Thursday, February 2, 2012


Well, that flew by, didn't it? It's hard to believe that we are already in the second month of 2012. January was a busy month for us, starting with our trip to Corcovado [day 1, day 2 and day 3] and ending with three weeks of summer camp. January is perhaps one of the slowest months for Peace Corps Costa Rica Volunteers that work primarily in the schools, but we managed to stay on our toes and keep busy the whole time. We're hoping that the next couple of months follow suit and that we wrap up our two years of service with a bang! 

Here's a peek into the busy days of January:

January 1

Well, I at least heard some fireworks in the middle of the night. I'm assuming that that was the community welcoming the arrival of 2012.

January 2

We'll head out bright and early tomorrow. Yay hiking!

January 3

Almost as soon as we hit the pavement a young boy was asking us if we wanted a taxi. His dad could take us. We assured him that we were fine walking. He told us that it was a long way, almost 28 kilometers. We had heard four, so we told him once more that we were fine. 

We walked, and walked, and walked. It wasn't 28 kilometers, but it was about 14. Oh well. We had a nice cool river to cool our feet in every 5 minutes or so.

Read more here.

January 4

The congos would go crazy whenever the plane came through. The spider and squirrel monkeys were also pretty active this morning.

We watched the pack of peccary and moved cautiously down the trail until one spotted us and started grunting at us.

Read more here

January 5

We could have easily handled another day in the park, but our reservation ran out so we had to pack up camp and head out.

We had heard that this was one of the most beautiful trails that another volunteer had ever been on. I had my doubts, but as the day went on I was more and more impressed.

Read more here.

January 6

We got to the bus station shortly after 4:30am and the bus was sold out. We wanted to get home though so we agreed to stand. We're hard core like that. Thankfully we had found an open panaderia on our way to the station so we at least had some freshly made bread to eat before the long journey home.

We had seats for maybe the first hour, but gradually the bus filled up and passengers would show us their tickets and kick us out of the seats we had claimed. As time went on the bus became so full that it was hard to maintain personal space while standing.

January 7

We both pulled little tick creatures out of our bodies today. Hopefully they weren't carrying any fun diseases.

January 8

Tomorrow we'll start another round of camp. Time to prepare some coloring sheets and craft materials.

January 9

Today we colored, made caterpillars and pop up frog faces. I think the highlight though was when the boys played with the magic capsules and grew an assortment of jungle animals and space creatures. They said that it was a very cool camp surprise.

January 10

Frog faces, monster masks, caterpillars and friendship bracelets abounded today. Kendall was able to make most everything by himself even - he's quite the five year old.

We walked out to the cole this afternoon. They were still hard at work which is what we like to see. Maybe they'll have it all wrapped up by the end of the month!

January 11

My favorite image of the day was of Josue making friendship bracelets while wearing his monster mask. Unfortunately I have to keep this image in my mind as the camera battery was dead.

Tonight at a junta meeting Chris was asked if they could take out a loan on the CRUSA money that still remains. Oh the headaches. Of course they cannot. He told them that the money needs to be spent now and receipts turned in. My goodness. The money is for the cole, just get it built!

January 12

I went out to Coyol this morning. One of the girls from Orquideas ran with me for a little while on her way to a friends house. On my way back through Orquideas she and her brother were waiting for me. As I approached he asked in a small voice, "a little race?" He's done this before and knows that I can't say no. The three of us raced to the nearest corner as usual. I did better than I have in the past, but I think that's because he ran backwards for the first couple of meters (so I don't think my improvement really counts).

Rafa came home for a little bit today. Maria had a little stroke last week and is staying with her family for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully she'll make a full recovery - it sounds like she is already doing much better. They'll be staying away until the end of the month.

On our way back home we ran into Michelle. We haven't seen her in almost a year. All that we could see was a shadow approaching on a bike yelling "Tarah y Chris!" She was pretty excited to see us and us her. She had thought that we already returned to the states.

January 13

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! It's funny how in the US you are more or less raised with a superstition toward Friday the Thirteenth (thank you media) but in other parts of the world it is just another day (at least here in Costa Rica). There is no mention of it. No movies. No nothing. It's just another Friday. I guess it always has been just another Friday to me too, but I'm used to hearing some mention of it at least (once again, thank you media).

We purchased our bus tickets to Nicaragua then Chris went to the mall and I to the office. I was approved for an eye exam and met up with Chris in front of the National Theater. We caught a bus to Curridabat and went to Talamanca Expedition and Sport to register for the Arenal Race. It's always enjoyable to visit the store. Phillipe came out of the office when he saw Chris was there and was super pumped to see him and catch up after last year's Irazu race.

We had an amazing lunch at the Veggie House and then I had an eye exam and ordered new glasses. I guess that means I'll be headed back to the city next week.

Chalupas for dinner and a bus ride home full of jokes from Hellen Dayana. It's been a good day.

January 14

Saturday. Chris went for a short run, but his knee is still bothering him. I started a new boot camp program. It was challenging for sure, but enjoyable (in a hard workout kind of way).

January 15

We celebrated workouts with pancakes.

Today's been a bit rainy. Chris tried patching the rusty hole in our bathroom roof without much luck. That happens when you only have tinfoil and electrical tape on hand. Perhaps later this week.

Chris found a giant beetle in the kitchen tonight. I went out to see it and when he swept it out from behind the fridge it took off in an erratic flight pattern, seemingly aimed at my head. I tried to get out of the way and hid behind the fridge door as Chris expertly batted it out of the air with the broom and swept it outside. Such excitement.

January 16

Camp went well this morning. We had an explosion of participants. We made snowflakes, frogs, monster masks, bracelets and even managed to color for a little bit.

January 17

Today blew up. All day long. 

We had to send some kids home from camp after they got out of hand with paint. They started to paint the school building. Chris had them clean up and after that they were sent trekking. Thank goodness for super washable paint.

This afternoon the guy that was chopeando (weed whacking) the yard managed to puncture one of the water lines (plastic tube conveniently located above ground) to the house. Water was spraying everywhere. He talked to the Poppy (the landlord) and for now it is taped up. We'll see when it gets fixed for real.

And the rooster got out.

January 18

We had a much better day at camp today. We colored, made more bracelets and caterpillars and Chris read From Head to Toe to the kids. They had a great time acting out all of the animals' movements.

Chris later prepped materials for monster masks. We'll read Where the Wild Things Are tomorrow and act that out.

January 19

Kids started showing up at 8:30 today. Chris was showering and I was waiting to do the same. I told them that camp started in half an hour. They hung out in our yard and asked "how long until camp?" approximately every 2 minutes for the next 30 minutes. You'd have thought that they knew Steve was coming with cake!

We made monster masks, played some tag games and then read Where the Wild Things Are. The grand finale to camp today was Almond Joy cake from Steve (our country director). [note: We had bid on this cake during an auction to raise funds for a fellow volunteer whose apartment had burned down in October (it was well worth what we bid on it). As a surprise he brought us two cakes since we would be sharing with our little monsters!] 

We had curry for lunch and wandered out to the cole with Steve. It was great to show him our community and talk a little bit about what we've been doing here and about life in general.

January 20

Chris had camp on his own today as I ventured into San Jose to pick up my new glasses. He had a hectic morning with a lot of kids and only his two hands to make things run smoothly.

Billy came to town today. How fitting that he was able to share some of the delicious cake that Steve brought us! (Billy is the aforementioned volunteer whose apartment burned down.) We had a great time catching up, it happens far too infrequently.

January 21

Crazy. Four months from today we'll be digging our toes into good old US of A soil. That is, if everything goes according to plan. It'll mean the start of a whole new adventure!

Chris worked on making sleeves for water bottles out of old bicycle tire tubes (preparing for upcoming races). They were pretty easy to put together and now he has a method for carrying energy supplements on his runs as well.

I finally labeled our world map this afternoon. It only took me about six months to track down a white marker for the dark colored countries. Thank you back to school supplies!

January 22

After breakfast I did laundry. It was a breezy, sunny day so everything dried. I could get used to this!

January 23

Abigail and Gabriel showed up for camp at 8:30am again. We now have a new rule. If you come to camp early you need to wait on the steps to the school, not in our front yard asking every 30 seconds when camp is going to start.

We made binoculars and flowers today. Camp is still fun but the kids are getting a little out of control now. They aren't showing respect to us, each other, the school or the materials that we are using. We want to spend as much time as possible with them, but we're getting to the point where it is sometimes difficult to keep on smiling. Sheirys is our star child though. She stays after every day to help clean up, she helps teach younger kids, is patient and has good manners. Can we clone her?

Work has continued next door. It is now nice and level. Perfect for the rondel (bull ring) and lots of noise during the town festivals. Can't wait.

January 24

The camp crew has started to shift to a bunch of me firsts and the gimme gimmes. If something challenges them they want to toss it aside. They don't want to wait for anything. They rush through things and then toss them aside. Are we seeing a new generation of a throw away society like the US has become? I sure hope not.

January 25

Our quiet month at home ended today around 7:30am when Maria and Rafa returned from their visit with family (they left December 24 saying we'll be home Tuesday...). It's nice to see them again and catch up. 

Camp was a little better today. It was rainy out so we had a smaller crew. We made airplanes, bracelets and woven mats.

Liseth was at the house when we got home. We played statue with her for a while, but then had to sit down and rest for a little bit. 

January 26

Place mats, origami, masks, recycled flowers and coloring. Just another day at camp!

Elvin stopped by today to talk about fund raising (or rather, he asked if we knew anyone that would give his group money). He now thinks that Chris is brilliant because Chris told him to ask each of the kids for 500 colones each week until they had raised all of the money they needed. They spend more than that each week on junk food, so they should be able to donate some if their project is important to them.

January 27

A month into camp and we had almost a completely new crew today. Go figure!

I spent a bulk of the afternoon teaching Sheirys how to make bracelets with words in them. We were chatting and working and before I knew it three hours had passed! She did a great job though and took some floss home with her to make more.

January 28

We came home to a smoke filled house. Spring cleaning. Maria was burning just about every piece of plastic that she could find in or around the house and the wind was blowing the smoke right into the kitchen. Hopefully the burning is done for a couple of weeks now. I had to hold my breath when going into the kitchen for water.

We finally finished our cake. We shared the last piece with Rafa. I have mixed feelings about the cake being gone. Oh so good, but oh so bad.

January 29

Emma got in around 3:15 and we chatted for a bit while Chris helped Maikol write a letter in English. It's nice to see her again [note: Emma is one of the students from the group that came in July]. Kennedys came over this evening and actually had a conversation with her [note: they are pen pals from a cultural exchange that we did with students from UNL]. A great change from this summer!

January 30

Camp went well this morning. We started the process of making papier-mache masks. The process should take us through the end of the week.

After lunch today Hellen Dayana showed up to talk Emma's ear off. She kept asking what time it was and after about an hour Emma gave in to her begging and took a ball to dos with her. They played some around the world and duck-duck-goose.

January 31

Oh the drama! Two of the balloons were deflated when we showed up this morning. I guess the kids will have to share now. No big deal, we can get two masks out of each remaining structure.

We walked out to the cole this afternoon to show Emma the completed student mural and the work that has been done on the school since July. Hellen Dayana (her little shadow) tagged along and talked her ear off the whole way. It was so cute. We rested for a while after our walk and Emma went out to dos again and drew quite the crowd of kiddos.

Kennedys came over to chat again. He hung out for an hour or so. It's nice to see a friendship that started in letters continue to grow. This is one of the great ways that we can connect the cultures between the US and Costa Rica.

And so we come to the end of the first month of 2012 (and the end of our second journal here in country). It's been an exciting start to what is sure to be a great year. One of big changes and new adventures. 

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