Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Friday, December 28, 2007


I need to bust open a myth about the Netherlands right now. People seem to be convinced that clogs(wood shoes) are not worn here anymore. That they are a thing of the past. A nice little idea for tourists but not something that is actually done in this modern age.
To be honest that is simply not true. Oh, I'll give ya when I was in AMsterdam I didn't see any one wearing them and since most tourists here don't get further than Rotterdam I can see how they would think that. If however someone were to venture out where I live, in rustic farm country, they would see the occational farmer walking around in clogs. And not just plain wooden ones. I have seen guys out and about in ones desigened to look like a cow, red ones, and even the fries flag.
I even got offered a pair of clogs but unfortunately they were too small, and trust me I really tried to jam my foot in there. I was told walking around in clogs would draw less attention to me then walking around in flip flops(and this was when it was still warm) So, if you come to the Netherlands and can manage to leave the high of Amsterdam come out to Friesland, we'll have some clogs ready for ya.

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year?

Sky Radio 101FM bring non-stop Christmas hits 24/7

No matter where you live in the world all radio guys sound the same, especially with their obnoxious 24/7 Christmas music. I get the all Christmas music here in the Netherlands even. The only difference is ocationally they throw one in in Dutch which I actually enjoy because then it becomes a Dutch Lesson. The Big thing is I haven't had a car in 5 years so I have been able to miss the 24/7 Christmas hits coming at me.
This year I ahve new perspective on Christmas. Living in a forgien country, hereing only Christmas tunes in my car when I drive, and spending Christmas all by myself has opened my eyes.
All I can say is that who ever wrote It's th most wonderful time of the year, did it right before blowing his/her brains out. If not then, then I will say with some dertainty the person was wasted and alone on christmas.
I can see him now(I'm going to assume it is a guy) alone in his appartment. He pathetically hung up a couple christmas lights and has a little plastic tree on his piano. He is in his pyjamas(Iknow that is the Dutch spelling but I forget the English one so...) with a robe(not tied shit, of course). stuble on his face, greasy hair, and an open bottle of scotch. The song has a real Scotch feel to it, I don't drink it but it feel like the song of someone who does to the point of blacking out.
I mean c'mon the song is so making fun of Christmas.
It's not just the happiest time of the year it is the : hap=happiest time of the year.

Not just fun hanging out with your friends:
Gay happy meetings
when friends are calling
...only someone who has no one visiting them coule write a line like that.

he punches at the keys of the piano hearing a party going on next door, he picks up the bottle of Scottish to pour into his dirty glass. Here the giggle of a girl and then looks at the bottle and dirty glass and decides to take a big swig from the bottle.
he then writes this next line:
There'll be parties for hosting looks around his empty apartment
And thinks why not :
Marshmellows for roasting(hey it rhymes!)
He heres some carloing out in the snow
but then he writes the clintcher line that lets ya knw he was off his rocker
There'll be scary ghost stories
never once did we sit down and have scary ghost story time on christmas... The closest thing to that you got is with Scrooge and what not but it isn't really scary...
So, maybe this guy didn't blow his brains out maybe he drakn enough Scottish just to pass out, but I promise you anyone who could write that song was at least thinking of blowing his brains out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Language interupted

Conjucating verbs....
It has to be said that conjucating verbs is one of my least favorite activities I would rather power wash the manure spreader than sit and conjugate verbs. Any one who has seen me covered in wet manure after power washing or my GIAGANTIC Scar on my leg from the power washing hose (p.s. my mom totally said it would scar) knows I don't like power washing manure spreaders.
I ahve to admit though that conjugating verbs in Dutch is considerably easier than in Russian.
for instance if something is plural it will end with -en, if you are talk about someone else you end with a -t and if you are talking about yourself you just use the stem word.
Ik Loop- I Walk
ze Loopt- She walks
Wij Lopen- We Walk
Some of you might notice the double vowel issue but that is alot bigger problem and not worth talking about now.
So, as my Dutch improves I have look back at sentences I have said that have gotten very weird looks. My favorite one comes from when I first started getting confident enough to talk to people.
I was at the bar with my friend Lauren, another Au Pair from Australia. A guy asked us why we were here int he middle of no where Netherlands and why an Aussie and an American would be hanging out. Lauren went to answer in English but I stopped her. I figured I needed the Dutch practice and I knew how tosay I am an Au Pair:
Ik ben Au Pair
So, thinking of how to make something plural I added the -en
Wij benen Au Pairs
The man gave me a look.
I repeated it but louder:
again he stared at us. Lauren leaned in and said We are Au Pairs.
He understood that.
I was a little disgruntled and decided to look up what the plural form of "ben" is. Well the "to be" verb likes to mess with your mind and not be like other verbs at all. The plural form is "zijn"....??? "ZIJN?!" What?(Wat?) where?(waar?) Why?(waarom?) It made no sense to me why that is so far off from other verbs. I shrugged it off figuring I just said some gibberish, that is until last week.
I was studying the body parts I already knew leg was "been" but I never put it together that legs is... "benen"
So, when that man asked us why we were there I not only acted like he ws stupid for not understanding me, but I felt the need to shout at him even louder:
WE LEGS AU PAIRS... duh...
I gotta go study.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Quality checks from China don't mean anything

When I lived in Kyrgyzstan I came up witha rule of thumb that held up pretty well: If it looks good and it is good it is Turkish, If it looks good and it is complete crap it is Russian, if it looks like crap and it is crap it is Chinese.
I still live by that. The children had gotten some early Sinterclaus presents(the Dutch Santa CLaus, he comes on the 5th) one of them was a remote control car for Lucas. We put in batteries in the car and the remote . Lucas trying getting it to work and the only thing that would happen is the wheels turned. Ellen, the mom, pointed out that something smelled like it was burning. I brushed it off at first til I saw the brand new car go up in smoke. We paniked not wanting it to explode in the house. So, I picked it up by the antena and chucked it out the window. It continued to smoke for while. When it calmed down Ellen went out to inspect it. She ws scared t touch it but I from the comfort of the house incouraged her to check it out. She eventually picked it up and opened it the car was extremely hot, she opened it up and the batteries were the right one. She looked for the problem and could find nothing, all she found was a quality check sticker from China.