What´s common in velocoraptor coyote, breakfast Mr. Bean style, 50 kilo bags of cement and beauty pageant?
It all happened in less than one week in to my project!
I’m living in a small town called Los Jazmines with a wonderful host family. My host mom is Gladys, host Dad Marco, host sister Irene (I also call her Ammi), her partner Douglas, her son Oscar and God daughter Daniella. Ammi who is only 29 is one of the more successful entrepreneurs in my town, or so it seems. Her house has TV, DVD players, latest mvies, washing machine, pool, you name it. As my friends put it, I’m living the high life 🙂 My new family is absolutely amazing. Already I feel like I am a part of the family. Today my Mom said that I am like her little baby. Somehow I have managed to earn the nickname Princessa! Go figure!
I have a room, that I shared with Daniella until Friday when she left. Here, the kids have two weeks vacation in the summer (wet season). Longer in the winter (dry season). Daniella came to stay with Ammi for her vacation. By the way, when I say summer or winter, really I am refering to Canadian summer and winter. Costa Rica only has two seasons – wet and dry.
I have to be honest, the first day was less than pleasant. I was tired from having to wait for 4 hours at the airport for my group the night before. We stayed at a hostel in San Jose, so I got my taste of hostel life. I must say the hostel’s pool area was kinda cool at night. I barely got any sleep that night, and woke up at 5am to catch the bus to Upala, the nearest town from Los Jasmines. The bus ride was super bumpy and I am not sure after this I can handle many more such bus rides. With all my stuff, it just was not a fun ride.
On the way, we quickly discovered something I wish we hadn’t. Unlike in San Jose, here it didn’t seem that the people washed their hands after they use the washroom! That took away my craving for the delicious looking sweets at the bakery. I also got a real taste of Tico Time (very lalala approach to keeping to time) which at first bothered me because I hate waiting in general for anything or anyone.
Day 2 was a lot better. We had our orientation and got to learn more about the history of Reto Juvenil Internacional’s projects in the community, the work that we’ll be doing, about each other and about Costa Rica. In the afternoon, Ammi took us to her pineapple fields and gave us a spontaneous tour. I am proud to say, I learnt a 150 times more spanish in my two days than I did in the last year! I was able to carry out full conversations in Spanish with my family. But much of that credit needs to be given to Ammi who is absolutely amazing.
Ammi has so much patience with me, and much like the two-year old that I can be sometimes, I learnt a lot of Espanol from Ammi by pointing at things and looking up my dictionary when stuck. Bear in mind, I am not really trying to make grammatically correct sentences.
I am truly inspired by Ammi. For a 29 year old in a small town like Los Jasmines, she’s made herself quite an established entrepreneur. Her business exports organic and inorganic pineapples, maize (corn). She also sells milk, eggs, chicken, fruits to the local market. Her mom sells beautiful pieces of artwork that she sews. It’s all very impressive. For a 29 year old to accomplish as much as she has is amazing, and as if that’s not enough she has a magnetic personality and her heart of gold. Already I have seen so many examples of how she is ready to lend a hand to whoever could use some help. I have a lot to learn from her – it’s absolutely inspiring!
Reto Juvenil Internacional (RJI) is the organization that YCI in Canada partners with for the development projects in Costa Rica. In turn, RJI partners with local community groups to plan and implement community driven sustainable development projects. In Los Jazmines, RJI is working with a women’s group for the project that we’re working on. I’ll talk more about it in the coming weeks. So much has happened in the last few weeks, I have been writing pages and pages in my journal and it’s still not enough. I don’t have a lot of time either. So I will let the pictures do the talking again.
Here are some quick highlights from this week:
- My new family and the community of Los Jasmines– I already talked about my family. Much more to be said about each member and I’ll give it a rest for now. Yesterday my adorable 5 year old nephew Oscar and bonita 10 year old niece Daniella painted two lovely pictures for me that said “I love you Sayma” – It really touched my heart. My new mom and dad simply adores me as their little princessa of their casa (home). As one of my team mates pointed out, it really is tru, the people who have the least give the most. And this is true of every person in my family and every member of the Los Jasmines community I have worked with so far. The people have welcomed us with their loving hearts, open arms and warm hugs.
- My team – Megan, Moira, Shayan and our program officer Esteban. I don´t think I could have picked a better team if I designed it myself. I don´t know how I would have coped with all our experiences without them. We are now in Day 5 and are slowly starting to get over our initial shock. One evening we sat on the my front porch for chit chat after a long dramatic day of moving heavy blocks of cement for the classroom we´ll be building. We laughed and joked about our stories for hours! The more we learn about each other the more respect and liking we´re growing for each other. I might be the oldest in the group but my team members have a lot to teach me. As I would say in Espanol, estoy afortunada.
- We got a taste of the strength and courage of the women´sgroup one day. The materials for the construction arrived in a truck one day. Just before the truck entered the school ground, it got stuck in the mud. So we had to unload tonnes and tonnes of cement blocks and rods and such. The women quickly got organized and got to work while many others just stood there watching, and even laughing,
Okay I must run, so quickly I´ll tell you the stories.
Megan thought one night her house was attacked by something. She heard strange bangs on her door, followed by screeching and howling sounds – after a terrified night at the house, next day she found out it was her step mom doing some work around the house in the middle of the night!
The 50 kg bags of cement were hard for any 2 or 3 of us to lift. The people here work so hard and have so much strength, they carried two of those bags each on their shoulders!!
My breakfast this morning – hahaha let´s save that one for later, I really have to run, But think Mr. Been (spelling?), think rice and beans, and think about the episode of Mr. Been where he went to the restaurant and ordered something strange on the menu!
Beauty pageant was super cute, the town is hosting a all weekend event starting this Friday. Last night after the church mass, there was a beauty pageant fundraiser for cute little babies. It was just so adorable watching them. The little girl who raised the most money was awarded with a crown!
Adios for now!