Christmas Gifts!

Now that school is finished for the semester, I actually have time for packing and preparing for the blustery Chicago winds and good ol´ family time :). Here's a peek at my suitcase... all gifts! :)


Since moving to Escazú, I have 6 extra non-human roommates... dogs. Yup, that's right. 6 dogs.
Camila lives in the backyard. She loves to help during my attempts at pilates by sitting on my towel. The few times I have laid out in the sun, she comes and lays next to me... like, so close that she is touching me. When you are laying in the sun and already sweating, the last thing you want is a (smelly!) dog touching you. One time I was laying face-down while sunbathing, and she walked over and put her paw on the back of my head, letting me know she was ready for attention. I shoo-ed her away and she sneezed on my head!!! Ewwwwww.

Kuma also lives in the backyard. Don't get in the way when he's eating!! I think he's the strongest of the 6 as he could easily pushes me over when he jumps on me!

Negrito is the third member of the backyard club. He joined just a couple months ago and is very ... elderly. We thought he was going to die a couple weeks ago when he was panting and laying on the ground for days in a row... but now he's looking better, but still really thin.

Kiwi is spoiled... he lives in the house and eats the food scraps off the floor. When he wants attention, he also sits really close to your legs or licks your hand.

Tisha is also spoiled as she lives inside... She's the only one that I think doesn't like me.

And my favorite... Lua lives in the front yard. She greets me every time I come home with a big wet kiss. I attempted to play fetch with her once, but she demolished the tennis ball. She sleeps on a bench outside the kitchen window, so she keeps a close eye for available scraps.

From what I understand, most of my new roommates were homeless at one time... most were taken in from the street about 10 years ago. Negrito is the newest addition as he's only lived with us for a couple months.

Christmas Emails

I've been receiving several emails from past students for Christmas! What a great surprise to hear from the twins Rebecca and Christina who are now in Honduras and from Calla who is now in New Jersey.

Hey! How are you and your students? When does your winter vacation start? Are you going to the states for Christmas? We aren't. I wish we could. On Christmas morning we are going to call are grandparents on skype and open presents. I got all my Christmas shopping done. Our mom has been talking about how she doesn't get much for Christmas and in her stocking. This Christmas we got her alot of things. Dad got her a wok! He let me wrap it. He doesn't like wrapping gifts. Last night we went to the mall and He gave me and Rebecca 25 dollares to spend on her. We spent like 2 hours in thier bedroom wrapping presents. It doesn't feel like Christmas sometimes though. It needs to snow.
Hi Miss Siscoe,
When are you having Christmas break?
I can't wait til' Christmas!
I hope you have a great weekend and a wonderful Christmas!
Are you going back to the States for Christmas to see your family?
Just Wondering.
Talk to you soon.
- Calla
P.S. How's school going? Is it crazy because of Christmas break? How are you?
Right now I'm at my Youth Group. It's practically right down the street from my house.
Feliz Navidad! Early.


Christmas Medieval Fun

Castle Building! :)

Jenga... a somewhat (not) Medieval game

Painting a castle

Debating what to do with the castle

She taught me a game today called ''Slapjack'' where it was basically ''War'' with a deck of cards and when you see a jack card, you have to slap the pile. I was very enthusiastic in my card slapping and she was very timid... I slapped her hand pretty hard to win the game! I'm not sure she'll want to play with me again!

Teaching me how to play Backgammon

and the food committee busy at work. Menu: cabbage soup, rabbit stew, juice, and bread with my mom's apple butter :) (Thanks Mom! :))

See you next year, girls!

Until next year!

And a few gifts... flowers

a glass pendant necklace

and a silver ring.

All in all, a great day!


5th Grade Field Trip Tomorrow :)

We have been reading the book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis, preparing to go to the movie theater to compare and contrast the book vs. the movie. Nothing like turning a movie into a literary criticism conversation :).

So tomorrow's the day! 5th graders were very excited today...
The current debate with me was whether or not they had to wear their school uniforms. Yes.
''Can we leave after the movie without our parents and walk around the mall?'' No.
''Can I bring extra money to buy snacks?'' Nope, sorry, we already asked your parents for $9 to go on this field trip!
''What about sneaking in my own snacks?'' Nope.
''Can I save part of my lunch to eat during the movie?'' Nope, although that's a very creative idea.

We're working on respecting the teacher's authority with decisions while also learning to express our individual opinions... a tricky balance!

''Miss Siscoe, I've never gone to a movie theater with a teacher before!!''


Costa Rica is full of surprises for me lately...

...like the new 20,000 colones bill. I just saw one today for the first time!

...like the cold blustery wind that makes me wish for a coat and boots!

...like the sophisticated art show I attended over the weekend.

...like the rum cake my tica mom makes. :) If only my students knew what I'm eating on break, lol.

...like how the grocery store no longer intimidates me and my level of Spanish :)

...like how 5th graders are good Christmas gift shoppers (or maybe it's their mothers? :))


Festival de las Luces

Think Macy´s Day Parade... but Christmas-Costa Rican style. That´s what Melissa, Michelle, and I saw last night in downtown San José! This parade happens every year and there are TONS of people downtown to see it. If you´re not downtown, you´re probably watching it on television.
Vendors are selling bags of confetti (aka hole-punched notebook paper) that is apparently Costa Rican´s version of snow for Christmas. By the end of the evening, the confetti covered the sidewalk!

Being gringoes and all, we were popular targets for ticos throwing confetti.

And the parade begins! A man on stilts.

There were very elaborate costumes, such as this golden woman on stilts.

more stilts

and a float! The floats were bigger-than-life and covered in glitter. Oh, and you can see the girl in front of us that was on her boyfriend´s shoulders...

Another elaborate costume... this time out of feathers!

Another float

A golden child

The CocaCola float shot confetti out on the crowd

And the culprit ticos standing above the pedestrians, covering them in confetti!

City Christmas Lights

I went light-looking with the tico family on Tuesday evening around the city. The great part was that we were in a car the whole time... no buses or cold wind for us! :)
The tree in front of the Children's Hospital

The Children's Museum/old prison

The CocaCola tree

And the central park.


San Antonio de Escazú Landslides

A house right by the rock river

The ''rock river'' where rocks fell down the mountain. You can see a house with a bridge across the stream that was spared from the rock shower.

A view of San José from the mountain.

More of the rocks that came down the mountain!

Parque La Sabana

I went on a Sunday outing today with the new tico family to Parque La Sabana to the west of San José downtown. I had ridden around the park in the bus many times and had gone to an evening concert, but I had never walked around! It´s a ginormous park and has everything from 3 football fields, a running track, a roller skating rink, a lake, a forest, a new stadium, and kite vendors!
 Photos of the new stadium that China is building for Costa Rica... it's a gift!! The interesting part is that gifts always come at a price when it's political, right? hmm.... I've heard rumors that the stadium opens in February and other rumors that it opens ''soon''...? I'd like to go :)
 A banana tree with its fruit. The bottom purple part is the seed.
 A graffittied cross in the park

 And Barney made a surprise appearance!! LOL
 Santiago, my new roommate. I feel like I´m the ''fun aunt'' :)
 Ice cream from the ice cream man, anyone?
 Santiago thinking...
 Santiago playing futbol with his mom Natalia chasing behind.
 Santiago and Natalia
Santiago in the orange, Annabel and Natalia on the log, and Marilyn (Santiago's grandma) standing

I have learned to be extremely flexible when I tell ticos I will hang out with them for the day. For example, they said we would leave at 9am... we didn't leave until 12! Then afterwards we were driving home and impulsively stopped by pizza hut for lunch/dinner. THEN we drove up the mountain to where the landslides happened a few weeks ago to see the damage. THEN just when I thought we were about to have another adventure, we arrived home. Thank goodness I learned to be flexible! :)