Pura Vida 3: June 23, 2005

This “Pura Vida” series is a set of e-mails I sent around to my friends and family when I was traveling and living in Costa Rica in 2005.  I made no edits, just simply wanted to post them here to get my little travel blog started…

This is from June 23, 2005.

I can’t believe I’ve been here in San Jose for close to 3 weeks already (and over a month in Costa Rica!)  I stayed in San Jose for the past 2 weekends because I’ve been a bit tired from traveling and because I had a cold.  I´m better now and I’ll probably go somewhere this weekend.

My classes have been a lot of fun and I´m learning a lot.  I can understand most of what my teachers say and can make some short sentences to communicate.  On the other hand, I tried watching CSI in Spanish last week and I understood next to nothing, so I have a lot more to learn.   I told you that my hostess worked in an Italian restaurant for 4 years when she first moved here- well, she made me a really great lasagna last Sunday.  I also found out that her boyfriend is Italian (very good looking- tall, dark, and handsome type) and he’s working in Holland right now.

Her friend Roxana used to own 2 Italian restaurants and several beauty salons where my hostess worked before she started her own salon.  Roxana is separated from her Italian husband and now lives across the street from us.  She invited me and my hostess over for wine and tapas about a week ago.  We drank Italian wine, ate, looked at pictures, laughed, and had a great time.  One of her restaurants was named the best Italian restaurant in Central America by some travel magazine a few years back and she`s also an artist.  Her apartment was small but very well decorated with lovely paintings and antique furniture.  She made us the best risotto with porcini mushrooms for dinner the next day.  She also brought over a nice bottle of Argentinian wine!  I’ve been really lucky to have such good food here.  Roxana and Yahaira (my hostess) both love Manuel Antonio national park here in Costa Rica.  They promised that before I go back to the U.S. we’d visit there together.

Conqueta

Yahaira did my nails for me this past Saturday morning.  Since I never get my nails done, it was a rare treat.  My very first french tip- I think that`s what they call it, right?  Her dog, Coqueta, and I get along great.  Even Yahaira thinks that Coqueta is in love with me.  She follows me around everywhere I go and puts her little face on my lap every chance she gets.  She`s at the door bouncing up and down when I get home.  I think I understand why people get pets.

With a couple of people I met at school, we visited the Pre-Columbian gold museum and the museum of contemporary art and design the first weekend I was here.  The gold museum was disappointing (call me crazy but I think the Koreans could have done a much better job- insert laugh here).  For $6 I expected a lot more but I guess I’ve been spoiled with great museums in NYC.  The museum of contemporary art and design, on the other hand, was really cool.  This woman, Annabella, who owns an art gallery in Jamaica told me about it when we met in Tortuguero a few weeks ago.  She said it was her favorite museum in San Jose.  Well, it`s my favorite, too.  It is housed in a converted liquor factory and it still has that warehouse feel to it.  It had an exhibit by a young Costa Rican artist, mainly of installation art.  There was also an exhibit called ¨Mexico Attacks!¨ which turned out to be photos of the artist wearing a Mexican pancho in various European cities and in different situations.  It was really fun and whimsical.

Right near that museum is Parque España where we saw a group of students doing capoeira, Brazilian martial arts.  It was the first time I have ever seen it in person and it was fascinating.  There was a young woman moving around so gracefully but with so much strength, it was incredible.  She was dancing-fighting a guy much bigger than her & doing a great job.  Also, all they were all sitting in the park with different instruments and singing..  it was really cool to watch.  We were also lucky enough to stumble upon a arts and music festival at the national cultural center.  We saw a Costa Rican/Jamaican reggae band (singing in Spanish) and a modern dance troupe.  It was good to see how the young Costa Ricans spend their weekends…

Last week, we read about a few different Costa Rican legends in our class and had a field trip to a small town called Cartago on Friday.  A legend has it that an indigenous girl named Juana Pereira found a small figurine of a virgin with a baby in her arms on a large rock on August 2, 1635.  They build a church where the rock was (and still is under the church).  The figurine is inside the church and is the official patrona of Costa Rica.  On August 2 every year, thousands of faithful Ticos make the pilgrimage to this church on foot, some of them crawling on their knees from San Jose.  By the way, Cartago is about 25 minutes away by car from San Jose.  When we were at the church, we saw several men crawling on their knees from the front door of the church to the altar.  The figurine is currently wearing a dress made of gold and my teacher told us that the women of Cartago have made hundreds of different dresses for the Virgin.

Cartago

This week, we are learning about things around the kitchen and about food.  We’ll be making guacamole, tacos (TexMex in honor of the kids in my class from Texas), and an apple tart (my contribution).  Speaking of cooking, I made a roast chicken with vegetables and an apple tart for my hostess and her friend this past Sunday.  I had to improvise a lot but it turned out OK.  The knob on the oven didn’t have the temperature written on it- it just had 4 settings, from 1 to 4.  I figured out that 4 was the hottest but couldn’t tell what the temperature was when it was set at 4.  Well, I cooked everything set to 4 and checked the food often to make sure nothing burned.  It was fun…  I think I may try making spaghetti and meatballs for them next.  🙂

Lastly, my friends and I went to see ¨Batman Inicio (the beginning)¨ yesterday after school.  It was 2 for 1 Wednesday at the movie theater so I paid $1 for my ticket!  That`s right- it was $2 for 2 people.  It was in English with Spanish subtitles & I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’ll be going to the movies every Wednesday afternoon.

That’s all for now.  Hope everyone’s doing well!

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