Monday, January 21, 2013

Quo vadis? Heck if we know

Will it be Accra? Amsterdam? Amman? We've no idea where next school year will find us. Hopefully employed.  It wasn't an easy decision but we decided to leave our positions in Baku for possibly greener pastures.

What do you look for in a place to live? A culture/country that holds some appeal. Job possibilities for K. Relative safety. Decent health care. A non-profit school for T with a variety of nationalities among students and staff. Decent salary and benefits.  We do need to sock away some money for retirement.  Lower on the list, but  something to weigh:  climate, food, nature, local language that has some familiarity, decent internet, travel possibilities.

The search possibilities are significantly narrowed by age limitations. Many schools do not or cannot provide work permits for teachers over 60, or even, in some cases (certain African countries) 50.  Currently there are openings that T would otherwise qualify for that he has no chance of filling in: Indonesia, Morocco, Malaysia, and Thailand. Others may say there is no age limit but prefer to hire younger.   T, 62 in March, is being considered for a position in the Hague but it is very iffy, because the upper limit is 65 for the country as a whole and they would prefer hiring someone who has the possibility of staying more than three years. (T did point out to the director that the typical period of service for international school teachers IS 3 years).

So that leaves Ghana, Jordan, Shanghai, Cameroon, Malawi, India and Malaysia, at the moment.  T is off to a job fair in London later this week, where many of those schools will be interviewing.

If one has nerves of steel one could wait out the current job fair season until spring, when, due to changed enrollment figures and unexpected staff departures, new openings occur. And schools are less concerned about age limits…

Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trinidad New Years

[this is part 3…]

Well actually there is a little more from Tobago  (was tangling with Blogspot to upload pix and it won).

Seen in a bar in Tobago:

Bye beautiful Tobago
On to Trinidad, and the capital city, Port of Spain.  There is some great architecture, some dating from colonial days
note: person in foreground does not date from colonial days

Steel pan drums were invented in Trinidad  We stayed in a guesthouse behind this place. Unfortunately no concerts were on, but we saw/heard lots of practicing.

"Shark bites" for dinner--yes, real shark

Cubans for New Years

Ben had to leave early on New Year's Day. After gorging at the Hyatt breakfast buffet, Cam, Tom and I hopped a minibus ("maxi taxi") to Chaguaramas just outside the city, and had a short hike.  Seen:

on the bus

FYI, we obeyed all the signs.

Up at 3:30 am for our four flights back to Baku.  Minor miracles:  made every connection AND SO DID OUR BAGS.  Duration: around 30 hours,1 8 of which were in flight.

Tobago Christmas, Part Deux

Besides diving, there was a bit of hiking. First to Argyll Falls, 54 m/177 feet high. The guys made the climb and had a dip in the upper pool.

 Then, at the bottom, they jumped from a very scary looking perch into a pool, while K fretted.

Another hike found us in a massive nature preserve--the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere, dating from plantation days in 1776! The Tobago Forest Reserve covers 14,000 acres in the middle of the island.

On to Castara, idyllic beach on the west coast, where we had Christmas.

Christmas is coming…

what did Santa bring?

something for everyone
Christmas day

to Part three:  Trinidad

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tobago Christmas, Part the First

Another fab Christmas trip with the boys. How incredibly fortunate we are to be able to make the trips--to afford them (some years, only with very careful planning) and to be together. Yes.

We had three quick days in DC before heading to the Caribbean. Our first trip back there in years and years, it gave us the chance to reconnect with some great old friends. We touched down in Baltimore at 5 pm (sitting in the airport waiting for Ben: people are smiling, and fat, sloppily dressed, comfortable--welcome to America!). By 8 we were in reunion with people we had not seen in 20 years--a dream!

And Elisabeth, K's dear friend from Beirut days

An especially amazing aspect of seeing old friends again after so long was having them meet and connect with Ben as well.

We left DC at 6 am and reached Tobago at 7 pm, having met up with Cam in the Port of Spain airport. Ben was due to join several days later.

We jumped into a rented car and Tom masterfully drove the winding (SUPER winding--hairpin city) coast road, on the left (Brit. style), the entire length of the island, to Charlotteville on the northern coast--about 1 1/2 hours. Cam and Tom were scheduled to begin their PADI (diving certification) course the next morning.

Trinidad and Tobago are the southernmost islands of the Caribbean, and lie not far off the coast of Venezuela. (When we realized how close we were, only 38 miles, we looked into taking a ferry over but found it goes only once a week).  The two islands are populated by descendants of the many groups who were brought to the islands as labor on the plantations,  notably India and Africa but also Syria, Portugal, China. There is a different vibe than in some other Caribbean countries, and only little catering to tourists--no big resorts. Why, you might ask? Oil.

Tobago is much smaller (41 X 14 km; with 54,000 of the country's 1.2 million people) and more laid back than Trinidad. Fishing is big. And mostly people are black on Tobago, whereas black and Indian are about equal on Trinidad with many mixed race.

Diving prep---

Cam and Tom had completed the online portion of the PADI course, and Tom was game to try the practical but his ears were bothering him.  He had to bail at the end of the first of three days, having completed all the elements save the open water dives.

Ben and Cam coming in from a dive

Tom and parrot have a conversation
How big was the shark you were RIGHT NEXT TO, Cam?

downtown Charlotteville
Caribs, after a hard day of diving

TO   PART   2