Friday will mark the first month of my Peace Corps experience in Costa Rica. Time is a strange concept here. My first month of training has flown by and yet it feels like I have been gone for a lot longer than a month.
My experience so far has been exhilarating, yet exhausting. I feel so free, yet I have not had this many rules or restrictions since high school. I feel more confident in myself than ever before, yet I am living in a culture very different than my own, where everything I do is closely observed and noted. I miss my family, UD friends and St. Louis friends very much, yet I find it very difficult to explain to everyone what I am actually experiencing and feeling here now.
I spent my first week in Tres Rios, Costa Rica at a beautiful mountain retreat. Friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime started here. I have never felt such a close and comfortable bond so fast with so many different people. I have so much love and respect for each individual in Tico 26. As our country desk officer said, “You will never have to explain your rationale or reason why you joined the Peace Corps to anyone in this room. They get it.”
Our group of 31 volunteers (16 Youth Development and 15 Community Economic Development) were divided into groups to live in different communities around San Jose. I was so happy when I found out I would be living in San Miguel with my good friends David and Montana!
I live with a wonderful family and have a younger sister and brother who I adore. I have Spanish and culture class Monday, Wednesday, Friday in San Miguel with David and Montana. On Tuesdays and Thursdays (and some Saturdays) I take the bus to San Jose for CORE and technical training with the entire Tico 26 group. I won’t bore all of you with details but if you are interested, training is actually really practical and fun.
I went to El Roble, Puntarenas to visit two other current volunteers as part of training. The trip was a great break from the normal, structured routine of training. Both volunteers were amazing and really patient in answering all my questions. It was a great insight to what the next two years will be like. The reality of the challenges that lie ahead started to sink in during the days I spent in El Roble. We also spent a day at a BEAUTIFUL beach close to their community. I saw amazing tropical birds and crocodiles. I cannot believe how lucky I am to call this country home for the next two years!
I have experienced two national holidays since I arrived. The celebration of the annexation of Nicoya and the Romeria. I went to two primary schools to watch them perform actos civicos (dancing and reading poems) for the annexation of Nicoya. I was lucky enough to see my two host siblings perform! The Romeria is a pilgrimage that over 2 million people (over half Costa Rica’s population) take part in every year to the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Los Angelos. I walked over 15 miles from San Jose to Cartago. It was amazing to witness the power of faith of the Costa Rican people. I had a lot of fun joining in the cultural and event with good friends!
As the first month comes to a close, I am feeling confident and excited about what lies ahead!