Sunday, October 2, 2011

It came, it went, we're moving forward [September]

Mountains. Funeral. Academic Help. Torch Run. Independence Day. Quinceñera.  Running. Waterfalls. September has presented us with a little bit of everything. It has been an exhausting, exciting and busy month. While it seems odd that October is already here we certainly felt every little thing that September threw at us.  We're happy to see the end of another month, but we're also starting to realize that our time here is quickly passing us by and that before we know it November will be here, then December, and sooner or later May.  It's time to embrace this experience as fully as possible and make things happen!

September 1

Another great day! We've been so fortunate this trip. It's been so great to be in the mountains and to be able to explore!

We kept going up and up and then we crested a point which left us in awe. In front of us lay Cerro Ventesqueros, you could follow the ridge-line trail all the way to the top (with your eyes).

(Read more about this adventure HERE.)

September 2

The first two places that we stopped didn't have pinto. The third did, it was pretty good, but the portions were small and overpriced. Gringo Pinto.

It's sad to be off of the mountain. Our lives have been missing the outdoors.

September 4

Laundry got done, pancakes were eaten and gear was aired out. Some day in the future this will be a regular process (we hope!)

September 5

If we didn't know better we would never guess that a funeral is taking place at the escuela right now. Kids are running around, playing and shouting and passerbys stop to see what is happening. These are the same actions that take place when a Bingo is put on, a public dinner, a dance, a wedding, a birthday party, a graduation - you name it. [note: one of our students passed away yesterday]

We've known from the get go that death is a different experience in Costa Rica. We just haven't seen it like this. Death happens. Some people joke about it (as a method of hiding their true feelings or a fear of death?), others ignore it and I'm sure family members and close friends are truly upset by it. It's an unexpected experience for us and one that we wish we didn't need to experience.

September 7

Next week I start small groups for literacy!

As much as it throws things out of whack I love the excitement that comes with Independence Day. To top it off Friday is Día del Niño (Day of the Children). Crazy, crazy week.

September 8

Man, we're struggling this week. I think it's more than the "vacation from vacation" deal: it's been an off week in the community. After getting through Monday and Tuesday it's been a process of preparing for Independence Day and tomorrow's celebration of Día del Niño. In some ways it's been too much; in some ways too little.

September 9

We're glad that it's Friday and that the week is behind us. We'll have the weekend to hopefully get back on track and then... have another crazy week. Oh, Independence Day - Week - Month you make me smile.

September 10

¡Que pereza! (Costa Rican phrase to express the feeling of laziness) I did get up to run this morning, but after delicious pancakes by Chris I went back to sleep for about three hours.

September 11

Morning runs. Pinto. Laundry. Rain.

September 13

I'm at a loss. The kids recognize some letters but only say them in relation to a word that starts with that letter; u is always uva, m is mapa, h is hoy. All I want is the name of the letter and they can't give it to me. [note: on my new literacy program for first graders]

Chris had a video chat with Aaron's class.  It went well. [note: Aaron is a Spanish professor at UNL and we're doing a new cultural exchange program with his new service learning class]

Speaking of life, we've both received conditional acceptance letters to WNMU.  Now we wait for actual acceptance so that we can move forward with the application to the fellows program.

September 14

Día de la torcha. Que día. (Day of the torch. What a day.)

We waited until shortly before 1 when the torch arrived from Puerto. With a whole lot of annoyingly unnecessary  fanfare we started our run. The driver of the fire truck felt that it was necessary to not only have the siren going but to blow the air horn roughly every two minutes as well. There was a pace car from MEP (Department of Education), police vehicles and an ambulance. After Naranjal I was passed by, sometimes it pays to be slow.

The lesson learned (or really, already known) is that it is a horrible idea to go on a 13K run at 1pm in Costa Rica. Also, the whole torch deal is a great idea, but the actual process can be a bit tortuous. So, while it was super cool last year, this year it was a bit much.

We came home to Liseth in the house. It has been forever since we've had her visit. She indirectly asked to read to her today by saying that she still didn't know how to read and when I asked her why she said that she didn't have books. So, we read From Head to Toe and Green Eggs and Ham (in Spanish).

We had a quick break and then it was time for faroles (a parade of decorative, homemade lanterns).

I must say, the excitement that comes with celebrating Independence Day here is great. I love the traditions and how the whole process is embraced as a part of the celebration. Still, there is a part of me that kind of misses the simplicity of a BBQ and fireworks.

September 15

There was some good music, a little bit of baile tipico (traditional dance), and some floats.  There were also clowns! On bikes! Big, fun(ny) bikes!

September 16

Happy micro adventure day!

September 18

From What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami):

"You have to wait until tomorrow to find out what tomorrow will bring."

September 20

Long day. Trips to San José always seem to be long and tiring and a bit of a sensory overload. Of course, that's why we only go when it is necessary.

We left the city on the 6 o'clock and are now home sweet home. It's funny how much we love coming home to this place after a day in the city, but when we're here we want to be elsewhere (the mountains? New Mexico?) Maybe I should try to remember the wanting to be here feeling.

September 21

We'll have a lot of work to do if we want all of them (first graders participating in an academic assistance program) to pass this year (they did not pass last year). The alphabet was a bit rough, as was letter identification. Next week we'll see how numbers go.

We're at 8 months left in service. It feels like it was just yesterday when we hit 9. I guess that's what happens when you get some projects rolling!

September 24

I started getting ready for the party around 5 (it was scheduled to start at 4) and we were still about an hour earlier than most.

The party seemed to go on forever, with little food breaks. Nachos, arroz con cerdo (rice with pork), yuca and chicharrones (pork rinds), cake.

The piñata was the safest one we've seen to date. Jenny's dad just ripped it open and threw handfuls of candy so the mob wasn't as concentrated as usual (plus there weren't any blindfolded youth swinging broom handles or tree branches).

September 25

This morning almost felt like fall. It was rainy and cool. We went for our runs and didn't get too hot. We made pancakes and homemade apple sauce. It was wonderful.

September 26

Chris was able to teach some classes today when Carlos had to leave and take a student to the clinic.

I had 5 in aerobics tonight; big numbers compared to the last couple of weeks. Plus, I had 2 new women show up!

Chris experimented in the kitchen again. This time the result was delicious baked beans.

September 27

We matched upper case letters to their lower case pair. We counted. We wrote numbers. We evaluated greater than and less than relationships. We were busy the whole time and I think it went quite well.

We heard back from WNMU that two of the program staff are fluent in Spanish, so we can ask Orlando or Carlos to do recommendations for us.

September 28

Megan and Ben set a date and I've been asked to be in the wedding. Super exciting!

Mom and Dad [Hansen] might change their vacation plans and extend their trip so that they can run Panama with us! (They did!)

Gigantic burgers and slaw for dinner!

September 29

Well, all sorts of news came flying our way today. Of course, the order in which it came left us anxious and angry for a little while.

By the end of the day we had mostly good news and a little sad news, but chisme (gossip) sure can be annoying.

Rodolfo (our cole director) has been asked to work at a different cole. His last day was more or less today. However, he did share that he was able to secure permission from MEP to build the aula and comedor (classroom and cafeteria) that we received funding for earlier in the year (MEP had established new rules at the beginning of the month mandating that all construction projects be put on hold until next year). We also received guidance to transfer funds from one community committee to another to ensure more checks and balances and to have access to an actual accountant. It's time to get this project rolling!

September 30

We ended the month with a bang and it left us exhausted. Maybe it was more the culmination of events this month that has left us tuckered out, but all of the time in the sun today sure did contribute.

The falls were as beautiful as we remembered. Today was also a little warmer than the last time we went, so the water was quite refreshing. Rebecca and I traversed behind the falls while Chris tried to float and take pictures (yup, we remembered the camera this time!).

And now, October is here. Check back at the beginning of November to hear about our encounters with bats, an all volunteer conference with the roughly 130 other volunteers in Costa Rica and all of the other exciting things that are sure to pop up in another month in our lives as Peace Corps Volunteers! 

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