Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nine days left to impregnate myself

Don't jump to conclusions.  This isn't an over-share.  This isn't a plea of any kind.  It's a play on words.  What I'm really looking to do is embarrass myself... get it?  Ha, ha?  Maybe?

A warning I often received before going to visit Costa Rica the first time was that if you were embarrassed, expressing it with a hearty "embarazada!" would not get the response you desire.  That would in fact be a loud proclamation of "I'm pregnant!"  Not one of those words you can just drop and pretend to know what's going on...

I, like many people, do not like to look stupid.  It upsets my stomach.  When I don't know what's going on (or when I am really embarrassed) I clam up, my mind clears completely and I can't wipe the panic off my face.  I have decided, however, that it would be in my best interest to practice and to learn how best to deal with this discomfort.  My theory is, if I practice playing the fool now, it won't be as hard when I really am the fool.

I'm making an effort, therefore, to self impose a little bit of foolish energy (hence, the title and majority of this post).  Yesterday for example, I called the Costa Rican Consulate and sounded really confused.  Somehow, I managed to misspell my own last name and had to wait for 5 minutes while someone (who seamed really busy) searched for my paperwork.  To add insult to injury, I realized that I would have to call back almost immediately, but in the spirit of not caring how much of an idiot I looked like, I mustered up the courage and did so.  Then I ran into the neighbor's yard to pose with their snowman.  Whoa, blowing your mind with this crazy behavior, right?  Baby steps.

Seriously though, if I'm not willing to make mistakes in front of people, how can I expect them to make mistakes in front of me?  Learning a new language is really hard and having the guts to talk if you're 95% certain you're wrong makes it even more of a challenge.

For some of you who have seen my loud ways, it may be hard to believe that I am most often a pretty shy person.  I know that I can fly off the handle and rant for what must seem like hours, but there is actually a lot of processing time in my brain too.  I often rework the same thought, phrase, or little bit of courage for quite a while before I can convince myself to speak.

Which is why this blog is interesting in itself.  I like writing it and I like the idea of people reading it, but I feel like I have to have something significant before I post something.  It's good to write something worth sharing, but making that decision seems to take me forever.  Sometimes I find myself just wanting to sit in front of the computer all day, babbling like mad.  While other times I come up with a great idea, or so I think for a few minutes, but by the time I actually get to writing it down, I've completely talked myself out of it.  There have been times in my life when I have been encouraged to write.  This time I am going to really try and follow through with it.

Don't worry, I won't publish everything, but this is the kind of journey that may need to be digested in written form.  I ask for your patience, oh good readers.  Additionally, if you would like to join me in the spirit of folly, I welcome you to face that feeling in the pit of your stomach and boldly blunder.  It would make me feel better to know that I'm not alone on this path.

What will I do today that may be really embarrassing?  I've decided to publish this post.  Even though estoy muy apenado.  I am very embarrassed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Activities May Include Chopping Wood with a Machete

I'm going to be totally honest here.  I'm terrified of snakes.  It's kind of consuming all of my thoughts about Alto Varas, the village I will soon be living in.  That's right, the long awaited email finally arrived.  Descriptions of the tranquil farming village nestled in the mountains of Costa Rica's Central Valley overlooking the larger town of Turriabla danced in my head.  Milk cows, make cheese, swim in the nearby river, pick fruit from the trees, read on the porch while overlooking the valley, wield a machete!  Oh yeah.  Neat!

But as I read further, I noticed not one, but two references to snakes.  In Spanish: serpiente or culebra.  I don't really know a lick of Spanish, but I now know TWO words for snake.  I mean, it's cool.  Additional research showed me that not very many people actually get bit by snakes (fewer than 500 per year are reported in Costa Rica) and of the 135 species living in Costa Rica only 17 are poisonous and most of the snake bites were reported by farmers.  I'm sure I'll be ok, up there in the mountains, in that, what was it?  Farming village?  Carrying around a big flashlight and a machete if they let me.  No, in truth, I'll run away from a worm that looks at me funny.  I'm going to be real impressive for a bit.  We'll see how hot it has to get before I swim in what I am sure is a beautiful river...  (Here may a good place to note:  snakes (with few exceptions) don't want human interaction, it's best to back away from them, if they charge at you (eeeeek) stomp the ground to cause vibrations, and poor attempts at killing snakes are the cause for most bites humans endure.)  But enough about this fear.

My host parents are a bit older and all of their children are grown with families living in the same village.  My host father is a dairy farmer and makes cheese and he loves to show people where he works, my host mother will be concerned if I spend too much time inside or don't eat enough.  One host sister has been generous with allowing rides on her horse (though riding is bareback and the horse is prone to tripping when going down hills).  The family dog has been known to follow volunteers to school and hang out in their classroom.  For each family member described, laughter is included.  They sound like wonderful people, welcoming (of additional house guests too, should anyone be so inclined) and kind.  The 22 students (broken into grades 1-6) are eager to learn and from the sounds of it, adorable.  There have been six WorldTeach teachers in the village already, which means the kids know all the words to the songs I will learn during orientation.  Perhaps I can learn some on the banjo while I'm sitting on the porch that's great for reading to change up their experience a bit.

I can't believe I am actually about to embark on what is certain to be an amazing (though challenging) journey.  Thanks so much to all of those people who have helped get me to this point by offering your support and enthusiasm.  It's really happening!  In 23 days no less.  It's terribly exciting and yet, there is actually a lot of fear in my stomach too, and believe it or not, it's not all related to snakes.  Not only am I leaving so many people and places that I love, but changes are coming, much to learn, and so much English grammar to remember (have I mentioned I'm a really bad speller?).  Now that I think about it, I guess that's my cue to get back to the preparations.

So for now, hasta luego! and Muchas Gracias!