Sunday, May 11, 2008

About Costa Rica and our first week at CISA

I guess we were warned, but it didn't prepare us for the shock to our system. We heard Costa Ricans get up early but we figured that meant SOME Costa Ricans and that they would be quiet. We were wrong.

Since it is warm here year-around people use the outdoors as part of their living space. When the sun rises at 5:30am people come out of their houses and start their day. Our neighbor is adding a back porch to their house; hammering and sawing started before 6am.

The animals here seem to be confused. This morning a cacophony of birds began chirping, chattering and singing at 3:45am and continued until 6:00. The roosters seem to understand this culture too since they crow from shortly after midnight until the sun rises and then they stop.

This was our first week of Language School at Christian Immersion Spanish Academy (CISA) As with most of Costa Rica, we've felt warmly welcomed. Although we came knowing almost no Spanish we are excited about how much we have learned already. The staff assures us, via hand motions and Spanish baby-talk, that after four months we will be chattering away in Espanol (I wish I could find how to include the "~" on the "n").

Our tuition includes a furnished three bedroom rental house. It's small by US standards but perfect for us. We have kept Tanner and Laura's favorite toys packed until we arrived here and once we unpacked Tanner's toy Thomas trains he never wanted to leave the house, crying all the way to language school for the first three days.

We even enjoyed our first houseguest. Josh, an intern with eMi-AL, spent the first couple day with us helping us adjust to Tuis and giving him an opportunity to visit the friends he made while he was a language school student here a few months ago.

We walk about ten minutes to language school each day. The kids have a separate class where they do crafts and play games. Just like our classes, theirs are all in Spanish.

CISA is in a small rural town called Tuis. The town is surrounded by sugar cane fields and coffee plantations. The closest air-conditioning is in the neighboring town of La Suiza at the bank, not the best place for a family outing.

We have learned of a couple places with swimming pools where we could take the kids in Turrialba, the larger city about a half-hour drive away. And La Suiza even has ice-cream available.

We are so grateful for our neighbor Mareya who helps us figure out our washing machine and lets us park our car in her yard. We're grateful for Andres who guided our tour of Turrialba as we made our initial shopping venture to get the supplies we need to set up a household. And for Andres' six year old daughter Catalina, who has come to visit twice already this week.

Cindy is doing so well on her Spanish and is digging into the studies. She enjoys the challenge and enjoys talking in general so she has good incentive to practice. She will learn much more quickly than I will since talking is the last thing I want to do when I am tired.

Our comprehension class on Thursday read a story totally in Spanish. Hormiga is pronounced or-mee-ga. I had not heard this word before. It means ant. However, I had heard the word amiga (u-mee-ga), which means a female friend. The teacher illustrated the story by drawing the ants and an anthill, but since I thought we were talking about amigas, the anthill looked like a volcano. I spent the entire class wondering why these friends were running up the volcano and jumping in. Cindy had to explain it to me after class.

My first Costa Rican sunburn is peeling already.


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