|The view from my home
Today marks the second week I have been here in San José. I thought it would be fitting to make a fairly lengthy and super informative post about my time this far in Costa Rica, and what I am expecting for the rest of my time here. Although, here is a disclaimer for those of you who may not know me too well…, this post is going to be very “Christian”, so if that throws you off a little, don’t let it, because Jesus loves you. 🙂 and would really like to have your love in return! Okay, now that I got that out there….brace yourselves, this is gonna be a long post.
I AM LOVING COSTA RICA!
Okay, where do I even start. Let’s go through a normal day in the life of Dakota.
In the morning, I wake up around 6:00 am. I would let this fact disturb me if it weren’t for the fact that it seems like the entire world was already up at 5 with the sun. The dogs next door and the birds outside the window most certainly were. I then try to master the shower situation (which, for me, is either skin scorchingly hot or ice cube cold). After this, I mosey my way out to the kitchen where my host mom (who is one of the most amazing people I have met) has prepared for me a breakfast of eggs, ham, toast, and the freshest fruit I’ve ever had. This morning was watermelon, tomorrow might be mango. I leave the house and walk down the beautiful lane to a street where I catch the bus to head over to campus.
|the lane to my house
I’ll take this time to describe the city life here in San José. Crime is an issue, as with most larger cities, but the way it is handled here is quite different. Every house I have seen here has a “porton”, which translates loosely to gate. It is a heavily locked metal door that reminds you of a jail cell, or those big walls they pull over shops in the mall when they’re closed. Inside of the porton is either a yard, or in my family’s case a small porch, with another door leading into the house. As far as I know, the neighborhood in which I live is fairly safe, but there is not really a “safe” part of this city for a “Gringo” (white person, foreigner). That being said, everywhere I go in the city I have to make sure that I guard my belongings and move fairly swiftly. The least I can look like a tourist the better, as the people here know that the tourists have the money. I keep thinking that in the future, if I am ever married, I probably wouldn’t choose to bring my wife here if I could avoid it. From catcalls to just blatant staring, men definitely enjoy to make a gringa woman feel a little uncomfortable. No me gusta.
I don’t mean to put a bad spin on Costa Rica, or San Jose for that matter, but the facts are that there are not many white people who live here. However, there are a lot who visit here for vacation. That means that the general idea of a white person here is a rich, spoiled, uninformed person. The people who I have encountered here in San Jose have given me a lot of reason to be on their side on this issue, as I have had to repeat many times to people who ask that I actually have a job in America, and that I work to pay for my things. It’s actually pretty funny, the stereotypes that are set forth. Sadly, a lot of them are true.
OKAY… back to my day. I hop on my bus labeled “Cedros” (the small street/neighborhood in which I live). I pay my bus fare of 250 colones, or about 50 cents. I find a seat and brace myself as bus transportation is something that would probably make my grandmother cry. Bumpy, scary, and unsure is how I felt for the first week on a bus, and now I can’t help but laugh when I see some of the moves my bus driver pulls. A cool story, one morning there was an old man playing classical guitar and singing on my bus, and he was so talented that I couldn’t pass up giving him money. I wish I would have recorded it.
I hop off the bus at the stop for the university, and navigate myself to the Casa de Idiomas for my 4 hour class of Spanish tought by a graduate student here at the University of Costa Rica. The class is mostly a review grammatically for me, but it is very challenging to learn to understand and speak the language efficiently. I am getting very close, thankfully.
After class, friends and I usually find a local place to eat. There are many, many restaurants here and all of them are affordable. I spend 4 dollars for a pretty good sized pizza, three toppings, and a drink the other day. Find me a place in USA where that happens :).
Walking around the city is a strange feeling, because there is so much that is new to me each and every day. It is strange feeling the glances that I catch from all of the people here only because I am most definitely a minority. It isn’t a bad thing, it is just very different for me. The building on the street are usually a little worse looking than a normal building in the States, but that isn’t to say that the company isn’t doing well. In my experience so far, some of the most run down places have the best products and food. It’s strange. I really enjoy seeing how the buildings are built. They are all scrunched together, with tin roofs, because it rains just about every afternoon here in San Jose, like clockwork. The traffic here is really dangerous, as I feel scared crossing the street most of the time. Pedestrians don’t have the right of way. Cars don’t have the right of way. If you’re stopped at a red light people will honk at you to go. It’s loco. Haha. I then catch a bus and head home for the day.
Upon returning home, I have a lot of time to reflect on my day, do my homework, watch television with my host family, and eat a dinner that is tasty and usually consists of rice, beans, and a meat of some kind. (I am definitely not complaining about the food, I love it so much.) I usually relax and watch the rain for a while. I really enjoy my room and I am thankful that I live with a very nice family and that I feel very safe in the house.
Okay, stuff is gonna get a little spiritual now. 🙂
Coming into this season, I had a pretty clear word from the Lord that it would be a time different from what I have experienced in the past. I knew that it would be similar to Jesus’ time in the wilderness (thanks Andrew Whalen for that word), and that it would be a time to really find out who I am in the presence of God without leaning onto anyone else for support.
Yeah, that is all happening.
The first week here I an immense amount of free time. I was too scared to venture out into the city alone, and so I stayed in my room for about 3 or 4 days. The time I had I spent praying, reading, and seeking the Lord. I can’t remember a time when I had been so scared, so exposed, or so lost. I remember thinking, “Okay, Jesus. If what you said is true, let’s do this. You’re my rock, my comfort, my home, my helper, my shelter… so it doesn’t matter than I am halfway around the world from the ones I love.. it matters that You’re here with me.” I knew at that time what I needed to do in this season… I need to be fully invested in the time I have here, in this season of sowing. I know that it will go quickly, it will be but a vapor, but I know that it will be monumental for the rest of my life. I can surely say that the Lord is with me here in Costa Rica, and that I have confidence that He will continue to go with me, walk with me, and protect me. I can see the way He is growing in me, and I know that He is hearing my prayers for the ones who are dear to my heart, and answering them.
I’m finding my identity in who He is. I am building my foundation upon the rock that is higher.
“I have a plan for you… It’s gonna be wild, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be full of Me.”
Sure, homesickness happens. I surely miss Jacy more than I thought I ever would (and trust me… that is a whole stinking lot). I miss a lot of things. But the thing is, those feelings are but a vapor in the grand scheme of things. The Lord has a plan, and in this part of the plan, He has me in Costa Rica, praying into the rest of my life, and living out a wild, spanish-adventure-filled life while I am here.
And I couldn’t be happier.
As far as plans go, I went to a volcano last weekend, have been to two museums, and this weekend I am going on a three day ziplining, waterfall swimming, hiking adventure in Monteverde. Google it… it’s gonna be awesome.
I plan on going to some beaches, and do whatever else comes up here in Costa Rica… after all the motto is Pura Vida!!