Sunday, December 14, 2008

The need for Smack...

This week has been a very long one. The week after Mikulas visits and brings the children candy, filling their boots to the brim is not the best one for the teachers. Add to this, having to spend an entire Friday with the children, while the rest of the teachers are off having a staff meeting, information that has once again been deemed not important enough to tell the English teacher. Having to create the yearly English schedule over the last week and a half. Top it off with having a dessert lunch. Dessert lunch is usually the best meal of the week, which is why it has been deemed dessert lunch, but when you mix all the ingredients together, nothing good can be made.

Apart from school, planning Christmas break has taken the lead at many times, mainly because it is less than a week away and Mariapocs will be left for a long time, approximately 2 weeks while Europe is being discovered. So when off to the big city you could understand the need to buy certain items.

Like a package of Smack...it was pretty cheap too!


I did buy some to try so I will let you know how it tastes

Here are some new photos of the kids, Dézi, who started the class around 3 weeks ago and is already almost at the level of the other kids.


Márk and Andor. Márk is supposed to be in my class because he is smart enough, but see if you can figure out why he is in the other class..


Here was lunch on Friday. Donuts, covered with powdered sugar and then, as a dipping sauce, Apricot jam. Who really needs sugar?...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Buckle Up!




Another random observation, made very obvious by the trip to Prague, I guess my town is not set on keeping up with the style. Walking around, day and night, one thing became evident: Boots with a buckle or more are the "in" item this year.

After seeing nearly every woman on the street with these shoes, and needing a pair of boots for the winter that is coming, I went in search of my own buckled boots. I was not willing to spend a good portion of my monthly salary on this item, though they were not that expensive when I think about the prices back home, but I set a strict budget: no more than 500 Czech Koruna (5000 Hungarian Forint or roughly 30 Canadian dollars) after all I will likely only be wearing them for this winter. After judging the styles of boots that the other women had, I was very jealous at some of the chosen footwear, but I could tell one important thing. I needed at least one buckle on my boots.

After doing a lot of walking and passing by many shoe stores, discount and expensive ones, I found a few styles that I liked enough to wear almost every day from now until February. So on our last night and day we finally went into the stores so I could try on these boots. I found a boot that I really loved, but was too small, had no buckle, and was the only pair that was available in the store. We ventured on. The next store, remarkably identical to the one that was about 5 stores down to the left, had the same selection, the same boot but once again in a size that was too small. I also had the feeling that I could never buy a boot that did not have buckles, heaven forbid I would be out of style in my little village! We continued our journey into stores the next morning and I never found the original pair of boots again, but I did find another pair, one that did satisfy the buckle quota as well as the price requirement. After trying them on, and seeing what they look like I determined that they were going to be my buckle boots. I wore them all the way home and was lucky I had them, especially while waiting outside of the train station for two hours in the middle of the night!

Here they are...

Yes they are flats, I don't feel the need to perfect my ability to run in heels, especially considering the abundance of cobblestone roads...
Forgot to mention that I only spent about 18 dollars on them...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Life vs. the little green man...

...and I am not talking about your friendly neighbourhood leprechaun.

One big thing that I have noticed is that as soon as you step out your front door with plans to go anywhere you are taking your life in your own hands. Some towns are very lucky to have streetlights on certain corners, but many are just left with crosswalks. These are clearly marked, but cars will continue to drive by until a person steps off the sidewalk and in front of their path. When they do stop, they are usually less than a foot away from where you are walking. As soon as you finish passing them, and before you are back on the sidewalk, the cars are driving off once again. It is best to create a human shield, if possible, by using a Hungarian walking at the same time, but if this is not possible, then be extra careful and try to make direct eye contact with the drivers to ensure that they see you are crossing in front of them.

For those who are lucky enough to have stoplights, this is where the little green man comes into play.After going to Prague this has become increasingly evident. The tour guide warned that the streetlights do not last long and so pedestrians must run across to make sure that they don't anger the drivers. Crossing at every intersection, the little green man lasts for under 10 seconds, for a walk that would take nearly 20 seconds at a brisk pace, and then traffic begins once again.

Even if you are lucky enough to have the stoplights you need to jog across the street. I do find this quite amusing especially considering all the women in heels that I see walking down the street. Either they never cross the street or they have perfected the talent of running in heels...

Here is the little green man...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas is in the air...

School today was very fun. It is St. Mikulás' Day tomorrow and so it was celebrated today. It is the day that St. Nicolas visits and brings little presents for the children, as well as dark spirits (Krampus), who are there to visit bad children. As I was walking into school this morning I was stopped by nearly 15 girls dressed in black and wearing devil horns. I was told I had to sing a song before I could pass, and so I was told to sing Jingle Bells, at the end of which I was given Christmas candy, salon cukor. The school was blaring Christmas music and the halls were filled with kids just running around. During the first lesson, Santa came into our class, along with his devil companions and started to read off about the children, who was good and who needed to improve. It was amusing to see the children reacting to what was being said and for the most part they looked like deer in headlights. This continued for the the rest of the morning with Santa and the black devils roaming the halls and a huge following of kids trying to figure out where Santa was going. After school was done for the day we had a ceremony. It started with Mass in the church and was followed by my little kids doing a presentation about Christmas, some dressed as snow and others just as children. There was even a snowman and Santa made another appearance. At the end all the children were given bags of candy from Santa. I am not sure who provided the goods, but the priests seemed to be organizing it so I would think it was them. Very generous of them.


Here is Nandy dressed as snow...
You can see Christopher on the left with the bag of candy they got.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Praha 2.0...

Day two, very long and very intense. We rose early enough and made our way over to The castle. It was an interesting hike up a hill and lots of stairs, but the views were amazing. We just spent the day wandering around the hill seeing all that we could. I think we were walking from 9am until around 5:30. We made our way back down and went a new way back to the hostel. We passed a Tesco's, and tried to buy items for dinner. I have yet to go in a Tesco's in Hungary, but Margie said it was nothing like the ones here. We did get somethings and went back home to eat. We went out to see a Blues show that night. It was quite a packed day, but very enjoyable.

Day Three started with a visit to the Jewish district and a visit to a few landmarks. It was quite startling to see some of the areas, most notably for me was the Pinkas Synagogue, the walls of which are covered with nearly 119,000 names, those of the Jewish residents that went sent to the ghettos during WWII. After spending the morning exploring the area, we began another walk towards the top of the hill to finish of seeing all areas of the castle. We wanted to have some traditional Czech food, or as close as we could get so we headed to a place that supposedly had good cheap food. It was really good. My favourite was the fried cheese...

Later that night we went back to see a Marionette version of Don Giovanni. It was an experience to say the least. I would highly recommend seeing it if you ever have the option...
video

Our last day, we spent the day walking around the entire city, or pretty close to the entire city...
saw many sights....including, St. Nickolas Church, John Lennon Wall, Maltese Square, National Dance Academy, aka The Fred and Ginger, The National Theatre, the Velvet Revolution Wall and finishing once again the the Old City Square, with the markets and the churches that surround it.

Prague was an amazing experience, and the weekend worked out great until our way home when our plane was delayed an hour and we missed our last train back and eventually had to spend 4 hours in the middle of the night stuck at Püspokladány, aka the impossible P, and freezing outside for two hours...something I never ever want to experience again...and making in back to my comfy little home 2 hours before having to teach, with about 7 hours sleep since I left on Saturday...

But my venting my issues with the transportation system will happen another time, when I have other things to think about...

Now for some photos...


Entrance to Prague Castle, the changing of the guard is ever hour.


A mix of architecture


The famous Astronomical clock in the Old City Square


A weird style that was common, the stucco was blasted of to give a 3D effect


A peacock on a building I thought was cool


A Church on the Old Town side of Charles Bridge


Dinner: Fried Cheese, potatoes and tartar sauce, not sure why tartar sauce...


Old books high on a shelf in Prague Castle


Christmas Market at dusk...


Prague Castle at night


Mosaic on a random building...


I can`t really explain this one...babies punched in the face?


Part of the John Lennon Wall, beside the Maltese Embassy


Traditional Czech Christmas Bread....sooooooo good.


A photo of the marionette show...


Me fueling my Starbucks addiciton with a Christmas drink...mmmm dark cherry mocha...



Ads for the Museum of Communism...look closely...
Check back soon for some random observations about Prague...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Praha...


Let me just start this by saying it was a weekend of surprise at every corner.
After being told 2 days before I was to leave that a) Mariapocs was having a 15 year anniversary of being a town on Saturday and b) that I could have taken the Friday off so that I could travel with Margie, I finally left Mariapocs bleary eyed on Saturday morning. After the long hours on the train, making it to the airport and finally arriing in Prague (Praha) I took the Metro to the city, only to discover that the street I was supposed to take was the only one that was not named. Without a working cell phone I walked around Wenceslas Square a few times I finally noticed a sign for the Post office, a place I was supposed to walk by on the way to the hostel, and that was open 24 hours a day...

After meeting up with Margie at the hostel, we made our journey back out into the streets in an attempt to make it to the lighting of the Christmas tree in the Old Town Square. After finding the street we were supposed to go down, we suddenly because part of the crowd, and it was wall to wall people. We were unfortunately on the inner divide, so we were constantly being pushed from all directions as we made our way about 15 meters in over 20 minutes. I could imagine what it must have felt like during the Velvet Revolution and found a stone that represented it perfectly...



I feel like I am going into so much detail, when in reality it is so hard to describe things that we saw over those 4 magical days. It was a lot of new things and old all mixed together...







I am trying to write as much as I can but I am very sleep deprived and need to plan a lesson for tomorrow...I will add more pics and information tomorrow!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving...

This week was a very interesting week for me...

Thanksgiving dinner was last Saturday...it was quite enjoyable even though the holiday was in October...


Tuesday I woke up to lots of snow outside...it was a lovely sight to see. I like winter and I like snow, only when I do not have to shovel the stuff.


I really thought it was going to be a good day until I got to school. As I was telling the boys to stop hitting each other, Mark, my little psychopath, decided that it was in his best interest to punch me in the eye. Not sure how any seven year old would think that punching the teacher in the eye would help them, but obviously he thought it was a good idea. I did feel bad for him later on, after he was yelled at by almost everyone one in the school, except for me (I have yet to master the Hungarian degrading of students). I also was able to miss out on the staff meeting that was held on Tuesday afternoon so I could babysit my class. I was told by my principal I could do anything I wanted...

Today I also had to teach lessons about Thanksgiving which was interesting...my class loved it. I did a very basic story about it complete with pictures. Later we made placemats and put our hand print turkey pictures on them. Here are some of the results...





Here is Zsofia, one of our new students, the other is Dézi, who both moved to our school to get away from the "problems" in Nyírbátor...It is working out alright though, they both seem fairly smart and will catch on fast.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eger!

Eger...a place that is simply magical...I love it there...cheap wine and a beautiful city...what could be better...As Briggi says " I want to move to Eger when I grow up." Big enough to have a good mall, yet it is still not Budapest. If you ever visit Hungary, Eger is a must, for the wine alone...Just think...we went and spent around 1000 ft on probably 14 glasses of wine and then we left with 6 litres of delicious white wine. The only disappointing thing was that we never actually made it to the baths on Sunday morning because there were competitions taking place and there was no where else to go. no matter what...It was an amazing weekend I will remember for a very long time...

Our experience in the Valley of the Beautiful Women



Briggi, she had gone without coffee for too long...but the drink was sooooooooooooo good!


Photos of the city and the castle, a beautiful place








At the minaret, take from this picture what you want...


Our Marshmallow experience...

Briggi saying goodbye, as I was on the bus going back home....