Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Everyday Learning Experience

Normally, when I sit down to write, I have a head full of some adventure I have just experienced. This time, I have a bit of a different topic. I am writing this time about Spanish. I suppose it is kind of ironic to write about another language, but this is what I am setting out to do. Learning a language is a pretty difficult undertaking. When I go about my days here, I set off to learn something new, solely by being put in everyday situations. To learn a language in its entirety is an entirely different idea. It is hard. Possibly a lot harder than I expected. I strive to learn something new every time I step outside the door of my room. I can learn here in my house, as well as outside these walls.
As most of you would assume, I do not normally have this type of mindset when I step outside. Learning is not usually even ranked on the top ten when I leave the house at home, but here it is. I learn words almost everyday, and often I hear things that I have no clue what it means, but I love the experience all the same. I love hearing people answer the phone with "Alo" and I love hearing "Gracias" and "Con mucho gusto". Everyday experiences like getting to and from places on the bus and buying a snack at the store all have a newness to them that often contain a learning experience. Sometimes that experience is of culture and sometimes it is purely language, but either way, it becomes rewarding to do the simple things.
I love Spanish, and I love the experiences I am gaining everyday, even if they aren't all categorized as an adventure. The everyday life here is fun and exciting, even if it is nothing to write about.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The View From Up Here

Each day Costa Rica gains a little more of my love. Despite the fact the rain is inevitable and forms rushing rivers along the sides of the streets as well as in them, I still am in love.
This weekend, my Mom came down for a visit, so I got to head off to the beach, which is always great! Bonus, this weekend it was actually sunny for most of the time, so I enjoyed the hot weather of Jaco this weekend. Before Jaco, however, when I went to the airport to pick Mom up, I found possibly my calling for life. An airport picker upper person. I could people watch for hours!! Watching people watch for who they are waiting for, then when they think they see them, but actually don't. Then, they actually reunite or meet or whatever and it is a beautiful thing to watch if not awkward and ridiculous. I'm not sure what I'm changing my major to yet, but an airport picker upper is my future job, probably not with that exact title.
After we came back from Jaco, we became roving travelers because the hotel we were staying in had limited space. We had to change rooms every night from then on out, but I also realized I could be a nomad. I like the changes. I like taking in one space and then moving before you become too accustomed to it. Mom was able to meet all my friends from the program and my Tica family and see San Jose and UCR.
The Tuesday brought lots of adventures since it was the Eve of Independence Day here. Ana, my Tica sister, was running with the torch in a parade that day. We went to the parade through San Pedro and ended up at Ana's school where there was a carnival type thing with tons of food, people pretending to be statues, tons of fireworks and a torch of their own. All of it was really cool. Mom thought the statues were real and were always there, which made it really funny when she asked if they were always there, and my Mama Tica was pretending to poke them and ask them questions etc.
After the carnival and fireworks display, both my Moms, Ana and I went to this restaurant in Escasu that literally put the city in perspective. When you walk down the streets of San Jose, its much easier to see the bad. The trash and the dirty streets, the honking cars and the haze of pollution looming over the city are easily in view. The city from inside, is really nothing to look at. From up in the mountains though, the city is beautiful. The night air was clear and the lights were brilliant. The sight of far away fireworks celebrating the day further illuminated the vast lights of the city. It was truly beautiful. Naturally, my camera was dead, so I wasn't able to capture the beauty, but the picture would have been better in my memory anyway.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A List of Firsts

Fun fact about Costa Rica. The Jurassic Park movies were filmed here- on some islands.
This past weekend, as I ventured to Corcovado, I really did expect a T-Rex or a Raptor of some kind to come barreling out of the trees. It was beautiful. This past weekend, I saw whales, poisonous snakes, other snakes, frogs, lizards, sea turtles, dolphins, blow fish, monkeys, toucans, macaws and I’m sure something else I am forgetting. LIterally, my senses were in overdrive just trying to keep up.
We started this little adventure at the very early morning and all before lunch I had seen: gators (or maybe crocodiles, but I don't know the difference), the sunrise (yes it was that early), the beach, surfers, mangroves, been on a boat out of a river and into the ocean, mountains and I am not sure what else. All of it was just way amazing. All before lunch time. After lunch, a monkey had broken into our bungalow and stolen snacks and ransacked our place and we went on a hike through the rainforest, which was conveniently located right near the beach, and saw baby sea turtles awaiting their release.
The next day I embarked on many firsts for myself. I went further out into the ocean than I had ever been before to an island where we hiked to Costa Rican ruins. Before we arrived at the island though, our boat chased whales that were indescribable. We saw several snakes which can kill a human in less than 2 minutes with their bite. They were swimming all over the water. Ok, not all over, but we did see like 8 of them in the water that was the same water we would later be snorkeling in (also a first for me). Also, just to add to the element of danger of those snakes, the place we were staying was a 40 minute boat ride to the nearest town, which did not even include a clinic. There would be no hope for you. All of everything was just incredible.
It seems even to me now that when I type this out, the full effect is not given to the places I saw. Not to mention, the people who were our guides (boat & island) were possibly two of the nicest people ever. I feel like I have two great friends now in them. The whole trip was beyond belief. I was swarmed by monkeys, macaws threw fruits at me, bats flew at my face, I saw whales, and all this just breaches the surface. Those are the things that concrete words can be put to. The other things, like the mountains, the island, the rainforest and the ocean all in one place- those can't really be given justice only with words. Even the pictures I have do nothing for the place I have seen. I really wish I could've captured it better, but I am not sure anything short of seeing all the amazing beauty God created could do it.