Vanuatu to Costa Rica

Published: October 10th 2010
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San Gabriel San Gabriel San Gabriel

this is about halfway down the hill
I recently arrived in Costa Rica from Vanuatu, with a 48 hour layover as you might call it in CT. It´s been kind of a whirlwind of emotions and culture change for me going from the Pacific Islands to Costa Rica. I started in Vanuatu, a place where i've learned to adjust to my simple life in my village, then to home in america, where i returned to the family, friends, and lifestyle i'd known before that life, and finally here in costa rica where i'm immersed in both american and costa rican culture being around americans and now living in a costa rican household surrounded by spanish. It´s a lot to process and take in and it's going to take a little while to adjust.
Compared to PC Vanuatu this kind of feels like PC America. We just arrived in our training communities today and I was expecting something completely different. My house is in a town that could be the equivalent of Vanuatu's capital city Port Vila. The community is called San Gabriel and it{s located in the mountains outside of San Jose. The house is beautiful, clean, has electricity, running water, oven, kitchen appliances, and I have my own room and personal bathroom. I think it might be nicer than my apartment in CA. The location is right next to the internet cafe where I'm at right now and on the other side next to a bakery. My family consists of Xinia my host mother, her daughter Melena, her son Jonny, and Melena's son Brandon, who's two and adorable. In Vanuatu, it always helped to lower expectations, but here it seems i will have to raise them back up. As PCVs the dress code consists of clean and neat clothes, jeans are allowed, which is a nice change, but here's the hard part for me coming from Vanuatu: no flip flops! I was about to pack a few more pairs than the three I did and now I'm really glad I didn't have room in my bags. It's disrespectful here to wear flip flops in public, they are just acceptable in the house. So it's quite the change coming from Vanuatu where pretty much the dirtier and more worn out your clothes are, the more you fit into the community and start to be called a man Vanuatu. It's also a lot colder here than I expected and I did not prepare well for that in terms of packing the right clothes. I have maybe 2 long sleeve shirts and no dressy sweaters, which would have been useful. I also could have brought heels, who would have thought?
The hardest part for me right now is without question the spanish and being immersed in it in the house. I can get by talking about common things, but i've had a hard time understanding my mother and I feel bad to keep asking her to repeat everything. It's also really tiring to be continually translating into spanish in my head and listening so closely trying to understand what everyone is saying. I know this is the hardest part, the first few weeks, and it's going to take time so I'm just trying to keep that in mind and be patient. I really love being in Costa Rica and it's really exciting to be here and surrounded by a new culture and language, it's just going to take a lot more effort and time compared to Vanuatu to be able to communicate with my family.
I'm off to dinner now but ill write again soon seeing as the internet cafe is right at my doorstep!

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Gustabo and BrandonGustabo and Brandon
Gustabo and Brandon

My nephews... I always end upwith the cutest host families

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