Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 1: Arriving in Costa Rica!

¡Hola todos!

I AM HERE IN SAN CARLOS, COSTA RICA! It is absolutely beautiful. I am in awe of everything around me; the beautiful, bright colored homes, the amazing trees and flowers, the wildlife, the extremely nice people... everything is so fascinating!

I started my journey flying from Dallas to Miami and then Miami to San José. My flight from Dallas was interesting because I had a nice elderly man from Puerto Rico sit next to me. He was going home to celebrate his 60th anniversary with his wife after visiting his grandchildren in the States. What a beautiful event to celebrate! Then my flight from Miami was awesome because the professional Costa Rican soccer (fútbol) team was on our plane! Of course I didn’t realize it until I was off the plane and there were cameras everywhere… ;)

The drive from the airport to my home base was…intense to say the least. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, but I have never ever gone up so many twisty and bendy roads before in my life…combined. There were 11 people in one small van so it was kind of like a remake of “The Little Engine that Could” as we traveled through the hills. After two hours of driving, I then reached San Carlos. San Carlos is a small town with a beautiful square and a massive cathedral in the center. I get time to explore the town tomorrow after orientation. I can’t wait to try everything at the bakeries as well! I do find it quite surprising that there is a Pizza Hut on one of the corners of the square. I don’t ever plan on trying that. :)

My home base is sooo cool! It was the director’s grandmother’s house so it is a real authentic Costa Rican house. It has beautiful murals on the walls, a spacious courtyard in the back for meals, and a garden decorated with painted stones and bright flowers. I can’t wait to take pictures in the daylight!

As of right now there are 33 volunteers living in this home…yes. This is actually pretty fun because everyone is from SO many different places and there is a good mixture of how long everyone is staying here. There are multiple two week-ers, mostly 4 week-ers and even one person who is staying for ten weeks! Everyone is really nice so I can’t wait to get to know everyone.

My first home cooked meal was absolutely excellent! We had salad with fresh tomatoes and spices, rice, beans, mangos, pineapples, roasted chicken and potatoes. I tried these chocolate covered coffee beans…it was simply wonderful oh my goodness.

Tomorrow I will have orientation, the city tour, and my Spanish classes. I can’t wait to get started at my placement though and start teaching English on Tuesday! I gotta say I love listening to all of the Spanish speakers around me. They speak so fast though!

As I am sitting here on some bright orange steps, behind this massive Victorian-looking gate, in the dark with another volunteer named Sinead (pronounced as Shhh-nead which she informed me is Irish for Jennifer), watching cars and native Costa Ricans pass by, all the while practicing my Spanish with the guard…..I just can’t believe I am actually here.

¡Pura Vida!—what the Costa Rican people say to each other to end a conversation. Literally it means pure life, but they use it to wish happiness for the other person.


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