Seeing Costa Rica: Playa Hermosa

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.

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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

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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.

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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

Teaching in a Rural Escuela

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.

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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.

Even that’s a stretch for me… (psssst I don’t like teaching English). Continue reading

7 Spanish Songs to Kick Off Your Summer

With the abrupt end of my Costa Rican summer (rainy afternoons are in full swing now) and the blossoming warm weather in the places that I love like Colorado and Wisconsin, I feel like I should share a few songs that brought me happiness during the long, sunny, hot summer days here down here in my tropical paradise.

So here they are, the top 7 canciones en español from my summer 2017.

My #1 right now…

Continue reading

Celebrating One Year as a PCV

This month, I celebrate the completion of my first year as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica.

It’s true what they say in the Peace Corps, that days pass by slowly but the months fly by.

How is it rainy season again already?

Reaching this point in my service is not only rewarding, but it brings me a sense of stability and comfort.

Before I left for the Peace Corps, 27 months felt like forever. But to really integrate into a new culture and community and work on sustainable long-term projects, all while learning a new language, it’s hardly enough time.

Now, different from a year ago, and even different from six months ago, I finally feel grounded; like I’ve found my place in my community and have a greater understanding for my host country and how things work (ahem, coffee is priority and meetings start at least an hour late).

In the whirlwind of all this, over the past six months I’ve experienced the ups and downs of working at a grass-roots level, transitioned in my role as a PCV, and even had some time to travel around the country (and Nicaragua!). Continue reading