The Start of Year 3- Teaching Abroad

I’m back and this is how I greeted my honey!!

It was my first time flying 12.5 hours straight alone, but I arrived safely back in Qatar on August 1, giving myself enough time to readjust to the time change, and dry weather and to spend some much needed quality time with honey before I start back to work on August 12.  I also need time to adjust to my new accommodation.  Over the summer, Honey moved us again.  This time to a even smaller apartment near the beach, closer to school and a whole lot cheaper.

This is the start of year 3 of my journey of teaching overseas and year 8 in the classroom.  Last year was rough at work so I came up with a motto for this year: Don’t make waves, ride them!  My team and I agreed to start anew which is great and one member in particular even apologized for their behavior last year.  This is a great way to start the year.  Honestly though, I just want to teach and be left alone and that’s why I turned down the opportunity to be Grade Team Lead again.  Let the newbies do it.  Been there done that, I’m good.  With a new school year comes new teachers and new challenges.

This year we are starting at our brand new school and with that comes it’s own set of obstacles.  Administration set the tone for the school year telling us all to be flexible.  Since our school is still not completely ready to welcome students, their start date got pushed back a week so far.

This is what the staff meeting looked like after the announcement.  Of course, we teachers still must go but that’s fine.  Only a portion of our school has been approved by the powers that be, so we will all be uncomfortable for a little while longer as we will be squished in.  I think all of the adjustments that we will go through will make the school year go faster, I’m hoping.

I’m optimistic about this New School Year!

 

 

Peru, Beyond Machu Picchu

Red roofs atop cement, adobe or brick homes, cobblestone streets, sprawling green and brown mountains split by sacred rivers, Inca ruins in multitudes, tanned hard working people, minty aroma from eucalyptus trees, salt mines, rocky roads, colorful handcrafted textiles, this is Peru, and there is a whole lot more to it than Machu Picchu!

When most people think of Peru, the first thing that comes to mind is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, and I will admit that was my whole purpose for going there.  Machu Picchu has always been on my bucket list, but beyond that, I had no desire to visit Peru.  But after spending 7 days in this beautiful country, I have to say I want more.

  • Peru is absolutely beautiful.  While there I visited Lima, Machu Picchu, Cusco and Ollantaytambo.  Cusco is one of the highest cities in the world; it sits 11,207 feet above sea level, compared to the U.S.A which is only 2,493 feet above sea level.  I absolutely loved Cusco but it is definitely the tourist spot.  The streets are narrow and winding on hills and aligned with small shops and eateries. The towns are nestled on the mountains or in between them.  There is green everywhere, and snow capped mountains in the sky.

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  • There is so much history everywhere.  You can actually do a Inca Trail hike for 26 miles, through Inca paving, ruins and tunnels.  Inca history is unearthed on the regular there.  Choquequirao is an Inca ruin that is larger in area than Machu Picchu but can only be accessed by foot or horseback and is therefore less visited and less popular.  Everywhere you look you can see the Incan influence even though the Spaniards did everything to wipe it all away, even to the extent of building on top of it.

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  • The people are beautiful.  They don’t look much different than American Indians, short in statue, long, thick, dark hair and light brown skin.  Everyone I encountered was nice and very helpful. They are hard working and make many things by hand.  In the touristy area, they dress like Peruvians in pictures but if you go further down into the city, they dress like the rest of us.

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  • I could understand the language.  I know most people don’t really consider Spanish a romantic language but listening to the people speak took me back to my many years in primary school studying Spanish.  They say if you don’t use it, you lose it and I haven’t used Spanish in some time but hearing it again and being able to speak it back and understand some of it felt good to me.  Granted once they started going, I became completely lost but I know if I spent some real time there, perhaps a few months, I’d be speaking Spanish fluently.
  • I have to say something about the food.  Actually, the food scene is great for non-vegans and foodies who like to try different things.  The Peruvians eat a lot of meat including guinea pigs and doves.  But my favorite food is potatoes and they have over 4,000 varieties that are native to the Andean highlands of Peru.  They also eat a lot of quinoa.  I must have had quinoa soup almost everyday.  I tried different types of fruit too including Chirimuya, Granadilla, and Pacay.  Eucalyptus is grown there as well as Maca and Coca.  Yes I chewed on coca leaves and drank it in my tea.  It helps with altitude sickness.

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  • I could never tire of shopping in Peru.  The colorful textiles bring me joy.  The prices are low and the goods are unique to the country.  I love the colorful ponchos and blankets.  Even though it weighed my bag down, I couldn’t leave the country without some ceramic pottery, so that every time I ate soup or drank tea, I would be reminded of the wonderful people of Peru and their ancestors, the Incas!

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So if you’re considering a trip to Peru, sample all 4,000 varieties of potatoes and the many native fruits and let me know which were your favorite.  Visit the salt mines.  Explore the many archaelogical sites.  Visit the museums and hike the Inca trail.  Climb and take pictures on the Rainbow Mountain.  Speak the language and try the Pisco Sour and Cusquena beer (roja is my favorite).   Have an authentic lunch cooked by a local in their home- an unforgettable experience.   Zip-line through the rain forest or ride the rapids in the Amazon river.  View the Nazca lines from the sky or simply shop in the San Pedro market and people watch.  Around every corner there is something new to try and experience.  You’ll never get bored.  There are so many reasons to visit Peru, beyond Machu Picchu!

 

*Hey readers, have you ever visited a country for one specific thing and wound up falling in love with all the rest? Share your story in the comments.*

 

What to Pack for Peru in July

Ideally, you want to be cute and warm and then cute and cool without having to pack extra clothes in your backpack and look for a bathroom to change into. 

It was two days before my big trip to Peru when my husband called me and asked, “Hey do you know that it is winter in Peru?”  My response was a little like this alpaca’s…

I guess I just assumed because it was South America and I was in North America that it would be summer there too.  WRONG!  I spent the last two days before my trip in Old Navy’s winter clearance section and in my basement in totes fishing out appropriate clothes.  Don’t make the same mistake I did.  Hopefully this post will help you to be better prepared for a trip to Peru in July.

According to Lonelyplanet.com, June-August is the high tourist season in Peru due to North American and European holidays.  Also, May-September is the winter season which is the driest and therefore the best time of year to travel.  The days are longer at this time which offers clear blue skies and great views of the mountains.  The day temperature ranges between the 50-70s Fahrenheit.  The nights and early mornings are cold but the days are pleasant.

Since you are more than likely going to Peru to tour the historical Inca ruins, and the wondrous landscape, you’ll probably head out during the early morning to avoid the crowds and return to your accommodation sometime in the afternoon or at night.  So the way you dress will be very important.  Here is the key word, ‘LAYERS’.

When you head out in the morning, it will be cold, so you might think that a winter coat will be just what you need.  But, don’t be fooled my friend because by late morning it will begin to warm up and you will be hot.  Instead wear cute leggings under some jeans, a tank top under a t-shirt, a long-sleeve shirt over the t-shirt and a hoodie, or instead of the long-sleeve shirt and hoodie simply wear a heavy fleece jacket that you will be able to remove and tie around your waste.  Ideally, you want to be cute and warm and then cute and cool without having to pack extra clothes in your backpack and look for a bathroom to change into.   In the morning I was layered up but by early afternoon, I had removed 1-2 layers and stuck the pants into my backpack and tied the jacket or hoodie around my waste.

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Here I am early morning in all my layers, at Machu Picchu.  From top to bottom: Ugg Adirondack II boots, fitness tights under jeans, Old Navy work out tank, under Old Navy fleece work out hoodie, under heavy fleece jacket from Boscovs, hat.  I look so much heavier with all these layers on.
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Here I am later in the morning, heavy jacket removed. Sunglasses are necessary
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Here I am with my son, Heavy jacket and Old Navy Fleece jacket removed.  It’s getting hot and I’m skinny again.
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Here I am on another day, at another archaeological site, late morning, sneakers by Nike, fashion tights from Old Navy, cinch top sweater by Old Navy tied around my waist, button down denim over a black thermal, sunglasses, and a head scarf.
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Rain in the forecast- Hat, rain poncho, sweater, jeans. Always prepared

Here’s what I packed for my 7 day trip:

3 pairs of jeans (worn twice)

4 pair of tights (two fashionable- 1 worn alone, the other worn twice under jeans, two fitness- both worn twice under jeans)

4 tank tops

1 thermal (worn twice)

4 t-shirts

4 long sleeve tops and a button down

3 hoodies (2 fleece)

1 heavy fleece work jacket

1 pair of sneakers

1 pair of Ugg boots for hiking

2 pair of warm pajamas

1 rain poncho (rain does happen even in the dry season)

an umbrella

1 backpack

2 scarves for my head that could also be used around my neck

a hat but you can buy one there, there are many available for purchase

sunglasses

Garmin watch to count all my steps

 

Remember the key word, ‘Layers’ and you should be fine.  Have fun and send me pictures.

The Boys and I on our Ten Year Anniversary in Florida

This summer I really wanted to spend a lot of time with my boys.  Zamir and I had a lovely time on our cruise and were able to spend some one on one quality time.  We really get along well.  I also planned a one on one trip to Peru with Zarien and myself so that we could spend some time bonding, check back for that three part post later.  But together, my boys and I headed to Florida.  My girl Jennifer rented a large pool house for the month of July and invited us down.

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So on Zarien’s birthday, July 2, that’s exactly what we did.  We spent 10 days, relaxing and having fun.  It was 10 years ago when we first experienced Florida together.  It was Zarien’s 5th birthday then, and just the boys and I flew down to Orlando to experience Disney.  We visited four of the Disney parks and witnessed the best fire works show ever.  Ten years later we were back.  One thing about Florida in July, it rains almost every day but we didn’t let that stop our fun.  We swam in the pool on lazy days and went out on others.  We had a barbecue and celebrated Zarien’s birthday with Ice Cream Cake.

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Chillen on a pile of shit in the water
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Fun times in the backyard pool

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Birthday boy blowing out his 15 candles
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One word: GREEDY

We enjoyed played miniature golf and went ziplining.

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I like hanging in trees
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Getting ready to tackle the big zipline

We went to Busch Gardens where I rode a few roller coasters and was the designated bag holder for the other rides.   As I’ve aged, I’ve become fearful that I’d have a panic attack so I tend to not get on too many rides.  I like Busch Gardens though because it’s kind of a mix of an amusement park and zoo.  We saw alligators, elephants, zebras, etc… all around the park.

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Friends and family
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He talked me into going on it with him
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Have fun ya’ll. I’ll be right here, holding your bags.
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Yeah, you can kiss my @#$%, that’s not very nice
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Just chillin
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Pretty in Pink

I always wanted to go to SeaWorld and see a dolphin show, so we did that too.  And forget about that age thing that I mentioned earlier, I rode all the rollercoasters, all 3 of them. (I can hear you laughing. Don’t laugh too hard) The first one was the Manta and even though I’m glad I tried it, you can only fool me once.  That ride is the devil.  I swear I blacked out at some point on that roller coaster.  So when everyone else went back for a second and third dose of the Manta, I became the designated bag holder again.  I rode the Mako roller coaster three or four times with everybody and even sat in the first row one time.  That rollercoaster was fun and has a mean drop.  The last of the coasters was the Kraken; that one was pretty fun as well.

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Finally made it to SeaWorld
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Just couldn’t get this picture right, so there you have it
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The devil roller coaster

On our last day, the boys and I drove an hour away to Cape Canaveral.  We visited the Kennedy Space Center.  It was much bigger than I had anticipated with a lot things to do and see.  We arrived mid day and I wish we had arrived earlier to fully experience it.  But while we were there, we toured where the launch pads are, learned about America’s plans to visit Mars, the evolution of space shuttles and space visits, the heroics of astronauts who lost their lives, and saw many exhibits.  It’s both an educational and fun place to visit.  A must see while in Florida! See you again in 10 Florida!

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She got the whole world in her hand
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A must see in Florida
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Feeling like I’m in one of my favorite movies: Armageddon
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Space ship launch pad
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A pod
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Looking Distinguished