Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Second Day of School

I'm writing this post from Catie's classroom, using the school's wireless connection. Yay! This is so much easier than my dial-up connection in my house using RACSA. I have to find out how to get wireless at home! I may come here tomorrow to use it and post some photos. I have lots, but it would take too long to upload them from home.

Kev's teacher Jen is back today, and I had a chat with her first thing this morning. I explained how frustrated he was in the Spanish class, as he couldn't understand anything, and she had an immediate solution. She put him in a tutoring class with one other boy from the U.S., where they learn basic Spanish. I sat in on the class (and luckily sat next to some gardening books, which provided some helpful tips) and watched Kevin have a lot of fun with the other kid and the teacher, who taught everything as if it were a game. They took turns playing Simon says, pointing out various objects in the room in Spanish, and then played a game drawing animals and guessing what they were, in Spanish. I think Kev will be a lot happier tonight.

Jen said that she can tell from his writing that he is way beyond the level of the other children in the class, and if his reading is also way above (which I suspect it is, given that he reads novels) she will either find a way to give him different work, or arrange to have him take certain classes with a higher group. Things are looking up for Kev.

It doesn't seem to bother Catie that she doesn't understand the Spanish in her class. Occasionally I notice one of the bilingual kids lean over and translate for her, but other than that, she's fine. Today the class had a field trip to the woods that surround the school. By woods, I mean primary forest which has never been cut, with towering trees and thick underbrush. The children were learning about various forest animals, and to illustrate their habitats, the teacher whipped out an empty coffee sack (like a sack for races) which was tied to a thick blue rope, threw the rope over a high branch, and invited the child holding a card with a sloth on it to see what it was like to live like a sloth. He put the kid in the bag, and then using the rope as a pulley, pulled the bag up about 25 feet in the air next to the tree. All the children thought this was just great. I was imaging what a group of parents at LHPS would think about this activity! Next, the spider got a turn, then the toucan, and then the hummingbird (Catie!) and her friend the Blue Morpho Butterfly had a turn, and up they went!

Cate has another hour of school, and then she and I will take the school bus home. I think we might stop in town and do some food shopping, and then take a taxi home.

Monday, February 27, 2006


First Day of School

Kevin an Catie and I had trouble sleeping last night, as there was some anxiety on all our parts about going to school today. I was afraid we might oversleep, as we had to get up early to make the bus on time.

No problem, we all got up on time to make the bus when it stopped in front of the Panaderia (bakery) across the street from our house at 7:10 am. Kevin and Catie were equipped with their backpacks with their snacks, drinks and a lunch for Kevin. Catie only has a half day of school, so she'll eat at home. We all sat together on one of the old leather seats in a very well worn city bus which navigated the narrow road and bumps very well, and even managed the steep climb to the Cloud Forest School, known locally as the Creativa.

Catie is in Prepa, which is the equivalent of Kindergarten, not to be confused with Kinder, which is Pre-School. Her teacher is my friend, Beth Quinn, who is married to Manolo. There is a second teacher in her class who only speaks in Spanish to the children. Beth is bilingual. There are 18 children in Catie's class, and it run on a very informal basis. The children call the teachers by their first name, and the dress is very casual, although all the children wear a school t shirt. No one wears shoes inside the classroom. Catie was immediately surrounded by several little girls, who made her feel very welcome. I sat in the back of the classroom, and pretended to be invisible while I read a book.

Kevin found his day more challenging, because the first class was Spanish, and as all the other children are native speakers, he found it very difficult. He had a substitute teacher today, and I'll talk to his regular teacher tomorrow. The math class was easy for him, and he finished up all his work very quickly. He rode the bus home by himself, and Jumper and I met him at the Panaderia at 3:45 p.m.

We decided to start a garden, and so we started clearing out the old garden, which is completely overgrown with weeds and small trees. After about 30 minutes, it was starting to look promising, but then we decided to try a location closer to the house. We selected one of the flower beds between the two houses, which gets lots of sun.

We talked to Jim by telephone, as he is still in San Jose getting the car fixed and taking care of some business. He went to Priceline, a store like Costco and Sams, to check it out, and he said that the prices are good. We may plan a shopping excurion for later, as shopping in Santa Elena is quite limited. Up here, you buy chicken from a chicken seller, fish from the fish seller, can join a community garden for fresh vegetables, find someone who sells fresh milk... it's not exactly one stop shopping. What would people here think if they saw a Super Walmart!

We all agreed that the first day of school went pretty well, even though it was a very long for Kevin because of the long bus ride home, made longer by the bus driver who stopped for ice cream, snacks, and visits along the road. We decided that Day 2 would be even better than Day 1 now that we knew what to expect.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Getting Settled

We arrived in Monteverde around 11:00 p.m. on Friday, and managed to get our 8 suitcases and 7 carry-ons into the house. We were only supposed to have 6 carry-ons; somehow we managed to acquire another carry-on in between the time we took our luggage off the carousel at the airport and arriving at home. We ended up with a little suitcase full of beach clothes for 2 little kids. I've tried calling Continental to report this, and I can't get through.

On Saturday we went on a little tour of the area to show Mike around, had breakfast at Stella's and went to the Ranario to see Deb and Liam. Liam, who is six and has his first big boy haircut, gave us a tour of the newly enlarged Ranario. Victorino, who owns and operates the Ranario, basically put a roof over the woods around the old building, and then installed all the frogs' glass cages, which are connected by concrete paths.

We ate at Marquez for dinner, and I enjoyed the sea bass cerviche (delicious!).

On Sunday, we all hiked the farm for about 3 hours. We walked down the "road" into Don Carlos' old farm, and hiked to the bottom. We found an old banana and orange grove near his old house. Manolo and Beth and their kids Nattie and Amaro came over for a spaghetti dinner.

Today, we did some more touring, and also went to the Cloud Forest School to check on Kevin and Catie's registration. I didn't realize that the children were uniform shirts there, so we bought two for each of them. School starts on Monday, February 27. Beth (Manolo's wife) is Catie's teacher, and she is in Liam's class.

This dial up connection is VERY slow, so I won't be able to post photos until I can get a faster connection. Bear with me!

Friday, February 17, 2006


Arrival Day in Costa Rica

We left Orlando last night at 8 p.m. in two cars. We had 8 pieces of checked luggage, 6 carry on pieces and Jumper! Jumper had a little medicine to help her relax and enjoy the ride. A few hours later we were in San Jose! Our friend Abelardo the airport porter met us, and got us situated in a taxi van, dog and all. Jim's friend Mark met us at the Best Western Irazu, and he and Jim took Jumper to Mark's house for the night, as Jumper couldn't stay at the hotel with us. Jim met up with Mike Giemont who is here for 11 days to hang out with us, and the guys went out for a little nightlife. The kids and I settled into bed, as it was quite late.

This morning we had breakfast at the hotel restaurant - Denney's! - with the same menu as the Denny's in Orlando. Cate and I had a little soak in the beautiful hot tub located ourdoors next to the swimming pool. It's a tropical paradise here, and I hope to post some pictures later. Kev and Jim left with Mark and Mike to go get our car at John DeMeo's house, and then pick up Jumper. Cate and I are here in the hotel lobby using a hot zone while we wait for them.

We'll drive to Monteverde as soon as we pack up the car when they get here. The weather today is beautiful and warm, with a hint of clouds starting to roll in. I hope it doesn't rain, as I forgot the plastic to cover the suitcases on the roof.

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