Let me look back and see when we did our last blog post… hmm, about time, right? To our dear family and friends who religiously read our blog, and by that I am specifically writing to my mom, Christiana Martin and Peggy Doulos; our grave apologies for not keeping up with the times. We have gotten caught up in the spiral of everyday happenings, and we haven’t put the necessary time aside for documentation. Even more necessary than documentation, we haven’t put aside the necessary time to reflect on what is happening, where we have been, and where we are going.
Since the end of the winter break in January, we have been at school for 12 weeks and had 2 weeks off for March break. How can we simplify one week? Can we put it into verbs and nouns in order to paint a picture of what it is?
A week is like: legs sore on monday morning from too much trail running on the weekend, coffee, a student asking why this happens in their respiratory system, meal prep, get that protein, rice is growing, rain then hot, exhaustion, swimming in the pool next to school, meeting at work, petting bagel the dog, going out for date night at greek restaurant, green grass, jump in water to cool down, hoka speedgoats, scooter to run, get some pho, work on lesson for next day, sleep, coffee, red wine, coffee, playdough, drama at school, coffee, scooter, canggu, tacos, bagel, sleep, airconditioning, coffee
Seems like a lot of coffee, doesn’t it?… It is. For the school side, things have been great. So busy. So interesting. So fruitful. Our secondary students are curious, hardworking, thoughtful, and balanced. We are trying to be the best educators we can be; some days, this is tough and tear-provoking, other days, it is a privilege. Some highlights from these 12 weeks at school include:
> Grant wanted to make his Industrial Revolution lessons more engaging; thus he found an interesting idea to do this. He downloaded some discussion-provoking 3-D images, and bought a set of 3-D glasses for his students. It made the school Instagram page and newsletter 🙂
> I am finishing up with both Year 13 and Year 11 students soon. They will take high-stakes external exams soon (IB for Year 13 and IGCSE and Year 11) so they will be on study leave from their normal school timetable. Finishing up with Year 13 has been challenging; not only because we were at the last topic of study in their last week, but because it’s tough for me to think about them leaving the school. They are such a great class of students, and I will miss them dearly after they graduate in a month 🙁
> Cross Country Day at school was this past week. This was a morning for all students in Year 2-13 to participate in a distance run. As you might imagine, I am ALL about the sports and kids participating kinesthetically at school. In fact, I would propose that we do cross country each morning as an entire school before being in the classroom.
While school has been great, please be assured that weekends and March break have been equally of interest. I have signed up for Ironman 70.3 in Pennsylvania on July 2nd 🙂 Ironically, this will be my first Ironman event in the USA and I can’t wait! We are also revving up for several other running events scattered throughout May, June, and August. It is safe to say that training is in full swing for the both of us. For Grant, it’s 15k in May and 25k in June; both trail runs! This means that sleep and nutrition have become as equally important as the training itself; fun fact, muscles only physically grow when you are sleeping. Grant has been the recent champion of protein-packed meal prep; it is a part-time job to make sure we are getting the necessary (and proper) calories. I have started taking proper swim lessons as well with a local squad team. Following the first two lessons, I found myself crying on the walk home afterwards. It is so hard! These 15 and 16 year old squad swimming girls are mega tough; I need to build a backbone and better swim technique. I am getting there… or at least not crying after lessons anymore.
Now that the rainy season is behind us, we are getting out and cycling routinely on the weekends. This island is magical! It is helpful for us when we set a destination to get to that fits into the training plan; then we have the motivation to get to the cool place of interest. In the past couple months, we have biked to the UNESCO world heritage site of rice terraces in Jatiluwih, the Insta-famous Teggalalang rice fields, the Kayu Putih sacred Giant Tree (700 years old+) and Love beach in Tabanan. We are getting the training in, but also enjoying the sites! Outside of Canggu, the roads are less cramped and, surprisingly, well-paved! The leaving Canggu is easy, and then coming back to Canggu requires us to always “stay frosty” because too-many people drive like maniacs on too-small roads!
During one long weekend in February, we went to Singapore. It was our first time there, and it was love at first sight! After scootering around Bali for the past six months, we were excited to ride the metro again. Singapore is SO walkable; we walked, ate, saw the sights, and enjoyed every moment. At Universal Studios Singapore, we acted like kids and rode the coasters until we couldn’t stomach it anymore. We also caught up with some friends, Kah Mun, Anna, and Grace, that I had met many years ago during my teacher’s inservice course in Costa Rica! They are excellent hosts, and brought us to a traditional breakfast, on a nature walk, and on a mini-city tour. We are hoping to return the favor when they come to Bali! Wink wink nudge nudge!
For the first week of March break, we went diving in Amed and enjoyed Ogoh-Ogoh/Nyepi in Canggu. When we did the liveaboard with Inga and Thomas during October break in Komodo, one of our divemasters, Wayan, was from Amed. He told us to reach out to him if we wanted to come diving in Amed. Amed is three hours by car from Canggu; we went for a few days and did six dives while there. All we can say is WOW! Proper coral, amazing creatures to find, and so much life. Typically, we like the bigger critters like sharks, barracuda, and humpback parrot fish; but we can’t deny when we see something cool/unique. We would always debate “big stuff versus small stuff” while diving with Eileen Councill. Now we can see what the hype is all about with the small stuff. Measuring as large as a thumbnail, the pygmy seahorse stole my heart.
For the second week of March break, Elise came for a visit! Elise came to visit us in China as well, and it was great to spend time with her again abroad! When we think back to the ten days when she was here, it is crazy how much we packed into that short-time! The highlights included:
> “Escaping” the Area 51-themed Escape Room in Denpasar
> A huge monkey jumping up on me at Uluwatu Temple and jacking my favorite sunglasses from my head then proceeding to tear them to shreds (“I have been violated.”)
> Ketut cracking jokes during the Bali Cooking Class outside Ubud (“Ketut, have you been drinking today?”)
> Celebrating Elise’s “birthday” at Sa’Mesa
> Eating an unhealthy (…healthy?) amount of gelato in Ubud (“There is literally a gelato shop every 50 meters. Don’t worry, we will just go to the next one.”)
While Elise was here, our friends, Lis and Jack, were also in Bali visiting for a few days. Lis taught with us at ACS in Bulgaria, and now works in Hong Kong. It was great to see her and meet Jack! We all spent one morning together ATV-ing just outside Ubud. It was eventful and fun; except for when the ATV brakes didn’t work! Lis and Jack also stayed with us for a night in Canggu. Hope to see them again; perhaps we need to make the journey to Hong Kong for the next meet-up?
As you can imagine, the past 14 weeks have been eventful and busy, packed to the brim with cycling adventures, travels around, school work, and spending time with loved ones.
Today marks the birthday, as well as the passing, of my grandmother, Gertrude Hodge. Today, on April 20th, a solar eclipse happened here, and we were able to feel/see it partially. While we didn’t have the special sunglasses so we couldn’t fully enjoy it (NEVER look directly at an eclipse!), I was able to appreciate a few moments outside. My phone was able to capture the partially-covered sun. I looked at the image and wondered, “Grammy, are you here? Are you watching down from the eclipse?” Here, in Bali, people leave offerings at their workplace, on the road, on their car, and at the family temple in their home. By leaving out the offerings, they acknowledge that there is just as much that we can’t see as what we can. In this sense, those who have passed away are still here among us; living with us. The offerings give them food so that they are not hungry. The offerings also remind us that they are here; with us. Instead of looking up to the eclipse and wondering if Grammy is looking down on me, I would like to think, instead, that she is here with me. She is right here next to me. Just as there are many things I can see with my eyes, there are also many things that I can’t see. She is here in Bali with me; just invisible. If I leave the offering, then she won’t go hungry.