amazing and really supportive, but I’m beyond frustrated with what I seem to be getting worse. Currently I’ve back on doing the machine twice a day, oral steroids every day (low dose) and no hope of getting better according to those I’ve seen here.  I had high hopes moving here for my heath but am learning to deal with that disappointment.  There is always something new to try, and I’ll keep trying but sometime I just need to look at the reality and re-group on my next move forward.

Tour of the Island

At the end of March I was blessed with a visitor from Uni days.  She’s been my strong travel warrior all these year by living in Eastern Europe for several years and always excited to hear about my travels as well.  We do try to meet up each summer and it was wonderful to welcome her to Paradise.

While she arrived while I was still working, she was the adventurous part and explored around close to my place.  After a comical (her words) few moments of figuring out the gate in the driveway she made her way down to the nearest pull off area with benches.   Word of warning for anyone coming to visit the rock, always wear sunscreen!  It’s a beast out there and it wouldn’t hurt to always bring water.   B enjoyed the day and then after work we were off to enjoy dinner.

B is interested in the history of the island and we found an amazing forest to wander through.   On our adventures we found one of the bigger forts which overlooks the coastline.  Build to ward off any attackers, this oddly shaped fort was really for looks only.  It was fun to climb on the old cannons and read through some of the history of those who were stationed here long ago.  We also climbed down the Queen’s Staircase, 66 steps carved out of limestone. One for each year of reign for Queen Victoria. On our decent, we ran into women who were running up and down for exercise… and we met our first Muslim missionary.

Later that day we found ourself enjoying the Primeval forest out of the west end.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and funny.  We gathered they don’t see many tourist as it was dead and he being the only one on duty was happy to walk us around.  In the limestone caves we found fossils of ocean animals as well as plenty of sink holes around. Due to the nature of the land it was never developed and a few trees over 100 years old.  This forest area was also a pass through between two big plantations and old communication of the slaves of the time have been found as well.   We were also told about the old women who break into the forest at night to dig up and steal the orchids.  Someday when I’m and old lady, that might be my legacy.

Saturday we took a nice boat ride to Rose Island for fun in the sun and splashing around in the waves. It was a lovely day, topped off with pigs being realized at 2. We were privileged to two members of staff yelling ‘bring on the pigs’ and 2=3 pigs running down the bank into the ocean.  We were told not to crowd around the pigs but for 60 people and 3 pigs it was quite hard not to. Amusing and absurd are the best words for the afternoon.

Other adventures included trying to figure out what to do with a massive papaya, buying my size in mini rum cakes and enjoying the sun and beach almost everyday.  It was fanatic to catch up, rehash favorable memories and to enjoy the sun and island weather. I’m not sure B will trust me when it comes to packing again as my weight thingy said she was overweight and she ended up leaving behind half of what she brought.  Really that means that next time she comes down, everything is already here!

Swimming with Pigs

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Back in Feb. S flew over from cold Germany for a week in the sun.  It was great getting to catch up, hang out, and explore the island so more.  Having company does push me to explore new areas and ask those who’ve been here longer what I should be doing. Not all my photos I wanted to include would upload but I got a few in form the week.

It was still the cooler season here and S even had a few days when she was cold on the beach.  I wanted to laugh, but found myself cold as well.  It really didn’t take long to get used to the warm weather.

We took a boat to Blue Lagoon, which is a private beach and where the dolphin encounter was.  It was a stunning day, not that busy and a great time just relaxing.  We would swim a bit, find the sun and dry off and then jump back in the clear blue water.  In the afternoon we went swimming with dolphins which was fun.  While working with people is not their natural habit, after talking with the trainers more we found out that all these dolphins were born in this sanctuary or were recused after injury as a baby.  They were playful and it was easy to become a quick dolphin fan.

One of our longer days was a boat trip to the Exumas to see the swimming pigs, iguanas, and nurse sharks.  Our first stop was an island of iguanas. They are sun loving creatures and have been trained to know when the boats come, so the people who will feed them.  Most were just chilling on the beach and not afraid of us at all.  If you did get too close they would often skitter away, and they can move quick!  Next was an hour ride over to the pig island. For anyone wondering, pigs really do swim and these ones knew swimming = food. The biggest and oldest was a bit aggressive and we were warned they she might try and bite us in the rear.  Everyone’s favorite was the piglets, so cute and loud!  Lunch was at Stanley Cay and after was time to feed and pet nurse sharks and watch the stingray swim by.  While in the water the stingray even brushed up against me.

We had a couple of beach days including a picnic and plans to find the perfect shell. One afternoon we tried paddle boarding. It was a three hour adventure, which started with me being lost and not finding the launch place.  Once we did find the right ‘beach’ we let the tide carry us, which was easy.  Well then we had to fight our way against the tide back towards our beach, which was not as fun.  Once we found our balance though it was an enjoyable afternoon and S really enjoyed the new sport.

We did take a evening boat cruise to watch the sunset over the island. After the sun went down I ended up playing a game of musical shots. Came in 3rd only cause I’m short and couldn’t jump over the bar for the last shot.  I gave it my best and enjoyed quite a few drinks in the game.  The sunset was beautiful as well ;).

I really enjoyed our week and when I had to drop S back at the airport it was a sad time.  Though I was also off to FL to visit with my grandparents and replace the computer I dropped.

 

Trip Planning and Remembering the Start

One of the nicest things about moving to the Bahamas is how close I am to family again, while still being international.  I’m in the same timezone, which makes trying to contact friends and family from the states quite easy.  Now friends around the world, well I still have to employ my math skills and figuring out time.

My new favorite aspect is how many people want to come visit and have a better chance now.  My first visitors were my parents, even before I had a place to live.  They booked a flight and in at the same hotel (resort) my school put me up. They are the risk-takers for jumped into the unknown with me.  While a bit stressful for all of us, it was amazing having them around to help me set up and remember that life is going to be ok.   It was stressful for me as I had to choose quickly where to live as the beach is nice, but not a great place to set up a cardboard box and live in. Stressful for them, mostly because dad was driving on the wrong side of the road and no maps to really help out the situation.  They survived and I have a place with walls and a roof.  All is well.

Setting up camp was a different beast here, as I didn’t have a place to live before landing.  The school hooked me up with a local agent who showed me 2 places, both really high on my price range and pretty small.  The other couple who came in with me were also looking for place, so the battle between the cheapest place was on.  Really, the stars alined at the right time, and I found another place being advertised which suited me far better.  So I landed in a small cottage, with an amazing landlord. I’m very happy with my choice, but if I stay international for the next move, I want a place give to me again. I may also want a place that I can save again.

Once I accepted my little cottage, mum and dad stocked me up well.  I have absolutely no idea how I would have done this start without them. As they rented the car, took me all over and they left me with food. We only went down the wrong way on a one way street once (my fault) and I found my new hang-out at the supermarket.   Important stuff here.  I know some co-workers would have helped out some, but it wouldn’t have been the same at all.

Now they are coming back for a long weekend and I’m excited to do more exploring with them and show them where I live now.  The stress of figuring out where to do and what to do is gone and it can be a vacation for them, and me.  I’m thinking jumping a flight to one of the family islands and enjoying the picture perfect waters that everyone knows the Bahamas for.  Working on the details now, but I’m excited, and know even in the heat it will be good for all souls involved.