It’s been a little slow trying to get things moving here – think swimming in a pool of molasses – and I was also having this reoccurring dream (nightmare?) that I was in Costa Rica preparing for the ‘real Peace Corps’ – which is of course located somewhere else much more difficult. Subtext of my subconscious: I felt guilty about having a hard time in what in many ways really is paradise, which only compounded my stress levels making things more difficult, which caused me to feel more guilty, and so on… Umph.
This is what happens when you’re raised Catholic.
Enough of all that. I’m coming up on my seventh month in Costa Rica and forth month in my town of El Higuerón. Other than attending birthday parties, baby showers and making tamales with old women I’ve actually began a few little projects – for those of you who are wondering what on earth I am doing with my life (and it’s ok if you were, sometimes I do too).
My one ‘completed’ project was a BINGO fundraiser put on with the Health Committee. We raised enough money to put two new doors on our health center, which were installed last week, but I did not win any of the prizes in the BINGO. So, you know, mixed results.
I’m still tagging along to all the meetings with our local development association trying to the road into my town paved. There is really no way to express how fundamental this would be to the community’s development. It would increase everything from access to healthcare and employment to being able to have our trash collected so people would stop burning it. We are coming up short about $30,000 for $600,000 budget (not bad) so if anyone out there has some extra change they want to throw our way…
I am also working with the local school to start an environmental education and recycling program that looks promising. It’s partly selfish: I just can’t bring myself to bury or burn plastic bottles.
Three teenage girls from the town have agreed to team up with me to start a group for girls aged 8-12 called Chicas Poderosas, or Powerful Girls, that includes a series of 11 workshops where we discuss themes from self esteem to nutrition to planning for the future. This is probably what I am most excited about as there are literally no recreational activities for young girls in our town and, not surprisingly, we struggle with high rates of teen pregnancy.
I’ve been tacked onto the sports committee which is looking for funding sources to put lights on the soccer field and I have been trying to support the women’s group getting a small factory built where they can produce their ice cream products but it is starting to remind me a little too much of working with a sorority. And not the good parts.
There are also my English classes, which continue to happen every week but it’s anyone’s guess who learns more – me or the students.
It’s rainy season so most things have started to mold (including my jeans, shoes and new puppy who has some kind of fungus I’m trying to treat) and grow like crazy. Sometimes I feel like I’m really living in Jumanji only without the lion or Robin Williams.
The wildlife we do have here never ceases to amaze me: I saw a sloth cross the street with on a telephone wire with its baby on its belly, it was straight out of planet earth, and I temporarily had a pet lizard in my room. How did I know it was my pet lizard and not one of the hundreds of others scampering around our house? I put a spot of hot pink nail polish on its back. I think I have a future in animal tracking.
I also have to share with the world that I took a five hour bus to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers play live in San Jose. Just that.
So that’s the cliffnotes version of my life right now. I’m not exactly saving the world, but I could be doing worse.