baby steps toward moving from here to there

A detail I didn't think too hard about when I decided to accept the teaching position at Sojourn was the fact that I would have to sell my car. I've been procrastinating on selling my car... because it feels a lot like giving up my independence.

I realized last week that the license renewal sticker expired at the end of the month, so I knew I needed to sell it within two weeks before I was forced to park it or renew the sticker for an unnecessary year-long fee for driving the car another month or two.

So finally, on Saturday, I put "For Sale" signs in the windows. 1992 Ford Tempo, 125,000 miles, 25 miles to the gallon, $1200. You know, all the basics. I also put the information on Craig's List, because covering multiple advertising bases can't hurt anything.I began praying that it would sell before my sticker expires June 30th.

Phone call this afternoon. Set up appointment for 6pm this evening. A family of 4 arrive. He looks under the hood, in the interior and trunk. Offers me $1000. I say I'll give it to him for $1100. Since it will be her car, she drives around the block. He says he'll give me $1100 for it; can they take it right then? I say sure. Sign the title. Empty the glove box of my maps and Kleenex. Unscrew the license plates. Watch them drive away.

Wow, that was fast. Definitely sold it before my two-week deadline (thanks, God!) It sounded like they really needed the car, too, as she had missed a week of work after her car broke down. I'm glad I was able to pass it on to a family that really needed it. Another sign that I'm taking steps in the right direction!


just what you wanted... more photos!

more photos from the trip!!! enjoy :) I apologize, I think they are in backwards order. Oh well, enjoy the captions :)

At the San Jose airport, we had 4 hours to waste, so Jaclyn was sick of me taking her pictures. Her expression says it all.

And again, her "stop taking pictures!" expression :)

Finally on the plane!!! We're all smiles now!

Can you see the lava? We had to go at 4am to see the bright red lava flowing down the volcano's sides.

Costa Rica sunrise!

Vulcan Arenal and the sunrise.

Taking Jaclyn's picture when she least expects it :).

And again, capturing her hands on film.

We ate lunch at this sit-down place for less than $2. That fit nicely into our budget!

The waiter and waitresses at the restaurant. They were teaching us Spanish!

Beautiful leaves.

The outside of the hostel we stayed in. $15.00 a night for the two of us was definitely affordable!

The inside of our room.

Matias helped us set up the activities in La Fortuna. Here we are at his restaurant.

Vulcan Arenal is hiding in the clouds.

We could see Laguna Arenal from the place where we hiked on the volcano.

For some reason, our driver insisted on hiking the volcano trail with us. He is from Romania and speaks Romanian and Spanish -- no English. Interesting communication, that's for sure. We thought maybe he just didn't want to drive back on the really rough road to Fortuna so he joined us. It kind of felt like we had a bodyguard that wouldn't leave us alone.

There's a black squirrel in the grass. Can you see it? We were hoping to see monkeys, but we had to settle for this little guy.


We're back in the States!

So after a 1 hour cab ride, a 1.5 hour bus ride, 4 hours at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, 3.5 hours on a plane to Houston, only 30 minutes to transfer planes, 3 more hours on a plane to Chicago, and a wait for a ride from the airport, we are back in Illinois. Somehow that adds up to a 21 hour day, once we include the lava viewing before the cab ride and a food run as soon as we were back in Elgin. Whew! I'm tired! But it was all well worth the long travel hours.

Here's some photos of our time in La Fortuna. I think we had too much fun. What do you think?

A view from Parque Central in Fortuna. You can see Vulcan Arenal in the background!

A better view of Arenal

Monday, we hiked to a waterfall. This bridge was the easy part of the hike!

Most of the hike was on rocky paths like this.

Here's the waterfall! Ha, just kidding. This was a tiny one on the way.

We could hear the waterfall during the whole hike, like a loud roaring sound. Here's a glimpse through the trees.

We made it! I love this photo.

Compare the size of the waterfall to the people! It's huge!

One of my favorite photos from the day.

A gigantic tree during the hike.

Monday night, we swam at a hot springs. It was gorgeous and definitely much more relaxed than hiking.

Tuesday, we hiked closer to Vulcan Arenal. Here it is hiding in the clouds.

Jaclyn looks so tiny!

Jaclyn and I chose dangerous things to do apparently. I guess hiking waterfalls and volcanoes is dangerous, huh?


quick update

Jaclyn and I are in La Fortuna, spending a couple nights in a small cabin. I am using the Internet at a coffee shop, so I don't have the cable I need to put photos on here, but trust me, we are having fun! We have a Romanian driver/bodyguard/photographer/Spanish teacher (mostly driver) who has driven us to all of our activities. We hiked to a waterfall, spent 3 hours in a hot spring, and hiked to a viewing point for Volcano Arenal. Tonight we will go and see the lava!

We take a cab at 5am to the bus depot in Ciudad Quesada to then ride for 2.5 hours to the airport. We fly out at 12ish and arrive in Houston. I think we have a long layover because we finally arrive in Chicago at 9:45pm.

See you all in the States soon!


...did you know?

alright, a few fun facts about San Jose for you...

1. There are many earthquakes each day. (Don't worry, Mom, they're tiny ones!) I actually felt one today while sitting on the couch!

2. There are no addresses beyond the downtown area. To give directions, landmarks are used -- and landmarks include current and past buildings. Like the Burger King that is nonexistent today is still used as a landmark when giving directions.

3. Costa Ricans are called "ticos". Anyone else is called a "gringo". It's not derogatory at all to be called a "gringo".

4. A public bus only costs about 25 cents to ride (150 colones). $1.00 equals 500 colones.


Today Jaclyn and I explored downtown San Jose. Quite the experience. Not only were we concentrating on navigation, we are also attempting Spanish and interpreting the many signs. We did not see many other gringos, so as you can well imagine, we turned many heads.

We visited Mercado Central and La Casona (markets), Pops (an ice cream place like Baskin Robbins), Teatro Nacional (the theatre), several clothing and shoe stores (scouting out the quality and the prices... not the best), and Quizno's for lunch. This was Jaclyn's first time eating at a Quizno's ever!
I have an addiction to buying earrings. I won't tell you how many pairs I bought today. :)

I wanted so badly to take my camera with me today, but I didn't dare since it is so expensive. I didn't want to risk it being stolen! Someday when I am more confident in my Spanish and my navigation of the city, I will take it with me and capture the beautiful markets and parks.

Here's a photo from last night. We hung out with these teachers from Sojourn, and actually, both will be leaving this summer. (Left to right) Jaclyn, Tori, Ericka, me. Tori teaches 5th grade currently, and Ericka teaches 4th. Our photographer was Marlan, Tori's tico boyfriend, and I'm not sure why we are off-centered :). No big deal. Oh, and this is in the apartment where I might possibly live! More details on that to come...


Hola Sojourn Academy!

Jaclyn and I have spent our first three days in Costa Rica at Sojourn Academy, where I will be teaching beginning August 27th. We spent time in each grade and talked with teachers and students about the school and it's unique purpose.

Many parents attend the Instituta de Language Espanol and the students attend Sojourn for about a year. Families then move to other Latin American countries to work or minister with the people there. Students identify themselves by where they are from and where they are going. They might introduce themselves with something like: "Hi, my name is Isaiah, and I'm from North Carolina, and my family is moving to Venezuela." (This is a first grader I met.)

I met many of the students that I will have in 4th grade (It's official! 4th grade is mine!). I had the opportunity to teach a 3rd grade math lesson to the students that will be in my class -- I've become acquainted with their personalities and academic needs already!

Now that I am looking through my photos to post on here, I realize I didn't get many pictures of the students. Bummer!!! I actually didn't want to distract the students in class any more than I already was, so I hesitated taking pictures. I do have quite a few of the school grounds, though. Here's a few to satisfy your curiousity (and my excitement! :)) --

down the central "hallway" of the school.

The green buildings are part of the Institute.

Orange buildings = Sojourn.

Tiny blue building at the far back = the gym.

and don't forget the beautiful mountains.

closer to the orange buildings of Sojourn

a hallway of the school. Actually this is the middle school building.

and then here's some fun photos, of course :)...

an interesting flower that caught my eye... not sure what it's called.

We were getting photo-happy in the pouring rain.

doesn't she look like she should teach in Costa Rica? :)


we made it!

Jaclyn and I have arrived safely here in San Jose. Wow, it's been a long day of travel, but we definitely made the most of it. Here's a few photos that I've already captured:

Photo shoot at the Houston airport.

We sat next to this man, Tet, during the flight from Houston to San Jose.

He is from Peru by birth but currently lives 6 months in San Francisco and 6 months on the Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica. He filled us in on all the places to visit and places to avoid. His nephew is an architect, and Jaclyn is searching for an architecture internship (hopefully here in San Jose :)), so he gave us his nephew's contact information. We are also welcome to visit Asiento del Suenos, Tet's home on the beach.

Oh, a funny story: During our flight from Chicago to Houston, Jaclyn and I sat by an outgoing 5 year-old redhead boy named Leam. We talked all about Pokemon cards and kindergarten. Leam had informed me of his girlfriend Sophie who was also in his kindergarten class. His parents were sitting across the aisle and their attempts to quiet him throughout the flight were not successful (I really didn't mind talking with Leam!). By the end of the trip, Leam had declared "I love you girls!" and so Leam's exasperated dad says, "Leam, your girlfriend at home would not like you telling these ladies that you love them. Let's save that phrase for your girlfriend." Leam says, "Dad, Sophie can't hear what I say right now, so it's alright. Don't worry about it." Oh kids.

My best photo today. Priscilla and Ale picked us up at the San Jose airport and drove us to the San Francisco district, where Jaclyn and I will be staying for the next 4 or 5 nights. I met these two when I travelled to Costa Rica with the Judson mission project 2 years ago. By email, Priscilla had requested Burt's Bees "lipstick" from the States, so I brought several tubes in exchange for the ride to San Francisco. She was so excited about the chapstick!

Tomorrow we will be at Sojourn Academy!

more stories to come...