Christmas decorations here aren't quite like decorations at home... probably because Christmas for me seems strange without a blanket of snow on the ground. No snow here!

Think fuchsia, turquoise, silver, gold... all metallic. And that summarizes the decorations here... Of course, they have pine trees (real and fake), Santa Clauses (San Nicolas), candy canes, and Christmas lights, but it's just not the same when you're thinking of what to wear to stay cool for the day while also looking outside to see a blow-up snowman in your neighbor's yard... haha. Ironic, yes!

So I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, where I'm surrounded by Siscoes and maybe a few Crumrines :) and snow and sledding and a fireplace (Thanks Dad for lighting the fire!), and maybe a few warm layers of clothes and a big warm blanket and ...

In other words, I'm coming home in 3 weeks! :) and looking forward to being part of the Siscoes and (hopefully) a snowy Christmas for a month of vacation. Although, I might have to hit the tanning bed a couple times for a dose of heat and concentrated Vitamin D. Ironic, yes! :)

Bus Justice

The public bus system here in Costa Rica varies from good service to bad service. A bus company Lisa and I travelled with this past weekend is on the bad end... for two reasons.

1. Although it's illegal to make passengers stand for more than 40 minutes on a long-distance bus, the driver crammed 20 more people than there were seats... So guess what? People stood. Now at first you might not think that's so bad... until I tell you that travelling the entire distance from Montezuma to San José... is a total of 6 hours. Now there is a ferry ride in the middle, so ''standers'' hope to get a seat on the ferry; however, the ride seems even longer while having to travel standing. Not to mention it's illegal...

2. No one has a ticket with a seat number. Everyone pays the driver as they get on the bus and they receive a copy of the pay stub... but without a seat number, arguments over whose seat is whose quickly escalate because no one has proof that any seat is theirs.

Lisa and I had a seat, we promise we did. Some gringos didn't believe us that we had seats after the ferry ride and insisted that the bus driver make everyone sit in their original seats (''We can't change seats,'' the gringo kept repeating... um, since when do we have a seating arrangement without seat numbers on our tickets?). Well, someone had taken our seats, so we took someone elses, etc. The bus driver barked at us to get out of someone else's seat, and when I said that someone else was in our seats, he asked me where. I pointed at the pregnant woman and her mother that were in our seats... and he told me to tell them to get out of our seats. I said I would rather stand than make a pregnant woman stand, and he said, ''Bueno, como quiera,'' which is like saying ''Whatever!'' with attitude.

So we stood. For 4 hours.

I was honestly so upset for those first 30 minutes or so. I put in my iPod and didn't even look at Lisa because I felt like I had let her down by not getting our seats, plus the gringo behind us was saying that ''those girls'' (us) were lying all along and that it was right for us to have to stand. Bah! I had to physically bite my tongue several times to not let him know what I thought about the whole unfair situation.

I think we had different versions of bus justice... He was trying to catch the culprit... while I was letting a pregnant woman sit in my seat. He thought I was the culprit, so he thought justice had been served... I disagreed (obviously :))

When we arrived in San José, the bus driver commented to the assistant that it was a good thing that cops aren't around on Sundays... because it's illegal to have people standing on a bus for more than 40 minutes! Um, excuse me sir, have you ever had to stand on a bus for 4 hours straight?


Vacation! :)

My friend Lisa and I went to Montezuma beach for Thanksgiving, and we enjoyed lots of good food, good conversation, and good sun time. I read The Kite Runner in two days, ate lots of gummy worms, and drank peach tea while sitting on the beach. It might sound lazy, but I was also swatting away sand gnats and ants from my gummy stash (that was my exercise for the weekend, lol). We did hike to 4 different beaches and to a waterfall... and we did pilates on the beach in the blazing sun, haha, so I did move more than swatting bugs. We saw hungry white-faced monkeys that we thought were smiling for the camera but in reality were bearing their teeth because they were expecting food tips in exchange for the photo ops. We also saw an entire family of bisotes, a relative of raccoons... I'm sure they have a name in English, but I'm not sure what it is. They have rings around their tails like raccoons and are skinnier in their torso, with long anteater-looking noses. We also saw black monkeys performing tight rope on the electrical cables and a blue-jay-looking bird wanted to steal my bacon while we were eating breakfast at a local restaurant. The blue jay settled for a sugar packet when I wouldn't surrender my bacon.

So all in all, a great vacation.


Goodbye Valen! :(

Valen and I met here in San José in September as she was studying abroad in San Pedro. We shared several Sundays church and lunch. It's hard to believe she's already leaving! She came all the way over to Escazú this evening to say goodbye, so we had to take a photo! :)


Flashback to October Wacky Week

After having Internet off and on, I´m still recovering :). Here´s photos from October 29th, ''Dress up like a High Schooler'' Day. The kids managed to cover all the high stereotypes :)

 She was excited about her ''credit card''.
A cheerleader! 
looking cute. 
It was interesting to see their interpretation of what high schoolers wear. :)
He told me he was a bully with a leather jacket.

His uncle is just a year older than he is, so he told me he just borrowed his uncle's clothes.

The nerd stereotype.

She had huge headphones, but her hair is covering them in this photo.

Check out his arm tattoo. It was a cloth sleeve that you put on to look like you had a sleeve tattoo. The boys told me they were in the mall once and one of them put the sleeve on to wear around the mall. He said an adult came up to him and told him he was too young to have real tattoos. :) It looks pretty real.

Our new student even took a break from wearing the uniform!

And girls looking cute as high schoolers.

The next Monday, we were back to looking like normal 5th graders! (Thank goodness :))


Highlights of Today

When I was growing up, Dad would always ask us at dinner to share our ''highlights of the day''. If I were at dinner with my family tonight, I would share these two highlights:
 I have a cell phone now and it makes life so much easier :)
And I was invited to my student's dance performance this evening. She did really well and I was so proud!!! :)

From Here to There

With the whole transition for the move, I stayed in Santa Ana in what seemed like a mansion condominium. My bedroom had a whole wall of mirrors:
 My suitcases waiting transport.
 My closet of ''treasures''.
 A sweet painting in the living room.
 The lady I stayed with, Rocio, is an artist and is a divorced mom whose teenage daughters decided to live with their dad. She's doing her best to ''start over'' in life, and I could tell that right now she's going through a lot. Here's a photo of her and her daughters when the girls were little:
 And then last weekend, I moved to Escazú officially, to live with a tico family for the next 7 months (That's the plan for now!). Honestly, this family is great. I am excited to get to know them more. Here's my bedroom:
 And my dresser:
 And my closet:
 And my bathroom::
 This showerhead is the kind they call ''widowmakers'' because the showerhead is literally what heats up the water with hot wires inside. Electric shock is ... well, possible.
 And the view from my window.
The family is Marilyn (mom), Natalie (daughter), Steve (husband to Natalie), and Santiago (grandson). I'll post photos soon of them!