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Singing For My Coffee

Welcome back dear friends, February is knocking on the door and I’m starting to see my time here coming to a close. I know, I know, I don’t leave for Honduras until the end of April (Si Dios Quiere!) but I’m quickly realizing that my time here in San Jose will soon be over. This realization is aided of course by Ma`ma’s daily reminder that the months are sailing by and I won’t be here much longer; I think she’s counting the days. Seriously though, I am beginning to see that the life of a missionary is one of constantly letting go and trusting people to God – that’s a struggle for me. I have made a lot of friends here, Ticos, kids from La Carpio, other missionaries, my family, these people are important to me and I love them dearly. I’ve realized though that I probably won’t ever see most of them again. It’s a struggle to think that very soon these people, people that I love, will be out of my life and that all I can do is pray for them. It’s sad to think about, so I try not to and I’m not even sure why I chose to write about this in my introductory paragraph, kind of a downer way to start a blog entry, sorry. I guess it’s just something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. At the same time though, the end of my stay in San Jose means the beginning of my life in La Ceiba, Honduras – that fills me with excitement and it’s the knowledge that I’ll be doing what I’ve been called to do that makes it all worthwhile. I’m a little nervous to be sure, a little hesitant, but I’ve been waiting to go back to La Ceiba since the Summer of 2006. You cannot imagine how exciting this is for me. If only I could just find a way to bring everyone I care about here in San Jose to La Ceiba I would be muy feliz….the grass is always greener…
So I made a fool out myself the other night, I know, what else is new. A Tico friend of mine and I were in the mood for a little coffee the other night so we decided to stop off at an outdoor café before heading home. We sat down, started chatting and the waitress showed up with water – she put our glasses down and without thinking I sang out “Graciaaaaassss!!!” She just looked at me and then started laughing, I felt not a little bit embarrassed and my friend just shook his head and said “Gringo loco” I’m sure the waitress was thinking the same thing. To be honest I’m really not sure where that came from, I like to sing and all but I don’t often sing out random thoughts – I felt pretty ridiculous.
My Tico parents have a funny relationship, it’s full of love and commitment and stuff like that but I think they’ve also reached that point in their marriage where they enjoy being cantankerous with each other; for example he calls her little fatty and she calls him old man. Orlando, my Pa`pa, just finished his month of vacation (all city workers get a month of vacay right after Christmas), most of which he spent at the beck-and-call of Flora. He painted the house inside and out, installed a new bathroom, hung a new front door and helped his son rebuild a motorcycle – he was a busy little beaver and if he ever did happen to find free time to sneak off with his girlfriend the car, Flora would blow her whistle and dispense more work. When his vacation ended last week and he headed back to work Flora looked at me and said “It was nice to have him home and we got a lot done but I’m glad that he’s not here to analyze the way I take care of the house and demand that I bring him juice.” I have to imagine that he might feel the same way.
Dixieana the taskmaster assigned our conversation class a whopper of an assignment last week – we had to take a bus into downtown San Jose visit an office building, talk with a director there and find out as much we could about that particular company. When she assigned it last Monday I about collapsed, I did not feel at all competent enough in my speaking skills to be able to converse with an executive of a major corporation. Despite our many protests and feigned comas she sent us packing and told us to have it done by Friday. My assigned company was ICE – no it’s not a hip-hop record-label, it’s the sole electricity and telecommunications provider in all of Costa Rica, what the more astute among us might call a monopoly, though thanks to TLC (again, not the hip-hop trio) ICE’s days of monopolization are numbered. I brought a friend along with me for moral support and after searching the downtown area for a ½ hour we finally found the ICE headquarters, it was jam-packed with people waiting to receive new cell phone lines (right now there aren’t enough lines to accommodate demand). I was quite sure that I would be spending half the day in this office waiting to speak to someone when all of the sudden a young guy appeared out of nowhere and offered his assistance (I think he could tell that I, the Gringo, was a bit out of place). I explained my assignment and he quickly agreed to help me answer my questions. To my surprise he was able to understand my questions and I was more or less able to understand his answers; I shocked myself and it really kind of boosted my confidence, maybe that Dixieana isn’t so bad after all.
I visited the beach this past weekend for the 3rd time since arriving here in August – this was by far the best trip yet. A group of friends and I took a bus from San Jose to Manuel Antonio last Friday right after school – it was a long 4 hours sitting next to a rather large, sweating Tico gentleman but it was so worth it. Manuel Antonio is incredible, it’s a national park with hidden beaches, white sand, mountain vistas and lots and lots of monkeys. My friends and I found a cheap little hostel or cabina as they call them here, for $9 a night – we sweated profusely all night in the stuffy little room but it was ok because we were saving money. The next day we paid our entrance fee for the park and started exploring, we hiked on a beautiful trail to a summit that overlooked a little inlet, the same inlet incidentally that Captain Cook is said to have anchored in to hide his gold in the mountains along the shore. We hiked back down the mountain and went swimming at a hidden little beach, it was hard for me to believe that I was swimming in a tropical paradise completely cut-off from the rest of the world, it left me wondering what all of Costa Rica must have looked like prior to the arrival of Columbus. We ended the day with a trip to a slightly more populated beach but along the way ran into a troop of Cada Blanca monkeys – the first wild-monkeys I had ever seen, it was incredible. I felt like such a tourist chasing after them with my camera but I couldn’t help it, they were so cool and I’d never seen anything like it. We ate dinner in the town and then caught a bus back to San Jose Saturday night – it was a whirlwind tour to be sure and I was completely exhausted by the time I arrived home but I can’t wait to go back.
So on a more serious note, a retraction is in order. It appears that I got some of my facts wrong regarding La Carpio. A missionary to La Carpio stumbled upon my blog and emailed me with some corrections regarding the specifics of that community – to be fair, it’s not as though I was making facts up, I wrote down what was relayed to me by both Ticos and other missionaries. I am grateful to her though; I want to be sure I’m reporting things correctly. Anyway, here are the real facts regarding La Carpio:
La Carpio isn’t built on a landfill – the community has been around for 15 years and is made up of squatters, both Nicaraguan and Tico. The Landfill on the other hand has been around for about 5 years. Thus as you can see it would be impossible for a community to be built 15 years ago on something that was established only 5 years ago. My friend Lalo, the missionary that we work with, told me that La Carpio is nestled between the landfill and a quarry. In Costa Rica squatters gain rights to the land after 12 years, not 2 (I think I misheard that when it was told to me the first time because I was told in Spanish – I think I heard dos but the Tico said doce), regardless though, no resident of La Carpio actually owns their land. So there you have it, the corrections – I’m pretty sure everything else I wrote about is accurate.
Speaking of La Carpio, Lalo the missionary came to our chapel to speak last Thursday about his work there and he brought along two of my favorite kids, Lapiz and Roberto to help lead worship. These kids, mind you, are 12 and they got up in front of a chapel packed with scary looking Gringos and sang four different songs. I was so proud of them – they were pretty pumped too, I think it was a neat experience for them to be out and using their talents in front of total strangers. Later that day as we rode in the microbus from San Jose to La Carpio I sat in the back with Lapiz, Roberto and Maycol and belted out all the classic hits from Neal Diamond and Michael Jackson – they knew all the words but had no idea what they were saying, it was pretty hilarious.
One other quick La Carpio anecdote – we (the other lang. students that work in La Carpio with me) were in the microbus headed back towards San Jose when we pulled up next to a garbage truck that was towing a fire-truck; a toy one. They were having a grand old time trying to keep the toy on all four wheels as they zipped down the highway – it made me laugh so I rolled down my window and shouted my encouragement to them…and snapped a photo.
La Carpio Photos for the week:

Today's smile brought to you by the color blue...

...a close-up...

...holding up under pressure...

....sour face.

More Manuel Antonio Photos:


...hermit crab city...


Ok, that’s all for this week, we really jumped around I know, but there was no real unifying theme to tie it all together….is there ever? Tune in next week to read about the hazards of public transit, the hazards of walking and the panoply of smells that greet me each day. Peace!
- Matt


Steph said…
You sound like an interesting guy but we'll have to meet you up close and personal like to fully determine that.
signing off as Hoops and Yo-yo
(Kendra's brother and sister-in-law)

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