College, Cooking, Capoeira

Quinta-feira, Março 20              (written by Lorie)

A CHANGE IN PLANS…

Today began with a change in schedule. Students were to have one last full day of classes at Cresimendo but instead visited a school similar to our NSCC campuses. Students there learn various technical trades.

Maria Clara's Dad welcoming us to Senac campus.

Maria Clara’s Dad welcoming us to Senac campus.

Being welcomed to Senac.  Many thanks to Maria Clara's Dad for inviting us to his Campus.

Being welcomed to Senac. Many thanks to Maria Clara’s Dad for inviting us to his Campus.

Julio, a coordinator at Senac campus, provided a lot of the translation for us today.

Julio, a coordinator at Senac campus, provided a lot of the translation for us today.

Students watched while one of the culinary students prepared two different salad dressings. Our students were then asked to come up in pairs to prepare a salad. Once they had finished preparing their salad they were then asked to present it to their closest friend here on the trip. They had to explain why they were giving their salad to the friend they had chosen.

On the right, is the head Chef and Instructor at this campus.  On the left, is the student who took us through the process of preparing our plates.

On the right, is the head Chef and Instructor at this campus. On the left, is the student who took us through the process of preparing our plates.

Student Chef.

Student Chef.

Attentive, or hungry, audience.

Attentive, or hungry, audience.

Giving us instructions on choosing who we make our salad for.

Giving us instructions on choosing who we make our salad for.

Alex and Baily

Alex and Baileigh.
Alex made his salad for his Brazilian mom.

Alex made his salad for his Brazilian mom.

After the salad the culinary students had prepared for us several local dishes which included beef wrapped in bacon, rice, rice mixed with a local plant (we were told of a story about an injured native who was left while his companions went off to war. He was able to survive by eating this plant.), a type of fish and a shrimp pie. Everyone enjoyed the meal a lot.

Beef wrapped with bacon.

Beef wrapped with bacon.

Fish, ready for the oven.

Fish, ready for the oven.

Food preparation.  The smells were incredible.

Food preparation. The smells were incredible.
Getting ready for the main course.

Getting ready for the main course which included fish, shrimp, beef and rice.

The chef was very passionate about the value of good food and the value of experiencing new foods from a different culture.  Here he is telling the class about a particular herb that is sometimes added to the rice.

The chef was very passionate about the value of good food and the value of experiencing new foods from a different culture. Here he is telling the class about a particular herb that is sometimes added to the rice.

Most of the students decided to attend classes that afternoon even if they weren’t normally an afternoon student simply because they realized time is running out and they will soon be on a plane home. (I’m sure most parents reading this find it hard to believe the students were asking to go to class but they were.)

In the evening we had a capoeira workshop. Capoeira is a Brazilian art form, which combines dance, music, and acrobatics with martial arts. Known as the secret dance of Brazil, capoeira is an astonishing display of acrobatics, breath-taking kicks and self-defense tactics performed to the music of the Berimbau (an ancient stringed bow-like instrument) and drums.

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While it was very hot and some students hadn’t brought a change of clothes due to the change in plans and not knowing they would be going straight from school. I think they all had a great time. While there were a few minor bumps and possible bruises they did a great job with the “fighting”. They were also taught the history of capoeira, and then about the instruments involved and how to use each.

The more things stay the same, the more they change?

D’Arcy & I are both teachers. He teaches in the public school system and I am faculty in the School of Business at the Nova Scotia Community College. When we began our B&B ten years ago (I can’t believe we’re at the beginning of our 11th season!!) D’Arcy commuted to Halifax during the school year as a permanent teacher with the Halifax School Board. I was a “work-at-home” mom, and running the B&B was my full time job. Back in 2003, my dad had just retired from his career with Lafarge, and my mother was still teaching primary. My dad has been involved with our B&B from the very beginning, as has Lori, who helps out on Mondays and Thursdays.

D’Arcy made the leap in 2006 and started working at a school in our local school board that was half the distance of his commute to Halifax. (One hour drive from Truro – Halifax.) He worked at that same school for five years, and earned a permanent position in the local school board. Wanting to be rid of the daily commute all together, two years ago he was able to secure a position at a school just a five minute drive from home. At the time, I was working at the Truro campus of the college, which is located just 1km from our home; an easy walk.

Last year at this time, my term position at Truro Campus ended and he got caught up in the cuts that the local school board were forced to make. Because he has a permanent contract, he is guaranteed a job, we just weren’t sure where in the Board which runs from Amherst to Pictou, and as far South as Elmsdale. As it turned out, he was placed in a position at a school in Pictou County, about a 45 minute drive from our home. Shortly after, a continuing full-time position came available that I was qualified for at Pictou campus, and since I knew D’Arcy was driving that way anyway, I applied for it and won the competition.

So, long story short, we have both been teaching in Pictou County this year and have loved it. We hired our neighbour, Ruthanne, this Fall to help out with breakfasts and cleaning on school days, and my dad still loves to come and welcome guests at arrival and chat over breakfast, helping to plan itineraries. D’Arcy & I enjoy making the 45-minute commute together daily; (“Best carpool ever!”) having the time in the car together to talk without any other distractions, and we are both really happy at our respective schools.

We weren’t sure what this year’s round of hiring in the public school system would bring, but on Friday we received the wonderful news that D’Arcy has been hired for next year in a position at his same school and will now be attached to that school. For the first time in ten years, we know where we’ll both be for the foreseeable future. The school where he works is actually a school that is growing in numbers (many of our rural schools have declining populations) so his position should be secure even if there are future cuts.

Stability – a new concept in the McDonah household!

People have been asking if we will sell our home & business and relocate to Pictou County. The answer is no. We love our home and our business and love the community we have in Truro. I grew up here. My parents still live here. Our children are settled in great schools, involved in so many activities, and have wonderful friends. D’Arcy’s brother and his family live on the other corner of our street. Although it is expensive to drive, at least we are commuting together and can remain a one-vehicle family for now.

Will we still operate our B&B? Absolutely! A reason our bed & breakfast has been so successful is because we love what we do. We really love welcoming guests from around the world into our home and getting to know them. We love to show-off our beautiful province to people, whether it is the first or tenth time they’ve been here. We love discovering connections and making relationships with people. Most of all, we’re proud to be a local business that supports the local economy in our community.

We will have to look at how things might change. We have already stopped hosting events such as weddings and parties, and no longer cater private lunches and dinners. Perhaps we’ll eventually turn into a more seasonal operation… These changes remain to be seen after we have some discussion this summer.

What we do know for now is that we are open for business and in full swing for the 2013 tourist season already. Our weekends in May are  filling up and summer reservations are coming in steadily. It’s shaping up to be a great year and our whole team – myself, D’Arcy, Dave, Deanna, Lori, Ruthanne, and the kids –  looks forward to welcoming many familiar faces, and meeting new friends this summer!

Belgravia Bed and Breakfast website.