Sunday, April 29, 2012

Día del Libro - Día del Aborigen

¡Ma'skiná! Assuming I understood correctly this past week, this is the general Cabécar way of saying hello, how are you. The Cabécar people are an indigenous group of Costa Rica. We were fortunate enough to participate in a regional event organized by a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer for World Book Day (Día del Libro) in the Cabécar community of Cerere.

Last Sunday we left home nice and early so that we could meet up with six other Peace Corps Volunteers en route to Cerere. We were joined by Ken in Limon; Matt, Rose, Rebecca, Stephen and Melinda joined us on the bus about 45 minutes later. We rode into the middle of banana fields that were foreign to Chris and I and disembarked at a T in the road where nothing seemed to exist. We lathered on sunscreen and changed into appropriate footwear for a hike and off we went.

Crossing the River (by Ken)
After roughly an hour and a half we took a break from the hot sun and bought some cold drinks from a local pulperia (convenience store). We made sure we were fully fueled for the remaining fifteen minutes of our walk. What lay ahead of us was a river crossing, several stream crossings and finally, the elementary school in the town of Cerere. We took off our shoes and slowly made our way across the river. For those of us who haven't yet acquired tico feet it was quite painful. Most of us chose to wear shoes though the remaining stream crossings and deal with wet shoes for the rest of the week.

When we got to the school we met Will, the principal. He kindly gave up his office to us and declared that it would be our home for the next couple of days. Then he took us back across the river to collect foam pads to use as mattresses. En route we stopped and met a couple of the community kids who were more than excited to talk to us and show off their newly born puppies. With darkness upon us though, we couldn't linger and so grabbed our pads and made our third river crossing of the day.

Tired and sweaty we gladly took advantage of the shower in the teachers' house. Fidelina and Viviana were very welcoming and kindly gave up their bathroom over the course of the next hour and a half. Once we could stand the smell of ourselves again we ventured off to dinner at one of the neighbor's homes. In a community that as a general rule does not have electricity we enjoyed a candle lit dinner of delicious food slow cooked over an open flame. Then, with the day catching up to us we retreated back to the principal's office and climbed into our sleeping bags and/or sheets and fell asleep as Ken read us bedtime poetry. 

Playing with the kiddos
The next morning we were up nice and early in an attempt to have our belongings stowed away before kids started showing up for school. They showed up, drenched as a result of long walks on a rainy morning, and were excited to see their friend Mateo and see that he brought friends with him. We were split into groups and had two, one-hour sessions of dinamicas (ice breakers/ activities) with different student groups. The dinamicas ranged from 'get to know you games' to duck-duck-goose and Bear-Salmon-Mosquito. We ran around, made fools of ourselves and had a really good time. 

Group Shot
After our final student group of the day we took a hike to an overlook up the mountain. We had a beautiful view of Valle de la Estrella and enjoyed one another's company. It was a great opportunity to decompress after our day of activities, to think about what the next day's activities might look like, and to catch up after not having seen one another in a while. We returned in time to clean up and to enjoy another wonderful slow cooked meal that included fresh caught fish (some of the best any of us had eaten in Costa Rica!). With the nice cool mountain air that comes with a day of rain and Ken's reading of some classic poetry we all had a good night's sleep.

Tuesday morning brought us to the meat of our event. Día del Libro. We had all been emailing one another with lesson plan ideas over the previous week and we were a little anxious about pulling it off. Rebecca, Stephen and I had been assigned to second and sixth grade students. Chris, Rose and Ken were to work with first and fourth grade. Matt and Melinda had fifth and third grade. That meant we all had to create two three hour lesson plans. It was a little stressful as we weren't really sure what we were going to encounter when we strayed away from fun games, but it all went really well. 

Stephen as Max, leading the monsters in a party
Donde Viven los Monstruos was a big hit in several classes. I think that first, second, and fourth graders all had the opportunity to hear the story, make monster masks and then act it out. Picture pages were used to inspire creative writing. Prompts were given to push students to create their own conclusions to a predicament that characters encountered. Older students were trained to read to younger students. Stories were illustrated and origami was made. There were a few running games thrown is as well when students needed time to burn off some extra energy. At the end of it all we were happy and tired but ready for more.

In an effort to get the community involved in the spirit of reading and/or storytelling Matt had worked with the school to prepare an evening of Cuentacuentos or storytelling. We worked with the teachers to prepare drinks and sandwiches for those that came to the event. Firewood was collected to build the fogata (bonfire).People slowly started showing up, we were a little concerned that we were going to be left high and dry, but before we knew it all of the seats were filled and we had to move more chairs out from the classrooms.

Roasting Marshmallows (by Stephen)
We served food and Matt started the evening with a magnificent story that cracked everyone in attendance up. He would be asked over and over again throughout the next day to tell it again. His story was followed by a couple from some of the teachers at the school. Then we got the kids involved. Chris read De la Cabeza a los Pies ("From Head to Toe" by Eric Carle) and Stephen led the kids in doing all of the animal actions. I followed him with a retelling of Donde Viven los Monstruos and Stephen led the kids that had brought their monster masks in acting it out. To top things off, Rose introduced the idea of roasting marshmallows to the community. It was a hit. Several kids had three or four before we ran out. Once everyone was on a sugar high we called the evening to a close and worked with community members to get desks and chairs back into classrooms. Once everything was back where it belonged, us volunteers settled back around the fire and continued sharing the stories of our lives.

The following morning Chris and Ken had to leave bright and early as a result of other commitments. They crossed the river around 4:30 so that they could get on the 5am bus out of town, avoiding the hour and a half walk that we had taken on Sunday. The rest of us slept in for a couple of more hours and then made some PB&J sandwiches for breakfast.

Cabécar drama
We were fortunate enough to have been invited to the area celebration of Día del Aborigen. We waited around for about two hours for the tractor and trailer that would take us further into the indigenous communities. It was a bumpy ride that started off with some tractor trouble, but we eventually made it to the school where all of the neighboring communities came together to celebrate. We heard speeches, stories and poems read in Cabécar. Student groups performed plays and dances. We felt lucky to be a part of it, even if we stuck out like a sore thumb. I guess we're all kind of used to that though.

The gem of the day was being able to eat a traditional Cabécar meal. The women worked origami magic with banana leaves and presented us with nice little boats that would serve as our bowls for lunch. We enjoyed a stew made with platano, yuca and cerdo. I asked for mine to be served without the meat, but it sure looked good. Everything was delicious. We ate with out hands and managed to drink the broth out of our banana leaves without making a mess.

Eating out of our banana boats
After lunch we watched a little bit of a soccer game and then climber back on our trailer and headed home. Once back at the school a couple of us crossed the river to go to the pulperia and we came back with Adriana and Gabriella, the girls that we had met our first day in town. They wanted to make sure they could say goodbye to everyone. And the wanted to play. We did riddles for a while and then Matt read some Curious George, but they ultimately got their way and we played a couple of rounds of Bear, Salmon, Mosquito. Then we cleaned up and enjoyed one last candle lit dinner at the neighbors.

We didn't have Ken to read us to sleep, but we heard many hilarious stories from Stephen. We eventually called it a night as people (me) started falling asleep as we had to be up nice and early the next day.

Our final dinner in Cerere (by Matt)
We left the school at 4:30 in the morning, surviving the river crossing in the dark and loaded onto the bus a little after 5AM. Rose was the first to go, needing to catch a bus to San Jose en route. The rest of us continued on to the community of Penshurt where we filled up on pinto con huevo. Eventually we had to say our goodbyes though and go our separate ways. Stephen and Melinda headed south, Matt back inland and Rebecca and I traveled back to Puerto Viejo.

It was an incredible week. An excellent way to start closing out our service. We feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with such amazing people and to spend time with friends that we hadn't seen in a while. It was also an incredible experience to stay in one of the indigenous communities for a couple of days.


For those of you who read Spanish, below is a story that Rebecca, Stephen and I wrote while doing a creative writing session with sixth graders. We had to include robots, monkeys, a desert and a volcano. Enjoy!

Había una vez, hubo una manda de robots que querian conquistar el mundo. Marcharon en el desierto del saturno buscando una reserva de petroleo. Si no encontraron una reserva de petroleo, se oxidaráron y se perdieron todo su reino de su parte de la galaxia. De repente, se encontraron una cuesta de arena lo que alcanzaba hasta el cielo. Estaban seguros que estuviera llena de petroleo, gritaban de alegria, ya se salvaron. 

Los robots ya habia comenzado a subir la cuesta en busca de la aperatura de su tesoro cuando sentieron un temblor fatal. Los robots se cayeron al suelo de rodillas con tanto miedo. Cuando miraron hacia la cima, vieron una erupción muy rara. Se dieron cuenta que estaban subiendo un volcán en vez de una cuesta. Después de echar un montón de ceniza, el volcán echo un tropo de monos hasta el cielo. Los robots temblaron con miedo, estos monos eran sus enimigas desde mucho tiempo y igual querian conquistar el mundo. Empezó la lucha más luchosa de los tiempos. Los monos cayeron desde el cielo sobre las espaldas de los robots gritando y aplastando bananos en las caras de los robots. Los robots respondieron en forma de lanzar rayos de sus ojos, matando los monos en forma grosera y escandalosa. El casique de los robots se deslizó en una cascara de banano, haciendolo cayer y tomando con el la fuente de vida de todos los otros robots. Los monos brincaron, gritando con alegria que ya eran los reyes nuevos de la galaxia. Se pusieron el banano como la fruta más poderosa y estimada de la galaxia.

El fin.

Friends, Family and Food [Semana Santa]

The title says it all. Semana Santa or Holy Week is a time of friends, family and food. Lots of food actually. For us, our last Semana Santa in Costa Rica was a time in which we could really enjoy those that we have come to consider dear friends and in some cases family. 

With Orlando and Alejandra
We started the week with our friends Orlando and Alejandra at a nice little retreat called Recreo Verde and spent the first of April soaking up the heat of natural hot springs on a cool mountain day. We took occasional breaks from the water, dipping into the cold water pool long enough to realize that it was a mistake! We also joined Orlando and his son for a game of foot-volleyball. They were the clear winners of the match. Chris held his own, I failed horribly but had a great time laughing at myself and my ill-placed volleys.

After a delicious lunch by the river we rushed home so the guys could watch the Saprissa-Liga game. (For those of you not living in Costa Rica, these teams define who you are while in country. They are the most popular soccer teams in the country and nearly everyone you meet will ask, "¿Qué es su equipo?" You hope that you do not offend by responding one way or the other. I personally like to say "Las Brujas," a team that people shrug off and laugh at.) Alejandra and I chose the nap route, though we were occasionally awoken by cheers by the neighboring Liga fans. Saprissa sadly lost.

As the game wound down I started making pizza dough. While we have occasionally shared some of our favorite foods with locals, most people find it funny and kindly pass it by. At the mention of pizza though, Orlando and Alejandra were more than happy to give up their toaster oven for the evening. For us it was the first time in two years that we had actually baked a pizza (two little ones actually) in an oven and were super excited. Orlando praised the meal enough times to make me believe that he meant it.

Food became a theme throughout the week as our host mom and neighbors would knock on our door saying "buenos días," hand us a plate of food and then walk away. Nearly every day of the week we received plates of sweets or breakfast goodies and the occasional lunch. I guess that's the upside of kind of living by yourself.

Liseth and Anderson looking for guavas
At the end of the week we spent a day with our host parents, Maria and Rafa, our neighbors and some cousins out at our neighbors country house. We started the day with a truck ride over the bumpy roads that pass through our community and ended it in the same manner. In between we walked through the fields in search of the delicious treats that are known to grow on trees in Costa Rica. We worked with the family to gather up guavas (not what we know as guava in the U.S., but a seed pod filled with velvety sweetness), guayaba (what we know as guava in the U.S.) and cacaoita del monte (wild miniature cacao). In between these food seeking excursions we were filed with food made at the house, empanadas, pan dulce, and arroz con atún (empanadas, sweet breads, and rice with tuna). 

When we were all ready to roll out of our chairs and onto the ground we decided to take a walk down to the river. Several kids from town were enjoying the cool water. We failed to come prepared to swim though and just watched from the sandy beach. Rafa, our host dad, challenged some of the high school kids to swim across the river and off they went with the family laughing and yelling "Vaya Willy" (they had been calling him Free Willy earlier). They made it across and after a break to catch their breath wearily jumped back in the water to return. They climbed onto the beach exhausted. 

Discarded guayaba
We returned to the house and then made that bumpy ride home, bags of fruit piled into the back of the truck. Chris and I were also blessed with some freshly made cheese from our neighbors suegra (mother-in-law). She had shown me how she made it and kindly gave us about a half kilo! It was one of the best cheeses we have eaten in Costa Rica.

The rest of the week passed with more food deliveries and one more round of pizza. This time we made it for Maria and Rafa. We wanted to give back after all that they have done for us over the last couple of years. This time we had to make it on the stove top, dutch oven style, but it still turned out quite well. Maria even asked for the recipe.

It was a great week, even if it didn't include dying Easter eggs or hunting for candy filled baskets. This is a part of the culture that we love, the un-commercialized celebration of holidays. Perhaps we'll be able to take a little bit of that home with us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some days...

...Are just meant to be rest days. Today was one of those days.

Today is El Día de Juan Santamaría so there isn't any school so I thought I would take advantage of that fact and get in a nice long run. I got up a little before 5:00 and was out the door a little after 5:00. It was cool and misty, it felt like it was going to be a perfect day. I decided that I was going to do two loops of my favorite route here, a route that goes through the small community of El Progreso then along Río Sucio and then cuts through a cow pasture before coming back into town. However, about thirteen minutes into my run, before I even got to the turn for El Progreso, my foot, which was pretty tender from running for four and a half hours in my Minimuses on rocky roads on Saturday, made me stop running and turn around to walk home.

When I got home, I poked around on the internet for a bit and then decided to get ready for a long bike ride. One of my cranks has been loose, so I tightened that up, filled my bladder, threw the bike pump and multi-tool in my pack, and headed out at about 8:00. I decided that I would do the La Gata route, the route that I ran on Saturday. The first part of "road" is pretty rough, so I was pretty slow, but after about 6k it got relatively smooth so I was able to get into a good rhythm. I hit La Gata, about midway, in a little over an hour. I figured I had about an hour and a half left (about a half marathon with a bunch of hills). I stopped to put a little air in my back tire and tighten up my crank. I knew that I would have to grind on the upcoming hills so I wanted to make sure everything was in order. 

Things were good for a couple more kilometers then I could feel my crank getting loose so I stopped tightened it up and got after it once again. A little further down the road, I again felt my crank slipping so I pulled over and discovered that the nut for my crank was missing. I walked back down the road a bit, but I didn't see anything. I threw my crank and pedal on rack on the back of bike and started pushing. Luckily this section was super hilly so I could coast down and part way up the hills. Eventually I made it to Los Arbolitos (15k still to go) where I found a popsicle stick and using the Leatherman, I was able to create a fastener that kept my crank on for a few more kilometers. I knew I couldn't torque on the precariously attached crank, so I was still hopping off the bike to push it up hills. One of the times I hopped off, the crank inexplicably fell off, so I threw it back on my rack and pushed some more. Then on one of my bumpier downhills the crack and pedal fell off my rack and I wasn't about to back track for a useless bike part.

About 7k out I decided that I would run with my bike. With a couple of good hills to coast down, I made it back home from that spot about as quickly as I normally do running without pushing my bike. On that last stretch I decided my new mantra is going to be, "I might not be strong, but I'm tough."

So my bike ride that I thought was going to be between two and two and half hours ended up being closer to four with an hour and 19 minutes of actual bike riding, but I did get an extra thirty-five minutes of running in.

I think tomorrow I might just sleep in.

Un Árbol outside of Los Arbolitos

Friday, April 6, 2012

Marching Forward

The other day Chris told me, "Hey, it's April. You have a blog to write." I'm still not really sure how it is that we have come to yet another April in Costa Rica. March seems to have gone a little faster than any other month before it. We were warned that this kind of thing would happen, but didn't want to believe it. Project partners are trying to squeeze every last bit of work out of us as they realize our time in La Colonia is coming to an end. Our calendar has filled up and people still want us to find space to squeeze things in. 

Anyway, March: two years in, two months to go.

March 1

It's crazy to think that this whole Peace Corps Costa Rica thing started two years ago today. We've come a long way. We've been through a lot and it is kind of hard to believe that we'll be headed home in just a few short months.

We'll be sad to see them [Sarah and Molly] gone tomorrow, but are super glad that they were able to come see us. It's nice to share our lives here. We can write and talk about it all we want, but to experience it makes it real.

March 2

Two years in Costa Rica! It's hard to believe. As much as this has become our home it's still freakin' hot and I'm glad to know a four season home will be ours in not too long - even if we will be getting there during summer.

We came home to iced tea and some homemade cookies that Linda sent with Sarah. The cookies are still soft. Amazing. Delicious. I could eat them all day.

March 3

My morning was dedicated to washing clothes. And then, since they were setting up the rondel (bull ring) Maria insisted that I watch our clothes. So, I sat out back in one of the rocking chairs reading and making sure our clothes didn't wander off.

March 4

Tomorrow starts our "getting on the books" process for a jam packed final two months of service. Exercise classes, Friday art sessions, Friday story hour, seventh grade project, International Art Exchange, some sort of grupo de apoyo  (academic assistance), literacy help, the list goes on and on. We'll see what we can check off.

March 5

There was a threat of flooding this morning so a bunch of teachers used it as an excuse to not come into town. The cole was cancelled completely, but not until all of the students had been bused in.

Chris finally got the last CRUSA check and Jose Angel was available to go pick up materials, so that is finally done. The money is spent!

Matt came into town today (funny how he didn't have a problem getting in on the bus...). He and Chris went with Jose Angel to pick up materials and take them to the cole. Somehow they managed to swing a tour of the matadero (slaughter house).

This evening was filled with great conversation. It makes me wish we had had more time with our peers these last two years.

March 6 

Wow, last night really took it out of me! I scarcely heard Chris get up this morning and I didn't roll out of bed until 6:45. So much for an early morning workout. Instead I made happy birthday pancakes for Matt. Chris dug out a candle from somewhere and so we presented Matt with is birthday (pan)cake shortly after 7 this morning!

We got on the books for a bunch of projects (at the escuela) today. Chris worked on the final report for the CRUSA grant. 

We might be moving this week. Vamos a ver (we'll see).

March 7

More projects planned (at the cole this time). Two weeks of studying workshops for seventh and eighth graders. Projects on respect and honesty with all students after that. Angie started looking at the calendar to plan more, but when she got to June and July we had to tell her "sorry, we'll be gone then."

Chris wrapped up CRUSA today! Alvaro said everything looks good (they just need to meet and verify receipts). He did it! It only took a year.

Another day of sitting out back with a book and watching clothes dry. Things were just about dry when I could hear the rain coming our way. I yelled out "viene la lluvia" (here comes the rain) and we all ran outside to get clothes off the line. We all got soaked. 

March 8

On the books for literacy help with first grade students through May! I just need to check with Eulalia tomorrow about a finalized schedule.

This morning over breakfast Maria told me that we'll be moving on Saturday. 

March 9

Moving day. Aaaaaargh. 

We've got a nice little place with cathedral ceilings, lots of natural lighting, conveniently located with an indoor pool.  (Take a look at the above link for clarification on what these features really entail.)

While we were moving I heard a little voice outside pondering who was moving in. I peeked out the window and one of our second graders yelled to his dad, "It's Chris and Tarah!" 

Apart from moving we had two story hour sessions with materno students (pre-K). We read "Three Little Pigs." Then we had a discussion to touch on comprehension and made some origami pigs for the students to take home.

March 10

The morning and afternoon went rather quickly. We stopped only for occasional swigs of yogurt. I bleached the kitchen and bathroom and tried to get things unpacked. Chris helped the pastor move the rest of Maria and Rafa's stuff (Rafa had college classes today). We ran for the two o'clock bus (it came about 5 minutes early so we chased it, thankfully it stopped).

We copied keys, ate a big lunch, did a little shopping and then hopped on the next bus home. Chris did his best to seal up our home a little more - covering holes with cardboard and hanging some plastic so that you can no longer look into our house through the gaping spaces alongside the door frame.

March 11

More settling in. Cleaning, painting. Thank goodness for our regular pancake breakfast to get us started on the right foot.

Liseth came and hung out for a bit. She checked to see if we would be able to hear her knocking on the door. She peered into our neighbors apartment through the cracks in the wall. She walked up and down the two steps in our place, played with light switches, checked out Chris' paint job. She's pretty excited about us being her new neighbors.

March 12

We were up bright and early with the roosters. We worked out and ran a couple of errands before our first project at 8 this morning. Liseth came by around 7:10 and hung our during breakfast. She advised me on how to best eat my banana and cereal.

Our first studying talks went well. My sessions at the excuela were much better than last year's. One on one works so much better than small groups when it comes to literacy help. 

March 13

More studying charlas. The activities seem to be so much harder than they need to be. For something quite simple it takes a long time. Oh well, you live and learn.

At the escuela we chatted with Maikol for a bit. We're lined up to play soccer with the student teams against the cole this Friday. Dia del Deporte has been finalized. We just never know what we're going to get when we stop by. 

March 14

This whole work thing is kind of exhausting. I can only imagine how tired we'll be when we're working full time plus doing grad school. We'll make it work.

March 15

I had a crazy turnout for exercise class tonight - 14! People brought friends, young and old. There were 8 adults, 6 youth. Everyone worked hard. We did about 20 minutes of exercises and 20 minutes of "yoga".

Lisa made it safely. People were more than happy to help her on the bus and Chris met up with her at the Super. It was nice to catch up over good food and a couple of rounds of dice.

March 16

Costa Rica at its finest. We crammed it all in.

March 17

This morning came far too quickly. We said good-bye to Lisa and then took a bus out to Rebecca's. We hung out for a bit and then walked to Chilimate to meet up with the rest of the crew and our horses. There were eight of us plus three guides (roughly 12 - 15 years of age). The ride was pretty great in my opinion.

We were able to manage buses so that we came home on the 5:30. We're (or at least I'm) a little sore from yesterday's soccer games and today's horseback riding.

March 18

We slept in a little today, it sure felt nice. I could have kept sleeping, but we had stuff and things to take care of.

March 19

The water main in town busted so we had to fill pots and pans with water since we'll be without for an undetermined period of time. Aerobics class was super small (I imagine it was because of the water situation). When I got home we still had water so I took a quick shower, thankful to be able to rise off. 

We got flight information today - we're headed home on May 21, si Dios quiere.

March 20

Chris spent most of the day in bed with tummy trouble. I took care of studying charlas in the cole. When we weren't doing those things we were busy planning other projects. We're on the books for stuff next week in the cole and Chris has us squared away for doing the International Art Exchange with Nelly's fourth graders.

March 21

Two months to "home"! It's really kind of crazy that we're so close to the end after all of those moments when we felt like we'd never make it. I'm glad that we always chose to stick it out. Especially since we're really kind of working now. We each have something pretty much every day, it's a nice feeling.

First grade didn't have class today, so I used my free time to send in our Site Assessment and to finalize my Description of Service. Final paper work is starting to be checked off of our to do list. Crazy.

Today is the deadline for the WNMU PCCF Program. We're anxious to hear back. We know it will probably be a couple of weeks, but we want to know now!

March 22

Another busy day. They just don't seem to stop.

I got laundry done in a shocking 45 minutes. Maria has the washer up and running again, yay! It was a very pleasant experience to walk away from laundry without sore hands.

Today has been a food day. Not only did we buy food, but we had a bunch given to us. Maria knocked on the door this morning and when Chris answered she simply said "buenos dias" and handed him a plate of tamal without any explanation. Later when I was doing laundry she instructed me to bring her a bowl so that she could fill it with picadillo de papa (chopped potato goodness) and rice.

March 23

We had a wonderful time with kinder today. They loved making pigs and we left Laura with a room full of oinking 5 and 6 year olds.

We worked with Nelly's kids today on the art exchange. I think some of the kids spent more time writing their names than drawing their pictures. Oh well, what can you do?

We had intentions of finally getting art club going this afternoon, but all of the kids that have really expressed interest were not around. It's looking like this is one project that just isn't going to happen.

We started working on 50th Anniversary logos for Peace Corps Costa Rica and made some Mexican pizza for dinner.

March 24

Chris started the day super early. I woke up when I heard the front door close, it was still dark out so I rolled over and went back to sleep. I didn't see him again until two

March 25

Mmmm... pancakes with yogurt, fresh mango and honey.

After lunch we ventured out to check out the horses that were suited up for the cabalgata (horse ride). We have some gorgeous horses here and in the surrounding communities.

One more week down. Seven to go. Crazy.

March 26

While I was prepping materials today Liseth wandered in as she is now known to do. She asked a bunch of random questions, offered advice and warned me that we need to keep an eye on the kitchen door when we leave it open. Otherwise the chickens might come in. Then she demonstrated how I should get them out of the house should this ever happen.

March 27

Giddy up cowboy! We're going to Gallup! That's right, we've officially been accepted to the Peace Corps Fellows Program at WNMU-GGSC, Needless to say, we're pretty excited. Now we just need to get jobs. The program will help a little as they send out an announcement to the school district principals with a list of all program participants. One step at a time. It's nice to know that it's official, Woo hoo!

Respect was not happening during our charla on respect. I decided that I never want to teach seventh graders. At least not here. Then we worked with ninth graders. It felt like heaven. We had some good participation and the students demonstrated respect.

This has been a day with a huge disparity between ups and downs. I've/We've been all over the board in terms of emotions. Anger, frustration, disappointment, apathy, excitement, happiness, joy. It was all worth it in the end.

March 28

Rain, rain, rain. It's been dark and gloomy all day with bursts of rain. Not very motivating weather.

Some of the women from my exercise class threatened to kidnap me in May so that I can't leave. I told them they could work out just as well without me. They countered that it wouldn't be the same. I'm glad we've connected, but I would be happier still if I knew they would continue to work as hard as they have been in class.

March 29

Final preparations for tomorrow's bike ride were made. Chris started sorting through things and making piles of what will go home with us, what goes to the Peace Corps office and what will serve as prizes during our Adios Gringo Bingo.

March 30

I'm feeling like the phrase "leaving on a jet plane" is more about the speed at which departures arrive than about the method of departure. Time is flying for us. Things that we did yesterday or last week feel like they were weeks or months ago. "They" said it would happen, we just never believed it.

Workouts, dance class, bike ride. The first 6 hours of our day were spent working out. Hello Dia del Deporte!

March 31

We had a delicious dinner with Orlando and Alejandra, but we were all tired and so called it an early night. 


Now we take a quick moment to breathe, to relax and let our minds and bodies recover from all that March threw at them. Thankfully the first week of April this year is Semana Santa (Holy Week), a time of family, friends, food and rest. We're sure to be hit just as hard once the week comes to an end and life goes back to this new found sense of "cram in as much as possible" normal.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

50 Years of PAZ

Next year, Peace Corps  Costa Rica will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, so our country director  put the challenge out to volunteers to create a logo to commemorate the event. Both Tarah and I submitted our creations, but since voting isn't complete I can't share our entries yet, but I wanted to share a design that I didn't enter into the contest.

Although the the word inodoro is understood in Costa Rica, the most common word for toilet is servicio which also means service. The design is meant to be fun and lighthearted and means no disrespect to Ticos, Peace Corps or all of the amazing servico that has been accomplished in Costa Rica since 1963.

I'll post our actual submissions once the contest comes to a close later this month.