Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eid Mubarak

September 7-12, 2010: Eid Break - A group of 9 WorldTeach volunteer teachers traveled to the Sylhet Division for some R&R and adventure in Srimangal and Sylhet! Our trip started with an overnight train from Chittagong to Srimangal with an unknown arrival time - luckily many passengers were curious as to where the foreigners were traveling so we were woken up in time to hop off at the small train station in Srimangal. Our time in Srimangal was wonderful! We stayed at the Eco Cottage, tucked in between tea plantations and a peaceful river. Our two days in Srimangal flew by -- tea plantations, pineapple farms, a lime market, a man-powered boat ride, 7-layer tea tasting, hiking through the Lawacherra National Park (leeches and all), watching women package Betal leafs while seeking shelter from the rain, and good food and a great tour guide :) Then, it was time to give Sylhet a chance - on the neverending van ride to Sylhet we fortunately took a break to see Madhabkunda, Bangladesh's tallest waterfall! Our time in Sylhet was cut a little short but we were thankful to not be stuck in Sylhet indefinitely....or take a 9ish hour van ride home to Chittagong....
*sidebar* So in Bangladesh  you can only buy your tickets usually 10 days in advance but since it was Eid Break we were only able to buy our tickets 5 days in advance, which meant we purchased our tickets from Chittagong to Sylhet on Sept 2nd but were unable to purchase our return tickets. These were then going to be bought via telephone but for some reason that didn't work so we were told we could buy our return tickets when we arrived in Srimangal. When we arrived in Srimangal the ticket office wasn't open...then when it did open we were told we couldn't buy a ticket that would leave from Sylhet in Srimangal....then we got to Sylhet and were told that the trains weren't running the day we wanted to go home, so we started looking for a van and driver to drive us home, then the hotel sent someone to the train station with a 300tk ($4) bribe so that someone would sell us tickets! ahh Sooooo with all that said and done we were able to take a day train home on the 12th (versus the originally planned night train on the 12th). *end sidebar*

While in Sylhet we went shopping (I bought 2 new fabrics to take to a tailor for new shalwar kameez and a nakshi katha, embroidered bed cover), we had an Eid meal at an AUW employee's relative's house, we went to Jaflong for a boat ride (where we met up with Russell, our tour guide from Srimangal), and visited Tamil - the Bangladeshi/Indian border. 
All in all our trip was a much-needed break from the hussle and bussle of the city...the air was fresher, the streets were calmer - they even had sidewalks, the sky was clearer - just right for star gazing....they even had fewer/no mosquitoes! Here are a few pictures from our vacation, more to follow later...I promise!
 Kristen, Ayla, and I stayed in this cute cottage at the Eco Cottage in Srimangal

man-powered boat ride in Srimangal

fishermen on the water in Srimangal

colorful boats in Jaflong and the young captains 

The group of WorldTeach volunteers and Russell, our awesome tour guide, and new friend :) 

We met this family at the waterfall and then again the next day in Jaflong - small world :)

My life in random thoughts

I haven't been making time to blog lately, sorry! I blame the overabundance of thoughts and ideas and pictures to go through....and the fact that teaching is my life and I finally had to buckle down and grade writing assignments, which was hard!! So, to catch you up here's a little blog of my life in random day-to-day thoughts in Bangladesh :)

-- My new found love of the nurse's office, saline packets, and having a mom away from home. We've all been getting sick and Sunday I was feeling especially sick/tired so I went to the nurse's office for a remedy and one of the nurses, Miss Rina, took care of me and made me rest for a while and it was just like having mom tend to you when you're sick.

-- I looove not wearing shoes....in class!! :-D On Monday I walked into my microeconomics TA class to see a row of bare feet feeling the textures in the carpet and taking a breather from their shoes! Those of you that know me, know I love to walk around barefoot but the idea of being barefoot in class was a tad bit taboo but I wanted to be barefoot too! So for the first five minutes of class I had a revolution about the freedom I was feeling just by being barefoot in the front row of class! :)

-- The library has Who Moved My Cheese AND He's Just Not That Into You (what else do you need?) It's funny to see the random titles in our library and I love walking from bookshelf to bookshelf to see what's within. I promise to take a picture of the library next time I go - b/c it's reminiscent of a large, at-home library and I love it! :)

-- I love being an ISFJ! I taught my students about personality types this past week - ahh sooo exciting! My students probably think I'm crazy on a daily basis because of my excitement about all the subjects we get to talk about!

-- I love the students @ AUW and I want to meet all of their families/visit all of their hometowns! I often see one my girls from my assessment testing group in between classes and the other day her mom and little brother were visiting and she was overly anxious to introduce me to her family! Her mom invited me to come visit anytime I want :) This is why the Bangladeshi culture is so amazing - they are so open,  friendly, and hospitable.