Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Una Semana de clase de Espanol

Amy and her Spanish Class
We were fortunate that our accommodation for the week was right in town with our Costa Rican home stay. Our ‘Mama Tica’, Jeanette, is the cooking teacher at Intercultura, so we had fantastic, authentic meals everyday and her home was somewhat protected from the grime and noise of the town. Jeanette doesn’t speak much English. In fact, she only knows a few words, so at first Amy would sit and listen to her stories, understanding (hopefully) most of what she was saying, and Thomas would daydream. As the week went on, we could communicate with her more, especially Amy who learned so much Spanish, and remembered lots of her old Spanish in such a sort time.

On the first Saturday, our Mama Tica took us with her to do her weekly shopping at the infamous Saturday fruit and vegetable markets called, la feria. Spanning six blocks, this was the most impressive market we have ever been to. It was a sort of controlled chaos, with hundreds and hundreds of venders with every fresh fruit, vegetable or food produce you could imagine. We filled two bags plus a wheelie bag in the hour or so of shopping. Our Mama Tica bought broccoli, pineapple, papaya, melon, mangos, green beans, corn, plantains, bananas, avocados, eggs, bacon, pork, cucumber, coriander, sweet peppers, cheese and coconut water fresh from the coconut. While the man was chopping off the tops of coconuts and pouring the water into a bottle for Jeanette, she bought one for us. We had a refreshing and sweet drink straight from the coconut and then the gentleman cut us a ‘spoon’ from the side of the it to use to eat the inner flesh! We also bought food for our lunches for the week. We bought bread, cheese, tomatoes, corn chips and about a million avocados for $9.

Mama Jeanette walking in la feria 
We were quite lucky, even though we had only just arrived; we had a group of friends. The two girls Amy knew introduced us to all the English teachers from the school and we were quickly taking notes from them about jobs or volunteer projects. We played Ultimate Frisbee one day and went to a house for some beers another night.

Our Mama Tica cooking dinner!

Traditional Gallo Pinto (rice and beans)
Our Mama Tica was a fantastic host mother. We especially enjoyed her meals, both breakfast and dinner. Most meals, even breakfast, usually involved rice, beans and fried plantain bananas. With breakfast, we would always start with a big plate of fruit usually including bananas, papaya, pineapple and mango and a glass of her homemade fruit juice. With dinner we would always have a salad along with either chicken or fish. We loved the fried yuca root, which was similar to potato once cooked and there was no chance that we were ever going to be left hungry with the service Jeanette dished out.

We each had class at Inturcultura for 4 hours everyday. Amy was in a higher beginner level and her class was in the morning with 3 other students and Thomas’ class, the lowest level was in the afternoon with only one other German girl with him. Every morning Thomas would take a salsa dancing class with his German friend, Leonie and Amy took the class in the afternoon. Thomas really enjoyed dancing and his partner and he learned some awesome arm tangling, twisting and spinning moves. After our classes we would usually go out for a beer, some food, ice cream or a walk with our classmates. In her class, Amy got the reputation of being very studious because of how much work she would produce as her homework and Thomas struggled away just scraping by. Even though this was the case, we both ‘graduated’ at the end of the week, having to be called up in front of a group of teachers and students to receive our ‘diplomas’ from our teachers. Amy was pressured into giving a speech, in Spanish, and she managed to do quite well!

Having a drink with our friends after class
One afternoon during the week, Amy attended the school trip to the capital city San Jose, but unfortunately Thomas had class. Her teacher Marcelo was the tour guide and acted like their concerned father in this busy and reputably dangerous city. He made sure they crossed the road at the appropriate safe time and showed them around a nice area including an art museum and a famous ‘soda’, a Costa Rican diner/eatery, and Amy and three other students even went paddle boating on a lake within Parque La Sabana.

We learned some funny things about Costa Rican life from our time in Heredia. They do not have a hot water tanks and it seems to be an art to get the shower to go hot. It is heated by an electric element at the showerhead and we mostly had cold showers. There are no numerical or street addresses, instead just directions like, 200 meters north and 400 meters west of the ‘shop with the cow.’ If you ask for directions you will struggle to find help even if you’re holding a map because nobody actually seems to know the layout of their city other than these silly relative positioning. Thomas said ‘hola’ to a parrot in a tree and it said ‘hola’ back! You must put your toilet paper in a bin located next to the toilet. The central park is the centre of town, culture and socialising and it was always a nice place to sit it the shade and observe this crazy place doing its thing.

Drinking coconut water at la feria 

1 comment:

  1. That market looks and sounds amazing. I miss being able to get lots of avocados at the market. I struggle to justify $4 each here at the moment.
    Love Mum