Old People Day

This week is ''Homecoming Week'' kind of as we have random dress-up days every day... So today was Old People/Baby Day. In other words, students dressed as an elderly person or as a baby. I had 7 old people, 1 baby, and 2 I wasn´t sure what they were :)
 He said his mustache smelled funny and that he fought in World War II when he was a youngster.
 Wow! Her hair was awesome :)
 Our only baby
 He claimed he was an old person, but I told him he looked an awful lot like a skater/emo kid from our 5th grade class...
 Her hair is naturally really dark brown so she loaded that baby powder into her hair for this effect!
 She had stage makeup for wrinkles and old stockings :)
 His cane was too short... He said that added to his ''humpback''.
 She confessed at lunch that she just wanted to wear pajamas... that she wasn´t really an old person or baby.

He was so proud to have a real cane. At one point in the day, he told me he was thinking ''about the good ol´ days!'' When you're in 5th grade, does that mean when you were a toddler? :)

Wacky Outfit Day

Here´s 5th grade, rocking Wacky Outfit Day. I played it ''safe'' with my outfit and one kid commented that my outfit just looked like what I wear everyday, lol.
 In my peripheral vision, I thought she was raising her hand! :) She used curlers and a headband to get her hair like this.
 Looking serious.
 love all these crazy colors and patterns...

 He was very creative to dress himself upside down!
And the classic photo of a photo :)


Typical Day During the Rainy Season

progression from sunny mornings to cloudy afternoons to rainy evenings
 8:15 a.m.
 8:56 a.m.
 10:15 a.m.
 2:29 p.m.
5:03 p.m.



Here's proof that there really is a man who drives a green station wagon who comes to the park on the weekends to read his paper and sit with his dogs. I think he might be gringo but it's hard to tell...

Graffiti Questions

1. How do you spell ''graffiti''? One T? Two Ts?

2. Is graffiti legal in Costa Rica?

3. Can I borrow your brick wall to try out my new-found desire to graffiti something?

4. What do these graffiti paintings mean?

Graffiti courtesy of the park across the street :)


Characters on the Bus

Setting: Bus, Tuesday afternoon

Character #1: elderly gentleman, gray 5 o'clock shadow, hunched by the window, bag on the aisle seat, body language non-approachable

My State of Mind: tired after 7 hours of children + 3 more hours of evening homework, hungry, 95% in my own thoughts, 5% of my thoughts being aware of my surroundings

As I walked down the bus aisle, the man moved his bag for me to be able to sit down. When I sat, I said a polite, "Gracias," and then I took out a book and began reading in my comfortable English world. Two minutes pass and his cell phone in his right pocket rings, so he reaches for it and accidentally elbows me in the ribs. "Disculpa," he says (Sorry!), and I say, "Tranquilo" (Don't worry about it.). He tells me I speak really good Spanish, although I have spoken a grand total of 2 words. He asks me where I'm from. "Cheeeekago," I say. He says (the whole convo in Spaneeeesh) he lived in NYC for 20 years and that when he moved there at age 18 the Twin Towers were only 4 stories tall and were in construction. He said that on September 11, 2001, his job in Manhattan sent him to Wall Street for the morning, and he felt what he thought was an earthquake tremor, but was really the first airplane crashing into a Tower. He ran outside and saw the second plane crash. He said he was so afraid to think that people hated the U.S. so much to want to do something like the attacks that he left the States within a month and has never gone back.

WOW. I had goosebumps to think he had experienced Sept. 11 so closely and it wasn't even his home country.

Setting: Bus, Thursday afternoon

Character #2: BIG lady, small purse

My State of Mind: tired after 7 hours of children, grading papers, 5% of my thoughts being aware of my surroundings

I was sitting on the window side of the bus and this lady sat down and squashed me against the window. I continued to attempt grading papers, but I couldn't really move enough to even write. I asked her what time it was. She told me 4pm. She asked me if I was a teacher, nodding toward the pile of student work I was balancing on my lap. I said yes. She said that instead of trying to write on the papers in the jerky bus, I should print sticker labels and then just stick the stickers on the papers as comments and grades. I actually considered the idea until I realized sticker labels are quite expensive here.

Setting: Bus, Tuesday morning 5:45am

Character #3: Idiana, light green eyes, stares at me like she has a million questions for me

My State of Mind: barely waking up, praying about the upcoming day, 5% of my thoughts being aware of my surroundings

Idiana chased me down while we were running across the street to catch the bus. She asked me if I thought the motorcycles would stop for us and I said I didn't know but the bus was not going to wait long so we should run faster! Apparently running together was a bonding experience because she stared at me the whole first bus ride (from barrio los sauces to downtown San Jose). When we got off the bus in downtown, she asked where I was going and I said to the Coca Cola bus station. Her stop was just a block before that, she said, so we walked together. She took me a "new route" that I had never been before and I didn't feel very safe in as there were a lot more homeless people sleeping and waking up in the street... some only half-clothed or obviously high/drunk on something. Idiana didn't seem to mind the homeless though as she told me her life story, that she was here in Costa Rica because there was little work in Nicaragua, that her son is 12 and in 5th grade, that she just wants the best for her son. We parted ways at La Iglesia Merced and her light green eyes full of questions stayed on my mind for my second bus ride.

Setting: Bus, 5:30am

Character #4: man with freshly shaven face, black hair, dark skin, dark eyes, laborer's clothes

My State of Mind: barely waking up, reading my Bible, 5% of my thoughts being aware of my surroundings

I ask him what time it is, he asks me if the Bible says it's okay for him to marry his sister. Um, no sir, it doesn't. He asks my own personal opinion about brother/sister marriages and I tell him I think of the serious problems their children could have. He's not convinced. I tell him I can't change his mind about it, that he's the one who asked my opinion so I just gave my opinion. He knows the Bible well and asks a few more questions.

I've seen him on the bus a few more times, but I have avoided him. A combo of experience and other's advice tells me that men wanting to talk about the Bible with gringas on the bus usually don't have good intentions.


In other words, riding the bus is very... interesting. educating. mind-boggling at moments.



1. I went to the ATM today and apparently it was only giving out bills in the amount of c2,000 (equivalent to $4), so I got a big wad of bills!

2. As I was walking home from the ATM, the neighborhood guard rode his bike next to me and talked. I told him that I am moving soon for Escazú, and he pulled out his wallet and gave me a photo ''so I won't forget him.''

3. The park across the street was full of people today, and a guy came over to ask to fill his water bottle. I put the hose out the garage bars and turned the water on and he wasn't paying much attention to how full his bottle was because we were talking. The bottle filled and started overflowing all down his shorts, and he was really embarassed as he walked back over to the park. Oops...

Feliz Día de la Cultura

Today's holiday used to be called Columbus Day here but is now called Culture Day because they didn't want to give Christopher Columbus any credit for his 1492 discoveries. He´s not a very popular guy around here!

I am having an extra Saturday for my day off :). I thought I had plans, but they apparently fell through, so I have been packing the apartment and doing some school stuff.

Thanks to all who were praying for a new place to live on the west side. I visited 2 families last Wednesday and confirmed with one today that I will move in with them in November. I am excited and nervous, just like I remember being 2 years ago before Trish and I moved in with our first tico families. I am thankful that God has provided a place!

 Our group of girls hung out again Saturday night, this time for bowling! Melissa, Allie, me, Michelle
Turns out in Costa Rica bowling is charged by the minute, not by the game. It's about $21 per hour too!! Wowee, that would be an expensive date. Good thing there were 5 of us to split the bill.
You can see more photos if you look at Melissa´s blog post: http://melissajanecr.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/bowling-tico-style/ 

We've been without Internet for the past 10 days, so we're glad to be re-connected to the ''real world'' again, lol!


Prayer Requests

I don't post my needs on here often, but it's time to share a bit of my current situation. I have explained that I live on the east side of the city and work on the west side, and I have mentioned the daily long bus rides. Because of those factors, I am officially looking for a place to live on the west side, hopefully moving at the beginning of November. I'm looking for a Costa Rican family to live with so I can continue improving my Spanish (I think I'm almost fluent but of course it's always a process :)), so I'm letting you know what I need in this way so you can be praying and then you can praise God with me when He does open doors!! :)

Thanks for checking up on me!

5th Grade Lights, Camera, Action!

Making board games to help us review division facts.

Another board game!

dreaming about being at the beach...

acting out our Loyalty statements during Community Time

hard at work!!


best friends

Student Council speeches took a lot of courage! My brave students did well with their speeches :)

and studying for our Science test!


No Internet = A Strong Feeling of Disconnection

I stayed with a friend Wednesday night on the west side of the city, and when I came home Thursday afternoon, Michelle told me the Internet wasn't working, and it has persisted in not working. The screen says "Bad web request" whenever we try to open the Internet Explorer. Any suggestions?

Also, riding the bus is a career all on its own. Rainboots, bus change, book to read, papers to grade, and I'm good to go. 15 hours a week of bus rides...

I'm looking for a tico family to live with on the west side, and I have a for-sure visit this next Wednesday afternoon with a family and a couple other leads to call. Pray that works out soon :). I am looking forward to a lifestyle with fewer bus rides :).


Comfort Foods

Macaroni and Cheese

Chocobon Ice Cream

Milan Chocolates



Over the past two weeks, I have taken the bus across the city back and forth to work each day. Because I have interacted with many different kinds of people while traveling by bus, I think I am experiencing Costa Rican life at a whole new level. The bus has everything from mothers nursing toddlers to drunk men who can barely balance, and every person on the bus has a different opinion about gringos... lucky for me, I'm a gringa, so I am experiencing firsthand the discrimination that minorities are given.

For example, I was sitting at the back of a rush-hour-traffic bus jam-packed with people, and a gringo got on to ask the driver if the bus went through San Francisco de Dos Ríos. The driver shook his head no and pointed to the bus stop indicating the gringo should wait there... but the interesting thing to me was that we were going to a pass right through the middle of San Francisco. The ticos on the bus started laughing that the driver had lied to the gringo... and there I'm sitting in the middle of the ticos knowing what was going on...

Gringos on the 6am buses aren't very common, so I get lots of stares and comments. I do my best to ignore the ugly words, but part of my personality is taking everything to heart, considering what others say. So because many things that are said are vulgar, I am turning them over in my mind and by the time I get to work, I have to re-focus myself that I'm no longer at the mercy of the bus occupants.

I have seen discrimination off of the bus as well. Yesterday, I was at the mall with some friends, and I went to order pizza at Pizza Hut in the food court. There was an offer for 3 slices of pizza for 2,000 colones, and that's a pretty good deal, so I ordered that. The lady put 2 slices of pizza on my tray and then walked away to do something else in the kitchen. I stood there for about 3 minutes before she came back out to the front. She looked at me as if she was annoyed that I was still there, and I asked, ''Wasn't it 3 slices?'' and she laughed at me as she gave me my third piece. Um, just because I'm gringo doesn't mean I can't count.

Discrimination has me thinking... how many times have I looked down on someone else because they don't know all the cultural cues or the language? Because somehow I feel like their people have offended my people in any way?

I asked a tica friend if ticos don't like gringos and she said that there's such a history of discrimination of gringos to other peoples around the world that the general attitude toward gringos is very negative. She said the problem with people is that we generalize that all people of that nationality must be the same in every way and so the assumption is that all gringos must be discriminatory towards latinos. She said that she's told her family about meeting me, that she met a gringa that was really nice and speaks Spanish well, and she said that her family seemed surprised that a gringa would want to be friends with her. She said I can't let these situations get me down, that I need to speak up against the discrimination when it happens, that I need to remember that I am a daughter of God, that I need to remember not everyone lives by the biblical morals I consider essential to life.

I think God's preparing me for something bigger than just being in an elementary classroom... maybe something more in social justice? Who knows! For now, I am experiencing the ins and outs of being a minority.