Monday, September 26, 2011

Bam: Started (for realsies)

Hey everyone :)
So this is the day that we've been waiting for. The plane rides in were really long as expected and we were so glad to be sleeping in a cool room.

Here is a list of our first impressions:
- Oh snap they weren't kidding about the heat and humidity (little did we know that it was the coolest part of the day)
- wow, those cats do not like each other
- well, we're in south America so we shouldn't worry about our conact being a little late to pick us up
- hmm. 40 minutes is alot to be late. Maybe we should try to call. And wow, that complete stranger just helped us out for 15 minutes using her phone and calling people and asking others if they knew where the place was that we were supposed to be going.
- you sweat sitting in the shade
- lizards like cabinets

Today we have free so we're just walking around getting familiar with the people and culture, as well as sweating like a fat kid loves cake.

Pictures hopefully to come when we get settled in more :)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bam: Started (kinda)

I'll start with a disclaimer.  The monkey thing will probably not happen.  Sorry to disappoint you.  Becca was kind enough to point out that it was a terrible idea.

In other news, tomorrow we start our voyage.  It will take us from Owego at about 10 a.m. to Binghamton.  After a stop off at the dentist, we will then go to Syracuse to catch a bus.  This bus will take us to Philly where we will spend the night with our good friend McDee, after which we will fly to Miami.  Then to Puerto Rico.  That might sounds like fun but then you realize that we have yet to go to the Dominican Republic.  Then to Guadeloupe, Martinique, and finally, Cayenne, French Guiana, arriving at about ten at night on the 25th.  No need to dust off your calculators: 60 hours of traveling/layovers  The only route that way more direct was to go to Paris, then to Cayenne.  Doesn't matter what we do, sore butts will be a sure result of this trip.

But it is worth saying that in order for us to even get to this sitting marathon, we've had to get through another type of marathon- that of paperwork.  Now the French Bureaucracy (FB)  tends to like paperwork and tend to take plenty of breaks- to eat baguettes, of course- before they return the paperwork to you.  In addition, life in South America (SA) tends to run more slowly.  For all you math minded people, that gives us FB+SA=ARRRGGGGGGG.  Seriously- look it up.

For example, the application for this job was sent in November, and you get notified if you're hired in May.  Also, we had to have something called an "arrêté de nomination" in the mail to get our visas.  This paperwork was sent to them in March, and we then had to sign up for a visa appointment in NYC about two months in advance but had to cancel because we didn't have the arrêté.  After asking someone, we finally found out that our arrêtés were in fact NOT coming in the mail, but they were sent straight to NYC.  Then we went, applied, and went back again a week later to pick up our visas.

But we didn't only have problems on the France end of things.  We had to get our birth certificates translated by a certified translator.  It took about a week to translate the twenty words on a birth certificate, that apparently Becca and I were unable to translate ourselves, even though we both just graduated with a degree in French.  $50 later, the lady forgot to send us the hard copies of the translations, and then, she forgot to put my name on it.  Probably couldn't find the French word for Cody.  For our vaccinations, of which we need proof to get into the country, we had an equally difficult time.  After playing phone tag with the vaccination clinic, Becca spend literally (and those of you that know me know that I don't say literally unless I really mean it) ten minutes on the phone trying to convince the woman that French Guiana did indeed exist and what vaccinations we needed to go there.  Then, when there, we had a wrong prescription as well as having to remind them to give us our paperwork, and then remind them that they needed to fill it out.  We got to pay them $70 for their services.

We are writing this not to vent or to make you feel sorry for us, but rather for the comedic value.  So, thanks to everyone who has made this possible.  Seriously, we are grateful for everything.  We have proven our desire to go through with this by jumping through all the hoops, and we are hoping it will pay off.  And, this way, anyone reading this, thinking about doing this same program in the future, will be able to read ahead and see if it is all worth it or not :)

And thinking about it, what would we do with a monkey after our seven months are up?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10 Days to Go!!!

Hey errybody.

So as most of you know, we are leaving for the little country of French Guiana in ten days to go teach English for seven months.  We hope to be able to keep up this blog during our time there so that you all can keep up with our goings-ons at your leisure.  We've been hired by the French government to teach English in middle schools, and through this program we could have been placed anywhere in France.  We chose French Guiana :)

So those are the basics.  Most may not know the details about the city/town/village/hut that we are going to, because quite frankly there's nothing on wikipedia.  So, we will be teaching in Maripasoula and Papaïchton, French Guiana.  We will wait for you to look it up on Google Maps...

Ok as you have seen, they are very sparsely populated areas on the interior of the country, in clearings of the Amazon Rainforest only separated from the country of Suriname by the Maroni River.  We have found out via an undisclosed informant more details about the area, and hope at this point we are somewhat well prepared for this awaiting adventure.  We'll spend about a week in Cayenne- the capital- for orientation during which time we will get used to the culture, food, and the heat and humidity, and then all the English assistants will disperse to their respective assignments throughout the country.

Our place is remote: we will either take a small (as in, 8 passengers or so) plane or (the way awesomer option) a four-day boat ride up the Maroni River to get there.  Once there, we may be spending some nights in their version of a hostel- a canopy under which you hitch your hammock.  From there, we need to find ourselves a place to stay, which will most likely be a single story, wooden apartment-type building.  We may get a pet monkey.  Probably actually most likely get one.

Given its remoteness, we don't know if or how often there is internet connection.  To avoid looking like the rich targets of theft, we are not bringing any computers, ipods, or other modern "necessities." Therefore, this could possibly be our last post for seven months, too, in which case we will update you all with snail mail when we get back.  Hopefully, to avoid overtaxing the snails, we will be able to update from a McDonalds or more likely our schools fairly regularly.  So, be looking forward to many pictures of Cody running off into the Amazon and Becca running away from the Amazon, as well as pictures of exotic bugs, people, and customs :)

Please comment, letting us know what you would like to hear about, or just to say hey and let us know whats going on in your lives, too!

Becca and Cody