Language school

Santa Ana Travel Blog

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Our "Family"
Language School
Costa Rica

Although we did many of the things on our lists, we missed returning the library books and hope Dan and Bebe will take care of that. We turned over the house to them and sailed out the door with two light suitcases and two heavy back packs. The scale at the airport said the two suitcases weighed 65 lbs. together and the backpacks weighed 25 pounds together.

The fog was pea-soupish, the gate next to us was announcing that the equipment could not land and was being diverted to Hartford, then to Springfield. Dawn wanted to call everyone and tell them she loved them, which I told her that they already knew.
We were flying one of Boeing's newest and brightest so we were told there was nothing to worry about. We took off without a hitch and they promised us that the captain would keep us abreast of the score as we were flying during the first of the "Big Games" that the Patriots may be playing this month. The Patriots' score seems to mount in some supernatural way. When we landed in Miami I was able to "see" the last few minutes of the mop up. With that camera level, it looked like a high school game.

We found a book in Spanish in Dawn's seat, "Noticia de Sequestro." We managed, I mean Dawn managed with my occasional help, to sort of read the first couple of pages. It seemed like a good sign.

After the game finished in Miami, We got our boarding passes and then had a drink at a "Miami" bar in the airport.
Walking to School
All the right colors. We watched part of the Dallas game, but football is really boring when you don't care who wins. Even when you do care, it is sloooo. The next leg to San Jose was uneventful. I listen to my Spanish tapes. Would they help? Somehow, I was given a Spanish language immigration card. I was too stupid to realize I should get one in English, and combined with some article I read in the Miami airport magazine about import taxes, and my inability to in fact read Dawn's card, I believed that I was going to have to pay taxes on the worth of my laptop over $500. While I was trying to decipher all of this, my suitcase was not showing up. Most of you are probably familiar with the sinking feeling you get in your stomach when as the number of people around the conveyor belt is shrinking and you are beginning to look at each other and make faces, the belt stops.

The silence bounces around in your brain

I began to look around the room and after about five minutes found my bag near a stack of bags that all looked familiar. Did they send their son to get all the blue bags and they would sort theirs out later? I have never seen a flight that has so many bags that looked like mine.

The airport has colored lines on the floor that tells you where to go depending on how many bags you are carrying. You cannot imagine how many people going to Costa Rica are color blind. We theorized perhaps a vision clinic had been set up in Costa Rica alongside the tummy tuck and face lift places. Well, I did not have to pay any taxes, and they did not even look at anything. So now we are going up the stairs to look for someone named Gata, a secretary at the school, who was supposed to wave a green sign with white letters saying --- Wait, there she is. What a great sight she was as it was now dark and we did not have much of a clue otherwise and the last time someone said the would meet me at the airport it was in Tokyo and he said he would have an elephant on his back and he never showed up. Gata was, of course, a woman. Gata is a female cat; Gato is male. Chico, the driver, helped Dawn with her bags, then went off for the car, excuse me, the jeep. It was an interesting ride, not gentle through roads of various degrees of completeness to our family. The Badillos.


Well, not actually "the Badillos"...Jeannette Badillo and Guillermo something else. They keep their names in Latin America even though it is a muy Catolico country. The kids get both their parents' names. Our host (pronounced Yanett) is very sweet, amiable and energetic, and is 20 years younger than her husband. The house is very basic, rather funky really, no hot water in the taps but an electrical device that makes the shower slightly warmer than cold. We have an uncomfortable mattress and not enough light to read in the bedroom. Rice and beans every day...not bad for a vegetarian, but a little boring. Although tonight we had fried yucca that was delicious, much pineapple, papaya, and banana.

The town of Santa Ana is a working class, agricultural, mining town. Much gasoline fumes, noisy motos and loco drivers! But trees are blooming everywhere in all colors, fruit is falling off the trees, and the people are very friendly. The school is up in the hills and gorgeous. We are working our butts off and feeling totally stupid in Spanish.

We are now toying with the idea of moving into the "casona" at the school for our second week here because it is a gorgeous modern structure, beautifully sited with bella vistas, private bathrooms, HOT water, living rooms, comfortable furniture, a kitchen and a lavadora (washing machine.) However, we don't want to either hurt our hosts' feelings or cause any loss of income to them as the school pays them to house and feed us. Tune in next week to see what happens. The rooster crows at 4:00 a.m. and gets all the dogs barking.
We get up at 6:00 am, have desayuno at 6:30 and take a one-hour uphill walk past farms, animals, countryside and the quarry to get to school. On the way, we have to run from some very aggressive geese. There are "taxis", jeeps really, to take us up and down the mountain, but we like walking and I sure ain't dancing so I have to do something for the old body. At 8:00 a.m. we take a swim and stretch in their beautiful piscina, then go to class from 8:30 until 10:30. Then we have a (second) breakfast and break, more class from 11:00 to 1:00, then lunch. Florita is my charming profesora and there are 3 other students in my class. I haven't been in school since 1967 (as a student) so it's quite a shock with homework every day. Our teachers do not really speak English; only the director, who is an American expatriate, former peace corps worker, muy simpatico, does.


I have a six months pregnant teacher name Lorena, who didn't show up on Wednesday. Ray and I were sure she was having her baby (he had been kicking pretty good on Tuesday), But no, she had just been to the doctor for a check-up. She brought in her Ultrosonidas. They were great. She was very proud. Not only will it be her first, but also her mother's first grandchild.

So I am limping along. Pronouncing things like French, having difficulty when the word has more than three syllables. I love the challenge and even though I cannot really construct a complete sentence without trial runs, I am learning Spanish. As I write this, a soccer game is playing on the TV in the next room and I am beginning to understand words and phrases. Not everything by any means, but a beginning. We still have another week.

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Our Family
Our "Family"
Walking to School
Walking to School
Santa Ana
photo by: inka76