Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I have titled this entry logistics, which I think is very appropriate as it tends to occupy much of my time. There are the things that you plan, and there are the things that actually happen. It is definately the number one area in which cultural adjustments must be made. For example...

Today I was planning on going to class in the morning, getting on the bus and going to the Peace Corps Office (PCO) to 1) Get a check-up (routine) 2) get a credit card out of the safety deposit envelope (!) so that I will have some money to go on a short trip this weekend 3) Upload pictures (for free) onto the internet so that I can send them to anxious friends and family and 4)turn in receipts.


The check-up is not at the PCO, it is at a hospital, which means that I will need to figure out where the hospital is, and most likely spring for a cab. Okay do-able. So I will just got to the hospital from the PCO, I still have a couple of hours of free internet. I call early so that I will be able to have access to my valuables. Hmmmm.... Luis won't be in the office til Thursday and he's the only one with access. So we're down to internet time... still pretty okay. I mention this to a fellow PCT and she tells me I'd better think again because the current PCV's are working on "La Cadena" the PC newsletter and they have reserved the computers and have made it quite clear that PCT's are not welcome. So, that leaves me at the internet cafe, paying for access and trying to figure out what would be the best (aka cheapest) bus/taxi combo to get me to my doctor's appoitment. Flexibility will beat out efficiency any day.

More about my site....

To give you a peek into PCV life, the second most important factor in site selection, after the proximity to the beach, who are the closest PCVs. In this area I have also lucked out. I will be one of the very few PCVs to have a site mate. That means that there is another volunteer within minutes of my site. His name is André and he has been there for about a year. I will also be very close to Scott, who is in my language group and is in the "in" crowd (Scott, Adam, Kelley, Mike and Maria). So that is very, very good. Less fun is the fact that Maria will practically be on the other side of the world. She has to take a couple of buses, a boat and swing across a river to get to her site. It will be great for her, but will mean we will not be able to hang out as easily, but we are making plans to take trips. Mike is near Maria, so he's pretty far. Adam is floating around in the middle. Spreads us out quite a bit, but the good part is that give us a lot to work with when we are ready to start visiting each other's sites.

I guess that's it for now... Keep sending emails and making comments... I love hearing from you!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Y me voy...

On October 1, I will be moving to Puntarenas. I am pretty excited. It is the site I would have picked out of all available so I guess you really can't ask for any more than that. Now I just have to hope I like what I asked for. I like this site because it is VERY urban, ie. it is very inner city. It is a very tough site I have been told over and over but that is what I asked for so...

Puntarenas is about 2 hours by bus from San Jose. It is a port city. It is also located very near many beautiful beaches so that should provide a pretty okay escape when things get overbearing. I will poste more details later, but for now I need to go to San Jose for a tour of a drug rehab center.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Dia del campo

Okay, today is the big day we find out where we are going. We are headed to a Country Club to spend the day recreating. We were told that in the past, they would hand out assignments and then send us to classes but they learned quickly that that really doesn't work out very well. So we get the day off. I am anxious to see where I will go. I had an inside line on where I was going to go, but the word on the street indicates that may not happen. I have learned very quickly that there are no secrets in the Peace Corps. It's all good though. I will post when I know what is going on next.

Better get moving so I don't miss my bus!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

And I'm back...

Okay, as you may have guessed I have made it back from Sabalito. The first picture is from the VAC dinner. More about that below. The second picture I took on the way to Sabalito.

Sabalito was very nice and very relaxing. It was good to be able to talk to a current volunteer about their day to day stuff. I also got to participate in a senior's aerobics group with her. It was a lot of fun and surprisingly turned into a geriatric dance party. The Zona Sur is also extremely beautiful. I am hoping to get some pictures up soon, but it may be a while.

We also went to the VAC dinner Saturday night. We ate at a Lebanese restaurant and had the whole place to ourselves. The food was very good. We ended the night at "El Pueblo" which is a small village of tourist stores by day which turn to bars at night. It was a TON of fun, probably too much. But the best stories generally begin with the words, "You're not gonna believe this... " Let me just say that a houka (sp?) was involved, booties were shaken and the rumor mill is a buzzin'. Let me reassure that no laws were broken. :)

I also got a tip on my site assignment. Word on the street (La palabra en la calle) is that I will be placed in Puntarenas. I would be very, very happy with this assignment but I am not yet banking on it because things can change, and my director had indicated that that site was going to my buddy, Mike. I am also experiencing a little guilt for stealing his site, but hey, he'll get over it!! It does indicate some major beach time.

That's all for now...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

One more thing before I go....

Well... I found a minute to update again before I leave. I do at least know where I am going now. I am going to a small town in very, very south Costa Rica called Sabalito. It is almost in Panama and is a 7 hour bus ride. So I will be spending a good part of Sunday and Tuesday on a bus. It's not nearly as much fun as it sounds as there are not many buses in this part of the world built for people over 5' tall. I am excited though to get out of town a little bit and have some down time.

Thanks everyone for you love and support. I appreciate it. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Day in the vida...

Wow... I guess it's been a while since I posted... Debrah Jo must be going nuts!! So here's the skinny...

It is Thursday. I am finished with my language class and am supporting the local internet cafe. We had interviews with our program director today and it is, I think, the last one before we know our site assignments on the 29th. To update you on the issue of site assignments, let it be known that it is a subject much talked about... okay, much OBSESSED about in PCT (Peace Corps Trainee) circles. I have researched, guessed, speculated, hoped, prayed, second-guessed and finally exhausted myself of the subject. So, now I am going to wait ten more days until I actually know. At that point, I can begin to research, guess, speculate, hope, pray, second-guess and exhaust myself over something more relevant, like figuring out how to get as much beach time as possible on a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) salary.

This week went by pretty quick. Monday was a holiday so we had the day off. Just in case any of you are thinking that this is a cakewalk, I will also add that I had a pretty good bought of homesickness and culture shock. There is a reason that 99% of the population doesn't do this... it's not because we're any better or stronger or smarter than anyone else... the general consensus is that it's because we are slightly more masochistic than your average Joe. Let's just say that I no longer laugh when I hear stories about volunteers breaking down and crying trying to buy a coke. I no longer take for granted all the little things that I did without thinking because it was familiar. Things like walking, talking, bathing, laundry... It's tough to go from 29 years old to 3. But...

That being said... I'm not going home. I have absolutely no intentions of leaving before my service is up. We've lost two girls is the last two weeks and granted we have been extremely jealous that they are currently sleeping in their own beds and eating familiar foods, but there is a whole lot of reality there that isn't much fun either. So... here I am. Wouldn't be anywhere else. Just wanna be able to order a coke without having an emotional breakdown. It's coming.

Bueno... the itinerary for this week is classes in San Jose on Friday. We are going to a VAC (Volunteer Action Committee) dinner on Saturday. Basically it is a welcome party for Tico 13 (my group) and a headed home party for Tico 9. I am excited to meet more volunteers and to have a night off. Sunday I am headed somewhere (I don't know where yet) and I am going to stay with a volunteer at their site until Tuesday. I will be going on my own and I am excited to travel a little less conspicuously than the Gringo Bus has allowed. I am also hoping to have a couple of days to do "something real." I'm not sure exactly what that is yet, but I am hoping to get a lead on it. At some point, I'll realize that it is ALL real, but I'm keeping that reality at arms length.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Poco a Poco

Well, I am officially four weeks into my training. If you are one of those counting types, yes, I have actually been gone for five weeks but they don't count the first one since we spent three days in D.C. and four at a resort. So we're at week four. Our language facilitator will change next week which is a bummer because she is super cool. When I can speak Spanish better I can forsee us kickin´it.

My language groiup is down to three people. We started with five. One girl left last week to be with her boyfriend and another girl is headed out soon cuz she just found out she is pregnant. It is really too bad because we had a really great group and I got along with both of them really well. So now it is down to me and the two guys. I have assured them that I will be much harder to shake.

Other than that, the big news is that we have discovered a great coffee spot. It is actually a "soda" which is basically a restaurant/cafe type place. They serve typical Costa Rica dishes and, of course, coffee. The owner is a wonderfully sweet woman named Conchita that has already adopted us and continually reminds us to speak Spanish so that we can learn quicker. She is a lot of fun.

Speaking of which... it is time to go drink said coffee.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Phew!! What a trip!! I was in the province of Lí­mon for four days visiting sites of current volunteers. It was a pretty good trip, saw a lot of stuff but was also totally exhausting! We stayed with three different families all three nights. We left on Monday and went to Bananito. It is a town that is actually owned by United Fruit or the Dole company. We referred to it as "Pleasantville" because it appears very suburban. All of the houses are the same. There is a soccer field, basketball courts, gym, etc. It is considered a rural site and is very picturesque. By that I mean that it is constructed as part of the tour given to gringos who want to see where bananas come from. Even a lot of the signs are in English. It is actually kinda creepy in that everything looks too perfect and you know that if you scratch the surface at all, it ain't so pretty.

The family I stayed with was very nice. My mom was what we call here a "chismosa." It's kind of like a "reporter." She sits on her porch and watches the goings one and then reports them to whoever will listen. I got updates on the comings and goings of everyone in town. We did N.F.E's (Non-Formal Education) with some of the kids. Basically, we played games with them andstumbledd through explanations in Spanish. We also watched a soccer and baseball game.

The second site we went to was in Límon Central. This site was much, much less picturesque. It is called Los Lidios and was originally a squatter town. It was built on a swamp so the mosquitoes were applenty. The house I stayed in was made out of plank boards and consisted of two rooms, one of which was divided by a hanging rug. I slept on the top bunk of a bunkbed which I shared with a colony of ants that feasted on me for most of the night. I'm not complaining though cuz the girl next door shared her's with a rat. My family was incredibly warm and hospitable. Límon has a significant Afro-Caribbean culture. My family actually spoke English in the house although it is a form of patoi, very similar to Jamaican English. I spoke Spanish most of the time because it was easier to understand.

We spent the day in the school and learned to make Beans and Rice, a very distict Caribbean dish. They also attempted to teach us to dance Carribé but quickly learned that we are very gringo. Some of us got our hair braided and we drank fresh coconut milk. It was my favorite site. The hospitality of the people far outshadowed their poverty.

The last site we went to was in Guacimo. It is about an hour drive from the coast back toward San José. By the time we got there we were all pretty exhausted and unfortunately were not nearly as excited to meet yet another family as they were to meet us. We were able to go out that night, have a couple of beers and sing Kareoke. To say the least, it was not pretty. I did get to salsa dance a little though so I was happy. The singing did not go so well, but it was fun.

We spent our last day in an "albergue" whish is basically a foster home. The main government agency that we work with is called PANI and it is the equivalent of Social Services in the states. Except that they are even more overworked that the caseworkers in the states. There are up to five people in each office and they serve a population of over 200,000. It is pretty out of control. The big issues they deal with are domestic violence, child abuse and the sexual exploitation of children. Kids that are removed from their homes for any of these reasons are placed in an albergue. They are set up to hold about 10 kids, the one we visited has 20 living there. I am hoping that there will be one near my permanent site as they need a lot of help.

We were back home Thursday afternoon and I couldn't have been happier. I had cafecito with my tica mom and spent the rest of the day reading a book. I did watch "The Exorcist" that night, not the wisest choice as I am really a big baby when it comes to scary movies, but I wanted to be social. So that's the extent of it. I have the weekend off and am going to learn to make tortillas tomorrow. Yeah!

I'll get some pictures sent out soon.