Monday, August 1, 2011

How July Flew By

July was a pretty exciting month.  We were able to kick things off with a week-long visit from new friends.  We had another successful mid-year camp.  We ran up some volcanoes and swam in glorious waters at the base of a beautiful waterfall.  With something going on just about every weekend the month flew past.  Sure, we had our struggles but we had some pretty amazing successes and so things balance out.

July 1

Today the cole and escuela were party zones, kicking off vacation.

July 3

I think everyone was pretty shocked to see and hear about the realities of life in the fincas (fields) when you don't have money.

It may have taken them [some of the kids in the community] a while to warm up, but then they picked on the girls about bugs, took photos, played with hair and laughed.  It was great!

July 4

Way to be independent USA!

Games were played, pictures were drawn and colored, new kids were met.

Rafa killed a chicken for dinner and cooked it with platano verde (green plantain) and fruta de pan (bread fruit).  The crew enjoyed their Tico dinner; marveled at some of the chicken parts in the dish.

July 5

The construction workers let us borrow their level to make the lines and they even helped us for an hour! [on making the grids needed to draw the maps of Costa Rica and the world]

Aaron and Chris went out to Progresso for refrigerio (snack) with Johancer's family.

July 6

After lunch they got the world drawn!  Tomorrow we can paint!

It's been good - this visit, camp, the energy, the curiosities, the conversations - we'll be sad to see everyone go.

July 7

Lunch was great.  Rafa's sister and mom came over to help out and hang out.  There were patacones (plantain chips), frijoles molidos (refried beans), chimichurri (salsa), tortillas, yuca, and a whole lot of meat - beef and pork. [we abstained from the meat portion of the meal]

On the way in we had one of the best congo (howler monkey) sightings you could hope for.  They were moving pretty slowly and jumping from tree to tree.  One was carrying a baby.  It was great.  It was the crew's first wild monkey sighting in Costa Rica.

Our celebration came together with some team building, tres leches (delicious cake), a slide show, high./low, Q&A, a motivating closing talk by Chris (our service learning specialist) and a round of Ha!  It's crazy to think of all that we have done this week and know that we still have one day left.

July 8

And we're done.

We now have a beautiful world map and an awesome map of Costa Rica.

It was a great week.  We had close to 50 different kids throughout the week at camp.  Who knows how many other kids were impacted through time in dos (one of the smaller communities in our community) or at the plaza.  Students might learn where Costa Rica is in relation to the rest of the world.  Maria and Rafa did everything they could to make the crew feel happy and welcome.  We got in there.

July 10

The party was fun - musical chairs, dancing, balloons, piñata, and lots and lots of food.

He [Chris] had the honor of controlling the piñata.  He managed to not get hit by any stray swings of the bat and when the piñata was ripped open he was far enough away from the candy that he didn't get trampled.

July 12

Today has been a funky day on my end.  It started when my first attempt to run was interrupted by a wild pack of family dogs.  They came at me from all angles and after kicking at them and yelling a bunch I got away unscathed and the dogs didn't follow.  Some neighbors were on their way to see what was going on, I was just a lot scared.  I ran home, broke into tears, got a hug from Chris, drank some water and took off in the other direction.  I had a dog free run at that point - I was angry for a while but then decided that there must have been a reason that dogs that have never bothered me suddenly attacked.  Maybe something would have happened if I had continued out that way.  I'll never know, but I do know that I made it home safely from my alternate route.

Shortly before heading to the school our world shook.  There was a 5.ish earthquake in Upala this afternoon. It came with a pretty good aftershock too.

July 13

I've been in a funk, ready to get this show (i.e. life) on the road and maybe have a little more control.  I don't know, just not feeling super excited about this life in Peace Corps right now.  Maybe tomorrow.

July 14

Things seemed to fall into place a little better than earlier this week.

July 16

We both got long runs in this morning.  Or, I got a long run in and Chris a short one - even though they were both about the same distance.  I was bugged by the evangelicals on my run - they tried driving along side of me to talk to me and give me fliers.  Further down the road I had some kids race me for a little while, telling me to run faster and harder.  They beat me in the race to the 'corner'.

July 17

We had a surprise visit from Jose Luis and Jose David today!  Guicho (J. Luis) was still wearing his Christmas bracelet, though it is getting close to falling apart - so he asked if I could make him a new one.  I was more than happy to oblige and made one for J. David too.

July 19

We had a very successful morning with Orlando today.  We talked for close to three hours about repitentes (students that have been held back in school - a project that is scheduled to start in the nearish future) - compiling data, coming up with a basic set of goals, setting dates - it was great!

The day kind of flew.  It's nice when that happens.

July 20

This afternoon we had a good session with student government.  They know what they want to do and that they need money to do it.  So, there was a lot of talk about fund raisers and the first one will be selling ice cream.  Other ideas are stress balls, bracelets, paying to wear jeans, sneakers, or a baseball cap to school, etc.  Their goal is 60,000 colones so we'll see how long it takes!

July 21

This evening we got our acts together for Sunday as best as possible.  So many unknowns and only one backpack to accommodate them.  All of the bases should be covered though, just waiting to see what things look like on Saturday to make final decisions.

July 22

Reservations were made and Fidalia made arrangements for Chris to get a ride with one of the other 80kers Sunday morning.

We restrained ourselves from buying things we wanted but didn't need.  Instead we ate burritos for lunch and splurged on the Da Vinci display at Antigua Aduana.

July 23

We found a bench to sit down and were immediately approached by an English teacher that wanted to know if we could speak in English to his class.  They were from a language institute and needed to practice talking with native speakers.  We talked for close to an hour.

Once we settled down [at the hotel] Chris started preparing for tomorrow - at which point he discovered that his vest/jacket, hat and head lamp were missing.  We double checked everything and then called the hotel from last night.  Thankfully they had everything and I soon found myself on a bus back to Cartago and then to San Jose.  Everything went smoothly and I was back - with the precious items in hand - in time for dinner.

We ate veggie casados (a large traditional meal) and settled in for the night at which point Chris asked me how I was getting to my race in the morning. [long story short I found a ride with Meredith, a fellow volunteer, and her dad]

July 24

We did it! [there will hopefully be a blog coming soon about the experience]

July 25

We're moving, just not very well!

July 26

Pain!  It hurts me to use my quads.  Regardless, aerobics went well.  I smiled a whole lot when my quads were screaming for me to stop and we made it through.

It's really hot out right now.  I miss the cold and the mountains.

July 27

We were able to see photos from the race today, yay!  Chris has some great ones - I guess that's what happens when there are only 14 runners at 4am.  Great way to document the accomplishment.

July 28

We had another successful meeting with Orlando today about repitentes.  We have our first group session planned and we all have little homework assignments to prepare for that session.

July 29

We both ran early on, feeling more like ourselves - back to "normal" after the volcanoes.

It was a nice evening with good food and great conversation.

July 30

Big plates of pinto (traditional breakfast dish with rice and beans) = great energy for a morning of walking and playing near beautiful waterfalls.  It's a shame that we left our nice new waterproof camera at home this weekend as we walked to paradise today. [to be described in another blog]

Tummy troubles started somewhere around there [lunchtime] and we spent the evening taking turns hogging the bathroom and laying in bed with hopes of feeling better.

And now August is here.  We're looking forward to starting some new projects, having a visit from one of our lovely PC bosses, celebrating four years of marriage and planning a trip to climb Costa Rica's highest peak, Chirripo (perhaps a September adventure!).  August also marks the 2/3 point in our service - crazy, isn't it!

Stay tuned!

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