You know you live in Costa Rica when...
You can't wait to take a cold shower to wash off the layers of dust and sunscreen and sweat from a day at the beach and a few rides on a quad.
You catch yourself craving gallo pinto in the morning even though you've already eaten rice and beans every day that week.
It's totally normal for your students to arrive to class 10, 20 or even 30 minutes late with no apologies.
The big decision you have to make most often is where to spend your free time between this beach or that beach, a waterfall, a river, an island, or a national park.
Your typical night out involves buying your drinks at a store and drinking on the street just outside the bar, and then going inside the bar to dance to a mix of salsa and reggaeton.
You frequently speak in Spanglish with no conscious effort.
You get really excited when you see a cheese like feta or gorgonzola on the menu at a local restaurant, and you feel a huge sense of achievement when you locate a grocery store that sells soymilk.
You're not phased by creepy crawly things even if they fly down your shirt, and giant iguanas and howler monkeys seem as normal as squirrels running around in the trees.
The Chilean boxed wine they sell in the corner stores becomes an acceptable choice of beverage (so do pre-mixed Cuba Libres sold in cans).
You are blown away by the kindness and hospitality of the locals who invite you into their homes for a fresco (fresh fruit drink) or a cafecito (little cup of coffee), and stop whatever they're doing to sit and talk (and laugh) with you...pura vida!
Todo bien aqui, everything is good here, just getting into the teaching/planning routine and riding around a lot on the quad! I got the good news from ALIARSE that I can stay here teaching through the end of the year (till mid December) and I'm so happy! It's so nice to know I'll be here for a while and I can really settle in. It's also unbelievably exciting to know that I will get to see the progress my students will make over the course of an entire year. They will be speaking English so much better by then and it will feel like such an accomplishment, really getting to see and experience their improvement. I'm so thankful for this opportunity!
Teaching is going good. I've got five full classes in Santa Teresa and the students are great, very interested in learning. We have fun but we also work hard on grammar and pronunciation. I have around 70 students in my five classes in Santa Teresa (a lot of new names to remember, like Anayancy, Yadira, Crislay, Nubia, and Dago for example), and I'm expecting to have at least 100 in total between all of my seven groups. My two classes in Montezuma began this past week and there weren't too many students, but I know more will come this week. It's tough to get the word out around here. It's also tough to have new students coming in who missed the first lessons because I don't want to repeat too much, but it should be fine once we get going. The new classes went well, although they are each four hour time blocks which is a lot to plan for. I'm still figuring out how to plan for so much time and how to know which activities will take more time than others. The other issue is keeping everyone busy and learning when you have mixed abilities in one classroom. I'm working on ways to keep the quicker students busy while I help the more true beginners to catch on.
My Costa Rica Plates!
RUBI (mi cuadra) is freaking awesome, she has totally changed and enhanced my life. I couldn't be happier with my purchase and my gear shifting is getting smoother every day!
Julia from ALIARSE came to town this weekend for a volunteer visit. We met with the local partners and discussed the program's objectives as well as our own feelings and concerns, but the meetings felt more like casual visits with friends. We rode all over the place on the quad and Julia had no complaints about the bumpy rides and my less than perfect driving (thanks J for being a good guinea pig). It was super fun having a friend in town to explore with and we had a few incredibly delicious meals together: the first night at the Panaderia (Bakery) in Cabuya and then the best pizza in town at my friend Juan's restaurant on Saturday. Que rico!
Julia & I - Playa Carmen
Very excited that more friends will be coming to visit soon...some friends from Samara are coming next weekend and my girl Merideth from ATL is coming the following week. I can't wait to give them all tours of my area and surprise them with a jump off that 15 meter waterfall! This also means I've got a lot of work to do this week preparing my lesson plans...I want to have everything basically set up for the rest of the month ASAP! Hopefully I can pull it off and I won't have to do too much out of the classroom work while my visitors are here.
I also plan on returning to Samara the weekend of the 26th for the start of Semana Santa (Easter week holidays here - I have off). There are fiestas starting on the 25th in Samara with salsa dancing and rodeos all set up in the streets! It will probably be a bit crowded but super fun...and I can't wait to see my sweet mamatica Marisol and go dancing at one of the best bars on the peninsula, Tabanuco. YAYER!
More to come soon, thanks for reading and I hope spring comes soon for all of you people back home in the States!