Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Arrival...Estoy Aquí

Since I stayed up so late packing, I was lucky enough to sleep most of the flights, the trip didn't seem that long. It's only about 6 hours with the layover in El Salvador, but still, it was nice to sleep my way through it. I don't like to fly that much, not because I'm scared, I'm not patient and it's annoying to fly because all you do is wait. On the plane ride down I sat next to the cutest Costa Rican couple. They were old and didn't speak English, which was the perfect opportunity for me to start practicing my Spanish. I do have to say, I have tons of opportunities to practice at home because half my friends speak it but it's easier for me to talk to people I don't know. I don't get as nervous and don't feel stupid when I don't know. My friends are nice and all but it's just easier with strangers. Anyway, the couple was cute and we walked around together in the San Salvador airport until we boarded our flight to San Jose. I didn't see them after that because they were in the front of the plane and I was in the back so they got off a lot quicker than me, and I took my time getting to customs when we were off.

When I say, I slept through the flight, I mean, I slept through it. I was out before the take off and woke up to the pounding as we hit the ground in CR. It was aweseome. I wasn't prepared with my camera to take any pictures, which was a shame because there was some cool shots I could've gotten from the plane on the runway, oh well, next time. After we shuttled to our gate, everyone was in a hurry sto stand. This fact always amazes me...why do they hurry, get there stuff, crowd next to each other, just to wait forever for the plane doors to open. I take my time and I sit until the rows in front of me are leaving. There's no need to squish in the aisle and have to bump into strangers, I hate that.

When I could tell it was getting closer to my time to exit, I picked up my laptop bag and placed it on the seat...when I looked at it closer, there was a cockroach on it!! EWW!! I wanted to scream and run around and act like a total girl but I was on a plane full of people so I flicked it off and that was that. Eww...I touched it! Luckily, it was a small one, not like the huge one's I used to see all the time when I lived in Hawaii. So, I got off the plane, lugged my laptop, hiking backpack and pillow to the rest room, which was interesting because the stalls are really small. It was a process trying to get all my stuff in there. I exchanged some of my money, which still confuses me. They don't have bills like we do in the US. We have 1's, 5's, 20's, 50's, etc. They have 2000's, 10000's, etc. The coins re 100 and 500. I gave $100 and got 46,800.27 colones. Weird! Once I figure out the proper differences I'll blog about it.

After the money exchange I went through immigration and customs, which was an easy process. There's no fee or special requirements. You just get a stamp for 90 days. I'm only planning to stay for 60 days so it's all good. I had instructions on where to go when I exited, which I followed and found a lady from the CRLA school holding a sign with my name on it. It was a huge relief to see. I wasn't worried I would be deserted but it was still comforting to see I was on the right track. My driver, Leonel, came around and picked me up and took me to my homestay. He was awesome and I was able to continue my practice of Spanish. I'm pretty impressed with myself, I didn't realize I knew as much as I did but when I'm alone and have no friends to fall back on, I have to figure it out myself and I did pretty well. My homestay was about 30 minutes from the airport and the family is very nice. The mother and daughter are LDS like me so I can go to church with them. They also rent 4 other rooms out so I was able to meet some new people already, and they are American so it was nice to have some English in there. I was started to feel very overwhelmed.

The picture to the right is my room. The house I'm staying in is very nice. I unpacked and sat down for lunch. I was starting to feel really overwhelmed because I was only understanding about half of what was being said to me. I felt really lonely and disconnected from my friends and family and was ready to turn around and go home...I mean, I didn't have my cell phone! Haha! I was told the local phone service is expensive so we shouldn't use our homestays phones, even with phone cards so I couldn't call anyone. Then, HALLELUJAH, Maribel (my host Mom) saw I had a laptop and told me they had wireless internet!! I was so relieved, hoped right online and felt at home again. I texted my friend to say I was safe (Verizon lets you text through the computer to other Verizon people, it's pretty cool), emailed Mom to say I was safe and then chatted a bit with my "special friend," whom I miss a lot right now.

It started raining shortly after I got here and thunderstormed through the night. My host family went to see a movie but I opted out to take a nap. When they came back they brought me dinner, which was a burger and fries, I felt so at home. It was "que rico," or delicious. It was better than any burger I ever had back in the States. Food outside the U.S. is almost always better and more fresh. We have way too many chemicals in our food, maybe that's why half the country is overweight. Anyway, I watched a little TV with them and then went to bed. We watched an American movie, in Spanish, so it was easier for me to catch what was being said because I'd seen it before. Good times. Now, it's about 6:45am and I'm wide awake. I love jumping back time zones because you wake up early and aren't tired. I'm not a morning person but I want to be so it's something I enjoy.

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