Sunday, December 13, 2009

Movies and Down Time

Geoff and I have been watching a lot of movies, because he has recently cut back (ie. temporarily stopped) drinking, in hopes of getting back on track with a healthier lifestyle before Christmas. As a result, neither of us has been too excited about hanging out at bars the last couple of weeks. Instead, over the weekend, we went to the movie theatre twice and watched Julie and Julia and Unglorious Bastards.

Unglorious Bastards was an excellent film about the Nazi occupation of France (set during WWII, but it's actually historically inaccurate, so it doesn't matter). The entire film kept us on the edge of our seats, and the plot twists were clever and intricate. To add to the experience, much of the movie was spoken in either German or French, and Geoff and I had to rely on our ability to read the Spanish subtitles to follow the plot. Fortunately, reading is always easier than listening, and we were actually fairly surprised by our ability to follow most of the film! (Our Spanish is getting better, for sure, but when native speakers begin to speak fast, we still have trouble understanding sometimes. Thus, watching dubbed movies is still very challenging.)

Julie and Julia is a much slower film. It got me thinking, however, about the blogosphere. I used to read various blogs written by friends. Over the years, as everyone got busier, the frequency of both their writing and my reading of their blogs had waned. Once in a while, I still go through short phases where I would follow blogs of some random teachers or swing dancers, to keep me in the loop of what others with similar interests are finding and exploring. But, there is nothing out there that really keeps my interest consistently as a reader. I would, however, be interested in reading in real time about someone else's ambitious undertaking of a task, similar to what Julie had set out to do in the movie. Are you familiar with some such blog? (Google seemed to fail me in finding anything of interest. But then again, I couldn't think of good keywords to use to help filter out the bloggers who blog mostly about their careers.)


Anyway, as for my own life, things are going slowly. School has almost slowed to a halt, with kids taking midterms and teachers grading only idly before the holidays. I'm looking forward to having a few days off between school and going back to the States to unwind, read some books, watch some Law and Order, and maybe even get a haircut. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Geoff and I had a fabulous time in Nicaragua! It is a breath-taking country, with friendly people and very affordable tourism options.

Since Geoff's visa was approved recently, we booked last-minute tickets for Thanksgiving to go to Nicaragua. We caught a good deal, and paid only $167/person for our round-trip flights on Copa Airline! And, thank goodness for the foresight to fly instead of taking the bus, because on our way back, we heard from other passengers at the airport that the Honduran borders had indeed been closed because of the elections. (Our friend Andrea had vaguely mentioned that as a possibility, but even she had not really believed it. I had decided to stand my ground and to refuse to take those chances, since I couldn't afford to be back to school late again after the Guatemalan shinanigans the last time we had undertaken a weekend getaway. Thus the decision to fly, despite it being the more expensive option...)

Anyway, Nicaragua was excellent. We spent one night in Leon and two nights in Granada. Both were colonial cities, but Granada has a more vibrant night life, a far richer history, and more character overall. While in Leon, we went "volcano-surfing", which is basically sliding down the sandy side of volcano Cerro Negro on a board made of wood and removable plastic. We hiked up to the top of the active volcano (it has erupted 23 times within the last 160 years) with our boards, walked along the rim of the crater to the sandy side of the volcano, put on our protective gear (jumpsuits and goggles), sat down on the boards facing the bottom of the hill, and then braced ourselves as we slid down the 45-degree incline. From the top of the hill, you can't see the bottom half of the hill, because the hill has a sharp dropoff after that halfway point. We could only see what appeared to be a tiny white speck at the bottom, which the tour guide explained was our truck, waiting for us at the bottom. The actual "surfing" part went rather quickly. Even though I was very nervous, once I started sliding and the wind started to blow tons of dirt in my face, I had forgotten all about the fear. Of course, I had to be the only person who actually lost balance and fell off my board halfway. :) Geoff took a video of me at the end, but that being after my fall, I had already lost most of my momentum and was easing my way down the rest of the hill. Still, it was an awesome experience! I would highly recommend it.

In Granada, Geoff and I also did a canopy tour, since neither of us had done it before. I was nervous, once again -- not because I didn't trust our tour guides. In fact, our tour guides lead about 150 people through their setup each day, and are very professional. Instead, I was nervous about messing up myself. In the end, it was amazing, and for being out there for about an hour, plus the rides to and from the beautifully lush forest, it was only $30 for each of us! That's an awesome deal!

Greg, Andrea, Geoff, and I also had a good time just hanging out at the local bars at night. I have developed a brand new appreciation for Flor de CaƱa, a type of Nicaraguan rum. :) I also particularly enjoyed the local "nacatamal", which is a tamale stuffed with juicy meat. Yum!

And now, happy December! I really cannot believe that Christmas is right around the corner. I cannot WAIT!