Tuesday June 24th, 2008
¡Que Dicha!
I had done a lot of studying prior to coming to Costa Rica which was very beneficial but there´s a huge difference between processing Spanish when reading it and processing Spanish when listening to it. I was embarrassingly slow at answering very basic questions, but I´m getting better now. One of my favorite times of the day is eating dinner with my family. It´s great for my Spanish plus we don´t talk about verb conjugation and sentence structure, but instead talk about family, movies, politics, etc. Beatriz´s favorite actor is Denzel Washington and watches Prison Break and Grey´s Anatomy. Jimena likes Dora (used to like Barney but not anymore). And nobody likes George Bush. It´s not just 80/20% or 90/10% split in the population, it´s everyone. It´s almost like a fact, rather than opinion, that he´s a bad president. And the Ticos say it´s not just Costa Rica but Latin America and Europe as well. The consensus is quite amazing. I think they would be very surprised to see the number of Americans who approve of Bush. The recession here may be a part of it, the food prices and gasoline prices are having a dramatic effect on the economy here, and they blame the actions of Bush after 9-11 for these high prices. Besides politics, the other topic of interest is, of course, soccer and the World Cup qualifying matches. Only 3 teams from North America are guaranteed a spot (a fourth wildcard spot is possible but includes south american teams as well) in the World Cup and with Mexico and USA as the favored two teams, Costa Rica is definitely not guaranteed to make it to South Africa in 2010.

This week I toured Heredia, went to San Jose, and then all day Sunday did a ¨Tour of the Pacific¨, which included the Avocado Mountains, Tarcoles River, and the white beaches of Punta Leona. The Tarcoles was a 1 1/2 hour boat ride down the river for wildlife viewing. I was surprised to see many of the birds in the Everglades are also found here. Herons, egrets, ibises, among others, common in Florida are also here, including the endangered wood stork. However, we saw several birds not found in Florida like the tiger heron and boat-billed heron. The birds were neat but the big crowd-pleaser, of course, was the enormous crocodiles, especially since the tour guide got out of the boat to feed the crocs. With a chicken, he lured the croc within a few feet of the boat and a few feet from himself. Much bigger than the alligators I´m used to seeing, these guys were gigantic! It´s quite amazing but the pictures tell everything, which I´ll post soon. However, the thing I found most amazing was the macaws. At first I thought they were howler monkeys. Extremely loud, raucous noises coming from the trees, which grew louder and louder, and then six brilliant scarlet macaws flew out of the trees over the river, each flying in pairs. It was a magnificent sight! I loved it.

I met three other students: Hellen from England, Richard from Atlanta, and Jonathon from Maryland. Richard and Jonathon joined me on the Tour of the Pacific. I went to Longhorn Taberna with Hellen and her tican mother (Marie) to watch Costa Rica play Grenada. I think Marie had a great time as I don´t think she gets out of the house often. It was nice to finally meet some people but in a way is bad as I´m talking more English than I should. Although, writing this blog is probably not so good either as it gets my brain thinking in English instead of Spanish-oh, well. My tican father, Lestyn, drove me around town in his Isuzu on Friday night. We drove through some of the bad areas of town, full of drugs, knives, and guns. Lots of people just loitering around in the streets trying to look like gangsters. I was told, one thing to watch out for is two people riding a single motorcycle. One will drive and the other will try to rob you. Les said it´s very dangerous and he carries a pistol with him at all times. I was a little shocked at this and asked him if he had his gun with him, and, yes, he did. We also drove by the nice areas of Santa Barbara, San Roque, San Rafael, and Monte de la Cruz. We saw about four car accidents on this short excursion, apparently, lots of drunk drivers on Friday and Saturday nights. Along with the poor condition of the roads, massive potholes, it is no surprise Costa Rica has the highest per kilometer fatality rate in the world.

On Monday during breakfast, Jime´s face was hurting and Beatriz took a closer look then screamed, grabbed Jime and ran out of the house. I didn´t know what was going on, had no idea where they went, and had to go to school. That afternoon, I saw Jime, and the left side of her face was all swollen. She has paperas, i.e. the mumps. I hope my vaccination worked! Also, Beatriz has never had the mumps so we hope she does not contract the disease either, especially since she isn´t vaccinated. We´ll keep our fingers crossed.

Some of my favorite foods are picadillo chayote, platano maduro, pure de papa, and gallo pinto, although I´m beginning to get a little tired of beans and rice. Many times I have beans and rice not just every day, but multiple times per day. Casado is also very popular. Fresh fruit and fresh vegetables are a staple here, and, like beans and rice, are common to have multiple times per day. During el tiempo de descanso at school, we always have huge amounts of fresh pineapple, mango, and papaya. Refresco de cas is also popular. Cas is a small, citrus fruit, of which San Joaquin is known for having many cas trees. So, if you don´t get enough fresh whole fruits, you can always have it in a drink. You will not be hungry for fresh fruit in Costa Rica!
Add a comment:
[HTML and Links are not allowed]
Wednesday June 25th, 2008

Sook says:

What was the name of that bird on our last trip (that you were so fond of)? Your travels sound amazing so far! And the fresh fruits. . .mmmm. If you get a chance, try the mangosteen (and don't be cheap like me). Be safe. :) ylsr

Wednesday June 25th, 2008

Wade says:

Northern Jacana, perhaps. Also liked the gray-necked wood rail.

Thursday June 26th, 2008

Sook says:

The Jacana is right! Good memory. . . http://www.tropicalaudubon.org/specialty.html It's a good boid site.

Thursday July 03rd, 2008

Kristin says:

!Que bueno!