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!