September 25, 2014

Not much to report, it’s been a pretty slow week.  I spent 2 hours this morning just wandering around the neighborhood, down to the bank for some cash, past the Catholic high school and the convent next door.  The nuns here dress all in white and don’t seem nearly as intimidating.  I meandered through the Moravian cemetery, also all white.  The graves are all above ground and covered in white tile and brightly colored flowers, not at all gloomy.

There is the sweetest little dog there, tied outside the office.  All the dogs here are kept tied, you see them outside all sorts of businesses, and kept more as guard dogs than pets.  They aren’t abused, they all look healthy enough, and get food and water, but they don’t get much attention that I can see.  Most of them go crazy when someone walks by, jumping and barking, but this one just looked at me and wagged his tail.  I had to go over and pet him and when I did, he wiggled so hard he fell over, just so excited.  I wonder if he just stays there tied by the graves all day, every day, while his owner is inside working, and if anyone every talks to him or pets him.  The thought depressed me more than the graveyard itself.

Mary has been scrubbing the house and the apartment for two days and doing load after load of laundry to get ready for the other guests arriving tomorrow.  I’ve offered to help but she won’t let me; the most I can do is wash some dishes when she’s not looking.  And she wanted my opinion on some new furnishings for the apartments.  I’m going downtown with her tomorrow to meet the new norteamericanos, as we are called here. They’ll be staying for a month and Mary thought she might need me to help her with English.

Otherwise I’ve been working on homework and my resume.  I sent in two applications today for TEFL teaching jobs in China, where I’m hoping to find a place sometime early next year.  One was with a recruitment company actually, and one with America Town Education, which I really like the sound of.  They have some good benefits, like you get 12 hours of free Chinese lessons every week.  I’d like to learn some of the language while I’m there.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

IMG_2860

September 4, 2014

Busy, busy week, but I’m starting to get my bearings around here. Everything you could possibly need is walking distance from the house. The different neighborhoods are like individual towns: they all have their own centro (downtown), with a church and a park in the center. On Monday Mary and I walked to Moravia, maybe 1 1/2  miles from the house, and stopped by the Banco Nacional.  The lines were insane; apparently the first day of the month is the busiest.  Mary had some business to take care of so it took an hour and half, but I did get some colones from the cajero automatica, or ATM:

IMG_2588

 So much prettier than our money.  The banks that I’ve seen have much stronger security too.  To enter, you have to walk one by one into these security scanners, wait for the door to close, then the door on the other side will open to let you out.  Anything bigger than a purse has to be left in lockers on the outside:

IMG_2587

After the bank we walked around downtown Moravia, which is so quaint.  We stopped at the butcher shop and got some chicharrones, which are these little crispy fried pork bites-delicious!  They’re typically served on salad, which Mary made for dinner with awesome homemade pico de gallo on shredded cabbage with boiled yuca.

IMG_1711

Most salads seem to be made with cabbage instead of lettuce.  I actually found a recipe that looks exactly the same; I’m trying to keep track of things so I can cook them later: <http://lostandfoundfamily.com/making-costa-rican-chicharrones&gt; .

Tuesday we walked into Guadalupe, probably about a mile and a half in the opposite direction.  Stopped by the shoe repair shop, the post office-tiny-and a few other little shops.  The mornings are beautiful, sunny and warm but not too hot.  Perfect to walk around.  Then I usually stay in and do schoolwork in the afternoons.  So far the stuff we’re covering has been mostly review, but I’ve forgotten most of what I knew about Adobe Illustrator and they’ve made a lot of changes to their software in the last few years so it’s been good to practice.

This morning Carlos and I walked around Moravia some more.  A different direction this time; we saw the Justice Department a few blocks away, and some residential blocks, with a great view of the mountains.  I love how every single house is different, and beautiful:

IMG_2597

IMG_2599

IMG_2600

 The sidewalks are another matter however.  It’s as if they poured all the sidewalks in the city 50 years ago and then forgot about them.  No sign of maintenance, they’re cracked and completely dissolve into muddy gravel in some places, even in the really nice neighborhoods.  The tree roots grow underneath and tilt them so one side is always higher than the other. We saw everything from flowers to tomatoes to watermelon plants growing out of the cracks. Walking around the block is a constant balancing act trying not to twist an ankle or fall into an open pit (apparently people steal the grates over them to sell as scrap metal).

When we got home Mary showed me how to make picadillo de papas:

Fry about 1/2 lb of ground chorizo sausage, add about 1 lb of finely chopped potatoes, 1/2 onion, a red chile pepper, garlic, curry, cumin, and some other spice I haven’t seen before and apparently is only sold in Costa Rica.  Add a couple cups of water and let it boil down till everything’s soft.  Then roll everything up in corn tortillas.  Es muy rico!

This afternoon I went with Mary to her English class at her church in Moravia.  It’s a small group of 8  or so and they’re a lot of fun.  The teacher wanted me to read some of the exercises out loud so they could hear my accent and they asked me all kinds of questions and told me all the places I need to see in Costa Rica.