Saturday, December 31, 2011

Adios 2011

December has come to a close and with it 2011. It has been and interesting year and an interesting month. It is with mixed feelings that we say good-bye to both. We are looking forward to what the new year and the coming months will bring; we are sad that people and activities that have been pivotal in our lives during this time will be out of our reach in just a few short months.

Highlights of this month include a trip to Panama with my parents, attending the graduations of kindergarten, sixth grade, and high school, seeing progress in the construction project at the colegio and providing a week of art camp for the local kids. Highlights of the year include getting an academic assistance program up and running for students that were repeating a grade level, starting an aerobics class for women, receiving the CRUSA grant, collaborating with the high school English teacher, and hosting a crew from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for a week.

Now it's time to get comfy and grab a snack. Here's a peek into our December:

December 1

We rode to San José and then hopped on the bus to Panama.

December 2

Sixteen and a half hours later we arrived in Panama City, Panama.

December 3

We talked to some Kuna people and learned more about their culture and bought some artwork. We got two embroidered pieces (molas) that can take several months to finish since they are all hand stitched.

December 4

We had quite the Panama experience today. The marathon was nice as far as city races go; though it could have used some organizational help. We started in the dark and saw the sun rise over the bay, beautiful. 

We headed out to the locks for a couple of hours. They are pretty incredible.

December 5

We were hobbling a little bit this morning, but made ourselves walk to loosen up and get better. After a delicious breakfast we walked to Casco Antiguo and purchased more artwork for our future home. This time a mask by the Embera-Wounaan.

DQ Blizzards for dinner and an 11pm bus out of town.

December 6

Twenty-two hours after getting on the first bus from Panama City we finally returned home. It's been a long vacation and it feels nice to be back.

December 7

Morning came far too quickly.Once we got up and going though it did feel nice to have something to do today. 

We had 39 kids split between four teams and sixteen challenges. There were muddy, soapy shower curtains, dizzy kids and a lot of sun.

Aside from Chris and I getting killer sunburns (I think I even burned my eyes) it was a successful event.

December 8

We had to run to catch the bus when it came through earlier than usual. Maria explained that we have a new bus driver that is always early (so much changes when you leave for two weeks!).

We had the sixth grade celebration dinner. When we first arrived we were treated like stars and had to pose for pictures with and for everyone. The evening went well, we handed out Chicos and Chicas bracelets and said a few words about the project. Then there was a clown, food, dancing, etc. We lasted until about 9:30 and then had to call it a night.

December 9

Long morning. Four hours of laundry and still more to do, but we ran out of hangers. [note: we're washing by hand here while our lovely washing machine is down for the count]

December 11

This morning we both went running! It has been forever since I have been out for a run (not counting the marathon). It was short but sweet.

After a filling breakfast I tackled the rest of our laundry.

We started planning a trip to Corcovado National Park. We've sent in a reservation request for the first week in January so we shall see.

December 12

It's done! My application has been submitted and I received confirmation that it arrived. 

It was a very quiet day. Town is dead and with Naranjal being flooded there weren't any buses. 

We received confirmation for our reservation to visit Corcovado. Sarah also sent us dates for her visit - January and February are gradually filling up.

No one showed up for [aerobics] class tonight. I kind of expected it with my being gone for three weeks and the horrid weather. It's a bit of a bummer since things were going so well before vacation.

December 13

Rain, rain, rain. It may have stopped for a minute or two, but certainly not much longer. Chris went for a run this morning and got about 20 minutes out before he had to turn around due to flooding.

Maria and Rafa managed to get into Puerto, even though buses weren't running. Maria called tonight to say that they couldn't make it home. 

Ken called today to check in. Kevin had been in town and evacuated him.

December 14

As of this moment in time the rain is not falling. This has happened occasionally today.

Chris plugged away at the rest of his application today and got it sent in. He received a confirmation back from the fellows program saying they had received it. Now we wait. Until March.

Now, as I finish writing this it is raining again. Maybe we'll dry out one of these days. If only it were snow that kept falling...

December 15

Today was a long one. Not that it felt long until I looked at the clock and tried to remember what I was doing 12 hours ago. [though it wasn't full of anything that is necessarily worth writing about here]

December 16

I stood in line for most of the morning to pay our fee for Corcovado. Of course after we got home, scanned and emailed the receipt of payment I realized that I had done my math wrong and hadn't deposited enough. Just my luck.

Sixth grade graduation came and went. It was long, we were recognized for what we do, we butchered names as we handed out diplomas, and returned home shortly before nine to make dinner.

December 17

It was actually pretty chilly today. How odd.

Kindergarten graduation was much shorter than sixth grade's. There was a great performance of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and a rhythmic gymnastics routine (on pavement, ouch!) and a couple of other song. Kierra (one of the kindergarteners) made a great speech and some big people spoke too. We may not have taken many photos today, but we sure did end up in a lot of them!

December 18

No power today. I love it when that happens! It means that from 8:30am - 4:30pm there will not be music blaring in our house.

December 19

What a day!

I went to Puerto at 8 to pay the rest of our fees for Corcovado and ended up standing in line for 3 hours. One at the ATM and two more to get to a teller. It didn't help that there was only one teller working.

Chris went to the cole around 10 to help set up for graduation and clear some things up about the grant. 

Our paths converged again around 2, just before graduation started. I stuffed myself with some of Maria's delicious cooking and settled in to cheer for the graduates. Five students graduated from high school today, the first bunch from our cole. How exciting! Another 25 graduated into the last educational cycle (tenth and eleventh grades).

December 21

Duh, duh, dunnnnn... Let the countdown begin: five months left. I think we realize a little more every day that it will be harder to leave than we once thought it would be - but still not as hard as I imagine it will be for some other volunteers. Even so, time is just another reminder to take advantage of our time here. Something that we haven't necessarily been too good at doing as of late. 

Cole update: windows are barred and they're starting to work on doors!

December 23

It was raining so I decided to put my contacts in [to go for a run]. Big mistake. I've spent the rest of the day hiding my eyes from bright lights. I must have gotten something on them (contacts) during vacation that contact solution couldn't kill. Guess I need to throw them out. Painful eyes does lead to a lot of podcast listening though.

Maria and Rafa have left us in charge for the next couple of days. Merry Christmas to us!

December 24

It's hard to believe that it's Christmas Eve. It certainly doesn't feel like it. It's nice to learn about other cultures and celebrate their traditions, but sometimes you just want to partake in your own. A candle light service, traditional carols and hymns, and spending time with family.

Chris went for a long run this morning. Not his best, but in his words, "you need to practice the hard stuff too."

My eyes are still painful today, but I was able to read a little bit which was nice.

Kevin called today to say he can come to Corcovado with us. That's a pretty good Christmas gift!

December 25

Merry Christmas!

We had pancakes (two of them made with the intention of looking like snowmen - FAIL) and eggnog for breakfast. The eggnog is quite strong being made from 100% drunk cow's milk. It is sold with a 4% alcohol content. That's quite high, especially when you don't really drink.

We talked with families today, good thing too! We had to get caught up on all of the news. JD and Heather are expecting and Ashley and Zack are engaged! 

We went for a walk this afternoon and talked to Ñingy and Tutú's mom for a little bit. Then the boys joined us on our walk. They are too cute. They went off running and jumping over puddles and acting like bulls. We ended the walk with a race and then Chris and I headed home.

December 26

We had three for camp today. Not bad since our advertising took place about 30 minutes before starting. Chris went out to gather the troops which is pretty hard when town is dead. We'll take what we can get.

December 27

The days seem to pass so quickly right about now. With camp in the morning and having "chores" to tend to in the afternoons we're staying pretty busy.

Chris rounded up eight kids this morning. They painted old juice bottles to use as flower vases and a couple of kids made flowers to put in them. Tomorrow we'll get the rest of the kids making flowers. Chris is also figuring out how to make pinwheels, so that will join our list of crafts to be made this week.

December 28

This morning the kids showed up on their own, 15 minutes early! We ended the day with ten, but a couple were only there for about 15 minutes or so. We made flowers and pinwheels. The kids colored and drew when they weren't doing small group crafts. Their patience levels have grown tremendously since the first camps that we did here.

December 29

This morning the kids started calling for us around 8:30 (camp starts at 9). I had just gotten out of the shower; Chris was preparing stuff for the day. We told them 15 minutes. After about 15 seconds they started calling again. Gotta love 'em. It's great that they are so excited about spending time with us.

Today Chris did pinwheels and I did pop-up flowers. Everything went really well and once again the kids were super patient. We were up to twelve today. Yay! When kids weren't working in small groups they colored or took pictures. We ended up with about 120 photos of kids posing for the camera, the school buildings, the paintings on the school walls, and kids running around doing crazy things. Love it!

I think my favorite mental image of the day was seeing Tutú standing in the middle of the road after camp, holding up his pinwheel so that it would catch the wind, and smiling the biggest smile you can imagine as the pinwheel did it's thing. (I might have taken a picture had the camera battery not been dead.)

December 30

Art camp success! We had seven at camp today and did flowers and origami. There was some chalk drawing, coloring and painting that went on as well as a whole lot of picture taking. Everyone left with something that they had made and were proud of. We ended the week with 17 unique individuals attending at least one day of camp - most attended three or more!

December 31

2011 is going out with a bang. Literally. The fire crackers started going off at about six or so. Celebrate! Out with the old, in with the new!

Tomorrow we'll pack up and head out to spend the first week of 2012 hiking and camping (a sign of what is to come with the new year? We can only hope!).


2011 sure was an interesting year. We anticipate that 2012 will be equally exciting, if not more so. We've got a lot to squeeze into the short amount of time that we have remaining in Costa Rica and a whole lot to do once we leave. 2012 will have us moving to a state that we have never even visited, several weddings, a new niece or nephew, and of course a whole lot of adventuring! Good-bye December, you treated us well. Hello January - a whole new year, a whole new adventure!

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