So it feels as though it’s been a million years since I’ve posted any sort of update. What a whirlwind the past couple of weeks have been! I have moved in with a different family, as well as changed my project. I have seen friends come, seen friends go, felt happy, sad, stressed, unimportant, high on life…. The list could go on. This trip has revealed to me more exotic scenery than I would have ever imagined existed, but it has been more of a learning experience than a vacation for various reasons. No matter where you go in life, things will never be 100% worry free. I truly believe that anyone who acts as though they don’t experience hardships, loss, miscommunication or adversary is spending an awful lot of time trying to convince you that their lives are perfect, rather than taking life as it comes and experiencing it for what it truly yields. That being said, Costa Rica has taught me so much about getting along with people, letting things go, being true to myself, and always seeing the truth in the beauty as well as the hardships of all aspects of life.
Just when I started to get really comfortable with my living and working situation here in San Jose, everything changed. Although I had developed a sense of security with my role in Maximo Nivel (even though my core group of friends had gone home), this all shifted with an abrupt wake-up call triggered by the realization that a trip I had planned over the weekend would mean I needed to move the very next day instead of the following week. I had known my house mom was going to the states for a month and that this meant I would have to move. Although I was unhappy with it, the realization that the move needed to take place much sooner than I thought was nothing short of jarring. I packed up all of the belongings that I had brought to Costa Rica, said bye to Vicky, and made the move the very next day. I was in my new house for less than 13 hours before I left for a weekend trip to Manuel Antonio.
I believe my last post was all about my project in La Carpio. Since then I have also switched projects. I found out that I would be changing sites the night of the day I had returned from Manuel Antonio, and I didn’t even have a chance to say bye to the kids I had grown so attached to at my old site. I am not even sure that any of what I just said made sense. Trust me, it was that confusing for me too. Basically, Monday night after I returned from Manuel Antonio I found myself in an entirely new environment (with a killer sunburn), trying to swallow the idea that in the morning I would be going to an entirely new project. Back to square one, right? To top it all off, I was sick on Tuesday morning with some of the most intense stomach pains I had ever felt. This is just a somewhat unremarkable example of the seemingly inevitable cycle that right when you get comfortable, the rug will most likely always be pulled out right from underneath your feet.
I think these trying times are some of the most important ones in life, to be honest. The more you are hit right between the eyes with what may seem like the shittiest luck, the more chances you have to practice how you are going to respond to these types of situations. It may sound cheesy, but I believe this from the bottom of my heart. As much as I loved my old project, I felt as though I was hitting a wall. I didn’t feel challenged or fully trusted to take any responsibility independently of the instructor, and I was therefore unable to continue to feel proud of what I was doing. It made me feel as though what I had to offer was invaluable. But I was comfortable. I think this comfortable zone is one that people should practice having a healthy fear of. It is a dangerous trap that leads to complacency.
My new project is in a church as well, but it’s completely new. It’s in a neighborhood called Barrio Cuba, and our job is to teach English to all ages of students. Myself and my good friend Jaime along with two other volunteers are essentially the trailblazers of this project. At first I was petrified. How could I be trusted to create an entire culture of teaching for volunteers yet to come? How could I know what these students needed or even where to start? The truth is, I couldn’t and I can’t. All I can do is try my best to give these students what they need. I think as long as I remain patient, humble, and understanding I will be just fine. After all, I’m only human. Things will not unfold perfectly, I’m sure, but as long as I am consistent in my objectives the next few weeks will be a learning experience for myself as well as my students.
So far I am so excited for what is to come. We have six students at the moment. It is the same as Carpio in the sense that the classes are free and the students come voluntarily. We have varying levels of knowledge of English amongst our students. Five of the students ages range from 12-16. Then there’s Cira. Cira is 56, and she’s about the cutest darn lady I’ve ever met in my life. It is more difficult for older people to learn a second language. I’m no expert on the science of the matter, but it has something to do with the fact that one language has been ingrained in their mind for so many years that a new one just seems absolutely ass-backwards. (How’s that for scientific?)… Anyway the point is that Cira is the bees-knees. How much humility must it take for her to sit in a class where more often than not the younger students are helping us to teach her how to pronounce English words? The other day my teammate Jaime complimented her on her earrings. She seemed surprised and promptly made sure to notify Jaime that they were not real gold. After Jaime reassured her that they were still beautiful, Cira took off her earrings and handed them over to Jaime. I can’t remember whether or not I wrote about the little girl in Carpio, Alison, who gave Jaime her earrings also. Now we joke that Jaime must have some coveting look in her eyes when she gives out compliments pertaining to earrings. But I swear there’s just something about people who don’t have much… they generally just seem more generous, humble, and kind in general.
My homestay, on the other hand, is completely different than the last. The house is smaller, and there are many more people. Instead of just having a house mom, I now live with a family. My Mama Tica’s name is Cindy, and she has two children: Alanzo (12), and Valeria (6). Alanzo is the sweetest little man I may have ever met, and oh so charming. Valeria is definitely one of the sassiest chiciticas in the neighborhood, as well as gorgeous. Her husband, Alonzo mejor is home once a week, because his work is a three hour trip away from San Jose. The entire family lives in one room, while the other two bedrooms are reserved for volunteers. They have two dogs and two birds. The food is different, the house is a bit more of a mess, and the living room is bright green. Cindy is 33 years old, and she speaks perfectly clear Spanish (PRAISE DA LAWD). Whereas I had my own room in my previous house, I now live in a room with three beds and very little storage space. Needless to say, there’s always something going on here. Different? Yes. Luxurious? No. A learning and growing experience for me? Absolutely. Although I was not a happy camper about the move in the beginning–and I am still not fully comfortable in the situation–I really don’t think I’d change a thing about the way anything has unfolded.
My main sense of uneasiness is the due to the fact that I so abruptly left the children in La Carpio with whom I was beginning to build very positive (and what I valued as meaningful) relationships with. I never got a chance to say bye. I know all I can really do is to let this go and just hope for the best. After all, I can only do so much. I only hope that they will grow into the wonderful little humans that I know they truly are.
Although at times my experience in Costa Rica has not been the most comfortable, I don’t think I would change it a bit. Sometimes the things that seem the scariest yield the greatest rewards. And sometimes it’s just time to move forward and let things be. Like now, I suppose. Until next time… Besitos x