Paul and Gayle are taking a year from their roles in Picton and Belleville and will be teaching at the Maple Leaf International School in Trinidad. We will use this blog to record some of our edventures!

Friday, 26 September 2014

A New Take On Hashing

Wednesday was Republic Day, a national holiday. The local hash club organized a special fundraiser "Red Dress" hash.

Aside from a short run in the woods, this was more of an urban hash in the streets and back allies of Diego Martin. The local folk were mesmerized by our fine costumes and questioned us often as to what we were doing. We definitely went places we would never have gone. Also smelled a few things we'd never like to smell again.

The pictures tell the rest of the story!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Some Recent Photos

Click here to see some recent photos and videos:

A week in Trini

Here is a little insight into our normal day to day lives in Trinidad.

Paul went biking with another teacher on Sunday morning for a solid and sweaty 2.5 hour ride. I did not. Instead I went to the air conditioned gym and ran on the treadmill, while watching some shows on Netflix. Life is tough.

Monday was a normal school day. Paul jogged to the gym for a workout before school. I left our apartment at about 6:30 a.m. and drove the 2 km. Depending on the two traffic lights, the drive might take 5 minutes or 10. School starts everyday at 7:40 with morning announcements, and no national anthem. We both have period 1 as our prep, and then teach 80 minute classes. The classes are slightly longer here to compensate for multiple holidays during the school year. Lunch is 35 minutes, followed by period 4. This last class of the day ends at 2 p.m. Typically we've been working at the school until 4:30 or 5:00 pm but due to high volume of traffic, many teachers leave shortly after 2.

On Tuesday we headed down to the Savannah after school to watch our under 16 "footballers" (that would be soccer players) play a league game. By 5 pm swarms of sandflies had invaded the field, looking like columns of haze and tasting a lot worse. The game was postponed as breathing and sight was tough with bugs in your mouth and eyes. It was really gross. Apparently this happens sometimes in the rainy season. Lucky for us the flies were not on the grass for frisbee so we were able to play a fun pick up game. As a reward after frisbee, with dead flies stuck to our legs and necks, we trundled off to McDonalds for $9 ($1.75 Can) chocolate sundaes!

Speaking of the rainy season, the weather is consistently HOT and HUMID. Like I'm talking 32 degrees C during the day and "cooler" at only 25 at night. And when it rains, it RAINS. Sometimes it comes with thunder and lightening. But usually it will rain hard for 30 minutes and then be done within the hour and come out hot and humid. Paul has been soaked only once so far during phys ed :)

After school on Wednesday we drove out to Chagauramas as Paul is planning to take his phys ed classes to do some orienteering. We biked around a bit and managed to see a momma howler monkey and her baby over us, climbing around in bamboo. We got a few pictures, but the cell phone camera makes it look a little more like a blob in a tree.

Thursday was an exciting day at school with a school wide assembly to launch Maple Leaf's 20 Year Anniversary. It came complete with cupcakes for everyone, so I was happy! That night we attended the PTA Wine and Cheese back at the school. This catered event provided a nice way to chat with teachers and parents while drinking a glass of wine or juice at the school!

The student council election assembly happened Friday morning (we like having assemblies) with speeches and then voting after. The rest of the day was all a buzz with talk of the 2014-15 StuCo. After school Friday was our first volleyball practice. We have an EA that is a national volleyball team player (how cool is that!!!) so I'm working with her to coach some volleyball.

Seeing as Paul is teaching phys ed and has already had a couple of first aid situations (a fainter and a sprained ankle), the school suggested he re-cert first aid. So off we went on Saturday for a Red Cross CPR and First Aid course. Trini's are a little edgy and funny, so the 8-4 course went by quickly and we got a little more insight into Trini vocab and culture.

Now it's Sunday and school work is on the agenda. Although Wednesday is a national holiday - Republic Day, and a day off school for us so it is a short week. We have plans to do another Hash on Wednesday - complete with red dresses. Should be a good photo opp!!!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Our First Hash

No!  Not that kind of hash...

Hashing, as we have come to learn, means getting together with some others and running around the bush. The overall group goal is to try to find and stay on the trail to ultimately find the end where there is a healthy supply of beer. 

The "Hares" (trail makers) purposely include false trails and markers to mess everyone up. The trail can include just about any kind of terrain and is marked by small piles of shredded paper on the ground.  There is lots of yelling as there are different code words to let everyone know where the trail is leading.  ("ON ON" means you are on the trail, "ARE YOU" is what you say to hopefully get someone to let you know which way to go...)

Yesterday we took two other teachers with us and drove about 45 minutes. There were about 200 or so of us who converged on a little rural town and ran (sometimes aimlessly) for about an hour and an half. At the end everyone was milling about re-"hashing" the run, drinking beer and eating Roti (a local favourite -- a wrap with meat and/or vegetables).

Some people walk, some try to lead.  (Leading, is tricky, because if you pick a false trail, you will end up in the middle of the pack very quickly.) In the end, it really doesn't matter because you will be sweaty, muddy, scratched and tired and the beer tastes the same.

It turns out that these are held just about every two weeks, so if you show up to visit us on a Saturday, you might get lucky and have your first hash.

Marie, Gayle and Maddy eating Roti after the run

Jamie, Todd and the boys (our Frisbee friends) were also hashing.

People were lining the curb on both sides after.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Our first week at Maple Leaf

One week under our belts and we are ready for more at Maple Leaf!

Here is a quick recap of how it all shook down during our first week:
I have a grade 11 Biology class of 9, a grade 12 Biology class of 13 and a grade 12 Chemistry class of 14. For those of you not in teaching in Ontario, these are VERY small classes. Our students are extremely polite, conscientious and hardworking. I've only had one student on one day not have their homework finished. Imagine my surprise! They genuinely want to learn and do well. No pressure as their teacher.

The school day starts at 7:40 am, but because of the huge volume of traffic on the road we roll into school around 6:30 am. I have finally managed to find a work space for my period 1 prep. The school has a small footprint so teacher work rooms are limited and given that the Trini culture is quite social, I don't really want to be "working" in the staff room during my prep. 

The school day ends at 2 pm, and the school seems to clear out rather quickly.  I'm excited to help coach volleyball, as the head coach plays on the Trinidad National Team! I'm also looking forward to starting a science club that will run hands on "mad science" after school workshops for the elementary students.

The school is also open on the weekend, but no, we did not darken the doors this weekend.

Parents' night is this Thursday evening, so we'll get the chance to meet the parents. Thursday is also a big day with a House League Assembly, and on Friday there is another assembly for our 20th Anniversary kick off. 

All for now...

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Queen's Park Savannah

One of the neatest things we've discovered is the Queen's Park Savannah. This is a large tract of land (the road around it is 3 km) in the centre of Port of Spain. It is surrounded by mountains and there is a "pitch" walk way all around it.

Essentially, most of the area is a hay field. The grass is cut with a bush hog, (and not very often).

Despite this, it is used by hundreds of people everyday!  When we go, it's usually to play Frisbee.  We just set up some cones and play. There are always soccer games and cricket happening.  Usually there are countless people running or walking around the outside. Occasionally someone is flying a remote control plane.

While some of the areas have goal posts for soccer or rugby, there is no "booking the field".  People just go!  and PLAY! 

At night, in the summer at least, and on weekends the rest of the year, a food court magically appears at about 5pm. There is bar-b-que chicken, juice bars, ice cream, gyros...If you like coconut water, you can always get fresh coconuts chopped open with a machete!

This photo, while not ours, captures it nicely