Feb 22, 2012

Reality Sets In

Tomorrow marks my one-week-iversary with my host family! In some ways, it's a lot like it was my first week in France, in others not at all.

The first major difference is that while I've only been with my family for a week, I've been in Costa Rica for about three. Like I mentioned in my last post, we had a pretty intense orientation process. I was only like half way through the last time I posted, so let's start there.

The morning after I posted, Monday the 13th, I had my first Costa Rican earthquake! (My second earthquake in my life). It was pretty early in the morning, and we were still sound asleep. With everything shaking a bit, Anna, Allie, and I all sort of groggily sat up, confirmed with eachother that there was infact an earthquake happening, then went back to sleep.(Kayla slept through the whole thing.) Turns out it was a halway decent quake, weighing in at 5.8 on the richter scale.

The next day, Valentines Day, I played what I'm pretty sure was my first game of soccer since my year in France. It was AFS versus the town of La Flor, and it was pretty intense. The field was up on a hill, and the goals had no nets. Meaning, when they scored on our goal the ball just went right on through and down the hill. Despite our valiant attempts, the town of La Flor beat us. I blame it on the fact that they had things like cleats and shin gaurds.

Valentines Day was also the day we officially completed our course book, meaning in theory I now know how to speak Spanish to an extent. In theory.

Then it was Wednesday, our last full day at Finca la Flor. Each class had taken a turn in the kitchen, and it we were finally up. Our task: tamales! They were easy enough to make, some corn dough stuff, with sauce and some veggies, wrapped up in banana leaves. Then, after lunch, I got a tattoo on my neck!! ...OK, not a real tattoo... It was done with some sort of amazonian fruit juice that goes on clear and then dyes your skin black from 2 weeks or so. I got a bird, but one guy got tribal designs on his face! That afternoon were our final presentations, little acts that each class put together to kind of show off their new skills. Ours was a skit about what happens when foreigners come to Costa Rica. Other groups did skits, raps, fashion shows, and song interpretations. In the evening they called us together in the main house to have a toast, and then we all hung out and danced and took tons of pictures. A lot of the AFSers went up to the pub one last time, but I was exhausted and nervous, so I decided to hang back and go to sleep.

The next morning we got up extra early, because they told us the buses would be leaving at 7. However, when we managed to lug our suitcases up to the top of the hill we noticed we were the first ones ready. We had forgotten to account for Tico Time. We took our time after that, ate our breakfast, and then the buses showed up. We piled into one bus, except for the few people that were headed to the Paraiso area (where we were), who got in another to be dropped off early. Our bus driver was funny, and was blasting rap while hitting the breaks in rythm to make the bus bounce. The hip-hop bus took us all the way back to the AFS office in San Jose, where we recovered our luggage and then began the wait until it was time to head to our host families. Some people got picked up, some people got taken to the bus stop, and some people (like myself) got driven by an AFS volunteer to our host communities. The goodbyes were harder than I expected them to be. Since we had spent so much time together, we had really bonded as a group (some people had even formed couples!). Hugs, well wishes, and sad-yet-excited smiles for all became the standard exit procedure. As people left one by one, our numbers started to shrink. By the time I was called at 1:30 there were only 9 of us left.

I was picked up by a woman named Magaly and her two daughters, who were going to take me to San Ramón. We picked up her mom on the way, and then made a pit stop at a mall for food/coffee. I couldn't manage to eat much though, because I was nervous as all get out. We stopped by Magaly's house on the way, and I got to meet another AFSer, Ruth from Germany. (Yes, Mom & Dad, I asked her where in Germany she was from. Osnabruck. Go Figure.) (For those of you that don't get that, Vici, the German exchange student who stayed with my parents when I was in France the first time around, was also from Osnabruck). ANYWAYS, we finally headed up to my new house, and after the longest minute of my life my host parents, Yessenia and Freddy, came to greet me.

It was just like it was the first time I saw my host family in France. They looked just like they did in pictures, yet in a way I could never have anticipated. They were smiling and friendly, and the first thought through my head was "Thank god, they're nice." (Not that they wouldn't have been, but you know. I was worried). They let me drop my stuff off in my room, and then we headed down to the neighbors house, where they had all been hanging out drinking coffee and eating home made tortillas. There I met my little host brother Nathan and a whole lot of people who they said were as close as family. Nathan was sick though, and after the snack I went with him and my host dad to the doctor, then to the playground, then to the pharmacy. Then we drove across town to my host grandmothers house, where they hang out alot. That night, after unpacking a little, I hung out with Yessenia and her friends and played Uno before I finally crashed.

I had the weekend to start to get used to San Ramón, then on Monday I started my community service project. I work in the music school, which is in the center of town. So far I've just been doing management sorts of tasks, like archiving the music library and making new labels for filing cabinets, but they said that once I learn more Spanish I could help teach Piano or something like that.

Which brings me to my next point: yo no hablo español. Finca la Flor was kind of like a bubble, a bubble where they spoke slowly and often had what they were saying written as well as orally. Here, in Real World, Costa Rica, it's different. They speak quickly, they mumble, y yo no entiendo. At work they've started using google translate to tell me things, but it's hard. I'm getting better, yes, but it'd be hard to be worse than I am right now. But oh well, I'm still having fun. People are nice.

That's just a quick update, but I promise I'll post photos or something else fun soon!


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