Monday, November 21, 2016

I'm here, alive and well!

First blog update in a couple of months, and I am sooo sorry. I’ve attempted to write this post about three times and thought about writing it about 300 times. I honestly haven’t been able to find the words to say what I want to say in a way that fairly represents me and my community here.
I’ll start off by saying I’m finding myself falling in and out of love with Costa Rica everyday. I’ll look at the clouds hanging around the mountains on my walk to work or have a lovely Spanglish conversation with a stranger, and I start to feel those giddy first date feelings and I’ll start to truly believe that this is a country where I can really feel at peace in. And then I step into a crack (or giant hole) in the sidewalk, am waiting 45 minutes for a bus, find a small colony of ants in a coffee mug, or get caught in the rain without an umbrella, and I’ll think why did I even leave my bed much less my home. I didn’t want to write a blog post on a day where I got soaked to the bone when my $2 umbrella broke and my students forgot everything I thought they had learned, because I didn’t want to give an unfair description of my life here. But, I also didn’t want to write a post on a day where I saw the face of a child who didn’t know how to read yet was able to answer a question in English and everything was right in the world, because I didn’t want to give an insanely positive view of what was happening here either. So I’m going to share some of my favorite and least favorite moments of my first two months in Costa Rica.

-The first week I was here was incredible. I didn’t have to start working for a week and a half, and the only thing on my schedule was getting to know the country, figuring out how to cook, and taking Spanish classes. I still had a lingering anxiety to know what my work was going to be like, but I was embracing the Pura Vida as best as I could.

-Day 1 of school. This was probably one of the more difficult days we’ve had here, if not the most difficult. We weren’t sure what to expect. Alexa and I aren’t teachers and didn’t have much in terms of supplies or information on how to teach ESL. So we (naively) showed up unprepared expecting to have a sort of introductory day, and were given a schedule of when to start teaching (our first class being 4 year olds). They asked if we were prepared to start that day, we had that moment to choose between being dumb/lazy/unprepared Americans or being those overly confident/too sure of themselves/I can do anything Americans. And we chose the latter. Thankfully we had overly kind and helpful teachers who helped show us the ropes and lead some English songs that the children knew (10 little monkeys, itsy bitsy spider, etc.), and we still fought for the attention of the little ones. The older ones, we decided the easiest thing to do was to review their colors and just have fun with them. We spent every class fairly unsure of our capabilities, probably looking super awkward, and ultimately stressed out that everyone could see right through us and our phony “I know what I’m doing” facade. And after all of that stress, Alexa got emotionally overwhelming news, and we were allowed to leave.
*It took me a long time to feel thankful for the difficulty of that day, but Lord knows if we didn’t get baptized by fire, we wouldn’t have needed to rely on Him as much.

-Sometime a couple weeks ago: We’ve been having a lot of kids asking us how to say certain words in English, which is always fun. During lunch, one of our exceptionally energetic children asked me “Como se dice ‘feo’ en ingles?” Feo means ugly. I tried to shut it down by telling him “No” which is the same in Spanish as it is in English. And this kid stands up, turns around, points at his friend and yells “NO!”

-Sometime in my first week at school: We were fed an afternoon snack of empanadas, they looked like they were sweet covered in cinnamon, sugar, and full of chocolate, but instead they were covered in salt, pepper, and full of beans. I still haven’t fully recovered from that disappointment.

-Sometime in the last couple weeks: The kid who yelled “no” at his friend a couple weeks ago has A LOT of energy. So we started telling him to “relax”. He then proceeds to point and yell at everyone telling them to “relax”. After a stressful, funny, not relaxing lunchtime, him and his other hyper lil friend walk out of the comedor with their arms around each other saying “Relax?” “Relax.” “Lerax?” “Larex” “Reeeelax!” “Relax…” and in all kinds of other cute ways. And that’s the story of how we taught every kid in the whole school how to say “relax”.

-Two weekends ago: Renting a car for super cheap and getting to go on a hike and breathe fresh air and enjoy God’s creation (even though we didn’t see any animals).

-Sitting next to my most difficult child during naptime, only to have him snuggle next to me, hold my hand, and immediately fall asleep (which was previously thought to be impossible).

-Three weeks ago: Biggest rainstorm ever. Had to walk a little under a mile to get to our bus stop to Spanish class, crossed the street and stomped right through a puddle that was literally four feet deep (literally 2 if I’m not exaggerating).

-Three weeks ago also (I think): Being told by one of the lovely women in the Diocesan office that our director told her that we’re doing a really good job.

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