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Published: June 15th 2005
It seems I have been here forever! I´ve been learning so much; not just about the language. About the people, culture, and life in general. Honestly, sometimes I feel discriminated against. People here are certainly aware of differences, and understandably so. Pretty much, the majority of the people here are mestizos, a mixture of European and Indigenous blood. They are not used to other people. I do not look like them fa sho, and neither do my other compañeros. They yell out at me or honk the horn. Sometimes I just have to smile and laugh at the things they say. For example, they say China Bonita! Or the bus driver told me, China, se durmio, se durmio, y se durmio. That´s when I was sick, and I slept the whole four hour bus ride. And sometimes I just have to take it when they make crude comments, and snicker behind my back. Most of the time, though, it is an innocent kind of acknowledgement, and they are just pointing out the differences. Like, when a child notices the difference between you and them.
PURA VIDA. I love it. It´s a phrase that means life is good or the beauty of life. At least, that´s what I take it as. Or, it might just mean, “I´m doing well.” How do I sum up these last days? Well, this weekend, we went to La Fortuna, where Volcan Arenal is located. Very touristy area. Let´s say our group was just a little unprepared for what this volcano place had to offer. As we walked down the street, after getting off from a 4-hour bus ride, a man tried to get us to use his Taxi, because apparently other taxis can´t take 6 people like his! We were still tired, so we grabbed a bite. Later, the same guy (which I didn´t realize until later), showed us all his great deals of going to the waterfalls, taking hikes in the parks, horseback riding, and hot springs. First of all, we were overwhelmed with all the activities. And so, we went to the waterfalls. We thought we got ripped off by the guy because he said we would pay for the taxi ride, and then the waterfalls would be free. Yeah, right. And he said the place would close at 4, when in fact it closed at 6. But we realized it was all a miscommunication and what he said was all true. The funny thing is, he spoke to us in English! Still, we could sense bad vibes, and allowed it to be a learning experience of not taking every opportunity that comes our way. We sloshed all the way back home, 5 kilometers away. We were very hungry when we got back. There´s only one restaurant that was cheap, open 24 hours, close to us : La Parada. We were staying at La Fortuna Hotel Carmela. I ordered a taco. And boy that was a mistake. Here, the tacos are made with a teeny weeny tacquito, covered with an avalance of cabbage, mayonnaise, and ketchup. MMMMmmmm. Ugghhh. Trust me, I had a lot of trouble writing this without feeling queasy. Needless to say, I got sick the next day. During the hike at Parque Silencio (where there was supposed to be wildlife but didn´t see any, but cows) and the hot springs, I was just plain sick. Not fun. The whole weekend, I was homesick for my home in Costa Rica.
Yesterday, June 14, it was my first day volunteering. It was no coincidence that a lady walked in the institute, where I´m studying, and asked for a tutor for her 7th grade daughter, learning English. I happened to be looking for a volunteer opportunity, but all the other ones were too expensive or too far. Some, you have to pay 50 to 100 dollars! And so, yesterday, I was actually driven to the house, which was 2 minutes for the institute, and it´s free (like it should be, because I´m the one giving up my time after all)! The family is nice. The girl is an only child, and is tall. Taller than me! Her mom is nice also, offering me fresh squeezed mango juice and crackers. It was challenging helping the girl, I´m not gonna lie. At times, I would be switching from Spanish to English, then English to Spanish. Then, I was helping her on English grammar at the same time. My brain was doing flip flops! But I love it, and I´m looking forward to next Thursday.
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