A Weekly Journal Chronicling My Life
As It Intersects With The Garbage Dump Community Near La Ceiba, Honduras

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Good Morning San Jose

Yes Virginia, Matthew Keiser is still very much alive. To be sure, it has been quite a little while since my last entry, but I assure you, henceforth you will be able to read this anew on an almost weekly basis (give or take a day or two…mostly give). There is a lot to recount, but in that most of you know me and know of my comings and goings prior to departure, you are aware that I was crisscrossing the eastern portion of the Commonwealth like a modern-day Paul Revere, less the dire tidings of impending British warfare. As such, you can sympathize with me for finding little to no time to log the happenings of August, nor do I feel it incumbent upon myself to bore you with the dreary details. I’ll be succinct and relay the highlights of the month previous, and then regale you with stories of the tropical paradise that is Sri Lanka, I mean, Costa Rica.
August was a hectic time, it’s not easy to sort through your life and try to think of what you’ll need most in the next 3 years, and then attempt to fit it all into 3 bags – actually that was probably one of the easier parts. It was the steady flow of paperwork, emails, visits and goodbyes that really kept my head spinning. I had some very special moments though with a lot of people that I love dearly and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I was especially blessed that Rachel Meckbach and Chris Knipe couldn’t stand to wait any longer and decided to get married in August instead of December. I was so happy to be a part of that celebration and be there with so many people that I love. When I wasn’t traversing Interstates 80 or 476, I was a fixture at Brandon Perk, a little coffee shop in Williamsport. Aside from serving wonderful vanilla lattes, they also have wi-fi, which is heavenly when your parents are still stuck in 1995 with their dial-up internet, typical Keiser stubbornness. There, I was able to tie up a lot loose ends with the mission board, language school and whoever else demanded my attention. All in all August was a glorious time, I was able to visit with people that I loved, take in the natural beauty of PA and leave home without feeling rushed or scattered. I thank God for the time He gave me there.
My departure went very well – I flew out of Newark, NJ. Despite the many negative feelings that I harbor towards that mass of land that only half-manages an attempt at statehood; I must say Newark has a lovely airport. Bonita Byler came along for the ride and I’m so glad she did, she kept us laughing and helped my parents think about things other than me on the return trip. The flight was without incident – no luggage was lost, I was able to bring an extra carry-on and I made it through customs effortlessly. Finding my host family at the airport in San Jose was something different entirely. There is only one exit from the airport, it’s fairly narrow and it’s crowded with taxi drivers and baggage porters hopping to make a buck. People waiting for family or friends from a flight must wait outside and hold signs up to a large window. If you do not see your name on a sign, it is not a good idea to take bags packed for 3 years worth of life out into the street. Thus I spent a good 30 minutes looking forlornly out the window as little by little the small lobby emptied and I was left with my bags. I was quite sure that I would be taking a taxi to a hotel when suddenly my host family appeared. Apparently they had been there for two hours and were just about to give up on ever finding me when we made contact. I’m not sure how we missed each other, but it was a relief. We got back to their house, it was quite late by then, and I simply collapsed on my bed (I have my own bedroom and bathroom) and went to sleep.
I woke up to the sun shining and a veritable jungle outside my window – there are green parrots in the trees and a rushing creek below me. It’s beautiful here; San Jose sits in a valley between high, verdant mountains. Mornings especially are glorious, the sun is bright and warm but not excessively hot, there’s little humidity and a light breeze. By 1:00 pm though everything changes, clouds roll in and it storms for hours, sometimes all night. This is the rainy season, winter as they call it, and it will last until December. I’ve already figured out that it’s best to get most of your errands done before noon, after that it’s a crap shoot and you could get drenched. The city itself is a not quite as beautiful, I’ve not been to the downtown, touristy area; I’m in Zapote and my school is San Francisco, the neighborhoods in these areas are littered with trash, and the rushing creek outside my window, although picturesque is lined with garbage a mile upstream (I guess I won’t be swimming there). Many of the homes are nice but they are very narrow and have little-to-no yard-space. Their windows are covered by bars and the homes have high fences and multiple gates protecting them. Despite this contrast of beauty and man-made ugliness, I still enjoy it. The people are warm and helpful, and very patient; my Spanish is passable but nothing to write home about, so patience right now is a must.
I’ve spent nearly two weeks here now. The first was entirely for orientation at the school – and it ran the gamut of orientation possibilities, from living with a family, to traversing the city safely, to policies at the school – we went over everything. Don’t worry I paid attention, mostly because they kept giving us coffee and pastries. I also decided that I love the school – it feels like I’m back at college, meeting new people, feeling slightly unsure of what I’m to do, looking to the upperclassmen for guidance, being overly-friendly to everyone I encounter because you never know if they might turn out to be a great friend. I really thought I’d left all that behind, but here I am again. The school is actually a compound – it’s beautiful, well maintained and is conducive to socializing, one thing I’ve always been good at. I’ve actually already formed a small group of friends, we all clicked instantly and so I’m looking forward to spending the weekends taking trips to the jungle and the beach with them. One of the guys is a Notre Dame fan and we are desperate to find a Sports Bar that carries ESPN or ABC, I’m sure they’ll do better against Penn State than what they did last week.
There is so much more to tell you, classes started this week and I have to tell you about that – I feel like I’m back in 8th grade with Senora Good. I’ve been exploring the city by myself – I feel very brave. And I want to tell you about my Tico family and the food I’ve been eating – I had buttered saltines for the first time ever on Saturday (not so bad if you add a little apple jelly). But this entry is already too long so I’m going to save all that and more for next week. Peace.

- Matt


Anonymous said...

Just so you know, Penn State won, so ha! Also, Eastern's been good so far. I miss you and good luck!

Beth said...

Hey Matt -
praying for you as you continue to learn spanish and prepare for your time in honduras. looking forward to reading about your adventures. and hey - if you make it to the cloud forest in Costa Rica look around for the Resplendent Quetzal (a gorgeous, but rare bird)

Beth H. (FMC)

Kiki said...

Hey, how do you know Bonita Byler???