Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday morning

We just finished lunch and we are back to classes.  During the first session of their classes I got my phone activated with a Costa Rican phone number.  Since the program here gave me a cell phone I have my phone to Jahre and Walter to make sure they could contact me as needed.  That phone can only call and text locally here in Costa Rica.  The other boys have T-Mobile service which offered an unlimited international texting and data plan and have been keeping in touch with me and the chaperones that way.  So now all the kids are connected. 

I also visited the bank during their first session.  We can only change $100 per person per day, and the total amount the group needs changed is more than that. So at 3 (5pm Atlanta time) we will take a group trip to the bank to exchange money.  Followed by a city tour! 

Tuesday afternoon

The poor livingAfter classes at 3pm we walked to the bank to change money.  Each of the students spoke to the bank teller on their own to exchange their own money.  Some were very nervous and didn't think they could find the words to get the job done, but I told them they were smart enough to figures it out, and can do it without my help.... And they did!

After the bank we jumped on our tour bus for a city tour.  We saw the whole city and learned so much here's a quick list:

1. The president lives in his original condo, not a White House type government resident.

2. Costa Rica has a universal health care system.  Incomes are only taxes at 9% to provide free health, dental, vision, etc. free of charge no matter the illness or treatment. 

3. Costa Rica has top knotch public school system and plenty of excellent private school.

4.  The University of Costa Rica is one of the best in Central America and cost $800 USD a year!!! No I did NOT forget a "0" it's only eight hundred dollars a year.  The school year is March- December, with January and February as the "summer" months.

5. Their old prison is now a children's museum. 

6. Costa Rica doesn't have an army.so all the money that most countries spend on defense Costa Rica uses for nature conservation and education.

7.  All pregnant women and children under 12 years old receive fee healthcare even if they are not Costa Rican citizens. 

8.  Escazú, is a neighborhood wheret the richest and the poorest live side by side with the rich living on the hill tops looking over then. 

9.  The costa Rican presidents live serve 4 year terms and con serve two terms but not consecutively. 

10.  The Costa Rican police department protect the outsider of US embassy.  Not the US military. 

11. China gifted Costa Rica a huge beautiful stadium.  They sent thousands of chinese construction workers to build the stadium and once it was finished they all left and returned to China.  

On the bus


Stadium gift from China 

U.S. Embassy

Downtown square

Street art

Here are a few clips for the tour:

About an hour ago we strand a little restaurant then went next door to a large restaurant with big screen tv'so to watch the soccer game. 

We are currently at a restaurant watching the Costa Rican national soccer team play the Panamanian national team in Panama.  

Yesterday's dance class and a rainy Tuesday

Here is video footage from yesterday's dance class: 

The boys showed all their silly dance moves and learned how to hold their own in merengue.  It was lots of  fun!  

After dancing we all sat and hug out for a while.  At 5pm all the host mothers came to show their babies the way home on the bus.  Originally we paid for a private bus to take us back and forth from our houses to the school, however after seeing how well the boys are adjusting to Costa Rica the program coordinators and I agreed that the boys would have a more authentic experience traveling on the public bus in pairs.  I talked to the kids about it and they also liked the idea.  So each morning from the neighborhood they will pay 300¢ colones ( about 75cent) to get to school and in the evening we will all ride back on the bus together since we all catch the same bus and all our homes are walking distance from each other.  What do you all think of this new arrangement?  Please let us know! 

The host mothers all love the boys.  They are their "big babies" they tell me.  All the boys tower over their host mothers but are still children at heart. They are getting lots of hugs and nurturing from their new moms.  Expect them to come home spoiled rotten! 

The traffic going home on the bus yesterday was heavier than usually and we didn't get to our neighborhood until almost 6:30pm.  By 8 all the kids are their dinner with their families.  The kids do an excellent job of calling, texting, face timing me from their houses.  

At about 9 one of the students called my concerned that their roommate was have an asthma attack and coughing a lot. The other chaperones and I left out house immediately to check on him. He is just fine.  His host mother prepared a home remedy for him to stop the coughing.  I think 2 of the kids are having to adjust to the altitude difference here.  Atlanta is 1000 feet above sea level and sane Jose is almost 4000 feet about sea level.  Altitude sickness usual causes fatigue, headaches, breathing problems, but once your body adjusts after a few days the symptoms subside.  The two student who were having the symptoms are much better this morning and their mighers have already been notified. 
This morning I arrived to the school by bus before the kids but I waited at the bus stop for them to make sure they got off at the right place.  They all ended up in the same bus from our neighborhood and got here without any issues.  Woohoo! II knew they would do well.  They are all in class now.  I'm working on planned an event after or city tour today .  I'll keep you updated! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Video of Costa Rican Language Academy

Here is a video of the school and is being served lunch.  The boys are now finishing up classes then we will have a dance class.

While the kids in class I scoped out a nearby mall and movie theatre I'll make sure we get to those sometimes this week.  Stay tuned for a dance class video. 

Costa Rican Language Academy

Our school ID cards

We are all in class and are official study abroad students in Costa Rica.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ruinas de Osorí and futbol

Before going to see the ruins of Costa Rica's dirt cathedral we tried some tropical fruit.  After seeing the cathedral me and some of the boys out our feet in the cool stream that runs through the area. 

Immediately after having a blast in Cartago we headed for a soccer game. Two professional teams from Costa Rica were playing one named Saprissa, and I can't remember the other teams name.  I was informed that it would normally be a big game but since the national team from Costa Rica would be playing against  Panama, in Panama, on Tuesday night that all the really good players were out of town to play on Tuesday,  here is a video of the game experience.

Video of soccer game:

Selling soccer jerseys outside of the stadium


Departing Atlanta- ft lauderdale lay over
I was not allowed to film in Costa Rica while passing through customs and immigration 

Our tour of the church in Cartago, looking out over the mirador, eating soursop, checking out the chayote vibes 

First day in Costa Rica (revised)

The boys all woke up early and ready to see the city.  We were scheduled for breakfast at 8am in each household with pick up at 9:30.  By 8:15 the kids were calling me because they were "bored".   Most of them woke up around 7 am too excited to sleep anymore.  Our program coordinators wanted to be thoughtful and let us sleep in since we got in at 1am but the boys were ready to go as soon as their eyes opened.  Our ride came around 11:30.  Cindy was our tour guide and Alejandro our driver.  

Our first stop was a short drive to neighboring cartago.  Cartago was the original capital of Costa Rica, it was later replaced by the current capital San José. 

This old church was built twice, each time being destroyed by earthquakes.  It's now a tourist attraction and garden. 

Once we left the ruins of the old cathedral Alejandro had bottled water waiting for us. ¡Gracias Alejandro! After a quick bathroom stop next was la Valle de orosi.  We went to the "mirador" (lookout), and the view was amazing.


After a few we drove down the valley to eat lunch at restaurants pipiola.  We all ate a traditional Costa Rican meal of rice, beef (or fish), fried plantains, salad, and a local vegetable called chayote.  

Lunch was great and we got a quick glimpse of where they grow the chayote. They are grown on trellises like grape vines.  You can walk under them and pull off the chayote. Here are pix of above and below the chayote. 

My phone number in Costa Rica

If you need to contact us there are several ways:

1.  Text my regular US number free of charge

2. Text me through what's app, free of charge.

3. Text or call me through the viber app free of charge

4. Call my Costa Rican phone at 506-8928-2165 this I'll be charged as an international long distance call.  

We are all settled into out host families.  I've met all the host mothers and seen all of their beautiful homes.  As always, your sons are in good hands.  It's 2:47 am right now.  Breakfast will be served at 8am and the tour to the neighboring town Cartago starts at 9am.  Look for our updates in the morning! 

Bienvenidos a Costa Rica

We are here!!!  Isabel for the Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) was there to pick us up.  

We are 2 hours behind Atlanta time.  It's 1:42am and we are on route to our host families.  We will sleep a while and then we start a full day of tours, sightseeing, and plenty of laughs I'm sure!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Costa Rica bound

We all arrived at the airport between 3:30-4.  Everyone was anxious and excited about the upcoming adventure.  Luckily check-in was easy and the security line was the shortest and fastest I'd ever seen.  

We arrived at the D concourse 3 hours before our departure for our ft lauderdale layover and decided to use the time to change money and eat.  We had to go to the E concourse to get everything we needed. We each changed about $40usd each them took our time eating at McDonalds.  

We made it back to the D concourse and  had a surprise visit from Ms Venisee!  I knew she was coming and shortly after the boys talked about missing her she popped up.  She will meet us in Costa Rica tomorrow.  

Last usie before stepping on the aircaft.

This is Walter's first flight and it was over a beautiful, colorful sunset.  

We are now waiting at the airport in ft lauderdale for our connecting flight to Costa Rica.  We are all chilling and the boys are watching a basketball game at the closest restaurant.  I'll update you all of our safe arrival as soon as we land.