Every morning at 7:30am, my minivan “school bus” honks outside to pick me up. Jennifer, my housemate and one of the teachers, my neighbor Ryan, a nineteen-year-old ex-air force academy cadet, and I climb in the van to pick up a few other students and head to school. I have to say it’s neat to be “in school” again and learning something. I felt for a while now that I wasn’t “learning” anything new in life like I used to back in college and I like learning. It doesn’t always have to be in a classroom though, and I feel this whole trip will be a huge learning experience for me—making the world my classroom!
El Paraiso (The Paradise) school is on the main road to Manuel Antonio National Park. There is one small indoor office with a desk and a few computers for the staff and all the rest is in the great outdoors. There are five or so open-air “classrooms” which consist of a concrete slab, wood table, four maroon plastic chairs, and a log and tin roof.There are trees all around us filled with chattering Squirrel Monkeys. It’s hard to study mi verbos reflexivos when all these cute white faced guys are jumping around tree to tree.
There are about 5 other students studying at the school right now. It is the rainy or low season in Costa Rica which makes things cheaper and not as crowded. I have to say I was slightly disappointed in my new group of amigos. They are all nice for the most part, but not as friendly and outgoing as I’d hoped. Maybe it’s because they’re all Americans? Plus, they are all a lot younger. If this was a reality show (“Spanish Immersion School: Costa Rica”), we would have an interesting cast:
Ryan: A very white, slightly chubby nineteen-year-old from a suburb of San Francisco. He’s nice and quite smart for his age, but a bit dorky and unsure of himself. He and I have class together (it’s just each teacher per one or two students) and every time he says an answer in class he rocks back on his chair, answers, and then makes an annoying popping noise with his lips. He lives just next door to me in our barrio and we’ve gone out for cervezas, but he’s just not all that much fun.
Kate: Okay, now it starts to get interesting. Kate is also pretty young—maybe 20. She’s from Colorado and seems like a hippie/burnout type. Despite multiple warnings by locals and friends, she’s been dating Mohammed, the town drug dealer and all around thug. Apparently Mohammed stakes out the surf lessons and preys on unsuspecting young American chicas looking for love and security. Today in class, Kate told us all she stayed with Mohammed overnight and he lives in a hammock on someone’s roof. Sounds like a stable guy to me.
Jennah: This is the spoiled 18-year-old rich girl from Boca Raton, Florida. She’s ‘too cool for school’ and mumbles when she talks. She seems mostly nice, but doesn’t say all that much. She also wears her board shorts super low and is constantly drawn to playing with her own stomach.
Jennifer: Another one from the San Francisco bay area, this 28-year-old is a social worker looking to quit her job and shake life up a bit. She seems mostly cool, but ah, some drama, I just found out today that she’s “hanging out” (having sex) with our surf instructor, Jorge. I think it could be all cool, although she seems to get a bit possessive of him when other muchachas are trying to learn to surf—like me! Plus I really think he’s just like Mohammed—maybe not a drug dealer (just doer—he lit up a joint after our last surf lesson), but still has fun with the touristicas when they are here. I think she may be naïve to think they have ‘something’ more.
Crystal: Okay, last one’s a charm. Crystal is a mini Pamela Anderson. She’s a beautiful ex-Mormon with long blond hair, big eyes and lips, and fake breasts. She also annoyingly wears way-too-long fake eyelashes every day. How about saving them for a special occasion? Nope, while everyone else is super casual in shorts and bathing suit tops, she’s got on her long lashes in class and to surf. Here’s the kicker: She’s 22, already divorced and is now dating some Utah Mining Equipment owner “sugar daddy.” I’m guessing he bought her the new boobage. He “sent” (paid for) her down here for six months to ‘get away’ and look for a house for them! She says he did it because he wants to show her that he will miss her. Que? He’s almost 40 and she said he’s about to retire. She is constantly on her cell phone with him and even got lost in Manuel Antonio Park because she was gabbing with him instead of seeing all the rainforest has to offer. She is literally doing everything for and around him—sending pics and videos everday, getting packages from him. And she doesn’t go out with the rest of us at night because she needs to talk with him. Or he forbids her to—that’s what I’d like to think. Not sure why she’s even here. Oh Yeah—to buy a house? She can’t even figure out the ipod nano he sent her…so I’m guessing real estate in a foreign country might not be her thing either. Ya think?
Tune in next week to see if Kate gets killed by Mohammed or Crystal gets off her cell phone!