A Travellerspoint blog

A Quick Panamanian Coffee

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***You can find this blog with more photos here at this link.***

The key to this global soul, for everyone lay entirely in perception; it was not so much that man had been exiled from the Garden as that he had ceased to notice that it was all around him. - Pico Iyer

"Scuba Steve, you want to go to Colombia in March?"

"Sure, but I have to be back by Thursday, March 22nd."

"That works for me. I should probably ask my wife first."

It was set.

That was the amount of extensive planning involved in a quick jaunt to the home of Pablo Escobar, Shakira, Ferdinand Botero, and the FARC.

We both booked flights and hotel with the modern convenience of miles and points in this contemporary world for the Western traveler. Scuba Steve scheduled a more direct flight, Tulsa - Dallas - Cartagena, and I traveled the meandering route of Omaha - Denver - Panama City - Cartagena that started Saturday and concluded Sunday.

As I touched down at Tocumen International Airport early Sunday morning, an airport experiencing painful transformations to compete in the 21st century as a major travel hub. I took the six-hour early morning layover as an opportunity to explore. I boarded a shared taxi with a Panamanian / Seattle couple returning from their 8th anniversary to the Maldives (bucket list spot). The driver dropped them off at their luxury apartment overlooking Panama Bay and soon dropped me off in the old town, Casco Antiguo.

I had previously visited Panamá eight years ago in 2010 with 24 eager high school students, so the district wasn't novel, but like waistlines, things change, and I wanted to observe any transformations. Fortunately, Casco Antiguo appeared more developed, well-kept, and even included a highway that skirts over the water around Casco Antiguo.

This time, I was solo and awkwardly disembarked with two day packs, entered the nearby Casa Sucre café, and slid up to the front past a mature French couple talking and even older wooden chairs to order a coffee at the wooden counter.

I set out talking in Spanish with the short, tan guy behind the bar, but immediately noticed his choppy response. Like every traveler abroad, I asked him the obligatory first question you ask anyone before you even know their name, "Where are you from?"

"Kansas City," he responded simply.

What? I come all the way to Panamá, albeit briefly, and a guy from Kansas City serves my coffee. Where's the novelty in that?

This guy may well be the sixty year old version of me. His wife, a retired K.C. high school principal, along with himself, had set out on a new adventure after retirement. They were a piece of the mosaic restoring Casco Antiguo from earlier decrepitude. Why not open a coffee shop and B&B two blocks from Palacio de las Garzas, home to the current Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela.

I ambled out with a bounce in my step from a cup of Panamanian coffee and pure excitement and anticipation of travel, despite 45 minutes of interrupted plane sleep.

In a pace that was deliberate but not frantic, I slalomed up and down the cobble stone streets in search of an outlet to the new Cinta Costera, a thoroughfare circling the congestion of the old town. It accorded me the freedom to stretch my legs next to a triathlon taking place on the road.

Through my meandering, I met Nacho. He offered to drive me back to the airport at a fair price. I agreed. We traded friendly banter about the weather, Noriega, family, the subsequent U.S. invasion in 1989 in which Nacho had trained with the Marines, travel, the current state of his homeland all while his radio blared the local Evangelical pastor challenging the congregation and listeners alike, "¿Crees que Dios te proviene todo?" The crowd's trepid response pushed him to bellow out his question with even more fervor, ¿"Crees que Dios te proviene todo?" explicitly guiding followers to the correct response with the same ardor.

The passionate sermon must have struck a cord with Nacho. As we approached an intersection, Nacho slowed the taxi, hastily rolled down the window, and exclaimed to the woman in a miniskirt crossing the street, "¡Oye mamí! ¿Cómo estás?" He subsequently dunked his head back in the vehicle, commented, "¡Qué rica!", and continued towards Tocumen International Airport with the sermon accompanying us on our journey back to Tocumen.

At Gate A30, I boarded the Copa Airlines plane ready to deliver 180 souls to Cartagena, Colombia, the former Spanish colonial heart of South America.

Posted by TulsaTrot 20:08 Archived in Panama Tagged panama panama_city casco_antiguo Comments (0)

A Cayman Bucket List

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View 2014 on TulsaTrot's travel map.

There are a two instances while traveling or living abroad that really light a fire under your ass to get moving.

That first moment that really gets you rolling is when you first arrive to that new location. You must experience everything unknown and you relish life in an acute way. It’s that National Geographic phase of travel. “Geez, those pink flowers sure are beautiful!” “What do you know, there are rare iguanas just soaking up sun in the middle of the road. How quaint!” “That is amazing, look at all these free range chickens hanging out next to the trash cans without a care in the world.”

Eventually, that National Geographic stage just wears you out like a New Mexican police report. You start taking naps, lounging around the hotel room, maybe stare at the chlorinated water splashing around the pool instead of making the epic 50 foot walk over to that big, beautiful, sandy beach. This stage eventually passes too . . . shortly before you leave.

You hit the third stage. You realize you have a limited amount of time before you return. You make immediate plans for the following morning to beat the crowds to the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens that are teeming with blue iguanas (truly rare). . .

  • ** To read the rest of the blog entry, please go to www.tulsatrot.com. I will post all of my blog entries at this site***

Posted by TulsaTrot 18:47 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands grand_cayman Comments (0)

Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Inca Trail

Some places leave a mark on your soul, Perú and Machu Picchu are two such places.

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  • **I have moved the majority of my blog to www.tulsatrot.com. You can read the entire blog there***

Fourteen years ago I served as a volunteer in Perú and it had been 11 long years since my last visit. This last week, I was fortunate enough to return to the country that left a lasting impression and benefited me and my family ever since.

Setting foot back in the land of the Incas was a professional trip in nature, presenting and attending the 2016 AASSA Educators’ Conference in Lima at Colegio Roosevelt.

That doesn’t mean it was all business, there was some pretty amazing amusement to be had as well. A few days prior to the start of our AASSA conference, our Cayman International School staff made a little ol’ side trip over the Andes to the cradle of the Inca civilization, Cusco and Machu Picchu. We had just enough time to complete a two-day hike on the Inca Trail (it really was just a one-day hike with a second day to run around Machu Picchu) with our great guide Casiano from Llama Path.

Below you will find some of my favorite photos (a location a bit more desirable to visit than New Mexico).

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  • **I have moved the majority of my blog to www.tulsatrot.com. You can read the entire blog there***

Posted by TulsaTrot 20:58 Archived in Peru Tagged peru machu_picchu inca_trail cusco_peru wiñyawayna Comments (0)

I've been Scalped!

And by my own students!

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But hey at least it was for a good cause.

Last week, I mentioned that I was raising money for the Children of Haiti Project, a charity that helps provide education for 50 kids all the way through high school. A group that otherwise would not have access to education.

As planned, homerooms raised money all week. Some were a bit more innovative than others and proved to be more successful. There was not a lack of creativity by the student body on how to shape my hair.

Mohawk with side ponytails.

Avatar colored blue.

Bald spot with a monk cut around the sides.

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In the end, students raised a total of C.I. $620 (US $750) that will be donated directly to the non-profit organization.

At the beginning of our school assembly, I announced that Mr. James' homeroom had won and I swiftly headed back to the temporary barber shop. Robyn from Studio V figured out what crazy style the winning group of students wanted and went to work.

In an instant, a hand pulled a massive handful of hair high above my head that took three years to grow and withstood the constant disapproval of Nadine and Sophie, and it was gone like that! Some sheering here, teasing there, and I was a teacher ready to test my students and their ability to focus in class.

My daughter's initial reaction when she saw me afterwards, "Ewww, you look like a girl!" Well, if I looked like a girl, it would be one from the 80's and that would still be one ugly girl with a butchered haircut. I think the more accurate description of my coiffure would be an early 90's Billy Ray Cyrus mullet.

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The rest of the day, I graced the hallways and Spanish classroom with a flowing mullet. It wasn't as wild and crazy as expected and not bad enough to be an obvious joke. Thus, when I went to pick up lunch at a local sub shop, no one quite looked at it with suspicion as much as pity for sporting such a harebrained hairstyle.

By end of the day, it was time to take my relationship with my mullet to a new level, but not until I had coached at Domino's t-ball practice. After the hour and a half practice, I drove to Studio V to bid a permanent adieu to my doo.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=

Posted by TulsaTrot 19:17 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands fundraiser scalped children_of_haiti_project Comments (0)

A Single Mullet can Help the Children of Haiti

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Three years ago I arrived to the Cayman Islands with very short hair.

Ever since, I haven’t cut my hair. Month by month it has grown and grown and grown and my wife has grown tired of a husband with a “man bun”.

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Well, these long blond curls need to hit the road and help someone along the way.

The Children of Haiti Project was created after the 2010 earthquakes. The Children of Haiti Project’s stated mission is “to provide learning opportunities to children in Haiti with limited or no access to formal education, through the collective support and leadership of international schools, international institutions, and individuals worldwide. Our goal is to nurture each child’s intellectual, ethical, social and physical growth, that each may become a positive, contributing member of the Haitian community.” Their aspirations are to #1) Support 50 children in a full academic program to completion of a secondary education and #2) Support continuous cohorts of children to become literate in reading and writing to at least a 12-year-old level.

For the last two years, Cayman International School has supported the Children of Haiti Project. Our entire staff has helped this mission in some manner. A group of teachers is traveling to Haiti over our March spring break to help out with the mission.

How am I going to help children in Haiti? Well, I am going to get a haircut!

“John, how is cutting your curly afro going to actually help children in Haiti?” you may be asking yourself.

Well, I am going to allow the most responsible and creative people on campus to cut it . . . the students. And they get to decide how to cut it. What could possibly go wrong?

The homeroom that raises the most funds will be announced during our Friday morning assembly. At the outset, we will announce the winner and during the assembly in a top-secret place, the coaches office, I will get a fresh new look. Af for the rest of the school day, I will wear a unique hair style.

What kind of haircut? ***To read the rest of this amazing post, please go to www.tulsatrot.com and enjoy a few more photos as well***

Posted by TulsaTrot 19:33 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands mullet Comments (0)

Breakfast in Bed - Kids Style

Yes, Coors Light is a Breakfast Food

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This morning, I am sprawled across the bed in a deep sleep the morning after taking Dominic camping overnight at Starfish Point. Needless to say, I'm a bit exhausted.

Suddenly, the bright orange earplugs crammed in my ears let the serenading of Harry Connick Jr.'s "It's starting to look like Christmas" pass past its rubbery exterior. I am befuddled and wondering what the heck my kids are up to.

Initially I was aggravated to be woken up, since sleep is a fleeting resource that becomes more endangered with each subsequent child, yet I squint to see seated to the side of the mattress Sophie and Domino and they have big beautiful smiles on their faces.

In their sincere thoughtfulness, the ankle biters decided to make me breakfast in bed. There laid out next to me was a beautiful array food. Not what some would consider "normal" breakfast foods.

Spread out before me in front . . . read the rest of the blog entry at www.tulsatrot.com

Posted by TulsaTrot 16:56 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands breakfast_in_bed great_kids Comments (0)

Cuba Bureaucracy - Slow Steps

Lesson #2 - Cuba Talks Nimbly, but Moves Nonchalantly

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I glided into the government-run money exchange office in Old Havana to convert my last Euros to CUC. The guard motioned me to booth #6. Seated behind the poorly lit faux wood desk was a female employee dressed in an exhausted gray suit chatting with her coworker. She took no interest in the fact that I was standing in front of her.

With a big, relaxed Texas grin I said, “Muy buenos días señora, ¿cómo está hoy?”

At this point, she apathetically turned towards me and glanced in my direction.

She didn’t respond, she just stared through my face and to her thoughts.

Being a big fan of common courtesy and actually acknowledging people’s existence, I repeated my friendly greeting, “Pues, ¿cómo le va hoy?”

She continued staring through my soul and maybe to her evening plans.

Vanquished to the fact that my Texas charm wasn’t going to work with this communist female government employee that day, I got straight to the point, “What is the exchange rate between CUCs and Euros?”

She mumbled an exchange rate as she glanced back at her co"chatter". Not wanting to relive the rejection of college girlfriends and me being needy and insistent on actually being acknowledged, I just turned and ran into the arms of my wife on the warm Cuban sun-drenched pedestrian street outside.

She probably hadn’t realized I had left.

That was my second real interaction with Cuban bureaucracy.

Posted by TulsaTrot 18:36 Archived in Cuba Tagged cuba old_havana cuc cuba_bureaucracy cuban_pesos Comments (0)

Returning to my Peruvian Ceviche Past

A Peruvian Ceviche Inspired Field Trip

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One of the great characteristics of working at Cayman International School and living on an island with approximately 55,000 inhabitants representing 140 nationalities is that there are great teaching opportunities waiting immediately around the corner, literally.

As a world language teacher, I hunt for means to have students to leave the confines of our classroom either physically or digitally and connect with that big, beautiful global community out there waiting to be explored. And anytime to connect my students with Perú, the country where I spent a year volunteering is even better.

Today was one of those fortunate opportunities. Fortuitously, I found through a student two Peruvian chefs willing to share a bit of their remarkable country. This field trip just happened to be at the local Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel.

The grandeur of the lobby loomed overhead with our arrival and six-foot tall ginger bread Christmas trees and chocolate villages greeted us. We headed upstairs to the kitchen with trays of ingredients laid out to prepare Peruvian ceviche. The Peruvian chefs had . . .

Posted by TulsaTrot 18:24 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged peru cayman_islands field_trip ritz_carlton peruvian_ceviche Comments (0)

Running the Chicago Marathon with Big Shoulders

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***This blog as well as other entries can be found at www.tulsatrot.com***

Time helps ease the pain, or at least forget the pain.

My first encounter with this Greek tradition called the marathon was the Music City Marathon in Nashville back in April of 2004. It kicked my butt and didn't even remember my name. That is why I prefer to stick to half that distance like the Cayman Islands Half Marathon.

Fast forward to 2015. A solid 11 years to forget what it's like to run 26.2 miles.

My CIS colleague Robyn Lynn suckered me with a nice innocent smile and the offer to run a race with her. What race you might ask yourself. Well, it's none other than the Chicago Marathon.

On a predicted brisk Chicago morning, I am going to repeat the thrill of running a marathon with 45,000 of my closest running friends.

Let's step back a bit. Before I do anything in life, like brushing my teeth, going the bathroom, applying for a credit card, purchasing life insurance, I check in with the boss of the house.

When I asked the omnipotent wife Nadine about the race, she quickly retorted, "Yeah, you should do it, because you're a grump when you don't exercise. Also, you should run for a charity!"  

I figured it was time that I start thinking of others.  

I found the Big Shoulders Fund on the Chicago Marathon website.  "The mission of the Big Shoulders Fund is to provide support to the Catholic schools who serve the poor and disadvantaged in the neediest parts of inner-city Chicago."  

Three friends of mine had worked with Big Shoulders Fund schools. I asked my University of Tulsa and Christian Brothers friends Morgan, Susan, and Rene, who also live in Chicago, if they had had any experience with the organization.  They said it was a great organization that did indeed help the Catholic schools of inner-city Chicago. I was sold.  

So, I am hoping to raise funds through my training and running of the Chicago Marathon, Cayman Islands Half Marathon, and the Mercuryman Triathlon to help support great people doing great work in Chicago. If you would like to support this in any way, donations can be made at https://bigshouldersfund.ejoinme.org/42917https://bigshouldersfund.ejoinme.org/42917

For every person that makes a donation, I will send you a postcard from the Cayman Islands. Unless of course, you live there, and I will buy you a beer or a glass of wine.

So please help me raise money for the Big Shoulders Fund. 

Many thanks,

John White

Posted by TulsaTrot 18:31 Archived in USA Tagged chicago_marathon Comments (0)

Foggy Impressions of Chile

First Trip the Smoggy Capital

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He who does not travel, who does not read, who does not listen to music, who does not find grace in himself, she who does not find grace in herself, dies slowly.
- Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda

The American Airlines plane altered my surroundings. Summer changed to winter. Clouds and cool weather replaced Caribbean sunshine and warmth. I was in Chile briefly exploring a job opportunity in Santiago.

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The first four days in Santiago and Concón included eating incredible steak at Mestizo by Bicentenario Park, sampling delicious wines at the Veramonte Vineyards, and running along the Pacific coast.

I went down to Chile with a few preconceptions about the world's longest and narrowest country along the western coast of South America. The first one was, Chileans speak the most challenging Spanish to understand in all of Latin America. I found this to be true. Even more arduous than Cuba and Equatorial Guinea. Another preconception was that Chile produces excellent wine. I can attest that they do. The final one was earthquakes occur as often as ESPN mentions LeBron James. That remained inconclusive. Didn't experience one the entire week. One topic that did get my attention was the pollution. While I was there, Santiago issued a state of emergency as a result of the smog suffocating the city. Half of the cars were ordered off of the roads. Citizens were actually encouraged <em>NOT</em> to exercise . . . except for soccer players. Santiago just happened to be hosting the Copa America. Some folks wore masks around the city.

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In regards to Spanish, my opinion about Chilean Spanish formed in 2001. When I was a volunteer with the Irish Christian Brothers, the Brothers sent us to Cochabamba, Bolivia to study Castellano. At the end of our studies and a week to spare, my good buddy Rene and I traveled by bus over three days south to Buenos Aires. Once there, standing in front of the Museo de Bellos Artes, I conversed with a Chilean guy in Spanish.

We talked. We asked the initial generic "we're both travelers here" questions.

“What is your name?”

“Where are you from?”

“How long are you here for?”

“Are New Mexicans as green chile crazy as portrayed on the television show "COPS" Just kidding, no one asks about New Mexico.

You know, pretty basic questions.

Chileans are renowned for dropping the letter “s” from every single word. Actually, dropping the final syllable or two are a trademark of Chilean Spanish. You can only really expect to catch the first syllable or two, but after that point, their mouth becomes tired, and you are left to guess the intended meaning.

Despite my proficiency in the language, I had to make educated guesses to his basic questions because honestly, I only had a vague idea what he was truly saying.

If his question of “What is your name?” was flipped over to English it would sound a little something like “Wha i y na?”

Like a student that never read or even opened a book before the final exam, I responded with the same trepidation and confidence, “My name . . . is . . . John? I think. Sure, I'll go with John.”

Overall, if I were in a position to study Spanish abroad, and there are lots of them out there, the last place would be Chile. I would study in Cuba or the Dominican Republic before Chile. One of the most honest assessments of one's personal language skills and would be to travel the length of Chile starting at the Peruvian border (easier Spanish) all the way down south to Patagonia (most challenging).

On the whole, Santiago appears to be the most modern city I have visited in Latin America, but conversely, also the least friendly. Maybe it is a result of the violent political turmoil during the time of Salvador Allende and Augusto Pinochet, or it could be that they are just not friendly. Their Argentina neighbors to the east experienced a similar period of tumult, but emerged as a happier people. One week wasn't enough time to make a definitive decision.

From the capital, I had Lan Airlines miles burning a hole in my pocket and figured I would use them to explore another corner of Chile. I chose Iquique, partly because of an episode of the Amazing Race filmed there where contestants paraglide over the city. During my brief respite there with the single goal of soaring over the landscape, the winds proved too strong and dangerous to paraglide. My roaming was contained to terra firma.

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It was tough in 2001 in front of the Museo de Bellos Artes and 15 years later having taught Spanish for 9 years and traveled extensively through Latin America, it's still remains a trabalengua.

Posted by TulsaTrot 19:17 Archived in Chile Tagged spanish south_america Comments (0)

Cuba Libre: A Nation in Transition

Lesson #1 - Travel to Cuba in Controversial for Americans

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Lesson #1

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Cuba is controversial. Travel to Cuba is controversial. At least from an American perspective.

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Our first night in La Havana, Cuba, and we just enjoyed a blond beer at La Taberna de la Muralla in la Plaza Vieja. That place is usually packed with patrons waiting in long lines for the best beer in town. We rambled in without a delay. La Plaza Vieja was practically abandoned on this early Thursday evening.

We finally found a taxi willing to drive us out to Vedado. We had to walk out in front of the Capitolio, kilometer zero to any spot on island and a mirror image of the White House.

Riding in the taxi late at night, Horacio is quiet. Then I start peppering him with questions about life in Havana and Cuba. He opens up.

"¿Dónde vive Fidel actualmente?"

"Pues, no one knows where he really lives. We're not sure if he is even alive."

Never scared to ask a question, "So, how is life in Havana?"

"Well," he responded in a Cuban Spanish that is really quick for a country that is so lethargic in its' actions. "The "jefes" make the money. The government keeps the people poor. If we start making too much money, they fine us for random stuff. If we have too many fines, we eventually lose our license, and then we have no job . . .

Please go to www.tulsatrot.com to read the rest of the blog entry with photos and subscribe for future travel posts from around the world.

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Posted by TulsaTrot 09:58 Archived in Cuba Tagged cuba an_american_in_cuba Comments (0)

You Know You're Living in Grand Cayman When . . .

14 Ways to Recognize You Live in the Caribbean

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  • **I am now moving the majority of my blog over to www.tulsatrot.com. Please subscribe to that blog.***

  1. 1
You go out for a simple swim and end up kissing a very large stingray on a nice little patch of sand.

  1. 2
The sports section's lead story is a full-page pictorial of the island flag football league.

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You affectionately refer to friends as Bobo.

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You reach for a fleece when the December temperatures dip into the upper 70's.

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You walk around downtown George Town dressed in pirate gear and it's perfectly acceptable.

  1. 6
Island traffic transforms your normal 12 minute drive home from work to 16 minutes. You subsequently complain about how bad the traffic is getting on the island.

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Sunday brunch is characterized by a three-hour rolling buffet of food and Mimosas.

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You can find the rest of this blog entry here at www.tulsatrot.com.

Posted by TulsaTrot 20:09 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands grand_cayman top_14 Comments (0)

A Tradition as Old as the Greek Olympics

The Cayman Islands Marathon

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Ever since the modern Olympics graced Greece, there has been the Cayman Islands MarathonCayman Islands Marathon.

Back in 2004, this picturesque race got its start. It is both marathon and half marathon along the southern coast of Grand Cayman. Today was the second time that I had completed the race, and Nadine's first time participating. Great weather with a cool breeze made it ideal with water stops manned by local organizations providing entertainment and Gatorade.

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The main storyline of the marathon, other than . . .

If you would like to read the rest of this blog, please head on over to www.tulsatrot.com.

Posted by TulsaTrot 18:36 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands_marathon Comments (0)

Eating Like a Super Model

Thoughts about my time at the ACTFL 2014 Annual Conference

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  • **I am now moving the majority of my blog over to www.tulsatrot.com. Please subscribe to that blog.***

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Even though many languages may be dying out, there is a new one as of November 2014

Like clockwork, the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) holds its annual conference in an exotic locale every November. This year it just happened to be in the great state of Texas.

Here are a few things that I took away from the trip.

My school, Cayman International School, sent me and two colleagues to San Antonio since we're revamping our Spanish curriculum to adopt new textbooks. Our school considers Spanish a core subject and for that reason, it is taught starting with 4 year olds all the way until they graduate as a Senior. It was our responsibility to choose curriculum and materials for the entire Spanish program. It's interesting visiting textbooks companies attending the most important world language teacher conference of the year and not having actual copies of the the textbook they are trying to sell. I was only a business admin minor but that seems like a poor business model to me.

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The ACTFL conference seems a lot like what a Comic-Con might look like, except rather than seeing folks dressed up at Batman and Robin, people are waling around talking foreign languages and wearing nerdy bright green shirts with #LangChat tattered across the front.

The guest speaker was National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths. She has snapped photos across the globe in 150 countries (she has tripled the number I've visited) and uses her positin and exposure to other cultures to make positive changes in the world with a focus on women and children.

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I'm not a foodie by any means, but one thing I was sure looking forward to was eating my fair share of Tex-Mex in San Antonio. Tex-Mex ranks #2 on my list of world foods behind Italian, and slightly ahead of Thai. I would compare to Tex-Mex to Scarlett Johansson and Italian food to Nadine White. My first choice would always be Italian food, but if I wasn't able to go out on a date with Italian, I would definitely try eat some Tex-Mex.

My brother Tim and I enjoyed a great lunch at Las Palapas, home of the best breakfast burrito in the world. I devoured 3 tacos and a gallon of Dr. Pepper and the bill only came out to $8. In Cayman, that would easily come out to $30.

I spent lunch with my former UNO professor and CIS colleagues on the Riverwalk enjoying some delicious chicken fajitas with Mariachi bands serenading everyone along the the water.

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Friday night dinner was pretty unique in that I spent it was three educators from different parts of my professional career: Sarah is a French teacher from Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska; Jessica was a fellow participant in the Uruguay Fulbright Teacher Exchange in 2011; and Emiley is a Spanish teacher at CIS.

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Dinner was at the Belgium bistro La Frite. Any chance to hang out with good people and drink Belgium beers, I'm there man. I had some grilled salmon and veggies, along with rice. This was all accompanied by some mighty fine Belgium beers. First by Triple Karmeliet and then by Kwak. Kwak came in an unique shaped glass and held up by a wooden stand. The glass looked like a large, disproportionate beaker. When the glass was full, it could stand upright on its own, but as beaker lost vital fluids, it became less stable. Towards the end of my Kwak, I was showing the Georgia teachers the shape of the glass and quick as a whip, the last two ounces found its way directly on my crotch. When the waitress came to ask about dinner, I mentioned the instability of the Kwak glass and my wet crotch, and she cheerily stated, "Sorry about that. Let's get you another dear!" And that is how you make Belgium beers mutliply.

After dinner, the entire group walked down the sidewalk giving our food a chance to digest. Emiley mentioned, "You know John, he eats like a super model. Grilled fish, veggies, and rice."

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Posted by TulsaTrot 18:48 Archived in USA Tagged san_antonio_texas actfl actfl_2014_conference kwak belgium_beers foreign_languages Comments (1)

A Premier Graduation

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Cayman International School is a small school. During the 2013-14 academic year, only 500 students attended CIS. That figure includes all the diaper wearing students in preschool up to the textually active 12th graders.

As you might imagine, the 2014 CIS graduation class was not large. Eleven total students in fact. Yet three of these students made history becoming the first students to attend this fine institution from elementary school until graduation.

Like a typical American graduation, students processed to the stage while parents took photos and the instrumental band played your Pomp and Circumstance March. The entire graduating class dressed in shiny bright blue gowns and caps. They fit easily on the wooden stage at the south end of the gym. The number of family members numbered between 100 and 200 souls. The school administration talked about the merits of the class and their accomplishments. Surviving my Spanish class was never mentioned as one of them. Various awards were presented, and at last the keynote speaker was invited to take the stage.

This is where we didn’t follow the script. In general, someone notable from the community extolls the need to dream and do great things in life. Well, our guest speaker just happened to be someone from the community. The keynote speaker was the Premier Alden McLaughlin of the Cayman Islands, McLaughlin. This position is comparable to being the Prime Minister of a country and he was speaking at the high school commencement of 11 students.

When graduation comes for the 2015 class that has practically the same amount of students graduating classes in New Mexican have, 20, how are they going to top this keynote speaker?

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Posted by TulsaTrot 14:24 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged graduation cayman_islands premier_mclaughlin high_school_graduation Comments (0)

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