This past weekend we went ziplining through the rainforest in Monte Verde. It was incredible! I don't think words can even describe how exhilarating it is to be basically flying through so much greenery! I have only one regret from the weekend which is a group from the team went on a night walk in the rainforest and saw so many cool animals and I did not go because I was too tired and cold.. I am SO SAD that I missed that opportunity and I have vowed to not have any more regrets from this vacation! It was quite a disappointment when the team all returned and said that they saw sloths and tarantulas and big bugs etc. It would have been amazing! however, there is still so much exciting stuff to do here that I am sure I will not be disappointed in the rest of my time. But the zipline was all I had hoped for. It is hard to put word, so I will simply exhort you all to do your darndest to go ziplining at some point in your life. I also really enjoyed the four hour bus rides to and from the town. It was sweet time to get to know the others a little better and I had some interesting discussions, tough religious debates, and altogether nice time with all the people on
Today was definitely the hardest day so far. I was exhausted all day and I feel like my brain suddenly expelled all Spanish that I have ever learned. I was extremely frustrated that I could not speak or understand or think of anything intelligent. I feel a bit better now, but I may be entering stage two of culture shock.. depression haha. I know that a little more sleep will probably be a good thing, but hey, what can you do.
Anyway, hopefully my brain decides to turn back on tomorrow. Spanish really is quite difficult and there is so much that I don't know still, but I am learning and I know that I will come away so much more proficient than I am now.
If there are things you would like to hear about, feel free to leave a comment and let me know! Thanks so much for all your encouraging words that I have heard so far and I love knowing that you are reading about my trip!
Today we went to the hospital in San Ramon. It was about at 2 hour bus ride so we woke up at 5am to get to school by 6:30. I definitely have been waking up much earlier here than when I am in school! I also usually go to bed around 9 or 10 every night. Haha so much for living up the night life of San Jose ;)
But anyway, back to the hospital visit. It was all I could have hoped for and more! We started with a brief meeting with the director of engineering and all his technicians, about 5 or 6 in total. They gave us a brief description of the health care system in Costa Rica. It was really interesting. Apparently it is broken up into several parts, but the largest and most important part is the CCSS (Caja Costaricense Seguridad Social I think). All Tikos (Costa Ricans) pay into the CCSS from their wages and therefore receive all health care for free. Everyone, regardless of income, pays 9.25% of their income to this. Therefore, those who don’t have jobs and are homeless don’t pay anything, and they still receive exactly equal healthcare to those who are quite wealthy. Of course there is still a small private sector of health care that costs quite a lot. This hospital served about 160,000 people in the local area and has only 102 beds. Quite a small hospital for so many people! I asked several of them if they liked this system, and everyone I spoke to seems to think it is an incredible system! Even Katia , our host mom, likes it. Apparently the people here are much more generous than Americans ;) I don’t really think that it would work out as well in the states.
After this discussion we got to go look at some of the broken equipment. We had small hopes that we would actually get to repair some, but it was really interesting to actually see some of the equipment that we have been looking at in class for the past few days. It is so much easier to understand what is happening when you actually see the equipment first hand. And all the technicians were so excited to have us there and eager to answer questions. It was an amazingly interesting time of half Spanish/half English conversations. My Spanish is already getting SO much better, and I think that because I am one of the more outspoken in the group I am speaking much more, though I am by no means the best speaker of the group. But the Tikos did compliment me on my Spanish, so that was encouraging ;) However I think it is because they only heard me speak in the present tense at that point. Haha. I am blessed living with four girls who all speak really well too so we help each other along quite a lot! The hospital also had a Mariposeria basically a butterfly garden! It was so pretty! I think we could definitely inspire a lot of healing if we had those in all our hospitals. This was one of the larger hospitals in the Country and they had a lot of modern equipment. I felt very privileged because we got to go into a lot of the behind the scenes locations and see what they do in blood analysis, x-ray, laundry, etc. And because I am the only ME I got to go look at the boilers ;) I think my favorite machine was the sheet folder. It is used to dry, press, and fold sheets and it is an incredible feat of engineering! I have some pics but I need a little more time to upload them. Of course me being the ridiculous person that I am I put in like 3 or 4 sheets. I am beginning to think I may be a little too outgoing for my own good… but it is so much more interesting when you jump to the front and get to be hands on. It was so great to see what really goes on in these hospitals and see some equipment. And also see how welcoming and friendly all of the staff were. Some of the staff was asking me questions, which was so strange because I certainly don’t think I know more than they do. But there were amazingly respectful and we had a lot of fun! I am really looking forward to our hospital visit next week as well.
Oh and I almost forgot! When I was talking to the director about social security, I was trying to ask what the impression of the tikos is of the CCSS so I used the word impreción. However, impreción actually means pressure.. so really I was asking what the pressure of the Tikos is of the CCSS. Haha oops.. oh well there will probably be a few more of those mishaps before the summer is over.
This weekend we are going to Monte Verde to go ziplining! I am SO excited and I think it will be incredibly beautiful. So when I write next I will include some picture of that. Actually it is about 5am right now and I need to go finish packing cause we leave in half an hour. but internet usage is precious and hard to get sometimes.
There is always so much to write about, but I think this is probably good for now.
So today was my third day of classes and this is certainly NOT vacation. They have us working really hard! I am in the 4th level (of 4) for spanish classes. It is a little more advanced than I am probably ready for, but I wanted a little more of a challenge. It is pretty cool because we spend most of our time just talking and practicing, but it is hard to conjugate everything correctly. Not to mention finding the right words to use. But after four hours of spanish class every morning I find myself thinking of spanish sentences for about 30 minutes afterward. And I always want to throw spanish words into my english sentences as well! I suppose these are all great things,but my brain is always tired at the end of the day.
Not to mention the engineering side! They have us learning about autoclaves, fluid pumps, soldering, circuits, blood pressure devices.. and that is only the first three days! But it is SO interesting! I feel like I have a much better grasp of some of these machines than some of the other BMED students because I have a mechanical engineering background that gives me more exposure to things like motors, pumps, etc. Nothing is really entirely new, though it is new applications of things that I have seen before. I think I am appreciating my Cal Poly education more and more every day because I really feel like I know a lot! And my partner for next month, Amber, is really good at a lot of the circuit stuff so I think we are going to me a really useful team. I am excited to be working in the hospitals next month.
This friday we are going to do our first hospital day and just go in and see what they do. It should be pretty interesting. But not as exciting as ziplining this weekend! I think just about the entire team is trying to go ziplining in Monteverde this weekend. I like our team because we have not segregated much. We all hang out with everyone, and it doesn't seem like there are many cliques.
It is still raining.. a lot... and we experience our first power outage yesterday when a huge lightening bolt struck the school. We weren't able to complete our lab because we needed power for our soldering irons but we didn't have it. I am also pretty excited about all the practical skills I am learning! I learned how to make an extension chord yesterday and I think we are going to learn how to make a flashlight or something too. I feel like I will be so handy at the end of this summer!
Now I need to go write a story about a comic strip that we were given.. hopefully that goes well. Tonight I think we are going to a jazz cafe for one of our teammates birthdays. Should be pretty fun!
Neway. Prayer requests right now would be that I continue to build relationships with my roommates, host family, and the other students and that my brain does not start to hurt too bad ;)
Blessings to you all!
Well I can now die a happy person. Yesterday I went rafting in the rainforest!!! It was everything I could have ever hoped for and more. We went down the Pacuare river and ended up in the Carribean. My guide was named Dias and he was the perfect rafting guide. He made sure to get us into all the right rapids and on the slower level one rapids he went all out. During one we had three rower sit backwards and we all paddled forward so we went down spinning. One we all had to close our eyes through the rapid and during one I sat on the front of the raft with my feet out of the boat and tried to stay on. Dias was so funny with his crazy antics. The picture above is our team. Dias came to me and jumped in my arms and told me he wanted me to hold him for the picture. And he said he felt very safe in my arms.. oh Dias. I can definitely see how the guides work their charm on the ladies to get tips.
It was just so incredible to be out in such beauty and see and hear so many creatures and so many different kinds of vegetation. I am so amazed that there can be so many different kinds of creatures.
When we came home we just hung out and chatted. I really feel like I have been here for weeks and there are a few people I feel like I have been able to chat a lot with, but then I realize that there are several people I have not spoken with at all and then I realize again that I have only been here fore less than three days!
Today we went and explored San Jose a bit more. It is difficult with so many people, as about 20 of us got together to go exploring. We all have different ideas about what we want to do and where we want to go and with so many people it is hard to make decisions. But we finally left and started our trek downtown. About as soon as we got there I decided to show off my street dancing skills in the public square. Unfortunately the ground won in the dance off and I scraped up my foot…. Ok so I wasn’t actually street dancing I just fell down a step and scraped my foot. But I did catch myself sort-of and apparently it resembled a sweet break dancing move… or my friends were just being nice :p
So we had to wander around to find band-aids because none of us were prepared for injury and I was bleeding all over my shoe… bummer. Turns out my knowledge of Spanish words for medicine and band-aids are fairly limited because I had no idea what to say at the store, but I am sure that will change by the end of this trip.
However, my Spanish is already getting so much better and I had two conversations with store clerks fully in Spanish and I did not even have to ask them to repeat themselves. I do think it is fairly based on how they speak and what the topic is though! I even managed to haggle down the price of a sweet purse in Spanish. So exciting haha!
Turns out I have a really good sense of direction and was able to find my way around fairly well simply based on what I have seen while in the bus going in and out of the city. That is certainly a handy skill to have! I also lost my roommates today since we ended up in different groups. As of right now they actually still have not returned, so I hope they are not still wandering around looking for me!
I think the most exciting news, though, is that I have built friendships with Grace and JJ, both of whom are Christians and I am hoping to start up a prayer time once a week at lunch. I think it will be so sweet to pray and build each other up. I spoke to JJ about it today and he is totally down, and I am sure Grace will be as well. God is so faithful to provide Christians in my life and that support that I really need. Praise God! I am hoping that we can invite others to join as well and just share our faith more in that way.
Ok, this is already exceedingly long, so I will end it for now. Thanks for your prayers!
Well I made it here. The flights were uneventful so I will spare you the details with those. I made it to the ALE Spanish language center where we unloaded all our equipment and met our host parents. Ours is a wonderful lady.. whose name i sadly did forget right now and I feel awful about, and we headed back to her house. There are four girls from the program who are all staying with me, and so far so good. The shower doesn't have heated water so when I stepped in at 8pm last night that was a cold awakening, however the family is extremely clean and hospitable. We had a good meal of.. you guessed it rice and beans.. but we had empanadas, and cabbage salad as well.
Today we headed to school at 8am (looks like no sleeping in for me this summer as I still had to get up at 6am) and headed back to the school where we had our first hours of training and orientation. We learned all about blood pressure monitors today and then labeled all our tools in Spanish. It is going to be just like school at home with daily quizzes and homework, but the difference is that it will all be so useful in the second month. So I am really excited to learn!
There is a small stand that serves a pretty solid meal for lunch right around the corner and I had.. rice and beans ;) haha the stereotype really is true. But also fried chicken and pasta salad, cabbage salad, and fried plantains. Sorry that I keep writing so much about food but I really like food..
I suppose I should explain the title of this blog as well. Costa Rica is a RAIN forest. Today it has pretty much POURED for the better second half. And by pour I mean floods of water running down the street. As we left school for the bus the water really started to come down and my roommates and I missed the bus twice.. haha oops. but we were able to find our stop on the first try, which is pretty impressive since none of us really had any idea where we
As I was thinking about what to blog about yesterday I was thinking about all my initial impressions of Costa Rica. Then today we talked a lot about stereotypes and I realized that I had already formed so many... oops.
And spiritually I am excited to find out that there are several other christians on the team and I would love to gather them together and just pray now and then. I think that would be such a great experience for us to all gather with one purpose. This trip is so different from all the others I have been on because they were all centered on sharing about Christ. It is a different sort of challenge, but I am constantly praying that God gives me a peaceful heart and an ability to grow.
I always see many sides of myself that I am ashamed of when I am stressful situations, and this is already true, so your prayers that I would be a humble servant and eager to place others before me would be spectacular!
well in that mindset I don't want to hog the internet so my roommates get a chance as well. I am going rafting tomorrow so I will certainly have plenty of adventures to tell after that!
So I am leaving tomorrow night at 12:30am from LAX. I am feeling a little nervous as I still have not put a single thing into a suitcase, nor do I have malaria pills.. However I still have a full day and I am sure it will all come together at the last. I started listening to Spanish radio here so I can start to accustom myself to hearing Spanish all the time.
Anyway, I need to get to bed here, but I am so excited for this journey and look forward to what tomorrow may bring.