Thursday, November 19, 2009

Catholicism and Culture

Coming from a public school and a country that believes in the separation of church and state, Costa Rica's take on religion has been a whole new perspective for me.
Although I attend a public high school here in Costa Rica, we have a religion class every week.
The majority of my classmates are occupied every Friday night with their Catechism classes. I asked a classmate why he couldn't skip the class for one day, and he told me that he needs to attend every session in order to get married in the church.
There's even a government position regarding religion in Costa Rica: The Minister of Religion.
Last week was the First Communion of my little sister, Melissa. The preparations for this were very important to the family: the whole family went shopping to pick out the white dress, the neighbors helped do her hair, and we woke up extra early to make the special food for the family party afterwards.
Even in daily conversation, we allude to God. For example, when somebody asks how you're doing, you respond, "Very well, thanks to God." Additionaly, when you pass somebody you know on the street, you say "Adios" (meaning "goodbye" and also "to God.")
It seems that the culture and religion of Costa Rica are so meshed together, that I can hardly separate them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meat: Who Needs It!

It's true, who needs meat anyway? My first week here I noticed how little we eat meat (about four times a week, usually fish, chicken, or ground beef.) After being here for more than four months, I stopped noticing the lack of "carne."
Honestly, I don't think it would be that hard to be a vegetarian because there's an abundance of protein options that I've grown to enjoy: beans, eggs, lentils, beans, garbanzos, beans, beans... you get the idea.
When I return to Wisconsin, I hope I can keep the healthy change!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monkey Business

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on an AFS trip to Tortuguero, Limón.
I got to enjoy a close-up view of Costa Rica's rich wildlife with fellow AFSers.
There is definitely a climate difference between Tortuguero and my town, Cerbatana. When our guide took us on a hike through the dense rainforest, my clothes were completely soaked from the humidity. On the hike, we saw a few tucans resting in the lush upper canopy-- too far away to take a good picture, but the memory is still awesome. Our guide also showed us a tree infested with termites and he told us to eat them. At first, I wasn't going to, but then I thought, 'How often does one have the opportunity to eat termites?' It turned out that I was the second person to try them in our group. They actually have a salad-ee flavor. Once the termite-eating trend started catching on, our guide had to say, 'Leave some for the other tourists.'
The hotel in which we stayed was on the channel and nestled in the rainforest (only accessible with a 90 minute boatride through the channels.) Because of its great location, I was able to see lots of wildlife walking from my cabin to the pool. I saw lots of colorful birds and intersting trees. Oh, and by the way, I saw MONKEYS! On my way back to the cabin after eating lunch, I heard some noises up the trees and they were monkeys! Fortunately, I was one of the few people who saw them , so I kind of had a private tour. To add to the already excellent situation, my tourguide happened to be standing right next to me and showed me the tree where the monkeys live! I took some great pictures of the monkeys, including a pregnant one and babies. It was so interesting to watch the monkeys use their tails as a fifth arm.
Apart from the tucans and the monkeys, I also saw giant spiders, a baby crocodile, a viper, a chameleon, an iguana, AND a yellow-billed cuckoo.
Without a doubt, a nature filled weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Triple Language Fun

Yesterday in school my classmates and I had an hour free because a class was cancelled... a usual occurance in Costa Rica. We were hanging out in the library and decided to play the hand game, Down By the Banks. I sang in English while Seline sang in Swiss-german and my classmates sang in Spanish. It was so much fun!
We took it a step further by shouting out full sentences in different languages at the same time. I think that the librarians thought we'd gone mad, but we were having so much fun picking up phrases in different languages. Afterall, how many people do you know that can sin Down By the Banks in three languages?