Even after living almost two years in Costa Rica I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Not only am I fulfilling my dream of being a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’m living in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world!
…even though it’s either just dumping rain or the sun is boiling off my tender skin.
Since being in Costa Rica, I’ve not only had the chance to explore places in country like Tortuguero and La Casona, I also went to Nicaragua and just last month, took an 18-day trip to Mexico.
It was glorious…y muy barato (very cheap) for all you money savers out there.
I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing but for the sake of optimism I’m going to say that it’s good. A LOT has happened since May, so maybe that’s why…
I remember when I was just a trainee back in pre-service training and one of my favorite training sessions was when the veteran volunteers would come talk to us about their experiences. We were just little buoyant nuggets full of hope and determination and SO eager to know the real deal with being a PCV.
We were always loaded with questions. After a while, I noticed this recurring theme of volunteers telling us how the second year of service was so different from the first and ohhh the second year really flies by because you’re just so busy and yadda yadda yadda.
I brushed it off until my mid-service crisis hit me like a bag of bricks and I was deep down in the dumps. I was feeling useless in site and the women’s group I worked with was just a complete hot mess. Things truly felt like they were getting worse by the day and the little work that I did have to do in my tiny community of 200 was slowly slipping away.
I was nervous because all I had lined up for this amazing “Year 2” were two Camp GLOWs (young female leadership camps), which I was working on with another volunteer. While I was super excited for those to happen, my squeaky clean calendar post-July left me feeling nervous and frankly, a little terrified…
Yup, that’s right. This smoothie bowl is packed full of a rainbow’s-worth of healthy goodness and enough fiber to give you the bowel movement of your dreams.
You see here in the Peace Corps, we deal with a lot of panza (belly) issues. Whether it’s a parasite that’s found it’s way into the potable water from last night’s big rain storm or some questionable greasy street food that’s been sitting out too long (I see you empanada and chicharron lovers), we, the proud Peace Corps Volunteers of Costa Rica, have all been there.
And by there I mean on the toilet…for a long time.
Since arriving in Costa Rica, I had always wanted to visit Tortuguero. So when my friend said she was going last month, I didn’t hesitate to invite myself along.
Tortuguero is located on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and is famous for for its long serene beaches that are nesting grounds for sea turtles. Basically in my mind, Tortuguero translates to “Land of the Turtles.”
YES, TURTLES. GIANT TURTLES. BABY TURTLES. MEDIUM TURTLES. SMALL TURTLES. ALL THE CUTE TORTUGAS.
I knew that Tortuguero would be one of my favorite spots in Costa Rica from the moment we stepped off the boat. Since there are no roads to Tortuguero you have to arrive via boat or airplane (baller status) and different from a lot of other popular destinations in Costa Rica, Tortuguero has a more laid-back, island-y, hippy kinda vibe. A lot of the businesses were small and locally-owned and it just felt a little more rústico y rural.Continue reading →
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.
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.