"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "
Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"You've got mail!"

I haven't gotten any mail, but now I can because I now have a P.O. box at the tiny postoffice here in town!  My address is:

Morgan Hill
Apdo. 117-5361
Cóbano- Puntarenas
Costa Rica

Sunday, May 20, 2012


            Last night I once again found myself in Montezuma.  I’ve now been there three times since I’ve moved here.  Just typing “moved here” seems so strange and unreal.  It’s such an odd de ja vu type feeling being on that little Montezuma street.  The first time I passed Orgánico, the little restaurant where Lindsay and I liked, and the Pizza place where our group ate at least three times in one weekend!  The second time, I wandered to the beach and inadvertently ended up right by to the tiny Hotel (Mar y Cielo) where we all stayed last year.  I just had to stare at it and wonder is this real?  I was looking up at the exact same window that I looked out of last May.  A year ago, Montezuma was just a fun weekend excursion and now it’s where I live. 
            This time, my Tica family and I went out for dinner and a movie.  We went to Sano Banano (healthy banana), which is a hotel and restaurant.  Every night at 7:30, they pull down a big screen and show a movie.  I’m quite certain that I attract all the little creatures this country has to show for.  Aside from all the bugs, I’ve had close encounters with an iguana, and a massive frog.  Something caught my eye while I was sitting and it was a crab just crawling past my feet. 
            I was very happy to have a fresh fruit smoothie—they were one of my favorite things last year.  I also treated myself to sushi and ice-cream… two delicacies I have not had since I left the United States.  Mmmmm!
            So as we are eating dinner, it started raining, but that’s nothing new here.  It continued.  And continued.  Then there was this loud zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzppppppppppptttttttttttt sound from outside, a flash of light, and a few screams.  Almost on cue, everyone got up and ran outside to see the power line up in flames!  I’ve never seen anything like that before.  The firemen came and put it out, but the electricity was gone.  Interesting night. 
            A less exciting, but equally important story happened earlier that day.  I was at the supermercado, or “super” as they call it here, looking for nail polish remover.  I found it (quita esmalte it’s called), and I decided to pick up some cereal too since I was there.  Forget the extravagant price of markers, as I mentioned earlier this week.  One box of cereal is the equivalent of 6 dollars and change.  We’re not even talking a big box here!  I couldn’t bring myself to buy any.  Couldn’t do it.  I’ll be importing a suitcase full of peanut butter and multi-grain cheerios after my trip home in July.  

Random picture for the weekend:
My not-so-little, obese kitty skyped with me yesterday! (and he was purring)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Coffee Break

Week two—complete.  I have come to expect the unexpected.  Today I was told by one of the important people who interviewed me that I’ve seemed to “adapt a good attitude quite quickly about how things work in this country” and that I “roll with the punches quite well.”  I would not define myself as an instinctively ‘go whichever way the wind blows me’ type of person, but I’m adapting day-by-day.

So far I have learned that… 90% of Costa Rican women are named María.  It is never too late in the day to drink coffee.  The sun wakes up well before I want to.  The bugs are much larger here.  Rules mean very little.  Stop signs mean keep going and honk your horn so you don’t get hit.  The phrase “to be early is to be on time, and to be on time is to be late” definitely does not apply here.  Schedules are flexible and markers are expensive.  Peanut butter is impossible to find.

And one would think that after breaking the strap of one pair of sandals on the not-so-smooth roads here, I would not wear the remaining pair of sandals when traveling by foot.  Maybe the nickel-sized blister on my foot will change my mind for the next time!  (My paisley boots are in Costa Rica after all!)

School typically ends at 1:30 on Fridays instead of 3 but today classes ended at 11:30.  The staff had a meeting with the ministerio de educación today starting at 11:30.  I thought “oh that’s nice, we are starting early so we won’t have to stay past 1:30!”  Then I heard that the meeting was scheduled until 3.  Yes, that’s a 3 ½ hour meeting.  In Spanish.

Well, I now know why meetings such as this last so long.  First of all the lady who was to be presenting did not show up until a little after 12.  Then we were served a nice lunch consisting of ensalada, arroz con pollo, y guacamole.  Portions are huge here and seconds are encouraged, so lunch lasted quite some time.  We finally proceeded to start the meeting about quarter ‘til one. 

The woman talked sooooooo fast that she sounded like she was being fast-forwarded.  Surprisingly I understood the majority of what she said.  Long story short, this year our school is going to participate in the Festival de Arte.  She explained this in great detail, and just when I thought she was done, the cook brought in a huge tray of coffee mugs and crackers.  I was just thinking how much I wanted coffee, and then it showed up!

So we had a nice little coffee break in the middle of the meeting. Haha.  I definitely appreciate the importance of coffee in this culture.  So yes, after our coffee break we did continue until 3 pm.  

Next week the students have their first trimester exams.  We have been reviewing topic after topic all week.  I am tired of it, so I know the kids are too.  Instead of more practice during my second math class with 5th grade today, I decided we should play a game.  I was introduced to what they called “math ball.”  You make two teams.  One at a time a player from each team goes up to the board to solve a problem.  Get it correct, earn a point and shoot the ball into the hoop for another point.  (shoot the crumpled up paper into the garbage can).

So we’re playing “math ball”  and little Jorge yells “teacher, look!” and he starts jumping like a frog.  This is not out of character for Jorge to perform in front of the class.  I thought he was just being his normal silly self, but low and behold, in the corner of the room under a chair was the mother of all frogs.  It was huge!  I said “rana” but the kids said it was a “sapa.”  The girls in my class ran out the door and the boys all gathered around.  There went the end of our game of “math ball!” 

These photos simply do not do justice to the size of the sapa!

In other news, I encountered a school supply store on my walk home today.  I found paperclips, post-it notes, and even a dry-erase board eraser!  Now I don’t have to erase the board with my hand anymore; although, I think the kids enjoyed when I would erase it with my hand, later touch my face and end up with blue marks on my cheeks or forehead!   J

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Yesterday my English class was having a discussion on professions.  What professions are there, what does each do, and where does that professional work.  One student shared that she wants to be a chef.  I asked, where  does a chef work?  They responded "en la cocina."  I was waiting (and hoping) for someone who could respond in English, the target language.  *LONG PAUSE*  (Cue jeopardy theme song.)  
"Profe! Me, me! I know!"
He seemed quite sure of the answer, so I let him proceed.  
"The chicken."  
"Where?" I prompted.
"The chicken; the chef works in the chicken!"
Remembering that this is what I probably sounded like as I was learning Spanish, I held back the cackle that I wanted to release and said, "perhaps you mean the kitchen?"
"Oh yes, not the chicken, the kitchen."

Today during organic gardening (which I know nothing about, by the way)  I was supervising a group of my 5th and 6th grade boys expend their energy by digging holes.  They were digging away when one boy hit a rock.  He proceeded to force the shovel into the ground, still clinking at the stubborn rock.  Since the shovel looked like it had seen better days, I advised him to "be careful.  You might hurt the shovel."
Looking puzzled he responded, "but teacher, the shovel doesn't have feelings."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Día del agricultur costarricense

Almost two weeks in…y tengo mucho sueño ahora.  I’ve finally moved out of the jungle, thank goodness.  I am now able to brush through my hair, and the number of bugs that bite me is decreasing daily!  I have mostly unpacked and semi-organized my belongings.  I made my first “big” purchase since I’ve been here—un abanico.  (a fan!)—Que calor tiene este país.

When I interviewed for this job I was told that the number of resources at the school is limited so I would have to be creative.  That was an understatement.  I got a desk for my sixth grade classroom today though! The large majority (or all) of the furniture—like my desk—is donated.  By who?  I don’t know.  Hopefully some more student desks will show up before the end of the year, because I have seven 5th graders, but only 5 desks.  They have been using tables until this week, but wondered why they were one of only two classes who didn’t have desks.  So another teacher and I rounded up all of the extra desks in each classroom and did a little feng shui.  My class was SOOO excited to have desks! 

Yesterday was Día del Agricultur so all classes were cancelled after 1 pm.  The Preschool and Kindergarten groups all dressed up like their favorite fruit or vegetable and had a little parade.  They were adorable.  Some of the classes had made food to sell, there were games, prizes, and lots of fun. 

My excitement for yesterday started well before 1 pm yesterday!  I was in my 5th grade class teaching English when one of my students yelled “Teacher, look!”  He pointed up to the hole in the ceiling and right there, was an iguana.  I learned a lot of useful tips and tricks in Classroom Management at Flagler, but I have to say that an iguana in the ceiling is one topic that was left uncovered. 

the baby dinosaur that joined in on my English lesson

Sunday, May 13, 2012

New Kid on the Block

I now have one week of life as a working woman under my belt!

So apparently as part of the science curriculum, I am supposed to teach one lesson on agriculture a week.  Ummm…   If there is to be an agriculture class, I need to be the student, not the teacher.  The school has a garden, which I think is really neat. We also have a compost bin on the school grounds.  There are two garbage cans in the lunch “room.”  One for garbage-garbage and another for food garbage like the rind of the watermelon, or the skin of an orange. 
Their extracurricular classes are PE, Yoga, Music, Cooking, and Organic Gardening.  How cool is that to have a yoga class at school?! 

School (and life) here in Costa Rica is a lot more laid back than it is in the United States.  There is a dog that lives on the school grounds and she just wanders around!  There are several mango trees at the school and mangos are in season right now.  Kids will just pick one up that has fallen off the tree and eat it.  Wash it first?  Forget about it.  One day this week the water wasn’t working at school, but when it is, their “water fountain” is a spicket attached to a pipe in the ground.  I love it, I really do.

The school lunches are sooo good.  And that is not sarcasm.  I think American public schools need to take a few cooking lessons from our two cooks.  We have a mid-morning snack at 9:40 and then we have lunch at 12:10.  The snack is breakfast for most of the kids and usually consists of fruit of some variety and a bread of some sort.  My favorite snack this week was the cheese empanadas.  Mmmm.  Lunches are HUGE and always have a side of beans and rice.  Friday we had gallo pinto, scrambled eggs, cheese, and ½ of an avocado. 

On Fridays classes end at 1:30 instead of 3:00, which I think is a great idea.  After school I was just laying in a hammock, reading a magazine, and minding my own business when I heard all of this commotion in the trees around me.  It was a monkey family!  There were at least six of them and I watched them for a good 20 minutes or so.  They were doing just what monkeys do, swinging from tree to tree!  There were a few babies, too, and they were just darling.  The momma monkey was carrying one of the babies on her back.  I tried to take a picture but she was quite protective of her little one and did not like me staring at them. 

one of the babies

helping himself to some fruit

On a side note, last night I babysat for a group of six kids from the school.  I love how there are blonde-haired, blue-eyed children speaking fluent Spanish!  These little kids don’t know what a unique and cultured life they are getting growing up in Costa Rica.

This morning I slept in until 7:30, and then followed one of the hiking trails.  It led down to a river and a few small waterfalls.  It was such a beautiful day, but with all the rain, the water was too muddy for a swim.  So I hiked back up, and relaxed in the infinity pool that overlooks the ocean before the afternoon rains came.

And last but certainly not least, Happy Mother’s Day to my one and only “Mommy Salami.”  ¡Te amo muchísimo!