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 17, 2010

The Buck Pole

Northern Michigan is unto itself. I find when I have friends come up for visits it can be as much of a culture shock if not more than traveling to another country. I think some people's shock is that it is so different from where they live yet relatively close, at least with another country you have to travel a great distance first. This year I was able to finally participate in a distinctly Northern Michigan cultural event, The Buck Pole.
The Buck Pole, as I recently found out is specific to Northern Michigan so I had to be up here at the right time to see it. The Buck Pole coincides with the biggest holiday of the year, the first day of rifle season.
Up here there is a different way of keeping seasons than the standard four most people know: Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Although if you live in Southern California you have your own versions of seasons as well: Nice, Wild Fire, Mud Slide, and light sprinkling of rain that brings everything to a complete halt. Michiganders residing in the Northern part of Michigan have lots of seasons: Turkey, Migratory Birds, Fishing, Elk, Bear, Waterfowl, and Deer. As far as I can tell Deer season is the most popular of the seasons. It is even split into two seasons- rifle and bow.

The first day of rifle season is so big that the school and many business shut down that day because there won't be enough people around to keep them going. In Michigan the first day of rifle season is always Nov. 15th. That day I woke to the sounds of rifle shots at day break. Throughout our family's farm there were deer shanties strategically placed with my brothers and their friends. The goal on our farm is to have the first buck on the pole, doesn't matter if it is my brothers or one of their friends just as long as it is from our property. Once again this was pulled off with my brother Doug's friend Erik Page bringing in the first buck.
Since I don't hunt my job was to wait by the pole and get pictures and meet all the hunters and listen to their stories.
Let me elaborate for a minute on the pole. It is about 40 or so feet and is in the middle of the village outside of the one bar, The Horseshoe. It stands there all year for this one single day. As people kill there deer they bring them to the Buck Pole where they will have a rope tied around their neck(the dead deer not the hunter) and will be hung from the pole. The pole is open for Bucks to be strung up from sunrise on the 15th and closes at 11 am on the 16th. Anyone participating is guaranteed some kind of prize.
The night of the 15th is crazy. For such a small village there was a maddening amount of people standing around the Buck Pole admiring bucks, trash talking others, and telling tales of how they shot their white tail or how the biggest one they ever saw just barely got away. The cars lined the streets from one end of the village to the other. People would grab the hoof and turn a buck around to get a really good look. "Didcha see that one?" gets asked a lot. People drink their Bud Lights that are snuggled away in their Buck Pole cozies from the year before.

As someone who has never hunted this was an intense sight. I normally don't handle dead animals laying around very well. Yet, somehow when they are strung up and the whole village is out looking at them I don't seem to mind so much. With men dressed in orange and camo everywhere you turn and a stack full of stories about all the almost great bucks the could have maybe gotten if this had been a little different, I have to say it is a cultural experience worth having. If you aren't a hunter it is worth just coming up to drink and see how big of a deal hunting is for some. And if you are a hunter where they don't have buck poles come on up and see if you can get the big one or at least tell the tale of how you almost got it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Almost done

I am almost done with my Masters Thesis. My life can begin again. I will be updating this more again after my thesis is done. You can check out It is a website I'm starting to show future employers who I am and why they should totally hire me :D

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I want to be a cheesemaker

Last weekend I went to the least populated provience of one of the most densely populated counties in the world-Twente. I hadn't ever been to Twente so it was new experience for me. And after living in Amsterdam so long I get really excited when I head out of town and have some room to move around.
I was with my friend Claartje and we went to visit her hometown of Losser- Loser with we a little extra. :P
Since there isn't a whole lot to do there Claartje's mom suggested with go visit her new friend Pauline, a cheesemaker in the area.
Pauline was incrediably kind and open to us, giving us the full tour of her farm/cheese factory. The whole time I was like I want to do this! I want to be a cheesemaker. I have a random assortment of old jobs behind me maybe Cheesemaker can be my next calling..

Monday, March 1, 2010

USA vs Canada

I was invited to watch the USA vs Canada Hockey game at an Australian Bar. I agreed. I figured it would be a nice chance to keep in touch with my American Roots, have some beers, and in general have a good time. My friend that invited me to watch the game is Canadian and I knew going into it that the other people we would be watching with would be Canadian.
I decided before the game to show some USA pride. I don't have any clothing that says USA- mostly because I don't like being taunted every five feet (yes feet- NOT METERS!) as I walk down the street. All that I could find to show my American Pride was my American Flag that was hanging on my wall. I cut the strings that hung the Stars and Bars up on my wall and packed it away nicely in a zip lock bag. I was ready to face those Canadian Ice Holes. I refused to be intimidated out of cheering on my team- Team USA.
When I entered the bar it was a sea of Red. I almost got excited, my brain instantly connecting hockey with red- RED WINGS! Than I realized the whole bar was dressed in red because they had come to cheer on Canada. I looked around for anything that might say subtlety, "I'm an American." I saw nothing of the sort. So, I felt the need to scream it out loud. I slowly pulled out my zip lock bag and released the Stars and Bars into her glory.
I had been unleashed. I never get to feel apart of American sporting events anymore. They certainly aren't showing my Detroit teams and MSU will have to do pretty amazing during March Madness for me to get the chance to watch them here. But tonight they were showing the USA vs CANADA. My chance had come to cheer on MY team.
There were a handful of other Americans in the bar and I ended up meeting each of them, me becoming the de facto American Embassy in the bar. Each one hand been conditioned through years of travel to hide their American-ness. To cheer, but at a level where no one would know that they are from America. One Canadian woman came up to me and pointed out that her husband is American. Then followed it up with, "He has traveled a lot so he knows not to show that he is American." I received at least 5 other comments about how other people had traveled enough to know not to have an American flag. They were all implying that I am not as well traveled, and clearly have spent little time outside of America. I don't need to defend myself with numbers, all I will say is I'm pretty well traveled myself. The thing is I refuse to be intimidated into not being proud of my background, heritage, and country. I especially refuse to be scared away by a bunch of Canadians.
Since I was the only American showing pride I became the focus of 95% of the bar's cheers and jeers. Whether cheering "Go Canada Go!" or pissed off because the USA had just tide the game I was the person everyone was looking at. I didn't mind, I actually found it kind of adorable. I also found if you keep calling Canadians adorable during an intense Hockey Game you can push them almost to the point where they forget their manners. My favorite was how they started chanting "Universal Healthcare" at me. I was like I don't know what you want me to do, I agree with you. I wish the Democrats weren't so afraid of being bullied by the GOP and would just pass something through. I knew I had gotten under their skin when they started chatting, "Universal Healthcare." When Canada scored a goal I was shoved. When America scored a goal I was tickled. When I went to the bathroom I was booed. I chose to take it all in stride. Cause sorry ya'll I know you think cause I have 'Merican Pride I must be un-educated and not well traveled, but the thing is there is almost nothing you can say to me at this point that I haven't heard before.
When America lost in over-time I was bummed, not to a point in proportion to how excited the Canadians were over winning. One guy even yelled, "This is the BEST DAY of my LIFE!" I thought, well good then that Canada won. Because there is no way that America winning any sport in the Olympics(even the Summer ones, which we all know are the ones that count) could make me yell that. Because it simply isn't true. America winning doesn't make me a winner and America losing doesn't make me a loser. I love my home country but it's wins and losses in international athletic competitions doesn't make or destroy my world.
At the end of the game I went around congratulating everyone in the bar. Even agreed to take a photo of all the Canadians. I was told I'm a really good sport. They probably told me that because every time everyone in the bar started booing me I just shouted back, "Good Sportsmanship is rewarded in Heaven!"

Oh, Canada and welcome to where Americans were a couple years ago. Every Canadian in the bar booed when they showed their prime minister Stephen Harper on the screen. Our president is pretty cool and we don't have to boo when we see him on screen. Yay! So, Canada you may have the gold- but our President is hotter than yours. So, who are the real winners?

Friday, February 12, 2010

What's the Best way to Celebrate Black History Month?

With All Things Dutch!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Celebrate Black History Month With Heineken
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

Dutch Sensitivity

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Looking for a Good Drink in Amsterdam

When I first arrived to Amsterdam I didn’t have a place to stay. The University of Amsterdam had messed up my housing. They kept sending my housing information to Alaska and the housing papers would say that I needed to have them back to Amsterdam by a certain date. However, the papers kept arriving after the deadline to have them back by. They gave me three chances and than declared that I couldn’t follow rules so I didn’t get housing. I was coming to Amsterdam with or without housing. So, thanks to University of Amsterdam’s disorganization I came without housing. For the first month in Amsterdam I had to move from hostel to hostel and I also did some couchsurfing. Most people on Couchsurfing didn’t want to put me up because I wasn’t just passing through Amsterdam but staying. However, my first host with Couchsurfing was Wiebe and when I was staying with him he showed me my favorite bar in Amsterdam: De Zotte.
Actually De Zotte isn’t so much a Bar as what the Dutch call a Bruin Café and Americans call a Hole in the Wall. It is quite small and dark, or in Dutch terms Gezellig.
I always enjoy the vibe of De Zotte and the options I have to drink. De Zotte is a Proeflokaal (Trying Location) for Belgian Beers. Over two hundred options. I have tried the variety of Dutch Beers, but to be honest there isn’t that big of a collection, and it is especially nothing compared with their Southern Neighbors style, variety, and approach to beer. So, one of my favorite things about living in the Netherlands is how easy it is to get Belgian Beers. At De Zotte there are over 200 choices. I have been attempting to work my way through the list. I normally only go when I have company and I haven’t had any guests lately so I have had no good opprotunities to keep working on my check list. The beers range Very Weak to exceedingly strong, from Blondes to Ambers, to Bruins.
De Zotte is a couple blocks from Leidsplein (the Tourist/over priced center of the city). However, these two blocks provide a nice cushion from the tourists and the prices of that area. I think if you are looking for a fun night of trying different beers than De Zotte is the place to go in Amsterdam.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Come along with me on a journey to FEBO:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Icy situation

I would like to take a minute and not recommend something in Amsterdam: the Ice Bar. The Ice Bar is located just outside of Rembrandtplein on the Amstel River. It was the most worthless 20 Euros I spent since moving to Amsterdam, and believe me I have wasted a lot of money.
What happens is you schedule a time to go to this “hip” and “trendy” and (pun completely intended) “cool” bar. You are told you will get a half hour in the actual ICE bar part. You decide to do it because you will get awesome photos with your friends of all the good times you are having in Amsterdam. And in this facebook era of “Tag it” hasn’t it all just become about photo ops?
When you get there they will force you to wear a silver Heineken jacket for cross promotion. If you are fat this will be an uncomfortable experience because the jacket will not be big enough. you will become Chris Farley in Tommy boy "Fat Man in a little Coat..."
Once you get inside they will inform you that you can’t take pictures but you can purchase pictures that they take of you for 19 euros for one or 35 euros for two. You will be pissed off at this information and want to leave but too late, they already have your money. You stand in a tiny ice freezer (which if you went to a slaughterhouse I’m sure you could get the same ambiance) with a big screen at the end. They will show a weird “4D” movie about a penguin and you will be given two drinks. They will be in a glasses made of ice, but this is trickery because this glass will make it so you have less of a drink than you would otherwise.
Some Euro-trash techno is played and than you leave. That is it. That is where 20 Euros of my money went. You might think that I went recently and this is a new thing that I'm thinking about, and thinking how horrible it was. However, it isn't a new pain. This is old pain. This happened months ago. However, the sting has come back lately with the icy unsalted sidewalks and streets of Amsterdam. As I slip on some black ice that I couldn’t see coming I flashback to the Ice Bar and how I never saw it coming.

I don't want to be one sided on this so I am presenting here the website to Amsterdam's Ice bar:

Take a look and you'll imagine it's awesomeness too, just like me and my friends did. Like the a kid signing up for the army, you can imagine the glory all you want- but you need to listen to the solider who has been there when they tell you about the horrors.

Okay I think I just got a little dramatic at the end... but I really hated the Ice Bar. And my Mama always taught me to never use the word hate.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

End of 2009 in Facebook Status.

I have gotten really lazy about updating this lately. Mostly just posting videos and what not and calling it a day. At the same time I have gotten terrible with over updating my facebook status. So here I present some of my facebook statuses (stati?) from my December. Oldest to newest:

Why am I always so creepy? Took some headphones that I thought were the library's and left the crappy ones the librarian gave me in their place. Some Dutch dude had to tap me on the shoulder and ask if I could give him his headphones back. Then he kept repeating, they're my PERSONAL headphones... PERSONAL" Gave me the ...old stink eye(as he should) as he replugged them into his Viewing maching(TV).

While nothing can replace my favorite Dutch word sinaasappelsap- Orange Juice, I do now have a very close second place: Kiplekker- Fit as a Fiddle. :D

Turns out after my friends abandon me at a Gay bar for either "not feeling it", "sleep", or "sex with the ex" I can make instantaneous new gay best friends- apparently I'm funny. As it turns out the hags I momentarily replaced HATE me. Oh, Well when I said I was going to dance tonight I meant it... whether any of my friends are there or not.

Making myself a tutu

Its sad when you get advice from a Transvestite as to wear you can buy big lady shoes and your feet are still too big.

Working on my tutu while watching I Love Lucy. I couldn't be cooler.

Finished my Tutu! Now I need to go out to shake my money maker in it. Note to Self: If you are going to go out in public in a tutu... YOU BETTER OWN IT! Confidence, confidence, confidence

I just want to be cool like Gender Studies majors so all I have to say is: Hegemonic Masculinity.

Is setting aside time to do some online YARN shopping with a friend pathetic, nerdy, or totally awesome?

My 10 year plan. Though it is evil mwhahahahaha I'm glad so many of my girls have been giving me adivce for how to make it happen. Operation Break up a happy couple and make him realize I'm amazing is in full swing. Only have 9 years and 10 months to make it happen.

Claartje bedankt voor laat mij maar onzeker zijn. Thank for having my back and letting me vent :P Same here any time ya need me :D

I'm reading an old tourist pamplet for Amsterdam. And while reading it I noticed it took 6 digs at Venice. I think someone is jealous of the attention someone else is getting.

Lipping singing to Dreamgirls in front of my window helps me forget I accomplished non of my goals for today. Oh, That's a lie. I checked out a book.

Got invited to go to a Taiwanese Church on a Saturday night and I of course said, "yes!" What else is there to do on a Saturday night in AMsterdam?

Made my roommate wake up early to go shop for Christmas decorations. She is not happy right now :P But she will be once our room is decorated.

Dutch people DO NOT know how to shovel! I am amazed so many Michiganders grandparents and great-grand parents survied their first summers in Michigan.

Today I'm pretending to Bea Arthur. Anytime someone burns me I'm going to take a deep breathe and than look at the audience. Who cares about the 4th wall.

exhausted. Pull it together Bontekoe! You have to do a stand up show tonight.

WOW! Stand up tonight went a MILLION times better than last time :D And the Mise-en-scene at Comedy Theater is so much nicer than Comedy Cafe. Goed Gedaan Claartje! It was weird to recognize a joke being told in Dutch to realize it is an old Sinbad joke.

The first guest at my party is asleep :( Let's hope the later guests are more in the mood!


"And nobody who fails to get fun out his activities can expect them to be fun for anyone else." Bertolt Brecht was right. I need to have some fun while writing my papers... What time does the liquor store open? I can be one of those writers.

Give away that Freaks and Geeks was not actually made in Michigan- One of the characters said Soda and not Pop.

I was suppose to work on papers all day. Instead I watched Freaks and Geeks. I can't decide if I'm proud or ashamed.

My roomie declared her hatred for cooked apples while I proclaimed my love for them, yet she ate an entire apple pie before I could get a slice. Oh, I love irony.

I have made a lot of empty promises in my life, but this is by far the most generous.

Carol Bontekoe is the new promoter for Boom Chicago. So if you are in Amsterdam give me a holla so I can hook ya up with a discount for the best comedy in town. (And it's in English! YAY!)

I was given a bottle of Moët & Chandon Nectar Imperial as a present! I don't know what I'm suppose to do with such a nice gift :D

Anyone who calls themself a Hipster is automatically a Douche Nasal.

2009, what can I say? You were random? 2010, BRING IT ON!

That is how I finished out 2009. Let's see what 2010 has in store for me.