Sunday, October 19, 2014

Starting Over in Heredia

I'll admit it, the transition to Heredia wasn't easy. It's been a long, lonely first week, but things are finally falling into place. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's rewind to my journey here.
I woke up bright and early at 5am to catch the bus from Santa Teresa to San Jose. A couple days earlier, when I asked where the bus stop was, I was comically informed "everywhere." Upon further investigation I found out that "everywhere" meant that the bus stops anywhere along the main road the passes through Santa Teresa and Mal País, the whole process takes about an hour, but after that we were off. We drove about an hour and a half to a location where we got off the bus and on a ferry. The ferry took a little over an hour to cross from the Nicoyan peninsula to mainland Costa Rica. It gave me a chance to soak up the sun and breathe some fresh air before we had to get on the bus again and make the final two hour push to San Jose. I got off at the airport and waited for a bus to Heredia. I was confused when the first few buses refused to take me because of my luggage, and started to get nervous that I might have to pay the price for a taxi. But, luckily with the help of a nice local tico (Costa Rican) after about ten buses, one finally agreed to take me and put my luggage in the handicapped section. I was relieved to be on the bus but then realized something significant, I had no idea where to get off. I knew I needed to get off somewhere near the city center, so I tried to look for clues. Finally, when I felt that I was seeing big groups of people and more movement, I leaned over and asked the man next to me where I should get off. Not only did he tell me the bus stop, but he showed me where to catch a taxi too. (Are you noticing the trend? Ticos are very nice people). Unfortunately by this time it was pouring rain, so I rushed into the taxi and gave the driver the "address" of the hostel. Something you have to understand is that "addresses" don't really exist in Costa Rica, not the way we imagine it anyway. There are no numbers or street names. Instead they give you directions from a landmark nearby. For example 75 meters north and 200 meters west of the church... well what if I don't know where the church is?! Luckily, my driver had a better idea than I did of where we were going, so we only struggled a little to find the place. Before I could even knock on the door, the door to the hostel opened and who was standing there? Andrew, one of my TEFL classmates. What a coincidence! Then I found out that the owners of the hostel were on vacation and we had the who place to ourselves. So this entire week we've been living in a giant, empty, quiet hostel and it's been quite the experience.
Right away the following day I had two interviews for English teaching jobs. One was in person in Heredia and the other was a skype interview for a job in San Jose. Wednesday I had another two interviews one for a job in Heredia and another for a job in San Pedro, a suburb of San Jose. Throughout all four interviews I heard the same thing over and over... October is low season and there aren't a lot of teaching hours. However, I stayed optimistic and by Friday I had accepted my first few hours of work (10 hours a week to start) with a company here in Heredia that teaches English to local businesses. It's going to require some traveling, so it's not ideal, but I'll take anything at this point!
Central Market
There have been a few other highlights of the week. The first one happened after I read my Lonely Planet Costa Rica guide book and found out that Heredia has a nice central market. So, Andrew and I stopped by and were very impressed. Not only does the market have fresh produce, meat, fish and spices for affordable prices, but they are also full of little restaurants where you can pull up a bar stool and eat some local food. It's my favorite part about Heredia so far. Another big highlight this week was one of my other TEFL classmates, Cassie, was visiting her Costa Rican boyfriend in San Jose. I went out to dinner with them and some friends to a great Lebanese restaurant on Wednesday night, and on Thursday we went to her boyfriend's family's house for dinner! It was nice to see a familiar face and to get out of the hostel for a couple nights.
Saturday, however, was the most eventful day I've had so far and it was completely unexpected. Earlier in the week, I asked if I could observe a class at one of the schools I had interviewed with, and they welcomed the opportunity. So Saturday morning I went to go observe one of the three-hour morning classes. Fifteen minutes into my observation, the coordinator of the school pulled me out of the room and told me that one of their teachers was very sick and they needed a sub for her afternoon class. She asked if I would do it and of course I said yes, even though I wasn't sure how I was going to pull off planning a two-hour class in the matter of a few hours. However, with a little help I managed to do it and by 1pm I was teaching my very own class of 9-12 year olds. Although it was nerve-wrecking and unexpected I really enjoyed the experience. It felt great to be back in the classroom.
Well tomorrow I start my new job and hoping that all goes well! Now that I've got the job nailed down,  this week's task is to find an apartment, followed by finding a new circle of friends here in Heredia. After that, settling in will be a matter of finding my new gym, a new favorite bar, favorite cafe, running route, etc. It's not easy starting over again, especially after I felt so comfortable after my first month here, but it's all a process of a big leap of faith into the next chapter of my life: My Life in Heredia.

P.S. Sorry for the boring play-by-play blog entry but as much as I write this blog for the entertainment of others, I also write it to record my memories for myself. Sometimes the play-by-play is necessary.

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