Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Adorable Nightmare

At Perisher there is a program where local kids come to ski school every Sunday and ski with the same group and the same instructor all season.  Ages 3+ are welcome and kids are grouped based on age and ability.  Its a pretty awesome program.  Since I didn't originally get one of the older kid groups that just want to rip all day, I was avoiding the program to hopefully have Sunday as my day off.  At the beginning of the season then, when I was asked to take a group of 3-4 year olds, I had no idea what I had just let myself be talked into.
On the first day I had 5 boys and 2 girls.  The math here is simple, but any ski instructor around the world will know that 7 3-4 year old children on a ski hill is equivalent to trying to teach dog tricks to 7 kittens high on catnip in a warehouse of balls, yarn, and laser pointer dots.  Though the kitttens would probably all get along, use a litter box by themselves, feed themselves, and wouldn't have to be dressed and undressed in 12 layers four times a day.  So, maybe the kittens would be easier.  Thinking I was getting a good deal, after that first day I traded the two girls for a boy bringing my total to six.  Not too bad...so I thought.  The program for my age group is called Mini Mites. So first, lets meet my boys.

This is Luka.
Luka is incredibly friendly and thinks I'm his best friend.  He is so excited for everything and usually has an awesome attitude.  Luca though, doesn't play well with others.  If I take my eyes off him, he is pushing someone down, stealing someones toy, or going WWF crazy on an unsuspecting child.  His ears are slightly blocked making it hard to hear anything I say.



This is Lincoln.
Lincoln is the mastermind of evil.  His most charming trait is that he really couldn't care less.  He does whatever he wants, no matter what.  He is a true leader.  He ALWAYS has to be in front, I spent 4 weeks working on taking turns with this kid, only to eventually give it up.  He somehow managed to rally 5 other little boys into a plot to take over the world.  No threat of discipline or consequence has any effect on this one.  Bribes however...


This is Christian.
 He was the youngest in my group.  He was the cutest.  And he only had one single moment all season long of acting his age.  I wanted to take him home with me!  He didn't really talk that much, just smiles and giggles.  He also happens to be the best skier in the group.  And his pants were always falling off, Cutest kid ever. 


 This is Will.
Will was the most efficient producer of snot.  He chewed holes into 5 different pairs of gloves.  He almost never cried or whined but fell down a LOT.  And when Will falls down he is overtaken by a magical spell that makes him inexplicably mesmerized by the snow.  He can't stop playing with it, and thus...will never stand up by himself after falling down.  Not even once.  Every other kid in the Mini Mites program loves Will.  Which is weird, cuz he's pretty shy, and gets snot on everything.


 This is Charly
Charly is frieking adorable.  He would fight with Luca a lot about being my best friend.  He is also excited about almost everything.  Charly won't stand for anyone behaving badly, and he will make sure to tell me if anyone does, over and over again until I acknowledge the infraction.  He has a fun habit of stopping when something upsets him.  And not moving no matter what.  No words will get him to move.  I hiked uphill to retrieve this guy more than any ski instructor has ever hiked uphill for any kid(except maybe for Will). 


 This is Charlie
Charlie is Lincoln's sidekick.  The two were either best friends or worst enemies.  It changes every five minutes or so.  Charlie really likes to have everything his very own way.  And he will let you know if he disapproves.  His hearing is very poor and has no concept of staying with the group.  He is probably the most manipulative 4 old on earth.  Just when you are about to go all Homer Simpson strangling on him, he will hug your leg and tell you he loves you.  I've never had such mixed emotions about a person.  He has a bright future in politics, or playboying...


So for one day every week all season long I got to hang out with these boys.  It was awesome and horrible at the same time.  All of these boys have some sort of relation to employees at Perisher, so they've been around the mountain before.  It only took me a few days with these guys to realize that I had a group with a reputation.  And the reputation wasn't really a good one.  Most reactions from people who were in the know were empathetic and sorrowful.  Everywhere we went on the mountain though we'd get the "Aaaahhhhh"s and "So cute!" exclamations from everyone that didn't know.  When people from the general public saw me ignoring a screaming Charlie or yelling my lungs out at Lincoln who is running away, I got disapproving glances.  A resort employee who knew better though would often step in and help.  These boys were definitely a handful.  My skills as an instructor, and a kitten wrangler were surely put to the test.
To give you an idea how bad they could get, I'll tell the story about week two.  That morning I put a gash in my head when I hit it on a locker getting my uniform on and I had to go to the medical center before I could go to work.  So this made me about an hour late for work.  They gave my group to my friend Georgia for the day since they weren't sure if I'd get cleared by the doc to work.  I showed up to take my group after Georgia had been with them for the hour.  When I met up with them they were just getting ready to start putting skis on, and Georgia was having a straight up anxiety attack.  She was so overwhelmed with the tasks of getting them all to go to the toilet, putting all their winter clothes on, herding them outside and up the snow, and trying to get their skis on, that she was literally about to loose her sanity.  The look on her face when she saw me was akin to the look a man stranded on an island with a wild pack of howler monkeys would have when he spots a rescue ship.  I've never know a woman to be so happy to see me.
There were times when I would straight up just loose a kid.  But only because he would run off.  I hiked uphill more with those boys than all the rest of my time teaching skiing combined.  This was the first time in my life I've used candy to bribe children, there was literally no other way.  Lunch time was absolute chaos.  It was pure and simple, non stop work taking care of those buys for 6.5 hours each day.  I came really close to going crazy myself a few times, and on several occasions I had to take a moment to myself to dial down impending explosion.  This was the most difficult task I've ever had as an instructor.

And I hope I get to teach them again next year, because it was downright awesome!

On our last day.  It's a great picture isn't it?!  If you could only see what it took to get them all sitting still at the same time!

The last day was race day, this was the awards ceremony.


Lincoln (look at that tuck! I taught him that...)

Christian (the fastest 3 yr old on the mountain!)

Waiting for lunch.  NOT easy to get them all sitting down at once.

At the awards ceremony

Someone in charge decide that a huge platter full of sweets and chips was a good idea for a room with 80 3-5 year old kids.  FAIL.

Every time it was time to go from inside to outside I would let the boys that were dressed and ready go outside and play while I helped the others get ready.  On this day they were now all outside and I had been trying for about five minutes to get them all to follow me to the hill to start skiing again.  Eventually I gave up and just started filming them instead, and this is that video!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Gili Islands

Once I realized I wasn't going to be able to surf every day that I was in Indonesia as originally planned, and spending several days touristing around the inland, I decided it was time to get back to the beach to participate in my second favorite thing to do in the ocean.  Scuba Diving!  So I took a bus, to a boat, to the island of Gili Air just off the coast of Lombok.  There are three Gili islands.  They are all pretty small, (I walked all the way around Air in 80 minutes) but that just means there is lots of reef surrounding them.  So it was an obvious place to go for some scuba. 

The Gili Islands.  Gili Air is on the right.
Where it points to Gili Trawangan is where I was.

There are no motorized vehicles on the island.  Just sandy paths and small horse drawn carts work as taxis in case you need to take your luggage to one of the villas far away from the spot on the beach where boats dropp off/pick up.  There is no proper pier, boats just tie up to driftwood or palm trees.  And it was awesome!  After the intensity of Bali the quiet pace here was really nice. 


My accommodation was about 20 yards back from the beach so it was very affordable, and it was right next door to the dive center Oceans 5 where I wanted to book all my dives.  

My cottage
Where I stayed.


The diving was really good.  It wasn't quite like the Barrier Reef, but still really good.  I saw some things I've never seen before.  Like sea horses, nudibranches, shrimp and eels.  Of course there were all the normal creatures and turtles and sharks.  Plus the ocean floor terrain was different than anything I've seen before, and I did a muck dive for the first time.  That was way more interesting than I expected.  In three days I only did five dives total, but I did swim around most the island too. 


weird method for getting back on the boat


Don't touch!  Lionfish.




Tiny yellow box fish!

Another Sea Horse




In total I was in Gili for five days and four nights.  I will admit that on my first day there I was unsure.  I didn't know what I was going to do for five days on that tiny speck of land.  But not doing much of anything ended up being awesome.  The food at the restaurants was surprisingly good.  All the people were very nice.  It was a great way to end my time in Indonesia!