Friday, September 11, 2009

First 10 days in Costa Rica

Pictures will be coming by tomorrow. They wouldn´t let me download directly here at the internet cafe.

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, we left at 9:20 and after three flights, arrived in Alajuela, Costa Rica at 8:30. Of course, lots of fights, whiny kids, etc. to entertain me during the day. C. thought he was in heaven sitting in the airplane eating. He said, "We should do this everyday - fly, have a little light that shines on us, have a little tray that folds down, and have someone bring us dinner." The absolute worst part of the day was maneuvering the 3 large pieces of luggage and 5 small ones from the baggage claim onto a cart, over to moving belts to check them, onto the moving belts, off the moving belts, back onto the cart, walk 200 feet, be told the cart can go no further, take them off the cart, haul them outide, wait for ride, --no one in sight but buggy taxi drivers--, find out there´s another exit, haul everything there, then finally....see a waving arm and smiling face. Oscar Rodriguez, who was taught by my friend Liz Granados while on her mission, and a member of the bishopric were there to meet us and take us to Oscar´s home.

Oscar and his wife Flor live at the bottom of hill with some stairs, some ramp, some dirt. Thanks goodness I had help with those suitcases at that point. I don´t think I would have made it down there! Flor had a meal prepared and waiting for us and had given us their bed to sleep in so we would be comfortable. Not ever having met us-yet ready to share all they had with us.

I slept maybe one hour the first night-the girls coughing and sneezing from their colds, nerves from trip, and the heat and humidity. In the morning I kept hearing someone yelling. I though,t "What an obnoxious neighbor! Why don´t they shut up?" We found out that it´s their pet parrot that talks all day long and tries to answer the phone when it rings. If no one answers the phone, he starts calling all the names of the family to get their attention. The kids had a blast making the phone ring, then listening to the bird.

The next day, Oscar had a taxi pick us up and take us the half hour to the bus station in San Jose. There we met Jeanette, our contact in San Isidro. Liz knew Jeanette from her mission and had put me in contact with her. Jeanette had gone to a school to inquire about a teaching position for me. We boarded the bus, then took a 3 1/2 bus ride to San Isidro. It´s extremely high, but you don´t really feel it because there´s so much foliage alongside the roads. You go up, up, around, around, up, around then down, around down , around. Of course, I had to have at least one child get car sick. Luckily she never did vomit. It´s an incredibly beautiful drive. I´ve never been to Hawaii, but after seeing some of Costa Rica I´m not sure I care about going. The mountainsides are a paradise.

Jeanette had two rooms ready for us. She rents in a nice, cozy home right by the Pan-American highway and the McDonalds. The next day we went to look for apartments for rent, but ended up discouraged and completely exhausted. I´d now had two nights of almost no sleep.

On Thursday, I bought uniforms for the kids and on Friday, they went to their first day of school. After 1 1/2 hours there, S. was screaming for me. I finally calmed her down, promised ice cream if she´d go to class (no critique of my parenting skills, please).

On Friday, we decided to live with Jeanette. We worked out prices and I also am paying her to cook the main meal of the day. That way, we can try out Costa Rican food, and it will help keep me sane after teaching all day. She is a wonderful, fun lady that has welcomed us with open arms. She loves kids, and has sworn to me that they won´t drive her crazy. We´ll see...

On Sat. we decided to go to the beach. I went early and bought bus tickets, then we caught the 9:00 bus to Dominical. Hour and half drive, very pretty. The beach has a row of trees which S. and I stayed under most of the day. That´s why the others were all burned and we were nice and white! Ch. was burned pretty bad. I had told them all to come get more sunscreen, but they all wanted to ignore me. We had to wait a while for the bus. The 1:30 bus had come 15 min. early, so we went out at 2:10 for the 2:30 bus. We were muddy (the sand is strange - black and muddy), sticky, out of food and water and HOT; HOT; HOT, and I had an extremely grumpy 6 year-old. There was no shade by the bus stop, and I wasn´t sure I was going to survive the last few minutes of waiting. We did survive, with no child abuse involved, and made it back.

Sunday - We went to church; I´ll be able to help out by playing the piano for the time we´re here. The people were very sweet, especially Yamilet Torres, the branch president´s wife. She lent us a table and bed while we´re here. That night we were invited to a Family Home Evening activity with lesson and food. Then the kids got to run around and play. By that evening, I was completely run-down and so were the kids. They finally got to be with kids and play and laugh, and I finally felt like I was going to survive this adventure. Ch. hung around a bit with Yamilet´s 15 year-old son. At his age, it´s a lot harder to make friends so I´m hoping that they can be friends while we´re here.

Mon. - S. went to school just fine, but then thew a fit over a misunderstanding of when she´d receive an ice cream. She was screaming, kicking, hitting, then threw up she was crying so hard. I don´t think anyone is ever going to convince that child to do something she doesn´t want to do. I started teaching, kind of. They kept the interim teacher here for the week to help acclimate me to the school and the classes. She was great to work with so it will be a little sad to be by myself next week.

Tues. - S. went to school fine, but because she´s younger than the other kids they were pushing me to take her out. I felt bad, and the emotion of the week caught up with me.

Wed. - S. would NOT go into class. That was it. I talked to Jeanette and am paying her to watch S. during the day. I have Fridays off, so she´ll have her 4 days a week. I also asked the school for more money, since I now only have 3 kids in the school. I asked for enough to pay Jeanette for watching her. I´m hoping they´ll come through.


Alarm rings at 5:50 (yes, that is the middle of the night for me)
Try to leave for school by 6:55. I haven´t left before 7 yet.
Rush, rush to school. We have to cross the busy road every time which I hate. Sometimes it can take a while to cross.
School starts at 7:15
School´s out at 2:15
We walk home, usually buying some fresh bread or treats on the way home
Eat around 3:30 (Thank you Jeanette, Can I bring you back with me to cook???)
The kids and I do the dishes together
Collapse at 4:30
Go run errands around 5, if needed
6:00 - it´s completely dark, we make a snack
6:30 - I have them do a little homework that I brought with me.
7:00 -quick baths, not a lot of hot water (it´s too humid to sleep without a bath)
7:20 - read history, scriptures, then they can watch Scooby Doo on the laptop.
8:00 - kids in bed

I give you our schedule because the rhythm of our lives here is so different from the states. We don´t have a car, and neither does Jeanette, so everything takes longer. Getting groceries happens in lots of short trips, dictated by how much I can carry. The traffic on the main road is really busy at 5:30-6:30. So we try to be back inside for the evening by then, and it´s dark anyway.

Overall, after 10 days, things are going well. I´ve barely started to sleep better (it´s noisy outside and I have a kid in the bed with me) S. is now calm that she doesn´t have to go to school, M. is happy at school, C. is pretty happy at school. Ch. is the one that´s having a harder time adjusting. Junior high age is hard anyway, so it´s been a double whammy. They went on a field day, and all the boys played soccer really well. So he felt a little bad. But yesterday he took his drumsticks to school and wowed them with his drumstick-twirling-through-the- fingers talent. He liked that. I´m so hoping he´ll make friends and enjoy his time here. Even though the kids are all still speaking English with each other, they´ve all shown improvement even with just one week here.

If you´re still here reading, thanks for keeping tabs on us!


Liz said...

I was so happy to read your Post! I can't wait to see pictures. I'm so glad you are staying with Janett. Please tell her hello. And you're right, she is a wonderful fun lady. Tell Chandler not to feel bad, I'm sure the other boys are a little jelous of him, because every girl in his class probably has a crush on him. Anyway, I am keeping tabs on you. ;) I look forward to your next post.

Lili said...

Wow! You never cease to amaze me! Hope Chandler adjusts well the time you guys are there. I'm excited to see your pictures and to see how big the kids are!Love you guys!

McKay and Jessica said...

sounds like an adventure! we want to see pictures! :)

The Gardner Family said...

Hello!! Wow we miss you guys! It sounds like it's going to be quite the adventure for you there. How exciting! Good luck and we can't wait to hear and see more!!