Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thanksgiving at the QUEENS

We love our friends the Queens! Whenever they are in town there is never a dull moment. This posting for our Thanksgiving day is a little late, but not forgotten. We had a wonderful time with our island friends there that day, eating, playing , talking and laughing.

Tennis courts on the Queens property. It kept everyone busy for hours.
Wim helping charles with his forehand
The Adorable Nikki, Sophia's dear friend.
Kai, Ethan, Charles, Maggie, and "little" Sam, chillin' on the deck. Check out the view of the island.
Buffets are not an American thing, even though Thanksgiving is.
Manny, the owner of Smoke Alley, and Kathy, the hostess with the mostess.

This is the coolest dune buggy ever. It floats effortlessly over the rocky, beat-up roads. Charles decided to strap himself in thinking that if he did so he would get a ride. However, no one was willing to leave the feast, so Charles sat for a long time and just pouted.
On deck: Two Dutchmen, A Spanish-Portugese Caribbean, and two New -Yorkans.

This is the best island drink ever; family members will confirm. Ting is dy-no-MITE!

A Dutch family holiday: Sinterklaas

All the way from Spain on a 15-foot dinghy, it's Sinterklaas!

Accompanied by Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaas made his grand entance to Statia on a dinghy at the harbor, then took a tour through the town in the bed of a pickup.

To be honest, it was sheer conincidence that we saw him arrive that day as we jumped off the dock. We saw a little boat floating through and Ed told Charles that there was a "party" boat. I looked and saw a strange figure at the bow of the boat, standing in a red robe and cheap paper-bishop hat, with a staff and a gaze at the horizon like a noble sailor chancing upon land after months at sea. I remembered reading about him and looked towards the harbor where there were a few dozen children gathered and the black Ford "horse". We quickly jumped up and followed the party.
It was a parade which lead to a party with presents, a pinata (which they held up to show everyone, then simply put it away and threw candy out to the kids), cake and donuts and bitterball, croquette, juice boxes ( we picked up at least 398,944 of them thrown on the ground). Then they gave all the kids presents and played loud Caribbean -beat Christmas carols for hours.

For those of you who don't remember learning about this holdiay in the fourth-grade, this is the most popular Dutch holiday of all. Here are some interesting facts:
  • Celebrated on the 5th of December
  • All about the presents he distributes!
  • Average Dutch household spends 130 euro on Sinterklaas gifts
  • Like Santa, Sinterklaas is good to good children and strict to the naughty
  • Children leave a shoe by the chimney with a carrot for the horse in it
  • According to tradition, he rides over housetops with the grey horse and drops gifts through the chimney into the shoes
  • He leaves chocolate letters and cookies for the children
  • He leaves unusual gifts for the adults including humorous poems making gentle fun of each other and wrapped in very unusual ways

Zwarte Piet getting the kinderen ready to chase him. Attention, everyone, Please! Piet was a real jokester.

So who was Zwarte Piet (Black Peter)?

  • Based on exotically dressed servants from the Dutch colonies
  • He guides Sinterklaas' horse through the streets of the Netherlands (rides in the flatbed with him in the Caribbean I guess)
  • Carries a burlap bag and chases children through the streets, attempting to stuff them inside
  • Tradition has it that he takes the naughty children back to Spain in the bag
  • Children love running from him and after him!
  • As the Netherlands became more multicultural, it became a moral dilemma for the Dutch, but politically correct experiments with blue, white, and even multi-colored Pieten have been unsuccessful. Tradition remains strong!

Charles, recovering from facial injuries, and friendZwarte Piet getting ready to run from the children. On the broken up rough concrete streets, there were more than a few tripping injuries. This game Never EVER would have happened in the sue-happy streets of the USA.

I am not sure that the formal and traditional Netherlands Sinterklaas and Zwatre Piet do the Electric Slide through the streets either.

Our Caribbean Piet, is noted, doesn't really look much like the Dutch Piet. Check out the high top Nikes, gold jewelry, and sunglasses, and MJ glove...

My favorite Carribean twist to the whole thing: Sinterklaas painted his face that politically correct?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Announcing the winner and a new list!

OK, since no one has commented on the last post (despite much whining about not posting enough blogs) I am going to assume that you are all sick and tired of reading about how much darn fun we are having on the ocean. I am going to have to send you some photos and posts about the real lifestyles of your rich and famous Packards. In the meantime, I hereby commit to post no more beach photos. I know it is making you all mad and resentful.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Dave Buck for winning the last list contest (only 5 months ago!) It was a very close run, with Robin only being beat out because of Dave's single best response to the challenge: Describe the food labeled "picks in blanket", to which Dave responded "where your boogers go at night". Slam dunk.

Now for a new list! Check out the names of some of children in Charles' kindergarten class (all names are spelled correctly):

Sineille Lieuw

Wenson Saladin

Zique Pandt

Deshendree Jack

Xaviera Smith

Reeshandres Mercera

Madani Berkel

Ra'myah Brown

Jertino Marsdin

Raishel Lopes

Shamaria Schmidt

Kayvaughn James


Chanel Scmidt

Nusjheeli De Graf

Amarykecia Busby

Dejeanee Maduro

Khadija Skeete

Giovandris Harrigan

and there are more....The dogs tend to have names like Fergie, Tilly, Buster, and Roxy. I can pronounce those.

Any one getting any new baby name ideas????

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Are you ready for MAD house?

These are the words I found posted on a note for me from Stefan the first day I got to Goldenrock Dive. The past two weeks I have had been helping out at the local dive shop while the owners, Glen and Michele, were at a dive show in Miami. What a great two weeks! The shop is small and located right on the shore. Stefan, our Dutch friend, is the dive master and instructor.
Basically my job was to help Stefan with whatever he needed, answer phones, help out the customers, and wipe eye goobers out of Glen and Michele's beloved brown lab, Duncan.

There were so many interesting people that came to the shop to dive, there was never a dull moment. Ok, there were a few that occurred while Stephan was out on the dives, but those were spent napping in a hammock outside the shop, overlooking the ocean. Oh, dreadful life!

We assisted customers from exotic place, such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Brazil, and Detroit, Michagin.

Ethan went with me each day and was able to do school because internet was connected there. However, he didn't really do much school. This was also the week that, due to the generosity of some dear friends, both Connely and Ethan were able to started on their dive certification!

Stefan instructs the boys on their dive gear .

Charles and his new friend Rowan , waiting for the dive show to begin.

Sophia came after school was out and played with Duncan.

Duncan is a swell mate and fine swimmer in the high seas

Getting ready for their first jump in the water. Getting final instruction from the Master Diving scuba Instructor. It is important to note that in this word there is a BIG difference between master and instructor. First level is master, the next level is instructor. And if you are the most qualified and have the most training you are a master diving scuba instructor. Voila, Stefan!

One great thing about moving away from everyone you know is that you get a chance to reinvent yourself. Connely changed his name to "Kai", since it is very difficult for locals to pronounce his given name. Scott, a new med student, joins Ethan and Connely in certification. He now goes by "Scubascott" or just "Scube". Scubascott, Scubakai, and ScubaE.

Here I am trying to pretend I have something important to do. Actually, I am just sitting on the quad because the seat is much softer than the dock. I never even drove it...

I have an itch right underneath...

If you see a shark, pop him in the nose, right between the eyes!

Checking to see if the heart is still beating

Some final instructions

Ready, set.....

Aaaaar, Jump right here, divers, right into the dinghy!


The real driver of the quad, Bion, a boy who works at the suba shop. He is from the Dominican Republic, and is in training to be a dive master

What Charles did to entertain himself since he wasn't invited to dive.
Anyone want to come visit yet?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

OK, I have to get something off my chest. It has been bugging me for as long as I have been posting blogs here on Statia. I feel guilty, almost sorry, for having such wonderful things to blog! Really! Ok, so I really want to apologize if these posts seem as if we are rubbing it in that we are living on a tropical island and you are not. That is not my intention. But you have been asking for more posts, and I must comply.

When I read the posts and remember the good times, I cannot believe how many wonderful things we have experienced in such a short period of time. It seems unfair, that my readers, are suffering either in the sweltering sun of Arizona or trudging through grey sloshy snows of Colorado and Utah. It's a crummy deal. But I can't let it get in the way of my fun anymore. I now pledge to go by the Dutch motto: It's all about having fun!

OK, now that it's off my chest, let's move on!

One of the great benefits to having kids of different ages is that you have many different opportunites to meet the parents of all of the friends of your kids. This is what happened here: Meet the Queens!

Our friends from upstate New York have a great place here on the island, and they come out to stay here one week every month. They have two kids, ages 11 and 15, and they often bring friends with them. You can see where this is going.......

Naturally the Queens want to have fun when they get here, you think YOU have sloshy snow. The Queen's son rides a snowmobile to school and sometimes takes a boat to get there to, which he drives (rows?)himself. So, in the Dutch spirit, they plan all sorts of fun things, and we have enjoyed much fun with them. Fun, fun, fun. We just adore them, they are truly sweet and wonderful family. Did I mention fun?

Last month was a birthday and a large group of friends accompanyed the Queens here. A boat ride was scheduled, and we took a visit to Venus Bay.

Getting off the island for the first time in six months! Note the happy, happy grins

Bion, Kai, and Stefan at the helm. Relax, Stefan!
Dag, doue, Statia!

Charles and Guenie naturally find a great sitting place

Kai is feeling a little crabby Great, now everyone is a little crabby! (celebratory hats for the birthday party)

Arrival at Jenkins Bay
Ok, sports fans, I am now going to perform my new trick!

WHew! Made it!
See Saba in the background?

flexing for the camera

Ik met het kinderen
Return to Statia
After arriving at the dock, it didn't take long for the for the kids to figure it out a useful purpose for those hanging ropes and the dinghy
Ed and Bion, a double gainer. Considering the age difference, Ed deserves some respect!

Even Charles took a few swings

Connely is so fly
What the ladies did while the kids played like kids and the men tried to play like kids....we tied up the floaties and "floated" with a cooler of beverages and yapped to our hearts content

A perfect ending to a perfect day