14 June 2008

My work here is done.

As of Friday, June 13, 2008, I feel that I have wholly and completely fulfilled my role as an Ambassadorial Scholar for the United States of America. How did I manage to complete such an amazing feat, do you ask? By introducing one of the U.S.'s most iconic and beloved dance contributions to the people of New Zealand. I can proudly say that I, Sarah Price, taught and got an entire restaurant dancing THE MACARENA.

It all started as a typical night at Taqueria Poblano, the lone Mexican-esque eatery existing in Dunedin. Come 8:30p.m., the place transforms from a slightly overpriced purveyor of pseudo burritos and kiwi-ized chimichangas to a pulsating Latin dance party, thanks to the marketing skills of my incredible dance teacher, Alfonso. Salsa, bachata, meringue, reggaeton--you name it, it's gonna be played, as long as it's latin and SPICY. It is without a doubt my favorite night of the week, and this Friday was no exception.

Things had been going along swimmingly as usual; following the well-attended free Salsa class for newbies at the beginning of the night, the dance floor was crowded with Salseros of varying levels but equal enthusiasm. After dancing my legs into the floor for a solid hour and a half, I had just sat down to take a water break and enjoy the scene when I heard it. Da da da da-duh Heeeeeeeeeeyyyyaaaayyyyyy-ooooooooh---instantly I recognized that infamous wail and those 80s-esque, electronic synth backbeats.

I leapt to my feet immediately, grabbing my friend and fellow American Rachel mid-sentence and dragged her to the middle of the dance floor. Regressing to our past lives as thirteen year-olds, back when Macrena mania was sweeping the nation, we both sprang into action, performing those genius arm motions immovably ingrained in the minds of all our generation like there was no tomorrow.

Up to this point pretty much everyone else had stopped their salsa-ing and had been absently drifting away from the dance floor. But then they noticed these two crazy girls doing some sort of choreographed "dance" to the obnoxiously catchy song blaring from the speakers. Soon the crowd had regathered around Rachel and I, their inquisitive Kiwi faces furrowed with a mixture of bewilderment and intrigue. "Come on guys, it's easy! Just watch!" I shouted to the onlookers.

One by one, the crowd began to copy us; haltingly at first, then with increasing confidence as the Macrena's mind-numbing repetitiveness began exerting its hypnotic effects. Soon the entire floor was filled with jubilant Kiwis, thrilled with their powers of basic coordination and recall, stepping and motioning and hip swirling with all the enthusiam of sugar-buzzed pre-teens at a middle school dance. And Rachel and I were right in the thick of it, leading the pack until that very last, slightly screamy "owwwwuh" sound reverberated through the air. The best part of all though--everyone actually clapped afterwards.

That, my friends, is what it truly means to be an ambassador of culture, and no doubt will remain one of my fondest, and proudest memories of my time in New Zealand :P!

07 June 2008

A wintry June

Ooooh the weather outside is frightfulllll! It is now June, and instead of buying bikinis, bumming around on the beach, and firing up the barbeque, I'm sitting inside wrapped in a fleece jacket and slipper socks, looking at the light smattering of snow dusting the Dunedin hills. And it's definitely throwing off my internal clock--my poor northern hemisphere brain can't tell what season it's supposed to be. If you want to really confuse yourself, just think that for the Kiwis, Christmas isn't a time of snowflakes and sleigh bells; it's sunshine, summer vacation, and plenty of surfing. Weird huh?

Anyways, enough about the weather. As far as my life goes, I managed to survive my first semester at Uni, and now have a pretty sizeable vacation before the start of the second round of classes. Lucky me only had one final, and it was on the second day of the two-week period allocated for exams. So I got to be done quite early, and make all my friends jealous. The exam was definitely tough and required a completely different kind of cramming from what I was used to, as it was my exercise science class as oppsed to the English/writing/advertising oriented tests I slogged through for four years. But I survived nonetheless, and should come out alright. Now the problem is figuring out what to do with myself in the meantime. Unfortunately my travel options are pretty limited as I await my second scholarship payment--too bad but can't be helped. Right now it seems venturing into the world of work is my best bet to fill the time. Hooray for paychecks, boo for work. But oh well. At the very least, I've now got the time to catch up on all my blog posts. So be on the lookout for a big heap of them the next couple of weeks. At the moment though, I'm going to call it quits and say adieu, as I have to get in an eight-mile training run while the sun is still shining. I don't think I mentioned that I decided to participate in a marathon around the Otago penninsula in September...it'll be my second after doing the Marine Corps Marathon in DC last October. Super excited, and ready to wrack up the miles. Take care everyone, and check back soon!