I’d like to first thank you all for willingly showing your support and taking this Costa Rican journey along my side. Feel free to ask me any questions you have about what I am up to or what the programs all about in the comment box below:)
So let’s get started, shall we? Wednesday was my first day at my volunteer placement, which is at a small local church in a very poor town called Carpio. Getting there everyday is quite the adventure. Initially I thought it would take me a solid 1 hour to get there; however, that has seemingly turned into 1 hour and 45 mins due to heavy traffic and absolutely bonkers driving.
Let’s just take a moment and speak about the driving etiquette in beautiful Costa Rica. All I have to say is WHAT THE BLEEP?!? Anybody who knows me knows that my ultimate driving pet peeve is when people speed up as they’re approaching a stopped car. I absolutely think it is one of the most stupid, ridonculous and pointless things a driver can do! After all, they are going to have to stop anyways so they might as well do their passengers a favour and save them from neck whiplash every 5 seconds -_-. So in case you haven’t already caught on, the bus drivers here are without question on drugs and red bull every time they sit behind the wheel. They seem to think they’re formula one drivers zooming through the streets with elderly people sitting as their passengers…hmmm.The habit here is to stop precisely 3 mm behind whatever is in front of you…regardless of whether it is a car or person. Seriously makes every bone in my body cringe. There are also these ridiculous all way roundabouts with six entrances that are the most uncoordinated and “accident waiting to happen” style inventions. There are no yield signs and cars are literally just flying in from all over the place. Who seriously thought this would be a good idea given that Costa Rican drivers aren’t even willing to yield for a pedestrian to walk by?! I have convinced myself at this point that the only thing that will slow/stop them on the streets is a truck handing out free gallo pintos (beans and rice)…
Alright now that I got that off my chest we can move on to my adventures in Carpio. As a previously mentioned, I am in Carpio to teach English to a bunch of little munchkins that either can’t afford to go to school or come to the local church for extra practice. The minute I walked in I was jumped and straggled by the youngest kids at the church (around 4-8 years old) who have never failed to amaze me with their kind welcomes. On a scale of 1-10, I would guesstimate that these kiddos are approximately an 11 or 12 on the cuteness scale. Only problem is that they were pointing to me and saying all sorts of things at once…not even a single word of which I understood. For all I know they may have just labeled me as their new frizzy-haired teacher….meh only time will tell.
For the first day I just sat back, relaxed and watched the other teacher do her thang so that I could get the hang of how the day was scheduled. As I was just beginning to become comfortable with my surroundings, the boys volunteering to do construction work at the site, show up with a tray full of an endless array of fruit including jumbo mango’s, papaya, pineapple, bananas etc. I soon realized this is a daily ritual for them and that they buy the fruit for the kids as soon as they arrive in Carpio for just 4$ (trust me the amount of fruit they get for this amount is going to shock you). I unfortunately don’t have a pic, but considering it’s a daily ritual, I’ll be sure to snap some shots in the future. Another crazy experience was the soup kitchen madness that happens at the church every Wednesday. On this day, a set of volunteer chefs cook up a bunch of donated food for several community members and children and we help serve it, prepare it, and clean up after it. It was actually a bittersweet experience. It was joyful to see how happy the children got when they received their plate of spaghetti and beans, but at the same time I experienced a different kind of emotion when they ran out of lemonade and when they asked us to rewash the one-time use cutlery so that it could be used the next week. Either way, there is no doubt in my mind that the work being done at the church is significantly helping improve the lives of MANY Carpio residents.
As for the teaching English aspect, the children are all at different levels. As I mentioned, many actually go to real schools in the afternoon or mornings (their school hours differ everyday…I still don’t get how it works). There’s one kid in the church named Jeremy that is well above the others in his English-Speaking abilities so while we review the basics he plays on an IPad. Yes I just said an IPad. One of the construction boys bravely brings his IPad to Carpio everyday…the kids get so excited around technology it’s adorable. Another construction boy let’s them take turns listening to his IPod shuffle and I always see them walking around singing the words to pop English songs…yet they claim to know no English in class…hmmm those little rascals are up to something!
Since I have been here for about a week now, my friends and I have definitely found our nightlife hotspot. It’s just a little bar on a street leading to the Costa Rican university but honestly the vibe there is so melo and there are so many waiters in dreads, which is always a plus!
Speaking of the Costa Rican University, it is absolutely stunning. My friend Katie and I decided to take a stroll around the campus…little did we know we were going to get a free tour of an amazon. The campus was surrounded my bamboo plants and green-leafed trees everywhere! I could really get used to this…
If you walked up the street leading to the university, you also run into a street that is home to the art students at the school. Of course the walls of this street are covered in graffiti. After seeing these breathtaking pieces, my thoughts on graffiti as art rather than vandalism were highly reinforced. The only thing that irritates me about graffiti is that sometimes one wall has clashing colours from another nearby wall, which means the street is officially a culprit of committing a fashion faux pas!
This is getting long as per usual, but I also just wanted to share a pic of the plant in the washroom. In this very same washroom I also just witnessed my first ever cockroach…ERG. If you’re wondering what I did, I just calmly and collectively finished brushing my teeth and then left the washroom…JOKES. What I actually did was have a mini heart attack and jump on top of a chair until it disappeared into a hole somewhere…I think that was a fairly brave move on my part.
Another fun fact I’d like to share with you is that a lot of visitors to Costa Rica end up going to local tattoo parlours to treat themselves to some ink or piercings. This is due to the extreme reduction in prices here as opposed to Canada and the US. Exhibit A, aka my roomie, took full advantage of the prices to get her second piercings on both ears done.
The weekend has finally arrived. This means two things. Number 1, many of the people that I met this week will be leaving (new volunteers come in every Monday and some choose to only stay for a week). Number 2, it’s time for my first excursion/tour. I’m heading to the Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs. I will not include any sneak peaks because I want you to be amazing when I post the pics later but if you seriously cannot keep your socks on do a quick google search. I’m off to go to sleep before I head to the Baldi Hot Springs in the morning to lounge for 6 hours and see a volcano while I’m at it. Oh my life is just too hard. Ciao for now.
Be Healthy, Be Happy, Be Chic.
xx Neda xx