Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 5 in Costa Rica- July 18

Last night after I updated, I mentioned that I showed my host mom Lorena some pictures from India. when I was done, Edwardo, the father showed me some pictures from their trip to Santa Rosa California where some relatives own a restaurant. This was great because it gave us a mutual point to talk about. I also felt that they were being more open now. Prior to this Edwardo had said only two words to me. He also showed me some pictures and video from where he works in San Jose. It appears to be a very technical job for the electric company there. He came home in a pretty new SUV, so I imagine that this is a middle class family. All the indiginous people were killed by the Spanish, so all the population are descendants of European, Spanish, Chinnese, and other latin American countries. According to the Immersion Program there is no prejudice in this country. We have a lot to learn from Costa Rica ! When I got home yesterday, I found my dirty clothes that were in a bag on the floor, washed and folded! I felt so bad because she has to hand wash everything and hang it out to dry! We don't realise how good we have it in the U.S.
This morning was awesome! The whole family was out of the house before I woke up which gave me some quiet time. It was a beautiful morning with sunshine and birds singing and I sat on the patio and drank coffee. My family has a chiwawa named Bobbie. Poor Bobbie is not given much attention now that the boys are older. I befriended poor Bobbie and sat and pet him for a few minutes. After a couple of minutes he left and came back with a ball which he placed at my feet. I continued to throw the ball for him for about 30 minutes. It made me really think about poor Midas (my dog) at home. After a shower and breakfast of fresh pinapple and tortillas, I walked to the Imersion center for a 2 hour Spanish lesson. I am really beginning to get this! I need to practice a lot, but I am finally starting to understand how the grammar works. I promise myself that I am going to keep it up when I get home!
After our lesson we went to the Sodas for lunch. I had the best empanada ever! and some avecado and salad... Then we went to a state run preschool for poor and homeless children and painted the classroom. The school does so much with so little, it is difficult to know where I should put my time and money. When I played with the children I wanted to tell the director that I would come back and teach at the school, but I know I have my own responsibilites at home. I felt the same in India and Peru. Well, while I was posting I was able to talk to Joel, and that made me smile. I miss him and Rachael. Well, more tomorrow ! We are going to the coffee plantation ! Cafe YUM !

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17

This morning I was up early again and I walked to the center of the city where we were all meeting. We were all excited because the sun was finally out and we could see the country at its best! We drove to the Butterfly farm. It was amazing! I even got the opportunity to see the actual moment when a butterfly emerges from its crysillis! It is truly a sight that stimulates awe. There were so many butterflies that I could hardly walk without bumping into them. In fact, several times the butterflies landed on me. --see pics on facebook-- Alas, once we left the farm it began to rain again. We had lunch at the home of one of the SIP staff and then walked around the town a bit. There was a festival going on in the square despite the rain. I broke down and purchased an umbrella from one of the few shops that was open. Then I walked back to my host home and took a nap. When I awoke, I practiced my Spanish with my host mother and shared some of my pictures from my online album. I tried to show Pablo, but like most 14 year old boys he was much more interested in his friends on facebook. Kids are the same everywhere I guess. Im going to upload some more pictures to FB. Please feel free to comment on these posts or to ask any questions!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday, July 16th

Hola !
I got up early this morning because we had to leave for the Volcano at 7. We got on a bus and drove up a VERY steep mountain on a gravel road. The road was narrow in most places and very curvy. Several times we had to back up so that another vehical could get by. It looked like we might fall off the road and off the mountain in some places! When we got to the state park we were met by the Volcanologist. He explained how there are many active volcanos in central and south america. Also, that CR gets earthquakes! I didnt know that! CR gets a large amount of its electricity from geo-thermal energy. One of the problems created by the volcanos along with the destruction that they can cause, is that volcanos give off emore gasses than all of the cars in CR combined! Thus, natural volcanos are adding to the problem of global warming. I was also VERY interested to learn that next week he is going to be searching for extreme-aphiles in the volcanic lakes! I am hoping that somehow I can volunteer to help with his project! After the lecture we climbed the volcano but when we got to the top it was so cloudy and rainy that we couldnt see much. I tried taking pictures and I hope some of them come out. The entire country of CR is a rainforest, so we cant really complain about the rain, and it is the rainy season. Still, I hope we get some sunshine soon. We are told by the locals that although it rains everyday it is usually sunny in the morning and rains in the late afternoon. I hope that is the case tomorrow. I am improving with my Spanish and am really enjoying this trip. While Ive only been here a few days, it feels like I have been here for a long time. After we left the volcano, we went to a tourist restaurant for lunch. The grounds were beautiful as you will see in the pictures. After that we went to the directors house and she taught us how to make empanadas. She has a beautiful house that rivals any in NC. We talked to a neighbor who is an American who chose to retire in CR. He says it is a great place to retire and that the cost of living is much lower here. I am putting CR on my list of possible places to retire ! After we ate the empanadas, we got some dancing lessons from Odies --the director-- husband. We danced and laughed and had a great time. Around 6pm we headed back to our host homes. It was a short 2 mile walk. I need the exercise as I have been indulging in all the great food! Now it is time for bed as we are going to a butterfly farm in the morning. Ciao for now!

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 14 and 15

Hola virtual travel companions ! After I posted yesterday my house mother Larena, made me dinner. I tried to tell her that I was full but she made me eat a little plate... I was happy to oblige! It was veggies, rice, pasta with cheese sauce and herbs, and fruit. Then, exhausted, I went to bed. I have a very comfy bed which I think is her sons - some of the keys are different so I cant use an apostrophe.... no worries, I am still the grammer police! I got up this morning and found that I was wrong about the hot water... But, since it is so warm here I didnt mind a cool shower. Waiting for me after was the most excellent coffee !!!! and fruit galore! definitely no bowel problems here ! We then walked to the market located in the square. I tried anything that I had never seen before and discovered many new fruits and veggies! The fruit called mamon chino is almost the same as the Leeche fruit in India. Over all Costa Rica -CR is no where near as much a developing country as is most of central and south america. It is much more developed here especially in the tourist areas. Lorenas house is concrete and open to the air. You can close the shutters but it isnt air tight like homes in the US. oh, and no air conditioning! No worries, it is between 70-80 degrees here most of the time. We are in the rainy season which is the only draw back. It rained most of the day. After the market we walked to the World View office for our Spanish lesson and --of course, more food and COFFEE ! ---hey is this heaven cant find the question mark We spent about 2 hours and I learned many, many words and phrases. After the lesson we walked back to the center of town and went to a Sodas which is like a very small cafe. I was so proud that I was able to order my lunch in Spanish without help! I ordered a very small lunch as I had been eating all day itus seemed! I had an empanada and a small salad. After lunch, we went to a municipal classroom and was given a history of CR and information about its government, healthcare, etc. It was very interesting. CR has NO MILITARY and puts all its money it would have spent on military towards EDUCATION... Wouldnt it be great if the U.S. would do this! I am seriously thinking of moving here someday! After the presentation, we were told to walk around and then go back to our host homes. Since it was pouring rain, I decided that I would go and make sure that I could find my way back to my house before I did anything else. I asked for directions from the group leader and was told [ go to the blue building, then go till you see the gas station, turn right, keep walking till you see the Coca cola sign, then make a right and go up the street.) Well I think the leader )jennifer, was miced up regarding which house I was in because I followed the directions completely and never found the house! I was drenched by now and kept looking for someone who might speak English. I saw a young man and asked him for help, thank God, he spoke english ! I had walked over a mile out of the way! He walked me back to where I was supposed to make the right turn but there was no coa cola sign there ! I found my house, let myself in, put on dry clothes, and took a much needed siesta ! When I awoke about 1 hour later, dinner was ready! a wonderful hot chicken soup with lots of veggies, and tortillas and cheese. After dinner I showed Lorena some pictures of my home and friends on FB. She seems very lonely. Her husband works in San Jose and is only home on the weekends. Her sons, Pablo and Cristian, are pretty much busy with friends, their computer, or TV. While I understand a lot of what she is telling me, there is much that goes right over my head so I just nod politely. I hope that I can communicate better with her so that she is not so alone. Well, I need to complete my Spanish homework, then its off to bed. Tomorrow we are visiting A VOLCANO !
Adios Amigos !

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Costa Rica Day 1

Hola mes amigos,
The plane landed in Costa Rica at around 4:30 your time. Here it is 2 hours earlier. The country is beautiful. We went straight to the main office of the Spanish Imersion program and went over some information about our host families. We ATE. chicken and rice, salad, refried beans, fresh fruit: papayas, avecado, pineapple, and home made tortilla chips which are so crispy and delicious that I think I will have to learn to make them! Then our host families came for us and the real adventure began. We are each staying with a family and the families know very little if any English. I have to say that I was a little, ok, a lot, nervous when we drove away from the office and I had to rely on the little Spanish I know. My host family made me feel welcome right away and I was shocked at how much I can understand what they are saying and how many words I can put together to at least make myself understood. Their home is in Atenas and I would say that they are a middle class family based on the fact that I am writing this on Pablos laptop and they have wifi. Actually, it is the same as my laptop at home! Some of the keys on the keyboard are different, but it is the same machine. Each of the program participants is staying with a different family and each family is from a different socioeconomic background. I hit the jackpot as I have wifi and hot water! It is raining at the moment so I thought I would write my first message. I am very tired but excited to be here. The rest of the evening will be spent talking or, attempting to talk with my host family. Then I will get some sleep and be up at 6:30am for coffee. Lorenos my host mother shares my love of coffee and asked me if I wanted a big cup, mug or a little cup by showing me both. I laughed and you know which cup I chose ! Tomorrow our first adventure will be to the market so stay tuned for pictures and stories. Love to all,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane....

Staying with couch surfing friend till I fly out in the morning. See Hope you enjoy the trip with me ! What type of things are on the itinerary? Visit the largest active volcano, coffee plantation, butterfly farm... Learn Costa Rican cooking, dancing, and language.... and learn Spanish, visit the pacific beach, and ZIP LINE ! See ya tomorrow !