Sunday, April 25, 2010

More about Mangos...

Que calor!

All I can say about the heat is that it's absolutely insane right now...the only time I am NOT SWEATING is when I'm in the shower or just after I get out. Pretty much every other time of day or night I am sweating. It's super attractive. The only positive thing I can think of to say here is maybe I'm losing a little water weight in the process:)


The mangos are in full bloom! I ate 3 mangos yesterday and 2 today and I've had fresco de mango (mango juice basically) a few times this week too! They are so delicious! And who knew there were so many different types of mangos? My friends Yerlin and Carlos have 3 different mango trees in their yard! There are little yellow ones called papa mangos (potato mangos), red and orange ones, purple ones, and big green guys called mangas (the wife of the mango according to my joker pops) that you eat when they're a little bit hard, with an optional dash of salt. I heart mango season. Next up? Avocados!!!


Here's a pic of one of the many frogs you might see around here at night. They're not that pretty but they're big and slimy. Funny little creatures, I had to literally move this guy out of the way of my quad the other night upon coming home.

Little Sistas...

Who doesn't love little girls...these are my 2 favorites, Tiffany and Maria, my little sisters in Cabuya and Delicias. <3

Castillos de Arena...

The annual Castillos de Arena event happened last weekend in Manzanillo (a lovely beach just up the coast from Santa Teresa). It was basically a competition of building the best sand sculptures. A big alligator won first place (pic above). There were tons of people out on what is normally a pretty secluded beach, lots of families, music, local food, and dancing close to the beach. Pura Vida!

Vista de Olas...

I finally made it to Vista de Olas, a beautiful hotel and restaurant in Mal Pais with an infinity pool overlooking the coastline. You have to spend a certain amount to hang out there and it's a little pricey, so I needed an excuse to go. Friend's birthday party? Perfect. What a beautiful place to watch the sunset, with delicious cocktails and good looking bartenders...I will definitely be back for the next special occasion!


Teaching is going great. I am really enjoying being a teacher...this could be my calling. It's a lot of fun and even like the planning part of it. Attendance has dropped a little bit since the beginning but the students that are still coming seem dedicated and overall I still have good size groups. I am really starting to see their progress which is encouraging. I do have a few that are still struggling with the basics, mainly because they've missed class or they aren't studying at home at all, so I am trying to emphasize the importance of doing your homework and participating in class. I mean if you don't take notes how the hell are you going to remember anything? I'm also trying to incorporate a greater variety of activities into my classes and use more speaking and listening exercises. We finally did some music activities and they were so much fun! I did "Hello, Goodbye" by the Beatles for the beginners, "Free Falling" (Tom Petty) for the high beginners, and "Norwegian Wood" (Beatles again) for the intermediate class. They were all singing in English by the end of the lesson!

Here's the high school in Santa Teresa where I teach, this mural was recently painted and says "This high school is for those who deserve it." Or something to that effect.

I also had two private lesson students in the past two weeks which is great...easy work plus a little extra dinero. And there is a possibility that I might start teaching some basic English classes to the employees at one of the hotels in Montezuma, which would be fabulous. I don't want to overload myself with work, but I would do it during the week and still have my weekends free, plus I could recycle the lesson plans that I've already used in my other classes so the planning would be minimal. Fingers crossed!

Que mas...

Last night we went to an Argentinian party and danced to a live latin band. I have to say my dancing skills have gotten way better and I love much fun! Give me a couple beers and put on some latin music and I'm ready to twirl! It rained on the way home and I got my first taste of driving the quad in the rain. I really need to find some rubber boots and a poncho. The mud could get ugly...kinda like my get up will be for rainy weather :)

Love Love Love from Costa Rica...<3

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lluvia! Lluvia! Lluvia!

The first rains of the rainy season are finally here! It has sprinkled a few times, and last night we got our second hard rain. I wouldn't say it was a downpour, but it definitely wet everything pretty well. So refreshing! Everything felt a little bit cooler and cleaner today, and the dust was barely an issue in the roads! Aside from the mosquitos that are already starting to bite (actually I think all the bites on my legs are from zancudos, which are like mini-mosquitos you can barely see), I actually think I'm going to like this season even better. It's cooler, there are less tourists, and it's not like it's raining all the time. The idea that in the rainy season the rain never stops is quite the exageration. In fact on the Nicoya Peninsula, we are almost always blessed with sunshiny mornings, and the rain doesn't come till the late afternoon or evening. Usually it pours for a few hours and then stops, so it may slightly interrupt your day, but it's not the end of the world. I'm excited - things are going to feel more like the Costa Rica I first encountered when I arrived last summer.

Cangrejo, pobrecito!

One thing that came as a total surprise was how many crabs there are everywhere! With the start of the rains they are really coming out of the woodwork. These are the tajilaran, and they are so pretty with their orange and purple shells! Right now there are a million of them crossing the roads around here. Apparently they come down from higher ground to lay their eggs on the beach. But the horrible thing is a lot of them are getting killed by crossing the road! It is literally impossible not to kill some of them if you're a driver here. I've been driving really carefully and trying to turn and swerve to avoid them, but when there are so many it's quite difficult. I feel so bad...and the streets are starting to be covered with dead crabbies! Plus my friends keep saying that it's going to get a lot worse. What a crazy part of life here...and of course it's totally normal to them. There were even some crabs crawling in our living room tonight, and my family wasn't phased at all.

Surfer in Santa Teresa

Last weekend there was a surf competition in Santa Teresa. It was supposedly a pretty big deal, and apparently people were coming from all over Costa Rica, but it didn't seem quite as big as everyone had built it up to be. Still it was a good crowd and lots of excitement in the air. The surfers were really good and I enjoyed watching them ride the big waves that were rolling in on Saturday. I guess they planned it around a big swell because it looked kinda scary out there! We sat under the Red Bull tent and enjoyed some ice cold Pilsens while counting how many amazingly hot bodies were passing by. It was a dreamy day, followed by a crazy night at D&N's noche de electronica (not my favorite music, but a fun crowd of people in town for the surf competition made for a pretty wild party). My friend Trinity now has an apartment over in Santa Teresa so I've been able to hang out over there a little bit more and spend the night with her which is fabulous. It's been fun spending more time on that side of things. It's a whole different world compared to Montezuma.

Trinity & I @ Surf Competition

Classes have been going well. I finally was able to locate some small speakers for my iPod, so I was able to incorporate some music into my lessons so far this week and the students seemed to really like it! I thought it was a really fun way to do a listening exercise, and I definitely want to keep using music and other listening activities in lessons to come. This week I did the Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye" with the very beginner classes, and Tom Petty's "Free Falling" with the high beginners. I think I am going to do "Norwegian Wood" (also the Beatles) for the intermediate class. I've been compiling playlists of other songs to use, but it's difficult to find stuff that is super clear and uses simple verb tenses. For the beginners it needs to be pretty basic complex tenses or too much slang. But as we advance, things could get pretty fun with music lessons. Suggestions are welcome!

Lastly I'm honored to announce that I've been asked to work on developing an EFL curriculum for the program that I'm working with here in Costa Rica (ALIARSE). The CREST program is fairly new, with only a year and 3 months under its belt, and so far there hasn't been any kind of set curriculum or syllabus for the volunteers to follow. My students really want to know what level they are completing, and they need that in order to feel like they are accomplishing something and moving up to the next level with their English studies. So we are going to create a basic outline of topics and grammar points that need to be covered in each level. I believe this will help both the students and the volunteers - it will give the volunteers something to follow, and it won't be too detailed that it inhibits the creativity of each volunteer. We will still be able to create unique lesson plans in order to teach each of the concepts covered in the curriculum. It will however serve to normalize the teaching that is happening across the country, so that our students in every pueblo will be graduating with specific sets of English language skills. I'm very excited to be a part of developing this curriculum, and I hope it really helps to improve our program.

Hasta lluego, que dios te accompaña!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Costa Rican Slang: Pachuco y Tiquismos

I've been here for around eight and a half months now in Costa Rica and my Spanish has improved tremendously. I can pretty much communicate with anyone in any given situation sin problema.

Playa Samara, siempre tranquila

Still I don't feel like I'm fluent, and I really want to continue my study of the language - especially more vocabulary and the complex verb tenses (subjunctive and perfect tenses). I do study occasionally at home when I have the time - I'll sit down and open up the dictionary or check out verb conjugations I've been meaning to look at. But hanging out with the locals has made one thing for sure - I've learned a ton of Tico Slang, or Pachuco as they call it here. It's a lot of fun to use, and it definitely makes me feel like less of a foreigner, but this stuff is puro tico, which means most of it only functions here in Costa Rica, so if I go traveling to other Latin countries, I'll be back to square one with the word on the street...

Below is a list of some of my favorite and most popular Tiquismos. This is mostly for those of you who speak Spanish, or people who are coming here or living here now. The only one I can't seem to figure out is why the men say "Adios!" when a pretty girl passes by. It's like saying goodbye when you mean to say hello...don't you want to invite the girl to come talk to you? Or are you just sending her on her way? Maybe boys are just stupid;)

Al chile? - Seriously?

Qué me dice? - What do you say? or What's up?

Que es la vara? - What's the deal?

Solo bueno! - Only good! or It's all good!

Póngale! - Hurry up!

Buena nota - A “cool” person

Nada que ver! - Nothing to see! or No big deal!

Zaguate - A womanizer (literally a mutt or a street dog)

Pura vara! - Lies!

Un pichazo - A large blow or a huge hit of something

Que dicha! - How great!

Por dicha - Fortunately

Profe - A teacher

Blanco - A cigarette

Chinga - A cigarette butt

Jetón - Liar

Me presta una teja? - Lend me a buck?

Que vacilón! - How fun!

Viejo verde - A dirty old man

Zarpe - The last drink or one for the road

Como amaneció? - How did you wake up or how do you feel this morning?

Jueeeeee...puta! - daaaaaaamn! or son of a bitch! (comes from hijo de puta or hijueputa)

Upe! – Hello, is there someone there? Anybody home?

Que despiche! - What a mess! or What a good time!

Que quería, galleta María? - What do you want, a cookie?

Meter yucas - To tell lies

Media naranja - Your better half, or perfect mate

Estar puros dieces – To feel great (literally to be at pure tens)

Agarrar el mensaje - To get the hint or idea

Clavo - A problem (literally a nail)

No se monte! - Don’t mess with me!

Tumba la vara! - Stop bothering me!

Hay gente para todo – There is a fool for everything

Vaya busca brete! - Go get a job!


View from Punta Islita

In other news, Semana Santa provided a nice week of vacation, with perhaps a little too much guaro (that's the Costa Rican National Liquor, but the word is also used to refer to any form of alcohol in general). The trip to Samara was wonderful - a stunning drive (on the QUAD!) through country roads with beautiful ocean views and stops at secluded beaches. It was great to see my good friends there and the fiestas civicas were in full effect when we arrived - rodeos every night, amusement rides, street style tico food, and a mix of fun music ranging from musica ranchera (traditional Guanacasteco) to salsa and merengue, and of course a good bit of reggae and reggaeton...gotta love it!

Fiestas Civicas, Samara 2010

Back in Montezuma and Mal Pais, the full moon party/live reggae night at D&N (aka Tabu) last Monday was a blast! I spent the next three days recuperating, reorganizing, and planning for my April classes. It felt great to actually not leave Cabuya for a few days...super tranquilo! I took solo walks along the beach and cleared my head a bit after what felt like a month of non-stop action and fun. Now it feels good to be starting back with classes, although it seems attendance may be dropping a bit (I was warned many times about this). Finally found some speakers for my iPod (they were actually only ten bucks!) so I will be incorporating some music and listening activities soon.

Marisol & I at the Rodeo

Amigos Ticos in Samara

Happy April everybody!