"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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

...and BINGO was his name-o!

Well just a few hours short of 22, but I thought this quote was quite fitting for me.  I realized how blessed I am to have this awesome opportunity to be in Costa Rica doing what I'm doing.  And I'm even more blessed to have such a great host family.

So yes it has been an adjustment living with others, as I had just gotten the hang of flying solo in my 3 bedroom condo 7 minutes from the beach in St. Augustine.  (it makes sense if you know how that all came about, haha!)

Anywho, I realized what a gift it is to have this host family.  Not only do I have this job that I LOVE, but I get to learn the culture even away from school.  Alright so I haven't slept on any floors, but I am learning how to live, eat, and yes, even cook!

Eat rice and beans for breakfast.  More rice and beans  with lunch, and more with dinner.  Yes, this explains why I had to buy new shorts again when I was back in the states a few weeks ago.  Meep.  And soup you eat with your hands.  Like there will be a chicken leg and corn on the cob and such in your soup, so you literally have to pick it out of your soup to eat it.  I don't know how I feel about that.

As far as cooking goes, I did learn a few of the basics when I was in Heredia last year, but when I was home a few weeks ago I realized I haven't learned any new recipes.  I am living with an absolutely amazing cook, so she's started teaching me a thing or two in the kitchen.  (No promises that I will be able to duplicate Costa Rican cuisine as she cooks without recipes.)

I am learning to laugh at the absurdities such as the random horse tied to the fence outside of the grocery store waiting for its master to shop.  Or the school dog.  We are an environmentally friendly school--in English Escuela Futuro Verde means School of the Green Future--so we have a compost bin among other projects.  Any food that we don't eat, and any scraps from cooking go into a separate garbage can.  At the end of every day, this can is emptied into the compost bin.  So Monday afternoon I'm sitting outside in the cafeteria (yes, it's outside) trying to check a thing or two off my to-do list and the dog who lives on campus was just helping itself to the chicken bones in the compost.  He kept going and getting bone after bone and cleaning any remaining meat off the bone.  I was like 'this is so gross and he might choke!' but then I realized that it actually tickled me a bit and I began to laugh at what was happening.

On Sunday my host family asked me if I wanted to go to BINGO with them.  Sure, why not?  We brought our own chairs, because they said there may not be seating left.  Is BINGO really that popular here?  I was told we were going to the store where I bought my cell phone.  Well I assumed that meant the little cafe across from the store or something, because why would we go to Gollo, a furniture and appliance store, to play BINGO.

My assumptions were wrong.  We arrived at Gollo, and good thing we brought our own chairs because all of Cóbano, Santa Teresa, and Mal País decided to come to Gollo that day too.  Is this real life?  All these people here to play BINGO?!?  Yes.  The townsfolk had parked themselves on the display couches and those who were standing were resting their BINGO cards on washing machines.
hello entire population of Nicoyan peninsula!
It was such a fun, tico experience.  Unless they play BINGO in Best Buy in the US?  Not that I'm aware of.  Upon entering the store we each got a BINGO card and corn to use as markers.  The Gollo mascot is a chicken, so how cute is that?!
my card, which proved numerous times not to be the winning card
Each round of BINGO was played for a different prize.  I had my eyes on this:

however, I am not the proud owner of a blue bike with a basket on front.  Viene, viene, viene, viene, VIENE!  I was sooo close to winning a twin size mattress.  Hahaha!  It was great watching people win all this stuff!  From frying pans, to tables, to bikes, to bar stools and umbrellas.  At one point one of the employees even began throwing free pillows to the crowd from the second floor of the store.

Despite the fact that I left without winning any new possessions, I won something even better: a simple, yet delightful experience of playing BINGO the tico way. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Did you know that tic-tacs could melt?  I didn't know that either, but apparently they will melt in Costa Rica.  Yes, it is that hot.

I found a trail of ants in my room this morning.  I've known not to keep food in there ever since the ants beat me to eating my raisins.  So what could they be after?  I followed the trail to my backpack and into my backpack.  My pens?  I stuck my hand in the zipper pocket with my pens to find some orange goop.  If it smells like a tic-tac and tastes like a tic-tac, then it must have [at one time] been a tic-tac.

All ya'll Floridians can quit complaining to me about how hot it is in Florida right now.  Is it hot enough to melt tic-tacs?  Didn't think so.  And are you complaining about the heat while sitting in an air-conditioned building also cooled by a ceiling fan?  Mmmhmm.  That's what I thought.  Until you don't have air-conditioning and a ceiling fan, then no complaining!

How did you watch the opening ceremony on Friday?  I watched it in Spanish with my tica family.  Did you have a snack or a beverage during the ceremony?  We did...we had coconuts straight of the tree in the backyard and agua de pipa to drink.  That's right.  Chop 'em in half with a machete, pour the juice into a cup (or drink straight from the coco with a straw if you so prefer), and eat the rest with a spoon.  Pretty cool, huh?

On Wednesday we had a celebration at school for the Annexation of Guanacaste holiday.  I've learned why the Costa Rican school year is 200 days instead of 180...those extra 20 days are spent partying!  So Wednesday there were more cancelled classes, and an assembly.  The students shared dances, skits, poems, bombas and more.  The colegio students had made typical food to sell at the festival.
All of the pre-k and kinder students dressed up with the full skirts or the white button up, scarf and hat and they were just the cutest little things.

Some of my students performed a dance and it was just so great.  I can't take credit for teaching the dance to them, but they made me proud to be their teacher.  Take a look:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blame it on the Remolacha

I had THE weirdest dreams last night.  I can't even begin to recount all of the crazy things that occurred last night in my sleep.  They were so vivid that I woke up and felt like I had actually experienced some of the bizarre happenings.
I went in the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee and said good morning to my host mom. ¿Cómo durmió?  We always ask each other how the other person slept last night.  She began to tell me it was a strange night.  Not only did she dream all night long (even though I know we always dream all night), but she also said her dreams were quite vivid and rather odd.  Cosas feas.
We both recounted our dreams and laughed at how odd they now sound when being retold.
Now I don't know the science behind this, but I like an explanation when I can have one.  She says oh it's probably something we ate last night.  We had porkchops, which we don't have so often.  She asked the girls if they had crazy dreams.  Nope.  Scratch pork chops off the list.  We all had the same things for dinner.
Wait, wait.  It's the remolacha!  The beets.  The girls didn't have beets, but the two of us did.  Could it be the remolacha?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

windows and doors

I really like the fact that the school where I work is open-air.  Windows? Doors?  Who needs them.  I also love the natural light.  I much prefer natural light to overhead fluorescent lighting.  Just ask my environmental science professor from Flagler…  opening the blinds was always my preference rather than turning on the lights…

My fifth grade classroom has an overhead light, but I never turn it on.  You see we have a wonderful “sky light” if you will.  More like a hole in the roof where iguana tails hang from and make me have a slip of the tongue with some sort of profanity that luckily my students do not understand. (now say that three times fast!)  So really the natural light is brighter than the artificial light so I don’t even think to flip the switch. 

My sixth grade classroom doesn’t have any lighting except for what shines from the sun, but honestly I didn’t realize that until just the other day when someone pointed it out.  Not a big deal.

The sky light in my fifth grade room is actually nice—not only does it provide light but even a little breeze every now and then.  Today I had planning at the end of the day and I was actually being somewhat productive compared to my usual plan time.  I typically get distracted by something outside or become sedated by the tranquil music drifting in from yoga class.
view from my 6th grade classroom

I don’t even know why I have written four paragraphs about this already.  It seems like the more I speak Spanish, the less I am able to communicate in English.  My spelling is verging on atrocious, when I once was the spelling bee champion of Lake Mary Elementary School back in the day. Stucco.  S-T-U-C-C-O.  Stucco. 

Where was I?  Oh yes.  There was a storm, a tormenta to be precise, during my plan time today.  It actually got so dark that it was necessary for me to get up and turn the lights on.  And then it started pouring. And thundering and lightning.  And there are children, running and screaming.  (there went my productivity).  I learned that my sky light/ hole in the ceiling is not so convenient during a storm.  Not only was I catching a nice breeze that literally blew my dress up, but leaves were blowing in from above.  And then the rain.  Combination of wind, rain, hole in the roof, plus windows without glass in them = run for cover, but where?

Today would have been a day for the paisley boots…   

On an unrelated note, this week I believe that I realized my purpose in this country...
to share the deliciousness of JIF peanut butter

and to introduce Milkbones to the dogs of Costa Rica
...consider my  mission accomplished!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Back to school...

"Oh, back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight! 
Well, here goes nothin'."
--Billy Madison

This week was our first week back to school after a nice, long, two week vacation, in which I retreated back to my home country.  I thought it would be rough going back to work after two weeks off, but I was actually really excited to see my kiddos again.  They ran up to me with hugs and latched onto me before I was even in the classroom on Monday.  I had many absent students this week.  Six were absent out of eighteen!  Five of those six came from my largest class, which is sixth grade.  That left me with a much more manageable six students in the class.  Wow, can that make a difference!  And adjusting to being to work by 7:15 every morning?  When there is an endless supply of coffee, rising early is not as much of an issue.

This trimester brings a big challenge for me, because I no longer have my wonderful volunteer I had for the past two months.  She was an English major and brought some wonderful insight into the class.  We ended up dividing the class into two groups; she taught the native English speakers and I taught the native Spanish speakers.  Now that she is gone, I had to find a way to really differentiate instruction without teaching two completely separate lessons.

I didn't mull over this too much; rather, I thought back to my first Spanish class in high school.  We always had a "frase del día" (phrase of the day).  Something short and sweet.  So this week I introduced idioms.  We won't learn a new idiom everyday because 40 minute classes just don't allow for that, but we will do at least one a week.   My senior year of high school in AP Spanish Language, we watched short clips from CNN en español.  I remember the first time we did that, it sounded like gibberish and I though 'there's no way I will ever understand what is going on.'  But day after day we watched a new clip.  We began to understand bits and pieces, catching a word here or there, and eventually we began to understand the large majority.

Enter podcasts.  We will listen to one or two podcasts with weekly world news.  So obviously my English speakers understand them, so the vocabulary and comprehension comes wayyy easier, but I figure a little exposure to current events won't hurt.  One week into my mixed level English class now, and it went rather smoothly.

Thank you to everyone for sending books and supplies back for my classroom.  My kids and I love my new recycled cardboard speakers and they make watching our BrainPop videos a lot easier!  It is so wonderful to have children's literature to choose from and white board markers and stickers and every little thing imaginable!  When I was getting off the airplane in San José, a man helped me with my carry on.  I said "careful, it's quite heavy."  Once he got it down from the overhead bin he said "wow, what do you have in here, your boyfriend?"  No, 'just a library and an office supply store,' I thought.

I can't really think of anything else that exciting, so I guess now is the time that I must bid you farewell my faithful readers.  :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Take II

After a very rough start yesterday at the airport in Orlando, and many hours of travel later I arrived back in Cóbano last night.