Showing posts from 2011

A Christmas-y Update

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Food, Glorious Food!

I am sitting here eating some guava that I bought at the grocery store today, and it hit me that the last time I ate guava was in Costa Rica at a farewell party that some friends from the church put on for us. That time that I ate guava, it was pulled right off the tree for me to eat, which was incredible....however I kept wondering in the back of my mind if I was going to get a worm or parasite from it! Thankfully I didn't, but even today I'm still inspecting each bite! This week I tried my first "pan de jamón" (ham bread), which is a Venezuelan tradition at Christmastime. It is bread baked with ham on the's kind of like a roll. There were also raisins baked inside...but interestingly it was a wonderful combination! Kind of sweet and salty.

Part of me misses some foods that I ate in Canada, but part of me is excited to discover all the new foods here! In Costa Rica, the grocery stores were much smaller and limited (although there were some stor…

Operation 'Have a Holly Jolly Christmas'

What do you do to get into the "Christmas Spirit"?

Last year while I was in Costa Rica, I admit I didn't really do too much to get into the holiday mood. We had loads of Christmas decorations up in my host family's house, and I even put a couple up in my room. We drove around and looked at the Christmas lights downtown. But I never once broke out any of my Christmas albums. I did not drink an eggnog latte. I couldn't go for a walk in the crunchy snow. The sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas can be found in Latin America...but sometimes they look a little different than what I'm used to. Christmas lights are strung up around palm trees. Inflatable lawn decorations are sold on the hot concrete (my favourite is the inflatable snowglobe with fake "snow" blowing around on the inside). Beautiful Spanish and English Christmas carols play in the malls (yesterday at a mall we saw a giant Christmas tree, strung with lights that flashed in time to …

The Trouble With Toilets

Or maybe it should read "troubles with toilets" because there has been no end to the troubles with my 2 toilets. It started out as having to jiggle the handle alot. Then it moved into removing the lid from the tank and reconnecting the chain to the flapper thingy (is there no better technical term??). Then the flapper lost it's rubber seal down the drain and I had to replace that. And that is all just on one toilet! The other toilet has had problems with the float. I have been waiting for one of the toilets to explode or just plain fall over one of these days. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for arrived yesterday. I was woken up to the sound of gentle rain. But as I became more aware of the sound, I realized that it sounded like it was raining INSIDE my apartment. When you come to a realization like that you just can't help but bolt straight out of bed and begin running around looking for a disaster. I found it in one of the bathrooms....a stream of…


Well, some of you remember that I have blogged about eggnog at least twice in the past, and so I'm thinking maybe I need to make it a yearly tradition. I LOVE eggnog....and I'm not just talking about the store-bought kind, I mean home-made-with-a-raw-egg eggnog. Fresh eggnog is the best! But I will usually settle for the refrigerated stuff...and I've even been known to drink Soynog. It's not so bad. When I was living in Costa Rica, you could buy eggnog year-round; it's called "Rompope". But unless you like a little "kick" to your eggnog, you have to scour the shelves for non-alcoholic rompope. I just realized today that I haven't seen any eggnog on the shelves here in Caracas. I guess that's not surprising, but I was kinda hoping.

On a side note, we are not able to buy fresh milk in the grocery stores here. We buy the "long shelf life" milk that doesn't need to be refrigerated until after you open it (and maybe eve…

November Newsletter

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One day at a Time

Hello! I finally am able to sit down and assemble some sort of update! Hooray! Here are some highlights of what's going on in my life these days:

-I still don't have internet! I talked to someone in customer service this week and they basically said to "just keep waiting". Needless to say, I'm going to try to find an alternative provider...
-I am settled in my apartment, and I'm slowly finding things to fill it. Shopping here can be a full-time job with the time spent waiting in traffic and comparing prices!
-I am enjoying my church here in Caracas, "Encuentro con Dios". Everyone welcomed us with open arms and I am slowly getting to know a few people. I have also been able to meet an American who is here with the Southern Baptists, and I'm hoping to get to know her better too. We got connected because she lived with the same Costa Rican family as I did, just a year before me!
-Yesterday I attended my first meeting with the children's mi…

some days you just can't win

I just attempted to update this blog, but for some reason my post was lost in the oblivion that is cyberspace. Maybe it will show up, maybe it won't. Just wanted everyone to know that I'm alive and well and will start blogging again when I get internet, which will hopefully be this week. Thanks everyone for your prayers and encouragement!

An update from your favourite transient/loiterer/wanderer

Well, time for a little update! We have moved into the Hiebert's house that they will be renting. I will be staying with them for the next few days, and seeing as there are 5 bathrooms in this house, it is easy to spread out a bit! I'm hoping to get documents signed with my landlord in the next day or two then get moved into my apartment. It is proving to be difficult to rent here in Caracas. The laws are in favour of the renters, not the landlords and so many people would rather their apartment or condo sit empty than risk renting it. But this is where being a "foreigner" is actually to our benefit, and they are more open to renting to us because we are connected with a church.
These days have been exhausting trying to tie up loose ends and get some shopping done. My most awkward moments always seem to be when I'm shopping, maybe because I'm under pressure and just don't know the vocabulary. Those are the moments that are discouraging. Then the…

Home Sweet Hotel

Well, we're still hangin' out at the hotel, but it has become a good temporary home. I am repacking some of my suitcases because I seem to be running out of clothes. I have been digging down deep into my bags to find clean pants and shirts, because I used a lot of my clothes to pack breakable things. Genius at the moment of packing, so annoying on a Sunday morning when I can't find my pants! We headed off to church Sunday morning and had a great time visiting afterward. We met our pastor's son, who is a Canadian citizen because he was born in Regina while his dad was attending seminary. Right now he lives in Victoria and attends UVic so it was great to chat with someone who has a frame of reference for our homes in Canada. He'll be heading back in two weeks to return to University.

After church I headed out with 2 new friends, we had a great meal at a Lebanese restaurant (note to self: I MUST go back and get the labneh!!!). However, on our way back to the hotel to …

We made it!

Ok, so I haven't really been able to take any photos to share yet here in Caracas....but I still wanted to let you know that we arrived safe and sound on Saturday and have been laying low this week. It has been good to just relax after the whirlwind of finishing school, packing up my life in Costa Rica, jumping on a plane and getting settled here in Caracas. Right now I'm staying in a hotel. It's not ideal, but I'm comfortable and have a little kitchen so I'm having fun cooking for myself once again. Takes a little creativity too, when you only have 1 sharp knife, 1 burner, no oven, no microwave, a mini-fridge, and barely enough room to turn around!

Last Friday we had our graduation at my language school in San José, and it went really well. And then Saturday morning we took off to Venezuela. I had a very hard time saying goodbye to my host family in Costa Rica. Mami and Papi have been like family to me for the past year and took very good care of me, I re…

An evening out!

Last Friday, I got to go experience some live music here in Costa Rica! A group from the school went to the Jazz Cafe to see Malpaís; they are a Costa Rican band that is very well known here. Their style is kind of jazz/folk/with a bit of rock thrown in. I have one of their CD's, so I was super-pumped to go! We headed over around 830 after a small crisis; the girl who organized the evening got locked IN her house. It's easier than you might think with all the gates and locks on the houses here!!! The band didn't didn't start playing until 10pm, so we had an hour to visit, order snacks and enjoy the evening out. Malpaís didn't disappoint and I would go to see them again in a heartbeat. It was great to see them in an intimate setting, and I loved how everyone in the room (except all the gringos) sang along to all the songs. I'm including a video of one of their's hard to find a good live video recording of them....most are shaky with terr…

The countdown begins!

I just realized today that as of yesterday, I have one month left in Costa Rica....which, of course gives me barely any time to do all of the things I still want to do here. So I'm going to settle for one more trip to the beach, a couple more trips downtown and to the market, and a few more fruit smoothies at the restaurant down the road. What a great year this has been and what a great way to transition into the Latin American culture. These next few weeks I'm really going to try to be more diligent with the blogging so that as I get more details, you can share in the excitement of this move to Venezuela. Right now I'm trusting in God's daily strength to make it through the last few weeks of school, as well as packing, staying healthy, saying goodbye to friends (again)...etc. But something happened today that was such an encouragement to me. Chelsea and I decided to go to Walmart (yes, Walmart...I really should write about Walmart in another blog post...), but …

Cartago, Costa Rica...Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles

Here is a great little video showing the Basilica I visited at Christmastime in Cartago. A few interesting things about this church...

-Notice the people 'walking' up the aisle on their knees. This is a sign of reverence to "La Negrita" or "The Black Virgin" (statue is shown in the video). In August there is a festival in Cartago and there is a 22 km pilgrimage to the Basilica. Many people choose to crawl the 22 km on their hands and knees.
-Many people believe that the stone where La Negrita was found in the 1600's has healing powers, as well as the water that flows out near the stone. People collect the water in bottles (which you can buy there, of course) and drink it or apply it to their body. People leave offerings at the stone, in hopes of healing. For instance, many people bring a small silver charm in the shape of a body part (eye, ear, nose, arm, leg etc) and leave the charm at the stone with their prayer for healing of that part of their …

Photos, video, music....what more could you ask for in a blog post?

Click on the box below to view a slideshow of some recent photos, listen to one of my favourite songs, and see a quick glance of the language school I'm attending!

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The Road That Leads to.....Somewhere....

Less than 2 months left of language school, the days are slipping away. Although I am nowhere near being fluent in Spanish (FYI, this will take my whole life, I think) I am getting excited to be heading to Venezuela. The wheels are starting to turn for our preparations....preparations for flights and packing, preparations for finding a home in Caracas and what I will need to get set up, preparations for banking (because it will be much different that the convenience we are used to) and preparations for joining a new church family. I should probably be nervous or worked up about everything that needs to be done, but thankfully....I have been tranquila (calm). That is only something that God could provide for me! I hope to stay as tranquila as much as possible over these next few months, because I know that God is in control!

Speaking of tranquila, I just got back from a mini-vacation, we had 5 days off of school so the Hieberts and I took advantage of the extra long weekend and sta…

These Are a Few Of My Favourite Things....Part 1

One month down, two and a bit to go! My time here in Costa Rica will soon be coming to an end, and I am going to be a little sad to leave. Of course, I'm so excited to be moving to Venezuela and I am looking forward joining in with what God is doing in the city of Caracas. But San Jose has become "home" for almost a year now and I'm just finally starting to feel "normal" here. And so I've been thinking lately about all the good things in Costa Rica that I'm going to miss. This will probably take a few installments, but I hope you will enjoy hearing about some of the things that I've enjoyed and experienced this year! are a few of my favourite Tico things....

Pops: What trip to Costa Rica would be complete without a trip to Pops? Pops is an ice cream shop chain that can be found on just about every street corner in San Jose. They have a variety of delicious ice creams, including flavours unique to Latin America like limón (kind …

Scribbles from Central America

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Hockey Night in....Costa Rica!

It's that time of year again...yes the playoffs are here! I'll admit it's a little strange to be in a country where hockey is no big deal. On a side note, China just built Costa Rica a big new shiny soccer stadium. I think the Canadian government needs to show a little goodwill to CR and build an ice rink!!! I attend a school where the majority of students are American, but only a handful have any interest in hockey. I have found one fast friend from California who is a Kings fan...but I will forgive her. Thankfully there are a few fellow Canadians here who understand why I smile at the mention of the word "zamboni". Kind of by accident this week, I found a few hockey terms translated into Spanish, so I went on a quest to find as much terminology as I could. I even found an internet site where a serious debate was going on (in Spanish) over the translation of the term "chippy". The verdict: unresolved. So I'm looking forward to catching so…

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News....

I do not enjoy visiting the doctor. But today I finally had to give in. I was sick with the flu back around the new year, and the cough has been lingering. And so I decided enough was enough. But, oh....that meant I would have to go to the doctor. There is a doctor who comes to my language school twice a week so it is very easy and convenient for students to make an appointment. He is a Canadian MK who grew up and then stayed in Costa Rica...and he was certain that his sister in law MUST know SOMEBODY from Cold Lake. We got everything checked out and he gave me a prescription for a mountain of medications to open my lungs, stop my coughing and get rid of whatever I've been stuck with. Unfortunately, he also told me that my blood pressure is too high. We decided that it could be because I had an hour and a half Bible study to lead right after my appointment, so I'm going to go get my pressure taken again tomorrow and see if has gone down! Today's doctor visit als…

El aire de tu casa

Well, with all the buzz over "The King's Speech", it's interesting that today in my grammar class we started to learn a song. I have long believed that music is the best way to memorize certain things. I can't remember my cell phone number for the life of me, but I can (and will always be able to) sing the theme song for "Scooby Doo". Working with children these past years, I've realized that music makes memorizing scripture FUN! Imagine that! If you don't believe me, listen to this kids song a few times and I guarantee you will be able to recite the verse! Music also is a great way to learn pronunciation, so this week my class is learning how to sing this song.
Hopefully by the end of the week we will have it memorized!

Parlez-vous Español?

In another week, I will have been here in Costa Rica for 6 months! Unbelievable! Second trimester of language school has been going really well, good as it can go when you are stumbling through learning another language! This trimester I'm really coming to realize some of the intricacies of language and it's really interesting how some things translate exactly the same between languages, and sometimes things don't translate at all! Right now I'm learning the past tense, and it's interesting as it's a little different from how we speak in the past tense. We have been focusing on it since classes started a month ago, and it sometimes still bogs me down but I think I'm getting the idea. But I'm thankful that it allows me to have more complex conversations and I can make more sense. For example, now I can say "Last year I lived in Canada", whereas before I knew the past tense, I would have to say "Last year I live in Cana…