Guanacaste, Meeting Willowcreek, issues...


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Published: July 1st 2005
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People have to understand that I have some serious moist problems. This entire weekend I was moist! And by “moist problems” I mean, I have profound objections to feeling moist, especially for long periods of time. Good thing I´m probably in the moistest country in the world at this time! This weekend was crazy. Guanacaste has extremely bumpy terrain. We were bouncing in our tour bus all the way to the beach. And can you imagine how that would be like if you had to go to the bathroom? I had just that problem. Despite my discomfort, I would say this was one of my favorite weekends. Sunset at the beach, geysers, mudbaths, pushing the bus up and down muddy hills…yep, that was this weekend.
It started raining…hard…when we were in the rainforest of the Volcán Rincón de la Vieja. But that was when the fun began. Crystal and Meredith started wrestling each other in the mud. Jill slipped through the gate, deliberately, just to catch a closer glimpse of the geysers. And those things, called fumadores, are 100 ºC. Yep, to the boiling point. We walked through streams, then tiny lakes, then rivers. That was when I decided that I
telecafételecafételecafé

this is where i do everything on the computer!
wouldn´t let water bother me anymore, and marched in flooded shoes all the way back. I was not moist. You kidding? We were drenched. When we decided to take a mud bath, the bus decided to ride up a huge mud hill. Smart idea, right? Needless to say, it got stuck. Then we found out that it wasn´t even the place we were supposed to be. All of us climbed in the back, hoping to help the bus with our weight. Instead, the wheels skidded. We all go out and pushed. And pushed. And pushed. Sometimes we wondered if we were pushing the right way. Eventually, we got it on the right track. We all cheered. Someone said, “Otra vez!” Good times. Finally, we got to the mud bath place. I was excited, because I had always wanted to do something like that. First, we had to enter the sauna, which smelled a lot like lemons. So there were seventeen of us. Kind of comical, the situation, looking back at it. 14 students. 3 teachers. All sitting in the sauna. Silent. In very sparse clothing. Awkward. Anyway, those sentiments faded, as we piled on the mud. It was ooeey gooey,
caminando a casacaminando a casacaminando a casa

walk on the way home
warm, brown mud. Can´t get any more fun that that. We were covered, from head to toe; we hardly looked human. More like mud creatures, ready to eat someone. I could not stop laughing at the point when the director of the school climbed in the hot spring to wash off the mud. He´s a pretty large guy. You see, there was this drain tube thing, which made funny sounds, much like the snort of a hog. Whenever someone moved, especially large movements, it made obnoxious noises. So you can imagine what happened when he jumped in, and started cleaning the mud off of himself. He reminded me of a very large hog, especially since he was covered in mud, going insane. Then the other teacher got in, and it looked like two very large hogs. I was cracking up, so much that I had to move out of the area. Anyway, the day eventually ended, and we retreated to our hotel rooms, where I shared a room with my classmate and the resident director, who by the way, was not one of “the hogs.”
I forgot to mention my classes, which are comical in themselves. First of all, my music class. Talk about awkward. This dude makes us sing Latin American songs. Not once. Not twice. Not even three. What we do is listen to the song twice at least, then listen to the first verse, sing it, start over and listen up to the second verse, start over and sing it, and so on, starting over each time! Oh, but I would much rather do that than what we had to do before. We had to listen to a song then act out what it means to us. So there I was, in front of the class, pantomiming about rivers, love, birds…who knows. To make matters worse, I couldn´t understand the majority of it because they were singing too fast, in Spanish. We all gave him poor ratings on our survey of the course, poor guy. But he´s new. Much less, not accustomed to teaching “gringos.” Education in the U.S. is a lot different than Costa Rica. In the U.S., it´s fast-paced, expensive, and competitive. Not so much here. Everything runs on “Tico time” here, meaning relaxed and not necessarily punctual. Class rarely starts on time.
I enjoy my teacher Carlos, though, who is the instructor for the
jugando cartasjugando cartasjugando cartas

playing naipe
Culture of Central America. He rides a motorcycle. One day, he saw me walking on the street, and stopped me while on his “moto.” “Where do you live?” He asked. “Oh, not too far,” I answered. He asked me if I wanted a ride. I responded by saying that he probably is busy, and has other things to do. He said no. Then I said, there´s no helmet for me. He pointed under his seat. Man, this guy can´t get the hint. So I eventually gave up and said that motorcycles “give me fear.” (I like the way it translates in English). So with that, he put his helmet on, and before he rode off, he said with a smile “Éste es más segura que los aviones.” I laughed to myself. Motorcycles are safer than planes. Ja ja ja. Ja.
Things are so much funnier in Spanish sometimes. In the culture class, Carlos was talking about how this society is muy machista, which means male-dominated. That´s because of the history, how Spain brought its culture: the church, Catholicism, male power…That explains all of the stares, “compliments,” and attention. Anyway, females here have a lot of pressure to get married. Carlos
restaurante mamirestaurante mamirestaurante mami

caribbean food with platacones
was saying how if girls are not married in the “peak years,” meaning before 35, they call it “la dejo por el tren.” I think that´s bad. Guys have pressure too. “Hombre Maduro.” They call him “pleyo.” Meaning basically “gay.” It´s interesting the things we talk about in class. Carlos, who is barely 50, is already a grandfather, with the eldest grandchild being 6 years old. That explains the heavy “PDA” here. You mostly see couples walking together outside in the streets and malls, even as young as high school. The ironic thing is that here, it is an extremely conservative society, because of church influence. They do not have sexual education, and is not talked about.
Another aspect of this country I love is the elderly. I am enchanted by older people in general. But here, especially, I appreciate them. They´re the kind of people who are eager to talk and genuinely want to know you. They have an understanding. They hold a lot of wisdom, but don´t necessarily dispense it freely. It comes out in a quiet, discrete manner through their gentle words. There is laughter in their eyes. And I somehow feel like a better person just
escuchando en el hotelescuchando en el hotelescuchando en el hotel

we were listening to a man with a guitar in a hotel
after talking to them. Perhaps it´s how the elderly are valued over here. Their mindset and attitude reflect that.
My family is quite entertaining at times. One of my sisters would be talking verbosely to my parents in Spanish about who knows what. Talking. And talking. And talking. Then, when you would expect a response, there was none. As if they had heard nothing previously, my parent would turn to me instead and ask me a question. Sometimes I feel like I´m given a lot of attention compared to their other daughters. But that makes sense. To some extent. But the former had occurred more than once. Despite complaining about their messy and lazy ways, I know my Tico parents love their kids a lot. Somehow, I wonder how much I would be able to take someone constantly living in my house. I guess they´re used to it, and to their advantage, they learn and meet from many different people, from different cultures. Plus, you´re always on your best behavior, so conflicts are avoided. Mati, my sister, called me her “gemela” because we´re the same age. I never thought of it that way. I actually have a twin!
Usually, I
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we get fruit everyday in the institute!
get accustomed to things easily. To some extent, I would say I integrated. It is just the whole situation of living in a different country, on your own, with a family. And somehow, we´re supposed to pretend we´re part of the family. A daughter of different parents. A sister of different siblings. Strange, the situation. And all in Spanish! How uncomfortable and awkward can you get? Yes, at times I feel like an intruder. An alien. Because I am. But at other times, I humor myself and take things as they are. It is a part of experiencing and taking in the culture, and that is how one makes the best of a situation.
Yesterday, the 28th of June, I had a very wonderful day. It was the day I met Jared and Yvonne at Cibeles Resort. I walked in the hotel and unexpectedly saw people working. First I spotted Jared, who was getting his arm rubbed just like I had it done to me. He got sick that morning (strangely on the day he was to speak at church). Then I saw Yvonne, who rushed to give me a hug. It was encouraging to see familiar faces. It is funny how awkward my English has become, because I think in Spanish. I say this because I told Yvonne, “I will return…” when I received my belongings that my mom gave me (thanks, by the way!). Who says that? I would never have said that earlier.
The church location is at the hotel. Que dicha! We worked on the stage and the curtains. It was Yvonne´s first time to use a power tool J This day was beautiful, in many aspects. One, because it was wonderful to be able to praise God with other Christians, which I hadn´t done since I got here (and in Spanish!). Secondly, because gringos and Ticos were united. Thirdly, because the message by Jared was penetrating, especially for Ticos. Lastly, because it was amazing to meet other people, and see how God is working through it all. It was no coincidence that Jared and Yvonne happened to be in the same place and at the same time as me this summer in Costa Rica. What I will take from it is that God is victorious. I consider it an indispensable opportunity that God has allowed people from Willowcreek to come down to CR and build up a church.
I´ve learned that Costa Ricans do not travel so much outside of Costa Rica. Much less, their own country. There´s a antagonistic view of other Central American countries, especially Nicaragua. As much as they would seemingly have a closed mind, they in fact are very aware of world events. Most of the people know all of the states of the U.S. How many of us can say that? Jaja. Many times, politically, we in the United States, are in the dark. We only can see through a narrow lense, the bigger picture. Just a thought.
For me, communication is immensely important. After all, that´s what my major is all about. I value it. Language is key to communication. It involves so much more than just words. It is about a connection. It opens your mind to catch a glimpse of another. Ana, the resident director, was surprised to hear that it was not pleasing to me to speak in English to Laura, because I love speaking in Spanish. That´s what I´m here for after all. I love conversing with my parents here. The vocabulary, semantics, paralanguage, and topics are different. I realize that knowing Spanish opens my mind to a different world. I wrote that in my essay, not knowing what I really meant, but now I do.



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el sol atardeciendoel sol atardeciendo
el sol atardeciendo

sunset in playa tamarindo
árbol que ganó un premioárbol que ganó un premio
árbol que ganó un premio

it won a prize for just being beautiful


1st July 2005

Love your updates
Glad to know that you're doing fine, and was able to meet up with Jared and Yvonne, love the pictures and your incisive blogs. Keep it coming, don't forget to call us once in a while - like daily.
1st July 2005

Darling, I'm about to head home to get onto a plane to Chicago so I'll have to comment later-- but I want you to know that I'm really going to miss you while I'm home but I can't wait to see you SOON. Riiighht??? :) I love you!!
1st July 2005

que tal?!
hey janice! Wow!! That was a long post! Man, I'm really happy for you! It sounds like you're learning a lot and having a lot of fun. I wish I could be there and see all this excitement! The hog thing mad me laugh man. hehe. While I was reading ur post, I was thinkin...man, I could picture this stuff in a movie! Anyay, I'm excited to see u in two weeks! p.s. don't forget to call!
1st July 2005

missing you
hi janice, just finished reading your journal and looking at the pictures. i enjoyed it so much. your mom and dad are so very proud of you and so am i. you've grown to be very smart and adventurous in your educational endeavors. you look like you are enjoying your time there in costa rica. anyway, your cousins justice and mars, myself and justice's girlfriend, missy are here in chicago for the family reunion and tristin's christening. come home soon and adios for now....love, auntie nene
1st July 2005

Great to hear from you again, FINALLY!
Great stories and pictures; they make me feel like I'm almost there to experience the mudbath and the moisture. It's heartwarming and encouraging to hear about Jared and Yvonne. God is always at work especially when we are in tune with His will. Can't believe it's almost July 17th. We miss you so much! Love, Su Mama
7th August 2005

Surprise!!
Hey Janice - remember me? From the Somos Seis Team? Apparently Greg was doing some research for his own blog on Costa Rica and yours happened to come up on google first. He shared it with all of us. Just thought I'd say hey! It was really cool meeting you!! Hope God is blessing you as you are preparing to finish your time at U of I. Hasta luego chica!!

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