Monday, July 30, 2007

Pupusas hecho de mano gringa

I am on the road again. This constant vacationing in tropical paradises can really get tedious. At least that is a theory I have come up with. So far it is not tedious at all, but I am determined to find out, so on I go.

Carlos and Gloria got here at about 1 am Thursday morning. Carlos tortured a group of English tourists with his lumberjack snoring and then we headed to Puntarenas. Saturday night Gloria taught me to make pupusas. They turned out pretty dang good if I do say so myself. I shared with my neighbors and ended up receiving a fish that is about three times the size of my head. I had to cut it in half to get it to fit in the freezer! On Sunday we left for Puerto Viejo. Carlos and Gloria really wanted to see the Caribbean Sea, so I sacrificed and brought them here. Today we took a taxi to a beach a little further down the coast called Punta Uva. It is basically a string of white sand beaches dotted with touristy restaurants. It was amazingly beautiful. We ate some Caribbean food that was also incredible. We were set to ride the bus back to Pto. Viejo and Carlos ended up hooking us up with a ride in the back of a pickup truck. It was raining and the roads are horrible, even if you are going 50 mph. It's a great story though. ;)

Anyway, so a little earlier, I faked exhaustion and sent Carlos and Gloria off on their own so that Carlos can give Gloria an engagement ring without an audience. Tomorrow we are headed back to Puntarenas and then they leave to El Salvador again early, early Thursday morning. Then I am back to work until the next paseo.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Round and Round we go

It was a pretty busy week. Monday half of Tico 17 arrived in my site for the gira or site tour. Five of them stayed with families in my site and we took them around to all the "must sees" in Puntarenas. It was a pretty interesting visit. We went to an activity in the school in Chacarita (next door to my barrio). I was expecting to do a quick and dirty activity with one of the classes, instead, I found myself having to sing the dedo song during an all-school assembly. They went all out to welcome us. Barring one minor sunburn incident involving a large gringo declaring to the world "Soy en fuego! Adios!" it was a very successful visit. On Wednesday we had lunch at the local restaurant/brothel and pobrecita Marianne got her purse lifted.

Then Thursday, I came into San Jose to do some training sessions with the newbies in their training sites. Zoey came in Friday so we got to hang out a little bit. Today I am going to pick up some San Jose supplies, primarily peanut butter and catfood, sit in a coffee shop and write in my journal, and then tonight, a student group from UC Santa Cruise invited Marianne and I to go to the Quinta Estacion concert tonight. I'm not sure who they are, although I have been assured that I will recognize some songs, but the tickets and a ride back to the Puerto are free so I am there.

Next week I am working in the Puerto, on Monday I have a meeting to facilitate scholarships for teen moms and then Thursday I am back in San Jose for meetings and trainings. AND... Thursday night, Carlos, Gloria and two other Salvadoran friends will be here to visit me. It should be an utterly insane, fun and ultimately exhausting visit. I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

That New Bus Smell

As you may have guessed, the big news in the barrio is that we have to brand spanking new buses running. They are quite shiny. Makes that 15 minute ride into the center that much more enjoyable. It even has that "new bus smell". Ahhhhh! What else... I feel like i have been running like crazy and I am not sure what i have been doing. I spent the afternoon in the AIDS clinic. I am helping the nurse there design a study to find out the level of AIDS awareness in Puntarenas. As a sociology geek, I am totally psyched about it. It is not going to be completely scientifically infallible, but I think it will at least be useful. I may even sell the results to the WHO. (No that is not a 1970's rock group... it is the World Health Organization) The other big news in the barrio is less praiseworthy. Tuesday morning some people broke into the CEN-CINAI, which is the local daycare and nutrition center. They took all the food and even trotted off with the refrigerator! I know what you are thinking "How do people wonder off with a refigerator without being seen?" The answer is that they don't. As in they were seen. In fact, some neighbors actually bought the fridge from the robbers because they knew that it belonged to the CEN-CINAI. So here is where the social justice breaks down. The OIJ (Tico FBI) came in, "investigated" and left. All the neighbors, and the CEN-CINAI workers, know who it was that did it, but their not talking for fear of retribution and in the long run it really wouldn't matter anyway because if they don't take a HUGE amount of money, nothing will happen to them anyway. The neighbors that bought the fridge from the robbers aren't talking cuz they are drug dealers and they don't tend to mix well with law enforcement. So.. that little annecdote pretty much sums up the crime atmosphere in the barrio. Most likely, the robber's girlfriends/wives/babies momma's will show up on Friday and wonder why there is no food for their kids. It's a vicious cycle.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Okay.. I have officially spent one consecutive week in my site. Big excitement! I actually got some work done also. It is nice to be in one place for a while.

I am trying to get manuals written for the projects I have done. The main one being adapting the Love and Logic program to PC and Ticos. It is a big program so it is taking a while. It also doesn't help that I have been procrastinating! The same goes for writing out the HIV workshops I did in the High School and with professionals.

As for community work, I am trying to concentrate my efforts in supporting the infant HIV commission here in Puntarenas. So far we have had two meetings that have both gone well. We have a third planned for the end of the month. It works out well that I will be moving just to San José this fall so that I will be able to continue to support the commission. I am looking to get them hooked up with some NGOs in San José to have more long-term contacts.

My other "big" project is helping the office out with site-development. Tico 17 is actually already here and in training in San Jose. So, we need to get them places to live for September. My counterpart wants to replace both Scott (in Miramar) and I, AND put another volunteer about an hour away in Esparza. I am not psyched about putting somebody in my exact barrio because, it really sucks to directly follow a volunteer and I have run into so many obstacles finding projects in my school and neighborhood that I think a volunteer would have more success somewhere else. It looks like we are going to put them in Chacarita. The non-porteño would probably not even recognize it as a seperate barrio, it is so close to where I live now. It is only about four blocks from my house and sits directly betwen me and the highway so I walk through there often to catch the bus. I met with the counselors and principal at the school on Friday and they are very excited about the possiblity of getting a volunteer there. I am already a little jelous of whoever the next volunteer will be. I think they will get a lot of support and be able to do some great things there. We are planning a community meeting for the week of the 23rd.

It is already July. On the 13th I celebrate 2 years of living in Costa Rica. It is also the last stretch of my PCV service. I am excited but also trying to soak up my favorite things about living here. (Like right now I am sitting in an internet cafe listening to the Little Mermaid Soundtrek in Spanish.) I am really going to miss living on the coast. I hope I am able to do it again in my life.