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I've Returned!

Hello again dear readers, what a lapse in entries we’ve had, my sincerest apologies. For those of you that haven’t had a clue as to my whereabouts for the past month, I made a surprise visit home over Christmas to visit with friends and family for 3 weeks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t exactly announce this upcoming visit over my blog because such declarations tend to be counterproductive to the nature and purpose of surprises. Thus I had to write my final entry for the semester last year in such a way so as to give the impression that I would be in Costa Rica over the course of Christmas and blogging all the while. Needless to say, that is why my most recent entry speaks nothing of imminent flights to Newark, NJ but rather promises forthcoming phonetics lessons and a recipe for rice. I had intended to blog sporadically while at home but ran into an issue regarding internet access. You see, my parents being the antediluvian luddites that they are, have taken it upon themselves to wage a private war against modern science. They think they’re really sticking it to society and Comcast in particular by refusing to employ any technology that postdates the year 1997. As such, any endeavor to blog while using dial-up internet was thwarted by my parents’ new-found Mennonite austerity and was usually marked by my attempts to defenestrate their computer from a second-story window. Again I apologize for the halt in mindless banter that I was putting forth each week, I can’t imagine the damper it must have put on your Christmas cheer. I assure you though that henceforth you will be able to read my entries anew on a weekly basis.
Where to start…(there are a month and ½ worth of stories and thoughts to dispatch)…let’s begin with some Christmas musings:
1. After a decade of publicly declaring that she had no desire to own a personal computer, while at the same time secretly wishing that one would someday appear on her doorstep; Shirley Morris (that’s Grandma…or Grandmo to Mo Holland) got a computer from her children for Christmas. She was a little wary at first, but quickly caught on and in one month has become an emailing machine…at least that’s what I hear – I wouldn’t know.
2. I gained 25 pounds in 3 weeks – ok not really but in all honesty I gorged myself while at home. From Shady Maple Smorgasbord, to Christmas Dinner (twice), to the obligatory Pork and Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, I ate and ate and ate. When I wasn’t eating grandiose meals I was snacking away on the 33 different varieties of Chocolate Chip Cookies my mother had made (it’s not because she’s a gourmet chef with elaborate variations on her recipe, it’s just that every time she put a batch in the oven they came out a little differently…and no one really knows why). It’s not as though I wasn’t being fed well down there in Costa Rice but I really did just miss my family’s cooking…no one can make Pork and Sauerkraut like my mother.
3. I made a fool out of myself in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. A friend and I were hiking in the PA Grand Canyon (yes, we have one too) and only 5 minutes into our hike I decided to be a show-off and “ski” on the ice down the path. Unfortunately, I got to moving a bit too fast and being the expert skier that I am, I aimed for the nearest object to break my descent. As luck would have it, this object was a rather sturdy tree that had absolutely no give. I rammed my hip and ribs into it and lay on the ground motionless for quite a spell whilst my companion laughed her head off. Once she regained her composure and realized that I could barely walk, she hoisted me up and practically carried me back up the mountain. I felt really macho and cool that day. Moral of the Story: Don’t showboat on ice in front of a girl.
4. My family continued their yearly tradition of waiting to by any of their gifts until Christmas Eve Day; my mother of course is not included in this event, she would be a nervous wreck, in fact she’s a nervous wreck if she doesn’t have all of her gifts bought and wrapped by Labor Day. This year she asked if she could come along for the ride but I told her she needed to stay home and iron out the kinks in her Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Anyways the 5 of us, Dad and the four kids, schlepped ourselves to the Mall ate pizza with my Uncle and then crisscrossed that little mall for 2 hours – it’s always a harrowing time but it’s always a lot of fun. Actually this year I had already bought all of my gifts in Costa Rica for $3.25 so I just wandered aimlessly and chatted with strangers.
5. To sum it all up I had a glorious visit with friends and family. When I left the country back in August I had no idea that I would be able to come back so soon, I honestly thought that I would be away from home for 3 years. Turns out that’s what I told everyone right before I left too “Seeya in three years”. Thus when I returned some people assumed I had just given up on this whole “missionary thing”, I had to reassure my father not a few times that yes I was in fact going back. I’m just kidding…he only asked me once. Seriously though, this visit was a real treat, it was wonderful to be able to share in my family’s Christmas traditions one more time, to visit my church families at both Agape and Frazer and sing Christmas Carols in English, to share in our family’s favorite meals and to connect again with friends. I count myself so blessed and so fortunate to have been able to spend 3 weeks with people that I love.
So I’m back in Costa Rica now, I have been for almost 2 weeks now and I gotta tell ya, the weather here is fabulous. Remember how back in November I wrote about the weather turning chilly and Mr. Tumnus moving in next-door, well apparently that only lasted for like a month. Now we’re in the 60’s and 70’s all day every day, there’s never any rain, it’s always sunny and breezy and in the evening it’s nice and cool. The only thing I can compare it too is mid-late May in Pennsylvania. My mam’a loves to talk about the weather, she thinks it’s fabulous too, though I suspect it’s because it affords Orlando, her husband, absolutely no excuse to keep from doing the work around the house that accumulated during the rainy season. She’s been warning me though about March and April, she says I have no idea what heat is like until I have lived through those months in San Jose – can’t wait.
School started again and good grief is it ever different. I’m basically without friends this trimester – most of my friends from last year left or are involved in a different program so I only get to see them on the weekends. On top of that most of the new students are in their mid-30’s, married and have small children; I’m surrounded by young, married, Southern Baptists. Needless to say, I spend a lot of my free time at school sitting quietly by myself and sipping coffee. On the learning front, that is why I’m here after all, I have different teachers – no more Francisco, which while sad, is also good because it allows us to experience different speaking and teaching styles, it also means Mr. Bean will no longer be teaching us Espanol. Oscar is my grammar teacher and the thing that stands out to me about him, aside from his excellent teaching abilities, is his voice. He has a very deep, grainy voice and he speaks in such a way so that it always sounds as though he’s reading us a story or a poem – he could be teaching us about the Future tense and in my mind all I hear is a voice lulling me to sleep. I’m going to have to start drinking some serious coffee if I’m gonna stay awake in his class. My other class is conversation with Dixieanna the taskmaster. This woman is nuts, she’s a good teacher but she frightens us to death, so much so that one student has already changed classes. She just has a way about her that makes you hesitant to make a mistake, especially the same one more than once. She demands perfect grammar, pronunciation and fluidity in speech – good grief lady I’ve only been at this since September. In reality though I think it’s good, I’m positive that by the end of this trimester I will be speaking very well.
So my mother, the U.S. version, sent a little Christmas present along with me to give to both Flora and Orlando to show her appreciation for them. It wasn’t excessive, just a little token of thanks. I was sitting at dinner with Flora the second night I was back when I suddenly remembered that this gift was still stashed away in my suitcase, I quickly retrieved it and presented it to her. She was so excited and wanted to open it on the spot but I told her she had to wait until Orlando was present too (he was upstairs in their bedroom). Flora, being the impatient type, ran over to her kitchen wall, grabbed a whistle that was hanging from a nail and gave it two hard blows. Not 30 seconds later Orlando came bounding down the stairs ready to do his wife’s bidding. I lost it, I laughed and I laughed, Flora thought it was pretty funny too. Unfortunately though her merriment was short-lived, she loved her gifts but was none too pleased about the gifts my mother sent Orlando; Turtle Wax and other articles for car maintenance. She just looked at me and said “Thank you, now he’s gonna spend his entire vacation with his girlfriend”, I laughed. She was right though, the next day when I got home from school Orlando grabbed me and rushed me outside to show me the new wax job on his car.
One quick story before I go; I got to see my first real futbol (soccer) game here last Sunday afternoon. A group of us from the school decided to take in the game between no. 70 ranked Costa Rica andno. 4 ranked Sweden. The result was 1-0 Sweden but it was actually a really close game and in my estimation Costa Rica probably should have won. The game was a fairly subdued affair, there were no bonfires in the stands, violent drunken mobs or bottles of urine hurled at the referees, all standard occurrences at Saprissa games (that’s the local professional team). I had a great time but I do want to catch a Saprissa v. Liga game before I leave, I’ve heard that it’s an experience like no other.
La Carpio photos for the week...and a few other random shots:
Down by the riverside...

.....juice time.... time.....

....Pirate day at school......

......lunch break....

....ok, now they're just making words up!

Alright, that’s all for this post – again I apologize for the lapse in entries but let’s blame my parents for that one, it’ll make me feel much better. If you return next week I’ll have stories from La Carpio, a lesson in phonetics and pearls of wisdom from Flora. Blessings to you.

- Peace!


kendra said…
mateo, don't discount your abilities on ice. I think you may have a real future with the Ice Capades! maybe as Goofy or the 8th dwarf, Klutzy.

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