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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Day of School

I must say that this has been the easiest first day/week of school I have ever encountered.  Or at least, that I remember.

I was not able to get my classroom 100% set up but I think I got it 85% of the way ready.  I slept like a baby and got up on time. I arrived at 6:40AM to see some parents already there.  School actually starts at 7:30AM. 

I was in my room and waiting and my first student arrived around 7:05.  I had 19 on my first day.  I have 21 on my roster.  The other two will be arriving.  One is still on vacation and the other is transferring from another school so he will be coming in a few weeks.

I share my class with a Spanish teacher.  Laura is great.  She is working on her English but we seem to communicate well.  We spent the first part of the day setting up supplies.  They had recess, then P.E. we did a short, "get to know you" activity then it was lunch.  Laura did an activity in the afternoon and that was our day. 

Overall, I could not be happier with the school and my teammates are the best.  Today is the 3rd day of school.  I have 6 weeks worth of daily math plans, including all my copies of worksheets.  Also have 4 math tests to review and resubmit for copies.  I have the same set of documents for the first 4 weeks of language arts and social studies.  I need some papers to grade :)

Check out the schools website http://www.cag.edu.gt/






http://www.cag.edu.gt/

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Arriving in Guatemala City


I must say that my first day was a memorable experience for me; for better or worse.  To begin, my driver was suppose to pick me up in Antigua @ 8am.  She did not arrive until 8:35am.  She did call and say she would be 10 minutes late but ended up being 35 minutes late.  As is typical of Guatemala. 

This driver didn’t know where my school was so she took me to the airport where I met and was transferred to another car and taken to my school. 

CAG apparently has 2 entrances.  We eventually found the right one but by this time, it was raining.  I got my car keys and the driver took me to my car and we unloaded my luggage from Antigua to my car, in a steady rain.


I then drove my car from one part of the parking lot to another.  I parked and once I got out, was told I had to back it in.  So, I did as instructed.  I got my house keys and was ready to leave, but then we needed to put my other luggage in my car.

So, I moved my car, for the 3rd time in the same parking lot, (yes, its’ still raining) and loaded my luggage.  At last, I am ready to follow the school driver to my new home.
 And I do have a rain coat inside a suitcase somewhere and an umbrella is sort of hard to hold while loading suitcases.

And yet, my car, all of a sudden would not go into gear.  ANY gear.  NOT EVEN REVERESE.  So, I’m panicked.  One of the guys from the school played around with it and got it into gear.  I was then give 2 mechanics to contact. (this is not a car issue,.  Apparently, it was put in 4 wheel drive so all is fine)

I followed Paola, to my new house and she directed me right to my front door.

I was elated.  The house is SOOOOO much better than I had even imagined.  I will post a video once I get everything in its place.

I walked in and had a note from a fellow teacher, LINDSEY, who offered to help me. 

I should add that somehow, some of the bills were not paid over the summer, but Lindsey helped at ton.  So, I have no Internet or house phone.

She, Lindsey, allowed me to use her internet and actually had an extra cell that I could use.  I ran a few errands and then, Lindsey took me to Walmart. 

Lindsey was absolutely awesome.  She helped a ton in Walmart, as well and a few other stores.  And gave me some of her duplicates of household items! .  I am so grateful.

I spent the evening unpacking and making another walmart list.  By 10pm, I had 5 suitcases emptied but not everything had a home yet.  Although, it was a great start.

I headed to bed around 10:30.  I was woken up around 5:15 by a neighbors crying baby. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

First days of work at the American School of Guatemala

Things are going very well.  We had a short meeting on Friday to "get to know each other" and learn some basics.  We all got out cell phones and a check for part of our relocation allowance.  We took a tour of the school.  

2nd-5th grade has 20 homerooms, 5 per grade.  I meet my Spanish teaching counter part.  She is super sweet and I'm actually looking forward to sharing my classroom with her.  There are 22 new foreign teachers and about 8 local/Spanish teachers.  They have a staff of about 150 teachers, each grade level also has an aid that they share.  There are over 1,400 students from kindergarten - 12th grade.

Friday night we all went to the middle school principal's house and had pizza, beer, and wine.  It was Amy's birthday so we celebrated that as well. 

On Saturday, we all went to Antigua and were broken up into teams of 5 and had a scavenger hunt.  We had 5 clues we had to solve. We had a great lunch and still had some time for shopping as well!

 Monday was our first full day of preplanning.  So far, I have loved the sessions.  They are short, and to the point, and give you what you need right now, not 6 weeks from now!  I was able to get into my classroom and look around a bit.  It is huge.  My class size should be about 20 to start the year.

We also got our schedules.  It is the most unusual thing I have ever seen but apparently, it is typical of international schools.  It is broken into 45 minute blocks.  So, we have 8 language arts blocks through out the week but they are not all at the same time of day and some days I only have one block while other days, I have 2.  The students have 6 activity periods per week as well, including swimming!  I am looking forward to adjusting my brain around it.

Overall, I could not be happier.  The staff here and fellow teachers are amazing and super helpful.  Lets just hope it continues :) 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Nightmare of picking up hank

First and foremost, I have to give a HUGE thank you shout out to Cathy and Steve Carpenter.  Without them, I NEVER would have survived this ordeal.

Summary: Hank was in his cage for 14 hours.  He was dropped off in Atlanta @ 6am, I saw him for the first time @ 8:45Atlanta time.  We spent 5 ½ hours walking and waiting from office to office. We needed to get 5 forms and 1 stamp. It cost $509 from Delta and another $175 once in Guatemala.  He is alive and seems to be ok. 

OIG – Only in Guatemala.  I heard this phrase first when reading Kelli Horner’s account of getting her daughters passport.  It applies to my ordeal with Hank as well.

Details:
Amy dropped hank off @ 6am in Atlanta.  She was told she should have frozen water in the water dish.  This is a great idea and yet during the 5 phone conversations that I had with Delta, never once did they suggest this.  Amy was told that he would have water though.  I assume he did in Atlanta but I honestly don’t think he did in Guatemala.

Fast forward to 11:45 Guatemalan time (1:45 ATL). I had picked up Steve and Cathy.  Steve drives and tells me that my car is in 4 wheel drive which is why I’m having issues.  He fixes it.  The 3 of us went to the baggage claim at the airport, where I was told to pick him up.  After Cathy spoke to 3 different people, we learned that Hank had to be picked up at the cargo place in another building.  They said it would be at least and hour and a half. 

So, we went to Chili’s for lunch! Definitely the a highlight of the day!

It is now 1:30 in GUA (3:30 ATL).  We arrive at the cargo place.  Steve elects to just stay with the car while Cathy and I go inside.

Enter through a metal detector and purse check. Enter through another metal detector and purse check and this time, surrender your license in exchange for a visitor’s pass.  We go to office #1.  The Delta office.  Pay about $15 for paper work.  Get directions to another office.  Exit through a metal detector and purse check.  Office #2 needs a copy of something so we then go to office #3.  Pay for copy and return to office #2.  Get the stamp we need.

Go back through metal detector and purse check to office #1.  Get directions to another office, which we have a hard time finding but it is actually the office we made copies in, #3.  It is now raining and will continue to rain for at least 2 hours.

Once we finally find it, the lady types in a number and says the flight doesn’t exist.  Once she clarifies, apparently Hank has not been scanned into the system as having arrived yet.  By now it is 3pm.  The plane landed 3 ½ hours ago.  Hank has been in the cage for 11 hours.  I’m so frustrated and I’m starting to cry.  The lady was helpful and kept calling until someone answered and within 30 minutes, we got the form we needed from her.  She sent us to another building, #4. Enter through a metal detector and purse check.

This turned out to be the wrong building, as there are 2 SAT offices.  So, back through 2 metal detectors and purse checks.  At this point, they stop checking our purses since we have seen them about 7+ times already.

We arrive at the correct SAT office (#6) @ about 3:30.  We stand in line.  There is an issue because I don’t have my passport.  I had to give it to the school’s lawyer to complete my car buying paper work.  I have a copy but I didn’t copy the page where I got the stamp to record my date of entry.  I didn’t know I was suppose to do that.  So, around 3:55, the guy says that he can’t help us, a guy that comes in @ 4 can.  So, we wait outside.  The new guy comes in and we expect for him to call our name but never does.  There are now 5 people in line.  We get back in line.  By 4:30, we get some help.  He says that he is going to get Hank.  We wait about 40 minutes.  No Hank.  The guy comes back and says we have to pay more money.  About $145.  So, we get the form.  Exit through a metal detector and purse check.

A man in the parking lot tells us that the 2 places that accept payment here are closed.  We spent from 3:30-5:15 in office #6.  So, we have to go to the airport, where the passengers fly, to pay the invoice. .  Exit through a metal detector and purse check.

Get in the car, go to the airport.  Steve has been sitting in the car for almost 4 hours now.  I’m in tears again.  Hank has now been in the cage almost 13 hours. We go into the airport.  Find one bank but it’s the wrong one.  Have to go down 2 floors and find the right one.  But, neither of my credit cards will go through.  Cathy, who by the way is doing all the talking, pays for me.  We cannot go back up inside the airport so we walk outside and go up the stairs in the parking deck and find Steve.

Once we return, we go through 2 metal detectors and purse checks. Back to office #6.  They say he is not picked up there, we have to go somewhere else. .  Exit through a metal detector and purse check. We got our licenses back, as we thought we were done.  (We were wrong)

Head to another metal detector but since they have no purse check person, you can’t take purses in.  So, Cathy just went, since I’m totally useless at this point anyway. 

She walks into one office #7, and was sent to another, #8.  She comes back out and says that we need more money.  But you can’t take your purse in so I give her her cash.  She pays another $15 or so.  Then she comes out with another guy but no Hank.  We have to go back to office #6.  But this guy needs to go there as well so we go with him.  We have to now redo the paperwork and surrender our licenses yet again. 

From here on, we have 4 more trips through the metal detectors. 

And Cathy wants to know if this dog is really worth all this.  I’m just scared he isn’t alive anymore. ( I know he is as he will not die in 14 hours but I’m furious and not thinking straight) It’s now about 6pm (8pm ATL).  Hank’s been in the cage 14 hours now.

Back at office #6, we turn in some paper work and are told to wait.  Around 6:45, I see 2 guys carrying his cage.  I’m so relieved.  His water dish is bone dry.  I go get 2 cups of water and pour in there; he drinks it all immediately.  We have to do some more paper work but they said that I could get him out.  But no one has scissors or a knife to cut the plastic ties.  Finally a guy just pulls it.  I get Hank out and let him walk around a little bit. 

We finish there and Cathy and I are carrying the cage and Hank is walking on the leash.  He is drinking water from every puddle made by the rain.  We get out to the car and Steve walks Hank while Cathy and I return to retrieve our driver’s licenses. 

In the car, Hank just lays in the back seat.  We dropped Cathy and Steve off and we went home.  Its now close to 8pm (10pm ATL) He drank a ton of water and ate dinner and explored.  His cage needed to be cleaned out of course. 

Overall, he is here and is safe but I had no idea it was this hard or this expensive.  This may be his one and only international trip.
                                                          Hank is now a Cat!

 9 stickers were not enough.  They had to hand write one

                                                    Smiling now that he is out of the cage!