Well, my bags are unpacked and my room in order, the other two roommates have arrived, and I'm settling down for my second evening in Costa Rica. I arrived into San Jose safe and sound, but it was definitely quite the experience getting to that point. 34 hours ago, you'd probably note me as crazy, wild-eyed woman tearing like a maniac through the terminal in a frantic race to board my plane, attracting many stares as I torpedoed past the gate. These gawks were probably not only due to the fact that I was hurtling through the terminal like an Olympic racer on fire, but also because I was completely shoeless. Pause. So, why was I nearly late for my plane, running about pathetic, panicked, and shoeless when my parents and I had made sure we got there an hour early? Great question. Glad you asked.
Rewind to the moment I hand the man at the desk my ticket. I am feeling elated, my adventure is about to begin and I'm flying high--until I am shot down with these five words--"Do you have a visa?" Well, no, I didn't. I wasn't aware I needed to have one and no one at George Fox or Veritas told be otherwise. But the man insisted if I was staying over 90 days, I needed a student or traveler's visa (I didn't, not until after I arrived in Costa Rica. Apparently George Fox has never had this happen before...yay me)--which takes about two weeks to receive. We tried to show the man a fact that stated that for student immersion in Costa Rica students can receive visas after they arrive, but he wouldn't budge.
Ok, so normally I consider myself a pretty laid-back person. I don't get too stressed out about things...normally. But I learned something valuable that day. Under severe pressure, I not only crack--I crumble. I was completely freaked out and on the verge of tears. Luckily my parents were there and were able to make whirlwind calls to get my returning flights completely changed so that I would return earlier. So, fifteen minutes and mucho dinero later, we went back up to the man with our new itinerary and he responded-- in all his helpfulness-- that boarding for Minneapolis had already closed, but if they could get my bags on the plane in time, I could board. Otherwise, I would have to reschedule my flight (again). Fast-forward once again to my mad dash. It was Jenna vs. Plane and I was ripping off my jacket and kicking off my shoes at security with blinding speed. Through security. No time for shoes. So, slinging my backpack over my shoulder, I shot past, my carry-on dangling behind me in my tailwind. I vaulted upstairs to the next floor before arriving, harried and sweating, at my gate and giving my boarding pass to the patient gate attendant-- only to think I had left my camera. The woman was in mid-sentence when I spun around with a blurt of "onemomentberightback"and took for the stairs once more, leaving my bags (and shoes) at her feet. If anyone had doubts of my sanity before, my second trip downstairs solidified those doubts into a certainty. Realizing I did not leave anything and must have missed my camera when frantically scanning my bag, I hurtled the stairs and screeched to a stop in front of the woman once more, who kindly suggested I put on my shoes so I didn't look like a goofball (her words). I was able to make my plane, but it was definitely with more stress than I anticipated.
The adventure didn't stop there. I literally fell apart at the seams in the Minneapolis airport, spilling the entire contents of my backpack. I managed to remain incognito at Atlanta before boarding my plane for San José. I sat next to a thirty-something man who had lived in Costa Rica for a year. We spoke in Spanish for a bit before he began spewing out his story to me and the other woman sitting with us about his falling out with his buddy (with whom he repeatedly referred to "having a bromance" in such awkward phrasing that it made me slightly uncomfortable). Many peanuts and half a movie later (the monitors stopped working about 45 minutes into our trip) we touched down in San José.
I arrived to Costa Rica, met Victor from Veritas who gave me a ride in the school van to my tita's house. I met Diana, who accompanies the students though speaks little English. I think she was impressed by my Spanish, broken though it was. I guess she appreciated the attempt.
So here I am at my tita's, Elizabeth's, casa. She is great. Tall and thin with graying blonde hair, a devout Catholic. This afternoon, I came out of my room to find her wandering about the rooms with a lit candle. I had heard her talking downstairs and thought she had been speaking to someone on the phone, but I realized then that she was praying aloud. She explained to me that "la vela está para la paz" --the candle is for peace. She had me follow her into a couple rooms before entering into my room, waving it over my bed and around my closets and window. She asked me if I was Catholic and when I said no, I was a Baptist, she had no idea what I was talking about. Obviously, Baptists are a rare breed in Costa Rica.
She loves to sing. She would sing along off-key to the car radio as we drove to town. She keeps the radio on while she cooks and randomly chimes in on the bits she knows, which are often only single words that she belts out with gusto.
My roommates have settled in, too, and I think we'll get along well. We all seem pretty chill and we are all looking forward to getting out, traveling, and practicing our Spanish. Though I never considered my Spanish to be great (it's definitely not) I seem to serve as the translator between the other girls and Elizabeth. Whenever the other girls give her the deer-in-the-headlights stares of incomprehension and slight paralysis (which our poor tita often receives from us) she will turn to me and I am usually able to understand enough to be able to convey it to the other girls. My confidence has improved greatly. Gracias, Profe Viki, and all the conversations and oral presentations you assigned us!
So here I am. Second night, ready to take on tomorrow. Orientation is at 10 a.m. and we will get to explore a bit more of the town. We were suggested to bring our camera, so photos to follow! Until then. Hasta luego. Gringa out.