Archive for ‘San Jose, Costa Rica’

First week in San Jose

87 Commentsby   |  05.28.11  |  San Jose, Costa Rica

The first week has been a busy one, full of challenges, adventures, and lots of personal growth.

After arriving in the San Jose airport and making it through customs I waited to spot my host family. But no one was there. I knew what they looked like from a picture taken by a past intern, but didn´t see them anywhere. A few nice men offered for me to use their phones to call, but I didn’t even have a phone number, not even an address for a taxi to take me… I would just have to wait – and pray, that my host recalled the right time and day to pick me up from the message I had sent over a week prior. About 20min later, I spotted Nora, who was holding a piece of paper with my name on it. Praise God! I was politely greeted and embraced and felt this was off to a good start. So far it has been true.

Though I have studied one year of spainish at an esteemed university, that was over 2 years ago and I was quite rusty not having used much, or any really since then. After arriving back at the hous about 6:30, I began to unpack and they were telling me what I thought was the morning scedule then i saw the other girls (host´s daughters) had changed into nice clothes, so i did the same, not sure as to why. Then they were like are you ready? yep, and off we went. not sure where i was going, but i was ready.
everything here is gated. so we pulled up to a gate and they let us in… only saw 4 men… I was like this seems sketchy. after we pulled in I saw the church sign… i was like… oh i guess we are going to church on a thurs. night.
after a complete service, sermon, prayer, singing, bible study, prayer requests… there was some fellowship. and I continued to be a bit rough with my spanish, but they apprecieated it. I got the main stuff out. and I can answer most questions well. 
about 30-40 people were there and someone was celebrating theier 26th wedding anniversary so there was cake and soda, I´ve had more soda here (in central america) then I have in a month. it´s usually something like Fanta (red).

While at church I was invited to go on a trip to the country, where Ronald (my host and the church minister) would conduct a wedding and two baptisms. They told me it would be poor, different and have lots of bugs, but of course I said yes. I´m here to go where there is work to be done and new places to see.

We left the house about 6am on Saturday and met up with some other people at the church here in San jose and then drove about 3 hours there throught the mountains to the country (el campo). There was about 11 of us altogether. there was a long gravel road that we had to ride on forever. It seemed long, so i timed in on the way back (and it was 45min) the road drove through many of the farms of bannanas, pinapples, coconuts and yuka (you-ka, potato like food, but the plant is like a tree)  a few very nice houses were out there, but many were poor and nearly all had fences. some of the fences were primarily made with trees,  i was amazed at this. we got to a house and it was nice, didn´t really have front doors though, but there were doors for the bathrooms and bedrooms.
They cut down coconuts for us when we got there, one for each of us from the tree in thier front yard. when I opened mine it squirt me in the face. it was tasty but would be better cold. I felt okay about drinking it because they told us not to drink the water from the facuet, i figued a coconut would be safe, but it was dirty on the ourside cause when they cut them down they hit the ground, then cut it with a machette that has been everywhere.  i really appreciated it though cause i was thirsty and it was hot, but  I couldn´t drink it all so I threw it where everyone else did. they split one open and the dogs went after it like it was meat. they looked well fed, but really liked it.
After being there about 15min we got the stuff around for the wedding. the church was about the size of the big room. there was a sheet-metal roof, but it had lots of holes. and the walls were coconut branches tied up, it turned out to be better then a solid wall for air circulation, but still provided shade. It also looked nice because they were still green. I wasn´t sure if they did that special for the wedding or if they routinely changed them for church. the floor was dirt and a bit dusty. there was evidence that a few cows had wandered in. That church had recently bought new chairs and they were nice. blue plastic and a style you  would find in a typical highschool classroom. they had to carry them from a house nearby (of the preacher´s family) down a long driveway. Only the men carried them (it wouldn´t have been polite for them to let me) on thier heads or shoulder, 2-4 at a time. All the mens arms are strong, most you can see thier veins. we decorated the church with white and salmon colored balloons and and tissue paper (the kind you wrap presents with) they didn´t have the rolls like we do, so we folded it, cut it in strips and taped the strips together for about the same outcome. someone had also made large hearts and doves with cardstock and we used those as well. it looked very nice when we were done. yet simple. They brought the kitchen table from the house for the alter and used two wood kitchen chairs for the bride and groom to sit.
when we were done, we being the preachers kids/youth from the church (3) took a short nap on the chairs until the men got back from the baptisms.
I figured thats where they were because Ronald (the preacher who I stay with) came back in a white outfit with a towel.
we went to eat at a nearby house, Rice and beans, yuka and what I think was pig skins. I think it was pig skins because they told me it was from a pig and it had hairs on it.I tried one but it was very hard, like eating little rocks. everything else was good though. I had to sit next to the stove, which was with a real fire, so the smoke was getting in my eyes, but I didn´t signal it bothered my until the other people did. The kitchen floor was made of dirt, but it had clean running water. they had all the essentials just not where we would have them. That house had secections. one section was raised and had wood floors and there was 3 beds in there (one room- i think for all the kids) there was a front living room and kitchen like room (no way to cook though) that had a concrete floor and was very clean, another bedroom in that part too, there was a refrigerator and tv in that area. I also saw the shower houses and a electric washing machine for clothes. the women were cooking in what, i would call your sunday best, skirt and heals on the dirt floor by a fire. They cooked alot of food, I didn´t know it at the time, but I would eat that same rice and beans for the next 2 meals (dinner at the wedding and for breakfast with a tortilla).

We all got showers in the other house, in a compariable american bathroom with one stream cold water, but felt so refreshing. when I was ready we walked to the church. they made an announcement and then it started about 10min later, they were waiting for everyone to get there, it started when everyone was there, time dídn´t matter. I took a long skirt and my tennis shoes cause thats what they told me to bring. but the preachers daughter laughed and I asked “what” and she said “you” when she was looking at my shoes. but I didn´t know. oh well. everyone else was in that dirt floor church with heals and VERY NICE clothes. the men wearing ties, the women wearing heals. the service had a sermon, I understood when he was emphasizing the role of the father in the home, and a few other points, but most went over my head. There was some songs, and vows. the couple rarely smiled. it´s hard to gauge age, but someone said it was thier second marriage, not likely as a result of divorce though.
Afterwards we ate rice and beans, cake and soda, i was able to help serve and then later play with the kids. there was about 40 people there.
later we went back to the house. and got lots of bug spray and long shirts cause the bugs were getting bad, there was a meeting with the church leaders I was called to attend, but didn´t understand  much. I think it was about planning the service for the next day. I got ready for bed and was shown to a room, me and 2 other girls shared a room. we were given a clean bottom sheet (for each of our matresses) but that was all. I composed a pillow with my other clothes and used a  lg. shirt for blanket. I also resprayed myself with bug spray. there is no screens in any of the houses not even in the city. The windows are always open. for air. I studied a little and went to bed, i think around 10pm. and woke up about 8:30 or 9am. had a quick breakfast of fresh piña juce (pineapple) and rice and beans. and freshened up and went to church. it started when everyone got there about 9:45. there was singing, of which I knew all the songs/hymns…. in english, so I could at least hum, some I could sing more then others and they had a tiny hmynal with some songs that helped. Not sure exactly what the sermon was about but  they read a whole chapter of Esther, some of 2nd Corinthians and some others too. my bilingual bible only has the new testament, so I couldn´t follow along totally. I brought a new bible in spanish to give the church, but I think i will use it till I leave. I feel bad opening it cause i showed it to the preacher already and don´t want to open it, but I think it best.
I brought some pencils and candy to give to the kids, and so I went to thier class and talked to them a little, with help.
we played more after church.
the boys played soccer, i was amazed at how good they were. and how tough.
also as we packed up, the local preacher “came from the woods” with 5 pinapples, and again with 8 papyas and again with 2 large bunches of banannas (like 35lbs) which we brought back, i think we bought it from him.
for lunch I wasn´t sure what was going to happen. it was past 2pm and no lunch. about 3.00 we went to the other house and waited and talked. there was flipper on tv, and then a dancing show. There are alot of american movies or tv shows that are voiced over in spanish (like the 2 second delay on Japenese movies.) but some are voiced in english with spanish subtitles. I am amazed at what i know, but also at what i lack. it´s a huge motivator to learn, cause you can instantly understand more.
after lunch (we had rice, beans, and pork ribs) we headed back, I took more pictures of the farms and timed the gravel ride (45min) very rough. It began to rain and was raining very hard when we got back at about 7 or so and watched some tv. when I went to shower i was kinda dreading it cause it was only cold water. I had showered 2 times there before and it was very cold, this time i decided to go faster and turn up the pressure. when I did the water got warm. :D apparently the higher pressure kicked on the warmer that was attached to the shower head, so i had a gloriously warm shower :D

While every day hasn´t been as eventful as the weekend in the counrty each day has been good for at least studying during the day and attending church in the evening. I love church here, the people are so nice and I love all the greetings with a holy kiss (1 peter 5).

Thursday was my first day at the language school and I decided I should walk, even though they offered to drive me. They had drove me a few days prior and I sketched a map to follow, after redrawing the map Ronald and his wife Nora looked over it, so I felt good about the accuracy of it. I was to be there about 11 :30 and was told it would take about 30 min to walk so I left about 10:45 just to make sure I had enough time. I left and instantly felt lost, but just kept walking. I was by myself and didn´t want to carry a purse or bag, so I was carrying my books and jacket in my arms. I came across a few of the landmarks I had noted on my map and felt reassured, but without road names or signs it´s pretty hard to navigate. I think I took the long way, but I made it to the neighborhood of the school then I knew I had gone in about 2 circles before I asked for directions. I´m glad for the Spanish I knew. I think I said the right words, just a bit slower then ¨normal¨ and thankfully the directions were simple enough that I understood completely. I was 2 blocks off, and just turned around from where I had been coming. I made it to the school and was told what room to go to. so I went down to that room and knocked, and went in. They were  having a class in there, but I told her ´I was told to come in here, I´m Rebekah¨. she was like yes, but not till 12:30. It was a bit frustrating to think you were supposed to be somewhere at 11:30 and really it was 12:10, and I know it was because I was told wrong, not because I misunderstood the words told to me. anyways.

12:10 rolled around and we began, my tutor didn´t speak much english which I was a little disappointed in. (I though how is she going to explain some of the grammer concepts I know I need to learn) but we began anyways. Talking away, all in spanish, an hour and a half in 100% (more like  95%)  spanish conversation. while I did feel some improvement, I want to work on more grammar in the future. My brain was fried after that.

Then I headed back to the house. navigating well, I only took 2 maybe 3 wrong turns. one of the hardest things for my is working the lock to the garage/house. it is very different and is more like a combination with a key.  I still haven´t got it yet.

Today was more relaxing, being a Saturday I woke up and exercised. and walked around the neighborhood. it was very nice, and everyone friendly. I could see the capitol building over the tops of some houses and passed many convenience stores. then it began to rain so i headed back. overall not to exciting, but church starts early tomorrow so I better get to bed.  Buenas Noches.