Namaste

Hey everybody sorry it took me so long, but here is a post about my trip to Nepal. Things have been a bit crazy, but really I have just been lazy.

First of all the trip started with a fail. The day before we were to leave I got this incredible pain in one of my teeth. I tried to ignore but I couldn’t and we didnt have time to go to the dentist so my Dad got me some antibiotics and I was on a regular dose of Advil. For the first few days I woke up at 3AM because that is when the Advil would wear of and the pain would wake me. Eventually it did get better and I stopped taking the Advil. After 2 DAYS of travelling we finally made it to Kathmandu, Nepal. Definitely a culture shock. I was so overwhelmed immediately. You walk out of the airport and all these cab drivers and hotel people swarm you trying to convince you to go with them, trying to take your bags for you and lead you to a car. Thankfully we had someone there for us, but it wasn’t the best start. Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and houses half of the population (10 milion people in one city)! There are people everywhere. It is loud and at first the driving just seemed insane. Everyone is honking and weaving in and out of each other and into the opposite lane. There are motocyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians and cattle just walking out into the road. There are no lights and I am surprised that not once during the entire trip did I see a car accident. Also there was just trash everywhere. In the rivers, on the side of the road, in all patches of grass. Then you have to fend of hoards of people pushing you to buy from them. It was just too much at first and I was not a fan. The second day in the city was planned out enough that I was able to cope with it better. All our meals are nice and leisurely so after breakfast we headed to the “Monkey Temple”. We were going to try and walk there because we were told it was in walking distance, but clearly Nepali people have differing opinions about what is doable. Thankfully we just decided to get a cab. It would have taken us forever to walk there and we probably wouldn’t have been able to find our way anyhow. Its just a Buddhist temple, but there are tons of monkeys playing and swiming around (hence the name). We stayed there for a while and some how Jack started following this “guide” who claimed to live at the temple with other orphans. He was very well informed though, but Im pretty sure Mom fell victim to the “milk and cookies” scam (they are in cahoots with the store owner so when you buy from the store it is sold to you at a jacked up price and later the kid goes back, returns the stuff, and pockets the difference). Oh well!

Maybe I shouldn’t be going into so much detail. If I keep at this pace this post will be ridiculously long or I will have to break it up. But then I wont have anything to tell you when I see you ’cause you will know it all already. New plan. Its going to kind of be like an outline with little blips about what we did or things that stand out. You can always ask if you want to know more, but I’m pretty sure there will still be tons of information.

TAKE TWO:

5/30

Made it to Nepal. Airport was crazy. CULTURE SHOCK! People and trash everywhere. Got to ACME Guest House (name does not inspire confidence) fairly late so just had dinner and went to bed. Nice room but air conditioner doesn’t work so I sweat all night long.

5/31

Monkey Temple -Not a walkable distance and directions are crazy confusing. Must get a cab. Make sure to determine a price before getting in or you are screwed and it is awkward. Buddhist. Lots of monkeys. They can swim under water! Got scammed by a well-informed kid. Had to happen eventually. Walk clockwise around temples and stupas.

Pashupatinath (Hindu temple and cremation center) -Bagmati River = Ganges. Public allowed to view all cremations and take pictures. Cremation in progress. Its just not decent to take pictures of that, but my mom and brother didnt seem to have to much trouble. Took some pictures with some Sadhus (really holy people that only went on that path because their horoscopes told them they would fail at everything). Those pictures will cost you. Jack wiped out on some stairs trying to get me the Advil from his backpack. So much information about the cremation rituals and the Sadhus…i took notes.

Boudhanath (Buddhist stupa) -One of the largest in the world. Circular structure with shops around it. Religious center for exiled Tibetan monks. Had a chat with one. So tired that we all took naps. Jack slept through dinner, but I found this amazing place called Yangling. It is super cheap and super good. I got chicken momos (dumplings) and mom got some noodle soup thing and we both got drinks. I think it cost like 300-400 Rs. which is like $5.

6/1

Catch bus at 6:30 for Pokhara. 7 HOUR BUS RIDE! HOT AND SWEATY! Jack and I continued playing this super intense block game we started on one of the plane rides that takes up an entire sheet of graph paper. Didnt finish. Bombarded by taxi drivers and hotel people at the “bus station”. Made it to Crowne Hotel. Amazing roast chicken at Sweet Memories. I will now compare all chicken to it. Couldn’t finish it because my annoyingly small stomach and I felt bad because the lady thought I didn’t like it. Pokhara is much better than Kathmandu. A lot chiller.

6/2

First day of 5 day trek. Crazy mountain driving. Blind hair pin turns at way too fast speeds. Have a guide and a porter (too bad none of us can remember their names, fail). Muscles need to warm up. So much sweat…and tomorrow is the hard day. Made it to Hille. Learned 2 new card games from the guide and porter. I use learn very loosely. One I totally understand and is kind of like Go Fish! but better. The other is kind of like Canasta but I dont know how to win.

6/3

Aahhh! The first two hours just consisted of climbing up the steepest stairs I have ever seen! MISERABLE. Eventually it got “easier” and by that I mean it was a little less step and sometimes actually sloped. Singing camp songs to yourself helps. LEMON TEA! It was so good, but all the other times I tries it it wasn’t so great. Jack and Mom had a conversation with some guys about how they miss Diet Cokes ’cause they haven’t been able to find any on the trail. Made it to Ghorepani. Actually cool here. Like need pants and can sleep with the covers on cold. Did nothing but laid in bed, except for dinner.

6/4

Got up at 4AM to see the sunrise at Poon Hill. Meet up with the Diet Coke guys again. Mom got frustrated and started crying so Jack and I just kept going and she caught up later. Not peak season so not many people. Gorgeous mountains. Got to use the panoramic setting on mom’s new camera. Talked to an English guy who said I would have a difficult time understanding people next year. Met an Australian girl on her year of travel (apparently a common thing for them to do). I would not want to travel alone like she was. Breakfast and then the real day of trekking begins. Down stairs is not better than up. Less of a struggle, but possibly more pain. Kept passing the Australian girl. Saw a whole family of wild monkeys licking the salt of some rocks. Made it to Tadapani. Ate dinner with a German couple who were finishing up a 3 month trip around the world. He had just proposed to her in Hawaii and no one knew about it yet. Drugged myself with Benadryl. Almost forgot to take my malaria pill.

6/5

I dont know why I keep waking up before 5, but at least I slept well. Breakfast with the German couple. Managed to walk in on the girl while she was using the restroom (social fail). I’m pretty sure I was more embarrassed. Mostly all down hill or flat! Came to a perfectly spaced out and gradual set of stairs. No effort to get down them. For the first time I didn’t have to constantly look at my feet. Made it to…don’t remember the name. Meet a cute little girl. Weird burst of energy. Got freaked out by a spider on my bed. Jack managed to cut the water off while in the shower and had to walk back to the room with shampoo in his hair (Fail). They had scalding hot showers and I had an ice bath.

6/6

Last Day of Trek! The guide is nice, but I am tired of having him around. I don’t think I could pretend to be interested in birds much longer. Only 2 1/2 hours of hiking because we went so far yesterday. Some Neplai guys making a video fo school asked us to be in it and introduce ourselves to the camera. They kept saying how handsom Jack was but they didn’t mention anytning about mom or me. At one point 3 dogs were following us. Crown Hotel. Guide’s name is Balarama (better late than never?). Jack and Mom went to some chanting thin to celebrate the Lunar eclipse and the Venus Passing, but I stayed in the room and rested. I needed some alone time.

6/7

Walked around Pokhara. Found a fair trade shop/woman’s development center and I wanted to buy everything in there. Ended up getting a hat, 2 bags, and a wallet. Mom does this really annoying thing where she makes us pay for everything together. I just can’t haggle for someone else’s stuff. I got really nervous and Jack ended up handling it all (fail). Jack played SPEED with me for the first time in years and I dominated, of course. Went to Tibetan refugee center and sat in on some Buddhist chanting.

6/8

Barely slept, but I finally finished Running with Scissors. Went paragliding. Got put with this guy named Olivier from the French part of Sweden. Kind of an ass. Supposed to go for 1 hour but we caught the end of the cycle and couldn’t get enough altitude. I only got to go for 30 minutes and had to wait another 30 minutes at the bottom for Jack and Mom to finish (fail). It was fun but not thrilling. Very calm and peaceful. A bit surreal. Jack and Mom passed out for the rest of the day because they took some Dramamine before paragliding because they were afraid they would get sick.

6/9

Had lunch at this nice lakeside place. Went to World Peace Pagoda. Could see all of Pokhara from up there. More STAIRS! Two guys started taking pictures of Jack. Don’t know why. Packed for Chitwan National Park.

6/10

Got up and ready to leave by 7:30 to catch bus to Chitwan. Turns out we are leaving tomorrow (FAIL). Went to another lake about an hour away. Rented a canoe and paddled around for an hour. Didn’t burn! Bunch of Buddhist monk children playing soccer and swimming. Talked with this guy from Nepal who goes to Washington University in St. Louis. Asked if my name was like Katy Perry. Jack got some hemp pants and was very excited about them. Last meal at Be Happy.

6/11

5 hour bus ride to Chitwan. Hot and sweaty. Watched sunset on river. Yellow stuff started falling on us. The color of mustard but we have no idea what it was. Never solved that mystery (fail). Dinner, then Tharu cultural program.

6/12

Started the day with a nice canoe ride. Saw a bunch of birds and a type of crocodile that only lives in Nepal. Trekked through brush to see a rhino we heard but to no avail. Nature hike started with a warning about what to do if we saw a tiger, a sloth bear, or a rhino. Tigers: make eye contact and back away slowly. If it starts to attack you are just screwed. Sloth Bears: get in a clump and make loud noises. Guides have sticks to hit their noses. If they attack they go straight for the face. Rhinos: run in zig-zag manner, hide behind tree or climb up one. We could have taken a rhino. Only saw some deer and boars. Elephant breeding place. Too sad, just kept imagining that one scene in Dumbo where the mother is rocking him through the bars. Not smart on my part. Sat on an elephant’s back as it walked through the river. Sprayed us with water. It was AMAZING! One of the best moments of the entire trip. Skin lightening commercials. Safari on elephant back. Got a gift from an elephant! Picked up a peacock feather with its trunk and gave it to me. Unfortunately it did not travel well. Saw 4 rhinos sitting in a pond. Frogs on their backs. Saw a leopard. Fed the elephant bananas. Put then directly in his mouth. They have weird tongues. I love Elephants!!

 6/13

Bus ride back to Kathmandu. Started out as the only people on the bus, after numerous stops it was filled. Left at 9:30 got there at 4. Finished Emma and started Childhood’s End. So tired we just ate and rested back at ACME. Signed up for Bungee Jumping.

6/14

Kathmandu is much better now. I navigated our way through the city and to Durbar Square, a world heritage site. Did it all from memory and didn’t get lost. Went to the street formerly known as “Freak Street”. It has seen better days. Saw a piece of street art by Space Invader! Jack and I were very excited. Got lost (FAIL). Were on the right track but then missed a turn. It is difficult ‘cause it its hard to tell the difference between alleys and streets. We had to have walked all around the hotel before we got back to it. Very tired after that because we ended up walking around for forever. Jack freaked out about the bungee jump all day. It was all he could think/talk about. Ate momos at Yangling.

6/15

 Meet up to leave for Last Resort at 5:45. BUNGEE JUMP! I was disappointed because I didn’t really freak out before it and I knew it would be more fun if I freaked out. I mean you doesn’t freak out before jumping off a bridge?! Short scream of shock and surprise. Jack found it hilarious. It was fun but not as much as I expected. Any adrenaline was shortly dissipated on the hike back up. Stupid stairs. Jack was freaking out before his jump. I could see him messing with his hair on the bridge and I knew that meant he was worried. He did it though and he was so proud of himself ‘cause he always said he wouldn’t bungee jump. Stayed in really cool tents, unfortunately not in trees.

6/16

At about 9 Mom and I went to do the canyon swing, the tallest in the world. The freefall was twice as long as that of the bungee and I was the first swing of the day. I was so nervous. It was crazy. I don’t know why but it is just more natural to dive off than to go feet first. I really freaked out when they hooked me to the rope. For the swing they use ropes instead of rubber and ropes are very heavy. I felt the weight pulling me down. When I got on the ledge I just was like “No, No. I can’t do this!” then he went “1,2,3, Bungy!” and I just went. He let go and I am not sure if I jumped or if the ropes pulled me off. I screamed and did bicycle kicks all the way down. Once I got out of my harness a few tears fell just because I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was the scariest thing I have ever done. I did not know the true meaning of terror until that. Afterwards I felt like I could do anything. I’ll make sure to post the video on Facebook because it is hilarious. Every time I watch it I still get a bit nervous or anxious. The rest of the day was chill. I had my first massage. I even socialized. I spent the evening with Bernice from France, Margot from the Flemmish part of Belgium, and Miriam from Ireland. They are all teaching English in Kathmandu and on the weekends they travel. It was fun. Margot had just come from India and she loved it there.

6/17

White water rafting! I have now gone rafting in 3 countries: USA, Costa Rica, and Nepal. Jack and I were like a well oiled machine when it came to paddling. We even impressed ourselves. 3 hour bus ride back to Kathmandu. Finally had to endure all of “Baby” by Justin Bieber. Said our goodbyes to Bernice, Margot, and Miriam.

6/18

Went to Patan Square. Definitely the square to go to. Had a really cool museum that has been called one of the best in the subcontinent. Went to some fair trade shops. I bought you both some gifts, so be ready for some presents when I visit. Hopped in a local van to get back to Thamel. Got lost (fail). Got a cab.

6/19

Today’s mission was PANTS! Had to wait forever again for jack to finish talking to Sarah. I just don’t understand, but maybe it’s because I’ve never been in a relationship. It seems so foreign and strange. Haggled a guy down from 650 RS to 500 for a pair of pants. That’s like $5.

6/20

Last day in Nepal. Went to the giant stupa again. We were going to have a haggling war but no one was in the mood. I didn’t feel like buying anything. We were all already in airplane mode. Karma, the main guy at ACME, gave us a shirt and a white scarf for safe travels. He was so nice. Drove at night for the first time and that is an entirely different experience. Attacked by mosquitoes at the airport. Plane actually left early.

Then there were just a bunch of plane rides and layovers until we got to Atlanta. I didn’t sleep for more than two hours and I didn’t sleep till 10 am the day after I got home. It was crazy. Ally and her mom picked us up and I was so excited to see her. We were pretty crazy. Then when I got home I was so excited to see Sam (he had just gotten back from his trip earlier that evening). Jack and I woke him up at 2Am and made him play Mario Kart on the Wii with us. Then I watched 6 episodes of Dollhouse. At 10AM we tried to watch Doctor Who but I passed out. It took me forever to get back on the right sleep schedule because it’s an 11 hour difference and I didn’t sleep on the plane.

You know, we never did finish that game of blocks (FAIL!).

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Ok I’m finally posting! (no guarantees it’ll be interesting though)

Ok guys, so since I haven’t had too much to report from this summer I’ve been just reading everyone else’s posts, but since Jenny and I are about to head to Turkey in a week I figured I’d give y’all a rundown of where we’re headed when and such (don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you don’t want to read the whole thing, it’s definitely long and sadly there will be no pictures because I’m writing a post about things I haven’t done yet). Also on an unrelated note, we all need to play Settlers of Catan, when we get back to school, I’m very excited about it because I just won against my family and naturally I’d like to lose against all of you!

Ok so we fly into Istanbul on the 23rd and are going to spend 4 nights there (23-27). While there we will be meeting with professors from Okan University and representatives from the US Consulate. We’re also going to be visiting the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Hippodrome, plus other museums and restaurants and anything else we can think of to do (basically the history major is going to have a lot of fun on this trip!). We may try to visit the Museum of Innocence which is the physical manifestation of the one described by Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel prize winning author in his book of the same name, which just opened in Istanbul. It should be pretty cool, though as Jenny pointed out as she read the book, the main character is a bit weird and many of the artifacts in the museum he apparently sniffs a lot and then puts in his mouth so we’ll see how that goes…

When we leave Istanbul we’ll take a ferry across the Sea of Marmara (as ROD MILLER!!!!!!!!!! suggested) to Bursa for a night (27-28), a smaller town in which we will see the Green Mosque, but really Bursa is just a stopping point for us before we get to Bergama where we will be spending two nights (28-30) and seeing the Acropolis, Asclepion (an ancient medical center used for gladiators), and the Red Basilica, a pagan church devoted to the worship of Egyptian gods which was converted into a Christian church by the Byzantines and now houses a small mosque. Yay tons and tons of history!!!

From Bergama we’ll head down to Izmir for two nights (30-1), a coastal town on the Aegean (maybe some swimming without having to lifeguard!) with an ancient market created in the time of Alexander the Great. There are also some very interesting museums here as well as several other ancient sites.

Selcuk is our next stop on our tour, we’ll be there for two nights (1-3) again and see Ephesus (described by a Turkish man to me as “hot as hell”), one of Turkey’s more famous ruins, an ancient Greek city later occupied by the Romans and cited in the Book of Revelation (thats how you know its legit). Ephesus is home to the remains of the Temple of Artemus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (I’m pretty sure theres just a couple columns left though haha). Selcuk also has St. John’s Basilica, a 6th Century church which is said to house the bones of St. John.

From Selcuk we’ll cut inland to Pamukkale for two nights (3-5) and see Aphrodisias, another ancient site and home to the Temple of Aphrodite which was converted into a Christian basilica under the Byzantines. I’m really excited about these buildings which have been repurposed over the years because I think they’ll give some good insight into the mixture of cultures and beliefs that have made Turkey what it is over the years, which is important because for some reason in the Odyssey proposal I thought it would be a good idea the specify that on our return I write a “lengthy reflection paper.” Damn you impressive sounding adjectives.

Antalya is next on our list for two nights (5-7). This is a coastal resort town on the Mediterranean. We’re not there so much for Antalya itself, but more for Termessos, a ruin located on the top of a mountain which according to ROD MILLER!!!!!!! is breathtaking and a must-see for Turkey (of course he thinks everything is a must-see).

From Antalya we head to Konya for one night (7-8), a smaller, more conservative town which is really just a waypoint for us. Near Konya, however, if we have time, we may go see Catal Huyuk, the largest and best preserved Neolithic site ever discovered. Also, just a side-note, by this time we will have taken like a million long bus rides and will probably be really tired as well as super sick of bus rides. I plan to complain about this a lot to all of you when I get back to Hendrix (even you Katie and Conner), so just a heads up!

We’ll keep moving east to Goreme, located in the region of Cappadocia for three nights (8-11). This will hopefully be a much needed few days to relax a bit. Cappadocia is known for its amazing natural rock formations and theres not much to do in Goreme but see these, potentially by hot air balloon (how cool would that be?!) though I have doubts about this because of the prices, and hike around. We’ve booked lodging in a cave hotel as well, so hopefully we’ll get a little R&R as we wrap up our trip.

Our final stop on this whirlwind tour of Turkey is Ankara, the capital which we will spend three days in (11-14) before we fly out. We’ll see things like Ataturk’s mausoleum (he was the founder of modern Turkey, his name literally means “Father Turk”) as well as  a modern art museum and some monuments. I think there should be plenty to do.

On the morning of the 14th we will be getting up at a horribly unreasonable time to head home since our flight is at six and I’ve been informed that we probably need to leave three to four hours early to make sure we make it because of travel time to the airport and long waits for security (oh, I also plan to complain a lot about this, yay friends!). While this will be unpleasant I’m hoping that it will give me a jump on the jet lag I’m sure will hit me when I get home (it won’t). Our return flight bounces us through Munich and Toronto, so there’s two other countries I’ll be in before I get home.

Well I think that’s pretty much it, I promise I’ll take lots and lots of pictures and try to remember what they’re all of so I can show everyone when I get home. I won’t have a computer in Turkey, only my iPod, which will allow me internet access but won’t let me post pictures, so that will have to wait until my return. I’m really excited about the trip, a bit nervous, but Jenny will be there too and she has a TON of experience traveling abroad. When we were picking the trip I felt like it was hard to find cool places she hadn’t been. So hopefully everything will go smoothly and I’ll come back with some great stories. Let me know if you have any questions, suggestions of things to see, requests for souvenirs, or anything else.

Also, if you’ve read this far, you deserve a special reward, so I got you…. well I can’t think of anything yet, but I’m open to suggestions!

A wild Rachel appears!

Rachel came to visit!

It was awesome.

She came and hung out with me for a little while at BerryAustin, then she had real barbecue for the first time at County Line. It was great!

(Pictures when my dad gets them off his phone.)

We went to SoCo (South Congress) and window shopped, ate at Zen, had some chili powder fries from Mighty Cone (all their food comes in paper cones), met up with Julie, and had Hey Cupcake!

We thought you would appreciate this Katie.

There is this thing called The Red Swing Project. It’s awesome. We need a swing at Hendrix.

Red swing on SoCo

(Side note: I am not a fan of the picture thingy on WordPress. It is confusing. The problem is probably compounded by the current spotty internet connection I am experiencing, but I don’t like it. That is why the pictures are different sizes. I don’t care enough to fix them right now.)

Saturday was also the KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD FESTIVAL AND 5K. Because Austin needs a whole race to celebrate its weirdness. I love this city. I wish I had taken more pictures of other people’s costumes, but I didn’t.

Wheez and I were the only ones that ran, and we were a double negative. (Or running no(ses), if you are really attached to that costume idea.)

Julie, Maggie, Rachel, Me, Wheez, and Stephanie

The race was a lot of fun, but a little crazy. So, the Spartan had obstacles, and a lot of races have stops along the way. Tons of races have “Free beer with race entry”. Most races wait until after you have run to ply you with alcohol. Austin took a different course of action. There were “fun stops” these included:

  • Brats n’ Beer
  • Tito’s Vodka
  • Zico Coconut Water
  • Pino’s Palette (wine and painting)
  • Windsor Communities (they handed out sunglasses)
  • Amy’s Ice Cream
  • Dos Equis

There were a couple of other stops, but they, like the coconut water station, handed out things that were actually useful while running three miles when it is 99 degrees outside. Like water. The last thing I want while running is ice cream, sausage, and alcohol. Good grief. It was a little insane. Tons of fun, but man, these people be crazy. I like Austin. It reminds me that no matter how crazy I am, I’m not the weirdest one out there. By far.

A hug Rachel wasn’t happy about- it does exist!

Rachel didn’t appreciate our sweaty, after-race hug. Silly Rachel.

More posts soon! (Probably.)

El

Because life is distracting.

So… I fail. A little bit. Or a lot, depending on your opinion. Luckily, your opinion doesn’t matter, so it’s just a little fail. I wrote this a while ago, and lots of stuff has happened since then, but I am just now posting it. Yay.

Wow. So much has happened since I have been home. I have cooked/baked:

-tiramisu cupcakes
-tortillas
-blueberry muffin cookies
-chocolate chip cookies
-Chipotle’s corn relish
-lots of spinach salad
-veggie burgers
-sweet potato fries
-a different kind of sweet potato fries
-lots of green smoothies
-banana bread
-rice pudding
-pizza crust
-pizza (different crust) with egg, asparagus, fontina cheese, parmesan cheese, and bacon
and…
-ROASTED STRAWBERRY, BRIE, AND DARK TOFFEE CHOCOLATE GRILLED CHEESE

OH. MY. GOD.

This photo is stollen from the same place I got the recipe, a blog called How Sweet It Is, because I don’t have my fancy camera yet (I have it now! More about that later), and I can’t bring myself to take pictures with my crappy point and shoot.

Heaven. This is Heaven.
If heaven is not as delectable as this sandwich, I will be pissed. You can’t even comprehend the awesomeness of this sandwich until you have had it. Brie and chocolate? Great idea. Roasted strawberries? Better idea. Add them all together between hot and toasted bread? Someone give that person the Nobel Prize.
I realize that there has actually been a lot of stuff that has happened since May 9th. Oh, Lordy. I am not even going to try to explain the awesomeness of the canoe trip until I get those pictures back (disposable cameras for the win), but I will talk about peach picking and THE SPARTAN RACE.
First, THE SPARTAN RACE. On the twentieth of May, I embarked on a super epic journey. Namely, THE SPARTAN SPRINT. You know how it was a 5K? Well, they lied. It was somewhere between 5.1 and 6 miles. Of hills and and obstacles and pure awesome. When the announcer guy (dressed as a spartan, of course) started talking to the crowd, he was all “There is a water stop on mile four!” And I turned to Stephen and panicked just a little bit. Because there aren’t four miles in a 5K, and I had only ever run 3 miles.
Oh, and fire:
The obstacles were things like:
-barbed wire
-tractor pull (pull a concrete block with a metal chain)
-swim under things
-climb over floating things
-crawl through tunnels
-use a pulley to lift a concrete block
-carry a sandbag up and down a hill
-GIANT CARGO NETTING TENTY THING (aka playtime)
-more barbed wire
-mud hills
-jump over short walls (4 feet)
-jump over tall walls (8 feet)
-jump through walls
-climb up a twenty foot rope*
-use a rope to climb up a wall that the helpful race people soaped up with Dial for Men, after wading through chest deep water
-walk across a log floating in water
-far apart monkey bars*
-leap from post to post
-jump over fire
-flip giant tires over a bunch
-spear throw*
-4 1/2 foot high hurdles made of cedar trees
-more walls
-more barbed wire
-people at the finish line with giant sticks to hit you
-rattlesnakes (not an actual obstacle, just extra fun provided for you by Texas)
*failed obstacles
Failing an obstacle meant that you had to do 30 burpees. Burpees suck. I only failed three, which I think is pretty damn awesome, especially since the ones I failed I would need a lot more upper body strength to accomplish. So basically, I am a badass. Is that one word? Because it looks funny. Whatever. Anyway, I never would have made it through (okay, I would have made it through, but I would have walked) without Stephen. He was weirdly supportive throughout the whole thing. It was WEIRD. I oscillated between thinking he was a fantastic human being and thinking he was a terrible human being. He found this amusing. I also decided his definintion of fun was wrong (It’s not.). He responded to one of my assaults on his character with this:
“I’m like Jillian Michaels. You will hate me during it, but love me after.”
I thought this was so funny, I forgot to hate him when he made us run the next couple hills. I may have been a little dehydrated and exhausted at this point. Point is, I did it. I ran 5 1/2 miles and 23 obstacles and didn’t die. I can do it. I proved something to myself that day, and it was awesome. Come at me life. I got this.
Last week, I ran 5 miles in 52:12 with Wheez. Because we are awesome. Oh, and I am going to run the Gauntlet in September. Which is like the Spartan but shorter. Oh, and the Keep Austin Weird 5K is next week. It seems kind of not at all daunting or intense. A) because it is the Keep Austin Weird 5K, and B) The Spartan.
Oh, and you know how my back randomly decides to intensely hurt for like 15 minutes, and then goes away? Apparently I’m fine. I went to the doctor when it started happening all the time, and he was like, your x-rays are fine, you are twenty, go run more, and don’t forget core.
Oh, and PEACH PICKING. It was awesome. Peaches are delicious.
Also, boxes are for hats.
Shannon, the master peach picker.
Wheez, another master peach picker.
Oh, and I went to Houston to visit Michelle and see THE HEAD AND THE HEART.

 

 

So, basically, lots of things have happened. And my life is mostly awesome. I am super excited about this summer, and feel ready to face the world. YAY!
El

The Phantom Tollbooth

and Other Unexpected Instances of Epicness


Ok kids this is it! The first post of the summer. I’m sitting in my room the day after my second week at Project Transformation, and my first full week with our students. The first week here was training, and Monday-Thursday this week we were running the program we created. I knew this whole thing was going to be a wildly fun, deeply challenging, and probably surprising experience, and it really is. The land of Expectations is one I have most certainly left behind.

I drove to SMU from my great aunt’s house an hour away, and I got there at about 9 in the morning. I was really proud of myself because I had navigated Dallas traffic without dying. So upon arrival, I was expecting a boring, quiet registration process where I walked up and signed some things and picked up a room key and parking pass or something.

That was not how it went down.

I could tell which house I was supposed to go to by the noise. There was music playing from inside somewhere, and there were a few people outside wearing the same t-shirt. So I steeled myself, fished out the tiny extroverted part of myself from deep in my soul, and tried to put it on my face instead. It looked like this.

Hello please like me!

I walked up to the house and received what I perceived to be extremely enthusiastic greetings of welcome. I was wrong on that too. They were quite mild on the enthusiasm scale compared to what happened next. A guy had me follow him into the registration room, which turned out to be where the loud music was coming from. Then, he stood on a chair, placed his hands around his mouth to amplify his voice, and yelled “HEY PT, LET’S ALL SAY HELLO TO RACHEL!” And the room erupted into cheers and applause at a level of enthusiasm perhaps rivaling that of the audience of Miss Hendrix (minus drunkenness).

So yeah those are my friends. There are about 90 of us. Everyone is (at least pretending to be) intensely extroverted and charismatic and friendly. You know how I hate being alone? Yeah that’s not true anymore. I like it a lot and I value it and need it, because I get so much social time every second of always that I can’t even handle it anymore. I have met someone who I would describe as myself, except in the form of a large black man. His name is Marshall and he is great. We are going to write musics together sometime.

I work in a team of 11 interns at St. Mark’s UMC. We bonded very quickly and strongly, and we all work together really well. We are split into Youth and Elementary. The four of us on youth are me, Timmy, Cole, and Tess. It’s awesome because our strengths and weaknesses kind of compliment each other, so we work very well together. Also we all like folksy music. (Winners.) Training week was very intense, and I won’t even go over everything that happened in it. Just know that it was full of really long days and lots of meetings and bonding and good and bad, but mostly good. It left me feeling confident. That was probably wrong too. Oh but here is a picture of a 5 foot long shark I drew. Because we are the St. Mark’s Sharks.



So our first week with the kids was… interesting. They are adorable little hellions. To set the stage, let’s keep in mind that Timmy, Tess, Cole, and I completely create every activity of every day of every week. We have to be creative and put in a lot of energy to coming up with games and lessons and things to keep them entertained. And it… well, it’ll go better next week.

Here is how Monday started: The morning went pretty well. We could tell we were going to have a lot of issues with attitude with the older kids, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. Then lunch happened. Or rather, it didn’t. We had them set up the tables and sit down, and then we got news that the food wasn’t there yet and it would be about 20 mins late. We handled that alright, coming up with games and songs (which they hated because they were starving) to keep them occupied. Because we kept being told that it’d just be another ten minutes, that cycle went on for over an hour. A FULL HOUR OF 11 STARVING COLLEGE STUDENTS PULLING RANDOM SONGS OUT OF THEIR ASSES TO ENTERTAIN 102 SCREAMING MUTINOUS MIDGETS. We felt like we could handle anything at the end of that day, because even though it was horrible, we made it through and it couldn’t get any worse. The next day, it got about 40 minutes worse. It’s really hard to pretend to be positive and energetic when you haven’t eaten since that banana you had at 7 in the morning.

So we have kids going into 6-9 grade. Kevin and Marvin are our youngest. They’re twins going into sixth. They’re flipping insane. They can’t sit down, they can’t pay attention, they can’t raise their hands, and they can’t be any more adorable. I love them to death. Until Wednesday, they thought I was a pushover. They were wrong. Here is a little story about Kevin. I’d been having trouble with him all week, especially Wednesday morning. He wouldn’t listen to me, and kept doing things just because he could get away with them. For afternoon enrichment we were having a talent show, because it was Hobbies Day, and Kevin goes up on the stage and says “Yo soy Kevin, y mi talento es hacer chistes.” He starts telling this joke, and I’m super pumped because I’m following it and it seems funny. Then, starting with “hijo de puta,” he lets out this string of swears, because he thinks no one in charge can understand him. I was pissed. I jumped up and got him off the stage immediately and went to sit him down in the back with another intern. I thought he’d be all giggly, but turns out he was actually really really upset. Poor Kevin was almost crying. I talked to him for a few mins to make sure he understood why he was in trouble, and I basically ended up not having to give him any consequences because he was so ridiculously embarrassed. I was afraid he would probably hate me after that, but when I asked him to mess up my Rubik’s cube for my act in the talent show later, he brightened back up. I think he just wanted to know he was accepted again. He’s my favorite one. Oh and also all the kids think I’m insanely cool now because of the Rubik’s cube.

Story number two: Alba. Alba is going to be in sixth grade, but she shares the defiant attitude of the 8th and 9th graders. She’s very sweet at first, but then turns extremely whiny and obstinate as soon as anything doesn’t go her way. She is bold and funny in a small group of friends, but extremely shy in front of new people and large groups. Except when she’s talking about art. Alba brought her portfolio from art class for Hobbies day, and she is very talented at different types of drawing, painting, and collage. So, it should have been totally awesome for her to participate in our afternoon enrichment activity, which involved making an outline of yourself on a large piece of paper and adding various stuff about yourself throughout the week. She messed up the first day and crumpled up her paper to throw it away, but we were short on paper and didn’t have extra, so we made her keep the one she’d trashed. On the last day of programming for the week, I noticed that she hadn’t worked on it at all. I asked her why and she told me it was already messed up. So I decided it was pep talk time. I told her that I knew she could probably make it really awesome, because she is such a talented artist. I told her that artists are people that make something out of nothing, and that I knew she was creative enough to do it. Then I let the subject drop and left, because she didn’t seem very responsive to it. Oh well.

At the very end of the day, I heard from another intern that Alba was looking for Ms. Rachel, and that she wouldn’t talk to anyone else. When we found each other, she handed me the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. She had folded her paper into a large book, with each of the assignments from the previous days on a separate page, plus some extra stuff. Not only did she decide to participate in the activity, but she did so in a creative, overachieving way. I am so proud of her.

That’s what I call rewarding.

So anyway, I’m going to sign off now. Oh, the reason for the title of this post is that we have book club every day, and my group is reading The Phantom Tollbooth. I hope you guys know that book, because it’s amazing. Book club was kind of a shitshow for our first day, but I have high hopes for next week! I’m working with the kids with the lowest reading skills, and I know the’ll improve a lot this summer. I am going to leave you with a picture of the view from my dorm room window, which received those lovely “improvements” at about 7 this morning. Did I mention it was my day to sleep in? Yeah. Nope.

TTFN kids! I hope you enjoyed reading about my little bits of fail.

-Raquelita