Con Gusto

I haven’t posted since the New Year, and since today is the 3 month-a-versary of my arrival to Costa Rica, I wanted to do an update blog. For over a month I’ve been telling myself, “Write a blog. Write a blog. Write a blog. Dammit write a mother trucking blog, Kathleen.” So here I am! Hopefully I can remember everything I wanted to update you folks about. I’m obviously tired, because I just used “folks” in a sentence. Like a boss.

Anyways, it’s been crazy. Crazy, crazy, crazy. But amaziiiiing. Shortly after posting my NYE post, my remaining TEFL friends, Kate and Chyann, decided to go on another trip to escape the anxieties of finding a job in a country that isn’t our home. We went to Manuel Antonio because I had never been and they were up for returning (each had taken separate trips at different points within our TEFL program). We got to MA with no troubles, and as soon as we got off the bus (which dropped us off in front of our hostel-convenience, yo) I started sweating because it’s HOT. San Jose is chilly compared to the cities on the coast, mae (CR slang for ‘dude’). But man, was it gorgeous. Even just the view from our hostel was amazing. MA is super hilly (as is most of CR, but the views were just breathtaking here), so it made for some great photos. πŸ™‚

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We left early from San Jose so we still have plenty of time to get to the beach and spend the afternoon there and watch the amazing sunset. Then we had dinner at the.best.Mexican.restaurant. I hadn’t had Mexican food that amazing in a long time, so it was great, especially after a long day at the beach. I almost died because I kept shoving guacamole and chips in my mouth.

When we got to our hostel that night Kate discovered she had a job back in San Jose, and had to leave for SanJo the next day. One of our fellow TEFLers had mentioned a “secret” beach (I put secret in quotes because we asked our hostel receptionist how to get to the “secret” beach and he laughed and gave us instructions. So we all knew it was down a hill, past Shana hotel, but as soon as we started walking down I was thanking the lord I had brought along 2.000 colones because I knew that with my asthma (I don’t know about the other girls) I was never going to make it back up, especially in the heat. We never did make it back up (I’m writing to you now from the depths of the Costa Rican jungle…jk, mom). At least by walking. We got 15 minutes up (there were at least 45 minutes of walking left…if you were walking fast…which we weren’t) and had to stop to catch our breath. With the heat and the exertion and oh yeah, the heat, I had some very hazy life-flashing-before-my-eyes moments and wound up whipping out my 2.000 colones and flagging down a cab, which charged us 2.000 colones exactly to get to the top.

That was when Kate departed and Chyann and I took off for a place in the jungle called El Salto, which is deep in the jungle and is a spot where you can jump off into a fresh lagoon type pool of water. It’s about a 20ft jump so it’s not bad but it’s no picnic either. So, off we went, and lo and behold, 75% of the trek to the jump is all water, and we’re regrettably wearing flip flops to make things worse. It took maybe 45 minutes to get there with all the treading water, checking to see how deep some spots were, and trying not to lose our flip flops in the current. Chyann took some video so I will have to get those videos from her. There was one moment I was slowly lowering myself down to check how deep a spot was when I dropped suddenly and was about waist deep in the water. Unfortunately that moment was not caught on camera. We finally got to the jump and there were some middle aged American dudes complaining about how they didn’t bring beer and kept asking if I had brought any. Because that’s what I bring on a 45 minute hike through a tropical forest…beer. They hadn’t jumped, and the advised me to wait until a local came around to see how they jumped in. They left Chyann and I to survey the area and eventually I decided that if I wanted to jump I was just going to jump because it could have been hours before the next local showed up. I jumped in the stupidest way (sat down on the rocks the waterfall was running over…as soon as I put pressure on my foot to stand up I was sliding away over the edge), and about halfway down into the water I emitted a genuine “Holy fuck what have I done?!” scream and plummeted into the water.

The way back up was worse than the fall. There is only a rope you have to climb that goes straight up to the top. Awful gym class flashbacks and zero rock climbing experience be damned, I climbed that rope like a boss. Knowing that under the rope was shallow water and jagged rocks helped me to keep going, but I remember that part shaking me up more than the “jump”. Chyann didn’t jump in (and honestly I didn’t really make it look all that fun) and her flip flop broke so we decided to head back and spend some hours back at the beach. That journey convinced me that if there ever was a real life Hunger Games, I would want Chyann as an ally, and when it came down to it, she would kick my ass. Not only did she walk the way back barefoot, but when we were back on the main road, she took a piece of reed and tied her flip flop back together like it was nothing. Meanwhile I’m taking deep breaths and trying not to have a panic attack while stepping over a branch in the jungle because my legs are still shaking from my previous “jump”.

Me before the jump:

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The flip flop:

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That night we went to El Avion, a restaurant where the bulk is an old WWII fighter jet (the body of the plane is the bar of the restaurant, and you can climb into the cockpit). We had dinner on the balcony and enjoyed another amazing Manuel Antonio sunset and some amazing cuisine.

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We got back to SanJo the next day and threw ourselves back into the job search. Unfortunately Chyann eventually flew back home to NY, and while I miss her and selfishly want her to come back, she’s kicking butt at the non-profit she worked at before coming to Costa Rica. A few days after I had an interview with a bilingual school in Liberia (took place on a Saturday) and was offered the job by the end of the interview, so as you can all deduct, it is indeed where I am currently working. She even hired me without checking with my references first, which is a huge compliment. She needed someone to start immediately (read: that Tuesday) so it was an insane couple of days as I packed up and made my way to Liberia. I got there and moved in with an extraordinary Tica family. πŸ™‚

It’s been a whirlwind so far, and I’ve been super busy, so I apologize for not posting sooner. I Β love the school, though, and my students. πŸ™‚ The school is on the historic Calle Real in Liberia in a historic house. I am teaching ALL beginners, which I thought would be hard, considering for our mini-lessons during TEFL we had “alto basico” which is not quite intermediate but is higher than basic basic, and I thought that was a challenge. But all my students are amazing, and they make me laugh, and we’re still able to communicate. One day I overheard one of my students tell the student to her right that she loved my class. I had to work really hard not to cry. A few of my students have even brought me gifts-one brought me a Costa Rican guidebook (he works at the airport) and another student’s mom made me this really handy bag that even has a K embroidered on it for Kate. πŸ™‚ I almost cried again when I got this (it was from the same student that said she loved my class). I am using it every day, too, especially since my grey purse broke. I have had two beginner classes for about a month now, and just helped one intermediate class finish their level, and since then I’ve also started tutoring a 5 year old once or twice a week. This Saturday I started another beginners class and two new classes for 5-7 year olds that are also beginners. I’ll probably have another beginner class starting soon (maybe), but also have some private classes popping up more and more, so it’s a great gig, and there’s a lot of really helpful mentoring from my boss. I’m still learning, and I imagine teaching, like most careers, is something where you’re continuously learning about your craft as well as yourself. I’m excited for that journey. πŸ™‚

I’ll start to wrap things up since its getting late and I’m rambling again (ramble, ramble). The other big things that have happened are my border run to Nicaragua and my move into an apartment with the new Β teacher at Estelar and his GF. Nicaragua was fun! I wound up going through the border by myself because of conflicting schedules, and was so fed up with all the taxi drivers trying to sell me a ride to San Juan del Sur that when I stepped into a restaurant to get water I almost bit one’s head off when they asked, “‘ey ladey where you goin?” TO GET SOME AGUA CAN I DO THAT PLEASE?! They backed off after that. πŸ˜‰ Β I got to SJDS and found a hostel for $5 a night. Boss. Walked around a bit until I found my friends (SJDS is super tiny…found them pretty quick once I knew where I was going…lol) and we had dinner on the beach and played some card games. It was different to hear ‘De nada’ all the time when I’m so used to ‘con gusto’ in Costa Rica. It didn’t feel right at all. πŸ˜‰ At first I thought, “Wow, everyone’s throwing down some shade in Nicara-oh wait, no…they just don’t say ‘con gusto’ like ticos do.”

And yeah, found an apartment. It’s three bedrooms but only two are in use, so if you WANT TO VISIT WINK WINK HINT HINT, there’s space. Oh and there’s also a pool. πŸ˜‰ It’s great, though. I felt bad leaving my amazing Tico family, but I still plan on spending time with them and seeing them. The apartment is also closer to the school, so that’s helpful. Sorry this last part is so…”and then this….and this….this happened too….” but its nearing the end of the night and I’ve had a busy day/weekend. I will also update tomorrow with pictures when my WIFI isn’t being a little bitch. πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰

Buenas noches, amigos. With love, Kate. πŸ™‚ ❀

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