A to Z: TEFL

Todays post for the A to Z Challenge is: TEFL-teaching English as a foreign language. This is something I’ve been considering since we first went to Thailand to find the cause of the tsunami when I was still working for Oceaneering.

I really loved Thailand and wanted to figure out a way to move there. I started looking into what it would take to move there permanently. I found out that I would not be allowed to work as anything other than an English teacher.

Of course, if I wasn’t working- if I wanted to open a business and hire locals, or I was rich enough to ‘retire’ with a steady income- then I would be welcome. I just wouldn’t be allowed to take any job from a local.

Turns out, it was pretty much the same story in every other country I looked into. 😦

For years, taking the TEFL course was in the back of my mind. I was interested in doing it, but as long as I was working offshore, I just couldn’t justify giving up that lifestyle.

Well, things have changed drastically around here lately. I got laid off last September. I did manage to find a job after that, but it didn’t last long. I work a couple of days a month up in Houston. I’m still hoping to get a call to go back offshore any day, but it’s getting harder to keep that hope going as the days keep passing with no calls, no response to emails or online applications, nothing. 😦

I finally went to take the course and get certified in TEFL. I had a great time while taking the course in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico a couple of months ago. I got to teach and I actually kind of enjoyed it. I think once I get used to it, I might like it.

I came back home because I was supposed to ship out for a short job. Short, but long enough to stock up the savings again. I had planned to go right back down to Mexico to start teaching. I had to put that on hold. I’m still waiting to ship out. 😦

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Moving Day

Class is over and they’ve already started picking up new students for next months class. I need to move out of this apartment I’ve been staying in all month.

I found a nice looking place downtown. I’ll be packing up and moving out later this morning. I still have some food here, I’ll give it to the other girls in the class. They’re all staying on here for at least a few days.

We went out for a celebratory drink last night. We found a place right on the beach with margaritas for only 15 pesos (less than $1)!

I would try to put up a couple of photos, but my computer is refusing to let me see them! It is apparently stuffed full and I need to delete some programs to make room. I’ve already been storing all my photos on thumbdrives, they’re not even on the computer. I have no idea what I can delete without screwing up something I need. I guess that means I can’t look at any photos til I get home to see the computer guy. 😦

Graduation!

It’s over. The time flew by so fast. My time in Puerto Vallarta is coming to an end.

I went to class this morning only to have any last minute questions answered and to receive my final documents. I got my TEFL certificate and letter of recommendation. I have an official TEFL website now and it doesn’t look too bad. Check it out! Let me know what you think. 🙂

We had our class photo taken with our newly minted diplomas, and that was it!

Los Arcos to Las Animas

Sunday the whole group of us from our school went out sailing Bay of Banderas on a friends boat (thanks again Memo!). We had a great time.

We left around 1030 and came back in around 1930. We cruised from the Puerto Vallarta marina down to Los Arcos. We set out a couple of fishing rods and trolled along as we made our way. We passed schools of fish and a few dolphins along the way. It was so nice.

We stopped for a swim at Los Arcos, a big bunch of rocks just offshore. The water was a clear blue-green. There were hundreds of fish swimming around. There were a few other boats there before us and people were busy feeding the fish, swimming, kayaking, and just generally having a good time.

It was so nice to dive in and luxuriate in the cool, clean, clear water. I swam around and took pictures of the fish. I wasn’t brave enough to try swimming through the arches and caves, but some people did.

We headed back out to sail some more after our nice swim, we were on our way to Las Animas Beach. Raul kept watch on the boat as the water taxi ferried us in to the beach. We had lunch over a couple of big margaritas at Los Conos.

The beach was actually pretty busy. Los Conos is right up on the beach. The view of the boats swaying on the bay and the kids making sandcastles on the beach was so relaxing. The few peddlers who wandered by were mostly entertaining, especially this one guy with his pet iguana. He was hilarious. 🙂

The restaurant was busy and the staff was a little overwhelmed, but they brought us our drinks quickly and the food was good. I had cheese quesadillas. I’m not big on seafood and that’s more their specialty. Everyone’s fish and shrimp looked very well prepared and no one complained about the food. 🙂

The water ferry took us back out to the boat and we clambered back aboard the Bella Maria. As we were getting underway, friends pulled up to say hi. They were in a little speedboat (the Calypso) and just out having a good time on the water.

We challenged each other with beer and raicilla, whistling and dancing to loud Mexican music. We rode together for about an hour before they got tired of poking around so slow with us and took off for home, leaving us in their wake. Who cared? We still had plenty of beer. They did make off with the last of the raicilla tho. 😦

We sailed back towards the marina as the sun set to port and the full moon rose to starboard. It was a magical time. Everyone was in good spirits and happy to have spent the day together.

Cancelled Class

I got up at 0530 this morning to get ready for my 0700 class. I was in the classroom, had my whiteboard ready and my CD cued up. Then I waited nervously for my students to show up.

They skipped class today.

OK with me, but that means I have to double up tomorrow. AND, it means I’ll have to wake up early again. I’m NOT a morning person. 😦

I have my lesson plan ready for the 0700 class, I’ll just use the one I wrote for this morning’s class since we didn’t have class. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out which other class I’ll be teaching (tomorrow evening) and then spend time in the afternoon preparing the lesson plan for that one.

Final Week

Class will finish up this week, so things will be busy around here for a couple of days. Actually, I’ve been fairly busy all along. I haven’t been posting much (and probably won’t be) because the internet has been really bad the last couple of days and I can’t stand sitting here trying to work (and not able to get anything done) while I should be out enjoying Puerto Vallarta.

Saturday I spent the morning taking it easy. I had breakfast at the little cantina downstairs, picked up my laundry, picked up a few things at the store. I took the bus down to the marina after it started cooling off a little bit.

I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t bigger. Other than that, it was about what I expected. Lots of expensive shops and plenty of tourists. A few big yachts but most looked like they were actually used and not just show boats like a lot of them you see in Miami or Houston.

As expected, the gates to the docks were locked. I couldn’t get down to the boats to talk to any crew members. I figured there wasn’t much hope, but still worth a try. I wouldn’t mind working on a private vessel again. It might even be fun for a change.

I wandered around for a while, hoping to find a good sailors bar where I could hang out for a while and get the scoop over a few drinks. Sorry to say, I didn’t find any place that looked likely for real sailors to hang out.

I rode the elevator up to the top of the lighthouse (El Faro). I thought I might have a snack and watch the sunset. It was a gorgeous view. They only had chicken wings and I just wasn’t in the mood for those, so I took a few pictures and headed back down to wander some more.

I met a nice guy from Tennessee. He was a former USCG mariner so we had a pretty good conversation. It was nice talking to someone who ‘gets it’. I really miss being on the water. Most people just don’t understand. It gets in your blood.

I had a nice steak dinner at a place called the Rincon de Buenos Aires (Argentinian Steak House). They had a special offering of green salad, baked potato and skirt steak for 195 pesos. I paid about $15 for dinner and a drink.

The steak was great, cooked perfectly and plenty big. I could hardly finish it. The baked potato was big, but they didn’t put anything on it but butter. I asked for sour cream and they brought some, but it was not the same thing we get at home. The salad was big, but they only had Italian dressing and it wasn’t really very flavorful. They brought out a bread basket with chimichurra sauce, but I didn’t want to fill up on bread.

I did really enjoy my steak, but I wasn’t real impressed with the restaurant other than that. First of all, it was very hot. I was dripping. The hostess tried to help me by pulling my table (which was up against the wall in a dark corner) out so that it was under a ceiling fan. I appreciated the effort, but it didn’t help much.

The waiters were all polite and helpful, but it was very busy so they were slow to come by. A man at the next table flagged them down for me once after I had been waving at them for about 10 minutes.

It was definitely a very popular place. I would go back for the food, but only if I made sure beforehand it was a slow time.

Sunday morning we got to go out sailing with Erica and her friend Memo. He has a beautiful sailboat and kindly offered to take our whole class out sailing for the day. I’ll have more on that later.

Today was Monday. Back to school. I got my last 2 teaching assignments this morning, and so spent some time working on my lesson plans this afternoon. I’ve got early classes tomorrow and Wednesday, and we have another essay due Wednesday too, so I’ll be busy for the next couple of days with school work.

It’s already 2300. I need to get off here and get some sleep. I need to get up EARLY tomorrow! 😦

Marina

Last night I went to watch the dancers again (will upload photos later). I got there 45 minutes early and STILL couldn’t get a seat where I could see to take good pictures. So I stood again for the whole show ( 2 hours +45 mins). My back was killing me by the time it was over, but I did at least manage to get some decent pictures this time.

I met my friends from the TEFL course there and we wandered down the Malecon afterwards. We stopped to have dinner and a couple of margaritas. I had plain and they had strawberry. Instead of salt on the rim, they had spicy pepper! I’m glad I stuck with the regular. They were strong! Dinner (for 1) and 6 margaritas for $15! Our waiter turned out to be from Houston.

Doesn’t it make you wonder about our supposed economic recovery (and “free country” status) when so many Mexicans are leaving the US and finding things much better in Mexico? I’ve certainly found things much better here than at home. I would love to live here permanently and I’m seriously considering it. That’s the whole reason I’m getting certified in TEFL. It will finally allow me a way to get out of the US.

I’ll just have to adjust to a serious pay cut (about 90%!) and so far I’m not really ready to accept that.

Today, I’m going to the marina. I’m hoping I can get in to wander around the docks and talk to people there. I’d like to find out about the possibilities of working on some of those yachts. If I can’t get down on the docks (which is more and more common today and a SERIOUS disadvantage to those of us who work aboard), then I’ll try to find a bar where the sailors hang out.

I’ll try to find  out through word of mouth if anyone is looking for crew, or if there is someplace with a bulletin board, or if there are any other hang outs. That has worked for me before. When I finished high school on the sailing ships and was supposed to have a job working my way home on a ship from London and it fell through, luckily I found a job helping out on a Thames sailing barge for the summer. I had the best time that summer!

I wouldn’t mind doing something like that again. 🙂

Sunset

Today we had ourselves videotaped. We were all nervous in class and spent every minute practicing our grammar points and introductions. We went over to the other classroom (out of the glare) and we each got to present our grammar points in front of the camera. I’ll put up a link when they make it available.

Afterwards, I taught my one student again, we reviewed adverbs and adjectives and then had a few conversations to try and get the idea of how we show interest in English across. I think it went pretty well. Tomorrow we’ll start a new lesson and then it’s the weekend!

I went to watch the sunset on the beach right behind my apartment. There was a girl sitting out near the water with her little dachshund puppy. I enjoyed watching it running around and having so much fun.

It was a beautiful sunset, the tide was low today so I didn’t get soaked like last time. It was nice, with a little breeze and watching the sailboats, birds and the little puppy on the beach. Puerto Vallarta really is a great place to spend time. I could definitely see myself staying here for a while. 🙂

Mega

Today was a fairly slow day. Class this morning from 10-1300. Then I worked on my lesson plan for my teaching practice this afternoon. I had the same class as yesterday so it was much easier to prepare the plan today. I practiced my grammar point for the video they’re going to do tomorrow.

I’m going to do the simple past tense. At least I do understand that one. I have the rules down. I just hope I can remember to say them all when I’m in front of the camera. 😉

I taught my class this afternoon from 16-1700. It went well. I only had one student show up and she’s a pretty smart girl. She did all her homework and so we were able to cover most of the material. I think I still need to reinforce the difference between adjectives and adverbs. I have to try to make it very simple since I don’t speak much Spanish at all and she doesn’t have a very large English vocabulary. It’s really very challenging.

After class was over I went home (it’s almost right next door) and tried to catch up on my email. I actually saw a couple of job postings so I immediately sent them emails. It would be nice, but I doubt I’ll get any replies. I’m pretty sure one of them was in Ukraine and they almost never crew up with Americans.

I took a walk down to the Mega to find a few things I’d been craving. It’s a big superstore, almost like a super Walmart. It has everything. Groceries, to sporting goods, to electronics. I loaded up 3 bags of groceries (mostly junk food which is even more expensive here than it is at home).

I got peanut butter and jelly, bread, ruffles potato chips, ham, sliced cheese, block cheese, 6 cans of chicken (to make salad), sweet relish, butter, apples, onions, cranberries, TP, fresh baked orange muffins, and about a half dozen packs of M&Ms. I paid only $24.66!

Halfway There!

Today I had my 5th teaching practice. I have 5 more to go, so I’m halfway there! We passed the halfway mark for the class already. It will be finished on Feb 26th. It seems like it has been going by so fast.

The pace of the class has been picking up this week. We’re all very busy with our lesson plans and teaching assignments, we have another essay due Wednesday, and Thursday we have to make our presentations to be video taped.

Sarah gives us a grammar lesson

Sarah gives us a grammar lesson

I’m still confused over a lot of the verb tenses. I don’t remember ever hearing about most of them before. No, never in my life! I remember the past, present and future, but now all of the sudden there are 12 of them! WTF?! What are they and when do we use them all? I still don’t know but I am learning.

Maybe by the time the course is over I will actually know what I’m doing. 😉

Mardi Gras on the Malecon!

Yesterday I finished early and went down to the Malecon in time for the Mardi Gras parade. I walked around the pier and watched the sun set, watched the pirate ship come in and talked to some of the artists.

When the sirens started going off, I followed the crowds up the street to watch the parade go by. I posted tons of photos on here, but they’re not showing up. If you want to see them (and you do!), go look at my new blog! www.captainjillsjourneys.com

It was pretty good. Much smaller than what I imagine New Orleans or Rio to be. I liked the fact that anyone was welcome to join in. I loved that there were hardly any crowds. It was great to be able to see everything clearly. I was able to get some decent photos. The only problem I had was that they were moving by so quickly and a lot of them were dancing. It was hard to get good, clear, sharp pictures.

Everyone was having a great time. The costumes were ‘fabulous’. I loved watching the dancers. Those guys were really hot! Too bad they were mostly all gay. I kept thinking to myself, “what a waste!” The crowd seemed pretty subdued for a Mardi Gras parade. Maybe it was still too early? I do notice the crowd here in Puerto Vallarta is much older than in New Orleans.

After the parade, I went back to the Malecon to watch the pirates shoot off their fireworks. I’ve noticed they usually start right after 2100, they waited til after the parade. I’m not sure why since the fireworks only last about 5 minutes.

The clowns were putting on a show at the arches again and there was a pretty big audience. I wish I understood Spanish better so I could really get what they’re saying. Clowns are funny anyway, but these particular ones seem to talk alot. 😉

I got home in plenty of time to get a good nights sleep (but stayed up late on the computer again).

Teaching Practice #1

I’m nervous. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I have zero confidence. I don’t feel at home or comfortable up in front of a group of strangers, especially when I don’t really know what I’m talking about.

I’d feel a lot better with a few margaritas in me. I do pretty good karaoke that way, but I don’t think that’s allowed. 😦

Tomorrow is my first teaching practice session. I’ve had a few chances to observe already. I’ve been trying to concentrate on learning the techniques the teachers are using to get the information across and manage their classrooms. But they seem very comfortable with it and it’s obvious they know their material very well. I don’t.

Sure, I can speak English. I can read, write and spell it too. But I don’t know how to explain grammar. I don’t know all the rules and details. I struggle to use proper punctuation!

I spent about 4 hours this afternoon working on my lesson plan (for a 1 hour class). I’m still lost. Thank god there is a pretty good book to follow!

I’ll go over my notes again in the morning and try and get through this. After all, it’s not like they’re going to shoot me or anything. I should be happy to have the opportunity to work through my stage fright, right? 🙂

Playa Colomitos

We loaded up the van and headed out of town to Colomitos Beach. Driving along narrow, twisting mountain roads, we caught glimpses of the ocean between beautifully built houses and ritzy resorts. We passed by Los Arcos, and not too much further came to the turn-off for Bocas de Tomatlan.

It’s a funky little fishing town, most well known for the beach side restaurants and as the place to catch the water taxi for more remote beaches up the coast. Laura found her own shoe store!

From Bocas, we hiked up and over (and around and down) the path to Colomitos Beach. I had to stop and rest a few times, my legs were getting shaky. It’s not the way to go if you’re knees are weak. I should have just taken the water taxi.

only about 1/4 there!

only about 1/4 there!

I was SO ready to dive in the water, it looked so inviting. And I was so tired, hot and sweaty from the hike. I wished I could’ve just jumped in from the hills, but figured I might really hurt myself. The beach was clean and surprisingly crowded. After that hike, I thought it would be empty.

As soon as we hit the sand, we dumped our stuff and ran into the surf. It was COLD. But only for a minute, then it was just perfect!

I was disappointed not to see more interesting sea life. I only saw a couple of fish flit by on the sandy bottom. There weren’t even any fish around the rocks.

Colomitos was getting more crowded, so we decided to move on. To the waterfalls? Or the next beach? Since the little stream that cut through the beach wasn’t even able to reach the sea, we figured the waterfalls wouldn’t be too impressive at this point. We decided to head to the next beach.

A couple more students from our school made the trek with us with their cute little girl and their puppy. I felt a little embarrassed that she could make the hike with no problems and I was huffing and puffing all the way. But I did eventually make it. 🙂

Again, it was worth it. Another gorgeous little sandy beach, divided by rock piles at each end. The views back towards Colomitos and Puerto Vallarta were beautiful. The beach was much quieter. Our group was pretty much the only one there.

We had a few snacks, walked up the beach, swam some more, relaxed into the sun and sand, and when we were ready to leave, we just waved at a passing water taxi. They drove right up onto the beach and picked us up for the ride back to Bocas.

We had a late lunch at one of the little beach bars; fajitas, fish tacos, tostadas, seafood cocktails, coconut shrimp. All very fresh and they served big plates, so much food I could only eat about half. Very reasonably priced too.

We finished up and headed home. I’m staying in tonight, I have to get up early for class tomorrow. My last observation before I start teaching. (oh nooooooo…)

Fiesta Mexicana!

Friday night was the Fiesta Mexicana! Lot’s of good food and drink to sample from all the local restaurants. Different spices and flavors from all over Mexico were on offer. Tacos, fajitas, moles, pibil, burritos, tortas, corn, flan, ceviche, shrimp, fruit drinks, beer and margaritas.

Tables were set out in the park and decorated with candles and colorful linens. Lights were hung and live mariachi music kept things lively. They have this party every Friday night, starts at 1930. I’ll be back next week and hope to get a seat.

There was a pretty good crowd, especially to watch the dancers in their colorful costumes. They were all students at the dance school, but they did as well as any professional troupe.

More on that later, for now, the food!

More Malecon

Another beautiful day and a sunset on the Malecon.

Saturday was a busy day on the beach, there were a lot of entertainers out today. I saw people dressed up and playing statues, aliens, clowns. There were lots of local families out along with the tourists. All the restaurants and food stands were busy. It’s a great place to chill out and watch the sunset.

Observing

I was partnered with another student to observe a couple of classes today.

The first class only had 2 students. The teacher worked with them on superlatives (words like best, most, worst, least, etc). I think we (observers) learned at least as much as the actual students did. It’s been a very long time since I’ve had an English class, and somehow I really don’t remember them formally teaching us a lot of this stuff.

I’ve been concentrating in class on trying to understand the terminology and the proper uses of words myself. At this point, I think I would probably mislead any students who might ask me to teach them English. Yes, I know how to speak it, but I don’t know why I speak it the way I do. I don’t know how to articulate the rules, I just know them in the back of my mind somewhere and follow them unconsciously.

Our second observation started at 2000. There was only 1 student and he was at a fairly advanced level. This class was much more conversational. The teacher went over how to write formal and informal emails. There was some discussion about proper forms of address, how to open and close the communication as compared to letters (snail mail), etc.

It seemed like the hardest part for the student was getting to clearly understand some of our idioms, like “the more the merrier” for example. Easy to understand his confusion, I have the same issues while trying to understand Spanish.

Classes finished at 2100. Now, I should be doing homework (reading the workbook). It put me to sleep last night. I suppose I should try going to bed earlier. 😉

Malecon

After class yesterday, we went to the beach for a bit. Then shopping for ‘appropriate clothing’ for the classroom. Then we met our teacher back at the school to take the bus to the Malecon and Old Vallarta. (I don’t know how to put the accent marks).

S takes a dip in the ocean

S takes a dip in the ocean

The Malecon was nice. It wasn’t very crowded last night, but there was a good mix of local families and tourists from all over. We walked down the cobble-stoned ‘boardwalk’ and checked out the interesting artwork along the way.

They had sculptures (real and fake- people made up and pretending to be statues). They had sand sculptures along the waterline, some breaking up from the weather over time and some newly made.

sand artist finishing his creation

sand artist finishing his creation

There were plenty of bars, restaurants, shops and food carts (which looked delicious!). I noticed shrimp BBQ, corn on the cob and in cups, tacos, burritos, fresh fruit juices, flans, even what looked like cheesecake. YUM!

I will be back!

We walked by a park where our teacher told us they held a farmers market on the weekend and a coffee-shop/bookstore (English and Spanish). We walked up into town a couple of blocks and saw a very interesting shop with fantastic art by local indigenous people.

Some of the art was made with yarn, some with beads. Some were sculptures, some were flat and hung like paintings. The colors were brilliant, vibrant and imaginative. Inspired by the hallucinogenic visions given by the peyote cactus.

We were on our way to dinner at Derby Burgers. I think we were all starving by then. 🙂

They had a large selection of burgers, even a vegetarian option or two. They all came with a choice of sweet potato fries, regular fries or salad. I had a steak burger (without the steak sauce). The sauteed onions and mushrooms were a perfect complement to the juicy, perfectly cooked (med-rare) burger.

We all cleaned our plates. No complaints, but the Aloha Burger (with pineapple) was unexpectedly spicy.

We were all stuffed and since we had class in the morning we were ready to head home. I got in about 2300. Too bad I stayed up til 0300 on the computer!

My New Mexican Home

Puerta Vallarta is much larger than I expected, I can see it will take quite a while to explore. I have started learning my new neighborhood. It seems pretty nice and quiet here.

my place is just above where those people are

my place is just above where those people are

my (shared) apartment

my (shared) apartment

The school is right across the square. The laundromat is right next door to the school. There are a couple of small stores and restaurants right downstairs. An ice cream shop on one corner and a pizzeria on the other. An office depot a block one way and a bank with good exchange rates and ATM a block the other way, with an organic coffee shop right next door.

2 (big) slices and a beer for 50 pesos ($2.85)

2 (big) slices and a beer for 50 pesos ($2.85)

The beach is only about 2 blocks away.

But be careful of this guy on the way.

crocodile? or alligator? which is it?

I think I’m going to like it here. 🙂

Made It to Mexico

I left the house in a rush this morning, trying to make it to the airport on time. I slept a little bit late and took too long finishing up last minute business so I was cutting it close.

I was lucky there wasn’t a big line in security (it’s STILL an un-necessary violation of our rights and SO infuriating!).

I made my flight with 15 minutes to spare. 🙂

The school sent someone to pick me up at the airport and take me to my new home away from home. It’s practically right next door to the school and only a couple of blocks from the beach (which is gorgeous!- photos later). 🙂

It looks like it will be an interesting and fun month here. It is still hot tho, I was hoping for a little cooler weather. Also, internet is in and out so I’m not sure how that’s going to affect my blogging here.

It’s just turning dark here, so about time to go get some dinner. I saw a little pizza place around the corner that looked cool, there was another place up the block with ceviche and fish tacos. It looks like a good place for watching the people go by.

I think I’ll head out for a while. 🙂

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Sunset @Puerta Vallarta

Back to School

Today’s post for Just Jot It January, I’m not following the prompt (felicity), but going off on a tangent of my own…

I keep hoping and hoping that someone will contact me for a ‘real’ job. Since I was laid off from Ocean Rig in September and started looking for work, I haven’t had even one call (normally, I would have had a couple dozen for Christmas fill-ins).

I was very lucky and found a job through a friend. I thought I’d better go ahead and take it since things were so slow. I took that job, but it didn’t work out. I finished my hitch, but decided it wasn’t somewhere I really wanted to be. I decided to take my chances. I didn’t go back.

It wouldn’t have been worth it even if I had returned. They lost their contract and laid everyone off after only 1 more hitch. 😦

I saw in the news this morning that Ocean Rig lost the contract for the Olympia, so I’m sure they’ll be laying off even more people there. Schlumberger just announced they’re letting go another 10,000 people.

Ocean Rig Olympia (google photo)

I guess I need to face up to the facts and get serious about finding something else to do with myself. It looks like there’s not going to be any ‘real’ job for me for the foreseeable future. Probably at least 1 year, maybe 2.

I wouldn’t be so upset and worried about it if they hadn’t changed the rules as to what we need in order to work offshore. Before, I would have just found something else to do for a while, knowing I could always go back when things got better. That’s hardly an option anymore with the new regulations.

Now, we have to have our documents renewed every 5 years. To do that, we need to have at least 1 year (365 days) of sea time within the last 5 (on vessels of appropriate tonnage). We also need to have a few (very expensive) training classes renewed within that same time period.

I also need to have a USCG approved physical done every year and if they find anything wrong with me, they might decide I’m not allowed to work any more. To top it off, the Nautical Institute (which is where we get our DP certificates) has knuckled under and decided that we all have to renew our DP certs every 5 years too (with at least 150 days). That might not seem like much, unless you understand how almost impossibly hard it is to get ANY sea time on a DP vessel!

So! I have just about decided to give up completely on trying to find some sort of job where I can put my 30++ years of experience to use. What an incredible waste of effort. 😦

I basically have to start over from scratch. I’ll be 55 this summer and I’m not exactly looking forward to that process. I know I have a major attitude adjustment to make.

I’ve never really done anything else but work at sea. Yeah, I’ve had a few jobs on the beach like tending bar, housekeeping, painting, dishwashing, etc, but never anything serious. I tutored all through school and I liked it (but that paid less than any other job).

Ever since we were working in Thailand, filming the tsunami, I’ve been tossing around the idea of teaching English overseas somewhere. Spending so much time outside the US convinced me that I had to find a way to spend more time outside. I started investigating what would it take to move.

It could be so simple, if only I was old enough, or rich enough, to retire.

But, I have a long way to go before I qualify for either of those things. I still need to work! I found out that the only way to get a work visa in most countries is by teaching English. So, I started looking into teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL).

I’ve been pretty half-assed about it, mostly because I had a hard time choosing to give up the pretty sweet salary and work schedule I had working offshore. Now, it looks like that choice has been taken away from me- there IS no more choice!

I’ve been in contact with a school in Mexico. I’m going to give it til Monday and if I don’t hear some good news by then I’m going to bite the bullet and sign up  for school. The course is a month long. After that, I’ll have the option to start teaching right away or do something else for a while.

A month can’t be that bad, can it?

Maybe Mexico will be so wonderful and exciting that I’ll forget all about ever coming back! That would be perfect! 🙂

PS- the ‘featured image’ at the top is one I took in Nicaragua (not Mexico), but a lot of those Spanish speaking countries have more in common than the language. 🙂