Last weekend we were sent on “PCV site visits.” A quick taste into service that I am savoring in order to get through training!
All 42 of us were going to different parts amongst the country. It was a perfectly placed trip because I think all of us were starting to feel a little trapped in training. My friend and I were sent together to a town called Penas Blancas, which is in the province of San Jose, about 2 hours North of Panama and 1 hour from the Pacific Coast.
It was our first trip away and I can’t even explain how free the wind made me feel. I so badly wanted to stick my head out the window of the bus and wag my tail with excitement. If it wasn’t 5 in the morning and half asleep, it is quite possible that I would have.
I’m not sure if it was the obvious of our “gringoness” or the bus was really almost sold out but our seats were in the very back of the bus, smack dab in the middle. In middle school, these seats are where the cools kids sit, but in these travel busses, these are the “last resort” seats. Definitely not ideal for 2 girls who get a tad bit carsick. Anyways, we managed to phase in and out of sleep while trying to hold on tightly to our bags like Peace Corps had suggested in our safety trainings.
At first I was a little bummed because some of my “compuneros” were visiting other PCV’s at the beach where activities of “letting loose” were going to be involved. I envisioned them “finding their beaches” with ice cold coronas in hand while working on the perfect shade of bronze. Oh how I was envious! Training can be quite the grueling process. I can see how it is definitely needed to be a successful volunteer, but at times, I feel as though I am jailed. In reality, I think it is just difficult for us recent college grads, independent, thrill seekers to have an abundance of rules and restrictions for three months, but we are all adjusting.
Penas Blancas was a part of Costa Rica I am very thankful I got the opportunity to see. First off, the volunteer I visited was basically what I would call a “bad ass volunteer.” She had/is accomplishing so much as a volunteer. I ended up not staying with the volunteer and her host family, and instead went to the house where the next volunteer will be living. As badly as I wanted a translator and a surplus of answers to some questions that were brewing in my mind, I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone. ANNNDDD I had an amazing time and met such an amazing family.
The second day, us volunteers (2 in-training) went to “el rio” with a group of kids who the volunteer is working with to develop a scouts group. These kids age from about 8-20 and are male and female. The river was probably one of the best times I’ve had in a while. I wish I had a word to describe how these kids inspired me but I can’t think of it. It’s interesting because we don’t even speak the same language, but we connected in a way that really touched my heart. At their age, so many things can influence who you become. What road you take. Who you hang out. EVERYTHING. For me, that’s where I took the wrong turn. Hanging out with the wrong crowd and doing the wrong thing. On the other bank of the river that day, there were a group of boys partying. These kids that were sitting with us easily could have been those kids – smoking weed and drinking. But they were with us – laughing and talking about their futures.
We played chicken fights, swam in the river, jumped off trees, and drank fresco and chatted on the rocks that were hot enough to fry eggs. It was so simple but I saw how much it was a foundation to these kid’s lives. Positivity to do good things and to know that possibilities of the future are endless. Such a perfect reminder of why I am here. Another little girl I met (6 years old) cried to me how she so badly wanted to visit the United States. We stood on my bed and she was pointing to all of the places on the map of places where she wanted to go. It made my heart melt. Her dreams were endless- I pictured her a captain of a boat, sailing around the world.
I am so happy I got the opportunity to see the progress and accomplishments that were happening in the town. It was an inspiring weekend. It connected a lot of dots in the ambiguity of a PCV in training. There will be 2 years to “find my beach” right?!
There are several concepts that I am trying to grasp in my head. I really wish I had more time to reflect on my experiences but days are pretty exhausting right now. For now, I know how happy my heart feels. How I feel like I could not be in more perfect of moments. Yesterday, I lay my head down in bed with the biggest smile. I can’t say things are completely comfortable, which they aren’t supposed to be – but they are exiting. They are inspiring. They are motivating. There are so many things I have taken for granted, but at the same time, so many things I now know I don’t even need; whether that be materialistic things or a way of thinking. A perspective is already shaping and I have only been here a month.
I will try and write more. I don’t have internet and sometimes when I get home from 10 hour days, talk with my family in Spanish, and then do homework, my mind is far beyond capability to write.
MISS & LOVE YOU ALL.
Stay young, wild & free
“Age is the matter of the mind, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain
^my grandpa sent me that quote and I believe it is true for the concept of time as well. Just LIVE! ☺