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.
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?
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 (cause I guess I’m part of the group now too). Last week, we had a community raffle and the prize was a live pig.
Today marks the day that I have officially been in site for one month, whoo! I surprise myself by saying that time has actually gone by pretty fast. **knock on wood**
Like I’m sure many Peace Corps Volunteers can attest to, the first few weeks of arriving at site can be kind of [insert emotionally overwhelming synonym here]. You’ve left your new friends, the busy training schedule, and that cozy life you just built for yourself over the past three months during pre-service training only to wake up alone in an unfamiliar place surrounded by flying insects, people, and a language that you don’t really know. It’s a big change.
For Community Economic Development Volunteers, the first 3 months in site are supposed to be spent assessing and getting to know your community. This was the part of Peace Corps that always terrified me. The first few months of arriving in site that are solely for integrating. Nothing to really do, nowhere to really go. Just integrate. Continue reading →
I love fruit. I LOOOVE fruit. And vegetables. And coffee. I love all things fresh, delicious, crunchy, soft, gooey, acidic, tart, earthy, juicy, fleshy (just for you papaya), bubbly, spicy…the list goes on. I love all the tastes and textures.
So when I got my site assignment for Fila Naranjo and read that it was a small coffee farming community in the mountains of Costa Rica my heart melted into a pool of dark chocolate fondue. Endless amounts of coffee? Fresh homegrown Costa Rican coffee? That was all I needed and all I wanted. It was enough to keep me satisfied for the next 2 years. I was happy…I was extática…with coffee.
But once I got to site, I discovered that the sweet, pure, fertile tierra of Fila Naranjo sprouted so much more than just the best coffee in the world. You name it, we got it. We’re like the expensive produce aisle in Whole Foods that everyone walks through but can’t commit to making a purchase. You might put that $6 exotic dragon fruit in your cart but you know you’re going to take it out once you get to the check-out and slip it behind the kombucha cooler.