travelling teacher

Many have echoed the sentiments that teachers are given too much vacation, not that we would complain if we were in their position. But the question remains, “What does a teacher do with ‘so much’ vacation?” Carissa Martinez, a Spanish teacher for four years, has agreed to share her 2018 July/August adventures.

pitch lake
Carissa (third from left) and her coworkers at the Pitch Lake, Trinidad.

First stop: South Trinidad

First on the list was a visit to the Pitch Lake, Trinidad which is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world. Having lived in Trinidad all her life, Ms. Martinez shamefully admitted that she had never visited the popular site. Keen on exploring more of her homeland, she teamed up with a few coworkers to take a trip to ‘D Southland’. Visiting the Pitch Lake awakened an adventurous spirit which led them to explore Clifton Hill beach that same day. The weather was perfectly sunny making for an enjoyable day which she deemed as “definitely worth the drive” from West Trinidad. Exploring different parts of the country and gaining a greater appreciation for these natural treasures of Trinidad and Tobago is something Ms. Martinez hopes to continue in the near future.


carissa at pitch lake
Carissa at the Pitch Lake.

Wanderlust State of Mind

Synonymous with the name Carissa Martinez is the phrase ‘avid traveller’. To date, she has visited Curaçao, Colombia, Suriname, Brazil, Jamaica, France, England and St. Lucia. On describing her love for travelling she said, “It just feels like everything is right and life is full of opportunities to see and do all sorts of exciting things. It really is amazing to immerse yourself in something completely new every once in a while.” Living in this constant state of wanderlust, it was no surprise that upon receiving an invitation via email, Carissa applied for a scholarship opportunity in Chile organised by the Chilean Agency of International Cooperation for Development.

The email from the Ministry of Education in Trinidad invited all Spanish teachers to apply for a scholarship in Chile during the July/August vacation. Teachers know the pressures of meeting deadlines and even of enforcing them, nonetheless, Ms. Martinez applied on the deadline date and was surprised when she was selected.

Trini in Chile

Ms. Martinez is one of twenty Spanish teachers who have now become students as they study a Diploma in Methodologies for Teaching Spanish as a Second Language for Spanish Teachers of the English-Speaking Caribbean. The others are from Trinidad and Tobago (5), Jamaica (4), Guyana (4), Belize (2), Barbados (1), Nevis (1), Dominica (1), and St. Vincent (1). The teachers will improve their Spanish through immersion as well as formal classes. Although Carissa has not yet completed the course she already plans to use the resources shared by her fellow teachers along with her understanding of the multiple intelligence theory to improve her overall style of teaching.

teachers in chile
The teachers gather for a group picture

Balancing study and leisure

On weekends, the group takes advantage to enjoy their well-deserved time off. They’re staying in Viña del Mar, a city along the pacific coastline, and have been on tour in the city of ‘Valparaíso’ where they marvelled at the different mountain top views and enjoyed a boat ride along the coastline. This experienced traveller was not held back by the heavy workload and was able to meet with a Jamaican friend who lives in Santiago. Together, they visited the Viñedo Undurraga (vineyard), as well as Sky Costanera, the tallest building in South America which has 62 floors.

santiago chile
Beautiful view in Santiago, Chile

Ms. Martinez recalled the highlights of her trip thus far, “We’ve seen the famous flower clock, dipped our feet in the freezing cold Pacific Ocean, ate ice cream in the 10 degree weather, tried the local food and drinks, and seen the amazing murals painted on the walls. All of it has been amazing” Before leaving, they plan to visit Ski Portillo, a ski resort located in the Andes mountains, just 5 km from Chile’s border with Argentina.

murals in chile
Painted murals line the streets of Chile

Carissa has thoroughly enjoyed the culture of Chile and has even showcased her own. She mentioned, “Some of the people at our university now know what soca is, what our money looks like and what our various foods, beaches and Carnival celebrations are like. After our conversation they even went home to research Trinidad!” Carissa would like to visit each continent and as many countries as possible but presently, Argentina and Norway are at the top of her list. This beloved teacher and avid traveller can indeed boast of a vacation that was filled both with study and leisure and overall a time well spent.