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

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