exploring, examining, exchanging, expressing
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Typical Day
I never thought I'd say this, but here it is: I like working Saturdays. Granted, I'd rather be chilling at the beach or touring the rainforests, but on weekends when I don't have travel plans, I don't mind teaching. It's nice that my school makes Saturdays optional. Anyway, let me take you through my day to give you an idea of a normal Saturday for me. Then, perhaps, you won't think I'm crazy.

I woke up around 6 AM, before my alarm went off, when the sun began shining through my window. I started making coffee and getting ready for the day. I scarfed down some bread and leftover guacamole (on any other day, there'd be gallo pinto, but my stove's still goofy) while reviewing my lesson plan for class. I took a cold shower. I got dressed, downed the rest of my coffee, packed my stuff, and walked up to the bus stop. I caught the bus (120 colones) around 7:40 and got into San Jose at the Central Park stop a little after 8. I walked across the park and made my way through a few more blocks, choosing streets with little traffic and plenty of banks (there are security guards surrounding all of the banks downtown). I got on the bus to Heredia (220 colones) and it left around 8:15. It dropped me off a block from my school at about 8:50. Some days I get off at an earlier stop to walk around and stroll through the park, but I was feeling lazy today.

Nobody was at the school yet. The admin assistant didn't show up until after 9 to open the doors. I, being a lowly teacher, don't get keys. No students yet. They've been getting later every week. I fired up the computer to print out some material for my students, but the printer wouldn't work because the office was rearranged and everything was disconnected. One student showed up and we chatted for a bit while I tried to get the printer working. At 9:20 another student appeared. We decided to start class (20 minutes late, but not bad for "hora de Tico"). I gave a quick lesson on the conditional sentence structure and we started playing "What would you do if...?" As we're talking, a few more students made their way in, and we finally got a group of 5 total. Good! It's hard to have a conversation class without people to converse with. While I was speaking to one student, the others began using Spanish. I explained that they could talk about anything, but they had to use English. So they did. It turned out they were complaining about a difficult customer. We traded stories about that for awhile; it's at those times that I think it's nice that I have experience in their line of work. Somehow, eventually, we got on the topic of crime and the death penalty (Costa Rica doesn't have it). After a rather morbid, frightful, and gruesome discussion, we took a break.

The admin assistant didn't make coffee (very sad) but she did get my printouts done (very good). So when we started class again, I gave a lesson on stress within words, since one of the students had asked about it last week. Spanish has rules for how to stress syllables within words. English doesn't. We have a few guidelines, but many exceptions. With that out of the way, I handed out more discussion topics. I had been waiting for the one female in the class to show up, and luckily she was there today, so the topic was the differences between men and women. This had gotten my weekday class all riled up. Today's class, however, was civil and level-headed. Not surprising, but a little disappointing. I wanted a Battle of the Sexes. It turned into a discussion on spirituality and love. Deep stuff. Even native English speakers have a hard time articulating their feelings on these topics. My students did a fine job. I was impressed, both by their linguistic abilities and their passionate sentiments.

After class I used the school's computer lab to check my email, read some news, surf a few blogs, and post to my own. It began raining. Hard. So I surfed more.

When the rain calmed down, I walked over to the central market and looked around for awhile. I'm still shy about buying from the vendors. But I sucked it up and asked one of them for a chunk of guanabana. I'd been eyeing this fruit for weeks. I'd had a drink made with artificial guanabana flavor, and it was good. The real thing was sure to be even better. It's huge, green, and covered with spikes. They sell it in pieces. I've only seen a whole one for sale once. I asked for a large chunk, but it was more than I wanted to pay. So I got a smaller (about 3/4 kg) piece for 700 colones.

guanabana chunk

I then walked over to another, smaller mercado just a couple of blocks away. I was getting hungry since it was around 1:30, so I looked for a soda. Some were too crowded and didn't have seats (those are the best, of course, but I didn't feel like waiting). Others looked a little scary. I finally found one that looked acceptable and had "olla de carne" on the menu. It's a massive bowl of beef stew with huge chunks of potato, corn, chayote, and other veggies. When I ordered it, the waitress said they didn't have any, but offered another soup. I hesitated and started to leave, but then she rattled off a few other options. I was wooed by the fact that she was nice and spoke slow enough for me to understand, so I ordered casado con pollo en salsa (blue plate special with chicken in sauce) with a melon fresco. The sides turned out to be beans and rice (naturally), beet salad, fried potatoes with corn, two tortillas, and plantain. It was 1450 colones, incredibly filling, and quite good.

I've noticed the waitresses at the sodas in Heredia (and elsewhere too, I'm sure, though I didn't hear it in San Jose) call the patrons "mi amor." I like that. It reminds me of the waitresses at diners back home. They always call people "honey," "sugar" or "sweetheart." Today it made me a little homesick.

With a full belly, I got back on the bus and made my way home. I will spend the rest of my day drinking coffee, reading, cleaning up around the house, lounging on the porch, and watching TV. I may study a little Spanish. I also might eat some guanabana and whip up a drink later.

Not a bad life, aye?

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