Archive for the “Culture Shock” Category
We made it! We had a long day, and not without stress, but we’re safe and sound.
- our property manager arriving 45 minutes late to pick up our money and keys
- driving around and around the airport looking for the car rental office which turned out to be half a mile away with no signs
- the $25 per-person departure tax!
- finding out one of our bags was too heavy to fly
- having the sinking realization that our 70-minute layover in Houston did not account for baggage claim, customs, and re-checking our bags
- miraculously making our connection!
- Dean being “that baby” on the Houston-Austin flight
Before I went to bed last night I bought a six-pack of Fireman’s #4 and some Taco Cabana. I kept spontaneously laughing out loud in the grocery store: How could I choose from all the milk? Shelves upon shelves of maple syrup!! We’re all so amazed right now by the opulence of our Texas life that we’re walking around in a kind of daze. The Internet is so fast! The U.S. quarter dollar coin is so small!
We’re not done blogging just yet. We have a little post-processing to do.
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Just kidding. We’re amoral. However, we’ve learned a thing or two this summer? Here’s a smattering of wisdom:
- When faced with a fork in the road and no directional signage, always take the paved road.
- It’s hard to spot sloths up in the trees when you’re always watching your small children on the ground.
- Ticos are known for being friendly. In our experience, Texans are generally “friendlier” than Ticos, but the Ticos are way more helpful. So while your Texan customer service person is more likely to greet you with enthusiasm, your passing Tico motorist is more likely to stop and help you fix your bike chain.
- Breathtaking surroundings don’t mean a thing if you don’t have friends to share them with.
- It’s impossible to know what a place is like without going there. No matter how much we read about and researched our destinations, we were always surprised by the reality (in ways both good and bad).
- Salsa Lizano is the key to a killer batch of gallo pinto.
- If you see someone jogging in Costa Rica, s/he is almost certainly not a native.
- This kind of adventure is worth all the hassle.
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Such as lime, floral, and bouquet!
Hopefully the local grocery store employees weren’t too freaked by our photographing their disinfectant.
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A slideshow for your viewing pleasure. Apologies for not having the best quality here. It’s hard to take great photos with a baby on your front grabbing at the camera!
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Last Friday was Mother’s Day in Costa Rica. I didn’t think much about it at first, but after being wished “feliz dia de madre!” by a few Ticos, I was quite into enjoying my special day — I’m so easily influenced!
In the morning I took the boys hiking in the Santa Elena Cloud Forrest Reserve while Zach worked. It was a perfect outing. They have a 1.4 km youth trail that was just long and challenging enough to be fun. Graham led the way with boundless enthusiasm; carrying Dean in the Ergo, I lagged behind just a bit. It was so indescribably beautiful. The pictures I’m posting don’t begin to do it justice. After the first trail, we took a break at the reception area, got something to drink, and the boys talked me into some stuffed monkeys. Then we hiked some more!
In the afternoon we visited the used bookstore/cafe/laundromat in town, then picked up some Japanese food for dinner. I finished up the evening with a trashy novel and some chocolate-covered macadamias while a massive storm thundered all around us. It was a perfect day!
Photos from the forrest. Our interwebs here are too slow for me to post individually, so here’s a slideshow.
Belated Feliz Dia de Madre to all my beloved mamas out there!
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Poop of unknown (but clearly small animal) origin. Oh my.
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I keep meaning to post pictures of some of our favorite signs/packaging. Consider this part one in a series.
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We’re here for too long. We’re not here for long enough.
Someone once told me that it takes two years after a move to make a place feel like home. That was certainly true for me when we moved to San Marcos; it took quite a while to settle in, make new friends, and feel like it was home. I’ve grown to love it there. We have amazing friends, I have no trouble filling the days with things to do with the kids, and I feel like a part of the community. But for much of the first year I felt isolated and grumpy.
We’re now 2/3 of the way through our Costa Rican summer, and the current plan is to spend our last 10 days in the center of the country. That means we only have ~16 days left here. It’s nostalgia time! We can now take inventory of what we’ve experienced and learned. What will we miss? What won’t we?
On the one hand, I feel like three or four weeks would have given me an ample taste of like on the Caribbean coast. That part of me feels like we should have divided our time equally between several areas of the country. It wouldn’t have been a bad approach. Some of my complaints about the trip would have been irrelevant, or else I would have had the distraction of changes in scenery to ease them.
On the other hand, I think the best kind of travel is that which allows you to get a taste of what it’s like to live in a place, not just visit it. Would I have gotten that with just a two or three week visit? I think not. We wouldn’t have bothered to settle in, arrange tofu deliveries, or make friends. And if we weren’t about to leave, we would be experiencing so much more here. I know that on some levels we’ve only scratched the surface. Having our own home here, the kids attending school, finding work locally, etc, would all have been interesting and enlightening, I’m sure. We’ve been straddling two worlds rather than fully plunging into this one, and of course that affects the experience.
Three months is a long time. Graham was talking again today about how much he misses our home in Texas. He wants to see his friends, sleep in his own bed, know what the days will bring. I miss the people, the pets (including our poor Frida dog, who just had her surgery!), the luxuries of middle class American life. But I’m glad we did this. Three months is short in the context of an entire lifetime, and I’m glad to have spent them doing something so unique.
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- I have not really improved my Spanish skills while we’re here. I have, however, gotten very good at combining my random Spanish vocabulary words with expressive and inventive sign language. So I’m making myself understood — and making a fool of myself, I’m sure. Oh, and I’m ok with numbers now.
- We’ve been eating way too much junk food. We can’t stop sampling all the brands of Costa Rican cookies. Oh, and visiting the ice cream stand. Mmmm.
- I think I’m going to cry when we get back home and I see our ugly, barren yard. But then I’ll step inside and see our cozy home and feel all better.
- Right now I’m blogging when I should be doing study questions for my midwifery school module. Oh for shame!
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This story is a few weeks old, but I didn’t want to neglect it:
As we came down out of the mountains on our way to San José from La Fortuna, the first substantial city we entered was San Ramon, the place we were to meet up with the interstate highway. As soon as we were within the city limits, we were flagged down by the transit police. Right away I had a lump in my throat, since I was driving with an expired license. Maybe they won’t care. It’s not a Costa Rican license anyway. By the way, this was one of those things on my getting-ready list that slipped through the cracks.
Señor Transit Police was middle-aged with gray hair. His English was just as bad as my Spanish, which is to say bad. He double- and triple-checked: “¿No habla español?” Of course he noticed right away that my license was expired. He seemed incredulous that I would just grimace and nod, and not try to make an excuse or beg for mercy (maybe it was just that I didn’t know the Spanish for “mercy”). He indicated that he was going to write a ticket, and still I just nodded and said “Sí, claro.” Nonplussed, he said he would go get his friend, who could speak English. I was beginning to wonder if they were going to take my family of four “downtown.”
I don’t know if Señor Transit Police numero dos could speak English, but he certainly didn’t attempt it. What he did do, was to ask for twenty thousand colones (equivalent to forty U.S. dollars) and insist that Elizabeth drive instead. Elizabeth and I started digging through our pockets. Between the two of us, we had around four dollars. I said I needed an ATM (Necesito un cajero automatico). He conferred with his partner, who said “¡Que lastima!” Various internet searches suggest that this either means “What a pity!” or “I’m in pain!” Take your pick.
The first cop came back to the window. He said he was going to help us by letting us go. I wasn’t sure I heard him right. I think what I said to him translates as “I can let’s go?!”
As I pulled cautiously away from the curb and took a couple of deep, cleansing breaths, Eliabeth said, “Was that a shakedown?” The fog in my head began to clear. “Yeah, I think it was.” Welcome to San Ramon, gringos.
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