21 July 2014; Day 1 – Settling In
I am typing this from my new home, which is located in Moravia, Costa Rica. I’d tell you the address, but I can’t because they don’t have street addresses here! Basically they just use landmarks and describe locations in relation to other locations. It’s a bit of a transition, but I’ll get used to it! The good news is that I know where I live and can find my way around. Just don’t send any letters any time soon. 🙂
The day began at the Hotel Bougainvillea, where the school put us up for the night. I wanted to take a walk in the garden, which I could tell is beautiful, but I let myself sleep in a bit (though I was still up by 8). I headed down to breakfast, where I had gallo pinto (rice and beans) and platanos (plantains), among other things like fresh fruit and some eggs. The view was great, and I sat with a couple other Lincoln teachers getting to know them and marveling at the fact that we live here now.
After desayuno, it was time to get the show on the road! I went upstairs, repacked the few things I had taken out, and then made my way back to the lobby. We piled all our bags into the bus (I wish I had taken a photo because it was pretty ridiculous), and headed to our apartments! My building has nine apartments in it, and as it turns out, they are all rented to Lincoln School teachers (seven of whom are newbies like me). So yeah, it’s basically Melrose Place without the pool or scandal.
We brought our bags into the apartments, checked things out a bit, and loaded back into the van. Our next stop was Lincoln School, where we had a tour and met a bunch of people. I kept getting more and more excited about this place because I can tell already that the school is a great fit for me. Everything about it reminded me of my ed leadership classes, where I learned that you can tell a lot about the culture of the school just by the things on the walls and what greets you in the lobby. Well, in this lobby, there were huge color photos of Lincoln students looking happy and successful. In the secondary school (which is an IB school), the IB learner profile poster hung in every classroom, and they had huge IB learner profile posters hanging in the atrium. (If you know me professionally at all, you know that I am a huge nerd about the IB learner profile, so I was extremely excited to see it highlighted like it was.) The teachers’ lounge literally has lounge chairs, but what I liked even more was the bookshelf with professional publications right as you walk in. I could tell that the school wants its teachers to be happy, but there is also an expectation of professionalism and learning. I will really love it there.
Once we finished the tour, we went to lunch at Rosti Pollo. The school treated us, which was much appreciated. Of course there were more rice and beans, and this time there was guac! I do love me some guac; I know it won’t be long before I make some here. **Edit: at the time of this posting (Friday evening), I have made pesto but no guac yet.** Lunch was fun; the director of the school met with us and took some time chatting to see how our travels went. So far everyone has just been so nice and welcoming. It definitely makes the transition easier, because of course I do find myself missing Biotech. I keep talking about “my kids” and realizing they’re not exactly “my kids” anymore. So there’s definitely some bittersweet feelings happening, but I know it’s just all part of the process.
We went back to the school after lunch to take care of some banking (apparently there’s a bank at my school?!) and then took off for the grocery store. I didn’t get too much because I just wasn’t mentally ready to think about what kinds of food I wanted to have in the apartment, and since I have no pots and pans or anything, I knew I wouldn’t be cooking tonight. **Edit #2: I now have pots and pans!** So I just got things like yogurt and bananas for breakfast, plus a few snacks since I literally brought NO food with me. Then we came home and signed contracts for internet service (which I won’t have until Thursday or so…if you are reading this, I have found Starbucks). **Edit 3: It’s Friday evening and I still don’t have wifi at my apartment. I think this is typical for Costa Rica.** I haven’t been able to swap SIM cards yet to get cellular data because I didn’t know that it takes two to five days for AT&T to unlock a phone (how is it possible in 2015 that anything online takes two to five days??). I’m definitely feeling a little nervous about just not having a signal of any sort, but it’s also kind of refreshing to not have my phone on me every five seconds. **Edit 4: I have since switched SIM cards but then ran out of data in like 12 hours. So my NJ phone number exists no more.**
Yet I digress.
Anyway, I’ve spent the rest of the day at the apartment getting settled in, hanging out with my new friends, and unwinding after a busy week. I haven’t unpacked too much yet because we are going shopping for housewares tomorrow. There isn’t much storage in the apartment (for example: I have no drawers here), so I want to wait and get some bins and baskets tomorrow before I start throwing stuff everywhere. We all got together earlier and compared shopping lists to help brainstorm about what we want to get. I did get a relocation allowance, but I still don’t want to go crazy spending. Making the list was soothing. Now I’m about to have some bread, cheese, and fruit for dinner, and then I’ll probably read or draw for a bit before bed. I can totally understand why ticos go to bed so early; it was pretty much pitch black by 7:00, and now it just feels late even though it’s only 7:14pm. I really hope this will help me adjust my body clock and sleep normal hours. Being a night owl is too exhausting, and I think I’ll need to leave for school earlier this year than in the past.
Overall, it has been a great first day. I am getting along well with my new colleagues, and I love my apartment and neighborhood. Tomorrow after the school takes us shopping for housewares, a few of us are going to walk to the mall. I am hoping to find wifi, post this post (and my first one), unlock my phone, and feel connected again. I do miss everyone at home, but I still know this was the right decision for me. It hasn’t yet sunk in that I’m not on vacation or anything; this is where I will be for at least the next two years, maybe more. I think it’ll be a good six months before I internalize that fact. But in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy each day as it comes to me! Thanks for reading, and ¡pura vida!
Final edit: Much of this post is outdated already. I will put together a new one with some updates some time this weekend! Next week will be busy; I have new teacher training at school all week. Then regular staff days on August 3 and 4, and the kids start August 5! Ahhhhh crazy! Ok bye!