exploring, examining, exchanging, expressing
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Gringo Loco
Hola from Costa Rica! What a long four days it's been. My flight to San Jose was fine. No problems. But then I stood in line for immigration for about 2 hours. Too many tourists arrived at one time and we flooded the poor airport. And then one of my bags decided to take a later flight. It took me a while to get to the bottom of that one. It all worked out.

And now I'm here! The weather is beautiful, warm, sunny, and breezy. The people are wonderful. Everyone I've met has been friendly and helpful. And they won't stop feeding me! I think I've gained at least twenty pounds from all of the fruit and tamales and bread and gallo pinto and cakes and cookies and refrescos. It seems like as soon as we finish one meal, it's time to get ready for the next. And the coffee... oh the coffee... I want drink this coffee with every meal. I want to bathe in it. I want to dab it behind my ears so I can always have the scent with me. Yum. I drink it black, which is an oddity here. They still bring me sugar. I never use it, but they always bring it.

Marta, my friend and former student, is a most gracious hostess. She is treating me like her son. She has made me feel very much at home in her house. Her whole family has welcomed me and have helped me in so many ways. I am a very lucky gringo, indeed. Some of them speak a little English, so they like to practice with me. Everyone thinks it's hilarious that I don't speak Spanish. But I've learned enough to know when they're talking about me! It's all in good spirits, though. Life here is filled with warmth and joy.

I am still looking for a job. I've gone to a couple of interviews, and have more throughout the week. No worries. Something will come up.

For now, I'm still learning my way around - in both the city and the lifestyle. It's tough, and a little lonely at times, but also enjoyable. I have a good feeling about this. Things are going to be a-okay.


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Thursday, February 22, 2007
Packing It In
It was one thing to pack up everything I own into my little Honda and take it down to Tennessee. It's an entirely different challenge to whittle all of that down to one checked duffel bag one one carry-on. It's turning out to be more difficult than I expected. I've taken a couple of passes at it, and I've managed to cram about 48.5 pounds of stuff into the duffel. The limit's 50. I think I'm cutting it too close. My carry-on is within weight, but it's stuffed, too. I've really got to work on this simplified, minimalist lifestyle I want to adopt.

I'm not even sure why I'm going to the trouble since I'm allowed another checked bag. I could easily do this with another duffel. I have a friend picking me up at the airport, so it's not like I'd have to lug it all very far. But I'm stubborn. I want to do this for the principle of it. I shouldn't need more. I should need all of this stuff. I don't need to drag my entire life down with me. Unfortunately, ideology and practicality clash. I'll take another stab at it in the morning and see which side wins. It's tough to decide what to give up.

Aside from the literal aspects, I've also been wrapping up my life here. I've hung out with friends, had a few last bashes, and said goodbyes. It's been a good time. I've been doing the same with my family. Thankfully, with global communication and the prevalence of the Internet, distance isn't as much of a barrier as it used to be. We know we'll keep in touch.

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
My original plans have fallen apart, a bit. I'm not going down to start my training course. That means I'm on my own to find a job, find a place to live, and deal with a new culture. But, in making my plans, I've learned quite a lot and have made some good contacts. I'm not going into this entirely blind or unprepared. My legs are a little shaky, but I'm keeping my head up. I've got some interviews lined up. No promises, but no outright rejections yet either (though a few schools simply haven't replied). As expected, most want to deal with me once I'm actually in the country. I think they've all been burned by too many no-shows. Simply taking the step to arrive at their door should give them confidence in my commitment. Then it's up to me, my own confidence, attitude, and experience, to get the job. I remain hopeful and positive.

I try to remind myself that if things like this were easy, then everyone would do it. I'm nervous and anxious, but excited, too. It's not easy. It's not comfortable. However, I'm sure it will be worthwhile. I will be a better person for having the experience.

I need to do it.

I'm going to do it.

I leave for San Jose, bright and early, Saturday morning.


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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Yesterday, Instituto Britanico informed me that they were unable to fill their March CELTA course and thus had to cancel it. Their next course isn't until June. Quite frankly, I wouldn't hold my breath on that one, either. So I won't be getting CELTA certified in Costa Rica. The next SIT certification course isn't until late May. TEFL International has a month-long course starting on March 19th; however, I have heard mixed reviews of their classes. They certainly don't seem to have the reputation for high quality education that the other two courses have.

So, at this point, I think my best option is just to jump right in and start looking for work. Instead of aiming for a university position, I'll look at some of the private / business schools that don't necessarily require certification and may offer some teacher training themselves. It'll be a start, at least.

The nice thing is that now I won't be tied to San Jose for my first month. I can get out and explore some other parts of the country. And, if I can't find a suitable job without certification, I can attend the SIT or TEFL Int'l courses later on.

There is some good news, though!

One of my former students from Costa Rica is going to be visiting her home the day before I arrive. She's going to meet me at the airport to pick me up! I will have a friendly face to greet me as I arrive in the country. How nice is that?

Of course, I don't want to impose on her hospitality for longer than I have to. She has her own plans for her visit, and I don't want to interrupt them. I'm going to try to find other accommodations as soon as possible. I'm just happy I won't have to navigate my own way out of the airport!


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