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.

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