I survived the first week of school! It’s the first time in a year that I have used the phrase TGIF and had it mean something. My weeks have been so discombobulated without a “normal” work schedule that often times I don’t even realize it is Friday. But this past week, my body knew it was Friday.
Settling into my new routine is going better than expected thanks to the community of loving people here. I feel completely taken care of and showered with love. I’m living in a small neighborhood called Colinas in Quepos. The house I’m living in is made up of four apartment units. I am living downstairs and share the kitchen and bathroom with Mary and her son Jeremy (one of my students). I have everything I need (just got a new coffee maker!) and even have the luxury of air-con in my bedroom. Thank God because it is hot and muggy here. It’s so much easier to sleep in the cool.
I’ve shared most of my meals with new friends, fellow teachers or students. At school there is a family that makes lunches everyday for the students and teachers. It only costs 2,000 colones (which is about $4 USD) and it is a standard costa rican meal of rice, beans, plantains and a small salad. It is perfect for me. Food is not as cheap here as it was in SE Asia, but rice and beans can go a long way! Emily and Sarah (fellow teachers) also live in my building and we have enjoyed picking up fresh veggies at the markets and cooking meals together. On Thursday we have an open invitation to the Stilwell’s for community dinner. They are an American missionary family that have been living in Costa Rica for 15+ years. They cook dinner and allow us to hang out and use the WIFI. It feels like family time and I appreciate the comfort.
I also found a yoga studio to practice and a gym to do circuit training. I’ve found a fresh coconut stand and a go to taxi driver, Carlos. I’m becoming more familiar with Quepos so it’s starting to feel more comfortable here. The bus is cheap and fairly easy but you can also jump in “collectivos” which are basically glorified hitchhiking but it’s socially acceptable. You can walk places as well, but the roads are so narrow and winding that it can be dangerous.
The thing that has been the most challenging for me is getting used to the heat (making sure I am drinking enough water) and classroom management. Getting 17 kids to listen and pay attention can take a lot of energy and patience. The schedule can also change without notice so I’m always on my toes. I’ve been called in to teach preschool minutes before class and have had to quickly improvise. Thankfully the kids have such big hearts, are flexible and appreciate their teachers. I already feel like I’ve personally connected with many and it is incredibly rewarding.
I feel so blessed to be here in Costa Rica. I said to my friend Emily yesterday, I feel so… RICH. Rich with experiences. I’m so grateful to be able to see God’s beauty first hand. Looking at colorful bugs and birds, seeing sloths and monkeys in the wild, and diving into the warm ocean waves – it’s incredible. I feel like I am overflowing with gratitude. It inspires me to want to want to help others feel this way.
However, even though I am filled with so much gratitude and joy, it does not mean everything is easy. There is a “fight” to living in a foreign country. We don’t have the same luxuries as we do at home. I’ve been forced to increase my tolerance for bugs in my home (or even toads for that matter) and have realized ice cubes are only an occasional treat. Cleanliness is relative and food poisoning isn’t uncommon (had my first experience with that this weekend – not fun!)
But, despite the fight, it is absolutely worth it. I love being here and I’m excited to see what else is in store!
Thanks for following along!