This past weekend we had our first out of training community visit. We spent time near Nicoya on the Pacific side of the country and stayed with a second year volunteer and her host family. It was definitely interesting to see the difference in interacting with a host family after living with them for two years as opposed to two weeks! We had a great time talking with the family and they were fantastic about speaking slowly with us and correcting our mistakes.
We were able to see a couple of projects recently completed by the volunteer - a hydroponic garden and a green zone at the elementary school. Both projects were community initiated, but required the help of the volunteer in terms of writing grants and minor project development. Both were completed in a relatively short period of time (after grants were approved), so I can only imagine the number of smaller projects like this that Chris and I might be able to do during our two years of service (if our future community is in need of such things). On Sunday they actually did a harvest of the lettuce in the hydroponic garden and were preparing it to sell to the community.
After visiting the garden on Sunday, we headed to Samara, about an hour outside of the community we were in. The beach was amazing and Chris was able to play in the Pacific for the first time. Walking into the ocean was like walking into a bath, it was that warm! We spent most of our time hanging out under coconut trees so that we wouldn't fry under the tropical sun - it was a nice break from endless days in training. We ended the day by grabbing lunch at a little establishment on the beach and then headed home. We were fortunate to have missed the bus and find a nice taxi driver who charged us only slightly more than the bus - and we made it home in half the time.
It was an interesting glimpse at what life as a volunteer could be like - spending time with family, embracing the culture, working with the community, really learning the language, starting new projects and the occasional vacation. We keep reminding ourselves that it will be what we make it.
All in all things are going well. Our spanish is slowly improving and one of these days I'm sure it will be smooth sailing (I'm not saying how far away that day is - just that in the next two years I am sure it will happen!). Next week we have half of the week off for Holy Week and we will be one month into our training. It's crazy how time flies!