Sunday, January 18, 2015

En el Diseño de Dios

En el diseño de Dios

Thursday morning my fellow students and I boarded the bus to head up into the mountains of San Bosco for the night.  The retreat we were taken to was some kind of conference center that was previously built for Catholic Priests.  You could tell God had done some amazing work in this place from the overlook of all of San Bosco, the color of the flowers and fresh plants everywhere, through the wild horses that we saw running down below, and from the refreshing sound of birds and new life in an all-consuming breath-taking view.
To begin, we played a few get-to-know-your-classmates games.  One included a cultural activity where we broke up into lines and raced to put 100 colones (1 coin) down our shirts, filter it into our pants, and then out the bottom of our pant leg.  It was a race to see who could filter the money out of their clothes the fastest.  Unfortunately, the way that we split up into our groups put me into a group of four girls also in skinny jeans, so as you can imagine when putting a coin in your pants... it doesn't move.  After the first person released the coin and the second person began, the coin was lost into the abyss of the skinny jeans for the next two and a half minutes.  It took 3 girls to retrieve the lost colones out of our second teammates pants while the other groups cheered us on.  If you ask me, losing your money in your pants where no one can find it might be a much more useful skill in a city known for pick-pocketing.
Our next cultural skill to learn was the art of cheek-kissing, proper hand shaking, and chest-hugging.  In Costa Rican culture it is expected of women to kiss cheeks and shake hands when coming into contact with others and when introducing themselves. After meeting the second time a hug and a cheek-kiss is expected, and if you walk into a room full of family and friends, you must go around hug-kissing each tiko/tika in the room.  We were also shown the difference between how far away we usually stand from each other when having a conversation, and how far away tikos expect you to stand.  This might explain why Costa Rican hygiene is also much better than ours. I hopefully have it down now so after three months of this you might want to watch out when I see you again if you don't want a kiss and hug on the cheek accompanied by ¡Hola, Como Estas Amiga!!!!!
Following lunch and two coffee breaks later, we were let free to explore and wash up for dinner. (people literally wash their face, brush their hair, and typically change shirts for dinner. I wash my hands and then kinda pretend i'm doing something useful to soak up the time usually.)  I found a spot in the grass overlooking San Bosco with a couple other classmates and sat in silence as the sun went down.  We watched as businesses and streets slowly shut down for the night and as lights came alive with people returning to their homes.  Clouds slowly came in swarming the tops of the mountains and the sky filled with colors of red, orange, and blue. I've seen a few mountains in the U.S. but these surrounding us were much different.  Admiring the blue, purple, red, orange, and green flowers that outlined the view, I was amazed at the scenerey God has created here. There's just so much life and color; you can see it not only in nature but also in the way people live and how happy they are with simplicity. My host mom has explained this to me several times; they live on what they need, that's it. Costa Rica is ranked in the top 5 happiest countries in the world, something important to note, because of their quality of life. Sitting here in view of everything, we couldn't help but talk about it with each other after a while and to take pictures, but every time I take a picture of anything here I get frustrated because it just can't capture exactly what I'm looking at.
When 7 o'clock came around, it was time for another cultural immersion lesson. Dancing. If you've seen Along Came Polly where Jennifer Aniston salsa dances in the club, it's kind of like that.  Lots of foot work, hip shaking, fast salsa music, and arm gestures.  My phone died right before I started or else I would have taken pictures, but a video would have never surfaced.  Maybe after I get some more practice. The whole lesson was in Spanish so half of our group was really great at taking direction and looked ready for the clubs afterward.  As for me, I was doing something of the Macarena in the back row mixed with some square dancing-esc feet movements.
After a sweaty dinner with burning calf muscles, we retreated to our rooms for the night.  I volunteered to take the first shower in our room, which goes in the books as my least favorite activity almost every night.  Warm/hot showers just aren't a thing most of the time here.  Imagine jumping in the lake for the very first weekend of the summer and right when you surface for air it's like the wind got knocked out of you and your breathing is short fast gasps.  This is how I take most of my showers.  The sad thing is that I think there is warm water some way, some how, and my host mom has tried to teach me but every time I try it doesn't work.  I think someone looking down on me is having a hilarious time, I can't help but to laugh sometimes at how much I struggle with this.  But if a cold shower is the most of my worries, I can't complain.  
The next morning we gathered back on the bus to head to the National Rainforest with our elderly Costa Rican tour guide. Es tiko es muy loco. One thing in particular that I learned through this trip is that mosquito bitten feet inside tenishoes without socks in a rainforest es no bueño. But besides that, being surrounded by millions of types of plants and flowers and animals and rain was an amazing experience. Even the rocks were beautiful colors and sizes. Our guide told us a story of a boy who brought a camera in a plastic bag last time, and when he took it out to take pictures, a few monkeys happened to be walking by. When they saw the bag they recognized it as food, grabbed it, and ran up a tree to tear it open. Once they got the bag open, one started biting it to get the inside out, and when that didn't work they started banging it against the tree to break it open. After a while they got bored and threw it back onto the ground and continued on their way. Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to see any monkeys and no one wanted to sacrifice their camera, but I kept wondering to myself how many of them were looking at us walking around. We did happen to see a snake though! A close cousin of the cobra our guide said. Not exactly what I was hoping to see, maybe something a little more soft, furry, and cuddly-looking, but it was still pretty cool I must say. After the Rainforest we toured the very first church built in Costa Rica, where they had a statue of a Costa Rican Jesus. As I said in a previous post, it's getting cooler and cooler to see the similarities between the cultures and the one that holds us all together. I cater who Jesus is so much to what I look like or who I am and he is so much bigger than that and that is so stinkin' cool. I could get use to looking at a bronzed, dark Jesus for a while. Just kidding. Kinda.
 Costa Rica just keeps getting better and better. I just finished my breakfast of coffee, mango, and bananas, and i'm headed off to go the zoo in down town San Jose with my friends. And for some reason they all really want curry for lunch. Multiple cultural experiences at once, who would thought! I think we're going to try to plan a beach trip for next weekend to celebrate our first week of school. I'm actually crazy excited to begin my Spanish lessons because my brain is starting to hurt from trying to comprehend conversation when I have to think about every word in such detail. My parents taught me the word for nose! And sunscreen. They make fun of my sun burn; that I can understand haha but that's okay because I can joke with them about wearing sweaters in 75 degree weather. Anyway, i'm off to the zoo! And hopeful i'll be able to find the sloth sanctuary. (on my bucket list to find before Lauren comes to visit). Everything we see/do I want to share with my family and friends but it's impossible to fit into words or pictures. Costa Rica is just too much to express, as is Gods hand in this place and in my view of Him as I remain here. I'm praying for more opportunities to see Him and to share Him with those around me, and I am SO SO SO thankful for all of my opportunities thus far. Thank you for the prayers! And if you have time, call my mom and tell her you love her. She's pretty cool. Adios, y Pura Vida!

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