Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye, 2011

2011 was a busy year work-wise, and the first year in a long time that I did not leave the States for at least a month.  This will most definitely be remedied in 2012.  2011 marked our first full year in Baltimore, which was overall decent, but nothing fabulous.  My husband was able to renew his residency without any problems (but with a lot of stress on my part) and should be able to apply for citizenship this year, God and the government willing.  2011 was surviving a lifestyle that neither one of us likes, and wishing we were back in El Salvador or Colombia, depending on who you asked.  In the end, both of us realize that it's Baltimore for the time being, and that Maryland was actually a fabulous choice (thanks again, all you UMBC people who convinced me).

In addition to teaching at school, I also led a 18-week online course through the RELO office in Lima, and went to Peru to give workshops for several weeks in the summer.  This was a fabulous experience, but the next time I go to Peru I want it to be for vacation (or to live)!

On the El Sal side, we started the process of adopting our niece, only to lose her to violence in September.  The last couple months of 2011 were ones of mourning and readjusting our plans for the upcoming years.

And so 2012, here we go.  My resolutions....
  1.  Get my recertification classes out of the way so I can get on with my doctorate!
  2. Convince Cincinnati friends to move to the DC/Baltimore area.
  3. Reclaim my car so I can go exercise.  Walking to the rec is unsafe and somewhat unreliable.  Find yoga studio.  Go.
  4. Spend less time lesson planning.
  5. Save money to buy a house.
  6. Help husband study for citizenship test.
  7. Go to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala and/or Nicaragua this summer.  Present at conferences, but don't get suckered into working. Find nice hamaca on a beach and stay there.
  8. Start volunteering someplace on a regular basis.f
  9. Find people to hang out with in Baltimore (2011 was boring in that respect).  Force husband to go to culture events, or go by myself.  
  10. Go back to Central Ohio to visit family and Cincy to see friends (see number 2).
  11. Get mother-in-law's tourist visa.
  12. Make a larger dent in student loans (this is where teaching was not such a great choice). 

And, the 11 favorites of 2011:
Hiking around Maryland

Wild ponies!  One childhood dream accomplished.

Erin learns Salvadorans are Salvadorans wherever they live, and
that Venezuelans are well-behaved.

Arequipa, Peru...simply delicious

My fabulous Peruvian teachers

Garden before it went peppers in 2012

Shaven gatita

Spring break in NY

More hiking around Maryland

Niagara Falls, frozen, after Justin and Lisa's wedding

TESOL in New Orleans.  I loved New Orleans!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Lima Again

I spent the second part of this trip to Peru working, working, working in Lima (not Lima, Ohio btw).  These were interesting days to be there, since July 28th was independence day and the inauguration of president-elect Ollanta Humala.  I caved in and paid for a Mirabus tour of Lima at night, which was honestly not worth it since I happened to pick the same night that they re-inaugurated the national stadium, complete with a visit from the Peruvian soccer team, who recently placed 3rd in the Copa America.  This resulted in lots of crazy Peruvians roaming the streets dressed in their red and white (and earlier, way too much honking of car horns).  Congrats to them, but ugggh to the noise!  The tour went through Miraflores to the centro historico of Lima, where we got to see the Palacio de Gobierno, the catheral, plaza de armas, plaza de San Martin, and other buildings where we didn't even stop long enough to take pictures.  There was also an hour-long stop at the Circuito Mágico del Agua, part of the Parque de la Reserva, where they've spent I don't remember how many millions of dollars creating a complex of fountains that are lit up at night.  I couldn't help but wonder, in a city of 10 million people, if they all have running water in their houses.  I'm betting not.  Anyways, it'd be a nice place to visit when there are less soccer fans around and when you're not being herded by a tour.
Plaza de Armas and the cathedral

Plaza de San Martin


Monday, July 25, 2011

Arequipa Tastiness

After almost a year of not traveling to Latin America, my first workshop stop in Peru was Arequipa.
The best part about Arequipa?  The food!  How long had it been since I'd walked down a street and felt forced to stop at a restaurant because it smelled so delicious?  The last I remember is Chicken Rico in Highlandtown (which not coincidentally is Peruvian), and although it's good, holds no candle to the food in Arequipa.  I was warned about the good food by the lady sitting next to me for several hours at the gate in Miami.  All of that weight I lost while my husband was on vacation, let's just say it came back in the four days.  I had my first meal watching Peru beat Colombia in the Copa America, seco de cordero.  So big that I didn't eat dinner, although at 2300 meters digestion was not an easy feat to accomplish.    

Alfajores, with chocolate from La Iberica in the background that didn't last very long

The second best part of Arequipa, known as the "white city," is the fact that it is beautiful.  The view of the mountains, the volcano, all combined with buildings made out of sillar, a white volcanic rock. I spent a morning in the Santa Catalina monastery,  which covers various blocks in the centro histórico of Arequipa.  Even the airport was made of sillar.  I'd forgotten how dry it is there (flew through last year as well), how hard the sun hits (the teachers I worked with were complaining about the rising rate of skin cancer there), and the fact that buildings are not heated.  It was a great place to try out my new alpaca coat!

Shout out to Peruvian Airlines and the flight back to Lima.  The captain was a great tour guide!  And thanks for not charging me more as a foreigner than you would for a Peruvian (unlike LAN). 

View of El Misti from the plaza de Yanahuara
Entrance into Santa Catalina

Looking down into Santa Catalina

Plaza de armas

View from the airport

Friday, June 03, 2011

2 Weeks Left

The end of my first year teaching with Baltimore City Public Schools is quickly coming to an end.  I'm glad to be back in a job that I enjoy, even though I'm definitely ready to have a lesson planning break.  Maybe some day I'll redeem my Sundays from my all-day planning sprees. 

This summer I won't be traveling as much as I'm used to, but I will be going to Peru for two weeks as an English Language Specialist and teaching another online course that stretches into October.  And who knows, maybe I'll break down and use all those Taca/Avianca miles I've been hording to head off to Honduras with the esposo (or maybe I'll save them until next year when I've vowed to actually take a vacation).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

TESOL 2011 Convention in New Orleans

Five years after the first TESOL Convention I attended in Tampa, I finally managed to attend another one!  They've been in inconvenient, boring, or expensive cities in the time between, but New Orleans was worth the wait.  I was curious to see if it reminded me of Barranquilla (it did).

As far as TESOL goes, I was able to see friends and presenters from all over the world, network more than I have anywhere offline in a long time, and get lots of new ideas, in particular about online education.  The only downside was that I didn't learn much that's applicable to my current teaching situation.  All but one of the K-12 workshops that I went to were basically a waste of time, even when the presenters were BNIFs. I was also disappointed that I never made it to the Electronic Village sessions, which I really enjoyed in Tampa.  I had wanted to meet all of the wonderful teachers I learned with in Second Life this winter, but it wasn't meant to be. 

The convention left me wanting to go back to school again and to be connected to a uni again somehow.  We'll see.  Once the husband finishes his classes, doctorate here I come!  For now, it's back to online teacher training and summer trips.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Adventures in Second Life

During January and February this year, like every year, I took a free online course from TESOL, VILLAGE 11.  This year I finally got around to learning how to use the Second Life avatar that I created years ago when I was working in Barranquilla.  I was able to see many different ways to use SL for language learning and teaching, as well as (somewhat) master how to move around SL, control camera and views, go shopping, and build basic objects.  I still have a lot to learn, but taking this course really opened my eyes to a whole new "world" of learning and exploring. 

In a classroom in Arachon

Dancing at the VILLAGE closing party.

Learning to use Builder's Buddy

Without a Head in MacBeth

A newer, better dressed incarnation of Chelita

At the Museum of Natural History

Touring Language Lab

The Globe Theatre in Language Lab

At the Great Wall of China

Learning how to pose and take pics

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The 10 Best of 2010

Feliz 2011

My husband and I decided not to go anywhere for Christmas break this year.  It's been nice being lazy and doing whatever I want, but I realized that the last time I hadn't gone anywhere for Christmas was probably freshman year of high school.  A bit strange, to say the least.  I've done a lot of traveling and moving in the past 15 years, and an enormous amount in the past 4.  It was about time for a rest, I suppose.  I've also decided that I'm about done sending Christmas cards.  Facebook and email is so much easier and cost efficient.  

Baltimore has been good to both of us so far, and is already starting to feel like home.  I love my job teaching ESOL in Baltimore City Public Schools, and Edwin enjoys interpreting and translating for the school system.  We've been here since September, and are both glad to be here after a rather lousy start in North Carolina.  There's yummy Greek food across the street and basically anything that we could want from El Salvador except 80 degree Decembers and the beach within walking distance. 

What I'm looking forward to in 2011 (not exactly resolutions, but things that I'm going to do or would like to get done):
  1. Start saving for a down payment on a house.  Rent is ridiculous and a mortgage would be cheaper.  
  2. Go to big TESOL in New Orleans.
  3. Teach online again, and maybe go back to Peru.
  4. Be in Roatan or Colombia or at least El Salvador this time next year.
  5. Make myself run again, since zumba and yoga aren't cutting it.
  6. Vow to shop at the markets instead of the "super"markets.
  7. Present at Maryland TESOL next fall.
  8. Find more gringo food that Edwin will actually eat.  
  9. Start volunteering again...hasn't been the same since I left Cincinnati. 
  10. Write!  I started this year, but fell off the train when I had to go back to lesson plan world.