Hurray! It’s Monday again, the day Melanie puts out a new set of questions for Share Your World! And this week, they’re real doozies! So here goes…
What song always gets you out on the dance floor? Any catchy Latino or other dance tune, such as:
Actually, I have a whole dance workout playlist, which includes this song and many others, including songs with a good beat from Latin America, Brazil, Africa, Celtic (Ireland/Scotland), Caribbean steel pan, and more. I listen to it when I’m at the fitness center working out, and I really miss it now, because I can’t go to the fitness center to work out!
What’s your favorite sleeping position? I go to sleep and spend most of the night on my back. I use a special pillow for my neck due to a minor case of scoliosis that I inherited from my dad, and also slide a small pillow under my knees. But some time during the night, I switch pillows and sleep on my right side with the small pillow between my knees. Eventually, I go back to sleeping on my back.
If you could snap your fingers and instantly make the world better, what would you do? Of course I would do it, but I have noticed that lately my finger snap doesn’t make a snapping noise anymore – I think it’s a sign I’m getting old!! I can’t whistle very well anymore either.
Also, would I get to decide, before the finger snap, what constitutes making the world better? That would be important, since what is better in my opinion, may not be what others think. So I will list some of my requirements for the “world being better:” –clean energy used all over the world, mitigating the effects of climate change. Earth will breathe a sigh of relief, and it would save many people around the world from starvation, displacement, and war. Everyone would be invested in conserving resources. The planet would begin to heal itself and its inhabitants as well. No more extinction of precious species. –no more poverty –medicine will be advanced to be able to cure any disease or find a vaccine easily and quickly – maybe like the “healing” done on the Star Trek series, just waving a scanning-type device over the diseased part, and voila! – the person is healed!
–no one left on Earth named Trump –racism and discrimination wouldn’t exist, there would be no more war. –PEACE ON EARTH!!
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why did you do it?
I don’t want to go into my most nightmarish, scary experience, which wasn’t exactly something I did – it just happened to me. So I will answer with the scariest thing I ever did voluntarily and willingly….I went ziplining in Costa Rica!!
I was with my son in Monteverde; we’d gone there for a weekend during a monthlong stay in Costa Rica. He wanted to go ziplining – we were at the place where you get geared up and listen to all the instructions and safety rules. I didn’t really want to go, but if I stayed behind, I would have to amuse myself with nothing but a small tourist shop for entertainment for about two hours, which was the approximate length of this experience. I was really scared, but I looked around at the other participants and there were several who were clearly older than me. So I started to feel ashamed of myself if I didn’t go, and if I chickened out, I would probably regret it later. Needless to say, I went.
There were a total of 14 ziplines in this course. Some were short, some were longer. It was very important to judge when to pull the rope to slow down – you wanted to do it soon enough to slow down sufficiently when you arrived at the platform. On the other hand, if you pulled the rope too early on a long line, you could end up slowing down and stopping in the middle of the line, with only your gear holding you, dangling about 200 meters above the rainforest floor! But don’t worry, we were told – there will be a guide on the other side who will signal for when to pull the rope.
That worked OK for the first three or four lines. There were a lot of tourists there speaking languages from all over the world. I soon got separated from my son, but I wasn’t worried.
Then came the line where I had an accident. I was zipping across, watching the guide on the other side to signal to me, but he was distracted by other tourists talking to him, so he didn’t signal. Should I or shouldn’t I, I wondered, panic rising. I was approaching the platform fast, too fast – I pulled the rope, but it was too late – I slammed into the metal frame of the platform. I felt searing pain in my right shin. It took a few minutes in the confusion for someone to come to my aid, because there were so many people crowded on the platform. I saw that my leg was bleeding, and rummaged through my backpack for some Kleenex. I had about two sheets of it left, which I gingerly applied to the long gash on my shin as I gasped in pain. The Kleenex didn’t do much good – it just stuck to the wound.
Finally, a guide came to my rescue. I told him I couldn’t go on, I needed to go back. He explained that that was impossible – we were in the middle of a rainforest and it was a several miles hike – uphill – to get back, and no one could be spared to accompany me. I wanted to sit in a truck, but I couldn’t do that either. He told me just to wait until he was free, and he would take me across himself. So I sat on the metal steps, while lines of gabby tourists flowed upward around me. My son had gone across the road with a couple of other young people, who had found a “Tarzan rope” – he called for me to come and see. I answered that I was seriously injured and could barely walk (this was exaggeration, which I tend to use when I get injured), so I couldn’t go see. He didn’t answer, and it wasn’t until he returned that he realized what had happened to me.
After what seemed like half an hour, the guide who was going to take me across came over and helped me up. He hooked himself and me together and off we went. He had introduced himself as Rafael, and started telling me facts about the rainforest – such as how far above the forest floor we were! He said I could look down into the canopy and spy monkeys or birds. (LOOK DOWN??? No way, Jose – I mean Rafael!). We arrived safely and gently at the next stop and he helped me down. I waited for him again, and once again I was in the arms of Rafael zipping above the green canopy. Even having him with me, I was too scared to look down. So I saw none of the wildlife advertised as being able to spot during this activity.
At the third stop after the accident, I waited a long time and realized that Rafael was no longer there. He’d forgotten me or perhaps thought I should be OK to go by myself. I protested and another guide took me across the next line. However, after that I was on my own.
Finally, mercifully, it was over. I even got a snapshot of my son zipping to the ground on the last stop. We then had about a quarter mile to walk to the waiting jeeps to take us back. I limped along, a nice guide holding my elbow. Although there was blood dripping down my leg and staining my sandal, he asked me if I had fun. I just laughed – I refused to be a whiny American tourist. Instead, I said something to him in Spanish and we conversed in Spanish the rest of the way back.
Last year, a long-time elderly member of my church passed away. A memorial service was held at the retirement home where she had been living for several years. On the back table was her extensive collection of turtles – she had all types of turtles that she had bought or was given throughout her adult life. Each guest was invited to pick one or two turtles to take home. I added them to the two turtles I already had, purchased in Mexico.
The 1st picture is the four turtles. The 2nd is a video of me playing the turtle flute!
The following are pictures from my Costa Rica scrapbook, which I made after a month-long trip there in 2004 with my son, Jayme. An optional excursion was a weekend trip to Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s east coast. It is named after the turtles who migrate back to its beaches to lay their eggs. At the time of year we were there – July – there were no turtles, just a turtle-shaped swimming pool!
I tried to minimize the glare while taking photos of these pages, since the pages don’t fit on my scanner! As you can see, I used to spend a lot of time on scrapbooking (my Costa Rica trip takes up two albums!). I don’t do it anymore because my pictures are all digital. However, I do miss it – it was creative and fun to work on with other scrappers.
Today we were going to take “A Walk in the Clouds.” It was to be a hike in the cloud forest, crossing several suspension bridges and seeing hummingbirds and butterflies.
Our guide’s name was Cristian, or Cris as he preferred to be called, and our driver was Gustavo. On our one hour plus ride into the mountains on narrow switchback roads, expertly navigated by Gustavo, Cris told us a lot about his country. I found myself feeling saudades* being back here, and how strange it was to be here for only one day!
Cris asked us what is the first word that comes into our minds when we think of Costa Rica. No one answered right away, so I shouted out “Pura vida!” Cris explained this phrase which has become the motto of Costa Rica. It is about the love of life and optimism that people here have. Cris showed this by his enthusiasm and appreciation for the beauty of Costa Rica’s many ecosystems. He has an advanced degree in ecological science so he is very knowledgeable about native plants and folk medicines.
It took 80 minutes or so to get to our destination. Before splitting up into two groups, we had a little time to do some shopping at the inevitable tourist store.
We were split into two groups because there were 39 people on the bus and there cannot be that many on the trail at the same time. The groups, one led by Cris (our group) and one led by another local guide, had to go in reverse order because only a maximum of 25 people were allowed to be on the trail at one time – the vibrations of so many footsteps scare the animals.
The first stop on our hike was a hummingbird feeding station. The tiny birds fluttered about rapidly, rarely stopping on a feeder long enough to get a good picture. I did get a few, but I think the best was a short video of the hummingbirds’ activity.
We then began a hike into a nature preserve with four hanging bridges. The trail itself was challenging due to the number of steps down we had to take. There was a taut cable – a railing of sorts – that followed the path and we all had bamboo walking sticks. These helped a little but nothing can really alleviate my arthritic knees so I felt unsteady. (I remember being in Costa Rica in July of 2004 when I was more agile and had no problems with places like this. It had rained every day, so I was glad that it isn’t rainy season now, or we’d be slipping in mud!)
At the end of our descent during which Cris told us about various plants, a stream rushed below and on a hillside coming down was a trickle of a waterfall.
Then the path wound upwards and we stopped along our ascent to see some interesting plants, including the “walking palm,” whose roots form a mass aboveground at the base of the tree.
As the old roots die and new ones take their place, the tree actually ‘moves’! In many years’ time, it will have moved about half a foot! Cris also pointed out a ficus tree with its light colored bark and spreading base.
We didn’t see any animals except birds, including a mockingbird – no monkeys!
We continued our climb and ended at a butterfly garden. Cris said they’d be attracted to us, because they can detect salt and sweet and might land on us to partake of our sweat! There was a butterfly that somewhat resembled the large blue morpho of the Amazon rainforest. This one, however, was smaller and its blue disappeared when it posed and closed its wings. The back of the wings provides good camouflage because they are mottled brown and black with a large circle resembling an eye on each side.
Cris said about a group of yellow butterflies flying together that when they fly in a line like that, it is males chasing females! Another pretty butterfly was a small black one with orange spots.
On the way back, Cris asked us if we knew the three top industries of Costa Rica. Surprisingly, coffee is NOT the most important industry. In fact, bananas are actually a bigger export than coffee. Here are Costa Rica’s 3 top industries:
1. Technology, including medical devices, which provides 30,000 jobs and most managers are women; and Intel, which is a big corporation here.
3. Agricultural products: sugar cane, bananas, coffee, orchids and pineapples
Someone on the tour remarked that we hadn’t really walked “in the clouds.” I explained that the highest elevation ecosystem is called a “cloud forest” with its own species. You can’t tell that now, because it’s hot and dry now, but in the rainy season, it’s much cooler in the higher elevations and with the amount of moisture in the air, you do feel as though you’re walking “in the clouds.” (Actually, quite literally, you are.)
Our final stop was at a shopping center/restaurant called El Jardín. In the back were beautiful landscaped gardens.
The exterior walls of the shops and restaurants were brightly painted with colorful murals of scenes and animals typical of Costa Rica.
We had fifteen minutes there, to sample Costa Rican coffee and liqueurs and take pictures or shop. I spent only about a minute looking at the gardens – unusual for me – because I was shopping! I was excited to find Café Britt products! I bought coffee (not Britt – too expensive!) and Britt chocolate covered guava. Also a small package of white chocolate covered coffee beans, which Dale and I snacked on. By the end of the day, they were gone!
We returned to the port of Puntarenas and the dock leading to our ship, where we encountered women dressed in feathered costumes who were dancing to the beat of a percussion band.
*saudades – a Portuguese word expressing a deep longing or nostalgia, a feeling of sweet sadness
V is for Vacation, a teacher’s favorite word! I admit that having summers off was an incentive for me to go into teaching. However, teaching is way too challenging and exhausting for that to be the appeal for long!
Teachers look forward to their vacations as much as their students do. Most schools in the U.S. have three vacation periods a year: 2 weeks for the holidays, 1 week in early spring, and 2 months in summer. Each one of these vacations is a chance to relax and rejuvenate, but summer represents the transition from the old to the new. By this time each year, everyone at school is anticipating the start of vacation. Kids are antsier than normal and teachers tend to have a more relaxed attitude too.
What exactly do we spend our summer vacations doing? Often students are asked to write “What I did on my summer vacation” paragraphs when they first go back to school in the fall. If I as a teacher were writing that, what would I say?
In the early years of teaching, we often spend our summers taking classes, perhaps working toward a graduate degree. In my case, I took classes required for ESL and bilingual teaching certification. The first one I took was a survey course, and it was held in Oaxaca, Mexico – a nice way to combine work and pleasure!
Some teachers will teach summer school or tutor students for part of the summer. Some get other part-time jobs to supplement their income. When my husband was teaching at a Chicago high school, these jobs helped boost his “strike fund” – extra money put aside in case there was a strike and thus a period of not being paid.
Some teachers will just stay home and relax, catch up on sleep and do home-based projects that they never could get to during the school year. Maybe do some gardening, painting, cleaning out closets, whatever.
Of course, the vacations I most look forward to were those during which I got to travel!
Here are the trips I took during my vacation periods:
March 2001 (spring break) – Cuba with my mother Every summer – our cottage in Northern Wisconsin
July 2003 – Oaxaca, Mexico with others taking a graduate course required for ESL/bilingual education
July-Aug. 2004 – 5 weeks study abroad & homestay in Costa Rica, with my son (took Spanish and a Costa Rican culture course).
June, 2005 (5 days) – Arizona for high school reunion, (where my husband met my two best friends from high school), and visit to my aunt & uncle in Prescott
June 2006 (2 weeks) – another high school reunion and sightseeing in Arizona, followed by a week in Seattle, WA where we had a family reunion of sorts with my husband’s family
Aug. 2007 (5 days) – San Francisco, with my husband, sister & brother-in-law, for an aunt’s memorial
July 2008 – (12 days) Peru – (with a tour company) see elsewhere in this blog for my complete journal of that trip.
July 2009 – (10 days) Hawaii, to visit my husband’s sister & tour Oahu with a short hop to Maui
July 2010 (4 1/2 weeks) Spain – (study abroad) see elsewhere in this blog for my complete journal of that trip. June-July 2012 – (road trip) ancestors tour to Ohio and Indiana, visit
June-July 2013 – road trip to Texas to visit a high school friend, also visited Memphis, TN.
Late March 2014 (1 week) – road trip to South Carolina, Hilton Head, and Savannah, GA. Thus I’ve managed to take some kind of trip almost every year during my teaching career! I plan to continue traveling as often as possible during retirement, but it could be at any time of year – stay tuned!
This summer will seem like any other summer, except that we have sold our cottage, so next weekend is our last trip up there. I don’t think I’ll feel “retired” until school starts again in August and I won’t be going back!
For me, the summer of 2015 marks the end of an era.