Late last week, Tropical Storm Depression #16 Nate passed through Costa Rica.
While the nonstop rain and heavy winds began on Wednesday, October 4, the storm passed through on Thursday, October 5, leaving 22 people dead and thousands without homes, running water, electricity, and cell phone service.
If you remember last year in November, Costa Rica was hit by Hurricane Otto, but damage was mostly seen in northern Costa Rica, where many communities and homes were flooded from rain water.
This year, damage was much more widespread and in fact worse than when an actual hurricane hit last year. Roads, bridges, and homes throughout the country have been severely damaged, especially in southern Costa Rica.
From San Vito, the nearest city to my site, there are two routes leading out into the open world. This is now one of them.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had a random, never-seen-before, questionable looking fruit shoved in my face, but last night it happened again.
It was almost as if Carlos went out of his way to find me and ask me if I had ever had a zapote before.
“A za what?” I said
His eyes lit with excitement as he realized he would be the one to serve this gringa her first zapote ever.
And for good reason because it was so tasty. It was this tender, not-too-sweet fruit that tasted expensive and classy JUST like a fig yet soft and hearty like a cooked squash. I truly thought that I had seen and tasted all that there is to offer in Fila Naranjo after 16 months of living here, but this land is still full of surprises.
Mamón Chino aka Rambutan aka some sort of cousin of the Lychee
When I first thought about living in a new country for an entire two years, especially a smaller place like Costa Rica, it seemed like it would be oh-so-easy to see and explore every region, city, and pueblo.
Well I was WRONG.
Between community work, meetings, trainings, and out-of-country vacations, it’s actually been a little difficult to visit all the places in Costa Rica that I have on my list.
As PCVs, we accrue 2 vacation days per month and are allowed 3 OOC nights (out of community) per month. Those 5 days might sound like a lot but the the majority of us save vacation days for trips home or with family and friends and try to use those OOC nights to scramble around the country when we’re not working in our communities.
And, with basically having one foot in Panama, it makes it extra difficult for me to get to places that aren’t in my region, like northern Costa Rica where the heat is hawt and the beaches are bumpin’. Continue reading →
Tonight, there is misa at 6pm and I will not be attending.
La Misa (Mass) is held every Sunday morning and the first Wednesday night of every month in the community Catholic church.
…and tonight for some reason.
Well really whenever someone’s feeling like they want go to church, they’ll gather the troops and make it happen.
When I first got to Fila Naranjo, I was going to church every Sunday morning for an hour and a half. Since my community is 99.99% Catholic, I thought that it would be a good way to integrate, meet people, and develop connections for future projects in my site.
Well, that didn’t really happen. Sure I saw people that I would usually never see during the week, but after church was let out not one sad soul was interested in talking to this gringa about anything.
Those were the best days, am I right? Waking up to all the smells of all the foods and sleepily making your way down to the kitchen only to find the dining table completely set. Everything’s warming in the oven and the only thing that’s missing is you. Continue reading →
During Week Two of Camp GLOW, we took over the Peace Corps Costa Rica Facebook page and posted daily updates about the camp. Below, I am sharing the posts that we did just to give some insight of our daily sessions during the camp.
We’re Princess and Tily, Community Economic Development volunteers serving in southern Costa Rica. This week, we’re takin’ over the Peace Corps Costa Rica Facebook page to bring you daily deets of our week-long girls empowerment and leadership camp, Camp GLOW, which starts tomorrow!
Day 1 of Camp GLOW was a success! It was a jam-packed day full of tons of great activities.
In the morning, the group spent time making their bolsas de cumplidos (compliment bags), an activity that we’ll do throughout the week to create a positive environment and encourage our group to give and receive complements to each other.
Then, we spent almost an entire hour trying to untangle ourselves from our human knot! Afterwards, the girls were relieved to do some Zumba, led by PCV (and future Zumba instructor) Jasmine.
We finished the day with a session on Gender Equality & Empowerment led by PCV Princess that encouraged the girls to think about gender as relates to their community in Costa Rica.
Tomorrow, we’ll be focusing on relationships, reproductive health and health & wellness!
10 months ago, I sat on a bus with my friend and Tico 31 comrade Princess as we made our way to our San Jose for our first IST (in-service training) just three months after arriving in our sites.
Princess and I are site neighbors, and I use the word “neighbors” loosely because we live almost two hours away from each other.
Princess lives in Sabalito, a city of about 1,000 people while I live higher up in the mountains in a rural community of 150 people.
Sitting on the bus, Princess told me about the challenges her community was facing, especially the young girls in the local high school where she worked. She told me the dropout rate for girls was 4.85% due to risk factors such as prostitution and teen pregnancy, and because she lives so close to the Panamanian border, drugs and poverty also play a big role in the high dropout rate.
We both eagerly made hypothetical plans together to do a girls empowerment camp at the high school sometime during our service. I mean, 10 months ago, we had plenty of time to make some magic happen.
Fast forward 10 months later to today and here we are, executing two 6-day GLOW camps after having successfully secured a $2,500 Let Girls Learn grant. Continue reading →
When Peace Corps Volunteers arrive at site, the first thing they do is panic.
After that step is complete, many of us find ourselves working in local escuelas y colegios (elementary schools and high schools) as a way to integrate into our communities and do something besides taking long walks, eating, emotional eating, reading, and misinterpreting everything our host families say.
As a Community Economic Development (CED) Volunteer, those first few months can be especially tough because we’re constantly battling the assumption that we are here to teach English.
I repeat, we are not here to teach English. Unless it’s to, for example, adults, and seen as an employability and community development building skill.