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PCV Monique M. Green
Apartado 98-5200
Nicoya, Guanacaste
Costa Rica

Monday, July 5, 2010

Día de la Independencia y un baile, of course!

July 4, 2010
Día de la Independencia y un baile, of course!
Happy Independence DAY!!!!!!!! It is my first Independence Day celebrated away from my country and will not be the last. I could have gone to an event hosted by The American Embassy in Costa Rica to celebrate like the norteamericana that I am, but decided otherwise. Instead, I spent the day in Santa Cruz, visiting a volunteer. We along with another PCV and her host sisters went to a Disco Automóvil (a dance). It was exhilarating experience. I heard a mix of reggaton, reggae, typical Spanish music. I danced meringue, salsa, bachata, the Costa Rican swing, and a host of other dances. I’ve never taken classes; I have just observed a few folks and repeated the moves. I am sure I was not as suave as the others, but I couldn’t help but to move the beat was calling me. There was, also, a band of youths, dressed in colorful costumes dancing, singing, and playing the drums to this beautiful Caribbean style rhythm. Everyone was really moving. It was suppose to end at 5 am, but we called it quits around 1:30 am. I am not sure what is up, but I was extremely tired. I’ve gone to other dances with my host sister and have been able to stay up later, but yesterday I was exhausting and although I had fun I was falling asleep in the disco.
How horrible! Maybe the overstimulation drained the little energy I had left. Also, I was involuntary dragged into impromptu activities taking place in her community. She works with this group of women Artisans to improve their business practices and techniques. From what I’ve observed, the apparent issues is that within a 1 block radius there were at least 6, if not more, Artisans competing in a hidden area where there is no demand. Of the six or so, only two have contracts with Tour company, and their group is not one of them. We’ve discussed that they ought to focus on what the strength and weaknesses of the others and try to set themselves apart. They are off to a good start because they are the only group of Artisans’ that sell food. Perhaps if they did interactive demonstrations to a group of tourist, as well as build relationships with Tour Companies there would be a demand for their art. Vamos a ver. The Artisan’s group was also selling arroz con leche and making home deliveries within the community to raise money. We not only ate the delicious and rich rice dessert, we were making deliveries and selling them to passing tourist and in the humid heat , which I am still not accustomed to. We met some North Americans, studying abroad , who decided after reading a Costa Rica tour book to visit Guatil. So we also, hung out with them and they’ve participated in our activities. I think we completed Goals 2 & 3 (Interchanging cultural experiences).
I called an Out of Community (OOC), so that I could step outside of my reality and observe that of another volunteer. It was what I really needed, I was beginning to feel unmotivated, disorganized, and distressed by the lack of ambition within the past few weeks. As most schools were preparing for the school winter break (July 5- 19) and last minute exams, I’ve been less needed and it became apparent they were too busy to be involved in my CAT (community diagnostic). Meeting after meeting was being cancelled. I get it, around break seasons; just find other preoccupations, ya lo sé. So, I will!!!!!! Tired. It is 8:09 Central Time, but I am going to watch La Flor del Desierto before I go to sleep or until I fall the sleep.

The tales of an introvert

June 27, 2010
The tales of an over stimulated introvert
Sometimes, I want to hang out in my room and blast my stereo. I don’t own a stereo, so I’ll turn on my MP3 instead. I am going to turn up the volume until I can turn down my own thoughts. I want peace. Peace of mind. I get overwhelm by the monotony of my days, the slashing and burning of garbage in the streets, the stench of burnt plastic, the mound of white rice on my plate, the kids out playing at all hours of the day, aren’t school hours from 7am until 3pm? Are is that just a US thing? Did I mention, I can predict my neighbors’ schedules? I know when they wake-up, prepare breakfast, send the kids off, that is if they go, wash clothes, cook lunch, watch their telenovela, Calamidades belleza, cook dinner, and the list goes on. Where is my metro train to take me to the other side of town? I am a city girl, got damn it! I want to hear buses, cars honking, heels clicking on the pavement, the voice of the electronic check-out machine, and the voices of my friends. To be fair, Nicoya is the closes you could possibly be to a city. It is pretty urban. It has some of the things listed above, but it is all so different. Maybe I am just in one of those moods, where I just want to be. I just want to be in a place where I have a peace of mind. When I need peace, I usually gravitate towards my room to lay back with my feet kicked up, hands propped firmly behind my head, and listen to my music. It is occurring less frequently, but as an introvert when my energy level dips off I trail off.

CAT Frustrations

June 25, 2010
CAT…INTEGRATION…CAT…INTEGRATION…CAT!!!!! This is so damn frustrating, writing this damn report in Spanish. I love interviewing because I learn so much about my community and I could feel my Spanish improving as I hear myself changing tenses, but writing this report in Spanish is just so overwhelming. I cannot express my thoughts as clearly as I would in English. However, I should note I am not being graded, so why am I putting so much pressure on myself. I guess, I feel like I have something to prove. I am a damn good writer and want that to be evident in this Spanish as well. Oh, well. I guess, instead of stressing, I am going to go out and mingle with my neighbor’s instead. I am going to out and interact with folks. Maybe have a cafecito. I love saying that word, but the truth is I do not drink coffee. I wonder if they say tecito, I have yet to hear that. Anyway, I have time to execute this damn CAT. Wait, those are the words of a procrastinator. My old habits are starting to take effect. I read somewhere that you will be who you are five years from now, unless you make an intentional effort to adjust your attitude. I have made strides, I’ve started this process the second week of being here. I did it for my own sanity. There is nothing like feeling like you have a purpose. I am here to serve the community. However, I have no idea as to what that means exactly. This CAT is to help create a plan of action based on the needs of the community members. I have not spoken in Spanish in three years, let alone write. Vamos a ver.

City girl

June 22, 2010
City girl
I’ve decided to rename my blog, City Girl because I am a city girl born and raised. I enjoy being lost in the crowds. I really have nothing else to say besides. I have a meeting with the Junta contra violencia at 2:30pm and before that I have an appointment with the Área de Salud at 1pm to get some data on my barrio population divided by regions, gender, and possibly ages. I would like to enter it into my CAT. During the mornings, I walk around introducing myself as the new volunteer in the area. It is an awkward experience as well as awkward conversation to initiate. After all, you are interrupting whatever it was that they were doing before you showed up. Most folks are pretty receptive and are kind enough to open their doors and willingly invite you in for a cafecito or tecito. I do not like coffee so I jokingly say tecitio, they laugh because it is rare to say although they love their ticoism, and technically it is correct to say, but it is rarely used because most folks enjoy their Costa Rican cafecito. They are so proud of it too and when you say you don’t drink coffee, they are kind of shocked. If someone else is in the house they are quick to point out that you do not drink coffee and so it continues. So, I start saying I will have a tecito to lighten up the mood. I do not mention, I would prefer green team instead I take the manzanilla tea, as it is the chosen brand of flavor amongst most ticos. The good things is people generally remember me because I am the only person they know who doesn’t drink coffee. So I guess, that counts toward my intergration process, right? Jackpot, 100 points for me!!!!
Anyway, I do my rounds in the mornings, but I am considering switching my schedule to the late afternoons, as most folks who are home at that time are cleaning and preparing lunch, so I pretty much interrupt their flow. It is just I would rather do it in the morning when the weather is more fresquito.

City Girl in a Tropical World

June 21, 2010

City Girl

This is not a dream. I am officially a Peace Corps volunteer after a year and six month application process. This is it, I am finally here. I’ve been trying to imagine this moment for such a long time and now it is a reality. In fact, a close friend and I were just talking about our b!@#% fest (via internet of course) over the enduring PC application process and now we are both volunteers serving on different sides of the equator, but nonetheless are dreams have been realized.

I’ve been assigned to Costa Rica’s Children, Youth, and Families project for the next two years of service. I’ve been in country for four months. Four months? I’ve been living in CR for four months? It is crazy how time really passes by. I am done with PST! Yes, I’ve said it! I am done. I’ve survive the lengthy sessions, sitting in those darn semi-circle while participating or observing a NFE session. PST is the pre-service training process that all volunteers go through, the length various from country to country. Here it is the first 11 weeks of initial service, where you are learning the specifics of your assigned project, how to implement projects, tech week, site visits, language learning, culture sensitivity training, and safety and security stuff. After all, I am living in a country with active fault lines and quite close to the epicenter, so earthquakes are bound to happen at any time. In fact, four days after landing in this beautiful country, I experienced my first “temblor”. I still call it an earthquake, but here because they happen so frequently they distinguish earthquakes from seismic trembles. It was quite freakish, as I am unaccustomed as to what the hell to do. So, I pretty much just sat there as calm as I could be, as my neighbor… Ok, so I will explain a little further, during the first week you are in country, there is this thing called a Retreat, which is a slow acclimation process to your…well, país. It is a chance to meet your fellow Peace Corps trainees’ (No preocupes, PC handles this process quite well, there are all sorts of activities that ease the pressure of you creating small talk, so you’ll learn of the group dynamics quite early-on like the extroverts/introverts, the “know-it-all”, the jokester, computer guy/gal, the odd 1. I mean, it all is quite fascinating as I am the laid-back observer). The Retreat provides a glimpse of your PST schedule (which is quite intense), you’ll take a LPI-language proficiency evaluation, and so forth. Moreover, during the Retreat you share a room, in my case a hostel style bungalow with about 8-10 girls (it is same-sex unless you are a married couple). Getting back to the topic, I was pretty much as cool as a cucumber, as my neighbor looked over at me horrified. To her defense, she was on the bottom bunk, so if it had been more severe, she would have been crushed. I never knew what an earthquake would feel like, thank God, it was quite mild. I will say that you are aware right away that it is an earthquake. I mean after all the earth is really shaking! So, no I am not dreaming, I am a PCV, by the way following your PST you will be sworn-in as a volunteer, so your title and privileges will change. You kind of grow in to you beard or if you are a lady you grow into your bra. I will admit the first three months are tough and not all of those, whom you arrived in country with, will be standing along with you singing the national anthem during your Juramentación. Four trainees have left service during my PST phase. So, if you can get through that you are pretty much in it to win.

To catch you up to speed briefly, I’ve been assigned to the Guanacaste region. It is hot, hot, hot, hot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Luckily, it is it’s the rainy season, so some times when it rains it cools off and other times it is humid. Thank goodness, the Guanacaste region is known for it’s dry heat, which makes it more bearable, but honey I am from the Northeast, so this is all knew to me. This sort of weather would be considered a heat wave, in the north that is. I’ve been here for one month and just about everyday I ask myself, “How in the world do they survive in heat like this and whose idea was it to settle here?”. I don’t know just a thought. Some days are worst then others. So, I have to change things up a bit, which means I wake-up earlier to go for a run around 5:00 am (I would get up earlier, but it is dark out), between the hours of 12-3, I try to do things that involve being in doors, like chillin’ with the Guancasteco fam, hanging out in the Equipo-Interdisciplinario(Interdisciplinary team-social worker, psychologis, and I cannot quite figure out the translation for the Orientadora) office, visiting one of the Community or Social Institution centers with AC, as most homes are not equipped with them, or just having cafecito (I should say tea or OJ because I do not drink coffee) with the vecinos. For the first three months you are to do a community analysis or diagnostic of the community to figure out what the hell you are doing there. So you talk to folks, service providers (i.e.,health clinics), visit social institutions (e.g.,schools), and make personal observations to find the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and of course project opportunities to analyze with your counterpart or interested neighbor. That is really all you have to do for the first three months, is integrate into your community.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Best US banks for international traveling

Hello world,

As I prepare for my two year stinct in Costa Rica, I am currently looking for a US bank that would best service the needs of US travelers abroad. Do anyone know of any banks or could you offer suggestions? I will even accept complaints regarding your current bank and the issues you've ensued while serving as a Peace Corp member.

I guess I ought to tell you what I am looking for:

International fees associated with ATM withdrawals/deposits/currency exchanges/card transaction

Minimum balance and fees associated with falling below

Theft protection/security policies

Monthly fees/service charges

Inactivity fees and periods

Free online banking and online pay/transactions

And anything you feel is relevant

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What am I going to do about my cellphone?

I cherish perserving what can be preserved. Most of my clothes that I currently wear are from my highschool days (I graduated 8 yrs ago). For goodness sakes, I've had my well-functioning TV since I was 13 and I am now 24. I am dreading even having to think about getting rid of my cellphone while I am overseas. I've had this phone for 5 yrs and it took my friends 3 yrs of convincing me, I needed the thing in the first place. This precious device serves as my life line. It has saved me from some life threatening situations (ok, so I am being dramatic). Nonetheless, there is some value in having a cellphone. In my research, I've discovered that my t-mobile phone is not compatible with CR communications technologies. So, what do I do?

Do I get rid of it, plain and simple, and buy another once I get there? Or, should I keep my phone active here for as low as $20 bucks per month? After all I pay less than $60 for my phone and probably will not get a deal as good as this.

In general I live pretty simply, but again I like to hold on to things as well. To my fellow PC folks & family member what have you done in the past with your cellphones?