Monday, July 26, 2010

It's been over a month!

So in the last two days there has been activity at our house. This is a multiple choice question.

(It is hard to see them, we went to take a picture but they asked us not to, so it is out the window of our house)

A. Picking guava fruit
B. Fishing in the river
C. Going pee
D. Cutting up a 2 day dead cow that died of swollen head

If you picked D, you win a plate of rice and beans when Joe and I come and visit. One of the family cows died from swollen head. They think it is because it ate a plastic bag. Vets are too expensive to call in from Turrialba and at times cannot even save the animal so they don't bother calling. The cow had been lying on the ground dying, kicking every once in a while. Today a group of indigenous people asked if they could cut it up for meat. They pulled it 30 feet away from the milking barn down by the river and butchered it. Joe went down to take a picture, I couldn't make myself go out and look, but when he asked to take a picture they said no. That was our excitement for the day. He said when they butchered it it was all nice and neat. They hauled it away in burlap sacks. I don't think I will be walking in to town via the river for a few days.

This is one of our town's cowboys. I was hoping it was the Marlboro Man but it wasn't, my camera was already out and he was excited to get his picture taken. A killer version of the Marlboro man lives here though. I've never seen him off his horse. One day I'll get a photo of him and post it.

Joe and I's goal for the end of June until the end of July was to not leave our community for even a day, and we did it. We have to admit we are craving food that is not rice and beans. We eat all of our meals in our home, there is only one cafe here and it serves the typical plate of the day, rice and beans. Usually Joe and I buy vegetables and fruit from the trucks that come in and sell but they haven't been around in the last few weeks. None of the corner shops have any fruit and vegetables. Luckily the orange trees are finally having a few ripe ones and we are loving it.The photo above is of one of our sports mornings. During the 2 week summer break for the school kids we asked permission to use the football field. This day we taught the kids how to play kickball. They loved it and keep asking us when there will start giving them classes of physical education. They don't have it in the school so they are very excited at the prospect.

Since our family knows that we exercise our host father Arturo wanted to show off his old training exercises when he played soccer. I felt like I was in the middle of a male muscle competition. Joe is doing situps. Testosterone.
This little green lizard loves to crawl on our clothes on the clothesline. We just think he's cute.
This is another multiple choice question.

What is the expression on Joe's face???
(Hint: For those of you who have lived in another country or traveled you might know)

A. Excitement for Breakfast Rice and Beans
B. Trying to dance a traditional dance
C. Morning prayers
D. Oh no......I think I have intestinal problems and need to hurry .......

Yes the answer to this multiple choice is again D. I took this photo as I was convulsing with laughter on the floor.

The last few weekends there has been a big soccer tournament with 8 teams in our town. This guy is strolling in from Tsipiri a 2 hour walk away. He started walking a little slower and then a little slower until he was walking even with us. Then he kept looking over, we knew he just wanted to check us out and start up a conversation.
A Sunday on the road to Tsipiri. When we don't have meetings or events for the day we like to take off on strolls to get to know the local communities outside of our town.
Our brother Yeison 10 years old and Gustavo 14 years old. Getting ready to head to the football tournament and socialize for the day. Looking sharp and looking for ladies.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Are you doing exercises???

We have been jogging! For those of you that know me (Robyn here) you know that the only reason I run is if someone is chasing me or if I have a ball in my hands. There really aren't any sports to play here, we have to ask permission to use the soccer field and usage is very limited.
So we have started running. I think it is pretty impressive. A few times a week for 20 minutes sandwiched into a hilly hour or more walk. It is a nice escape and release.

We get a lot of looks when we are out jogging. The other day as we were jogging someone flat out asked us, "Are you doing exercises?" We were a little stunned at the question: we were jogging, in exercise clothes, and sweat was pouring from our faces.

Jogging for pleasure is not too common here.

English Textbook Fish Testes Sperm

We had our second English class for UNED, the studying for your high school diploma course and came across a hilarious moment in the third chapter when it teaches how to use dictionaries.

Ok, let's explain one of these definitions and show you how to use it in English. Here is a short one. Milt.................................................................................. oh wait a second...............ahhhhh..............I don't think I know how to explain this one......let's find a new one.

milt (milt), n. 1. the sperm-containing secretion of fish testes. 2. fish testes and sperm ducts when filled with milt.

We thought it was a bit of an odd one to try and explain in our Intermediate Spanish. Who knows what they thought we were trying to say. We lack the vocabulary to explain it properly. It took a few minutes for us to contain our laughter.

English class went well for a few students. It was the second week out of the 7 sessions and some people did their homework. Others still had not bought their books and it is a self study course, we are the tutors that are just supposed to answer questions. We also got a few new students this week, and some registered Saturday and said they are coming for the 3rd class. We added 4 extra sessions that are not part of the program, because this is the second semester of the program and no one had studied the first half of the book. We need to cover 3 chapters in 1 1/2 hours and so far we have done 2 in each level. We'll see how it all ends up. Hopefully some of them will pass their level in October.

Settling In and Stressing over the CAT

The CAT I'm stressing over is not a a living animal, sometimes I think it is, but it is actually our community diagnostic which we have started writing. It's a beast but we have a lot of information for it, it's just the challenge of sorting through it all and figuring out which information that we have is correct.
The kitties have been officially blocked from pooping underneath our room. It only smells now when it rains or is a bit more humid. The poor things though are now outside and have been through a few battles. They have been throttled a few times. Joe and I found Gary in the morning not able to walk on his front leg, and it appeared the tom cat had left him in a pile of cow dung. He's doing better now and walking more and more on his leg.

Now that the cats are out from under the house the mice have moved in. The kitties have killed 4 to date but they aren't able to get up to the partial ceiling. Joe and I alternate our paranoid nights in bed with the flashlight checking out every scratching and nibbling sound we hear.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


The most common question we are asked is, "Are we here for Chirripó or are we here for Grano de Oro?" I think we've finally figured it out. We're here for both, and to work with groups from both to improve life for all. Why does it have to be one or the other. When people refer to Chirripó they generally are referring to the indigenous population. When people refer to Grano de Oro they talk about the "white" people. What people seem to forget is that there is indigenous people here in Grano de Oro also and all "white" people are not rich. District Chirripó is the most underdeveloped district in all of Costa Rica. Here are some images from our life here.
Above is a photo of Dixon. He has stolen our hearts. We frequently see him down at the river when we are swimming. He is an adorable little boy.
This little girl participated in the Parade of Peace during the week of Peace. The elementary school of El Seis came to Grano de Oro to Participate in the parade.
The little boy about is a typical image here. With the lack of clean drinking water, many children have parasites and a common symptom is a swollen stomach.
Above is the Grano de Oro bus stop:-)
This is the albergue or shelter run by the Catholic Church for people who come to town from the mountains and need a place to stay for the night. They don't like using the bathrooms here so you can catch people in the mornings using the banana field next door to relieve themselves.
These two photos are of Dixon. The little boy swims like a fish. In the bottom one he's taking off to go fetch his school clothes. It's a favorite of the kids here to head to the river and take a dip after school.
Below is Yeison and Gustavo our host brothers. They are 14 and 10. The younger one has the fever for swimming in the river. Do you want to go to the swimming hole is asked everyday.
This is the helicopter that is part of the Fuerza Publica. One of the police forces here. During the week it is constantly whizzing in and out of the Cabécar indigenous territory. There are 12 different sets of emergency technicians/primary care crews that each have their own territory. Frequently kids are picked up and taken to the hospital in Turrialba also. Infant mortality rate here is something like 4x the rest of Costa Rica.
The kids will be playing on the soccer field, the helicopter comes and they move to the side, then the games continue.
This is Joe after the Festival of the Arts for the high school and elementary school. We were judges in the area of song and dance.
This is a typical saddle here. People pack their horses with supplies and carry them into the mountains. They also ride on these saddles. Doesn't seem like it would be too comfortable. We like this horse because she has daisies on her forehead.This is the milk truck. There is an organization here that distributes milk to mothers in need. Every month this truck shows up and drops off boxes of dried milk powder to distribute.

Volcan Turrialba is always spouting up a little. Some days more than others.This is sweet little Jonatan. He is our neighbor and is also our cousin.
Isn't Manchas (Spots) absolutely adorable little bag of fleas and stinky poop. We love her...but it's love hate. See the side lists if you have questions.This is our host mother. That seems so funny because she is younger than us. She is tying a certain type of Orchid to a piece of wood to hang from the tree. She is a member of a group who is trying to preserve this version that is exclusive to Turrialba that is in danger. Soon we will help this group build their greenhouses and post signs in English about preserving the species and the fines that go along with removing them from the forest.
This is the center where people bring their beans to sell them. The beans from here are well known for their quality and that they are organic. It is one way for people in the mountains to make money. Unfortunately they are currently at odds a bit. There seeds are given to them from a government institution who keeps giving them late, late plantings mean the beans are harder to dry and some crops spoil. Who knows who is really at fault or what can be done to improve the situation.
Here is a baby snake. So far we've seen one snake a week. Last week they killed a terciopelo also known as a Fer de Lance on the front porch of Jonatan's house, that means right next door to us. Luckily all the snakes we have seen didn't want anything to do with us and moved right along.
Guaro a type of hard alcohol is very popular here. One of the reoccurring themes while we have been doing our community evaluation is alcoholism. We see drunks frequently and empty bottles alongside the road.
This is Dr. Meneses, Robyn's counterpart. Before moving to a location the Peace Corps sets you up with an agency in the area as a starting point. He is the supervisor for healthcare in District Chirripó.
This is a group of youth we worked with in Turrialba. PANI, the Costa Rican version of child services is trying to establish a youth group of Cabécar kids. Youth participation in Costa Rica is very low and they are working with UNICEF to try and improve it. They were a group of talented and witty young adults.
Michelle is our cousin. Absolutely adorable.
This is Joe teaching our family about the internet. They had never seen it before. We helped them setup email accounts and exposed them to the world of You Tube. They loved it.
Happy Fourth of July. Joe made his famous apple pancakes. We had nachos for lunch, not quite the same but close enough. We played soccer, baseball and football with our host family and then went to the river for a swim.
This is proof that grass grows in our room through the floor boards.Minor and his son. Minor is Joe's counterpart for the youth cooperative. They are in the process of getting legalized. Their plans are to work in tourism, transportation, start an internet cafe and make banana vinegar to sell to Japan. There goal is to provide jobs to the kids coming out of high school. As there are not many opportunities for employment here.
Toads, toads, and more toads. Toads in the kitchen and toads squished in the road.
Jonatan and Daniel. Our cousins.
The water ferry has pretty cheap rates. We either cross the river or walk through a muddy banana and coffee farm. Since we got our rubber boots the water ferry has disappeared.
These are our aunts. Elsa and Jackie. The mother of Daniel and Jonatan. This is the way back after we hiked the mountain behind them to a fire tower lookout.
The little ones didn't have so much energy afterwards so their uncle....the women aboves brother, Leo, came and picked the kids up to drive them back into town.
Dixon and his friend Jairo. On the way home after a trip to the river.
Jairo fetching us some guyabas. Gyuabas are everywhere here. They fall from the trees and rot in the streets or provide fun squishing material when in rubber boots. There is no outlet for all the fruit. It is something the youth cooperative is also hoping to work with.

Some little kids that were at the river the same day as us. They were having fun swimming and then they whipped out the shampoo and lathered up. (The older sister was in bra and underwear at a very developed age. It made us quite uncomfortable the way people were looking at her, it is a different world here as far as young girls having babies at very early ages and hooking up in open unions. The father of the host father in our household who is probably in his 50's has a child with a 13 year old girl.)
Joe milking a cow. We aren't very good at it. As you see he isn't even hitting the bucket.
The spider they herded under the floorboards. This is a 1x 4 inch board.
Rubber boots. They have become our best friends.
Joe and Arturo, our host father taking the milk to the storage tanks. There are 10 families in town with milk cows. They all pay for storage tanks and transportation into Turrialba where they sell their milk as a group. Most of it gets made into cheese. They really don't use their own milk in their house. Every couple weeks they will keep a bit of it. Kids in the states drink milk with their meals, but I have never once seen it here in Costa Rica. Usually they drink a very sugary fruit juice. One pitcher of water with some fruit or a fruit mix and 2 or 3 cups of sugar.
Did we mention it rains here. Now we are never out without our rain jacket and umbrellas. This day we just said to heck with it and started puddle jumping.
Just a horse in Finca Moravia. Most of the land was owned by one farm 15-20 years ago. Now the farm is a lot smaller but still has a lot of the valley floor.
There is a pond that is filled with lily pads.
On the weekend we took off for a stroll and had a little chill time taking pictures.
The ant trails are enormous here. Some of the ants are enormous too.
Little Mr. Jonatan showing some attitude.
Muddy puddles are everywhere.
Joe getting some good shots.
A dead snake in the road.
Well, that's our life in a nutshell so far. Who knows what the future here will have in store for us. We just blogged all afternoon to try and catch up for our time here in Costa Rica but haven't included anything from our first 3 months in training. Maybe tomorrow afternoon when the rains start.