Thursday, February 21, 2008

If my friends hiked into a volcano... I would too.

A lot of times when I want to do something I'll kind of look into it, talk about it some, but then never really get out there and do it, but my St Maarten BFF Eleya is just the opposite. When she says, "I'm going to go to Puerto Rico to go to Wal-Mart" you can bet she'll be on a plane there by the week-end.

So the other day we were all eating dinner and Eleya and Stacy were like, "Hey, lets go to Statia this weekend! You in?". An 8 hour hike up and into an ancient volcano? Wouldn't miss it! So early Friday morning I found myself running- literally running in my new hiking boots- alongside Eleya to the airport so we could hop on the tiny plane that was headed to Statia. It was the smallest aircraft I've ever been in. Seriously, I've been in buses bigger than this thing. (When I get my camera software in working order you can expect a vid of the exhilerating approach and landing on the little island.)

We stayed in a nice little hotel that was really just a house with a few additional bedrooms built on the back. The hike was AMAZING! It was a fairly technical hike, with a good bit of bouldering along the Mazinga trail. We got up at daybreak to get an early jump on the thing, and got back down off the volcano just as the sun set. The scariest thing to me was the snakes. Indiana Jones would have hated it. There were snakes EVERYWHERE. I lost count after two dozen. They were all the same kind of snakes- non-poisonous red belly racers. Even though you know they're not poisonous they're still terrifying because some of them are HUGE, and they're not just on the ground. I reached out my hand to grab a tree to help pull me up a steep rock wall, and a giant snake hung down off the branch right in front of my face. If my friends hadn't of been there, I probably would've jumped off the mountain.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

un fathom able

I'm so bummed because one of my favorite restaurants has closed down. Fathom's had the best fish and chips anywhere on the island, but for the past month their doors have been locked. I had hoped they were just taking an ever so European month long break, but now I've been told they actually ARE closed for good. We had so many good times there, it's sad to know I can never eat there again. Then again, now that I think about it, it's only a couple months until I move, then there will be lots of places I won't be visiting again. :( A pic from last year playing hooks at Fathoms with our now off-island friends Mark and Sharon, and their adorable daughter Faith.

A Couple More Collages

I've been pretty busy this week, but I still made time to make a couple more collage paintings using pages from the old Bible. My favorite one so far is on a small canvas. It's of a dove holding an olive branch. I only let the Bible show through on the wings. I thought it turned out well. I couldn't get a very good picture of the other one- it's not really so dark in real life.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I was cleaning out the cabinets at Camp Blank, and I found a really dirty old Bible that didn't have a cover, and was missing half its pages. The remaining pages were just barely held together with a few strings. I asked what I should do with it, and they said to just throw it out.... so I keep it of course! The pages are so yellowed and aged. Here are a couple paintings I made using its pages.

Trashman's Truck Wake-up Service

I woke up this morning to what sounded like a fog horn. It lasted for about 40 minutes. After a while I was fully awake, even though I hadn't planned on waking up that early, and I started to ponder what it could be: A rudimentary burglar alarm perhaps? It sounded too close to be coming from the bay. It sounded like someone was blaring a foghorn in my front yard. After the thought occurred to me that perhaps that's what a dutch fire alarm sounds like I got out of bed to investigate. Indeed, it WAS coming from my front yard, or rather the road that runs directly in front of my apartment. My millionaire neighbor had parked his Land rover halfway in the street, and the friendly neighborhood garbageman couldn't get his ginormous truck through the already tiny, but now half-filled street, and, using logic befitting his social status, had decided to just lay on the horn. I pulled on a tee and some gym shorts and headed out to see if I could assist the driver in backing out and going the other way, since, to me at least (and a handful of other residents of my building who had begun congregating on their porches to communally grumble about the unexpected wake up call) it was obvious no one was home at the Land rover's house. "Hi!" I said, "Do you need help backing up?". "No. No." replied the half bald Rastafarian, as he scratched one of the remaining dreds that hung off the back of his head. "He need be moving dis ting, I no gonna be backing up de road." "Um, I don't think anyone is home here." I said. "Oh, dey be home, I see dem movin in der." He answered so definitely I headed back to my apartment. I put on my mp3 player to drown out the continuing drone of the garbage man's horn, but even Stellar Kart turned all the way up couldn't get rid of the sound completely, so I ate some toast over the sink, watching out the window to see what would happen. Finally an embarrassed looking housekeeper emerged from the offenders' gates and shyly climbed into the gargantuan SUV. I have never seen anyone start a car so slowly. I thought for sure she must be diffusing a bomb in there until finally I saw it lurch forward a little bit, then slowly crawl forward with the scared looking housekeeper at the wheel. It continued it's steady crawl until finally it was past the house gates and out of the way. All down the street people went back into their houses. I went back to bed. The above painting is a poster I made of my favorite quote. Seriously, it's true for pretty much every decision I've ever made in my life.

Fun Camp Facts!

I haven't been as good at keeping up this blog as I have been at others, so this week I am going to try to take some time to recap all the things I skipped writing about.

Howsabout some fun facts about Camp Blank? Ya? ok!

Camp Blank was started by M. Solomons, who originally tutored the illegal kids in her neighborhood who weren't allowed to go to school, the demand became so great, she rented a building, asking a small monthly fee (bear in mind that even public schools charge monthly fees.)

Most of the books are donations from churches and sometimes schools that have upgraded their own books.

My class is actually a combination of grades 1, 2, and 3. (I split them into groups, and work with each group individually)

The kids in my class are 7, 8, and 9 years old.

Some of the kids in my class don't, nay, didn't speak any english. It's taken a LOT of work and patience, but I am so proud of how far along my two Dominican boys have come. Seriously, they went from the absolute most mischievious to the most helpful.

In my class alone, there are students from Haiti, Columbia, Africa, Dominica, Santo Domingo, Guyana, Suriname, and Jamaica.

Guyanese kids are AMAZING. They must have the best schools EVER- they are so advanced and well mannered. I have never met a Guyanese kid that wasn't completely respectful.

Camp Blank is a big building with only a couple rooms. We split up the two big rooms with book shelves and cabinets, so each class has kind of it's own space, but it can be hard to teach over the other classes' noise.

We have no electricity- but we get plenty of light through the big glassless windows... but when it rains we get wet.

There isn't any running water- if you have to use the bathroom, you first must go outside and fill up a bucket with water to flush the toilet with.

There isn't a cafeteria, the "vice principal" cooks lunch over a kerosene stove- rice and some kind of meat (mmmm... yellow rice w/ curry goat). You eat at your desk, or out in the yard.

There isn't any playground equipment for the kids to play with... but we play games with whatever we have (tag, timebomb, telephone, scavenger hunts, etc.)

Every day there begins with at least a half hour of devotion in the big room. The older kids take turns leading worship. I was kind of shocked by how many verses some of the kids could recite off the top of their head- some of them knew more than me!

The kids are fantastic. period.

I wish I could do more to help out the school than just teach. A little financial assistance would really go a loooong way. I've racked my brain for ways to come up with money, but I can't think of anything that wouldn't compromise the school's "undergroundness". It's important for us to stay under the radar- if anything should happen to make us stand out in any way, the goverment would have us (and likely the other illegal schools) shut down in a heartbeat, and hundreds of kids would be back on the street... or worse.