Thankful for oppurtunities and people we meet

Published: October 4th 2007
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Saint Patrick American SchoolSaint Patrick American SchoolSaint Patrick American School

The school is not imposing at all but is located on a hillside overlooking the Puntarenas area.
Just as the boys had always wished for, we woke up early Thursday morning to ride on the school bus to check out yet another school. The great thing about the change in plans is that we are really seeing a wide spectrum of what is available to students in Costa Rica. Saint Patrick’s American School is definitely different than Sancti Spiritus, yet, still with a Costa Rican touch. It is a smaller school, serving Pre-School age 3 to Grade 6. Students arrive and have homeroom from 7:45 to 8:00. It is much more calm and organized with the students going to their classrooms and being greeted by their teachers every morning. After homeroom, classes begin at 8 am, with preschool finishing at noon and the other classes ending at 3:00 followed by a ten minute homeroom period and dismissal at 3:10.
We were able to see both the Grade 3 and Kinder classrooms during our visit. Benjamin even joined his class for some songs in English. Owen met a few kids from the Grade 3 and was glad to see they spoke English fairly well. We kept the visit short, but Ron’s description of the school was correct. It is
School CourtyardSchool CourtyardSchool Courtyard

When you enter the school you are greeted with this beautiful little garden. It is enclosed, but with an open ceiling for the rain to come down. This is the Grade 1 to 3 wing. Benjamin's class has A/C, but not Ron and Owen.
very nice place to learn and work. So, with that said, he accepted a position teaching Grade 5 and 6 until the end of the school year, November 30th.

With that decision made we decided to relax and get rested for the upcoming week of school. When we got back into Esparza we happened upon some young children dancing in the square. There were artisans with their wares set-up for sale. When we saw the tour bus roll around the corner we realized what was happening…the cruise ship we spotted from the view at the school had people touring the area. On Sunday we took the $2, total cost for the family, bus ride to Puntarenas to see a horse parade we had heard about. We were, however, disappointed as the type of parade had been lost in translation and we witnessed an unbelievable number of school bands and dance troupes doing their thing. We didn’t last long at the parade as the beach of Puntarenas was calling. Puntarenas is kind of a grubby place and the beach isn’t real spectacular. It is however, a beach in Costa Rica, and it is quite nice compared to anything we see
The view from the schoolThe view from the schoolThe view from the school

You can see the lush greenery and in the distance the blue of the Pacific Ocean. This is where we spotted the Cruise Ship a few days before.
at home. We also took the opportunity to check out an apartment building on the beach we had been told about.

Saturday we did try to look at houses for rent in Esparza with the help of Bernie, the principal of the school. He was very helpful, but in true Costa Rican style we waited around a lot and did not see one house. It is hard to find rentals as not many people put out signs or advertisements as we do in Canada. Instead you must talk to everyone and let them know you are looking. Then, maybe, something will come up. We also priced out furniture in the event that we did rent a place, as another difference here is that most rentals come with nothing. No furniture, okay, but also no fridge, stove or other appliances. It was fun to do some comparison shopping and we found that it would be quite affordable to get the basics for living - appliances, beds and a couch for under $1500. We realized at the end of the weekend that we won't find an house quickly. We also remind ourselves every day that things happen at a different speed
Costumes and DancingCostumes and DancingCostumes and Dancing

Benjamin loved these costumed characters. They liked to chase after the children and make them run away screaming.
here and things happen by relationship. If a house becomes available it seems like a friend or relative of the owner has snapped it up before the days end. The Spanish word that I like to use for dealing with this is “tranquilo” which translates into “calm down!” Our North American ways are tested when we wait for a long time with no results or try to get things done in a hurry. With this in mind we decided to settle into the apartment we are in presently- the pool, the cleaning lady and the security of it all make it an easy choice. It costs a bit more than a house rental but with less hassle so we will calm down and enjoy it!

We have now been here for 3 weeks and it is starting to feel quite homey. Ron has made friends with the owner, who runs a little store right out front. Wilberth is a good guy who calls Ron “Nolan” and likes to chat with him. Wiberth greets Ron with an enthusiastic “Pura Vida” every time he sees him. It is a good reminder that we have a great life and we shouldn’t stress
Tourist ShowTourist ShowTourist Show

The dancers were very cute to watch, with huge smiles and lots of enthusiasm.
over the details. Since we’ve committed to the next month he has also set us up with a new 3 burner gas stove and some additional kitchen items to make life a bit easier.

There is also a doctor who lives here on a permanent basis. His name is Danielo and he speaks English fairly well, though he says his English is awful. He is on holidays now and has been hanging out at the pool with his two youngest children, Adrian, who turned 5 yesterday and Andrea, a sweet little two year old. Benjamin now has little buddies who come over to play. We helped celebrate Adrian’s birthday yesterday with lots of candy, cake, ice cream and toys. Danielo is a very kind and interesting man. He introduces Ron to people as his friend and is very deliberate about letting people know this. He is in the process of having internet installed and has offered to Ron the use of his internet access. That would be fabulous, as we are serious internet junkies. It would also make staying here almost perfect.

So, life seems to be settling down and we are all enjoying the first week at
Owen watches the dancingOwen watches the dancingOwen watches the dancing

Owen is always so observant and he stood and picked up some new dance moves.
the new school. Ron had brought along some teaching resources and has his students studying the Black Stallion. With classes planned for the next week and prep time everyday, he seems to be enjoying his new job. He comes home from work a bit tired, but with enough energy and enthusiasm to make other plans. Last night he finalized a deal that sees him teaching English in the evenings to adults. This is happening at the same internet café that started the whole new adventure in Esparza.

While the boys were not sure about going to yet another school, they went along with the idea and started Monday morning. Benjamin was quite eager to go and said good-bye to me with a great big smile. When I picked him up at noon he was saying hola and adios to all of his new friends and singing two new songs he had learned. So far this week he comes home excited and happy. That is a good thing as the days at home with the family sometimes saw him acting out in a negative way. Now he is getting time with kids his own age and he seems to be
Gringos join in the danceGringos join in the danceGringos join in the dance

Some of the tourists enjoyed the show more than others. Most of the cruise shippers were the retiree age.

Owen was not so eager to start school again, wanting instead to stay home and do work- though not much work gets done at home. By the end of Monday he came home excited and full of stories to tell. His English teacher is very nice, Spanish is more difficult but his teacher took time to help him and he was very proud to show his two pages of Spanish notes and math done in Spanish. The school is also presenting a cultural event on October 12th and his class is representing Egypt. He is planning his costume and helped create a dance in class yesterday. When I asked him if he was making friends he told me yes, a few, and then later proceeded to say that the girls were chasing him with lipstick at recess. Sounds very normal and he is loving life.

As for me, I am reveling in my free time, not quite sure how this is fair that I don’t have to go to work too, but have no complaints. For the first time since before children I am alone from 7:15 to 12:30. There is a brand new gym downtown Esparza
Puntarenas BeachPuntarenas BeachPuntarenas Beach

On Sundays this beach is busy with Tico families enjoying the water. Tide was out and the beach was as always great fun.
and yesterday I went to a step class. It was a bit tricky in Spanish but not impossible, also a great way to learn some new words. They may also be looking for an aerobics teacher so I just may have some work in the future. Otherwise, I have been walking downtown every day, about 30 minutes, and just snooping around the stores and finding a few things we need. It is very interesting to shop and see the similarities and differences between Canada and here. I will have to write more about these at a later time as this is becoming very long.

To end I want to say that we are all feeling very thankful for the adventure thus far. All of the ups and downs sure make life interesting. As this coming weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada we will be thinking of our friends, both old and new, and of course our families. Again, thanks to our family and friends for keeping in touch and sending comments. I’m not sure if we will eat turkey, though we could try to catch one of the chickens that walk around in front of the apartment. Happy Thanksgiving wherever
Cruise Ship Pier in PuntarenasCruise Ship Pier in PuntarenasCruise Ship Pier in Puntarenas

This is where the tourists get off for the whirlwind tour inland.
you are!

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Cargo Ship AhoyCargo Ship Ahoy
Cargo Ship Ahoy

Puntarenas was once the most important port on the Pacific Side until a port further south took its place. Today the city seems to be trying to regain some of its past glory.
Spiderman to the RescueSpiderman to the Rescue
Spiderman to the Rescue

At the parade Benjamin convinced us to buy him this mask. Now with his Spidey PJ's the outfit is complete.

4th October 2007

Thankful things are looking up for you
It's so nice to hear from Nataghia, too. From what I've heard about living in Central America, you will be busy enough just keeping the household running smoothly, so enjoy the freedom while you have it! Ron, I enjoy your blogs, too. We'll miss you this weekend, but as the title says, we're all thankful things are going better and that you have a place to call home for now. Aren't kids resilient?
4th October 2007

Seat at the table
We are planning on setting up a webcam on Sunday so you Costa Ricans can have a virtual seat at the Thanksgiving table. Send me an email if you are able to snag an internet connection.
4th October 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!
Hi there folks, Just a quick note to wish you a happy Thanksgiving...will you be tracking down a turkey? Graham is having sushi (what else??) for Thanksgiving!!
5th October 2007

Hi to the Nolans:; Just arrived in Winnipeg to visit our youngest son, Darrell and family. Good grief! From what I have read so far all of you are having an experience that would be very difficult to emulate in Eastend! Methinks a diary of you ventures would make for great reading 10-20 years into the future. By the way, how are the golf courses?a Nataghia: Denise and I are taking four months of Tai Chi from an instructor from Maple Creek. Have a restful thanksgiving ( in the fullest sense of the phrase) and good luck with the new surroundings and job(s). robert
5th October 2007

so now will you have a mailing address?
Hola! The children at Alleykatz are wondering if they can send "stuff" to Benjamin and Owen? Cool Spiderman costume, Benjamin! Glad to hear all is going in a more "tranquilo" fashion! I just keep thinking that your whole experience is so amazing and the gift you are giving to the boys is life changing. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Nowlan family! We love you!
6th October 2007

sidney says hi
and so does everyone else. great to hear every thing is going well.enjoy reading your blog. go cowboys go
6th October 2007

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! I do believe all of you will come back fluent Spanish speakers. What a learning experience for the boys! your school sounds great. I am having my family here on Sunday so am busy getting things lined up. Looking forward to hearing from you again.
8th October 2007

I really enjoy reading about your adventure. I thought I'd let you know that I find all of you full of courage, really I envy you. I had some good news the other day, I'm cancer free for now. Have a very good thanksgiving day and I promise I'll have some turkey for you. Love you all Uncle Gate
5th November 2010
Owen watches the dancing

ST. Patrick
Perhaps my son Gonzalo study here ... We would like to know. Greetings.
8th February 2011
Saint Patrick American School

My school
Mi escuela la xtra,o y la adoro yo estuve en esa escuela desde hac3 mucho tiempo, todo lo que e aprendito fue por esa escuela tan maravillosa! y le quiero dar mucha suere a T. Karine que es la directora y ella para mi es una persona tan Maravillo! EXTRA;O MI ESCUELA 100% I LOVE YOU SAINT PATRICK ESPERO VOLVERTE A VER PRONTO
9th August 2014

Hello - thanks the info.
Hello. I enjoyed your comments about the school. Now, almost 8 years later, I am the new English teacher at the school starting Monday. I would love to hear your comments about the school--transitions, teachers, extra curr. opps, things you enjoyed, things that you would changes - in regards to the school. Please contact me, I await your reply!

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