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, January 25, 2008

The newest haircut in a series of terrible haircuts.

this is my newest haircut. I'm still trying to find a descent style 7 months after the New Jersey crisis.
Also, I couldn't figure out how to rotate the pic since everything is in Dutch on this computer. But if you ahve a lap top put it on it's side and you can see it vertically. let me know what ya think.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I'm an American!

Every Tuesday night I have a two hour Dutch lesson in the capitol of Friesland. I have to drive an hour each way and bath the kiddies early in order to go and study Dutch. It isn't convienent(this is like my sixth try to spell that word, I give up on it... you should know what word I'm goign for) I also seem to be the only one who consistently does her homework. I have also put in a lot of effort to change my teacher's orignal preseption of me. I think all was lost his past Tuesday. In my class there were only three of us that were none European. One Chinese Girl and a Ugandan girl. There used to be couple more Americans and Africans but they have stopped coming. So, I am the token American. I am the American Embassy right there for anyone who needs to vent over the world problem of America.
However, this past Tuesday it didn't start out aggressive but it stung more than any comment that someone could have made about Bush's forgien policy.
It started with the comment:
"Canadians are also Americans."
In Dutch my teacher started talking about how she had family in America. just about everyone in the class had at least one relative living in America right now. Then the Italian girl said she too had family in America. I asked, "Oh, where do they live?" Canada.
Well, sorry honey then they live in North America but they don't live in America.
Everyone started talking at once in broken English and Dutch and whatever other language they speak. But mine was the only one that mattered. I was the only North American there.I was the only American there.
I have my reasons for feeling this way.
a.) REAL Americans have no other name to go by. We aren't called United Staters no that whole first part is cut out when you are talking on a global view of America. I shouted on about how Canadians come from Canada, Americans come from America. My teacher said, "je komt uit Verenigde Staten"(you come from United States) I shouted back, " van Amerika!" (of America) she let me have that point
b. I went on with the fact that Canadian's haven't earned the right to be called Americans. People don't view Canadians as a threat. Their culture of maple syrup and hokey hasn't been spread all over the world, they aren't blamed for all problems in the world. Americans are. We wake up everyday being hated for the simple fact that we elected Bush... Twice. I have earned that title of American: I'm loud, I'm Pushy, and I fat. I have American locked up in my gentic code. Surviving cold winters doesn't make Candians as thick skinned as an American living abroad must be.
c. One girl was like Canada, America they are right next to each other who knows th difference. She is Romanian and I couldn't think of who Romania is next to. So, I couldn't properly insult her by not knowing the difference, but I'll let her know that your average American with a Public School education has never even heard of her country. Mexico is right next to us too. and just cuz we have porious borders it doesn't mean every Mexican is an American. yet.
D. And finally what I feel was good point. I don't think Canadians want to be called Americans. Maybe North Americans but nothing any closer than that. The greatest challenge would be if Candians start telling people they are Americans when they are abroad. If as a collective whole they start doing that, than maybe... just maybe I'll let this whole issue drop and say Canadians are also Americans. Cuz lord knows when I'm abroad I've been know to fudge that line... Michigan... Canada when your talking to people who live in a country that America has screwed over than Michiganders might as well be Canadians. I mean it's cold and we have similiar nasally accents. Although, I always end up getting caught. Cuz if you say Canada the conversation always goes to hokey and I can't help myself I have to inform people that the Maple leaves suck and the Red Wings Rule!!!! Aren't the Red Wings in America? oh, I think your right and I think that is my bus! See ya!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Maybe it was Peace Corps. The first two months they drill into your head that half your job is to intergrate into your community. Or it could be growing up in a small town and being an athlete and a member of just about every club out there. I don't know what it is but something in me makes me what to come involved in the community I live in. In my smal villge here in the Netherlands I haven't become as involved as I'm used to. Until now I thought I was some how sliding under the radar. The only thing I did in the community was play volleyball with the 60± crowd of ladies. Oh, and the butcher always chats me up. However this past Saturday night I had to go to the town hall. It became The Netherlands version of wall Drug for me.
Wall Drug you know what that is?
It is a crumy lil town in South Dakota but starting hundreds of miles away there are signs proclaiming the greatness of Wall Drug by th time you get into double digits miles away you have to go to Wall drug. Wehn you hit single digits your brain is about to explode with curiousity.
For the past month everywhere I have gone has been advertising Grote Bingo(Big Bingo) for January 12th. Even if I was shopping in another town or my gym in another town had the sign. So, this Saturday came and I had been thinking about Grote Bingo for a long time. I had nothing planned so I put on my Fryslan scarf my bright pink shoes and I walked into town. I figured I play volleyball with old ladies, at least ne of them has to be playing bingo. I was very relieve when I wlked in and saw Tjsetke. She seems to be one of the only ladies from ym teams who always goes out. I sat with her and her daughter. I was quickly embaressed as I stood up shooting Bingo just to have Tjsetke pull me back down and tell me that I infact don't have a Bingo. I have been playing Bingo my whole life I know a bingo when I see one. What I didn't understand is that you had to have a specific Bingo to win. I was forced to just wave the reader off as he kept asking if I really did have a Bingo. My low key status was blown by one shout of Bingo. Later on I thought I had a Bingo and hesitated to shout Bingo because f the last time. But Tjsetke told me I did have one and encouraged me to run up there. So, I shouted Bingo. Everyone gave each other a look like "I'm sure." They reviewed my card longer and slower than they had anyone elses. When they informed me that I had one a brand new smooth maker(blender with a cool spout in it) I lost all Dutch reserve and my Americaness came shining through as I jumped into the air, pumped my fist, and shouted, "Yes!"
I sat quietly the rest of the time eating chips and rinking a hieneken.
Apparently I was never as under the rador as I thought I was and this past Tueday comfirm it. On Tuesday my boss Rob had to go to a meeting for the parents of the kids in the school. I guess I was all people could talka bout. A mini celeb here in Oudemirdum. They were talkign about how my Dutch was coming long how I played Voleyball on Wednesday, my Bingo playing skillz, amongst other things. I guess now that I know that De Au Pair Van Lucas(the au pair of Lucas) is better known thn I had thought there might be many more Bingo nights in my future. And who knowns maybe I'll even manage a sentence sometime that isn't covered in my thick American Accent.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

My friend Caitlin once told me this whole theory she has about how you spend your New Year is how your up coming year is going to be. She believes this, that is probably why she spent New Year's Eve in Thailand.
I'm not exactly a believer of that. I have had super weird New Year's that didn't represent my next year at all. There was even one very sad and depressing one my sophomore year of high school that my lil sister Diane still likes to bring up and laugh about. However, when she does bring it up it almost brings a tear to my eye. And I don't see where how I spent 2006 with Sara in a basement bar where we were the first ones to show up, we ate all the food, and sara got us kicked out 15 minutes after the new year; represents my graduating university and joing the peace corps.
I spent one new year with Tommy and his sisters having his sister smuggle us shots and telling us if we got caught for drinking underage we were to say a dirty mexican gave us the shots. I went to Africa to work with children who have AIDS that year.
But last night I was thinking of Caitin's theory and thinking of what that would mean about my 2008 based on last night. I was watching the movie Holiday with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz with my bosses till a lil after 11:30 when we went and woke the kids up and got them dressed. We watched the clock count down then opened a bottle of Rose champagane and eat olibalen(What Dutch think are doughnuts). Then we went out into the front yard and light fire works. I was given a sparkler. Not one of those little ones but one of those GIAGANTIC ones(ny true American knows what I'm talking about). I used all my restraint to keep myself from running away when Rob gave it to me. In my head I took off running and was giggling and laughing just like I wanted to be. However, Peace Corps broke my spirit and now I feel I need to show restraint instead of joy. I did show Lucas, age six, how freakin' cool it was to watch me spell out happy new year with th sparkler. After the fireworks were done we took the kids back to bed. Ellen went to bed and Rob and I walked into th village to see what was going on. There were some trash cans with fires going in them. We stood around and talked to some Fries guys and one guy who recently got out of an Ethiopian Jail. ONe guy grabbed me and gave me a very long hug and told me in English that he loved me. The Ethiopian told me how he loves George Bush and hates muslims. Rob and I took that as our cue to go. I came back to the house watched some news about the riots in Kenya and Arrested Devlopment(disc 2, season 2) and fell asleep. What does this say about my upcoming year? I have no idea. But I had fun on New Year despite trying to act grown up.
2008: the year I grow up?
Keep reading, we'll see how it goes.