<<This was written July 7, 2012 but due to internet connectivity problems was not posted until July 11, 2012>>
Breaking the Bubble: Up until this last week, we have been living with an American missionary family. They have been so kind and gracious to us as we have been adjusting to life here. However, Savanna and I have felt like we were living in a North American “bubble”. But now that I (James) have begun language school and we have moved in with a Tica host family, the “bubble” has most certainly been popped.
Our Tica mom’s name is Shirley. She lives with her father, Maenor, and her daughter, Krish. They have a house only a 10 minute walk from language school and only a block away from a beautiful Japanese style garden/children’s play area. (Que raro, no?) Shirley and her family have been hosting students from the language school and workers with RobleAlto for ten years, which means she’s probably had experience with just about every cultural miscommunication and faux pas that we could commit. They are wonderful people and they don’t mind slowing down and repeating themselves when I’m around.
There is another gringa in the house with us, Ashley. She is from Lancaster, PA and is an ESL teacher for a pull-out program in the public school system there. She is spending this month volunteering with RobleAlto as a teacher and as a host for a youth group that is here this week.
New Ears and Tongue: Things at the Instituto de Lengua Española (ILE) have been going well. I tested into Level 2 of 4 levels, without ever taking a Spanish course – thank you Savanna, Rosetta Stone, and Harry Potter in Spanish. My classmates are all in their late 30s or early 40s, and I can tell that I have an advantage in being fresh out of school. The plethora of Latin and English cognates have made reading the easiest part so far. But hearing discrete words instead of a continuous line of syllables and forcing my tongue into new contortions has been even more challenging than I expected. Whenever I get frustrated I hear my teacher’s voice saying, “Poco a poco.”
Savanna has begun holding “night classes” for me to go over the topics that there is not enough time for in my course at ILE. I was flattered when my host-mom commented that I was “hyper about learning.”
Our First Bit of Tourism: We became true gringos (as If we weren’t already) this weekend when we took the Café Britt Coffee Plantation tour. The tour was very informative, and the plantation was beautiful. A couple of interesting facts: Coffee must be processed the same day as it is picked to keep it from becoming too bitter, Costa Rican coffee beans are dried by the sun over the course of 4 days, and in order to produce high- grade coffee, all the beans in a batch must be of the same ripeness; if they are not, then that batch of beans is destined for flavored or instant coffee. We also learned about the three natural enemies of coffee: air, light, and water. Important things to remember living in the land of coffee.
Praises and Prayer Requests: Savanna has been feeling better! We visited the doctor at ILE on Tuesday, and the medicine appears to be working.
Please remember us in your prayers. Pray that I would be attentive and hard working at language school, that Savanna would find opportunities in the area to serve while I’m in classes (which is proving to be more difficult than we’d hoped), and that we would both return to La Palabra de Vida rested and well prepared for the second semester. Also, please pray that we would get the call that our new apartment is ready sometime this week! We have entered our ninth week straight of living out of suitcases and we are so ready to settle in.
And in case you needed a laugh…a traditional Costa Rican parade costume at Café Britt.