Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lost in Translation

So, seriously, we are gaining a new empathy for people in America who cannot speak English. At this stage in the game, we speak so little Spanish that we sort of freak out if anyone tries to talk to us in Spanish. We are working on this reaction, but it really does take courage to speak in a language you barely understand. Fortunately (or unfortunately), people can spot us as Gringos from miles away and expect very little out of us, and in fact, often greet us in English even before we speak.
Our Tico Mama is an absolute trip. She is worth the journey. Yesterday morning, we explained that we had gone running (we found a fabulous track about a 7 minute walk from our house with a mountain view in all directions), and Ana proceeded to usher us into their exercise room and demonstrate her cardio machine, all whilst keeping a rapid flow of conversation (which means that she is talking and we are nodding and laughing). She explained to us that she has high blood pressure and that her heart hurts, because she has so much love for so many people and for Jesus. She has to take many vitamins and other pills for this condition, she informed us. It would be her grandest delight if we were to become fat while in her care. She thinks that I, in particular, do not eat very much (which is not the case at all, as I eat everything she has put in front of me so far with gusto) and has started referring to me as "Barbie." This refrain is very entertaining to hear while I down yet another helping of arros y frijoles (rice and beans). This morning, John and I were studying in the living room, which had a giant picture of Jesus in it until this morning. (By giant, I mean 9 1/2 feet tall and 6 1/2 feet wide) We didn't know it was going anywhere, and we thought we had time to get a picture of it later. We asked Ana where the picture went, and she sighed, and said they had given it to the church, but that Jesus was still all around us and in our hearts. ( they are Catholic Christians) Then she brought both of us a coconut with a straw sticking out of it, admonishing us to drink up the milk. Once we had finished our fresh coconut milk, Ana proceeded to spoon feed me the coconut meat after hacking mightily at it with her giant knife. We really were amazed that she managed to only cut the coconut and not any other limb or surrounding object. Even after I protested, Ana seemed to really enjoy feeding me the coconut by spoon, and hey, it was quite amusing to say the least. We are really enjoying this experience to live with a Tico family, and it really helps us to be around Spanish speakers all the time.
We have spent a little time each day exploring our neighborhood and the surrounding areas. This can be somewhat difficult, because in Costa Rica, they have no real use for maps or street names. Addresses are given in relationship to landmarks. For example, our address is "San Francisco, of the Two Rivers, 250 meters north of the Dominican Republic School in front of the Paint store, the house with the stones and white bars." No kidding. The only mail that is really received is by post office box. On Friday, we do not have class, so Brian and Steph are picking us up tomorrow night to spend the weekend with them. We are excited to see some of the sights- I think we are going to a Butterfly Garden and Waterfall park!
One last point of interest before I close, in hot water heaters in Costa Rica are only attached to the shower heads and are called "Widow Makers." John has had 3 cold showers so far, and Carol has had 3 warm showers so far, even though Carol is showering second each day. The Widow Maker in our shower looks crazy ghetto rigged, and we did not know what it was, but I have managed to get hot water each time. I have promised to help John in the future, as this scenario is not that thrilling to him.
To say the least, we are having a wonderful, enriching time in Costa Rica.
***I put some of our London pictures in an album called London!


Michael said...

Haha! I can relate to so many of those things! I remember flying into CR at night and wondering... "What in the world!?!?" There was no grid at all, just a crazy haphazard web of roads and streetlights. I joked with Pablo all the time that I would move there and be a taxi driver. I would just go 10 feet and say "y despues?" 10 more feet, "y despues?"

I also get what you're saying about the language. I've found that I could live in Rome for the rest of my life and never speak a word of Italian. You can kind of see why the Latinos are tempted to do that in the US. It's so hard to look like a fool while practicing a new language!

Anyway, it sounds like you all are having an "interesting" time at the very least. It was good to read about. Miss you guys!


Scott & Jo said...

Such a joy to read as your journey, learning's, and adventures continues. You speak of CR just as Jo and I remember. Just imagine me driving in a rental vehicle for a week with our Spanish skills(or lack there of). It's no wonder a couple from the States flagged us down. We praise God that He is blessing your time together, with Him, and serving & understanding His world better. This will be a time you will never forget. We miss you and look forward to your next blog.

Scott & Jo

Arkansas 31 Tennessee 14
Mississippi State is our next victim and then LSU. You might be coming home to a New Year's Day bowl game for the Razorbacks.

Jason said...

jason and i also can really realte to so much of what you are going through. the overwhelming hospitality, shoving food down your thoat, not knowing the language, no street signs or names. right after we got here, i asked on of the other workers why none of the streets have names. she answered, in all seriousness, "well, there are way too many streets. what would we name them all?"