A day in the life of homestay: part II

Now where were we?


Right, you were walking to school

8:55 - Arrive at the mission
Kiss your English good bye for the day. Throw your stuff in your classroom, say Hola to everyone (and pretend kiss on the right-hand cheek while one arm bracing - this only occurs between females, or between females and males. Never males and males), including the other 3 students, the 4 Spanish teachers, the cook, the director, and the admin assistant. Yes, your lips get sore.
9:00 - CISA daily devotional
Sing at least one song, one student reads from the bible (you hope it isn't you), and a group prayer.
9:15 - Spanish class
Do all sorts of things to keep it interesting.

But, in all honesty, you'll be frustrated a lot of the time. Thank goodness your proff and spouse are both patient and fun. You must keep in the back of your mind that language is a linchpin to a lot of the service you do here. Learning is a great opportunity to build relationships, many people are willing to talk to you because your not intimidating - because you talk like a child - but you realize that you need to improve to be more effective in the long run.
And be respectable, at the least.

Frustrating? Check.

Essential? Check.

So... Vamos.

10:50 - Recess
Enjoy beautiful coffee and some sort of sweet (baked or fresh from the fruit tree) snack.

11:00 - Back to class...
If it's Tuesday or Thursday, you have a conversation class for an hour. H*, a well read man, will challenge you with two "controdictary" versus from the bible. Your challenged to state your opinion to the group and build off of each others points. This is very difficult to undertake in another language. Very.

If it is Wednesday, you have Escuchando (listening) time. H* does an hour sermon and requests feedback/your opinion. The difference between this and a Tues or Thurs is that it is more listening, and easier listening. I love this hour.

If it is Friday, you have an hour of presentations. Each class, which means each of the other students then Tom and Candice, does a presentation for the others on cultural aspects of Costa Rica or their home country.

Things can get interesting.

But it is a nice way to end the school week.

12:00 - Lunch Outside
Because you are still in homestay, you get your lunch cooked for you at the school. G*, a fabulous woman, and even better cook, has whipped you up some wonderful Costa Rican cuisine while singing and dancing in the kitchen. She loves making you smile, calls you "Her love" when catching you doing the dishes, and puts up with your pigeon Spanish. She can also be found dancing with the broom outside your classroom window. Unfortunately, she often stays home for the day because of her bad shoulder.
12:20 Do the dishes
While G* isn't looking.


A day in the life of homestay: part I

I thought it might be fun to do a blog series about life here at Homestay in Costa Rica. There are a few things just are just a little different than our routine was in Canada, and I'd love to share 'em!


Today we will cover from 4:00am - 8:20am

4:00am - It's still very dark. Your house mother and father wake and prep him for work. They do this routine quite quietly, but many people in the neighborhood are doing the same, which wakes the dogs, which tend to bark. A lot.
4:45 - your house father catches his bus to work. Your house mother tends to her chores.
5:00 - dogs bark
5:50 - roosters crow
6:29 - dogs bark
6:50 - roosters still doing their thing
7:00 - alarm sounds, do your quick morning reading
7:20 - hop in the shower.
Now, this is no ordinary shower you're having. You see, hot water tanks are an odd thing to see in this country. Cold water only, except for some showers. Some showers have add-on shower heads that contain a heating element. Yup, cold water runs over this hot (electrical!) element to create a comfortable temperature shower. You get some choices: actual water pressure with cold delivery, or hot and trickle. But, considering electricity is relatively expensive, you actually shower like this: Turn on water, rinse (30sec), turn off shower. Lather, suds up, shampoo hair. Turn shower on, rinse (repeat process for conditioner if necessary).
7:30 - prep self, cloths, and allow spouse to shower and do the same.
7:49 - Kiss your English good-bye.
7:50 - coffee time.
Your house mother is patiently waiting for you to come take some (superb) coffee from the freshly brewed pot. She knows you like yours black so you go first, then the minute you both take your mug-full, she takes the pot out and dumps a mound of sugar inside, gives it a stir, and now has a pot of coffee ready for drop-in house guest for the day. Like relatives, or the hydro workers, or the water line layers, or...
8:00 - Breakfast and morning Spanish lesson.
Your house mother usually makes gallo pinto, but this can be switched up with empanadas about once a week. Both are hot off the press (she manages to whip these up in the same amount of time it takes you to grab a mug and pour the not-yet-candied coffee for you and your husband) and often accompanied with a banana. While whipping up the hot meal and pouring some juice, your fantastically entertaining house mother also sees to it that you get a Spanish lesson before (Spanish) class. A well animated and often hilarious story is delivered.
8:15 - Realize your going to be late.
Gather the Spanish text books, umbrellas, suntan lotion, sunglasses, and flip flops
8:20 - You're out the door.
Head out the back door and into the most beautiful surroundings ever. You've got a 35mins brisk walk to do.


DO go chasing waterfalls

So, we are in training for the Chirripo outreach project. The project that entails hiking through the mountains for hours to reach a remote community (or two, or three.. depending on how many days we can hike for).

Tom and I are in poor shape, hence the training.

Yesterday we went for a practice hike with a fellow student. She took us for a (straight up!!!) walk. The views were amazing, but my lungs, heart, legs, arms, head, and feet were not amazing. Regardless, we did about an hour uphill then decided that was enough for the day and turned around to go back (straight down!!!). But then we saw our friend with his horse. In true Costa Rican style, we were asked if we want to see his farm.

Well sure!
"It's very close."He says.

Yeah... Right.

My pathetic un-in-shape self actually got to ride his horse.

I've decided I like horses again.

Anyways, we go check out his cattle farm. It was gorgeous!

So he asks, "Would you like to see a waterfall?"

Well, sure!

"It's close."

Yeah... Right.

But check out the hike there!!!

It was such a blast.
My word. What a gift!!!

And we didn't even reach this yet:

An amazing venture.


But then there's the sad reality behind many of the beautiful peices of land here. Our friend told us he's sold the land. An offer from "very rich people in Canada" with the plan to to take it over next week, and build cabanas along the river side, have a zip-line down the trail, and canyoning off the side of the waterfall. This is the reality for many of the beautiful areas in Costa Rica. Because of the increase in demand (due to foreigners seeking business opportunities) and increase in living costs due to foreigners moving into the area, nationals are finding it harder and harder to keep up.

Then along comes a "very rich" foreigner to scoop up their land... With the intent of exploiting it for tourism opportunities and the inevitable garbage that accompanies 'development'. While all the while claiming echo friendly.

On the happier side, I feel so blessed that we were able to take in this pristine untouched area... leaving nothing behind except echos of laughter and taking nothing but precious photographs... before it is developed by foreigners.


Just a reminder

Updates are happening over here too


What a wonderful anniversary!

This morning, during our gathering at the Spanish school, we were asked in Spanish how we were feeling this morning (practicing responding to questions, etc). I mentioned that I was pretty happy, considering it was our anniversary. People clapped, and we moved on to the next person. Never really thought much of it.

Then our teacher 'forgot' about class-break (10:50-11:00).
(Oh well. We were having fun, right?)

Then, when we were dismissed, we found this:

With the other students, teachers, and cooks circled around it.

Like a birthday, it's customary to sing Happy Birthday (except in reference to the birth day of our union, of course) on an anniversary.
And, like a birthday, we were to blow out the candles

But, like a wedding, we had to cut the cake, hand-in-hand.

And if that wasn't enough, Micheal, an American student, played us a song on his harmonica. Although slightly different to us, this enthralled the Costa Ricans, as they have never heard the harmonica played live before.

The whole thing was pretty special. And completely melted my heart.

How amazingly nice was that, though!?!?! For them to get a cake and celebrate our anniverary with us! Now that made our day super extra special!


To my handsome, honorable, and humorous husband:

On this day, two years ago, we were joined as one...

And that was the happiest day of my life.

And over our yearS of marriage we've faced trials and endured numerous fantastic times together.

And have grown closer through it all.

And today we celebrate two glorious years together, and do so in the middle. of. nowhere. Latin America.

And I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.

And I mean that in a good way.

Much love,
Your Wife of Two Beautiful Years


technology rocks

In reference to Tiffany's comment over here, technology rocks! Already e-mails and blog comments from friends and family back home have provided such an encouragement. Thank you so much. Please, keep 'em coming! I have a pretty good idea that things are going to get tough around here in a few weeks/months, which I'm guessing will coincide with the timeline in which people back home start 'forgetting' about us out here. That said (I know, I've been using that lead-in a little too much lately), I don't want to focus more on communicating with those back in Canada than with those around us here in Tuis.


The GPS reads...

9 50 46.80 N 83 35 47.90 W

Check it out on Google Maps.


Twitter Talk

To those of you new to Twitter, check out the right hand side of this page.
Did you see 'em?
Those are short updates as to what's going on with us... We'll be using those to keep people updated when we don't have time to make a whole blog post, or when the internet is too sketchy to get a good enough connection to load our blog to post on it.

No need to apply to Twitter to reply to a 'tweet', simply reply in the comment section the usual way under a post.


It's time

To leave Manitoba :(
To go to Montreal :)
To leave Montreal :(
To go to Costa Rica :D

Yes! The whole month has past...
We've farmed
and visited
and raosted through +35degree weather
and quad'ed
and cabin'ed
and amazing raced..
We've visited in Winnipeg
and in Portage ;)
and in Winkler
and headed out to Elkhorn to celebrate our 2nd anniversary (early, I know, but I'm not too sure how much time we'll get to ourselves on Tuesday, our first day of Spanish class)
We've 80th birthday'ed
and drove through a snow storm
and 35th birthday'ed
and cottaged
and went to a weddin'
and cottaged again
and ate lots of pupkin pie
and retreated to the woods
and had great dinners, with great friends, and fantastic family.

And now this beautiful time has come to a close.
How wonderful these past few weeks have been!

Anyone up for a wave??? See you at the airport at 5:00!!


What's going on where

Yet another blog is up and running regarding CR updates. The TomCandiceandCostaRica blog will be dismantled soon as Costa Rica fully merges into our lives. Then, weekly updates to the church will be posted on a seperate blog ( leccostarica.blogspot.com) while the daily details will be posted here, on our regular ol' site.

K, got it? Lets summarize:

This blog
- most the good stuff and daily stuff and stuff for family and friends.
LEC Costa Rica blog - weekly updates for extended church family, supporters, and anyone else who's interested... Mostly for those that are most interested in the Mission's happenings and not so much in posts about "The BIGGEST Toad EVER" type material.
TomCandiceandCostaRica - will only be around for another week or so.

Question: I'm actually contemplating setting up a twitter account... I'm wondering if it may be easier to update people on what we are up to on a more regular basis if I used a smaller medium, like twitter... And sketchy internet connection won't disable all communication considering I may be able to twitter from our CR cell.
What do you think???


A love list.

It's interesting to note all the things that I love in my day-to-day life here in Montreal. For me, at least. So often when we were living abroad, we would note things that we loved about where we were living and working. So why not do the same while living here?

Here's my love list about days I go to the office.
  1. The commuter train. It's punctual, safe, clean, and warm. The seats are comfy and I'm able to get a half hour of work done on the way in, and then again on the way home. This makes for a much shorter day at the office. I love that I get to break up my workday and be paid for my commuting time.
  2. The rush of the metro when it comes out of the tunnel to pick up passengers. The wind, the sound, the blurry streak. It stops, and we all step forward. It kind of gives you a rush.
  3. Picking up a skinny Chai tea Lattes from the Second cup on the walk to the office.
  4. Walking up the steps of the building. I know the appreciation of this one will probably fade quicker than the others, but I still get a little rush out of "I'm going to work. I'm getting paid. As a professional. In a clinic that helps at risk pregnant women in Montreal."
  5. The francophone work place. Yes this has it's challenges, but it's amazing how much the language acquisition and survival skills I learned to use while in Spanish settings have translated into this French setting.
  6. Being productive during the day in a readily recognized, tangible way. Sometimes the hardest part about mission work was going to bed at the end of the day and not being able to place your finger on what exactly you did that day. Worked? Most definitely! But in a much different way than when you are working for an employer. During my days at the office (or working from home) it's nice to be able to point to something and say 'That. I did that today." I do miss many of the aspects of mission work, but this post is to focus on what I'm loving about what I'm doing right now.
  7. Chatting with Tom online. We're connected to each other pretty much all day via gmail chat... and I love it. It's so nice to get home at the end of the day and already have a good idea of how his day went.
  8. Heading home. No matter how well my day went, it's always nice to be homeward bound. I leave at 3:30 to catch the train, which gets me home in good time to get a homemade healthy supper on the go and tidy up before Tom gets home.
  9. Tom getting home. My heart still skips a beat when I hear his key in the door. No matter where in the world we are.
  10. Not having to always work in the evenings as well. This is the first time in, well, ever that I haven't had to study during the evening or run a dozen programs from our home throughout the week. We do participate in programs, and will be hosting a weekly one soon, but the higher-than-ever-before down time is so appreciated right now. But I'm sure that will come to an end before we know it!

Wordless Wednesday


Season of Change

Harvest has always been special to me.

As a little girl, I would play on the floor of the combine with a little dump-truck full of grain while my mom and I rounded the fields, and my dad drove the (real) truck. As the years past, so did life. Soon I was rounding the fields by myself. The long hours on the slow-moving combine were often spent contemplating the up-coming year. Harvest has always aligned with big changes.

I remember worrying for hours on end about starting grade 9, then grade 10, 11, and then 12. My graduating year! I still distinctly remember the harvest season right before I went off to university in Brandon... That was the first year I couldn't help to completion. The next years' combining hours were spent contemplating Winnipeg and the big bad University of Manitoba. Then I got got a summer job in the city, and no longer came home for the summer. Thankfully I had a boss that would grant time off when the weather was good and the harvest was ready.

Then, the harvest after I graduated from university, I rounded the fields in the combine for the last time as a Baker. Yet again harvest was upon us and big changes were on the horizon. I drove those hours dreaming of the up-coming wedding, and how life would be like in Montreal with Tom.

I also wondered if it would be my last time helping at harvest.

The following year we were unable to make it back.

But this year, we were here!
Back and better (two for one special).

But how ironic that changes are on the horizon... Thank goodness for those long hours on the combine to contemplate!


Blogger MB

Shall I meet some of you ladies tonight?!
What can I bring?!
What time are we gathering?!

And, to answer one of my biggest questions, can someone please e-mail me the address? ;)

Oh yeah, and are any other guys going?

!!!Can't wait to meet you!!!