The past couple days have been eventful to say the least. It was pretty difficult to leave the training facility where we spent 6 days bonding and getting a basic, yet slightly tedious overview of what we can KIND OF expect for the next 3 months. There are a total of 42 volunteers, which to me seems like an exceptionally large number.
I swear these people seem so familiar to me. Like I’ve met them before. Maybe I saw them in my dreams passing me by on the streets, or maybe it’s from a past life. But some how, I feel like I’ve known them my whole life and reality, it’s been 1 week. It’s probably due to the fact that we’ve finally found others that are just like us. People who didn’t listen to everyone who said “I can’t believe you’re joining the peace corps, I could never do that!” Well, we did it. We found each other on that unbeaten path.
Saturday was a pretty exciting day. I honestly wasn’t nervous to meet my family because there wasn’t much other choice. We piled our bags into a truck and started driving to make the dumps. And by dumps I mean they literally dumped us off at a stop where our host families were told to meet us. And off we went.
I got to my “stop” and was let off with four others in my novice high Spanish speaking group and basically stood in the plaza looking at families waving to us while we smiled with confusion clearly plastered on our faces. After everyone found their families, the one woman left was for me! Mi mama!
I was embarrassed to go to the truck where all of our luggage was thrown into because there she would discover how much luggage I had. In u.s. standards, I did pretty dang well for packing my life into 2 suitcases including toiletries and personal items like pictures etc, but in Latin American standards, I might as well have introduced myself as Paris Hilton. We wheeled my entire life away together, not understanding anything the other said. I heard her say taxi and that is about all I got.
We arrived to an adorable house in San Isidro where i met my host brother. I sat down to have cafecito with mi mama and her mama (or Tita). We laughed together over the confusion and I immediately felt better about not understanding a majority of what was being said. I’m not sure what we were talking about but I’m pretty sure I asked if they were going to request another volunteer after me (I’m their second), and she explained something to me and tita started crying. I grabbed her hand and we sat there. I’m not sure if I’ll ever know what was said in that conversation.
mi papa got home and we chatted over dinner. He knew some English so we shared some words and he helped me with some questions I had. Life saver! My host family has 5 dogs. I asked mi mama what kind of dogs she had and she told me French bull dogs. I was so excited to see the french bull dogs so she took me outside where I discovered that French bull dog was really a shitzou poodle type mut 😦 they said their house is like a zoo with 5 dogs, a cat, 3 birds, one chicken, one Tortuga and one fish, and I told them they now have an Aimee and they couldn’t stop laughing.
After dinner we went on a walk to get their daughter. She is 17 and besides the fact she knows no English, we hit it off. We got back to the house and turned on the under 17 women’s world cup to watch Costa Rica vs Venezuela. Costa Rica sadly lost 3-0. Mi hermana and I sat there talking in Spanish about music. She likes Taylor swift and Katy Perry. Her dad put on music to show me all different types of music they listen to in Costa Rica. Him and his daughter got up to show me the bachata and the menerengue. A situation like this would normally fill my heart with sadness but I could not stop smiling at the simple love between a father and his daughter. No matter the country, culture, or anything in between, a dad and his daughter have a special bond.
I’ve felt a lot things these past few days and as I’m laying here in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar country where I’ve spent the past nights speaking an unfamiliar language with unfamiliar people, I feel so familiar with myself. No questions. No doubts. I am in the right place. I’m not going to lie, there are things I am in a bit of a culture shock about and definitely already can see how different my life is in the states. BUT My life is already forever changed.
I guess more than anything I felt confused. Confused how life in the states seems so simple but so different. Today the water was turned off for a majority of the day (which is a normal thing when it’s hot out). Showers are taken by saved buckets of cold water. This would be an outrage in the States, but its every day life in San Isidro. Peace Corps pays families monthly to host us volunteers and by no means is it much. Despite all of this, my host dad still wouldn’t let me pay for my dinner when we went out to “Chinese food” (fried chicken and French fries).
I hope some day in the future I am able to make sense of the way I’m feeling. It’s not a longing for the states, or an unhappiness with what I’m experiencing. More than anything it’s a confusion about my own perception of what happiness is in life. Family is the basis to everything here in Costa Rica. As long as they have family, esta bien.
My mailing address is as follows:
Aimee DeBacker, PCT
300 m. Oeste de la Farmacia Fischel
El Triangula Costado Oeste del Parque La Loma
LA Favorita, Pavas
San Jose, Costa Rica
42 of the most ambitious kindhearted people I’ve ever met
Backyard of my new home.
View from Peace Corps classes in downtown San Jose
LA iglesea in my town