Monthly Archives: September 2012

Dia de Indepencia! Independence Day, y’all!

Ok, so Independence day here was on September 15th, and I’m a little late on the post about it, but here it is!

First, I need to start with Friday because that was probably one of the most fun nights I’ve had here in awhile. School gets out at 3:00, so after school I went over to my friend, Megan’s apartment to paint my toenails. I hate to admit this, but I still had nail polish on from my friend Allison’s wedding (July 7). Yikes! But Megan helped a girl out with some remover, a pretty coral color, and a glass of wine! Her apartment is so cute too. It backs up to a river that you can hear rushing through the open windows if it rains….ahhh. So nice. 

After two glasses of wine, Megan took me home because Peter and I had three other friends )Emily, her husband, Josh, and Clint) coming over for dinner and some drinks, and Megan decided to stick around and hang out for a little bit as well! Once I got home and everyone got to the apartment I changed into my swimsuit for the hot tub by the restaurant at the top of the hill in our complex. We headed up the hill and had a little food, and quite a few drinks (2×1 margaritas, shaken!). I love those margaritas. Not made with a mix, so not too sweet. I have got to find their recipe!

After dinner and drinks it was hot tub time! The six of us hung out there for quite a while.. I had a sangria at that point (yum!). Megan had to leave around 9:30 to pick up her boyfriend from work…boo! Eventually we left the hot tub and headed back down the hill to our apt for, you guessed it, more drinks! The guys headed outside to smoke a cigar and Emily and I stayed inside in an attempt to try and plan our VISA renewal trip to Bocas del Toro, Panama! That went well after a few drinks and seeing as it was now about 1-2am…lol. I think we even made a few phone calls…. poor people at the other end. Before we knew, it was 3:30 in the morning! Everyone finally left around 4:15. Whew! That’s the latest I’ve stayed up in a loooong time!

Unfortunately, my late night resulted in me sleeping in until 10:30 on Saturday, Sept 15 and I didn’t get to get up and head into Santa Ana like I had wanted to. I wanted to go see what goes on while celebrating Independence Day here. Costa Rican flags had been going up weeks before the day (similar to the U.S.) Although I did not get as early of a start as I’d have liked, I still went out (and dragged Peter with me) at around 11:30 and we definitely saw some interesting things!

We head out and while we are walking the 200 yards to the bus stop we notice this man sprawled out on his back with maybe two buttons buttoned on his shirt. Peter thought he may have been dead (that’s my over dramatic, sweetheart!) but I saw him move his arm, so he must have just been passed out. It was hot out there too, so he looked pretty miserable to me. 

Next, we get to the bus stop, and this guy comes up to us with a “Milwaukee’s Best” in his hand and is very sweaty looking. He begins talking to us in Spanish which we don’t understand a word of, seeing that he is clearly intoxicated, and all I get out of his whole talk is “Dios”, which means God. Super. Drunk man telling us about God. Luckily, the bus comes quickly and we hop on. To our dismay, the guy talking to us chugs his beer and gets on too. Thank goodness he didn’t sit by us or try to talk to us anymore.

A side story: This has actually happened to me before. This guy started talking to me (only in Spanish, so you know our convo back and forth was interesting. Who knows what I really said to him?! lol) at my bus stop, got on the same bus I did. Sat next to me on the bus and talked to me the whole time, got off the bus at the same stop I did, and followed me to the market while I got all of my fruits and veggies. It made me really nervous toward the end. I wasn’t sure how to get rid of him. Luckily, Megan lived within walking distance from the market at the time and I walked over there (yes, he followed me there too). Ok, end of side note.

So, we make it to downtown and it looks like we have missed anything good that may have happened earlier that morning. There were a few young people in band uniforms, so I thought there may have been a parade in either Santa Ana or San Jose. We just walked through town a little, by the church, and noticed there were TONS of people just hanging out around town. I should also mention that there is no law against open containers, so everyone walks around with beers in their hands! lol. Weird to get use to seeing. After walking through town we just went to the nearest bus stop and got back on to head home. 

Once we got to our stop to get off, we exit, stop at the corner store for some necessities (eggs, milk, etc.). After that, we head up the hill to our apt. and we notice that this man, woman, and child (I’m assuming a family) have stopped near where the passed out guy was laying from earlier. The guy is trying to lift the drunk man to help him get back on his feet and get him to where he was going. The drunk man just looked like dead weight. The guy gives up and lays the drunk man back on the ground. Then walks over to this ledge where this huge tree is growing and pulls out a shoe and throws it next to the guy on the ground and the three of them walk off. By the time we get to where the passed out guy is, he is sort of moaning/singing aloud and rolling around. I felt bad for him because by now it is around 12:30-1:00 pm and HOT outside. Overall though, it was a very interesting day! 

Here are a couple of pics we took that day. We wanted to take a pic of that passed out guy SOOOO BAD! But, we didn’t. We thought it might look kind of weird to others if we did.



This is our apartment!


Me in front of the CR flag.


This is the Iglesia de Rio Oro near our apt. Every day on the bus on my way to school when we pass this, there are at least a few people who do the Catholic thing where they cross their chest (specticles, testicles, watch, wallet is what my mom use to call it…I know, inappropriate).Image


The road called Rio Oro! Take this everyday to go to and from school, or the market, or Santa Ana Centro!


Peter, being funny.


The rock wall on the right is where the drunk guy was laying!! Where that red car is at the end of the street is near where our bus stop is.

On Friday we are headed to Bocus del Toro, Panama with Josh and Emily. I can’t wait! It’s going to be so much fun! No wifi, so I’ll be back Monday with a post soon to follow!

Pura Vida people! Thanks for reading.

Categories: Travel | 2 Comments

That’s right, there’s ANOTHER set of twins!

Ok, so some of you may not already know that in my Fourth Grade class I have been blessed this year with TWO sets of twins! Well, Yesterday another set of twins showed up in my Sixth Grade English class. They claim to be fraternal, but they look pretty identical to me!

One of my fourth-graders today thought it would be funny to stand on his chair and make funny faces to the room when I left for all of 10 seconds. Luckily two out of four of the walls in the class are made of windows and we made eye contact the second I came around the corner. BUSTED! He didn’t think it was too funny when I wrote a note home to his mom. He came and apologized to me later (without me forcing him) and I told him “Thank you, but you still have to show your mom that note..” lol.

To the far right in this picture is the corner I came around and saw him standing in his chair through the window!

Ooh! And this below is my Pinspiration for the classroom on a budget. We have a test over these tomorrow.

Love pinterest. Makes me a better teacher.

And this is my desk in my Fourth Grade class. I love all of the natural lighting. The chair on the other hand is straight-backed and wooden. Not good.

My desk.

Last thing that happened today was on my way home. I had to jog along the highway to the bus stop because my bus was pulling over and I didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for the next one. Usually if they see you are exerting enough effort, the bus driver will wait for you. So, I make it on and say “Gracias!” to the driver and pay him my 305 colones (~60 cents) when I notice there is a guitar player standing in the aisle blocking the way while singing and playing the guitar and eventually the kazoo (I think) as well. Luckily there is an empty seat in the front row next to a man in his late thirties, so I snatch it up! I think it was his seat I sat in…lol. Whoops! Once I sit down the guy leans over to me and says, “Buen corre.” and gives me a thumbs up. I reply with “Si, gracias.” and a smile and that is the end of our conversation. I know, 7 months in a Spanish speaking country and I’m basically fluent! 😉

When the man playing the instruments stops, he gives a speech and then goes around collecting change from the bus riders. If there is one thing I can say for sure about nearly every Coasta Rican is that they are generous. I have been on the bus at least three or four other times where a person gets on who has no right arm, is blind, or is disabled in some way (physically or mentally) and when they walk down the aisle after their speech majority of the people on the bus give them at least SOMETHING from their pocket. This is something that I believe would NOT happen in most parts of the U.S. We tend to look down on the poor and needy rather than empathize with them in some way.

I think before I go I should recognize that it is 9/11 today and my hearts go out to the victims of 9/11 and their families. There is no way I could function if I knew a close family member of mine went through the terror that they went through.

Costa Rica’s Independence day is on September 15. I think Peter and I will go see what kind of trouble we can get into on Saturday in downtown Santa Ana! I’ll let you know!

Pura Vida!

Categories: Travel | 2 Comments

18 Fourth Graders and a 7.6 Costa Rican Earthquake

Ok, so maybe I don’t have the biggest class there ever was, but it feels like it sometimes.

It is 9:43 on a Friday night, and I swear I could have been asleep by 7. I have been sick for the past week and can’t quite seem to shake it. I don’t really get sick that often and since living here and eating so well, I hardly ever feel bad at all. It started off as body aches and chills at night while using two blankets, but now it’s just a lingering cough, runny nose and watery eyes. I think I’m just going to sleep all day tomorrow (which means until 9am if I’m lucky!).

I have 18 rowdy kids in my class with about 50/50 on the boy to girl ratio. Last semester I only had 9 students with only 2 boys and 7 girls. Let’s just say there is a completely different dynamic in the classroom this semester. It was definitely an eye-opener for me when I think about teachers getting 30-40 new students in every year. Every year brings on a new energy, new challenges, and different personalities. As a teacher here I am expected to be a leader, full of knowledge, able to get children excited about learning, creative, a mediator between students, a disciplinarian and a communicator with parents. Whew! That just wore me out thinking about it all! I can’t get upset when they ask a question that I’ve already answered twice and even written on the board, or when there is that one student that doesn’t understand something that all of the other students get. It also drives me crazy when I know a student is being dishonest with me and still lies to my face.

Things that I love about teaching are when I take the time to create rules with them, buy the poster and markers to make sure it’s up in our classroom, and catch them reading it while waiting at my desk, or referencing it when I have to have a “serious” talk with some of the students. I love when they get their math problems. I love teaching 6th grade. There are only 7 of them, and they are all so sweet and do pretty much anything I ask of them. I also get into good conversations about life with them (like what it means to be a 3rd world country….I think one student became pretty disheartened to find out that CR is a third-world country and still tries to tell me all the time about the great things there are in CR).

All of the students I teach work for a reward at the end of the month. I give a treat of their choice (giant candy bar, can of Pringles, ect.) to the top three point-earners in the categories of Behavior and Speaking English. They will speak Spanish all day otherwise. We had our first winners of the semester for the month of August, and let me tell you, you haven’t seen kids talk about “How many points do I have?” or “Look, Teacher! I’m ready for class!” until you’ve given out a GIANT milk chocolate Hershey’s bar. The rewards system works pretty great for me!

Here is a little taste of what my days are like:

The bus stop I’m dropped off at in the morning.

This creepy little gal is there to welcome you to Guachipelin where the bus stop is to start the 1 km walk to school.

And this guy is on the same fence as the creepy doll..

There are some cows across the street! Also notice the non-existent sidewalk to the right. Makes walking to school tough some days.

This is the hedge wall that hides Chuck Norris’ mom’s house!

The entire white wall is how far back Chuck Norris’ mom’s house goes. So much land! And you can see the top of the house.

Chuck’s casa. I was trying to be sneaky so the guard wouldn’t get me. That’s why it’s crooked.

more Chuck’s casa

A little bit better pic of Chuck’s casa.

Main part of the school

Looking out at the soccer field from the art room. The pool is to the left.

To the right of the soccer field is the playground area.

The pool! This thing was sloshing around a bit after the earthquake the other day.


The first grade room is the door you can see in this pic. Up the stairs is the 5th grade and up classes. Kinder is the room under the stairs.


Where I eat lunch on the nice days!




This kid in the white pants is going to be the next soccer superstar. Remember Alfonso!


Got to hang out with this lil 4 year old cutie!! She is sooooo adorable!



This pic is actually from last semester, but his black eye is too awesome NOT to post! This is how real teachers discipline! KIDDDING! 😉

Starting the walk back home. One last pic of Chuck’s house!

Cherry blossom. Beautiful.

Almost to the Pista (highway)

Homes on my way up the exit ramp to my bus stop home.

This is the bus stop. One the highway. No awning or guardrails or anything!

Across the street from the bus stop.

On the bus! I just got lucky enough to capture this cute couple 🙂

The Super Rio Oro! This place has all of our convenient store needs! And a lot of the time it’s cheaper than the grocery store! Not sure yet how they are able to do that..

La Amistad. We buy any fruits or veggies that we run out of from the market throughout the week from here! The guy that runs it and I are pretty tight. Oh, and that’s pretty much just his front porch.


Pretty tree in our complex

Houses in our neighborhood.

Another neighbor. One of them is doing construction on their house.

The street I walk down every morning to the bus stop by Super Rio Oro.


Home sweet home!

Our tiny gate I walk through to get home every afternoon. The window is our bedroom!

Enjoy the evening.

Living here can be difficult at times, but I am so glad that I have the job that I do and am able to live in another country and explore while I am still able. I think too many people wait to retire until they travel because that’s what their parents did, or that’s what you are told you should do. I say, why wait until you are too old to hike up the mountain to see the beautiful view, or take that uncomfortable boat ride to see Giant Sea turtles lay their eggs on a beach. Anyone we have run into that is older and travelling tells us how great it is that we are doing this while we are young, or how they wish they would have traveled more when they were younger. I definitely think you should do what’s right for you in your life, but if you have the desire and the only reason you aren’t doing it now is because of what others tell you you “should” do, then stop and think about your life. You only have one. Use it wisely.

I know I started off this post talking about school, then moved on to a lecture about following your heart…but the last thing I wanted to touch on was the 7.6 terremoto (earthquake) that occurred in Costa Rica on September 4th. At the school it wasn’t strong enough to do any serious damage, but you definitely felt it. I was sitting at my desk and all of my students were actually being good when one of them at the front says “Teacher, can you feel that?” I wasn’t sure I heard him right, so I thought he said, ‘Did you hear that?’ I said “what?” and looked out the window to see if there was something making a noise outside. He replies, “That.” and before he even finished the word I felt my chair and feet almost sliding around beneath me. In a split second I had realized what was happening. Freaked out. Ran to the doorway. Remembered that there are children watching me. So I then stop, turn around and yell to all of my students to get under their desks. They screamed at first, then just chatted a bunch. I realize that I have no idea what to do during an earthquake and also notice now that the movement has stopped. I didn’t know if it was over or if there would be an aftershock. I really just have no clue about them. Outside my window I see other grades that have evacuated the building, but I’m not sure if it’s ok yet to let them out from under their desks. I also can’t help but think to myself, “In Texas, we have tornado drills every semester. Why has there never been an earthquake drill done here?” Eventually, we are waved to come outside and all grades go onto the soccer field. We waited it out about 30 minutes there until the school owner said we could go back in. Imagine what it was like trying to get kids to do school work the rest of the day…

The experience was unlike any other I’ve had. Solid ground moving under your feet just doesn’t feel right. Also, feeling responsible for 18 kids’ safety was scary to think of afterwards. When I got home, Peter said it woke him up out of his sleep because it was moving our KING size bed! What a way to wake up, right?

Well, I guess that’s all I have for now. My next blog should be about Volcan Poas, so stay tuned!


-temporarily Tica chica

Categories: Travel | Leave a comment

Blog at