things we learned about costa rica

February 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

we had our staging event today. each trainee went around the room and stated a fact they had learned about costa rica.
(in no particular order):

1. the conversion rate for the colon, the currency, is roughly ₡ 498 to $1.00.
2. the largest ethnic group is mestizo (over 95%).
3. over 95% of costa rica’s water supply is potable.
4. the president is female (laura chinchilla).
5. there is no military.

of course, there’s  much more than that. but for now, i sleep.



February 27, 2011 § 5 Comments

i misplaced the strip of paper sometime during my flight over to DC today. if i recall it correctly, it said:

“you will be recognized as a leader of your community.”

pertinent, i think. let’s hope it happens.

panda land, yan yan!

February 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

i’ll be staying with a host family for at least six months during training and volunteer service. as a good house guest, i’m bringing some gifts. namely, dried squid, shrimp chips, panda cookies, yan yan, and pineapple biscuits.  i think it’s brilliant, but here’s a short transcript of the likely reaction to these menagerie of foods. thanks jowell.

(translated from the spanish, of course)

Son: Papa, what did the American bring for us?  Snickers? Reese’s peanut butter cups? Sour patch kids?

Papa: No my son. The American did not bring us those delightful treats. He brought us dried squid and shrimp flavored chips that look like french fries and cute panda drawings on cookies. I think the Peace Corps might have made a mistake.

Son: Nooooooooooo! This is my nightmare.


OK, maybe it won’t be quite like that. I’m sure they’ll see it a bit strange, though. Can’t wait to find out!


take only what you need

February 27, 2011 § 4 Comments

a year and forever ago, i submitted an application to the peace corps. after a trying process (cil can attest to that), two days and a plane ride separate me from costa rica.

pack lightly, they say. take only what you need, then cut it in half.  i’m more familiar than most with the sometimes painful process of packing. i feel as though i’ve been living out of a bag since 2006. eternally tripping. but this is different. i know i’ll need my five pairs of pants, five pairs of button-downs, and six pairs of shoes (well, maybe not six). but can i pack my friends and family too? i wish i could trade a pair of shoes to them bring with me.

i sort through my collected correspondences whenever i’m caught in personally tumultuous times. the twenty-seven month commitment repeatedly gave me pause throughout the application process and time hasn’t done well to quell any of my fears. in those faded words scrawled in ink, i recall old loves and summer days, promises spoken and a ten-year-old’s expectations from an infinitely bright future. they’re all just echoes now, shades and textures of that painting or that statue. though older, the composition is still muddy. but, these exercises in reflection do make clear that i already have enough baggage–good baggage–to take everywhere with me, no matter how uncertain the future will be.

five pairs of shoes will do.

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