I'm still recuperating from an amazing weekend at Buena Vista Lodge in Rincon de la Vieja. We spent two days at the top of a mountain horse back riding to a spa, inner-tubing down a waterslide, zip-lining, and hiking through a Volcano. This weekend we're getting ready to visit Tortugero, aka the "land of turtles", to see some Carribean sea turtles and to work on a service project for the local school there! The only thing i'm not as excited about is the accumulation of mosquito bites i'm obtaining from all this outdoor activity on the weekends. I have successfully polished off a whole can of bug-spray and a tube of anti-itch cream. BUT I will prevail. Eventually I'll find something that works..hopefully.
I just finished dinner with my Tiko family and I'm beginning to think that it's impossible for my host mom to make anything I don't like. Which is pretty hard considering I'm kind of a picky eater. Tonight she let me help her make twice baked potatoes with mushrooms, cheese, and some other unidentifiable ingredients, while she baked some fish, rice, and pico de gallo. Muy rico!! Over dinner I taught her how do say "Lance". Ellen is simple and their daughters name is Laura, but they insist on "Lance" being "Laun-say". We have two months to get it down before they come. My Tiko family is extremely excited about my parents coming; I think it's because they're so impressed that I put my napkin in my lap while I eat. (seriously!) They want to meet these wonderful people who ingrained this into my table manners they said. They were also trying to teach me nick names for my boyfriend tonight, i.e. mi amor, James-ita, cooki, gordo, and a word for baby but I forgot it. I told them I'll just stick with his name for now.
Two nights ago they asked me to pray at dinner, that was pretty cool! I had a conversation with my host mom about faith over breakfast one day, and she was extremely surprised that I would have faith at such a young age. I tried to explain it to her as best as I could. Typically, (as she explained it to me, not my own words) children in Costa Rica wait until they're older to start going to church and it is very rare to see young people occupying them. Church attendance is more of a cultural thing than an independent choice. I told her about my community back home and shared a bit with her which was really neat for us. One topic that is hard to talk about though, and is a current issue in the news in C.R. right now is homosexuality. My host mother says that my host father is "homophobico" and my vocabulary isn't rounded well enough yet to speak much in reciprocation, but I'm enjoying the view I have in listening to their different opinions on popular topics and over time being able to gradually input into conversation. Sometimes it kills me not to be able to form the right words to say in Spanish, but I also see it as a gift from the Lord in learning how to listen to people and understanding patience. At home my opinion can be known in a matter of seconds and it's easy to express, but here I just have to listen-which is a really good practice for anyone. Most of the time I can understand what they're saying but when it comes to forming words to answer, my mind goes to mush again.
The table conversations have gotten longer and longer as my Spanish is starting to emerge. They're also opening up more and because they like me I think i've earned the right to funny stories of past student experiences. They're good stories to know so that I don't make the same mistakes again. As they talk and I reciprocate with soft laughter, i'm slowly thinking to myself "please remember not to do that..." So far nothing past a clogged toilet has happened that was embarrassing for any of my friends and their host parents. One girl accidentally told someone in her family that she hated them.. that was pretty funny. But those awkward and embarrassing moments are what makes learning a new language so fun(ny)!
I realized last night that almost every single day here I have laughed so hard with my new friends that I'm starting to cut 'abs' out of my workout routine. (jk I don't work out). But I have started to enjoy running to my Page CXVI album on my phone. It's really peaceful to run outside in 75 degree weather with mountains in the background, hilly roads, trees and brightly colored houses, and some hymns. Never would I have thought that running without my Niki Minaj playlist was possible until now. Occasionally a dog will join in and run behind me for a block or two, and I almost feel like I have a running buddy. Mixed with panic that the stray dog is going to bite me and give me rabies. Depends on the day/size of the dog.
This week has been a long one, especially for my family in Memphis. Our sweet Nonnie passed away and I wish I could be there for my mom (who happens to be residing in Mexico right now on an over-due vacation for how hard she works). Death is always bitter-sweet, especially for someone so gentle, kind, and fragile. I've experienced recently an overwhelming sense of joy when hearing about believers passing into death. Maybe it should be a time of grief, but they get to live with Jesus, life better than life, and that's so incredibly awesome. Knowing that someone is now in the hands of God, in the presence of the Lord that designed and created their very being for relationship with Him, is such a joyous celebration that tears of happiness seem more appropriate for the occasion. When you die, you finally get to join the very person who your life was created for. That wholeness has to be a feeling better than anything else in the whole universe and beyond it. It's the wholeness that we spend our whole lives trying to imitate. I could talk for hours. But anyway, I should probably start the homework I've been prolonging the past few days. Major priority issues when you live in a Tropical country...
I've really appreciated all of the prayers and love from my friends! I'm wishing that you were all here to experience this with me!
Adios mis amigos!!
P.S. I saw monkeys on our hike... it was awesome.