A Travellerspoint blog

el carnaval de limon

Spent the weekend in Puerto Limon, on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It was the carnival. What a fantastic experience that was! The main parade is next weekend, but there was still lots going on. Lots of stalls and soundsystems in the streets. Mucho mucho divertido to be had! The music was lots of bass heavy stuff with dirty macho lyrics, salsa and cumbian. Oh yeah and the big Costa Rica favourite, Reggaeton. Reggaeton is Puerto Rican, so all the lyrics are Spanish. I think it´s probably for the best I can´t understand all of the lyrics. There was teenage boys in the crowd, lighting up aerosols too, just like I´ve seen in the videos!

In the day time there was a children´s parade. We weren´t sure what was going on at first becuse all these boys were running so fast down the street with such a huge sense of urgency, it was quite frightening. Wondering what it was they were running from. But then when you watched for longer, there were older boys with these big papier mache heads on, and they would wack the other boys with the heads and then they´d all chase after each other down the street. Apparently it is a ¨´community joke´ and something which happens every year. It was fun to watch.

Then at night the streets just came alive with music and dancing. The people were so nice again, and I got to have some lovely chats in spanish with some limoneses, as the locals call themselves. So I didn´t want to leave, as the carnival goes on all week. I´m not usually one to leave the party when it´s in full swing, but I didn´t think it would be so safe to stay alone. Also I have the next stage of my journey....so i have commitments.

So tomorrow is Monteverde and the butterlies.....feeling quite nervous wondering what is in store for me. But excited too...

Posted by kael 15:55 Comments (1)

My last week in San Jose

maybe no more Latin American soap operas when I leave here...

watching c..licia´s.JPG

I felt like my Spanish was coming along really well until today. In class we started to learn the past tense today and I realised what an absolutely huge task this whole language learning business is. So I feel like I have a good grasp of the present tense now. But that took 3 weeks. It feels really sad to be leaving the school, when I am learning so much everyday. But I can´t really stay here for the whole time. I need to use the language I´ve learned to talk to people and build on it from there. The school and staying with Felicia gives me such confidence, I hope that I have the nerve to keep talking when I leave that security net.

So my last class tomorrow, and then at the weekend I´m going with some North American girls to the carnival at Puerto Limon. I wasn´t sure wether to go, because the big weekend is the following weekend. I´ve heard it´s dangerous too....well I´m drawn there anyway...I´ll be with other people. People say Notting Hill carnival is dangerous but I managed to stay safe and have fun there. So I´ll give it a go anyway...

I was feeling sad about the bird project not working out, so have been going all out to contact them, but there´s no reply. The phone line is disconnected, the emails bounce back, the website has gone. Well at least I tried all possibilities. So I´m off to the butterfly garden in Monteverde to be an english speaking guide on Monday. I have my own room in this really beautiful, remote area so am looking forward to that. I´m a little nervous about giving the tours, but just keep thinking that I´ve been speaking almost completely in Spanish for the last 3 weeks so how hard can giving tours in English really be? I might have to pick up tarantulas too! Wonder if I´ll be able to do that.....I´m looking forward to being in such a lovely, peaceful location after all the traffic and craziness of San Jose.

The photo is a typical scene of my life from the last few weeks. I sit at the table with Felicia and we chat and often she paints and I try to learn verb endings, but often get distracted by the amazingly tacky soap operas you get on Latin American TV. I think watching tele is a better learning style anyway, writing and rewriting verb endings doesn´t really stick in your head for too long...Haha that´s my excuse anyway....

Tonight I´m going out for dinner with some North Americans. They´re nice people but one of them seems to constantly talk about the price of things. He keeps announcing in a really loud voice how "that´s absolutley nothing" to him. I just cringe in my chair and hope that noone around can speak English. But of course they probably all can, and can understand every word of his arrogance.

Posted by kael 14:29 Comments (0)

Rain and buses

tropical style

Just waiting for the rain to stop. First day I´ve come out the house without my rain coat, and of course there is a torrential downpour. I´ll give it 10 minutos. Am going to go out and explore some of San Jose this afternoon. Looking forward to seeing it as I´ve only really seen the school, the mall (there´s a big Nort American influence here) and Felicia´s house (and the bus route). I´m starting to feel more at ease here now. I have a nice routine which I´d like to keep going for longer. I love the school, and learning all this spanish every day. I feel like it is opening up a whole new world to me. And Felicia is so amazing. I love our chats, and the way she has welcomed me into her home with such kindness. I hope we stay in touch when I leave. This morning she made me soya ham tacos for breakfast! I can´t believe you can get soya ham here! Felicia quite likes the soya mince, especially the way it has less fat than real mince (I think she might even buy it when I leave!)

Costa Rica has a lovely gentle pace. I love the way each day the rain interrupts everything and brings a big sense of tranquility.

Every day when I get the bus back to Felicia´s, it is always really jammed with people, but people seem to work together in a way which I´m not used to. For example, the people standing (I´m always one of them), move down the bus in a line to make space for the new people getting on the bus. There is not a big fight for space, every piece of space is used and it is done so in a very respectful style. Also if a man is sitting and an older woman is standing, always the man will get up. I noticed this in the hispanic areas of LA too. Often the man and the woman will talk to each other too, and it will look like they are friends. But it is just the gesture which has brought on a conversation. So it feels really sad that I actually find this kind of behaviour unusual. I often wonder "what would these people think if they were on the metro?" Often too when the buses are quieter, someone will get on and tell a big story, which unfortunately I can´t understand , and then come round selling chocolate bars. Again, the reactions of the people suprise me. Instead of everyone turning away and pretending the person is invisible, people listen to the story and then quite a few people buy the chocolate. I´m sure lots more things go on on the buses of San Jose but I´ve still to see them.

Posted by kael 12:52 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Reggaeton meltdown

Hola! Been away from computerland for awhile. A good sign, I think. Went to some paradise type beaches in Manuel Antonio with a load of students from the Spanish School. It was fun, the first night there were little geckoes running up the walls of the cabin. It was hot even when we arrived late at night! It was the kind of humidity I'd expected the whole of Costa Rica to be. Lucky for me though, San Jose, isn't that hot.

We went on lots of walks and saw lots of secret beaches, with palm trees and flowers lying in the sand. The shells were like coral, and there was lizards wandering around. Very different to Tynemouth beach!

One of the days we went on a guided walk and saw sloths (the photo), and iguanas, and lots of monkeys. Wildlife galore, and actually a lot easier to see than the dense forest canopy of Monteverde.

Went out in the local town, Quepos, and chatted to some of the locals which was fun. We even went to a nightclub! Very strange experience here in Costa Rica. Everyone seems to dance in couples. Doing all the salsa moves. Haha it was fun to watch. Then the other music I heard everywhere was reggaeton. Seems very popular in Quepos. Pretty cheesy but from now on it will only make me smile........

Posted by kael 15:21 Comments (1)

My muchacha chat

Can't really believe that I'm managing to have conversations completely in Spanish. It really is quite amazing. Especially as I only know the present tense, and obviously not all of it. But all the classes here in the school are completely in Spanish, and then at night I sit with Felicia and we actually have conversations in Spanish. Although she speaks very slowly for me and chooses her words carefully so that I will understand. My teacher Paoulo, does too, and it leads me into a false world of believing that I can actually speak Spanish. Then Felicia's family come round and they all speak as they would normally, and of course I realise that I can only follow tiny sections! But it's all progress....

One of the days in the class there was just me and Paoulo because Petter, the Norweigan man, went somewhere else. We spent the whole afternoon talking about our lives, relationships with los hombres, feelings about having children, our families....I even managed to tell her about the completely naked man I saw on Sunday in the bushes playing with his man parts, calling out buenas dias to me. It was okay though I was too busy carrying heavy bags in the boiling hot to be too concerned about that. Although I was really pleased not to be on the same side of the road as him. I'll just keep away from those bushes....So anyway, that was quite an achievement to explain all that to Paoulo. Much further on than my first night with Felicia when I just didn't have the words to desrcibe it, or to describe anything really....

Felicia is so kind and makes me all this amazing food with no animal products in, it is so lovely of her. Especially as vegetarianism is not something which she's ever given any thought to. Although she makes me feel terrible that she won't let me help, although I've fought a good battle in Spanish and managed to get an arrangement where I do the washing up. Some students though stay with huge families and the mother does everything, so I'm quite glad to have the one on one contact with Felicia. It's definitely helped my Spanish lots more as I don't think I'd be speaking as much if I was with a huge family.

Oh dear think the college is closing, better go. I'll write more soon. Hope everybody's well. I'm not getting too much chance to write emails so sorry for that.

Posted by kael 16:05 Comments (0)

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