super faint thanks to aerial perspective. pacific coast, nicaragua.
san josé disappearing
1. Everything comes in bags at the grocery store. At first you might not think that strange because in the States flour, sugar, cheese, chips, etc., come in bags. While those items do come in bags, so do items like ketchup, mustard, mayonaisse, refried beans, salsa, cleaning solutions such as bleach, laundry detergent, refill handsoap, meat at the meat counter, sour cream, basically anything liquid or semi-liquid. Cons: putting on my painting clothes before cutting open the bag of bleach. Or the juice from the meat seemingly seeping out of the bag. Yuck. Pros: cut down on garbage. You can squeeze your beans right onto your tortilla, lol.
2. Kilos. The metric system is a smart idea, United States and Britain, and I don't know why you invented your own system! I have figured out how to convert kilograms into pounds for when I am at the market and to convert kilometers into miles for distance. The customary system is so well engrained in my thinking that it still is difficult for me to understand weight and distance in kilos.
3. Pay your bills at the grocery store. Yes, you read that right. I receive a piece of paper once a month for water, electricity, and phone, and I have to walk to the grocery store, get in the cashier line, show my bill, and pay in cash only. You can also pay bills at the bank or online, but I have yet to figure out the online system. Maybe someday.
4. No personal space. While standing in line at the grocery store, I could hear and feel the lady behind me breathing! She was standing so close to me that I was coaching myself not to be so ''gringo''. lol. I need space! She was actually a very outspoken tica as she nearly pushed me out of the way after I was done paying for my food, but then I still needed to pay my cell phone bill (Oh yeah, I have a cell phone now thanks to Judit!). I lost my voice this week due to a sore throat, so I rasped that I still needed to pay my bill! The cashier bent toward me and was like ''What??'' (this whole conversation in Spanish of course) and so I breathed deeper and rasped louder that I needed to pay my cell phone bill! He asked me for the phone number and I wrote it down so I wouldn't rasp-shout it at him, lol. The lady behind me was still breathing on my shoulder, and she said ''So you can't speak Spanish, huh?'' I looked at her, probably with a not-nice look on my face, and I didn´t respond. Thank goodness I have arrived at a point in my Spanish that I don´t feel like I have to prove myself every chance I get.
5. City life. Lots of traffic. Dodging cars to cross streets. Taking the bus. Palm trees. Pollution. Long lines at the ATMs. Beggars at our door. Homeless people in the streets. Street-smart dogs that look both ways before they cross the road. Three-legged dogs that have experienced a car incident and are still loving life (or limping through life). Spanish, spanish, spanish. Mountains surround the city.
6. Earthquakes. We had another minor tremor this morning. It's a part of life now to go outside as soon as I feel a tremor, no matter where I am. I was currently at home, falling asleep, and so I dosed shortly after because it wasn't a big one. When a tremor happens, I can hear the windows shake, the ground beneath me isn't stable, I have to lean on something to keep me up. If it is strong enough, things might fall off shelves and you might see the table and chairs ''dancing''. The quake today M4.7 (magnitude on the Richter scale), says the Nación newspaper. Not bad at all.
I'll probably think of more later, so stay tuned :)
1. January is HOT. Whenever I see the date written on newspapers or newsletters, I think, ''Really? It's January?'' It's more like an Illinois August, without the thunderstorms and humidity. My classroom is like a sauna, or as one of my tica students read in Esperanza Rising the other day and then said about our classroom ''It is like a brick oven that is cooking us!'' I thought that very appropriate. It is so hot in our classroom that I have usual complaints of headaches and nausea. My answer is always ''Drink more water!'' We have been outside on the balcony in the afternoons for our Independent Reading time. I know the kids enjoy the break from the heat and the fun of looking out over the school campus and city streets.
2. January is DRY. It's not quite as dry as an Illinois winter, because I don't have to put lotion on everyday here like I did when I was stateside for Christmas. The grass and trees turns brown. I drink tons of water, and I make my students drink tons as well. (which in turn students have more bathroom emergencies!)
3. Tico summer vacation. Right now is the Costa Rican public schools' vacation, so if you want to go to the pool or the theatre, the lines are long and the facilities are full of super-tanned kids. My own Costa Rican students are a little restless as their neighborhood or church friends are out of school and they still have to go.
4. Sunrise 5:59am, Sunset 5:37pm (today). The sun stays out for a more consistent time period here year-round because we are close to the equator. It is nice not to have super short days like in the winter in Illinois.
5. Mosquitoes. I have a broken window pane, and somehow, mosquitoes can smell my skin from miles away. I have had many battles at night with multiple mosquitoes in the past week, and one got the best of my face again. Thankfully, this time was only both my cheeks and my forehead, not my eye! Whenever I hear that zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz sound in my room at night, I wake up super fast, turn on the light, and swing my Spanish/English dictionary in every which direction until all bugs are dead. I'm not messing around anymore thinking the zzzzzzzzzzzzz is just in my dreams.
6. Spanish everywhere. No matter where I go here, I am practicing Spanish. It has become so much easier, and not as much of an internal panic attack as it has been in the past. I have begun tutoring sessions again on Thursday afternoons to tackle the dreaded subjunctive verb tense, but I am excited to finally understand and apply it. I have begun speaking more Spanish with my students too, as now I am very comfortable with it and we easily slip in and out of Spanish and English.
1. A student broke his right wrist this week in gym class, and since he is right-handed, I have been making many accomodations for him (It's not as hard as it might seem. I have magnetic letters that he manipulates for practicing spelling words, he tells me what to write for answers on quizzes and homework, and we do a lot of partner work where the other student can write for him too). Poor kid, he can't play his beloved soccer at recess, so I got out a Sudoku game that none of the kids had seen and he was excited about that... at least for a day :). Costa Rican doctors don't mess around either! His cast is seriously like a cement block on his arm. LOL it's not literally cement, but a really hard plaster smoothed over the gauze. Yesterday on his way out the door, he thanked me for my help. I think he was nervous about coming to school because he already is discouraged about writing in general... and then to imagine having to write with only his left hand! It will be an interesting next 6 weeks of accomodations, but we will make it through. Another student commented that he gets all my attention now, and I told the whole class that if they felt like I was giving more attention to this boy, then they could go break their wrist too! They all laughed and joked that they wanted a cast too. (It reminded me of my favorite childhood book Madeline!) So after student comments, I have made an effort to give attention to all while also assisting Mr. Cast.
2. A swollen tongue. Not sure how this one happened, but it started out as a sore throat last Sunday and increasingly got worse with drainage and loss of my voice. Today I finally went through the long doctor lines at Ebais to receive a confirmation that yes, my tongue is swollen, no they don't know why, and here's your treatment of two shots to the tush. lol, like I have said before the injections for treatments are a common practice here. ''Oh, and by the way,'' the doctor says as I leave the room, ''the shots will make you very sleepy.'' Thanks for the heads up. I came home and slept 3 hours straight. Now it's naptime again.
My class is down to 10 students right now as we said goodbye to 4 North Americans moving on to Honduras and Peru. One student pointed out the other day that I am now the only gringa as there are 3 gringos (boy North Americans) and 7 ticos (Costa Rican boys and girls). That's when I joked that I dyed my hair last weekend just so I would look more tica :).
And the silly faces!!
I received great student gifts. Goldfish beanie baby, bookmarks, an ''S'' necklace, a coffee bean bracelet, a Snickers and box of chocolates (my students have noticed my love for chocolate!), and a candle. Oh, and you can´t forget the glass fish. This photo doesn't show them very well, but it's between the goldfish and the candle.
And we wrote thank you notes to other Sojourn staff members for my birthday :) Why not spread the joy?
I think Trish has something up her sleeve for tomorrow... we went out to dinner this evening to A La Leña and it was great to eat a huge chicken ceasar salad. I'll keep you posted as to what happens this weekend in the name of ''birthday celebrations''!!