Archive for February, 2010

My First Week in Costa Rica

WARNING: this blog is extra long and may not make sense as I tried to write it very fast.  (Written a few days ago)

Well, it has officially been a week since I arrived in Costa Rica. Saying that I “live” in Costa Rica, seems so weird to me. I mean I know that I am here, but it’s weird to think that I am actually living in another country. I wonder if anyone else who has lived abroad has felt the same way?

I thought that my first week would have been a lot more difficult than it was—that I would have been more emotional or homesick and it really hasn’t been too bad. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my moments, but they didn’t last too long. The crazy thing is, every time I have had a moment where I was homesick or missing a particular thing from the US, my family says something or something happens at the perfect time to makes me feel better. For example, the other day I was feeling a little sad because I know no one here. I mean there is another volunteer, but her and I haven’t really seen each other much. Knowing no one here, makes it difficult to travel or do local things like go to a restaurant, if you don’t want to always go alone. Also, I am used to having my own space or being able to up and leave for the store or somewhere, whenever I want to, which I can’t really do here. So, I was feeling a little lonely and stuck. Well, that day my mama tica was talking to me and saying how it must be hard for me here because I don’t know anyone. She said that all of the students she has had have come in a group so they can all travel together, and it must be hard for me to be here by myself. Although her comment was simple, it helped a lot because it legitimized my feelings- no one else comes by themselves (well at least no one that has stayed with my mama tica) so it’s more difficult. Also, that same day, I ran into the guys that picked me up from the airport and so we all hung out the entire weekend, which was great because 2 of 3 are from Costa Rica and have cars so we could go to other towns to eat and they could show me around. Plus, they taught me some Costa Rican sayings. For example: In Costa Rica, sometimes guys call their girlfriends goats, which obviously confuses many tourists. To ask if someone is a good cook you say something like “Como es su cuchara?” Which literally translates to: How is her/his spoon? They also filled me in on popular music here, specifically the different varieties of reggae. Reggae is more popular on the east side of CR, the Caribbean, around Limon, because of the influence from the Afro-Costa Rican population. There are 3 types of Reggae music: Reggaeton which is like dance/hip hop Reggae (think Daddy Yankee), Reggaemovin (which I guess is a dying breed), and Reggaeroots… I love reggae music and they listened to it all the time, so I loved riding in the car with them.

On Friday, we just hung out at their house and had some drinks and Saturday we went to this bar near Santa Ana. I definitely experienced the, “hey everybody look at the gringa” moment when I walked into that bar as it was a local bar and almost everyone inside was male. But it was fine. I’ve now had 2 different Costa Rican beers. One is called Rock Ice (which is made by freezing it instead of heating it up) and the other is Pilsen (which I told them that I had had before, only to realize later that I was actually thinking of Pilsner). And afterwards we drove to this random open area that is on top of a hill/cliff. Even though I couldn’t see much as it is dark at 3am, I fell in love with this place! What is so cool is that down below the cliff/edge is a river and a hydroelectric plant so you can hear the water rushing by and the plant is lit up just enough to give this eerie but really pretty glow from below. Aside from being beautiful, there was an awesome breeze there and I just sat and looked at the stars, thinking how lucky I am to be in Costa Rica, and how there is so much more to the world than we think and there is so much more to the world than my little problems or feelings of insecurity and that I really just need to live in the moment. A great change in perspective.

Sunday was really fun—probably my favorite day here so far. I went with my mama tica and her daughter to a “serenata”, which is like a wedding shower, but it is way different than ones in the US and much more fun. In Costa Rica, and I think most of Latin America, a serenata is a big party a week before the wedding for both sides of the family- but it’s mostly women that are there. They play crazy games like running with a toothpick in your mouth to a person on the other side who has a marshmallow on the end of a stick in their mouth and the person has to stick their toothpick in the marshmallow without using their hands and they have to get has many in as possible. They had a karaoke type contest, a hula-hoop game (where I learned that hula hoop here is called oola-oola), a dance party, a best runway walk contest, and more. And after the games and dinner seven people from their families line up with 7 different gifts to give to the couple. They can be sentimental gifts or funny gifts, and each symbolizes a part of the marriage. For example: they were given lingerie for the first night after the wedding, cleaning supplies and aprons as a joke saying that the husband had to do all the cleaning and cooking, a candle whose flame represented a new beginning, a piggy bank (that was actually a lamb) for good fortune, etc. After the 7 gifts, the couple opens gifts from their family and friends. All of the gifts were mostly items for the kitchen: tupperware, coffee pot, pans, rice cooker, salt and pepper shakers etc. and a few sheets and blankets for their bed were also in there. Everyone at the celebration was SO happy and crazy and fun and I think it is such an awesome tradition. I may have to bring it back to the states.

Hope everyone is well!  As I said before, I love hearing from you all and what you’re up to so please send me messages or comments! Miss you all!



February 25, 2010 at 11:47 am 7 comments

Ants In My Pants Part 2

.:{Tagalongs Down}:.

So, a few days ago there I was sitting in my bathroom, the one odd place in my room that gets internet from time to time, and I decide that I am a little hungry. I remember that I have a box of Tagalongs that my lovely mother gave me to bring to Costa Rica. Now, I had opened this box one day to have part of a cookie, and had closed it and sealed it in an airtight bag. Well, as I am eating my cookie in my bathroom, I keep feeling little ants on me. So, I turn on the light (oh yes I was sitting in the dark in my bathroom—trying to do my part to save electricity) and low and behold there are tons of tiny little ants on the bag and my tagalong box. Now, I am pretty sure that these ants were not there when I grabbed the bag. Which means, that they grouped together and attacked my bag in about 4 minutes flat. Needlesstosay, I freaked out, took all of the cookies out of their ant-covered container and washed them off in water to get rid of the ants (I wasn’t just going to throw them away, I mean it’s tagalongs and I only have 1 box for 4 months). Then, I washed off the plastic bag and placed the cookies inside. I put that bag inside of another bag, and put that bag inside of one of my compressor bags, and wrapped that bag in two more compressor bags, put it all inside another bag that zips shut inside a suitcase and zipped the suitcase shut. If these ants manage to still get inside and attack my tagalongs, well my friends, they are more superior than I. So, note to all of you lucky folk in places where there are not little warrior ants: enjoy eating your delicious Tagalongs out in the open, for it is a treat that not all can enjoy.


February 20, 2010 at 12:46 pm 9 comments

Ants in my Pants

.:{Las Hormigas}:.

Costa Rica has ants. Everywhere. Don’t be alarmed, they are very very tiny and do no harm, but they are the permanent pets of the house. I didn’t really think much of them, as they are on the kitchen counter and such, that is until I opened my laptop to find TONS of miniature ants crawling about (just killed another one). With all of the little holes in the sides of my computer for cords, and the tiny space under the keys (which they can fit into), my laptop must be a huge playground for them. However, I’m not sure what attracted them to my computer. It’s not like they are hoarding around any of my other stuff. Maybe, since they enjoy fruit, they enjoy my Mac because it’s technically an “Apple.” The good part about it is, because they are so fast (they dodge from one place to the next), killing them is a great test for my reactions skills. By the time I return I will not only know Spanish, but I will be one speedy lady.

February 18, 2010 at 11:41 am 3 comments

Taking in the Costa Rican Culture

.:{Learning Curves}:.

Well today is day 3, well day 2 if you want to count “full” days, and I already feel like I have been here for forever. The learning curve is huge and it’s amazing how much a person can take in, in just 3 days. As I said in my previous post, the language barrier was a bit frustrating, but I am learning A LOT and my host family has even said that my Spanish has improved a lot compared to the first day. I am taking Spanish classes for 2 weeks before I start volunteering, and they really helpful. I am actually the only student in the school (the school is kind of a go-to place for tourists and locals for internet, to live, etc.) so I get one-on-one lessons for four hours every day which is amazing. Tomorrow I go to Casa Luz, the place I’m volunteering at, to meet with the director and have una entrevista, an interview. I’m excited to see where I will be working and to get to know the people at Casa Luz.

Things are still going well with my family. Mi mama tica is a great cook, and I love everything that she makes. And she is so nice and considerate. For example, yesterday, I told her that I liked pineapple, and today she had pineapple out for breakfast. Since she is the ama de casa (house mom) I see her the most out of the whole family, but the rest of the family is really nice too.

More updates to come!

February 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm 1 comment

Costa Rica, HERE WE COME! Part 2

So, I forgot to add the photos to the last post. Below are pictures of my packing session and my room in Costa Rica!

Stacking up piles of clothes to be packed!

As a true overpacker, I saved a lot of space using awesome compression bags

Packed and Ready to Go (with room to spare I might add) *Note the first aid kit in the plastic bags in the left suitcase, I feel ready for anything

My Room: my bed and nightstand

My Room: My closet and door outside (yes I did some decorating)

My Room: My bathroom (I was really surprised to have this)

My Room: A Little sink area where my Senora told me I could use for cooking if I was a fantastic chef. Guess I won't be using that one.

February 16, 2010 at 11:56 am 1 comment

Costa Rica, HERE WE COME!

.:{It begins}:.

I have officially made it to Costa Rica!  After quite the packing session (see below), a number of tears with Ray as he dropped me off at the airport, a semi-panic as I stepped on the plane (what am I DOING?!?), I did make it to Costa Rica. But the process of making it here was more of an emotional roller coster than I expected.  As I walked away from Ray and through security I was feeling pretty… well… emotional. I don’t know if it was nerves, if it was leaving Ray, if it was leaving my comfort zone, if I was just being over-tired, or what, but I was feeling pretty weary at the gate—Which is a quite a change for someone who is pretty independent and not usually emotional. Luckily, a kid came to my rescue. As I was boarding the plane, this six-year-old behind me, in all his youngster glory shouted, “I am so excited! Costa Rica, HERE WE COME!” That immediately put a smile on my face, and I couldn’t help but catch his enthusiasm. So, after that point, I tuned into my inner-six-year-old and just enjoyed the ride.

The first stop on the ride was the airport pick-up where some really nice people from the school I will be taking Spanish lessons at, picked me up. They were super friendly and I might be going out with them later this week, which I am super excited about because I know no one here. They dropped me off at my host family’s house, and I was greeted by my lovely Senora and the CUTEST little puppies you have ever seen (pictures to come). Her and I attempted to have a conversation (as she knows no English and my Spanish is quite scraggly right now) I didn’t really know what to think. It was surreal to think that this morning I was in my own bed, getting my things together, and now I am having a “conversation” with my new Senora, and this is now my “home.”  Speaking of which, I have a really nice set up at their house. I have my own apartment-type thing off of the side of their house, with my own keys/door, room, bathroom, and pseudo-kitchen. And I somehow am getting wireless internet. Not really sure how that happened (as my family doesn’t have a computer, but I am embracing it to the fullest).

As far as my host family goes, I am living with my mama tica (Costa Rican mom) and her husband, and then one of their daughter’s, the daughter’s husband, and their kid (who live “separate” in that they have their own place but it is still attached to the main house). Everyone is super nice, and I just wish I could understand more of what they are saying and talk back. It’s frustrating, but I know the language thing takes time, and I keep telling myself to be patient and just embrace every moment.

I’m not sure how long my internet will last (turns out it died right when I tried to post this, so this post is from 2 days ago), so I will cut this blog off here. Hope that everyone is doing well, and please comment and keep me posted on all of your adventures and life happenings!

Pura Vida

February 16, 2010 at 11:50 am 1 comment


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