30 January 2011

Los Fines de Semana.

Twice in a row now, I have had new and exciting experiences during the weekend.  Hopefully I can pass on the excitement through writing and pictures.
Last weekend:
El Sabado:  I went with a small group of friends to Volcan Poas.  Not only was it fun to get out of the city and breath the fresh, mountain air, but the volcano was seriously amazing.  Volcan Poas is considered an active volcano, but we didn’t see any lava.  After hiking a short way, we could look into the crater of the volcano, which had a small lake full of sulfur water (I think) and the lake was steaming the entire time.  We also hiked over to a lake near the crater, which was also quite beautiful.  

El Domingo:  I was not exactly looking forward to Sunday because I knew it would be a homework day and I didn’t think I would get to spend much time outside.  However, I ended up doing homework outside in my yard with my hermana, Maria Fernanda.  The sun felt wonderful and the sky was so bright.  Plus, since I was home all day I spent sometime talking with my family.  

This weekend:
I spent this weekend in Limon with my entire LASP group.  We spent the weekend studying and experiencing the cultural diversity in Limon.  On the way there, we stopped at three different plantations: coffee, pineapple, and banana.  All were very interesting!  I sucked on the middle of a coffee bean, learned that pineapples grow in the ground (not in a tree!) and watched workers at a banana plantation/ packaging factory.  After arriving in Limon, we were sent downtown in small groups to interview the locals about poverty and inequality in Costa Rica.  Until recently, English was the primary language of Limonenses.  One man we interviewed spoke English better than he spoke Spanish.  
Saturday felt like three days put into one.  In the morning we got to meet and talk with an indigenous BriBri leader.  She explained to us their culture, religion and how their tribe has experienced discrimination and inequality.  This woman and her family breed iguanas in order to keep the species alive.  Iguanas are very important to the BriBri because they use their skin for drums and their SOMETHINGS ELSE.  It is kind of like the buffalo to North American Indians.  I was surprised that iguanas, of all creatures, are such an essential part of life to the BriBris.  After walking around the iguana area, we headed over to the beach!  Although talking with the indigenous leader was quite amazing and eye-opening, spending time at the beach was my favorite part of the day.  The sky was blue and the water was perfect.    My friends and I swam, ate fruit and empanadas and walked along the beach.  The third part of the day was dinner and dancing at the Black Star Line community building.  We had a delicious dinner while a live band played.  After dinner the whole group got up and danced for a couple hours.  
On Sunday we went to the English service at a Methodist Church in Limon, which was a really cool experience.  Afterwards we drove back to San Jose and I will spend the rest of the day doing homework and writing a reflection paper on my trip to Limon.  It’s strange how coming back to San Jose today felt like coming home. 

p.s. I have a lot more photos uploaded to facebook.  Check them out there.  it's just too hard to upload photos to blogger.

21 January 2011

be stubborn in your hope.

    I have been in Costa Rica for a little less than two weeks, however, it feels like I’ve been here forever!  Last week was focused on orientation and spending lost of time with my Costa Rican family.  Speaking of which, my family is awesome.  I think it would be pretty difficult to get a bad family here, though.  I have a mom, dad and sister.  My sister, Maria Fernanda is 19 and is studying to be a doctor.  My family seems to be a little quieter and less affectionate than most Latin American families, but they are still loving, helpful and funny.  My Spanish is lacking.  I am totally aware of that, but my family talks slowly to me and helps me with words I don’t know.  Mainly, they are just patient with my slow Spanish and that is a blessing.  Each day I get a little better at Spanish and each my family and I grow a little closer.
    This week is my first week of classes.  I will be here in San Jose taking classes for five weeks.  (Core Seminar over Latin American Studies two mornings a week and Spanish every afternoon.)  Then I’m off to Nicaragua for about ten days.  Classes were pretty overwhelming at first, but I am starting to get into a pattern and I’m learning how to manage all the homework.  LASP keeps us busy.  I get home at about 6:30 every night and have time to eat dinner, talk with my family for a little bit, take a shower and do homework and sometimes check my email.  We have so much homework!  At the end of the five weeks, we have a big “position paper” due.  My topic is sustainable food and I am reading Stolen Harvest by Vandana Shiva for my preliminary research.  So far, it’s very interesting.
    One of my favorite parts of the day is walking to and from Spanish class.  Since we have Core Seminar at the LASP office in the morning and Spanish class at ICADS is across town, a group of us walk there everyday.  It is always blazing hot, but a nice time to reflect about the morning and talk in English!  Plus, I’ve made some really good friends already.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my friends and I have decided to get Pops helado after Spanish class.  Pops is more than a highlight in the day, it is starting to become a necessity.  We begin anticipating Pops the night before because it is so delicious!  Another favorite part of my day is finally getting home and being greeted by my Mama.  I usually get home around 6:00 or 6:30pm. She always has dinner ready for me and we have a nice time talking together. 
    As I wrote this, I realized how nice and easy it is to be competent in speaking/writing/understanding a language.  I am also amazed at how much Spanish I have been speaking in the last week.  It feels like more than in my whole life.  At home, I only speak in Spanish.  It’s quite amazing and I’m excited to become a better Spanish speaking.

p.s. The title of this post is a quote that one of my professors, Javier, used in class one day.    I thought it would be an interesting title to this blog post because as I learn and struggle to speak Spanish better, I have hope (and faith) that I will improve and that despite the struggles, this experience will be awesome.  I hope that eventually I will feel more comfortable speaking Spanish with my Costa Rican family and that my family and I will form a close and deep relationship.

14 January 2011

Hola de San Jose, Costa Rica!

I am safe and sound and in Costa Rica.
My host family is so great and loving and funny and helpful.
I am having a seriously amazing time and I think it will only get better.
Just letting everyone know.
More later.
Buenas Tardes.