7.26.2010

meet me by the water

Although I haven’t written much I have at least been very consistent with a weekly response! My Musical recommendation for the day is Meet Me by the Water by Rachael Yamagata. (I would also like to give credit to Lizbie Harbison for the idea to use song titles for my blog titles...THANKS BIE!)

Well, I finally received my package and I realized why it was sent through UPS! I could barely carry the package although I did make it the 10 minute walk from school to home on Friday! Although the package was in Costa Rica on Monday I did not physically receive it until Friday! Luckily by Friday I had some clothes that my mom sent me and an awesome Frisbee that lights up! A bunch of friends from the CPI met up around 9:30 on Friday night to go to the bar. A group of 9 of us ended up meeting at the bar. With the entrance fee we received tickets for a free shot of tequila, vodka, or rum, which was pretty awesome! After a shot and a drink the dance floor began to get a bit more crowded. Luckily this bar played Costa Rican music (lots of salsa and samba). The live band started around 10:30 and I danced with friends from my program. I ran into my Tico uncle (I think that’s how he is related to my family) and he asked me to save him a dance. It was really fun but I was very upset that we didn’t dance with the locals. I woke up early Saturday morning to head to Arenal! After a very bumpy 4 hour ride we got to Arenal and were able to see the volcano right away. Sometimes people go all the way to Arenal and never even see the volcano because of the cloud cover but we really lucked out. We took a walk in the reserve around the volcano for about 2 hours before heading to Baldi, one of the hot springs in Arenal! I loved the water but the area with the hot springs was a bit touristy. I felt like I was in a water/theme park with different pools, a million tourists, wet bars, lots of restaurants, and even some water slides. The water slide was very fun but Baldi was not what I expected when I read “hot spring” on our itinerary. I had hoped for a more natural environment to swim in but luckily I got my “natural” fix on Sunday when we walked down 500 steps to see the giant waterfall in Arenal. The waterfall was magnificent and although the water was pretty cold you could practically swim next to it. The area to swim was an oasis surrounded by a thick jungle and I loveeeed it! We ended up taking a bus, boat, and another bus on the way back to Monteverde. The ride back took about 3 hours instead of the bumpy 4 on the way there (thank goodness). Although I was exhausted when I got home Sunday night the trip was well worth it. This week I am going to go Canyoning (repelling down a waterfall), take a cooking class, hopefully rally a group to go to the bar on Thursday for Samba night, and go to Manuel Antonio this weekend (by the beach!!!). I am very excited to relax and get some sun this weekend! I am starting to research some places that I want to trip. Although I love Monteverde and the simplicity of the natural environment that surrounds me on a daily basis, I haven’t been very pleased with the tourist activities that I have done. I think I am going to need to look off the beaten path in order to find activities that appeal to me. Luckily I have 5 months to explore Costa Rica and have plenty more to see/ do in Monteverde.
Things at home have calmed down a bit. The family often goes to pray at their grandfather’s grave but my host mom seems to be doing much better. This week I have class from 7-12:30 rather than 8-12 and another class from 1-2:30. Although I have to wake up an hour earlier I prefer this plan because it gives me more free time to explore in the afternoon. Tomorrow I am going to go into Santa Elena and walk to La Creativa (the school I will be teaching at starting August 11th). I’m going to try to blog more often! I write in my journal every day so its hard to feel motivated to then write in my blog! K that’s all!

7.20.2010

pretty things

Blog summary: this one is much more reflective. Funny story at the end if you wanna laugh. Overall pretty boring. No stories. I can see myself moving to Costa Rica at some point in my life. Music Recommendation of the day: Tony Lucca, Matt Duke and Jay Nash, Song: Pretty Things, YOUTUBE IT!


Wow. Its been 10 days in monteverde and in some ways it seems to have flown by but in others it seems to be dragging on. I was able to meet the coordinator at the school I will be teaching at. She is unbelievable. Its wonderful to see all of these young kids who graduated from college and up and moved to costa rica. Most of them fell in love with costa rica during a semester abroad or summer trip during college (very much like what I’m doing now). I’ve been thinking about that often and how it isn’t that strange or foreign for me to imagine. Life in monteverde, and in costa rica in general is extremely relaxed. The food is simple and the people are kind. I am constantly greeted with smiles and I love that. My host family has also completely adopted me into their home. I already feel like one of the kids. My host mothers father passed away on Saturday and I spent the weekend helping/ watching Allison (or trying to at least). And although I felt very in the way and out of place, it brought me much closer to the family. However, There are things that bother me about the culture in terms of the roles that men and women play which makes it difficult for me to envision a long life here. For example, I could never marry a tico and be expected to stay at home and cook him 3 meals a day. Absolutely not. And I think that “modern” idea is frowned upon here. But that’s the only thing that bothers me. Oh and the bugs. But I would just build a well insulated and bug free home. I am enjoying my classes at the language school but I am excited to start teaching at La Creativa. The schedule/ routine of the entire experience will provide me some structure. Not only that, but they have a “uniform” aka T-shirts with the school logo on them. I am verrrry excited to buy some of these shirts so that I don’t have to pick out an outfit each day. I know my family (Katrina) is laughing and rolling their eyes at that comment but I’m very excited about it!!! I couldn’t bring many clothes and everything gets wet so this is a wonderful solution to my problem. Funny story: So the secretary at the language school brought me the telephone today and said something to me in Spanish that I really did not understand. Turns out my parents sent a package and the UPS guy was calling to tell me that it was in. Of course I really had no idea what he was saying at the time, but I took down some numbers and said si a lot and hung up. But after the conversation I realized that I had NO idea what he said and that I wouldn’t be able to get the package. Luckily I talked to the secretary after my phone conversation and told her that I couldn’t understand what the man had said. Of course she asked, “did you ask him if he spoke English” which would have been a logical thing for me to do but of course I didn’t. Luckily the secretary called the man back and once i pay the fee I can get my package. Its in San Luis right now which is about a 3 hour drive but somehow its going to get here once I pay. Haha basically I’m stupid and if I didn’t have the secretary’s help I would never get the package. So I can’t do that next time! Haha Also I have a musical recommendation although it isn’t Latin music! I haven’t listened to enough music yet here and the bar I went to on Friday night played reaggae and American stuff…kinda lame although the band was awesome (I only really watched the drummer!). but my recommendation is a CD titled TFDI by Tony Lucca, Jay Nash, and Matt Duke. Youtube the song Pretty Things. These guys are talented. And sound so beautiful together! Well, thats all for now.

7.14.2010

the green mountain

For those who do not want to read my scattered and descriptive post below I have provided you with a summary: I love my host family (mom, dad, 2 brothers and Allison (11) my best friend), the food is great and doesn’t give me a stomachache, I am taking 5.5 hours of Spanish class at a school called the CPI for 4 weeks before I start to volunteer at the elementary school, I am speaking and understanding a lot, over the next 4 weeks I will be taking little trips around Costa Rica, tours around Monteverde, and some dance classes in the area, there are crazy bugs here (a lot in my room!), and although I miss my family and friends terribly I am so so so so so happy here. And so excited for this journey. I already feel at home here and I am looking forward to becoming a TICO (or at least attempting) over the next 5 months.

Well, I’m here. And its real. And there is absolutely no turning back. As scary as that thought is, its beautiful. I got in to San Jose around 7:30 Saturday night. After a mini panic attack at the baggage claim I grabbed my 2 50 lb bags and found my way to the airport exit. My host dad was waiting for me with a big smile. Prior to my arrival my program director informed me that he was a big guy with a big smile and of course she was right. Although he isn’t huge, just round in the tummy : ) So we drove 3 hours from San Jose to Monteverde. The last 20 minutes were an adventure because the main road to Monteverde is not paved and has so many potholes I felt like I was offroading. Somehow I was able to communicate with my host dad throughout the ride! I really surprised myself since I haven’t taken Spanish for about almost 4 years. I met my host mom and the eldest son Leslie very quickly before going to bed. I thought about unpacking but was so overwhelmed that I decided to just sleep. I woke up around 7:30 and had breakfast with my mother and sister, Allison. I had some down time to unpack (and find huge bugs/ spiders in my room) and try to relax before heading to an annual bike race that is famous in Monteverde. I’m still unsure of the origin, but I think many people come to Monteverde to race and raise money for the town. We took a 30 minute walk to the finish line and waited for the boys (Leslie, Leslie jr, Sebastian) to finish the race. Sebastian (15 yrs old) is a national champion and is on a racing team. He travels all over Costa Rica to race and I guess he is very good! After the race ended we walked back home. I had some lunch, hung out, and took a nap for about an hour before dinner. And by the way, the food is amazing. Rice, beans, meat, tortillas, veggies, and fruit are staples. I have never felt better with the food. I’ve been here 5 days and have yet to get a stomachache, which I could really get used to because it is definitely not the case at home. We celebrated Leslie juniors birthday in the evening with the entire family. My host mother has 8 brothers and sisters so people are always visiting (which is great because I get to meet new people and practice my Spanish every day!) I spent most of the evening playing with las ninas. Allison likes to paint nails and she has a mini salon in her room so I volunteered to be her secretary because I have no nails. I re-wrote some of her notes and ended up coloring hearts and flowers for them by the end of the night. They started writing out orders for my drawings because they liked them so much! I love Allison! We are already very close and it has only been 5 days. Leslie junior just turned 18 and I haven’t had a chance to really get to known him because he is never here. My other host brother Sebastian is extremely smart. He loves speaking to me in English. Both Allison and Sebastian practice their English and I speak to them in Spanish. It is a wonderful experience for the three of us. After dinner and birthday cake I went to bed. Walked 10 minutes to my school (CPI) for 5.5 hours of class. My morning class has 2 students (myself included) and my afternoon class is a one-on-one conversation course for an hour and a half. I absolutely love the teacher because we are very similar. We spend most of our time talking about the educational system and the problems with young children who are lacking parental support. Its wonderful to have more intelligent conversations because it challenges and expands my vocabulary. I am able to use a phone and internet at the CPI and meet many American students, adults, and families. Many people come to the CPI for 1 or 2 weeks to practice Spanish because the school also provides guided tours and things to do. For example, I am going to take a dance class tomorrow night. The school provides information about restaurants and other places to go (I found out about a yoga studio that is close and offers classes each evening!) I even went on a night tour in the mountains and saw huge spiders, insects, and some weird animals that I had never heard of before. When I come home in the evenings (if I’m not at event) Sebastian helps me with my homework. Well really he tries to speak to me in English, his mom yells at him, I tell him I can do it myself, and then he corrects my mistakes when I finish. It’s a wonderful way to learn but also gives me an opportunity to get to know him. I think the family likes me. I absolutely love them and am looking forward to the time we will spend together (and trust me 5 months is a lonnnng time). This weekend I think I am going to stay at home. The CPI offers awesome trips to Arenal and some beaches which I am definitely going to take advantage of over the next 4 weeks but the boys are all going to Sebastian’s bike race and so my host mom y Allison y yo have planned a girls weekend! Well we haven’t planned it. But we joked about it. Ok well that’s all for now.