Mi familia

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
Trip End Mar 26, 2008

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Sunday, February 17, 2008

In spite of being exhausted Wednesday night, I attended English classes for adults at my school. There I met Dayana, a 19-year-old sophomore at a university in a nearby city who is studying natural resources. Her English is excellent and we had a good time talking about life in college for students in Costa Rica and in the U.S. We also made a plan to go hiking to a place called the Yellow Church the following day.

My family told me it was a steep, long hike and that it would be hard. Nevertheless, when the time came to meet Dayana at the supermarket to start off on our journey, Jahaira, the 12-year-old daughter in my family, expressed a keen interest in my journey. Not really believing she would accept, I asked if she wanted to go. To my surprise, she said yes.

This would have been fine. Except then, knowing his older sister was going, Dylan, the 5-year-old, wanted to go. *That* wasn't going to work, and his oldest sister, Jacqueline, who was visiting that day, said so. And Dylan melted down.

I tried to make amends by asking him to be my "maestro" this weekend at a town festival, and his crying abated for a moment. But then it continued on fiercely, and Jacqueline assured me it was because Dylan was mad at her. As it turned out, it began to rain, so Jahaira wasn't allowed to go either as her sister feared she'd catch a cold. (And in fact, when I woke up the next morning, I had a sore throat and a headache and had to go to class an hour late. I've been acting as if I have only one week here, and have been doing everything that I can possibly think of to do.)

Life with my homestay family is really more or less as it would be in the U.S., except it's in Spanish, my showers are cold, and there's a picture or two of Jesus in every room.

Dylan is a typical 5-year-old. He was glued to the Simpsons my first night in their house, and is incessantly watching TV (there's a TV in his room, the parents' room, and in the living room area -- and typically at least one of them is always on). Dylan enjoys using whatever English he knows with me -- mostly colors and "good morning" and "good night," and the first few days he'd break into the "ABC" song whenever he saw me. When he wasn't getting enough attention at dinner the other night, he decided to pick his nose -- which drew quite a response from his parents -- and when he wanted to touch one of my books later in the evening, his parents asked him to wash his hands first. So he wiped them on the back of a dining room chair. ;-)

Jahaira, at age 12, appears to be taken by those things "gringa." Some young American woman who was in town last month wore part of her hair covering one of her eyes, so Jahaira was wearing her hair like that yesterday with sunglasses she got from somewhere. Apparently this seems cool to her. She has a crush on a 14-year-old American boy who's living in town with his family for four months. (Her father doesn't know, but she wrote a valentine for him in Spanish and wants my help translating it into English before the boy returns from being on vacation at the beach this last week.)

Inez, their 41-year-old mother, has told me that I play with the kids far more than the other students they've had stay with them. (They've had a few doozies, apparently -- one young woman didn't return home until 5 one morning and was seen kissing some young man. It all worried Inez to death.) Dylan and I play Jenga (or, more accurately, we use the blocks to make bridges and stores and I learn lots of new words each time). We also play dominoes. And the kids and I practice some English every day. Dylan is working on "grey," "shoulders" and "head" and Jahaira is working on "breakfast," "bread," and "eggs." I think the kids like me because Jahaira gave me a Valentine card with a chocolate bar and Dylan is always asking if I will play with him if I'm done leaving the house for the day.

Inez does laundry every other day, and cooks every meal for the family daily, except Sunday afternoons. (Apparently Roberto, the 35-year-old father, makes lunch/dinner on Sundays.) Inez also delivers the children to and collects them from school. And she cleans every day. I've repeatedly attempted to help with dishes, etc., but she won't let me do more than bring dishes into the kitchen from the table after a meal.

Roberto is a truck driver for a paint company, so he leaves the house often at very odd early morning hours because he has to drive all over the country delivering paint. As near as I can tell he works roughly 14 hour days, 6 days a week.

The family invited me to go with them to a nearby city yesterday to visit with Inez's sisters. They've also invited me to go to the beach with them next weekend to visit her brother and his sister in a town on the Pacific side of the country. I feel lucky to spend time with them as it's "real life" and not just touristy stuff. 

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