Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February Get-Aways - Day 5 Trent

Yesterday started off so grey and nondescript I was happy to immerse myself in some recent submissions of letters that coincidentally all spoke of travel. Not just any travel though; I have yet to find a letter that waxes lyrical about a package deal!

There are broad themes emerging in the travel letters I‘ve read and sorted into the category Away. My meanderings yesterday nudged me towards something I have been wanting to address with each of my categories: a re-working of my filing system to better reflect its range and vibrancy.  Eventually I will re-read all the letters in each category to identify and tag major themes. Yesterday’s tags for Away were a start:

Tagged as Exchange I have two letters:

Exchange student 1

I haven’t met Marie-Claude yet, but I’ll write a blurby at the end of the letter after I do. You’ll meet her because the pamplette says your friends are her friends. Sounds corny, but it would make her feel better...
I haven’t decided what I’m going to say to her yet, I think I’ll start with Bonjour!
 Exchange student 2

In case you haven’t noticed I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do on this stupid computer. A lot of good DIC 2A1 did me. I’m not sure a year of suffering through computers is worth this amount of questionable knowledge. 
 Have you ever noticed that writing letters is 100 percent more difficult than talking to someone (especially if you can’t t*y4pE. Give it a rest dear. Seriously, I’m really having trouble here, but let’s face it; you’re not saying anything to help me out. I’m in a tacky mood. On the way home we passed a store that was selling pink flamingos (imagine in the middle of winter) and I wanted to jump out of the car and buy one. But as we were going approximately 140 km/h (Quebec drivers) I chose wisely and restrained myself.
 Well... to sum it up Quebec is amazing! Half the time I don’t understand anything people are saying to me, but you learn to recognize the signs and act accordingly. For example if someone laughs, you laugh. If someone points to the fridge, you say “oui.” If someone points to a pair of running shoes, you say “non.” If someone hands you the car keys, you say, “Je regrette, mais je n’ai pas mon permis de conduire. If the entire crowd of people fall on the floor dying of laughter at something you just said, you turn red. You see it’s not that difficult and you learn fast...
 I’ve never experienced such a complete difference between people in my life. These people are insane. I had nevertheless the best time I have ever had at a party in my life. What an experience!! They play games at their parties such as passing a carrot around a circle of people using only your knees ... Also contrary to popular belief they don’t drink. They don’t need to. The energy at the party could have lit the entire City of New York.
Under Camp Letters are two letters from staff. I know I have some camper letters to add they’ll have to wait for another residency.

Camp 1
Lucky you, you’re the first person I’m writing to. I’m sitting in the CIT lounge in a big cushion red chair. There is so much to tell you. There are 24 CIT’s, most of them are my friends, but I also hate a few of them. My campers are intermediates (age 12 & 13) and they are pretty cool. I teach canoeing in the morning, actually I don’t teach yet, I’m just learning how to solo to perfection. The guy who teaches me is gorgeous, but very demanding and a bit of a jerk....
 Anyway most of my free time is spent sleeping, showering or hanging in the CIT lounge. It’s so weird being a CIT I know all the gossip I could take and my campers are dying to know all about it. It’s so weird. This letter may seem strange, but I’m so tired I can’t think properly....

 Camp 2
Thanks so much for the letter. You are the only person I have received a letter from since I got up here. (In other words I went crazy when I got your letter) You said to tell you all about Camp Wanapetei. So here goes (There is so much).
  I’ve been here 3 weeks and I still can’t get over it. The bay that the camp is in is fantastic. To the left side is a group of hills, cliffs that make the shape of a sleeping Indian. It sounds rather weird, but it’s true. Wherever you look its like one big tree (it’s so lush)...
 The people up here are fantastic. It’s unreal how many different personalities and interests there are. . You are learning about each other every time you talk to them. It’s great. The staff parties up here are unreal to say the least...  
Under Back to the Grind

Getting Away From it All (or perhaps Family Trips - time will tell)

I’m tempted to call a series of eight letters I Had a Farm in Africa to distinguish them from other ex-pat letters. I’ll know better when I finish reading them if the nod to Karen Blixen is appropriate or not.

I feel living here is ‘real.’ Today, Sunday, was our one day off; we have had to decide what to do about the cripple man who appeared again. (we sacked him six months ago.) Do we let him stay or give him a job here so that he can help support the childe he sired to 15 –year-old girl while on the farm. Do we let ‘Regina’ live here again – she moved off about 9 months ago. Do we sack all the people who are smoking the cigarettes, which are stolen from our little shop, or only the one that pinched them He gives them out to keep the others quiet.

I’m holding off tagging two other series of letters as well. My gut is that they fall under A Year Abroad, but I haven’t yet finished reading the letters from a potty –mouthed ESL teacher in China in the 90s and the hand-made postcards from a young woman doing an environmental conservation internship in Ghana need more careful consideration.

All but five of the 18 cards were written on the same day, Feb 13, 2011, but never sent. My gut is to wait this one out until I can come up with a tag name that reflects what it is to be far away from home, missing your friends with no time to write and when you finally do you neglect to mail the letters. I’ve written a few letters like that myself.     

From Ghana on cards never sent to"Dear Granny; Dear Oma & Op; Dear Lovely Kelly; Dear Moonbeam and Dear Most Wonderful Women I know" we learn:
My internship is going well. I am learning a lot about environmental conservation and about what that means in a developing country. There are a lot more nice ideas than action sometimes. Myth vs. Reality will you.
We also learn:
Dear Mom
 This old lady is old, she’s been moved from one cage to another her whole life. She gave birth a couple of times and her babies are in different parts of the world having more babies. And now she sits in a small cage because the other big ones are needed for the other monkeys to have more babies. Thank you for always giving everything, for always answering the phone. Thanks you for being my person and supporting me. It is not easy being here but you have helped me to reach my dreams to work towards my dreams, even when my dreams were not so clear. Thank you, I am not always the most easy person to commit to. I love you.
From China we learn:
By the way I love my job so far – it is frustrating + I’m confused as to what is going on most of the time – but it is really rewarding. I’m teaching 3 grade 1 classes – They are so adorable – I walk into the classroom + say good morning - +30 kids repeat Good Morning Maomi- or something like that – Besides our shitty living conditions + the smelly city – I’m fairly content – This year is going to be a great experience – I look at my pictures all the time  + think about you. You are my best friend - + from friend to friend I think you should screw grad school + go into cosmetology – Hee hee – I’ll write again soon = Say hi to everybody for me – Tell Will + my Mom I love them – take care of yourself
P.S. Tell everybody their letters are coming soon – It’s hard to keep up
It’s going to be a crazy trip reading and sorting these. I hope you’ll join me!


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