Waterfalls everywhere!!!

Waterfalls everywhere!!!

Making empanadas with a women's group

Making empanadas with a women's group

Training community

Training community

My Puppies!

My Puppies!

My Training Community

My Training Community

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Site...

I’m here, I can’t believe it. It’s hard to imagine that I am going to live here for the next two years of my life. It’s overwhelming to think about at this point. I haven’t written in so long because I was so busy during training. Training consisted of three months of Spanish, technical, medical, cross-cultural, safety and security and medical training. Everyone said that training would suck but I enjoyed it and miss it now. I had so much fun getting to know the other volunteers in my training group. I have made lifelong friends and feel fortunate to have them as support for the next two years. But now I am all alone in my site that is about 3 hours away from the closest volunteer, whom I don’t even know. I am not quite sure what the population of my site is, the information I received said there are 300 people and in another place in the same packet said there are 350 people and when I ask around my site the people tell me there are 1000 people. I have a feeling the number is closer to 1000. I am about 5 hours away from San Jose and have to take 3 buses to get here. It is quite a journey because for about 2 ½ hours of the trip I am on unpaved, very rocky roads. This is going to sound really funny but the bouncy roads make me fall asleep, its like I’m two years old again, and the other day when I was going to meet my counterpart (for the first time) I feel asleep on the bus and missed my stop and ended up in city 2 hours away from where I needed to be. As I continuously say… it’s all part of the experience. Ok so back to my site, I am in the north about two hours away from the Nicaraguan boarder in the middle of the country. It is mostly flat here but there are a few mountains in my view. It is very hot but the best part is I have two rivers really close to my house and I can go swimming any time I want. I am still eating rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I tell the townspeople that in the US we don’t eat a lot of rice beans they are confused and then ask me what we do eat. The main economic activity here is pineapple. We have pineapple farm after pineapple farm. This is great because there are jobs for everyone. The people here are very hard workers; they wake up at 4 a.m. and don’t get home until around 7 p.m. I spend my days going to the school. I help the teachers and get to know the students. There is no English teacher and the students want to learn English so bad. I am not allowed to teach during school hours so I am thinking of holding classes after school. I have also been going to my development association meetings. I plan on working with them and helping them with projects. Right now they are in the processes of getting funds to build a fence around the soccer field to protect it from animals. Soccer is definitely the favorite pastime around here. Twice a week about 40 men play rain or shine. Speaking of rain, it rains and it rains and it rains everyday. This causes major problems in the roads and makes travel virtually impossible. This does not help my mindset at this time thinking that I am stuck here. I already feel completely excluded and I just like knowing that if I need civilization I can get to it but without buses it can’t happen. AHHH… I just saw the biggest, grossest spider on my bookshelf. My host family thinks it’s hilarious that I am afraid of spiders. It’s horrible. I have completely lost my train of thought now, so until next time which will be soon because I really don’t have anything to do at this moment. I mean sure I could be working on my Community Assessment Tool (The CAT) but who wants to write a 30 page report in Spanish.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dos Semanas in Costa Rica

I have had an amazing time so far in Costa Rica. I will start from the beginning….
I arrived in Washington D.C. on Monday February 25 for two days of orientation before coming here to Costa Rica. Those two days were filled with meeting new friends (there are 54 of us in training together) and learning the many rules of Peace Corps as well as learning how to adapt into the Costa Rican culture. On February 27 we had to leave the hotel at 3:30 am to catch our flight to Costa Rica (and I am not a morning person)! When we arrived in Costa Rica we went straight to a retreat in the mountains outside of San Jose. It was absolutely beautiful!!! We spent four days getting to know each other and were introduced to the Peace Corps Costa Rican staff and the country director. We learned about our programs in greater detail and met a few other PC volunteers serving here in Costa Rica. We took a Spanish competency test to determine were we would be living for the next three months of training. I scored beginner mid, and I have to be intermediate mid to be able to swear in. So that means I have a lot of studying to do in these next 11 weeks. After the retreat, we all went to our training communities. I live in the most beautiful little mountain town. We have a church, soccer field, school, two small stores, a sketchy bar and a community center. My host family is absolutely wonderful. My host mother, Doris, is a homemaker, my host sisters are Maria Jose and Maria Fernando they are 14 year old twins and go to high school in the town next to ours because we do not have a high school here and my host brothers are Lucas 27 and Andres 18. Andres works in San Jose and Lucas works on the coffee plantation that we live on. Today, Lucas took me on a tour of the coffee fields, in addition coffee there is sugar cane, beans, lemon trees, banana trees and lots and lots of blackberries. My host family has 3 dogs and two one month old puppies – they are sooooo cute!! I spend most of my days in Spanish class and the other days in San Jose for technical, cross cultural and safety training. This first week at my home stay has been exhausting. Last night after training we went to a pizza/reggae place near our town with an incredible view of San Jose. We have decided to make it a Friday night ritual.
As far as food goes…. for breakfast I have gallo pinto (rice and beans) or scrambled eggs with either hotdogs or ham, for lunch I have usually have rice and potatoes or some sort of pasta dish and a salad, when I have to take my lunch with me my host mom makes me sandwiches that consist of ham, butter, mayonnaise, cheese, tomatoes and pickles (words can’t describe how I feel about these sandwiches) and for dinner I usually have spaghetti, or some sort of torillia filled with sausage, lettuce and tomato and of course it is served with rice.
So, all is well with me except that I miss everybody so much. I am keeping very busy with trying to learn Spanish and spending as much time with my host family as possible.

I really want to post some pictures but I cannot find my USB cord anywhere.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let the Journey Begin

Today as I am sitting here I can't stop thinking about how much my life is about to change - living in rural Costa Rica, speaking Spanish, eating rice and beans for all meals, and so much more! This is truly going to be the adventure of a lifetime. My biggest hurdle now is packing and preparing to leave. I have a packing list that is two pages long and everyday that passes I add more and more to it.
So, to answer the big question that everyone asks, "what made you want to join the Peace Corps?" This is a very difficult question to answer. There are so many reasons and emotions behind my wanting to join that it is difficult to capture the answer in words. But I will do my best. I have been flirting with the idea of joining the Peace Corps since I graduated high school, but never seriously until this past summer. I knew that a sedentary lifestyle and the 9-5 corporate world was not for me. My greatest passions in life include traveling, learning different cultures, going on great adventures and meeting amazing people. I want to make the most out of my life and fill it with incredible experiences. I feel so lucky to have all that I do and want to give back. So with some serious soul searching I started the application process in September of 2007. I was nominated by Oct. 07 and received my invitation on December 27, 2007. Talk about flying through the application process.
The next big question I get asked is "what will you be doing in Costa Rica?" This is taken directly from the "My Assignment" booklet given to me by the Peace Corps: "1. Organizational Development - creating and strengthening of local organizations, development committees and other community groups. 2. Increasing economic opportunities in the rural areas - especially oriented towards women's groups and rural youth. 3. Enhanced education - through enrichment activities with children, youth and adults. The primary purpose of the project is to promote local community development in poor, rural communities so the population is empowered to improve their lives and increase their opportunities."
I can't think of anything else I would rather do for the next 27 months of my life! If I could write the perfect job description it would be what I am going to be doing in Costa Rica.
-Sarah