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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Costa Rica: First Day = Overwhelming

We arrived here in Costa Rica yesterday, and there's already so much to say.  I can't believe it, I'm actually here now after months and months of talking about being here.  This. is. actually. happening.

At the end of our night when it was just the five of us in the house, I told my housemates how for a good chunk of the night I was overwhelmed-city.  They asked why.  I already had a list going on in my head:

1. Yami
To my housemates, her name was enough said.  She was the first person that greeted us when we arrived at the house, and really the first person to talk to all of us in full Spanish in a long time, and she was talking a mile a minute.  Every second she talked I thought, "Oh. my. God. What is she saying? FML." And I looked around the table at my housemates who are nodding and looking at her and I'm thinking, "Is everyone understanding her but me?"  I mean, I wasn't completely off I caught probably a realistic third of her words, especially "come algo" which means "eat a little bit".  Good, I was starving.  Later that night I asked the other four about Yami and how I was intimidated how they were understanding her while I couldn't, and they said, "Are you kidding?  We were just nodding to be nice! We didn't know what she was saying either!"  And we all confessed how we are all scared of our Spanish skills and not being competent at our work sites.  Whew.  I love these guys, I'm not the only one.

2. Nuestro Hogar (Our Home)
Our house is really nice.  It's a big ranch house just big enough for five people.  Tile, wooden floors, colorful walls.  I love the Jordan's and my double.  The green blinds and blue sheets.  Everything is so colorful.  We all thought the same thing: simple living?  The room Jordan and I are living in is probably the nicest room I will get to permanently live in, it definitely beats my room at home.  I felt really bad for Tom who got the single with no desk and no hanger bar.  I tried to trade with him but he wouldn't let me.  So we compromised of looking at switching next semester.

3. St. Francis College
This school, my site, is literally across the street.  We took a semi tour last night.  It is ridiculously nice.  The blue walls, the two gyms we saw (one of them by the way had an all boys volleyball team practicing.  My boys.  Ah!), the swimming pool, and oh, don't forget the nice garden in the middle of the school.  So nice.  It was overwhelming for me to take it in, realizing that this was my site and this was where I was going to be working for the next year.  This is actually happening.

4. The friary
Again, so nice.  And meeting all the friars.  They're all so nice. Victor, the principal, Nader (who was besties with Erin (Crawford) Craine.  Small world! Chico, Ricardo, the Argentinean whose name no one can remember.  While we were waiting for everyone to come back from mass, we all crashed and took a nap for a less than an hour.  I needed it.  I needed to shut down because my intake was full.  

Three things happen that made me feel a lot better.
1. I remember silently praying on the couch saying, "OK, God, I can't do this by myself.  Please give me the confidence to talk in Spanish.  Can't do do this without you.  I trust you.
2. I took that nap.  We were all so beat from travelling.  I felt decently rested by the time dinner started around 9 p.m.
3. Dinner at the friary was the best meal I had in the last two weeks.  Those crispy, cheese potatoes, vegetable, and that Costa Rican beef with mushrooms on top?  Get out.  I had three servings. Two glasses of that orange-fruit juice. A glass of beer (had to try it). And two helpings of tres leches (our dessert).  Sooo good.  

Actually, four things.

The five of us went back to the house and we all confessed how we feel overwhelmed, especially with our Spanish.  And Tom made a good point, "What, we've been here for like, three minutes."  Yeah, you're right, Tom it will get better.  

And we prayed.  FrancisCorps expects our community to pray every night whether it be for 5 minutes or 55 minutes.  Jelly lead us, suggesting we could pray the Our Father and Hail Mary in Spanish.  We looked it up online and read together.  We added one thing we were grateful for, and one intention to pray for.  And we finished with St. Francis's "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace...".  Prayer.  I have a feeling I'm going to love these guys even more because we pray.

We spent the rest of the night laughing.  Especially looking at Tom's pics from the dance party with Syracuse the night before.  Ridiculousness.  

Hello, Costa Rica.  We're here to stay.  Be good to us, OK?  You definitely have so far.

In you Lord, I pray. Amen.


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  2. My first day in Spain last year, I was completely alone. When I got to the University, a man explained in incomprehensible Spanish "que hay una fiesta en la cuidad hoy." The International Office wouldn't be open until Monday. I went three days by myself, barely understanding anyone, and just trying to figure out what to say to people when my Spanish was clearly sub-par. I even asked someone about the time, saying "¿Qué es la hora?" instead of "¿Qué hora es?"...which I'm pretty sure I learned in my first semester of Spanish at college. Haha.

    I'm glad you can laugh at yourself. I had to learn to do that. Just keep working at it. I'm sure by the end of your year there, you'll be speaking very clearly that "tienes que ir." =) Tengo confianza en ti, amigo.