Trapped in Potrero

Published: November 7th 2010
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Trapped in Potrero!

The weather over the past few days has been horrendous to say the least. They are blaming it on the hurricane that hit Haiti, but I think there is more to it. We have had nonstop rain for over 4 days and many parts of the country are suffering tremendously. Luckily for me, Potrero is just boring, not under water. In Quepos, where I was two weeks ago, the roads are underwater and the hospital is inaccessible and running out of clean water. The small town of Parrita (where my teacher from Quepos lives) has suffered horrible flooding and most of the town has been underwater for two days now. I hope everything will be alright. Closer to San Jose, a small mountain pueblo was destroyed in a landslide. 40 are dead and more are missing. Costa Rica is used to rain and rivers overflowing but nothing like this. Countless roads have been washed away and many bridges are unstable or have already collapsed or fallen into rivers. A section of the Pan-American Highway is out of commission from a landslide as well.

My plan this weekend was to go to the volcano near Liberia, Rincón de la Vieja national park. It would have been a relatively simple trip, just take a bus to Liberia for about an hour and a half, then stay the night in a hostel and wake up early on Saturday to hike the park. The park includes an active volcano, mud flats, hot springs, waterfalls, and a gorgeous looking crater. It was a 7km hike, with a steep incline but I need to get some exercise and most importantly, I need to get out of Flamingo/Potrero for the weekend! We have done almost nothing all week with the persistent rain hampering any plans. Our backup plan was to head to Samara, down on the coast but the bridge leading into town has been reduced to nothing more than a pain in the ass, aka we can’t get to Samara! My friend Charlotte and I plan to head to Tamarindo tomorrow to try and get some surfing in. There is supposed to be sun, wind, and a bit cooler temperatures but that doesn’t matter to me! As long as there is no rain I will be happy. I can frequent Sharky’s and watch some football too. A group of students headed off to Monteverde for the weekend and I hope they make it safely. Charlotte and I have already been (and I will be going back with the rest of the family in two weeks’ time) so I opted not to join in.

The one nice thing about the rain is that tomorrow I will have my first chance to sleep in since, well I can’t remember. I think it has been since I had afternoon classes my first week in Quepos. I think my body is used to waking up at 6 am (I have been waking up at 5:30 recently I don’t know why, the alarm doesn’t go off until 6) so we’ll have to see if I can make myself sleep a little more. I have also been getting in some good conversations with my host family. We like to joke about how picky I am, but it turns out that one person or another in the family dislikes the foods I dislike so it is not too bad. I also have been watching Dr. OZ with my mama Tica, she loves the show, and I have learned some medical vocabulary and a few interesting health tips. The news is on every night as well and it is just so negative! It is like the US but with less focus outside of the country. All we have been seeing lately are pictures of the floods, the border dispute with Nicaragua and the plane crash in Cuba. Nicaragua “invaded” Costa Rica the other week and now the UN has to come settle things while both sides have some sort of presence patrolling their respective sides of the Colorado River. If I heard right, Google made some sort of mistake in marking the border on Google maps and so no Nicaragua either is saying the Google border is right and trying to take land from Costa Rica, or they are mad at Google, I didn’t quite fully understand it.

Today was the last day for two of my friends, Monique (39 year old doctor from Holland) and Emma (24 year old law school student from Sweden). They were half of my trip to Montezuma and another girl, Charlotte (21 year old student from Germany), is no longer at the school, but still lives at the apartments. She is volunteering at the local private school, la esculea La Paz. It was founded by an American who lost his wife and kids in a plane crash down here a few years back. It has over 100 students and is a bilingual school. They spend half of the day learning in English and half in Spanish! I wish I had that opportunity as a youngster; the kids are bilingual by the time the get to middle school!

I booked my trip to Panama this coming Wednesday, and am very excited to get away for a few days. I plan to do nothing but hang out in the water, catch some sun, maybe surf or take a bike ride, nothing too strenuous or expensive. I splurged on the airfare but it gives me time to clear my head before my last week of classes, and also resolves my issue with my Costa Rican Visa. I also get to add another country to my list! Although someday I would like to visit the Panama Canal and Panama City.

I have really begun to enjoy my time here in Flamingo and am lamenting the fact that I will be home in just over three weeks’ time. I kind of had a panic attack last week which was unwarranted and I just had to remind myself how lucky I am to have this opportunity and what else I could be doing right now if I were not here. It is better to be in Potrero than to not be in Costa Rica at all! And I really love my family here. They are so nice, and very accommodating with my limited Spanish skills, although in reality my Spanish is quite advanced compared to other students. I now talk with my mama Tica almost every day. I can make jokes and kid around. The kids aren’t quite as social but we had some fun with Facebook yesterday and I like questioning the 13 year old about his day and what he likes to do. Apparently he is a fan of Real Madrid which makes us enemies but I think I can let it slide.

Yesterday we went to Tamarindo to drop off the rental car and so I could purchase my flight to Panama and we didn’t get back to the apartments until around 6. I tried to call the house but the number had been disconnected. I had to take the 8 PM bus and when I got home I was in big trouble because diner is always at 7 PM! They gave me a hard time but it was all in good fun and after a few minutes a steaming hot plate of pasta and Bolognese sauce sat before me and I scarfed it down. Now I have her cell phone number, which I used today to inform her that I would be returning home instead of heading to the volcano. I left this morning with a suitcase in hand, expecting to return on Sunday but whatcha gonna do, sometimes nature doesn’t cooperate.

Oh, I learned a new card game this week in class. We had some downtime since I didn’t feel like cramming another unit into the last few minutes of class yesterday and today, so my teacher taught me a version of rummy, rummy 500 is what he called it in Spanish. It is quite simple and it was fun to learn a game without English as well as getting to learn some expressions of frustration and jubilation. Cards and drinking games seem to be universal, although I haven’t played drinking games with Ticos, just Europeans.

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