Trip Start Oct 04, 2010
5Trip End Dec 17, 2012
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I haven't really written anything in the blog, but it’s been a really busy couple of weeks! Be prepared for a long blog post, as I describe my first weeks in the Peace Corps.
I pack, I panic, and I repack. I thought I had 100 of weight limit for luggage (50 lbs. per bag). It turns out I could carry only 80 lbs., with each individual bag weighing no more than 50 lbs. I finally got the bags down to one at 50 lbs. and one at 29.5 lbs., plus carry-on and backpack. It was a headache, but I’m glad I at least got rid of 20 lbs. I spent one last night with Aaron and family at Bravo, and packing.
Oct. 4th, Washington D.C.:
I already regretted the amount of luggage I brought. I took so much out that it felt as if I were packing light. It turns out, I did NOT pack light! I could definitely have done with less shoes and clothes, which I am now realizing could easily have been bought here. I do not, however, regret the travel iron and sewing kit, as they both came in handy!
Washington was interesting! I met all 45 volunteers. Looking back, it seems weird to me that they were strangers, as I’ve come to know and love so many of them in the short week we spent together. We spent the time talking a lot about ourselves and the expectations, fears, and hopes we had for the trip. After orientation, which lasted from 12:30pm to 7pm, I went out to dinner with a small group. We had a blast! It really eased my fears a little to know that I was starting my new adventure with such great people. We ate and talked for over 3 hours! I didn’t go to sleep at all that night, because we had to check out of the airport at 2:00 a.m., so I just stayed up the whole night. We got to the airport (more baggage regret), and I got on a plane to Miami, and then Costa Rica. I was getting pretty sad here, because Aaron and I were sending each other our last text messages! I already missed him so much, but I remained super excited about my trip.
Oct. 5th Costa Rica: At this point, none of it felt real to me. I’ve been preparing myself emotionally for so long that the emotion I felt most was excitement. I was so tired on the plane from 2 nights of little to no sleep, but the plane was too uncomfortable to get a good rest. When we finally landed, I was getting pretty emotional. Landing in Costa Rica reminds me of landing in Honduras; you land among an amazing view of green mountains, and it was exciting to know that I was landing to see the place I’ll be living and working in for the next 2 years. Of course, I was made fun of by Peace Corps staff, who said that it looked like I was starting a boutique because of the luggage I had!
We made our way to the retreat center, where the 45 of us spent the week getting oriented. 20 volunteers are from Community Economic Development (CED), which is my program, and 25 are from Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), which is PC Costa Rica’s newest program, in its first year.
The week was spent in various orientation classes. We talked about ourselves, learned about Costa Rica, learned about Peace Corps, and discussed our projects. It was a jam-packed week, and we went every day from 7 AM to 7 PM.
Food here is serious business. We had breakfast at 7am, coffee break (coffee and snack) at 10, lunch at 12, coffee at 3, and dinner at 7. That’s five meals a day! Considering that I only eat 2 meals a day at home, it’s an adjustment how much food they give, and not just frequency, but volume too. One of the first Tico words I learned was "una pisca", which means a small portion. Unfortunately, a small portion is still too big! The food was delicious, but I could already see that I am going to get tired of rice and beans(which is scary, considering that I have two years left here!) One thing I won’t get tired of is the drinks: delicious coffee and a variety of “frescos naturales”, including maracuyá or passion fruit, guanabana, tamarindo, and cas (a tico specialty which tasted like gingery citrus).
Another great thing about orientation was getting to know the volunteers. I was so shocked because I didn’t expect to get along so well with everyone. I’ve never been in a group so large where I could literally sit next to anyone and have a really interesting conversation. Everyone is really nice and easy to talk to, and they are all intelligent, caring and friendly. I was so impressed by how well traveled the group is. Several people have been to more than 10 countries, and a large number studied or worked abroad. One girl even studied abroad in Honduras! I had no idea you could do that, considering how unreliable the education system is there. Anyways, we all got really close, and I think I will remain friends with a number of them for years to come. It’s always a bonding experience to go together through something as life changing as leaving behind everything to volunteer in a foreign country for two years. Furthermore, it’s really rare to find yourself in a place where everyone shares your values, beliefs and spirit of adventure. Peace Corps volunteers are very diverse, but have a lot in common!
On Friday, I got up early to do yoga with one of the volunteers, who used to be a teacher. It was fun, and of course, we had a great view while doing it.
We then went to Cartago to visit. My group went to the Basilica, which is where a large number of Costa Ricans walk on a pilgrimage to every year. It was a great little town, and it was nice to get out of the retreat center.
On Saturday, we had our last classes together, and then travelled to meet our host families. It was so sad! We all really bonded together, and I was so sad to know that I would hardly be seeing a lot of people anymore. The good thing was that I got to meet my host family, who is really great. My mom is Carmen, and she lives with her brother, Rony and her son, Christopher. Carmen is super nice to me, and really takes care of me. I´m never going to starve here, because the portions are huge! I have my own little room with a great view of the mountains!
Anyways, I´ll write more later, because internet cafes are expensive on a PC salary!
Write more later. I miss you all!
Ask me any questions about anything you want me to write about!