Posts Tagged ‘volunteer’

Spanglish 2 …continued

October 23, 2009

So my second program with Pueblo Ingles turned out to be just as fabulous an experience as the first, just with a different cast of characters. For instance, we had Dominique, the sexy frenchman, Mikel, the Spanish player, and our very own Heidi Fleiss. And many more, upon which I shall expand at a later time. Since we were situated in the middle of nowhere, our program director decided to take us on an excursion during the week, to another abandoned town a few miles away from Valdallevilla. We were informed that as this was an abandoned village, there would not be any shops, or any other signs of civilization; however, there would be mobile service! So, after about an hour’s worth of hiking up the mountain, we finally reached the old village. At this point almost everyone on the hike pulled out their mobile devices, frantically pointing them towards the sky, begging for a signal from the gods, in hopes of connecting with the outside world. Poor Amelia, our hard-working tour guide had to postpone her lecture while everyone reconnected with their long lost real lives.

The rest of the week proved to be fulfilling and unforgettable. Friendships would be formed and connections made that would stay with us for a long time. Unfortunately, as do all good things, this too, had to come to an end. So we said our goodbyes (in English) and parted ways. After spending only 1 evening in Madrid, I decided to continue my love affair with Barcelona, so I boarded a plane and off I went. After arriving in Barcelona at 1am, I headed to Barceloneta beach where my friend Bea, at whose place I would be crashing, would be meeting me. High on xanax (from the flight) and 8 days of non-stop talking, all I wanted to do at this point was sleep. That would not happen. When I met up with Bea, she was in the happy company of Dan, a cheeky Brit and Dan’s 2 friends Carlos and Juan (whose names have been changed to protect the innocent) and who, I would come to find out later on, were former workers for a Columbian drug cartel under the guise of pizza makers, and who were now selling real estate in Barcelona. Okie dokie. So, despite my protests, sleep would have to wait. The rest of the night would be spent dancing until the clubs shut down and sitting on the beach waiting impatiently for the sun to make her appearance. (After which, I would once again begin my hopeless search for an American diner in Europe…What do they say the definition of insanity is?: Repeating the same thing over and over again, each time hoping for a different outcome? Hm) So, the madness of Barcelona would begin (or resume), and this night would mark the beginning of Barcelona Part III. Stay tuned for more.


Spanglish: Pueblo Ingles, Cazorla, Spain July 3-10

July 11, 2009

Goodbye Barcelona, I’ll miss you! But I will be back. On July 3rd (sorry I’ve been a bit behind in the blogging), we set out on our 5 hour bus ride to Cazorla, Spain, where we would begin our 8 day English Immersion program, where 20 Anglos would help 20 Spaniards improve their English. The program was more than I could have expected. Although we were working 16 hour days (thats 16 hours of non-stop conversation with 20 strangers), those strangers quickly became friends and the 16 hours of work did not feel like work at all. I met some of the loveliest people from Spain, including the 3 Fernandos… Fernando Purple (because he liked to wear purple), Fernando Yellow (yes, you guessed it), and Fernando Glasses. And of course the Anglos, such as Mayor Pete from Monroe, NJ (Geez, I can’t get away from Jersey!), Cheri, the loveliest yoga teacher from Texas, and of course my new buddy, Jillian (who decided to travel with me, Maria and Rosimara after the program). I had my first hitchhiking experience while taking a walk through the small villa of Cazorla with Inma, one of the Spanish students who didn’t feel like walking back to the villa so decided we’d hitch it back. Love her! Later on that day, Jillian and I took a walk back to the village to go shopping at the little Asian Bazaar. While we were perusing the handbags, the little man who worked there kept watching us and following us around the store. It was bizarre (no pun intended), nonetheless, we continued shopping. I tried on a pair of shoes, but decided not to purchase them. I decided to purchased a handbag instead. After paying for my bag, the cashier pointed to my purse and said (in spanish), open your bag. Confused, I asked him why. “Zapatos! Zapatos in your bag”. Oh my goodness, he was accusing me of stealing the shoes that I tried on! Infuriated, I opened my purse and proceeded to take out every item just to prove to him that I did not in fact steal his 3 Euro pair of flip flops! Unsatisfied, he followed us out of the store and demanded that Jillian open her bag, which she refused. Good for her! I then asked him if he Habla Inglesed, which he did not.. only Espanol. So, I stuck my middle finger in the air and shouted, “Comprende?!” We went back to the hotel where we told everyone of our fiasco and warned them not to shop at the asian bazaar. Pablo, our program director, offered to take me back to the store to return the bag and get my money back, which I considered, but decided against… (I really liked the bag). At the end of the week, on the bus ride back, as we passed by the bazaar, everyone on the bus (Anglos and Spaniards) stuck their middle fingers in the air and shouted towards the store, “Comprende?!” Now that’s international comraderie!

Last Day at the Farm

June 25, 2009

So, I completed my final day of work at Guernsey Animal Aid. I’ve finally got the hang of things and feel like a part of the team. Just in time to leave! I’ve bonded with Jack and Merlin, the resident ponies. I think they sensed my sadness in leaving as Merlin kept rubbing his nose up against me and Jack kept following me around. (Or was that because I had forgotten to give them hay?) Either way, I’m sure they’ll miss me as much as I’ll miss them! And the dogs! Wow, I am going to miss those guys. I feel like they have become part of my family. Its going to be hard to say goodbye. So I’ll wait until right before I leave. So, as I’m working, I’m chatting with one of the local volunteers who asks me where I’m from. I tell him NYC. “Do you have a gun?”, he asks. What? “No, I don’t have a gun” I tell him. “Why, do you think all NY’ers have guns?”. “Well, we think most Americans have guns”, he replies. “Well no, that’s not true”, I inform him. “Yes, there is a huge gun problem in the country, but no, not everyone has a gun, and no, I myself do not own one.” I don’t know if it was my imagination or not, but I think he looked relieved. Ah, Guernsey.. I’m gonna miss ya!

Disaster at the Farm

June 24, 2009

So, I turned in early last night as I’ve been doing most nights since Maria left.. Saving money and resting up for my travel adventures to come. Plus this farm stuff is exhausting. When I woke up this morning, I strolled outside, eager to see the animals once again. It was another perfect, cloudless day and I was in a jolly mood. As I came upon the farm, I noticed Sue (the owner), who I greeted with a big smile and a jolly “good morning!”. Sue did not return my smile nor my “good morning”. “You have no idea what happened last night, do you?”, she asked, “You slept through the whole bloody thing, didn’t you?” What was she talking about? What happened?  “What are you talking about? What happened?”, I ask. “At about half past nine, we received a phone call that 4 of the deer had escaped. One of them was in a neighbor’s swimming pool, and the others were roaming the streets. We were up until 1:30 this morning trying to get them back, and we had the sheriff standing over us with a rifle the whole time, waiting to shoot them if we weren’t successful. We finally retreived them, but one of them was wounded, as there was blood all over the van, and Viv almost got into a car accident driving home”. “How did the deer get out?”, I ask. “Someone left the front gate open. I don’t know who. You never use that gate, right?”, she asks. “No, never. I didn’t even know there was a front gate” I reply. Or did I? Oh no! Wait. Let me think. I did go through the front door of the house yesterday when I left for town, but did I go through a gate? I can’t remember. Oh my goodness, was it me?? I replay the event over and over again in my head. Did I go thru a gate? If I did, did I shut it? Oh god, what if it was me? I almost got 4 deer killed? And Viv! Poor deer! I wonder if they all think its me. After all there was the incident with the lamb and the goat. And the little dog that escaped yesterday and almost ate the rabbit. Oh, and the duckling that got out the other day. But those were all accidents and everything turned out fine. Oh gosh, they probably do think its me! I’m starting to think it was me.. even though I’m 95% sure I never used that gate. Oh well, only 1 more day to go and then the animals will be free of me. Finally, later in the day, I remember that one of the dog walkers came by late last evening to walk the dogs. She arrived just as I was leaving. I remember she went thru the front which means she probably came back in thru the front. Also, I learned there was someone doing gardening work there all day and night. So, it could have been either of them. In fact, I’m positive now that I did not go thru the gate. Ah! Relief washes over me! I feel much better. Only one more day of work at the farm left, which will hopefully pass without incident. We shall see.. Poor animals!

Guernsey: New Arrivals

June 23, 2009

Sue went to the UK last night and picked up several new rescues. She came back today with 8 new Chinchillas, 5 new dogs and 2 of the most precious puppies I have ever met. Pictures to come. After morning feedings, I strolled down to Petit Bot beach for some more sun. (I bought more sunscreen). After I finished afternoon feedings, I once again headed to Martha’s house to make dinner for myself, where who do I run into, but the dashing English chap from Manchester. “Mm, something smells good”, he says, walking into the kitchen as he smells the delicious aroma of my sauteed veggies cooking away. “Oh, its just veggies and potatoes with some spices. I’m sure it smells better than it tastes”, I reply, shrinking violet that I am. “Oh no, I’m sure it will be wonderful”, Mr Manchester says. “Would you like some?”, I ask. “Oh no, thanks, I’m going out to dinner. How do I look? Does my shirt need ironing or does it look okay?” he asks me. “Oh no, it looks good!”, I reply, a little too enthusiastically. Dashing dude leaves to take his children. ages 18 and 21, out for dinner, as they are visiting for the weekend. (They live in Bath with their mother, I learn). Until next time dashing dude…

Guernsey- Week 2

June 22, 2009

It’s Sunday. I volunteered to work today so that I may take this Friday off  and possibly go to Herm, or maybe Salk, or one of the other islands. Ah, so many islands, so little time. During my afternoon break, I took the foot path the Petit Bot (pronounced ‘pettybow’, not petite boat), a small, beautiful little beach about 5 minutes from the sanctuary. It’s Sunday so the beach is crowded- meaning there are more than 10 people on it. People are kayaking, scuba diving, sunning, children and fathers playing ball on the sand… The seagulls remind me of the Jersey shore, but the white sandy beach and clear blue sky reminds me that I am on the coast of the English Channel. I think I see France in the distance.

After finishing up the remainder of my 3 oz, TSA approved tube of 30 SPF sunscreen- and still managing to get burned- I pack it in and head back. Its almost 4pm and the animals await. After work I make dinner in Martha’s kitchen, where I officially meet her new lodger, a dashing Englishman from Manchester. Hm. More about him later. I then turn in early and get ready for another lovely day at the animal farm 🙂

Weekend at Guernsey’s

June 20, 2009

So, today, Saturday, is my day off. I slept in late, which was very nice, then headed into town, found the internet cafe and talked to mom on skype. Mom, you’re so tech savvy. So, what shall I do for the rest of the day? Go to France? Go to one of the local islands? Well, the weather looks iffy and its a bit chilly so I decide to skip the island for today. Instead I take a guided tour through Victor Hugo’s house. I was the only one to show up for the English version of the tour, so I had my own personal guide! Brilliant! (they like to say brilliant a lot here). The house was gorgeous! (that’s another one they say a lot). 5 floors, overlooking the garden and the sea, with a perfect view of the surrounding islands and the Castle Cornet. On a good day, I was told, you could see the coast of France. I asked if I could take pictures and was told it was fine as long as there was no flash. Well, if you’ve been following, you’ll remember I didn’t know how to use my camera when I left. I still don’t. So, the flash went off and I got in trouble. No worries, though, my private tour guide fixed the settings on my camera and turned it off. So I took some great pictures that I will post very soon. Only problem is now, how to turn the flash back on?! On the way to the house, I got lost. Surprise! The entire island is tiny but of course I manage to get lost. So I stopped a nice lady walking down the street and asked her where Victor Hugo’s house was, and she not only told me where to go, she walked me there! See, that’s what I love about Guernsey. I also love that there is almost zero percent crime rate, the people never lock their doors at night, and they have veg hedges here. A veg hedge is a little box that people who grow their own veggies or fruits put out in front of their house, along with an ‘honesty box’, where people leave the money! Now, how long do you think that idea would last in NYC? Or anywhere, for that matter? Only in Guernsey…

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

June 16, 2009

Today was a pretty easy day, though it began with a little bit of drama. I decided to be brave and feed the goats and Lamby all by myself.  As I was walking through the gates, the goats tried to jump me again to get to the food and as I was fighting them off, the lamb escaped! I didn’t know what to do so after I put the goats’ food down for them, I ran after Lamby, grabbed him by his oversized coat and tried to pull him back in. That didn’t go over so well. He was trying to eat the rabbits’ food which was left outside his pen and I was interrupting him! He gave me a look to kill and then assumed headbutting position. However, this time he missed. But that didn’t stop him from trying- now the lamb was chasing after me. At this point I began screaming for someone, anyone, to come help me please! Not a soul was in sight. Of course. Then, as I’m fighting off Lamby and screaming at the top of my lungs, the goats- who I guess finished eating- escaped as well! Now I had 3 loose animals. Finally, someone must have heard my screaming because right about then, Sue and one of the volunteers came walking- no, strolling- over to help. I thought Sue would be upset but apparently this sort of thing tends to happen with new volunteers? Sue got the animals safely back into their pens and I made a note to myself to stay away from the goats and the lamb. I should have known it was going to be one of those days. A bit later on, I was standing in front of the bird avery, waiting for the Macau to curse, and I brilliantly stuck my finger in the cage to pet him. He then bit into my finger actually breaking skin. This is the 2nd time this week I’ve been bitten by a bird after sticking my finger in its cage to pet it. A girl never learns. After the morning feedings were done, I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning out the bunneries. Another glamourous job! Since it was Maria’s last night at the farm, we decided to hit the town one last time together to celebrate. We went and had the early bird Italian dinner special and 1 glass of wine each, and were both ready to pass out. So, after stopping by a cafe for cappuccinos that we hoped would wake us up (they didn’t), we called a cab and called it a night. Starting tomorrow, I was on my own.

There’s No Place Like Guernsey

June 14, 2009

Well, today was our first official day of work at the sanctuary. Up and out at 8:30am to feed the pigs, bunnies, deer, goats (one of which headbutted me after I brought him his food.. I think he was telling me to get lost). One of the little dogs jumped up on me and scratched me, giving me a little scar on my left arm that will match the one on my right arm from Greta Garbo (the drag cat that I had for one month last summer). One of the goats jumped up on me (not the one that headbutted me, the other one), and left a little scratch on my chest. One of the birds bit my finger, but at least it didn’t tell me to F off (see previous post). Other than that, I made it through my first day pretty much in one piece. My favorite part of the day though was scooping up the horse poo- how’s that for the glamourous life! Maria and I had a little break in between our shifts and went for a walk down to the coast- how beautiful! Along the way, we met a nice Scottish fellow who informed us of all the happenin night spots in Guernsey (didn’t know there were any), so we added that to our agenda for the week. Later, when we got back to the farm for the afternoon feeding (of the animals, not us), Sue, the sanctuary owner, informed us we had a phone call. Who would be calling us?? It was some lad looking for the two American girls. Huh? Turns out it was the Scottish fellow- guess he saw us going into the sanctuary, looked it up, and gave us a rang, to let us know that he will be working at the Sylvan Futbol Club that evening if we want to stop by. Ok, a little creepy. Or maybe stalking is normal in Guernsey? Who knows. Yes, I did see the movie ‘Taken’, and yes, we are being very careful and not telling anyone where we are staying. Didn’t know the lad would follow us! Honestly, I think the people here are just so friendly, and the thought of hurting anyone would never cross their minds. That might sound naive, but you just have to be here. There’s just something about Guernsey. They do things a little differently here. I love it.

Guernsey, Channel Islands

June 12, 2009

I woke up the next morning forgetting where I was. ‘Oh, that’s right’, I recall.  ‘I’m in England!’  I sleep until noon, have a lovely English breakfast and miss my ferry to Guernsey! The next one wasn’t until the following day. But no worries, I could just hop on the next flight out. And I did- on a little plane….with little propellers right outside my window…with no Ambien.. and I wasn’t scared. Maybe I am getting over my fear of flying? So I arrived in Guernsey, a quaint little sleepy island on the English Channel, between England and France, where the maximum speed limit is 35mph and the people greet you with hugs. My friend Maria met me at the airport and we did some food shopping and then we finally arrived at the animal sanctuary. By the time we arrived it was late and most of the animals had already gone to bed, but I got to meet several of the house pets- a big fluffy beautiful cat named Marmite, and a great dog named Maisy. And the birds. Oh, there is a Macau here that curses. They don’t curse at the sanctuary but apparently his previous owners must have, as the bird’s favorite thing to say is, ‘ F off’… with a British accent of course. The little farmhouse where I’m staying looks more like a little English cottage- or what you would imagine a little Engish cottage to look like. Its absolutely adorable. Maria is staying in the guest house next door, so we decided to cook dinner in her kitchen. By the time we ate, it was still light out, but we realized it was close to 9:30pm! I learned it doesn’t get dark until 10pm or so here. So, after dinner we chatted for a while, catching each other up on our adventures thus far. We then called it a night and agreed to meet outside at 7am the following morning for a run. We’ll see.