Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Crocodile Christmas

I spent Christmas in Jaco with my friend Lynette from the states and her two friends; Erica and Alexandra from Columbia. Despite the lack of snow it was a very enjoyable Christmas. We saw Crocodiles which almost never happens back home. We played in the waves... I think I even "caught" a couple of them, but mostly they caught me and I ended up with sand in every crack and crevice. So worth it!

The 26th was Maria's birthday so we met back in San Jose and managed to find an Irish pub. We drank Irish Car Bombs in remembrance of Maria's time in Ireland. I had one of my favorite Peace Corps momments when I realized I was sitting in an Irish pub in Costa Rica looking at a picture of Che Guevera positioned next to a picture of Oprah. You just can't make this stuff up.

Hope everyone back home also had a Merry Christmas. I have to say that it wasn't home, but I really can't complain.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's Begining To Look Nothing Like Christmas....

Well, things have slowed way down here. Hard to believe but there is really nothing going on. The school is closed. The PANI office is closed. And I am just about ready to get things started. I guess it can all wait til February. :)

I went to the Kindergarten and 6th grade graduation at my school. It was very much like our graduations, long and tedious and long. I think the fact that every kid here has four names may have had something to do with it. It was nice though. Two of the girls graduating from the 6th grade were pregnant. So, I guess that gives me something to focus on for next year.

I have been trying to get something set up to do in the schools for next year, but have been having a rough time. There just really isn't a whole lot of motivation to do anything toward the end of the year. Not very different than the states except that the attendance the last two weeks of school was riding at about 25%. That is pretty low. Hopefully, it will be better when we start school again in February. Who knows, maybe by then I will actually have an idea of what is going on. Wishful thinking? Quite possibly....

I thought I would give you a couple of culture details that will hopefully paint a clearly picture of Costa Rica. The first is the extremely laid back attitude that prevails here. More than once I have been on a bus when the driver deviates from the route to swing by his house so his wife or child can run out of the house with a cup of coffee or lunch. No one seems to mind so I guess that's fine.

Food is also a big issue here. The main course of every meal is rice. You have Gallo Pinto (rice and beans mix) for breakfast. At dinner you have rice with something and at dinner you have rice with something else. The next morning the rice is back in the Gallo Pinto. What is the perfect accompaniment to spaghetti? Yup... rice. The other day, I was packing a lunch to share with Andre and Scott and I was explaining to my host mom that we were all going to bring something. I was bringing salsa, Scott was bringing avocados and Andre was on chips. She looked at me the way you would look with great pitty at a poor little kitten stuck in the rain and asked me, "But who is going to bring the rice?"

Well... It is the 21st and it is raging hot and looking to get hotter. I got a little red at the beach the other day but it seems to be clearing up. It's a pretty rough life. I will keep you posted. I am headed to Jaco for Christmas. My friend Lynette and her friends from Columbia will be here to partake in Tico Navidad. Then I am headed to San Jose to hang with El Cinco for a night. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tico Snow

I am in San Jose and have ended up staying a little longer than I had planned. My friend Zoey is in town and her friend is visiting so I decided to stay to hang a bit. Time-wise I'm good to go, money-wise it's a little tight, but sometimes you just gotta bite the bullet.

Last night we stayed at the Bouli (Boulevard Hotel). It is right downtown off of Avenida Central. I had to run to the grocery store and inadvertantly ran into a Tico Snow storm. The equivalent of a U.S. quarter will buy you a bag of white hole-punches which one is able to sprinkel and/or hurl at fellow passers by. We got pelted. I am still picking paper out of everywhere. If you squinted a little, it almost seemed like snow. It was kind of cool if you didn't stop to think that it is actually a lot of litter.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Maybe it's best Dara and DeeDee skip this one....

I kicked a dog for the first time today.

Before you call me in to the humane society, let me just say that it is a "cultural thing." We even addressed this at staging. Seeing somebody kick a dog in one can communicate very different messages from one country to the next. For example, in the states, if you see someone kick a dog you think "That horrible, heartless asshole! Someone should kick him/her." Whereas, in Costa Rica, if you see someone kicking a dog you think "That yippy little bastard is lucky he/she wasn't carrying a gun!" It's subtle, but there is a big difference. I must say also, that it was totally in self defense. I was running down the street, minding my own business when a pack of (okay two)little yippy chihuahua dogs came after me. You must also keep in mind that the dogs here are taught to be guard dogs as in, it is perfectly acceptable for a dog to tear apart a guest because, that is the dogs job and it is not expected to be able to tell the difference between a guest and an intruder. So viscious barking and biting is generally encouraged. Add to that, that smaller dogs are not confined to their yard, so you don't have to be a guest or even anywhere near the property to be a target. I guess the philosophy behind that one is that if they are small enough to squeeze between the bars, how much damage can they really do? So, it got kicked, it wasn't hard. He didn't even yelp. Just enough to establish contact and send a message. That message being; "Oh shit! The gringa is acculturating!"

Friday, December 02, 2005

The wheels are startin' to turn....

I have already been back in my site a week. I think I have hit one of those times when the time actually starts to move. The week went by pretty fast. Not too much to update on. I have volunteered to be on the Cadena committee. The Cadena is the PC Newsletter. I am going to start on the editing comittee in February. I get a free, semi-expenses paid long weekend in San José. I am actually pretty excited. I have decided that one of my "personal projects" is to start writing mroe and to start trying to get stuff published... beyond the blog at least. If for no other reason than to give Grandma and the Professor something to talk about. :) It's good to have a fan base!

I had my first site visit. That means that my boss came out and spent some time at my site mostly just to touch base. It went pretty well. I actually learned that the school also has an after-hours program that I was not aware of. What's more, I guess the big lesson there is that I need to ask more, different, and/or better questions. Live and learn I guess.

December 1 was International AIDS awareness day. Hope you all were paying attention. I spent the morning at the hospital pinning red ribbons on people and handing out condoms... Don't tell the Pope. I spent the afternoon making home-made tamborines out of broomsticks, nails, and pop bottle tops with the Albergue kids. They actually turned out quite well.

Thought I would also throw in here that I am reading a couple of incredible books that have the potential to mold my work and experience here. They are "Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered" by E.F. Shumacher and "The World Is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman. Together, they have really got me plotting out new theories; and just in time for the holiday cocktail party season. :)