Ah! I don't even know where to start!! My first night sleeping here was pretty pleasant. Apparently there was a cat fight on our roof...I didn't wake up though! I had to get up at 6:30 this morning for breakfast which really wasn't that difficult since the sun already had risen. It gets completely dark here by 6:30 though and THAT has been hard adjusting to since it makes me want to go to bed at 9. Breakfast today consisted of rice and beans (apparently that is what we have every day for every meal...which proves to be true so far) with pineapple, toast and jam, and these really delicious scrambled eggs.
Next was our walking tour of downtown San Carlos which pretty much consists of four blocks going east to west and four blocks going north to south. (This picture I have of me is right before we get near downtown!) I wasn't exactly sure what to expect since I have never been anywhere out of the country that wasn't a tourist city. Hence it was kind of shocking but at the same time it fit according to what I already knew about the city. One thing I am sure about is that I stick out like a sore thumb along with the rest of the volunteers. We make up about 99.9999999% of the foreign population in this city so we get a lot of attention and stares which I know I'll get used to but I admit is kind of weird in the beginning. It seems like all of the natives hang out in the streets or in el mercado (marketplace) or la plaza (the square). Children run up and down the streets with cars zooming by while their mothers are huddled in a tiny circle getting their daily dose of small town gossip (I suppose). I love all of the bright colors here! The plants may not be maintained or the rusty gates may seem extremely dirty but it doesn't take away from the beautiful simplicity of the architecture of the houses and buildings.
Some interesting things I learned about the town are for one that if you go to that one Pizza Hut they have...that it is considered fine dining that only the richer folks go to and it is waaaaay more expensive here in San Carlos let me to tell you. Everything you hear about the weather in Costa Rica is true; it gets really humid and rains every day. However this compliments each other very well. I got caught in my first rain storm while walking around town looking for this one specific ice cream shop (which I still have yet to find) but Sandra (from California) and I got lost...without an umbrella I might add... But I loved it in anyway. I mean it was freezing but and it was so refreshing after the humidity. I love the way the weather works together like that. I also was super confused why basically ALL of the restaurants here advertise soda. Then we all found out that it wasn't Coke that they were referring to, they were actually advertising the small-family owned restaurants that the Ticos call sodas. This definitely made more sense pha. And the weird clicking sound that reminds me of a vulture is actually a gecko.
There really isn't that much to say about orientation. Cross-Cultural Solutions is super organized about everything and they have pretty much addressed every issue that could arise. I met the staff who works here such as those who drive us to our placements, the cooks, the program coordinators, etc. It was also alot of paperwork. I did spend time with the director and my co-worker volunteer, Alex from Canada, discussing how we will be volunteering at Santa Clara (the daycare center) and so on. Apparently the teacher is new to the daycare and since she doesn't know English at all I will pretty much get to start from scratch teaching the children English. Where to start!?! ;) Luckily I bought some flashcards with me to help with the visual learners so I think I have the first day covered. We will just have to wait and see how it goes tomorrow!
After all of this was lunch at 1 which I was definitely ready for. Yes I had rice and beans again. ;) Along with homemade salsa WHICH WAS SO WONDERFUL. This says a lot since I hate salsa :P We also had mangos, salad, and chicken. After lunch I went back to the city to get some colones. Basically for the conversion $1= 500 colones. Everything is only a little cheaper here...probably because with all of the hills and mountains it takes like 4 times longer than what it really should take to get to the town. Plus we are very far away from any kind of highway. Then my fellow volunteers and I walked around and found the correo (post office) which was actually located right next to the old jail that is now abandoned. Even the jail was painted a bright, sky blue. After this was when I got significantly lost with Sandra trying to find this wonderful ice cream place that sold homemade ice cream. We compromised with our sweet toothes by going to the bakery that is directly next to our home. So I ate my first pastry today! I felt really bad because the women who was working there was trying to explain to me what each of the pastries were and I just for the life of me could not understand her. Plus she didn't know any English. I need to expand my vocabulary on baking flavors...or I could have just brought Erica ;) I told the woman in Spanish that I was sorry and that I wish I could, but I couldn't understand her. She left and came back with the mousse/cream that she was trying to explain to me and let me try it. That was pretty awesome of her :) AND it was excellent. I wish I could describe the flavor but it is impossible; it was like nothing I had ever tasted before. The closest thing I can think of is a cinnamon flavored marshmallow. And this came in pastry bread and had powdered sugar on top. ¡Que rico!
Next I had my first Spanish class. I was aware that every Spanish speaking country had their own version of the language but I sure have never been introduced to so many different translations before. For example, instead of saying "De nada" for you're welcome they say "Con mucho gusto" which is kind of weird to me since "Mucho gusto" for me had always meant "nice to meet you"... I guess the lady at Immigration in the airport wasn't pleased to meet me ;) I still love Spanish so I guess the class went well ;)
Then I was super lame and took a nap. I know. I couldn't help it :) Then I had dinner at 6:30: green beans mixed with eggs, onions, spices, and pulled pork, this really interesting fruit that has no English translation...it was kind of like an apple orange, and then yes rice and beans. Next a bunch of us headed to an ice cream shop (different than the one I was looking for previously) called Pops. I had an ice cream flavor called hecho de leche condensada. It almost tasted like condensed milk with strawberries but instead of the strawberries it had a kind of nut. Once again I am having a problem describing this. Hopefully I will improve!
And here we are now! I am sure if I forget anything (which I probably did I am fairly tired) I will include it in tomorrow's blog. I am really anxious for my first day of volunteering tomorrow! Ahhhhh! This is what I have been waiting for for what seems like forever! Wish me luck ;)
Esta es mi casa nueva...