Christmas In Fila Naranjo: Round Two

On December 26, 2016 I woke up with such a relief – I had made it through my very first Christmas away from home. I remember reassuring myself that my second year of service would be different; I would make it home to spend the holidays with friends and family. I would break out my winter boots, frolic in the snow, and snuggle up next to the fire with my favorite dog, Maple, and a massive cup of hot cocoa while the holiday tunes rang out in the background. Oh how glorious it would be.

My cute little Maple waiting for me back in Wisconsin. She’s all grown up!

But, when the final quarter of my Peace Corps service began filling up with new projects, community invitations and events, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to swing a trip home in December. After accepting that I would be spending Christmas again in my site – a rural community of 200 people – I did my best to do it right this time around. Continue reading


A Night of Terror Featuring Ants, Scorpions & Other Bichos

I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty positive about my overall Peace Corps experience. Even during the challenging times and moments of loneliness and frustration while living in rural Costa Rica, I have always gone to bed feeling humbled and grateful.

But after last night’s events, I need some space TO VENT.

Growing up on a farm, I’m no stranger to bugs, critters, and wildlife. As a teen, I even spent years living in a house infested with earwigs. They were everywhere.

But since moving to Costa Rica, life with insects has gotten intimate on a whole new level.

I have found multiple scorpions in and around my bed…


Came back to my room only to find a swarm of termites seeping out of the wooden ceiling and waterfalling down onto my belongings, bed, and clothing… Continue reading

Skipping Out on Catholic Mass

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.

Not one! Continue reading

A Costa Rican Campo Christmas

Over the past few weeks, the thought of being away from home — away from friends, family, snow, cheese, Christmas cookies, wine — all the things that are comforting to me during winter and Christmas, was a difficult truth to swallow.


But now that Christmas has come and passed, I feel appreciative of the time I spent with new friends and family, under a hot hot Costa Rican sun, with 3 wonderful Peace Corps volunteers, endless Christmas art activities, too much karaoke, ridiculously priced cheddar cheese (I’m from Wisconsin, it was necessary), not-so-delicious red wine, and Christmas cookies (yes, we made it happen). Continue reading

On Being Ama de Casa

Ama de Casa is title widely used in Costa Rica to describe the role of the woman whose job is to stay at home and care for the house, the children, and oftentimes here, the grandchildren.

The word “ama” is a noun and translates to:

  • Lady of the house
  • Owner
  • Governess
  • Foster mother
  • Housewife
  • Housekeeper

I know…the dictionary literally put them in that order. It kinda goes downhill from lady of the house. Continue reading

¡Bienvenidos a Mi Casa!


Bienvenidos a mi casita!

In Spanish, when something is small an ita or ito is added to the end of it. So casita (from the word casa) means ¨little house.¨

Perrito (perro) = little dog
Abuelita (abuela) = little grandma
Carrito (carro) = little car
Papelito (papel) = little paper
Almuercito (almuerzo) = little lunch…just a lil lunch ya know, a lite meal, some small fare

Anyway, you get it. But it’s cute right? People love to throw the ito/ita on everything here. It’s also kind of like sugar-coating a request or adding affection to a word.

Puedo tener un frescito por favor? Can I get a little juice please?

Gah. I just love it.

Anyway, back to mi casita. Continue reading

Fiestas Patronales in Fila Naranjo

This past weekend the annual Fiestas patronales (Patronage Festivals) were hosted in Fila Naranjo.


This was the first big celebration that’s happened in my community since I’ve been here so to say the least, I was pretty excited and intrigued to find out how Big Fila gets they party on.

So what is this fiesta anyway?! I know, you’re just dying to know. Continue reading

Monthly Update #2

Month 2 is here and gone! Not a ton has happened this last month but things have been busy enough in Fila Naranjo to keep me ocupada (and emotionally stable).

Courts for Kids


During the last week of June I went to help a nearby volunteer with one of her projects working with Courts for Kids. Courts for Kids is a US-based nonprofit that partners with international organizations and communities to help disadvantaged areas build courts for outdoor sports.

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Along with some local community members and other Peace Corps Volunteers, a group of volunteer high school students from Louisiana came to help build the court. Continue reading

The Day I Saw a Pig Die

Se dicen que si alguien tiene el miedo cuando se está viendo un cerdo muere, el cerdo no va a morir en paz.  

They say that if someone is afraid when they are watching a pig die, the pig will not die peacefully.

This past Thursday, I watched a pig die. I watched it with fear in my heart and pain in my eyes and sure enough, that pig did not go peacefully. Call me superstitious but I think it was my fault.

I didn’t necessarily want to watch it but I felt like I should. The lifestyle here in the campo of southern Costa Rica is so heavily based on agriculture–coffee, livestock, sugar cane, produce–and killing animals for comida is something that happens every day. Everyone is accustomed to it, and it’s just the way we live here (c
ause I guess I’m part of the group now too). Last week, we had a community raffle and the prize was a live pig.

Continue reading