My First Week in Costa Rica

February 25, 2010 at 11:47 am 7 comments

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!

Saludos!

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Ants In My Pants Part 2 My Second Week in Costa Rica

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erynn  |  February 26, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Hi sister! Sounds like you are adjusting well to your new environment and just know that we all miss you as well. Remember to enjoy all the little moments and know that you are touching the lives of everyone around you as well. Not everyone has such a wonderful heart like you to leave all they know behind and go to another country to help those who need it. You are my hero and we can’t wait to hear all the amazing things you experience! In times of sadness, think of these things “slide, no schmimm!” and the picture of dad with the bee keepper hat on at Tony’s wedding. Ha ha ha ha! HUGS!!!

    Reply
    • 2. pocketchangeit  |  February 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm

      Thanks sis! For the life of me I cannot remember what the slide, no schmimm is from (although I know the quote) what is it?!!?! That and dad in the beekeeper hat will definitely keep me smiling! 🙂 Hope all is well in AZ! Miss you!

      Reply
  • 3. Jen Chavez  |  February 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I thorougly enjoyed this! Glad you are getting situated and making friends with the locals! Can’t wait to hear more of course 🙂

    Reply
  • 4. chris gryniewicz  |  February 26, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I just smile when I read about all of your thoughts and experiences there! It is definitely good to be “in the moment”–trying to do more of that myself! Your mama tica is right–it is a little tough and courageous to have made this trip on your own, but then that is you–a little tough, mucho courageous, and also very soft and compassionate where it counts–in the heart. I’m so glad that you got that moment on that hill/cliff (yikes!) looking up at the stars! Love and miss you! MOM

    Reply
  • 5. Caroline  |  February 26, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Bah I love love love it and so excited for you! It sounds like an amazing first week (and your Spanish I’m sure is EXCELLENT already!) Can’t wait to hear more!

    Reply
  • 6. Jessica  |  March 2, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Hey cutie pie! I’m sooooooooooo glad that your weekend was such an epic pick me up! How is the Spanish part of it going? Are you a pro now?:). I acknowledge that it wasn’t studying abroad, but through my trip in Europe, I would just giggle in disbelief that I was in ____. It didn’t seem real, but I just took it on faith lol. And tried to repeat to myself that “I am in holland, about to go to belgium” lol. Like a silly mantra fir meditation. Anyways. I think you are beautifully courageous and i am so thankful you have this incredible opportunity. Play safe, learn lots, take risks and treaure every moment!!!

    Super hug.

    J

    Reply
    • 7. pocketchangeit  |  March 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

      Thanks for all of the lovely comments! I miss you all mucho and have a new post coming soon (about my second week here). My family just got internet, so now it will be easier to update you all on my adventures. Big hug for everyone! Pura Vida

      Reply

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