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!