YAY...I finally taught my first 5 classes this past week in Santa Teresa (Mal Pais) and they went really well! I was so excited to finally be teaching and I really enjoyed meeting all my new students. I think they liked the classes too; we played a lot of games and they responded well to competition. Most all of my students are beginners or at a pretty basic level, and I have one intermediate group. Teaching beginners is easier, and I don't have to worry about running out of material! It was really fun to finally be doing what I came here to do and I feel very natural and comfortable in my role as a teacher. I was a little bit nervous before, but as soon as I got going I was relaxed and totally enjoying it. My favorite part was at the end of all my classes when I did a "slang word of the day." This week it was "what's up" and "dude." They all seemed to like it and we laughed a lot...I think it's a good way to end the class on a lighter note. For homework I told them they had to use the slang phrases in the street...jaja!
This weekend I celebrated my new found success with friends in Montezuma. Reggae night on the beach on Friday and a little salsa dancing on Saturday (I'm getting better!). Also, two of the guys that I met traveling in Nicaragua were coming through town so I took them to the Montezuma waterfall. There is a second waterfall up above the big one that's about a 10 meter drop (around 30 feet) and the locals always jump off of it. I never thought I'd have the guts to do it, but when I got up there this time and my friends did it I thought what the hell...WOOOOOO! Adrenaline rush!!! I ended up doing it 3 times. Here's a video:
As you can tell, normally life in Costa Rica is pretty stress free, but as I was trying to organize things to get my classes going, I did get a little bit frustrated with the way things work here. It's hard to remember that everything moves a lot slower, and that you can't have the same expectations as you do at home. People do their jobs, but they do things at a different pace, and the typical gringo inside of me wants to have things done faster and more efficiently. The best I can do is to just try to remove myself from that struggle. I notice myself getting stressed out about something I need to get done or I need to figure out (like getting the white board to my classroom, for example), and I have to slow down and say to myself, "Tranquilo!" Everything in it's time. It's a constant reminder to take it easy. I am learning to be patient and adaptable (these are good life lessons). Things will work out like they always do...pura vida!
It's funny how a little stress can shake things up in your head too. I got frustrated and immediately noticed that I started thinking about the things I missed from home. I think overall I've been doing pretty well living the "simple life" here in Costa Rica. I shower with cold water, I eat rice and beans almost 3 meals a day, I never have air conditioning, my floors are concrete, and I don't have a closet or hangers for my clothes. No car, no cellphone, no greek yogurt, arugula or blue cheese covered ribeyes. Not that I'm complaining, but there are just a lot of things I normally take for granted that I'm living without now. Usually I don't miss them, but the other day when the stress hit I couldn't stop thinking about those things that would make life easier (or cleaner, healthier, more technologically advanced) if I was home. But these are the things that I willingly gave up on my quest to live here, and I do believe it's worth the sacrifice to be in such an amazing place...I guess it was just one of those days. Within a few hours the feeling had passed, and I was back to a heart full of gratitude for the experience I am having. My new mantra is cero estrés (zero stress) which is actually a phrase here kinda like pura vida. And I find that like pura vida, the more you say it, the more you feel it to be true...
I'm meeting with the Junta Educativa tomorrow in Montezuma to plan for my classes here, which should begin next week. Then I'm going to see about another cuadraciclo (ATV) that is for sale and I'm really hoping it works out! Wish me luck, and hopefully I'll have pics to show you soon. Ciao chicos!