Home away from home.
04/30/2010 - 05/31/2010
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When I arrived in Quepos I had a big grin on my face. Quepos has definitely become my home away from home. I’m not really sure where my actual home is any more. I guess if you go by the old saying “Home is where the Jeep is.”, my home is Florence, CO. If you go by the other old saying “Home is where most of your crap is stored.”, my home is San Francisco, CA. It’s a toss-up. Anyway, it was nice to be back in a place that I was familiar with. I knew the best place to sleep, best place to eat, best place to get mugged ... I checked into the Wide Mouth Frog and headed over to Los Pescadores for a beer, sports on TV, classic rock, and hooker watching (they all know me and know I’m not interested so I don’t get propositioned any more). Ahhhh ... good to be home.
I decided to stay at the Wide Mouth Frog for a few nights before checking in with my Tico family. I met some interesting characters in those few days. A wedding party from Denver was staying at the Frog. They were a very musical family. Everyone played guitar and a few played harmonica. They all sat around the pool singing mostly bluegrass to or with one another and they were good. Listening to a family from Denver singing bluegrass in the land of salsa and reggae-tone (reggatone? ... whatever) was a bit strange but a nice break from salsa and reggae-tone. I talked to one of the girls from the wedding group later that night for a little while. She was nice enough but after the third iteration of me explaining to her that I grew up in Colorado Springs and her asking me if I was Catholic I decided I had something important to do somewhere else. We had the exact same Colorado Springs/Catholic snippet of conversation three times. Apparently she believes the fringe ultra conservative churches in Colorado Springs are Catholic and everyone in Colorado Springs attends those churches. Most definitely she was completely hammered.
So I wandered off to find out what that important thing was that I had to do. Turns out I had to go play gin for awhile with two guys in the common area. They were English teachers from Heredia ... Instituto Politecnico. Are you kidding me? Now I’m being stalked by Instituto Politecnico thugs? No. They came down to Quepos for some beach time and general R&R. I told them the story about my interview and associated failure and frustrations with that institution. They just smiled and nodded and said “Yeah, that sounds about right.” They confirmed that the English Director at Politecnico has way too much work on his plate and has trouble keeping it together. We played gin for a few hours. Good guys. Still no job.
I moved back in with my Tico family on Sunday morning, three nights after arriving in Quepos. I gave them a not very detailed description of my travels over the last month. The description was not detailed because my Spanish still stinks. I go Montezuma. Very pretty. After, I go Samara. Very pretty. I have Gringo. Not much smart. I think that’s about how I sound to my Tico family. Hoping to avoid the do nothing rut I found myself in before leaving Quepos a month ago, I decided to sign up for Spanish class at COSI (Costa Rican Spanish Institute) in Manuel Antonio. $350/week for four hours a day. Not cheap. A little cheaper if you book more than a week at a time. There were no other students at my level (read, I was the stupidest Spanish student in the whole school) so I got private lessons for the week for the same price (only three hours a day though ... plenty). Why did I study French in high school? My instructor was good and kind of a nut. We had a good time together especially during the ad-hoc conversation parts of every lesson. We talked about my Jeep and other parts of the family a lot. I spent the first day learning my ABC’s and then pronouncing words that were shown to me on flash cards designed for pre-schoolers. I didn’t mind. It was fun. “Bahnco.” “Mui Bien, Daniel! Mui Bien!” I felt so proud. On the last day I got to assemble words from puzzle pieces that matched a picture. Good times.
I finished up a week of Spanish class and decided I’d had enough. It was expensive and I retained maybe 10% of what was presented to me. I didn’t study enough to keep up with the pace of the class but at least now I had a foundation. I can conjugate. I have a list of 200 nouns, 200 adjectives and 200 verbs to learn at my leisure. I know the days of the week, months of the year and how to count. My Tico family says I’m getting a lot better at Spanish but I don’t really notice it. I can only speak in the present tense, that is if I can manage to remember all the words to string a full sentence together. I point backwards to make my sentence past tense and forward to make my sentence future tense. I’m pretty sure there’s a monkey somewhere that knows more Spanish than me. I did pick up some good techniques for teaching language during the whole process, a definite plus if I ever wind up teaching.
Teaching ... yeah, I’m still not doing that. Some of that has to do with my half hearted job search limited to areas inside Costa Rica and outside of San Jose. Since most of the Costa Rican English teaching jobs are in San Jose opportunities are few for me. I have lost most of the excitement and momentum that I had coming out of TEFL training. I still want to teach somewhere, somehow to see if I really like doing it but I don’t think the somewhere is going to be Costa Rica. The last few weeks I have been trying to come up with a revamped plan for the rest of the year. Lots of ideas have come and gone ... travel through South America, head North through Central America, find a volunteer teaching job, find any job in Quepos (hotels look for English speakers), blog for money somehow, find a software engineering contract. A friend suggested that I write a travel related book. One of the locals who calls himself Tony Baloney suggested that I open up a computer learning school in Quepos. He guarantees I’ll be successful and the people of Quepos will love me for it. Good grief. I don’t know which way to go at this point. The stubborn in me wants to find a teaching job and resolve the whole teaching as a career question. The adventurer in me wants to take on some new and exciting challenge. The practical in me wants to make some money right now.
For the last couple of weeks my head has been spinning. What the heck is my life going to be? ... a mishmash of short term jobs (that I have been unsuccessful at finding so far) and travel? Will I return to the standard 9-5 professional job in the U.S.? I’ve done a lot of aimless wandering (literally). I walk around town, talk to people on occasion. I’ve been going out a lot at night, having a few beers, trying to get out of my own head. My mind drifts back home a lot lately.
My 25th high school reunion is in July in Colorado Springs. I want to go so I am going. Screw all of the unknowns for now. I leave Costa Rica on July 1. In the meantime I’m going to hit the road again for awhile. I’m heading for Monteverde and then on to Nicaragua. There. One more month of my life is mapped out.