MontanaRon

An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Month: April 2007

New Contract

Well, there hasn’t been much going on here lately worth blogging about, just a steady rhythm of classes to teach and weekends spent at the beach doing lesson plans for the upcoming week. Not a bad rhythm at all. But, I did get exciting news this past week–the project has been renewed for another 10 months, meaning I’ll be working here again next year!

This year’s contract finishes on July 11th and the new one will probably start at the beginning of October and finish up next August. What am I going to do between July 11th and October, you ask? My tentative plans are to fly back to Montana on the 11th, do a little visiting and then fly to Thailand and Laos around the 23rd of July. I’ll stay in SE Asia for a couple of months and then come back to Montana around the 23rd of Sept. I want to visit my old haunts in Glendive before coming back down to the Dominican Republic. So, those are tentative plans, subject to change, but I’ll probably go online to buy my air ticket to Thailand very soon. Right now the fare is around $1600–that might go up or go down, but I’ll do a bit of exploring to see if I can’t find a cheaper price.

Now, as far as the Yankees are concerned, the team is off to a very bad start, losing 5 of 6 to the arch-rival Red Sox. (Karen, I can hear you chortling with glee all the way from Massachusetts.) But, bad starts aren’t all that unusual for the Yanks, so there’s no need to push the panic button, yet. The team’s getting most of their injured players back in the next week or so, so things should start to turn around soon. Hopefully. Wishfully. More later.

And it Begins Again

Yup, the Yanks-Red Sox rivalry starts up again tonight. Hopefully, all of A-Rod’s critics will have eaten some amount of crow by now, but we’ll see what happens when he gets some real pressure on him (and the rest of the Bombers) at Fenway Park tonight. Of course, most people around here are breathless with Rodriguez’ feats so far this year. Wonder how long he can keep up his incredible pace.

I have to go to Santo Domingo tomorrow to buy some books and other supplies for the classes. I went last weekend to buy the books, but the bookstore said they wouldn’t get any more of them in until this week. Hope I have some luck this time, ‘cuz it always costs me a bundle to go into the capital.

Time for the game. More later.

The Long Haul, International Holidays

We’re into the long haul, now. No breaks, as far as I know, up until my contract finishes on July 11th. There are about 80 players in camp, tuning up for the start of the intense Dominican Summer League, which begins, I think, near the end of May or the beginning of June. The two Yankee teams will play against the other teams in the area, similar to what they did in October-November last year, only this time the games are much more meaningful, with a trophy awarded to the team winning the championship game. The Yanks have taken the top prize the last two years.

Juan Dolio was quite crowded during Semana Santa, as I expected, especially at the hotel. I spent a couple of days walking farther down the beach, where it was a bit quieter (but not by much). Here’s a pretty cool shot I got of some of the players on the beach. There was a camouflaged (army?) helicopter flying very low along the beach, taking videos. It could have been a TV crew. We were lucky enough to be in a good position to capture the shot below.

Top row from left, Julio Rojas and Pedro Marcano, bottom row from left, Andres Varilla and Ronny Calderon. All of them are from Venezuela.

Helicopter_2

Here’s a shot of the rambunctious bus ride on the way to Juan Dolio. If you don’t think that all the young ladies walking along the highway got an earful, think again.

On_the_bus

I’m going into the capital today to buy some textbooks and supplies for my classes. I’m once again teaching 3 hours a day to various levels, in addition to teaching 3 hours a week to the staff. Add in the lesson planning and I have a fairly full schedule. One big delight is that Abel brought back a projector from Tampa, so now I can include Powerpoint presentations, Internet sites, web language games, etc., in my teacher’s toolbox. Should be fun.

Still, I’m counting down the days until I can return to Thailand and Laos, sometime in late July, hopefully. Right now they are celebrating the Songkran Festival, the traditional Thai (and Laos) New Year. Check this website for a sedate, cultural view of the holiday, but check this one for a more realistic (in my opinion) look at the event. It can be great fun, but sometimes the water dousing gets a bit out of hand, especially when administered by rowdy, drunken foreigners (farang). (Not to single out one group, so I suppose there are also more than a few rowdy, drunken Thais who may go overboard.) At any rate, I’d love to be there this time of year to help Nai and his family celebrate. More later.

Semana Santa Crowds

I took a trip into Boca Chica yesterday, and the taxi driver told me how dangerous it is to drive this week. Hordes of people descend on all the beach towns, make merry and then try to drive back home in a somewhat precarious state. He said that there are many traffic deaths, even though the police are out in full force.

I can believe about the people. At the Boca Chica beach, many of the hotels have roped off their areas, something I haven’t seen before, to keep out the non-guests. Lots of vendors were setting up stalls right along the beach, volleyball courts were going in, stages were being erected and a Red Cross tent was going up. On the island across the small lagoon, Presidente Beer, always a huge advertising presence, had blown up a large, Macy’s-Thanksgiving-Day-Parade type balloon, a beer bottle at least 100 feet tall. Very unattractive. So, the next four days are going to be extremely crowded around Boca Chica and elsewhere.

Those of us left at the baseball camp are traveling over to Juan Dolio around 10 this morning, and we’ll stay there until Sunday. I’d like to think that things will be quieter there, but I’m afraid the place is going to be swamped with party-goers. Most of the hotels give out day passes to people who want to partake of the facilities–the beach, swimming pool, bars, and restaurants. I fear that it will be anything but peaceful. If I could know in advance that it will be like what I think it’s going to be like, I’d beg off and stay at the camp, perhaps taking a daily trip into the Burger King in Boca Chica. I’ll let you know in a few days what the scene was. More later.

Juan Dolio, More Sunsets

I’ve been a bit under the weather the last few days with some kind of virus, but I’m starting to feel much better. Just in time for a return trip to Juan Dolio and the Decameron Resort. Rumor has it that we’re leaving tomorrow (Wednesday) and returning on Monday, the 9th. However, the last official word I got was that we’re leaving on Thursday and returning on Sunday. Who knows. At any rate, it’ll be nice to relax on the beach for a few days. This morning, about 20 players left for the training complex in Tampa, from where they’ll be assigned to the various minor league teams–I wish all of them good luck.

We’ve had a few beautiful sunsets lately, so I’ve posted a couple of photos below. I’ve also added a few more to the main Photo Gallery.

This one was incredibly red, and capturing some of the subtle details was very difficult.

Sunset_Mar_30_07a

This one features the moon and Venus right above it near the center-right of the photo. If you squint, you might be able to see them.

Sunset_Mar_20_07

Opening day of baseball season was yesterday. The Yanks won–woo hoo! More later.

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