Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The USA? Where in England is that?

So we'll start off by saying that we're ok.  Despite the fact that Cody was involved in a boat crash, and Becca almost got eaten by a toad.

The boat crash happened while coming home from Papaichton (the next closest village to us, which is about an hour away on the river).  We basically had to get off of the boat and push it off the rocks that were in the middle of the river. 

Becca's incident happened one night just outside our house.  We had just finished dinner with our friend Marie-Paule, and Cody went outside for a second and immediately ran back in, grabbed his glasses, and said "You have to come see this!"  We went outside and there was a toad (not exaggerating) easily the size of a human head just sitting on our terrace.  Even Marie-Paule said she had never seen one that big before (and she's from the country of AFRICA! *insert wittiness here- we will come back to this point*).  Again, as promised, we will put pictures up on facebook soon (we're actually trying to simultaneously write this and upload pictures, but the picture half of our plan doesn't seem to be working).

*Coming back to our comment about people often mistaking Africa as a country instead of a continent*, it still amazes us what a constricted view of the world people have here.  It may be due to the fact that many of the kids don't watch tv, either because they don't have one or because they're not allowed in the house during the day, but they have no concept of anything outside of Maripa-Soula, except things that they're somewhat exposed to (like Paramaribo- the capital of Suriname, or Cayenne).  This was probably one of the most shocking things for us teaching here- to be in a place where people have never heard of, have no concept of, and know nothing about the USA.  At best, people might think that we're from England- and even this is only because since they recieve the "same" education as kids in France, they're more exposed to Europe than the US (or South America, for that matter).

And this might be a good place to post this post's edition of "You know_______ when_________"
This list is entitled "You know you live in a small village in the middle of the rainforest when....
  • You get directions to someone's house including "turn left at the mango tree"
  • You have to go to a neighboring country to do your grocery shopping
  • Everyone knows everything about you.  Always.
  • You can ask anyone for directions to someone else's house, and they know exactly how to get there
  • Your house doesn't have a number- it's just "so and so's house" on whichever street
  • You notice when the neighborhood kids get new underwear (because that's all they wear outside once they get home from school)
  • Cloud coverage can cut out phone, internet, and tv
  • You find frogs in you living room when you wake up in the morning
  • Kids bring their pet beetles (whose bodies are the size of your fist) to class with them
  • There are no school busses.  There are, however, school pirogues
  • "Did you put a giant leaf in the sink for some reason or is that a bat wing????"
  • Your third graders wave at you as they drive past on their mopeds
  • It's rare to see any less than three people on a moped
  • When the medivac is arriving or departing everyone in the village runs after it as long as possible
  • There is barbed wire all around the elementary school
  • When you ask your landlady if you're allowed to have a pet, she tells you "people here aren't that complicated"

We've been finding some various ways to pass the time here.  A few weeks ago we went to a Reggae conceert in Papaichton.  We rode there in the back of a truck (Mom please don't get mad), and took a pirogue back at 8am the next morning when the concert ended.  We celebrated a small and lonely Thanksgiving on November 17 (can't remember if we already wrote about that or not), but then, much to our delight, we realized two days later that Thanksgiving is not the third Thursday in November, but the fourth!  Since we weren't going to let Thanksgiving sneak up on us twice in one year, we did the best we could to plan a typical American Thanksgiving for some of our friends here.  We had sweet pickles, carrots, and a cherry type fruit (in honor of Grandpa Rosenbarker's famous hors d'oeuvres tray), powdered mashed potatoes with a gravy like sauce, authentic Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, peas, carrots, corn, and some chicken cooked by Mamaya, a local woman who has been very nice to us.  We would have liked to have cooked a turkey, but seeing as how they don't have turkey here, nor do we have an oven, we decided to tackle that at a future Thanksgiving.  We finished up the meal with worms and dirt.  For those of you who don't know, worms and dirt is chocolate pudding (or in our case, modified cake mix recipe), gummy worms (bears), and crushed oreos (crushed oreos).  Despite all the substitutions, the dinner was wonderful, as well as the company. 

Last weeked we went on a little excursion with some of the teachers.  We took a pirogue about a half hour down the river, then hiked another half hour to a waterfall.  It was an awesome ride, awesome hike, and beautiful waterfall.  We spent about 4 hours there, and in the 4 hour period, we didn't go more than 2 minutes without seeing at lesast one of those giant bright blue morpho butterflies.  After, we went another few minutes down the river and went swimming and had a small BBQ.  Even though the waterfall wasn't huge, it was nice to just get out of the town and spend some time with some other teachers. 

Tomorrow is actually the start of our Christmas break!  We'll tell you all about it when we get back, but we will be celebrating Christmas with some other assistants in Barbados, and then our 1 year anniversary in Paramaribo.  Miss you all, especially around this time of year, and hope to hear from you as well!