Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Week in Costa Rica

I made it!!

I was picked up at the airport in San Jose by Jimmy, an employee of the school.  He was holding a sign with my name on it.  The flight was fine, but I had a heck of a time trying to sleep even though I only slept one hour the night before.  I am staying in Heredia.  It is medium sized city near the capital city of San Jose.  The school, Intercultura (www.interculturacostarica.com), has a campus in Heredia and in Samara (directly on the beach).  I will be in Heredia for two weeks, Samara for two weeks, and then alternate back and forth for a total of 12 weeks, give or take.  The family I'm staying with consists of a mother Jeannette, and two sons in their early 20's David and Christofer.  They are very nice and very patient with practicing Spanish with me, even though both sons speak English.  I went to bed about 7:00 and didn't wake up until about 5:30.  The sun rises early here and was already out by 5:30.  Costa Rica is on Central time, but they don't adjust for DST, so I'm in the US Mountain Time zone.  The house is fairly large and I have a room with a queen bed and my own bathroom.  As a bonus, they have wireless Internet.  I debated whether or not to bring my laptop and I'm glad I did.  It's an old computer I bought used about three years ago for $300 - so if something happens to it, no big loss.  

It is definitely the rainy season here.  There are only two seasons here, rainy and dry.  The rainy season runs from May-Nov and the dry season December-April.  It rained really hard for a really long time Sunday night.  It was the kind of heavy rain we usually see in Nashville for about 10-15 minutes, but it was for hours.  The mornings are usually clear and the rain comes in the afternoon and evening.  It is really coming down.

The shower in my house has hot water, but the water is heated in the shower head, as opposed to a water heater.  The pressure is a little less than what I'm used to, but it's not a bad shower.  The sewer system in this country (and many others) cannot handle toilet paper.  Either the pipes are too narrow or the sewage treatment system cannot handle the decomposition (I've heard both theories).  Toilet paper must be discarded into a trash can.  Most toilets have a small trash can for this purpose.  Breaking my lifelong habit of throwing toilet paper down the toilet is going to take some getting used to.  Other than the toilet paper, CR is a pretty well off country.  It is safe to drink the water here.    

On the first day of classes, I had an entrance interview with Hernan to determine which level I needed to be in.  After fumbling though it, he recommended level four.  I told him I was a bit surprised because level four assumed knowledge of verbs in past tense.  I knew two verbs in past tense and happened to use them in conversation.  Also, I initially learned what Spanish I do know through audio tapes and cds.  So I speak Spanish better than I read or write.  My spelling and verb conjugations are horrible.  So I am starting with level three.  There are six people in my class - five Americans and one German.  The class is going to be challenging, but I don't think I'm totally in over my head.  Classes run from 8:30 to 12:30.  Optional activities are available in the afternoons.  They have Latin dance classes every afternoon, cooking classes on Wednesday, and various film and theater excursions.  


Ozzy Nelson said...

1) You could have kept the toilet paper saga to yourself.


Rodney and Tim said...

Hey Jay. Glad you made it. Have a great time. We'll keep up with the blog. As for the TP, hey at least the DO have plumbing. Could be a WV or KY outhouse!!!

Candy said...

I am so glad that you made it and everything is going well. Keep writing the small details (such as the tolit paper story) that is how we will learn about the culture. I think you should take the dance classes also! Sorry I had to miss your going away party last weekend. Our little boy (15 days old today) is keeping me very busy these days. Check out photos on facebook if you get a chance. Take care and have fun!

A Foley said...

Just use your hand instead Jay. Notice I used your formal name here!

Katherine B said...

Hey Jay! Glad you made it and are acclimating. I'm going to enjoy keeping up with your adventures