Tuesday, July 13, 2010

3 excuses

so i realize that i have been total crap at keeping this blog updated, im sorry. im especially embarrassed since i always get annoyed with people that start up new activities with full enthusiasm, only to lose wind about a week later. i am that person, wonderful.

here’s my first excuse; that course was intense. this past month, i have had a fair amount of people ask me whether or not i recommend getting tefl certified. here’s the only thing I know to tell you; if you can check ‘yes’ to at least 3 of the 5 things below then yes, please do it. if not, save your money and just go on a really nice trip with some good friends.

-- you laugh more than you complain…i put this one first because this one is huge. if you can’t check ‘yes’ on this one then just skip the rest of the list entirely, seriously

-- you don’t mind giving up modern conveniences. and by ‘modern conveniences’ i don’t mean flat screens and air conditioning. those aren’t modern conveniences here, those are future conveniences. i mean warm water, screened windows, and well-paved roads.

-- you like to meet new people (in person) more than you like to facebook.

-- you’re okay with the fact that you will occasionally be put in situations (voluntarily or not) that you’re certain in which you will either 1. have something stolen, 2. get seriously sick/injured, or 3. die. don’t worry, it’s usually none of the above but you won’t know that in the moment.

-- you want to actually work. also huge.

that being said, i in no way claim to be a tefl expert. but, in these first few weeks, i have found these few rules to be mostly accurate. i also believe that 9 out of the 9 other students i graduated with would probably agree with me on the content of this list, with maybe even a few additional requirements of their own.

this brings me to another list i’ve been meaning to make…let me preface this…there is no way in the world i could ever possibly cover how awesome this last month was. i think that’s partly the reason i stopped blogging, because it gave me anxiety to think of how many updates i would need to make and how many superlatives i would need to use in order to serve this whole experience justice. this is my second excuse.

so, instead of a recap, i have a list. a list of all the things that i, and my fellow students, can think about when we need a smile or a laugh…here goes…

-- no “boom”

-- can we eat this leaf?

-- tutti fruitti

-- bloop

-- well, i dont think i have my sea legs yet

-- constant happenings

-- bip bip

-- modcons/coms

-- it’s a hermet crab village and i think there’s a fight breaking out

-- aunt sally and her haircutting skills

-- hennie

-- chance of chop; all time high

-- he SPEAKS

-- it is a notebooks

-- survival skills first, hangover second

-- purple inchworm wearing a top hat with music notes

-- your name is manzana?

-- hey! hey! i love you!

-- bring your stuff in/scented candles

-- shower in the trees

-- lizard towel

-- mmm sexy

-- julia, just anything julia.

-- hamburgers from arriba

-- anything from gusto

-- beef on a stick man

-- the hammock

-- black eye excuses

-- broken toilets

-- banana daiquiris

yes i realize that this is an immature, silly list that is relevant to absolutely no one other than my tefl school and me. yes, i realize that this does nothing to explain my experience in samara. yes, i realize that 7th graders make similar lists to sum up their summer/bible camp vacations. i don’t really care, i love this list.

that last selfish sentence brings me to my third, and final, excuse. i got selfish… here comes a rant:

it felt kind of nice to be completely off of the map. those who know me well know that i am not a lover of constant contact. i rarely answer my phone, even if i’m doing nothing and i like you. it’s rude but it’s not personal. it’s just that i don’t always agree with how convenient cell phones and the internet have made it to delve into the intimate, peaceful, or even totally mundane moments of our lives. doesn’t anyone agree that sometimes it’s awesome to have absolutely no one know exactly where you are or exactly what you’re doing all of the time? it’s liberating to not have any mode of communication, at least that’s what i think.

rant over.

anyway, i was telling this all to my friend alex (who has an amazingly rare personality combination of both piss-your-pants-hilariousness and buddha-like-wiseness/kindness) about a week ago. his response went something like this, “well the blog’s not really for you, is it? it’s for everyone else that wants to know what you’re doing. for everyone that loves you. it’s not about being selfish because it’s not about you”. when he’s right, he’s right. however, i can’t promise that i won’t fall back into my love of the obscure lifestyle, but i’ll try not to.

blog about this amazing city of granada coming soon...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

we're murderers.

mother nature must hate us. if she didn't before, then she does now, at least.

this last wednesday, we (my roommates and I) came home from grabbing some much needed cervezas from a local beach bar after school. except we weren't alone this time. we had a visitor; a moth the size of a small bird. his wings spanned at least 6 inches. he was perched nicely on the living room ceiling but then quickly made his way to laurie's room. i mentioned the fact that he looked like a bat and i think that must have been his doom. if i would have said "wow what a beautiful night butterfly" then he may have been allowed to stay. he was actually very pretty. however, "bat"? no, he must go.

we spent the next 30-45 minutes of our lives politely trying to shoo him out of the house. first, we just willed him out of the house in our minds. maybe he'll just be ready to return to the wild in a few minutes. umm no. next, we tried the very scientific method of the flailing towel. no such luck. he was a content and happy visitor. ok, we need the big guns. we pull out my commercial size OFF, fully equipped with a fumigator ignition. a few sprays of this oughta do it. no? ok, a few sprays more...he's looking weaker...a few sprays more...he slowly makes his way to the ground...sarah gets brave and picks up a stool to squash him out of his misery...she misses and hits a wing!!...he's still in pain and trying to escape...it's almost too sad to watch...i try to reposition the stool and get him for good...he gets out!! he's flying around again!...we go buck wild with the spray!!...we're coughing, he's delirious... he drops again...sarah attempts the stool again...she hits him!!...except his body is so strong and big that instead of squashing under the stool, he is now holding it up!!...his wings are flapping!!...i swallow what would have been throw-up and walk over to the stool...i quickly push it down....a crunch so loud i think it probably awoke our mean landlord....breathe...breathe again...it's over.... sarah; "we're murderers".

i'd like to report that the terror stopped there but, unfortunately, i can’t. we had pissed off mother nature so much that night that she called in reinforcements from her bff, karma. mother nature is the sweeter of the two, karma is a bitch.

let me preface this, my roommates and I are not greedy. we have been very self sufficient this first week in samara. we were okay with the fact that our landlord only provided us with one bed sheet, one pillow, very few cooking/eating utensils, practically a port-a-potty for a bathroom, one dwindling lightbulb in light fixtures that hold up to four, and absolutely zero cleaning supplies, towels, or paper products. our furniture is falling apart and we have a serious roach problem.

we were okay with this until we found out that everyone else in our class is being perfectly tended to by their landlords. they have been treated like family. they even have weekly, sometimes daily, house cleaners. we were okay with this until we found out that our landlord actually has all the supplies we could ever need, she’s hiding them from us in a locked up cupboard in our ill mentioned bathroom. we are not okay.

we made the discovery on thursday morning. we’ve seen the locked cupboard since day one but it hasn’t been on our radar. i don't know what finally lead us to pry open its doors, a sneaking suspicion i guess. however, when we finally viewed its' contents (beautiful stacks of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and fresh towels) we were mad, but more importantly, inspired. inspired to get that crap out of there and use it! how dare she hold back on the goods?! laurie held one door pried open as i shoved my arm inside to grab the first towel. it took a few minutes of careful squandering but i was finally able to squeeze it through the crack. yes! we were so excited! we just discovered the key to a happy, clean home! wait..what's this white fluff falling out of the towel? we drop the towel and scream.. its contents fall out as it drops to the floor...eggs!!! there are little, tiny eggs scattered across our bathroom floor. some broken with yolk spilling out, some just slightly cracked, some fully intact, some obliterated into nothing but creepy white fluff.

the worst part? it's now sunday and we still haven't gathered the guts to do something with this karma towel. it's just sitting in a sad little ball outside of the bathroom.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

she was dancing to the music when she smoked marijuana

today was my first day to teach actual students.. yes, day 3.

the only way I can really emphasize how nervous i was is to tell you that 30 minutes before my class, I was racking my brain for the slow-breathing relaxation exercises I learned in yoga. and yes, repeating tranquillo in my head over and over.

really, there was a lot to be nervous about. first of all, i have neverrrrr ever taught before...unless you count swim lessons. no, those don't count. so there's that... there's also the fact that if my first teaching experience was an absolute hot, steamy, hell then I would seriously have to re-think my quarter life crisis and all that it entails. this would probably mean seriously reconsidering whether or not teaching english is for me... it would most likely mean moving back to texas as soon as this certification class is finished.

anyway, enough build up. i am happy to report that i absolutely loved it. I mean really, really loved it. it's almost weird how much i enjoyed teaching. to be honest, i never thought that i would be that into it. i think that being here, in costa rica, and wanting soooo badly to know spanish has given me great insight of my students and their desires to know english just as desperately. we're likeminded in that right and it makes it easy to connect with them.

i won't get too into the nitty gritty of the lesson, it's really not that interesting. i will say that i was given the advanced students today (as opposed to beginners or intermediates). their lesson was so advanced that, yesterday, i had to teach it to myself first... ok, i lied, i will get into the nitty gritty, otherwise there is no way i could explain the title of this blog entry...

basically, the theme of my lesson was "accidents" (which could have easily become the theme of my costa rica trip if the lesson hadn't gone right). by the end of the class, my students needed to be able to form an intelligent sentence about an accident they've had in the past. it's not that simple though. they needed their sentence to use a 'past continuous' verb and a 'simple past' verb...basically in this exact format;

subject + was/were + verb (past continuous) + the rest (optional) + when + subject + verb (simple past) + the rest (once again, optional).
super complicated right? here's an example...

"she was walking on the beach when she fell in the sand."


"you were reading the grammar portion of my blog when you fell asleep."

anyway, by the end of the class they were totally getting it. they're awesome. so to test them some more, I had them watch the beginning of youtube videos in which an activity is taking place. i then paused it and let them create their own ending using the sentence structure from the lesson. when they were done, they read them aloud. and then, finally, i played the rest of the video so they could see if they had guessed the correct ending.

video 1: boy riding bike down the road. no big deal. everyone's guesses were pretty accurate (just so you know, he hit a pole).

video 2: girl is dancing in her room. i pause video and gather responses;

laydee: "the girl was dancing a lot when she slipped on the floor"
sara: "she was dancing in her room when she broke her ankle"
marvin (with a totally straight face): "she was dancing to the music when she smoked marijuana"

the girl fell on her back and broke a light (look it up on youtube under 'dancing fail'). there is no marijuana in the video, anywhere. at all. marijuana had not even been discussed in class. at all. we had not even gone over the verbs 'smoking' or 'smoked' yet. it was really hard not to piss my pants in laughter...really hard. i love marvin.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

school, eat, pray, love

written on 6/14 but unable to post until today..

school started today and i met everyone else. they're all pretty awesome. the teachers are amazing, really. the building is quaint and charming and air conditioned (thank you God, thank you). the backdrop of tropical vegetation is gorgeous... this teaching english shit is not easy though. excuse my language but i have no other words for it right now. i'd really, really, really rather not elaborate on the subject since i just spent a full 9 hours devoting my whole mind and body to it.

after school, I realized that I was going to need to do something productive but totally mindless while I let my brain unravel. ill unpack.

i've had a slew of friends suggest that I read the book "eat, pray, love". I finally bought it a few months ago and brought it here with me but never thought i'd actually pick it up. I had totally forgotten about it until I unpacked it tonight. I decided to maybeee read the first couple pages... 50 pages later and I'm totally hooked. I feel like this lady, Elizabeth Gilbert, is kind of a kindred spirit. I realize that probably a lot of women identify with her (she's sold a million books so she must be relatable) but I seriously feel like I know her somehow...i think she might be the older version of what I was freaked out I'd become if I didn't go on this trip now. that might be it. anyway, I can tell I'm really going to love this book. so good job, friends, you totally pegged me!

after a while, a few of the other girls walked back to our house (we have the meeting house since we're so close and convenient to the school) and we went out for some authentic italian food from literally right next door. the owner was also our waiter. he's a really cute, sweet older man from bologna who's lived here for the past 10 years. he walked around with his pet squirrel named, "chop". it might have been the combination of the amazing food and the boggled mind but I think I loved him. he was awesome.

school will be fine. i'm not worried and I know it's just the first day. I'm learning in four weeks what many formal educators learn in four years. I've also found this world really helpful so far; "tranquillo". a janitor said that to me within the first hour of being here. I moved my bags out of his way as he mopped and I said to him "lo siento" (I'm sorry). he said, "tranquillo". I love it. it's not a harsh command like, "chill out" or "relax" or "don't worry". just tranquil. i've heard it a few times since then as well. I think i'll make it my new mantra. tranquillo.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:samara, costa rica

first impressions

written on 6/13 but unable to post until today.

After a few flight delays, crazy airline policies about extended stays outside of the U.S., and an insanely twisted 5 hour bus ride through the mountains and volcanoes, I am finally in samara!

this country is gorgeous. I keep having to look around for film crews because I feel like it's all just one big movie set. nerdy, I know, but totally true. There are no highways (correction: 1 highway but it's closed down due to mudslides) so it's all really small villages sporadically placed between miles of hill and mountainsides.

samara is really just awe.some. The horseshoe bay beach makes it feel very private and tiny. There are tourists here from all over the world but there aren't many (im talking maybeee 100 or less) and the locals definitely out weight us so it never feels commercial or forced at all. there are no chains or brand names, everything is mom and pop locally owed. The restaurants line the beach and the fruits, vegetables, and meats they serve are so fresh that you almost don't even recognize them. last night I had 5 or 6 fresh banana daiquiris, a big bottle of water, orange glazed chicken breast, roasted potatoes, and a mix steamed vegetables for a total (tip and tax included) of about $20. craziness. oh and absolutely no hangover this morning since there were no added sweeteners or chemicals. i wasn't an organic freak before but I think I will be now. the difference it makes on your body is really surprisingly noticeable.

just so you don't go on hating me, ill give you the downfalls so far:
-no air conditioning in my house. none. just a couple portable fans. yeah.
-speaking of my house; super grumpy landlord. its almost funny. she really just doesnt smile...ever...in a weird way i really just love her though.
-no hot water. no warm water. none. plenty of cold water though. yeah.
-very weak toilet, can't even put paper down it. yup. still jealous?
-rooster crowing, literally, right outside my window at 6 am. no, it's not just in the cartoons, it's in my face. however, I did manage to hit the window and scare him away. we also have a huge machete in our kitchen and if he keeps it up he might just have to meet it. not kidding. sorry rooster.
-lots of mosquitoes. im covered in OFF, even in bed.
-also lots of seemingly stray dogs and underfed horses, it's hard not to open up a big farm here and make them all my own.

feel better now as you read this in your jacuzzi with the air conditioning on 60F?

anyway, i've met 5 of the girls from my school so far and they're all totally awesome. our personalities compliment eachother really, really well from what i can tell. i think i could easily hang out with any one of them for a full month without even having the common interest of school. school...i almost forget why im here sometimes. school starts tomorrow, 10:30-7 every mon-fri. yeah bedtime it is. my head is sworming with a mix of spanglish right now so im sure my words haven't done this place any justice, ill let pictures pick up my slack...buenos noches.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Friday, June 11, 2010

thundercats are go!

taking off today! mostly excited but just a lottle bit freaked out after the 1 hour "list of don'ts" lecture my doctor rattled off

"don't eat fruit, don't drink water, don't forget to buckle up, don't eat meat, don't do drugs, don't eat from street vendors..."

me- "you mean street vendors aren't legit?" (joking)
she- rolls eyes..

"don't joke, don't forget to wear a helmet, don't drink milk, don't keep your eyes off your bag for more than 1 second, don't walk barefoot on the beach, don't forget to wear 100 proof deet off, don't get malaria, don't get typhoid, don't have a baby, don't name that baby after his estranged father, jesus, people don't like when anyone other than jesus is named jesus."

gahhhh for a pregnant hippy geriatrics doctor she's kind of a stick in the mud. (i go to a retirement center healthcare clinic. i like old people, what's weird about that?) anyway, she means well. im totes naming my baby jesus though... 15 years from now that is.

k here goes the next 24 hours of getting from point A to punta B. austin to denver (silly), denver to san jose, san jose to samara, samara to all the things on my doctor's "don't" list. woohoo!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

totes magoats the reason for this blog.

i'm gunna get all philosophical-ly for a sec so bare with me...or just skip to the bottom, ya jerk..

i think that, for many, there is a predetermined path that is chosen for us waaay before we have the right to choose it ourselves. it's not the blame of our parents, or the blame of anyone for that matter. it's a good path, a really good path. it's just probably not questioned enough on an individual basis. what is it? i think it's the path that tells us to go play nice at daycare, grade school, high school, then college.. professional career, the dating scene, followed by playing suuuuper nice in marriage so that you can, finally (ahhh!) play nice with your children. the path says, "have babies and a career, nurture them, be selfish when you retire". quite frankly, the path freaks me out. a lot. it's freaked me out since i could remember. i wish i loved the path, and that's not to say that someday (maybe even a very soon day) i won't. all i know is that, for now, i'd like to take the path a little less traveled

..by now you're probably sick of hearing about "the path". well, guess what? i'm sick of typing "the path" so i promise it will not be a reoccurring theme of this blog..i am rarely philosophical or insightful..

anyhoo, if i've learned anything at all in the past 23 years, it's that very few things are certain. well i do know one thing for certain; i love, LOVE, to travel. so, now i finally start the trip/voyage/adventure i have looked forward to since the days of "where in the world is carmen san diego" (if you don't know the show, google it. it's truly a classic). this voyage begins with a 1 month class in samara, costa rica where i will be getting certified to teach english abroad. i'm not quite sure where it will lead me from there, maybe a year long teaching contract in central or south america? maybe europe? maybe somewhere in asia? we'll see. do i know how to teach? umm no, not really. however, i'm not enough of a hippy to just backpack all over the world without ever actually earning any money so lets hope this teaching stuff works out..

i leave this friday, june 11. if you'd like to travel with me, please do. this blog will just have to suffice for now, the airlines have pretty strict weight limits for checked baggage and i think my rain boots just put me over.