Sunday, September 6, 2009

Coconuts & Capriticas...

15 interesting things I've learned in CR (so far)...

1. Having a bike here is essential and cheap. Learning how to effectively dodge potholes (often full of muddy water) and bats (at night)....priceless.

2. Coconuts can and will fall at any given moment (heads up!)

3. Ants are everywhere; it's normal to squish them or flick them off your body at any given moment and it's not surprising if you eat or drink one occasionally. Dry foods need to be triple bagged!

4. DEET is my friend, especially after it rains...bring on the chemicals!

5. Black beans & rice (or gallo pinto) with every meal is totally normal (including breakfast).

6. There are no addresses here in Costa Rica, and directions are based on landmarks like restaurants, churches, city buildings, etc, that may or may not still be standing. 100M usually equals one block.

7. A “soda” is a small restaurant usually in front of someone's home that serves typical Costa Rican food like gallo pinto, meat, plantains, etc., and is usually around $3 for a huge plate of food.

8. Eggs & milk apparently do not need to be refrigerated and are always sitting out in the supermarkets room temperature.

9. Monkeys, roosters, and even frogs can be extremely loud!

10. Geckos rock! They eat the other insects and they're super fun to watch.

11. Gringo/gringa refers to people from the United States only (Canadians are not gringos)...and apparently this term originated in Mexico during the Mexican-American War. The US soldiers were dressed in army green and the Mexicans shouted "Green go home!" Eventually this was shortened to "gringo."

12. Limon=some kind of bitter lime. Normal lemons & limes are scarce. Vodka sodas just aren't the same here....but the Capriticas are delicious (these are like Caparinias but made with Guaro instead of Cachaca).

13. In most homes here, the TV is always on, even if no one is watching it. It's like back ground noise. Maybe ticos don't like to be alone.

14. Here in Costa Rica, everything is rica/rico (rich)...the food, the drink, the weather...if it's good, you say que rico (how rich).

15. Pura Vida isn't just a saying, it's a way of life. I think this is why ticos have such a high life expectancy's one of the highest in the world!

I've been a bad time or desire to sit in front of the computer for too long...but making a list like that turned out to be pretty fun. A quick run down on what's been happening here: I finished the TEFL course with flying colors, got my certification and a fabulous looking portfolio so I'm all set to teach, but I probably won't start a long term position until January. Most schools aren't hiring at the moment, but in January I should be able to start teaching for the new semester. In the meantime, I'm starting private Spanish lessons tomorrow and will be studying all this week. I feel like my Spanish has gotten worse after all that English study in the TEFL course! All in all it's improved a lot since I arrived, but now I'm starting to make stupid mistakes so I really want to study more and clear up my confusions. Then around 20th I'm heading out to travel around the excited about this part...going to the Caribbean side and then down into Panama to Bocas del Toro! I have to leave the country by the 18th of October for my 3 month "visa run" (this is how a lot of expats stay here...just leave for 3 days and then come back with another 3 month tourist visa). Then we'll head back up the Pacific side to the Osa Peninsula and up through Dominical...and back to Samara by the end of October. It should be a super fun adventure and I'm traveling with a tico so I kind of have a built in tour guide and free Spanish lessons...pura vida! In November I'm planning to do some volunteer work, possibly teaching English to kids in local public schools, or in after school programs. I'm not sure exactly where yet, but I'm looking at some different options, including Montezuma and a small town north of Tamarindo called Potrero. If that doesn't work out I might go work on a farm or a ranch in the mountains or central valley. Time will tell!

Today was a great day...Sundays are always nice...a long walk on the beach this morning where I got a little too much sun (no should fade into a nice tan), and I encountered a dead baby alligator! It was so cute even though it was dead...only about a foot and a half long plus the tail...just a little baby...and I was able to get really close to it and examine it's scaly crazy! These creatures seem so archaic to me! Then I swam and showered and had lunch with several friends at a beach bar. Took a bike ride to do some shopping, then came home and relaxed until dinner. Marisol (my mamatica) made us fresh Lodo (parrot fish?) that she had purchased from the fisherman was so fresh! She seasoned it lightly with garlic and rosemary and it was delicioso...muy rico pescado!

Thanks for reading and keep in touch...I miss you all mucho! Here's a few pics (there's a bunch more on facebook). xoxo

Local tico English students including mi Mamatica Marisol (center)...the TEFL graduates...the pig roast party...another beautiful day at the beach...gringas!

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