Pura Vida...eventually

Trip Start Jan 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Friday, January 19, 2007

My first night in Orosi was probably the one of the most terrifying of my life.  I had arrived in San Jose the night before with the other WorldTeach volunteers in an excited blur of massive amounts of luggage and getting to know you questions.  We had spent a day in the capital dealing with all those awful logistics that every traveller dreads.  And then we found ourselves in a rickety bus making our way through the mountains to Orosi, where weīd be spending the next month training, getting to know one another...and living with a host family.  This last part was what struck fear in all of us, but an extra special terror in those of us who know enough Spanish to ask where the bathroom is (Donde esta el baņo?).  When we finally made it to the smaller mountain town, it was dusk and rain was just starting to sprinkle down in a pelo de gato.  We were quickly briefed on how to greet our new families and show pictures of life back in the States when we didnīt know what to say.  And then the moment of truth.  A crowd had begun to gather outside of the Otiak (our headquarters) as soon as the bus pulled up, and now there were close to a hundred people gazing in at us.  We, clutching the faded pictures of those who weīd be living with for the next four weeks, stared back.  My hands were shaking and I was all too aware that I must stink from my day on the bus and walking around San Jose.  Please let them be nice.  Please let them be nice.  One by one our names were called and one by one a volunteer stepped forward with fear in their face.  We were like puppies in a pet store.  Who was going to pick me?  And then I heard my name.  I felt as if I were going on stage for the first time ever without knowing my lines.  My whole body was shaking as I picked up my small bags and headed to the door.  How was I supposed to greet my new Tico mother again?  Oh my God!  What was that phrase they taught us that meant īnice to meet youī?  Oh shit!!  And then there she was in front of me.  She went to kiss me on the cheek and I hugged her.  It was awkward, but not that bad.  I decided just to kiss my new sister though.  Just to be safe.  We gathered up my bags, me totally self conscious of all the stuff I had brought with me, and head towards my new home.  Hola...es bonita...Orosi...Como estas...I mean esta...I mean...how are you?  My bag...heavy...sor...lo siento...me gusta musica...mi espanol es muy mal...sí?  I am...yo soy...I mean...tengo...veinte...veinte trés...sí...  Even the little Spanish that I knew had suddenly abandoned me.  I was panicked.  These people, these nice people, my new family, probably hates me!!!  Already!  They must think Iīm so stupid that I canīt even say 23!  I bet the last volunteer they had knew Spanish like it was their own language.  I couldnīt believe how dumb I was!  When we reached the house I was introduced to Reina the dog, Benjamin the cat, and the turtle whose name I didnīt catch and have since never seen.  Me gusta gato.  Me gusta perro.  Si!  The pictures from home didnīt take up more than ten minutes and the presents I had brought took up another ten and then I just sat there trying to remember something...anything...to say to these people staring at me.  Saved by a quick dinner of rice and pasta, I laughed at the story that my sister, Carolina, told the table.  Iīm sure they thought  I was extra crazy laughing without knowing why.  And then I went to bed, awakened every hour by a rooster who obviously couldnīt tell the difference between night and day.  Laying awake in a foreign bed in a new room and listening to strange sounds, I thought that maybe I had made a mistake doing this.  What had I gotten myself into?  I canīt even speak Spanish!  
I have now been in Orosi for a week and it feels like home.  Itīs absolutely beautiful and even though I got lost all the time for the first couple of days, I can now make it to the supermercado and El Coto without any confusion.  Even though there is a definite language barrier, I find myself understanding more than I ever thought possible after a week.  We are always laughing over coffee and the occasional cervaza or shot of guaro.  On Bingo night, my mother, Carolina, and my adopted brother Don Juan had a great time even when we lost.  Already I have made close friends in the WorldTeach group and am sad that we wonīt be able to meet at El Coto, our local hangout, for a drink and chat once at our sights.  And, amazingly enough, my Spanish is getting a lot better!  I can actually talk in complete sentences now and people can understand the gist of what Iīm trying to say!  So even though I wasnīt exactly tap dancing with happiness my first night in Orosi, life is going pretty good now.  Pura Vida...
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dadofdivaboots on

tap dancing
wow, lacey! what a description of that first day of extreme tepidation. I admire you so very much for taking the difficult plunge! while you might not have tap danced through that first enconter I am sure you will learn to waltz with great satisfaction in the coming days and weeks. Bravo! Pura Vida!

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