29 September 2010

Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia

Don't you just despise when you have a post all written up and then it suddenly disappears!

Let's just say that this is a sneak peek into our cultural classes in the evening. If you haven't seen Scott dance before you are in for a treat. Our teacher, Alexandria, provided us with Latin dance moves that ended up being more of an aerobics workout and comedy act than a class that taught me how to dance in the clubs of Costa Rica. By the end, we all wanted showers and Alexandria was just a fresh as when she walked into the CCS homebase.

28 September 2010

Primary Presentation - Costa Rican Style

Wow I wish it were even appropriate for me to take pictures in church. On Sunday we decided to find the ward building in Cartago. Church started at 9:00 Am with Sacrament meeting, so we gave ourselves a half an hour to take a taxi to the building. As mentioned before, addresses here in Costa Rica are based off of distances from landmarks, such as 50 meters north from the old dried river, then 100 meters west, etc. So we had no idea looking at the address where the meeting house would be in Cartago.

Luckily for us though the taxi was inexpensive and we knew exactly where we were when he dropped us off. The Cartago ward house is located near the bus terminal on the outskirts of downtown Cartago. We had been there the day before when we went to the mall and Taco Bell outside of San Jose. Knowing where we were we decided to walk home from church when it was over.

When we arrived in the building, everyone was busy but also everyone stopped by to shake our hands and welcome us. It was Primary program day! I mean seriously, could I have picked a better day to come to church besides maybe Christmas or Easter? Best Sunday of the year! Plus I was so excited to see how the primary program would differ from the one we were planning at home.

When church began I noticed that the person in charge of playing the piano did not come. I was SO anxious to play, but couldn't figure out 1) how to ask, 2) who to ask, and 3) where the piano music was. It seems that everyone here brings their own hymn books to church and each of the children had a paper copy of the songs they were singing. But no public books. So I didn't play :( That would have just made my day to play in Cartago just like I did in France. Sad!

Well the children sang He Sent His Son, Follow the Prophet (many verses), Praise to the Man, and Our Saviors Love. They didn't sing the new song that we got this year with the theme, and there were no actions to songs (one of my favorite tools to help the kids learn). It was very cute though, and I was impressed with how well they did without a pianist.

We attended Sunday School after the primary program was over and then decided to walk home from there. We stopped at a bakery, which smells almost exactly like the bakeries in France, to buy lunch of a mini pizza and juice box. The juice box was for me, but take note that apple juice is NOT the same in Costa Rica.

26 September 2010

Livin' La Vida Loca

When my cousin, Kyle, challenged me to only speak Spanish this trip, I didn't realize I wouldn't have any other option. This being my first trip outside of the country, I would admit I've had some culture shock, but nothing that camping with my boy scouts hasn't already prepared me for. For example, our second day here I got up to use the bathroom . . . before I continue any further, there are a few things you should know about the bathrooms here. One, the guys and girls bathrooms are separated where the girl's is right outside our rooms and the guy's is on the complete opposite side of the house. Two, toilet paper is bad for the plumbing, so . . . yeah. Anyways, when I got to the bathroom I saw a tail coming out of the toilet. It quickly disappeared but in a matter of seconds reappeared in the form of a rat's head!! I didn't realize that the boys had to share the bathroom!

It has been fun to refer back to my high school Spanish, the Spanish I learned working at my dad's car lot, the Spanish I learned while serving in the inner cities of Connecticut, and the Spanish that my cousin frequently spouts off at me. Of course, it hasn't been perfect. My second day at work . . . I'm working with HIV/AIDS patients in a physical therapy type setting, BTW . . . I was working with a patient and wanted a weight for him to incorporate into the exercise. So I turned to the lady in charge, "la profe," and asked her if she had any "pesos." When she gave me a puzzled look I immediately knew I had the wrong word (like the time I asked a Spanish patient in Lehi if it was her "pollo" (chicken) that hurt instead of her "cuello" (neck)). After clarification I realized that I had asked her for money (pesos) instead of weight (pesas). This is only one of many experiences that I've had with miscommunication.

So Katie and I had this last weekend off to experience the culture of Costa Rica. Our fellow volunteer friends had ideas like white water rafting, hot lava springs, or a dinner theater in the capital city, San Jose. Nah, we were more excited to take a bus thirty minutes away to a mall just outside of Cartago. Not only that, but when we got to the mall we had Taco Bell for lunch! I'm sure you'd understand that everyone needs to try Taco Bell in Costa Rica sometime in their life. Figuring out how to get around town with public transportation and broken Spanish was just as adventurous to us as white water rafting. And only Katie knows how disappointed I am that I wasn't able to find the basketball court where all the locals play on Saturday mornings. Seriously disappointed!

I'm loving my placement because I feel it perfectly utilizes my skills. I can tell that our service here does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. The cultural classes including dancing, cooking, countryside tours, history of the country, and language are just as exciting as the work we do. And anytime I feel overwhelmed I comfortably retire to the bedroom with the World Wide Web and a bowl of Arroz con Leche.

Yes, we even get our own beds!

22 September 2010

Dias Uno en Cartago

After such a long trip, you would think that I was exhausted and had gotten plenty of sleep Sunday night. Not exactly... I got some sleep, but I had slept quite a bit on the airplane and I think I was excited by a new place. Monday we had to wake up at 6:00 Am in order to be at breakfast on time and begin our orientation series. Scott slept pretty well and we both woke up easily, anxious to see where we were.

When we arrived in San Jose, the CCS Cartago driver Allan drove us to the home base from the airport. It was very dark at 11:00 Pm and while he had pointed out outlines of things (like the volcanoes), we only could see well the buildings that were lit. So our first point of orientation, after breakfast, was to have a walking city tour guided by Jovel (pronounced like Yobell). We walked and walked and walked around the city to orient ourselves around the CCS home base. It was a beautiful morning, sunny skies and warm (too warm for a black long sleeved shirt).

The first stop was the Basilica. This is one of the buildings we saw the night before because it is REALLY well lit up. I'm talking tons of wattage is used to make this building glow, and for good reason. It is probably the most important and well known basilica in all Central America. There is a pilgrimage to this temple every year around the beginning of August. It is ginormous and so beautiful. Pictured above is Scott in I in front of the basilica's streams of holy water, which are said to come from underneath the building and have healing powers. The water is safe to drink for tourists.

We finished our walking tour by seeing the laundry mat, indoor market, ice cream parlor, central park, and post office were located.  One thing to know about Costa Rica is that there are no street signs because the people use landmarks like, the old Coca Cola factory, to drive anywhere or send mail. This could obviously be difficult for anyone who doesn't know where the previously living fig tree could have been, or even how many blocks are in a meter. To get an idea for the implications of no street signs, here is an article that we were given later in our program orientation.

The program orientation was fantastico! In the afternoon it started to down pour, typical of the rainy season, which worked out perfectly as we spent the rest of the day indoors. In the program orientation, the director described the country, it's many assets, and current issues. Incredibly interesting (ask me in person sometime) and Jose, the Cartago director is muy intelligent. Then we had Spanish class, where the teacher discovered that I understand much and have very little ability to say anything. Scott however has magically remembered everything from high school Spanish classes and has impressed (not surprisingly) all the local staff with his knowledge and humor. After orientation Monday, Tuesday (Sept 21) would be our first day at our volunteer placements.

P.S. I had to Babelfish the post title, because I speak nada Spanish. Did you know that Cartago means Carthage? That's what the babel fish said, anyway.

20 September 2010

SLC-Chicago-Miami-San Jose

Sunday morning we woke up ridiculously early to get to the airport for our international travels. I keep telling Scott all these tips about international travel, and I think he’s starting to think that I’m making them all up because nothing has happened as I said it would. A good friend took us to the airport, and we must have arrived before major crowds because it was a breeze to check in. No one really checked our passports, there was no extra procedure for us to go through, and we easily found our gate. Scott looked at me when we got to our gate an hour before boarding, and said, “You sure we needed to be here so early?” Then he pulled out his travel pillow, asked if it looked like a neck brace, and fell asleep.

The flight from Salt Lake was uneventful, though I have to mention that it had the worst food options of all the flights we were on all day. My parents so graciously helped us with mileage tickets to Costa Rica, and most of the seats on our trip are first class. I know! My parents ROCK, as my niece Meghan would say. But would you believe that in first class from SLC to Chicago that they served a fruit cocktail cup, dumped into a glass bowl to look fancy? It was accompanied by a plastic travel cereal bowl.

The flight to Miami was more of what I expect of first class. When we walked to our seats, there were fresh, new pairs of earphones waiting for us. Excitedly, I opened up the in flight magazine to see what we would be watching during our flight eastbound. I have to admit that I was glad because of the timing of the flight, that we never got to start the movie. You must be thinking, “Ooh, I bet it was rated R.” or “Maybe it was a masculine action film.” Yeah, no. It was Letters to Juliette.

I know that there is at least one other person in the blogosphere who shares my opinion on the movie. I recently rented the movie from Redbox. I had relatively low expectations but thought it might be cute and at least I’ll be watching beautiful Tuscany. Well, the Tuscany scenes were the movie’s only asset. In fact, I would probably more enjoy a two hour documentary of Tuscany. The writing was horrible. Who wrote the lines “Girl: Can you move? Boy: Only my lips.”? Probably the same person that made the main girl look completely unintelligent by writing like and awesome in every other sentence. The acting was worse, in my opinion. I expected better of the main and supporting actors. And note to the music editor, you cannot play an upbeat song, pause for said girl to break up with boy, and then start the upbeat song again where you left off. Not cool. If you liked the movie, ignore my comments. Unashamedly, I am entertained by Under the Tuscan Sun. But for me, Chicago to Miami was so much more enjoyable because they played 30 Rock instead of a film.

Miami – Wow! What an airport. I felt like I was the only person who didn’t dress up to go on my flight. Either that, or the only people without dreads. When we first walked to our gate, I thought, “Wow. We are going to be the fairest of them all on this flight," that is, if you exclude the couple who were wearing Bride and Groom mouse ears. It was then that Scott reminded me that we were again, an hour early before boarding, and the flight everyone was waiting for was going to Jamaica. So instead, we watched football in another boarding area, possibly Scott’s favorite part of the trip so far.

The flight to San Jose, Costa Rica was the best of all though. The flight attendant had an accent that was a mix of the guy who does action movie trailers and Enrique Iglesias. His rendition of Costa RICA! and American Airlines were to swoon over. Plus they kept offering us chapagne, like this was a moment to celebrate. We obviously kept refusing, but it was the thought that counts.

We arrived in Costa Rica, with no trouble getting through customs, and are now at our Home Base with CCS. The weather has been great so far. It was warm and sunny this morning, with rain in the afternoons. Every paper that I pick up here seems damp. We are pretty tired, but anxious to get enough sleep tonight to start our placements tomorrow. I probably wont have too much time to blog, what with volunteering, culture/language lessons, and my MBA work. But when we do we'll share stories and pictures.

17 September 2010

The Day Laziness Died

I never thought I would say that we would get bored of being lazy. Yet after weeks of resting, no work, and non stop ESPN or Food Network, Scott and I have found ourselves asking each other, "What are we doing today?"

Today, I was shocked to come home from errands to find Scott not on the couch, but organizing our bedroom. He started with his scrapbook box!

Of course, in order for Scott to enjoy the task, CAKE needed to be blaring on the docking station. I think we're ready for a trip!

15 September 2010

Lazy Planning

Since neither Scott or I are working, we have gotten the opportunity to be pretty lazy. I LOVE it! It's been so long since I could lay around the house not feeling guilty about having something to do or missing work or an event. Plus, it's lovely to stop having dreams about work. When I worked at DecisionWise I couldn't help but dream about surveys and data. Working at BYU only brought strange dreams and post-waking drowsy thoughts of interview schedules. Now I dream about... I don't know, come to think of it.

We haven't been completely lazy though. I am trying to be studious on a weekly basis, adding to discussions in my ethics and marketing classes online, taking quizzes, and reading case studies. We are also preparing for our trip to Costa Rica!! SO excited... at least I am. I've been waiting for the day when Scott will realize that this is his FIRST international trip and that it will be freaking amazing, whether we are drenched from rain or not.

Since the middle of the summer, I've wanted to plan this trip. Cross Cultural Solutions is the organization that guided my mom and I through Arusha, Tanzania in 2004. I volutneered teaching English and my mom volunteered in a nurse capacity at an orphanage. It was an amazing three weeks of attempting to find my chi in a new and very different culture. This year, CCS is having an alumni challenge, inviting alumni to volunteer again or give in another capacity, and invite new friends as well. Since Scott and I didn't even know each other in 2004, he counts as a new friend. We both are going to Costa Rica for the price of one person, and we will be there two weeks!

Our program manager from CCS emailed us yesterday to let us know where the in-country staff has assigned us for our volunteer placement. There are several difference placements in the area for healthcare, care giving, or teaching that the in-country staff can choose from. The staff reviewed our profiles and decided based on our skill sets that Scott will be volunteering with HIV/AIDS patients and I will be volunteering helping the music teacher at a special education school.

Today was  the first day that I witnessed Scott describe our upcoming expedition to someone else. His cousin Josh had come over to drop off a soda (lost a bet), and Scott told him about how we'd be leaving on Sunday. FINALLY I could tell that Scott was excited, but it will only get better.

We will make sure to take lots of pictures, don't you worry.

In the meantime, we are packing, playing USA Today Crosswords, and playing with our landlords new kitties. Sorry, Tigger! Scott found a younger model.

I thought I was taking a picture, which is why the movie is so short.

10 September 2010

Hola, viaje voluntario

Where is Katie?

Ok, really I'm in my apartment playing with my mac...

BUT I'm dreaming of how I'll be here in less than two weeks! It's official. Booyah!

09 September 2010

Social Responsibility and Philathropy

My MBA program started this week. I am taking two classes, Marketing Management and Business and It's Environment. So far it has been easy for me to adapt to the online environment of readings, discussions, and self discipline. With only two classes, and currently no job, I will hopefully have plenty of time for class work and dabbling in grant writing.

I thought I would share this first discussion from my business environment course on The Social Responsibility of Businesses. The professor asked us to read a 1970's article by professor and economist, Milton Freidman, as well as this article debate from 2005. In his article from the 1970s Times, Freidman says that the only social responsibility a business should have is to increase profits for it's shareholders. Other forms of social responsibility are either a "cloak" to disguise efforts to increase profit, or corporation inflicted taxes on shareholders to fix something that the government is not.

The article debate from Reason.com is a little long, but really interesting. It's fun to read the debates between these three intellectual, corporate-focused men. I found myself swayed several times throughout the debate, as well as the usual confused. In the end, I still find myself on the side of Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey. While I think that corporations are in essence created to be profitable, I believe that some are also created with philanthropic intents, like Whole Foods. People choose to work there, be on the board, and hold it's stock, because of their mission to better the world. If they didn't want money from the company to go to outside charities, they wouldn't be a shareholder in the organization. My opinion, is that the world should have more companies who look outside of themselves, while remaining profitable and efficient to help the world in ways that fit their mission statement.  However, I don't devalue companies who exist for the sole purpose of making a profit, as long as they live by laws and refrain from fraud.

Welcome to my class!

07 September 2010

Water Coins and California Girls

On our last day of vacation, we went to Granite Bay/Folsom Lake with the Kartchners and the Danielsons. Even though the weather had been upwards of 110 degrees all week long, Saturday was an overcast windy day. We still braved the weather (with sweaters and towels for warmth, of course) to do a little jet skiing.

When we arrived at Folsom Lake, there were quite a few Kite Surfers making use of the blustery day. Have you seen these before?

I hadn't! It was the most amazing thing to see these men using the wind to fly across the lake, and even more amazing when the wind would pick them up and they would get some SWEET air!

By mid-afternoon, the sun had come out again and I agreed to get out of my toasty seat to jet ski with Scott, who had been on the water all day regardless of the weather! The kids sat on the beach with their sand toys, digging for "gold." The sand was FULL of shiny granite "coins." So the Kartchner boys and Danielson girls made a sand fortress to protect their loot.

During construction of said fort, the truck/trailer that was parked next to us with music blaring starting playing a song the girls recognized. The girls quickly gave the boys "the hand," demanding silence. "Stop, stop stop!... I hear... California Girls." This is when the shimmying and lipsynching started. Adorable!

Scott downloaded the song onto his iPod when we got back to Utah. He said it was for if we ever have any little girls.

03 September 2010

Cat Lover

I'm allergic, myself. Scottie? He grew up with Frisky The Cat and just can't get enough of cats and kittens when we're around them.

I wasn't surprised then, that even though Scott loved to spend time with his nephews, that he took advantage of the time to be around his nephews' cat, Tigger.

And Tigger loved him right back. From day one, Scott spent time petting Tigger, holding Tigger, washing his hands after holding Tigger because otherwise he'd be sleeping on the couch with Tigger, and even giving Tigger walks!

Have you ever seen a cat follow someone up and down the street? Scott could have said heel and Tigger would have heeled. Now THAT is some serious cat love!

02 September 2010

Mad Scientist

I really should leave this vacation story for Amy to tell, but I have all the pictures. So... Sorry!

While we were in Sacramento, Martie (my marvelous mother-in-law) purchased a make-your-own Volcano kit for Scott's oldest nephew, Kaden. Kaden was so excited to make the volcano, and Uncle Scott volunteered to help. Little did we know that possibly Scott was way more excited.

The kit included the plastic volcano base with hose for volcano spewage, sand concrete stuff for the volcano form, and bubbly powder to add extra excitement to the blow. Oh! I can't forget. The kit also came with a pair of mini lab goggles that looked like they could only fit a toddler. But somehow Kaden was able to fit them on his head, and he was very adamant that goggles should be worn at all times during volcano construction. So when there wasn't an extra pair of goggles for Uncle Scott, we conveniently found him a matching pair... for protection of course. Lava can be a dangerous thing!

Once the goggles were securly in place, Kaden took out the volcano step by step guide.

Step 1: Mix the sand/concrete with 260 CCs of water and mix.

Scott: Ooh! 260 CCs? Too bad the kit only gave us a 140 CC cup!
Kaden: It's okay! You can just fill up the cup twice to 100 CCs and then once again to 60 CCs.

Um, yeah! Kaden is kind of a genius.

Step 2: Form the base of the volcano.

Step 3: Let the base dry, being sure to stick in the tube for accurate lava blasting. Paint if desired with magma-like colors, trees to be destroyed, and a snow-capped top? (Scott was the painter, as this part didn't interest Kaden much)

Step 4: Let 'er RIP! (Watch Scott's reaction vs. Kaden's)

Step 4: Mad Scientist continues to squirt out sulfur smelling bubbly liquid as child completely looses interest and runs away.