In and Out of the Bubble

Pabellon. Black beans, rice, meat, plantains.


I totally failed on the photos this week. 
All pics from the internet. Sources below.

You know how sometimes your personal chef doesn’t come until late in the week, and you have to scrounge in the fridge for something to eat, and you wish there was some more of those excellent black beans, or maybe the juicy sweet fried plantains, but they’re just gone, along with the spicy meat and peppers, and what can you do but eat a cheese sandwich and wait for Sandra to return? Yeah, me too. 


[Note: Sandra had no problems with my ridiculous keys, not one–see my ongoing issues with keys here and here. Maybe it’s her native facility with byzantine government bureaucracy. Compared to most gov’t paperwork, sorting through my key ring is child’s play. Note also that everyone here has a maid/cook, even local teachers, and while it’s an indulgence, it’s completely normal and I see it as a contribution to the local economy, as well as a boon to my refrigerator and belly.]


And you know how sometimes it’s a total drag–a real day-wrecker, a sorrow–when you have to walk home after work, like, three minutes, to get your running shoes so you can work out at the gym, and then you realize that the pool is open after all, but you forgot your goggles, so you have to go home again to get them before you can get your laps in, while birds of paradise turn loops in the tropical sun? Yeah, me too. 


Here’s what I’m saying: things are good in Caracas. Venezuela Spanish lesson: “¿Qué más, mi pana?”means “What’s up, my buddy?” Correct answer: “Todo fino, pana, todo fino.” But be sure to pronounce the first two words like this: kayMA. That way, despite not being Venezuelan, you might sound something like the kind old lady from the movie Airplane who helped her fellow passengers by speaking jive. Chump don’t want no help, chump don’t get no help!

Okay, these are the Other Guys,
not the New Guys. It’s a stretch,
but I’ve got nothing for you here.

Classes are going great, too. The kids here are friendly, welcoming, eager to learn. They seem particularly understanding when it comes to New Guy problems like my not knowing the daily schedule by heart, or forgetting who their math teachers are, or needing help to find my way out of the building at the end of the day.

This is a campus full of New Guys, from teachers to kindergarteners. Lots of kids here are from expat families that move every few years, from Bombay to Mexico, to Calgary, to Malaysia or Miami. I love the euro-latin names a lot of my students have, like Hendrick Gonzalez, or Mariolga Boulanger. (Not real student names, but close!) I’ve been teaching animation, 3D modeling, yearbook, and a tech-and-social-issues class, all of which keep me learning plenty and excited for class!

SAT practice!Ávila : Caracas  ::  ? : Seattle

But that’s all inside the expat teacher bubble, which is powerful and which extends well beyond the campus. I’m making a few forays outside Disney Caracas, mostly through the friendship of my colleagues Agustín and María Eugenia, locals who started teaching at ECA this year, too. I’ve gone hiking on the Ávila with them and their cute-as-pie little three year old girl, spent afternoons at Agustín’s family home with aunts and cousins and in-laws gathering for the weekly Sunday dinner, enjoyed their company as they’ve toured me around the city’s neighborhoods.

Passionfruit. It’s sweet and a little sharp,
like my love for you. Yes, you.
And you, and you, and you.

Agustín’s family couldn’t be more welcoming, or their home more gracious, full of sculpture and plants and books and cut crystal on the patio. Everyone speaks English, of course, but they’ve indulged my Spanish, slowing down to re-explain something for me, or to offer the occasional translation of a peculiar local word or phrase. Eating with them, surrounded by Spanish, has been like walking around without my glasses. I can get along just fine–no danger of stepping off the sidewalk into a car or blundering into a misunderstanding–but suddenly someone interjects some English, and my world snaps into surprising focus. Then, off come the glasses and we’re plowing down the sidewalk again, past passionfruit and Peruvian soup and politics. 


Next week, I’ll tell you about riding my bike with thousands of Caraqueños on the closed-off highway that cuts across the foot of the Ávila, and also about the upcoming faculty trip to Tortuga Lodge, offering activities like “turismo de contemplación,” as well as fishing, swimming, kayaking, and all-you-can-eat-and-drink lounging. Here’s hoping I don’t accidentally lock myself into the beachside cabin and miss out on all the fun.

PS–You can subscribe to this blog with the “follow by email” form at the top of the page. You’ll get a message when I update, saving you countless frustrating page-refresh moments. (Honestly, I’m not sure it really works. But it looks cool, like I’m a professional, raking in sponsorships and lucrative guest-blogger gigs.)

——

Photos (we’re teaching kids about citing sources, so I’m going to set a good example):
Pabellon: http://venezuela.pordescubrir.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/pabellon.jpg 
The Other Guys: http://www.filmjunk.com/images/weblog/2009/09/otherguysphoto2.jpg
Ávila mountain: http://www.reefnewmedia.co.uk/cmt_beacon/gallerylarge/Avila%20mountain2.jpg
Passionfruit: http://www.pinkberry.com/images/stories/webimages/yogurt_passionfruit_second.jpg


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