BLOGGING FROM THE FIELD
Today’s post will involve some miscellany but I’ll tell you how the last couple days have been going (in no particular order).
If there is one defining feature of the Costa Rican landscape, its the stretch of volcanoes that runs right down the center of the country.
In the central part of Costa Rica, there are 4 biggies: Turrialba, Irazú, Barva, and Poas which is the home of the largest crater in the world. On Day 3, my supervisor Randall thought it would be cool to show me Poas so we borrowed one of the ministry’s cars and chaffeurs (Oscar) and made for Volcan Poas. On the way, we passed some coffee plantations and I learned about cafe Arabica.
After stopping to check out the coffee beans, we continued onward and upward until we reached Poas, which was enormous indeed.
The crater spews its fiery sulfuric rage all day long and it blankets the surroundings like a cloud. We also checked out a large sulfur lake nearby (note the smoke) but couldn’t stick around very long because of the afternoon rain that always hits.
And when I say rain I mean rain. Like typhoon style. We hurried back to the car and decided that the rain meant our adventure was over so we made our way back to Alajuela and then San Jose. On the way, we stopped for a Costa Rican snack: chorreadas (sweet corn pancake) with natilla (cream). I would have taken a picture but I was kinda overwhelmed by its beauty and ate it in about 90 seconds. Food coma struck and the drive back was a bit fuzzy.
I have forgotten how to roll my r’s.
Those of you that have taken a spanish class might remember having to practice the either-you-can-or-you-can’t feat of rolling r’s. I remember realizing early on in my journey to trilingualism that speaking Urdu at home with the folks made Spanish a breeze. I spent 4 years in high school pretty proud of myself and how good I thought I sounded. I was basically a natural.
Here in San Jose, when I say words like ‘chorreadas’ or ‘Randall’, I get the look that says “Oh you poor estadounidense. You probably learned Spanish from a Mexican or a Nicaraguan. Tsk tsk.” Any lingering hope I might have had that one day I will fool these ticos into thinking I could be a tica too is instantly crushed the second I open my mouth.
So I’ve been training. I’m learning to swallow my words and rattle the r’s. I’m trying to sound less like a motor and more like a vacuum cleaner and I think I’m getting closer and closer every day.
Silvia and Don Rigo
As I mentioned earlier, my host parents are wonderful. They both speak English but insist on speaking to me in Spanish so that I may be able to practice, bless their souls. Silvia has a Master’s in Economics from somewhere in the Netherlands and Don Rigo owns his own construction company. On Day 4, they took me to out to see Cartago, the area where they live in Costa Rica. We started in Orosi:
We had brunch near a national park overlooking the town of Orosi.
We went to the reservoir you might be able to see in that first picture of Orosi and then then two took me to the lodge where they were married three years ago (March 14th).
These are the two most stinkin cute, hopelessly in love people I have ever met in my life. They cook together, walk a few kilometers together every morning before work and have each other stored as “Amor Mio” in their cell phones. Their happiness is kinda contagious and living in their home has probably made me healthier and added at least 10 years onto my life. Unfortunately, after Day 5 I’ll be leaving to live in another part of the country and will leave these guys and their blind dog, Conan, behind. I have loved living with them and have learned everything I know thanks to them.