Thursday, December 29, 2005

Latest ex-MTV veejay update: Ingo Schmoll

Good news! I've received emails from Kristiane Backer and Ray Cokes. They are doing well and will write updates for this blog as soon as they come back from their travels (Kristiane is doing a one-month world tour and Ray Cokes is off to Capetown)

If any of you want to make sure that you stay up-to-date with the updates but don't always get round to checking this blog, just subscribe to Feedblitz (on the right-hand-side of this page). That way you will receive the new blog entries directly by email.

For now, check out the following update from ex-MTV Europe Veejay Ingo Schmoll:

Hi Simone,

It's really interesting to read and find out about the destiny of my former MTV colleagues. Firstly, a big hello to all of you wherever you are !

As for myself I nowadays live in the country side about 40 minutes outside of Cologne in Germany. After my gig at MTV I continued hosting tv shows for another few years in Germany. Every now and then I would bump into Ray Coked who hosted a radio show for a station in Berlin which was located right next to the studios of Deutsche Welle TV worldservice where I was hosting a show every Saturday until 1999. The truth is that I got extremely fed up with tv after that, particularly German tv, because most of it is total rubbish in my opinion and it gets worth every time I turn on the tv (which I hardly do anymore). But right after MTV I also re-joined WDR- EinsLive radio which is Germanys most successful radio station for people between 16-35 years of age. This is where I still work nowadays hosting several shows every week. The station really sticks out of the ordinary and boring German programming on other radio and tv stations. Most likely you could compare it to BBC's Radio One.

Besides I still produce music every now and then at my studio with a friend of mine. Our latest "product" was a pop track sung by Snap's former singer Thea Austin (I know they had several singers, but Thea did "Rhythm is a dancer" for example). The track was licensed to EMI who never released it, but they paid for it anyway :-) Somehow it got a release in Russia though and landed at number 12 in the Russian Pop Charts. But I never made any money from that as it was released over there by the Russian mafia (or their affiliates...).

Sometimes I also produce television features (including portraits of actors for example) or even advertising (e.g. for Mircosoft although I am a die hard Apple user !). Also I do quite a bit of voice over work. For example dubbing characters on South Park for German tv or characters in Playstation games such as Spiderman.

My latest venture is fulfilling an old childhood dream of mine: becoming a puppeteer of several Muppet-like characters on a tv show that is currently in the planning stages. It will be a puppet show for adults and I have been training puppeteer-ing (doing the voices and playing) some of the characters last week. It's been great fun ! So this is it for the "professional" part of my life.

As for my personal life: I do own a dog that actually looks like a muppet called Josefine (breed: Bearded Collie, age: 10). Maybe you remember me getting married to Janelle who worked in the AR department at MTV. We actually got divorced in 1998 on "good terms" as they say. Janelle went back to Australia after that. My girl friend Anna (who studies Design in Cologne) lives with me nowadays. Whenever we can we travel. Next stop: Snowboarding in Austria in February next year. Can't wait ! Hopefully someday we'll even visit Belize !

Sometimes I talk to Thomas Markert (Ex MTV On-Air, nowadays hotshot at Nick Networks in New York) through my webcam via Apple's iChat. He's working really hard. I can always see him online on my Instant Messenger when he's in the office which is most of the time (then again is this a surprise for any of us ? We're talking working for an MTV affiliate here ;-)

Finally I sometimes bump into Steve Blame in Cologne. He speaks German really well nowadays. I hope all of you are doing great, but from what I read here it seems like it.
Happy 2006 to all of you!
Take care, Ingo

Monday, December 26, 2005

It's always sad to be away from family for Christmas, but thanks to the internet we can stay up to date with each other's lives anyway. This picture was taken last night in Aruba at my mum and Miriam's Christmas dinner (with their partners Laurenz and Hans). Looks like they had a blast!

Aren't they just the sweetest?

Another Expat's perspective

I recently got an email from a Dutch Expat based in the US on his experience of making a transatlantic move (in response to my "Moving to Belize Guide") Seems that many issues are not just relevent to Belize......

Hey Simone,

It's interesting that you write about moving to Belize and the'hardship' it brings. I have to say that having moved from the Netherlands to the US, I have similar experiences.

A lot of things you mention in your 'Moving to Belize Guide' apply to any regular long-distance move, i.e. What happens in a medical emergency? The US has plenty of hospitals, but try and figure the medical system out here, if you're used to the Dutch semi-free's very confusing.

As for your 4 points:

1) Money is often spent at a ridiculous rate when moving internationally. An apartment in the DC area is more than twice as expensive as renting in Holland for less space. Add to that the extra month of rent ahead and a very late first pay-check because you need be reborn as a new tax-payer and money leaves a lot faster than it comes in.

2) The need to be clear with yourself. I notice a lot of other 'expats'complain about things they could have seen coming. Lonelyness, homesickness, trouble getting used to 'weird'/different habits, language problems. One that struck me, is the problem of where to get things. At home you know what stores to pick, but when moving across an Ocean you lose that whole reference field. Drugs sold in US supermarkets can be prescription only in Holland. Liquor however is harder to get in the US (depending on the state you end up in). And what do you do when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere on a high way, and you don't have a cell phone (yet) or automobile club membership (yet)?

3) People have a harder time with climate change than they expect.During my first Winter in Ohio, I caught a fever. No problem I'm a big boy, I can handle that. Just go get some oranges and life will be fine. However, doing so in -15C is quite an experience if you're used to living in a country where -15C is a one time a year low.

4) A lot of your safety networks falls away. Visa trouble? Nobody to turn to. Loose your ATM card & want borrow some money from a friend, mom or dad? Not here. Catch a bad cold? You need to make friends first before they do any shopping for you.

I arrived inWashington on Sept 3rd 2001. 8 days before 9/11. Very hard to get through a day like that without any real friends of family.

Anyway, I am sure moving to Belize has more and very different issues, but it was nice to see someone express the "negative" or "overlooked" sides of moving far away from home. Let's be clear that I don't want to be a whiner. Overall, it's a very rewarding experience and I hope to stay much longer in the States, but between all the great experiences have been some tough times too. I 'll keep reading your blog with great interest and am looking forward to reading the next instalment of your 'Moving to Belize Guide'.....

Uw vliegende radiowereld reporter:

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The true meaning of Christmas

I had it all planned out. We were going to have a real (normal) family Christmas this year. I’d set up the tree in our new house (the one in Belmopan) and we would have a Christmas morning away from the resort. I had visions of Lucas waking up and seeing all the presents underneath the tree. We’d have a relaxed breakfast together, get dressed, take a family picture in front of our beautiful tree & then slowly make our way back to the resort.

Well…that never happened. Last night I left the Jungle Dome ahead of Andy, Lucas and Ian (Andy’s brother is here for the next few weeks). I had told Tella and Nora not to cook for us as we were going to spend Christmas Eve at the other house. But the minute I arrived there I started to feel bad. All I could think about was Karen. I knew that she missed her family (just as I missed mine) and that she would be at the Dome by herself on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning to look after all our guests. She had told me many times not to worry about her and that we should go and have a normal family Christmas in Belmopan.

I got all emotional when I looked at our beautiful Christmas tree, the presents and this lovely organized house of ours (Our living space at the Dome is getting rather empty and not much like a home anymore), when suddenly it dawned on me: “Fuck the tree!” In that instant I got what Christmas was really all about & it wasn’t a beautiful tree or being in a lovely house. It was about being with the ones you love! So how could we even consider spending Christmas without Karen?

I quickly phoned Andy and told him not to come, as I was coming back to the Dome. We had to be with family this evening and Karen has, over time, become our part of our family. So that evening we had dinner with her, Ian and Gonzo (our tour guide, who has also become part of our “adopted family”). The only one missing was John really. But he’s back with his mum and dad in Scotland.

Tella and Nora performed a “Jesus” on us that evening. They had cooked for 6 people, but managed to feed 12 of us in the end. Just like that bible story where Jesus feeds hundreds of people with one loaf of bread. It was a great Christmas Eve surprise.

The rest of the night was spent playing Poker with all the guests. What a fun game! I’ve decided that that will be our new Christmas tradition; play poker, instead of the family picture by the tree.

(I did take part of our Christmas tree back to the Dome, but it looks rather pathetic. It’s the size of a large water bottle and stands up by being stuck in a box of wooden bricks)
Still…it’s all about the love. Merry Christmas everybody!

"And that one is for me and that one is for me..." (Check out the tiny Chritsmas tree in the building blocks box)

Brandy tasting session with daddy

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas rush

To all my friends....I'm sorry I haven't emailed any of you back recently. My outlook express is playing up (receiving, but not sending emails)

Actually, the whole Internet connection at the Dome is a bit scatty at the moment. I thought that our rescue would be the new DSL line in our Belmopan home. We had waited for weeks to get it installed and were very excited about getting top-notch Skype service and constant good connections.

Well, it wasn't to be. Last night I was planning to use it for the first time, but instead of getting online, I managed to mess up the whole system. I pressed a button and re-programmed everything. Obviously, Andy wasn't around or that would have never happened. It was just Karen and me there. What a fool & how bloody annoying!

Anyway, life here is as hectic as I imagine everyone's life is right now. Crazy Christmas rush, trying to tie up all kind of lose know the story.

Hope none of you are losing your sanity yet. Still ten days to go. Good luck with all the Christmas parties and hang-overs! (Not missing those much, I have to say)

Adios my dears!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Getting dressed in the carpark outside the courthouse (Andy did find a suit to wear after all)

Look how big I am!

Our wedding party (in front of our new bus)

Moments before the ceremony.....

Present at the wedding: Mr. Flowers, John, Karen, my mum, Andy, Lucas and I.

As plain as the ceremony was, I still got a bit teary-eyed when we got to the "I do's".

You may kiss the bride!

Lucas was bored and ran off straight after the ceremony, shouting "Finished!" (cheeky monkey)

Mr. & Mrs. Hunt with our dear Karen (And look, our wedding certificate!) I have to say, we loved our simple wedding. It was just what we had wanted.

Our post-wedding meal at the local market (chicken, beans & fry jacks)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The wedding day

Today at 9am we're getting married. We haven't invited anybody, the only people there will be my mum, Karen and John (Apart from Andy, Lucas and me). We didn't invite anyone because we want to leave straight after signing the paperwork to get down to the beach. We're staying at Hamanasi resort in Hopkins for the night & want to make the most of our time there. My mum can look after Lucas & Andy and I can hopefully get some time together.

It's funny, Andy's suits are all mouldy, so he'll have to wear a shirt and a pair of shorts to our "wedding". And we're getting married by this old man called Mr. Flowers who sits at the local market every day (his "office" is a table at a food stall). He is, apparently, a senior justice of the peace, so he's licensed to marry people. He looks like quite a character.

Anyway, we better walk past the food stall this morning on our way to the courthouse, to make sure he hasn't forgotten about us. He didn't even write down the date when we told him when we wanted to get married.

I better get a move on. Get packing, have a shower, sort out the washing, get Lucas ready, etc.

I'll blog (with lots of pictures) in a few days. Wish me luck.......

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Lucas is already as hard-working as his dad. Here he is listening to sea shells (obviously, a very important job) He gets deadly serious when he is "working" and we have to wait until he is done before we can leave the house with him.

This is what they look like when they are not working....

Our Belmopan home "the town house"