Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday, December 04, 2011

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 stores with a bit more variety and imports) so when I arrived in Caracas I was blown away by the size of the supermarkets and the variety within. Venezuelans are the second largest consumers of pasta in the world (Italy being #1, of course), and imagine my surprise to see a whole supermarket aisle devoted to pasta. A whole aisle!!!! Of course there are some things that I can't get here that I was able to get in Costa Rica (ie: Kraft Dinner--you'd think with a whole pasta aisle, good 'ol KD might catch on down here) but all in all, I am happy with the food in Venezuela. And don't forget arepas....I love arepas! And the rotisserie chickens. And the papaya....

A little update on getting into the Christmas spirit....Friday I started reading "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, and yesterday I made myself.....drumroll.....eggnog! Tonight...well, tonight I'm going to do some online Christmas shopping while I drink tea out of my Christmas mug.

Another little update on Christmas happenings....I am happy to share that this Christmas I am going to be spending in Canada! I am looking forward to spending time relaxing in Cold Lake (most likely with long underwear and a few sweaters on) with my family and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be spent with family in Saskatchewan...hurray! I'm looking forward to seeing snow, breathing deeply the fresh air and enjoying some quiet time. Would appreciate any prayers as I travel on the 12th!

One of my fave musicals...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

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 Trans-Siberian Orchestra). Christmas "shops" are set up under a tarp on just about every intersection, many selling "Canadian Pine Trees" (the scent is intoxicating). But something just seems "off". And I realized today that it's ME who's a little "off". It's like that feeling when you confidently hop up the stairs but your toe catches and you trip. Or you turn a corner in your house that you know like the back of your hand, and suddenly catch your shoulder on the wall. Being in a new culture means having to re-learn so many things that you did with ease before or that you took for granted. So I decided that each day that I am here in Venezuela this December, I am going to do something "Christmasy", so that I can remember, and relearn how to celebrate this season.

My decorations went up a few weeks ago, and it was pretty easy since all the decorations I own here are a couple strings of lights for the window, a little nativity that I bought in Costa Rica, some snowflake ornaments my mom sent me last Christmas, and a stocking that I made with my Tica mom.

Today, I went to the International School where Mackenzie and Lukas attend school and enjoyed the elementary Christmas program. Mackenzie was a shepherd and Lukas just plain sang his heart out. There was a song with the best use of kazoos I have ever seen in a musical number. There were plenty of bearded and mustachioed little boys who were dressed as various shepherds and wise men. There was the child who alternated between crying and singing and a general look of stagefright. But best of all, there was the reminder that the reason this season is so wonderful, is that God chose to come and live among us, to change lives and history, to make a pathway for us to heaven.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

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 water was spraying into the air and half the floor was covered in water (thankfully there is a drain in the middle of the tile floor). At first I thought that a pipe had burst and the shower was somehow spraying but I soon realized that the hose connecting the toilet tank to the wall had cracked. I was able to shut the water off and I was actually super-relieved that I wouldn't have to deal with a plumber coming into my apartment. I am assured that it is an easy fix so I guess I will head back to the hardware counter at the housewares store tomorrow. We have been told by a few people that EVERYONE has problems with their toilets here. And everyone has a different reason why; it could be the water, or just poor installation.

So I was thinking that there must be a lesson in this. What can God teach me through a toilet? The first thing that comes to mind is that things can look bright and shiny on the outside, but on the inside there's a storm a-brewin'. I think I'm managing pretty well here in Caracas, and I try to embrace being pushed out of my comfort zone. But at times, I am still confused about what life and ministry should look like here, and I do miss my family and friends. And some things (like continually broken-down toilets...just off the top of my head) drive me crazy and grate on my nerves. It doesn't mean I don't love being here (I do), it's just hard sometimes.

Secondly, I'm thankful that only one piece of the toilet breaks down at a time. Sure, it would be easier to just do a complete overhaul but there's no guarantee that the new toilet will keep working anyway. I think it's better to just replace once piece at a time. God could do a complete overhaul on my life right now but instead he continually works on my heart bit by bit. Getting rid of the stuff that's useless and broken and replacing it with the best quality, which only He can provide.

I'll end there, at the risk of dragging the toilet metaphors out too far. I just want to take something other than frustration away from this experience with my "inodoros"...and I know that God has a sense of humour. If He didn't, I think the hope would be flushed right out of me.

Darn. I tried not to be tempted to use a toilet joke. Honestly.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


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 even then it doesn't really need refrigeration...I don't know). There is often a little spot cleared in the refrigerated section for fresh milk, but it usually sits empty and if the store does happen to get it, it sells out super-fast.

Anyway, eggnog. Last week I left the country for a few days to renew my visa (I'm scared to disclose where I went for fear that my friends in the frozen north will pelt me with snowballs the next time they see me) and in one of the grocery stores there I spotted canned eggnog. I picked it up and took a quick look and then put it back, thinking how odd it would be to drink eggnog out of a can. Although in retrospect, I guess it's no more odd than drinking a raw egg. Now I'm sad I didn't buy it...but I am determined. I now have a mission, and that mission is to drink eggnog in Venezuela, out of my Christmas mug, while listening to Christmas music and watching my Christmas lights twinkle.

I'll just have to shut my curtains to the palm trees and blast the air conditioning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November Newsletter

Thanks for taking a moment to read my newsletter! Click on the "play" button to start viewing it. To pause on a page to read, click the pause button in the bottom right hand corner, and then you will also be able to enlarge each photo by clicking on it (click it again to make it small). Have fun and let me know how you like this new format, and if you have any problems opening it, etc. (sometimes it does take a few seconds to load each page).

Click to play this Smilebox newsletter
Create your own newsletter - Powered by Smilebox
Free newsletter design generated with Smilebox

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

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 ministry team from the church...what a great group of women and I'm looking forward to meeting with them regularly and assisting them in any way that I can (while learning from them too of course!!)
-In 2 weeks I will begin working on my Spanish again with a tutor. I feel that I am getting a little rusty with some grammar, since my practice is not as concentrated and focused as it was when I was at language school. This extra help each week will hopefully help me to gain more confidence.

...and the best update I can give you is that I love living in Caracas! Some days it has been very hard to be here as well, especially those days when I just can't seem to communicate or understand Spanish. But I just try to cling to Christ each day and somehow I have been stumbling my way through. But when I look at the "big picture", I am so happy to be here, and living in such a beautiful city with amazing Venezuelans (and the weather doesn't hurt either!).

Please continue to pray:
-for our safety, things have been pretty great, but we still don't want to let our guard down when it comes to safety.
-for travel and mercy at the border as I'll be flying out of the country this weekend for 4 days so that I can renew my tourist visa. We are working on getting a one year renewable resident visa but it is taking a little longer that we thought so the Hiebert family and I do need to exit the country.

I will be sending out a newsletter soon so if you would like to be on my email list, please leave me a message here or email me at

If you have any questions about life in Venezuela or my ministry, please feel free to send me a message, I would love to hear from you!

**I did try to post some photos on Blogger today but it was as if they were saying to me "Don't push it, missy"...they just wouldn't load.

Monday, October 03, 2011

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!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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 there are light moments, like the other day when our taxi driver put on some crazy dance club music and asked us to translate it for him! Chris did an awesome job, and of course, avoided translating the inappropriate bits....we were all laughing so hard! Burning up the dance floor! Raise the roof! There is just no way to translate some things into spanish....

Tomorrow morning we will be meeting with Pastor Eduardo to discuss expectations, involvement etc in the church over this next year. Please pray that we will be able to communicate clearly with each other.

The last few days I have really been missing Costa Rica and it's familiarity. Things just seemed....easier there. But I remember our first few months in San Jose and the difficulties of transportation, shopping etc. and I am hopeful that soon Caracas will become just as familiar. I'm thinking the remedy (for anything, really) might be a beach day....hmmmm.......

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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 drop me off, the car battery died twice and we had to pop start it! I'm thankful that everyone stayed calm even while driving with no headlights and that we were even able to laugh a little bit afterward. I sure hope I have a few more adventures with those two.

Today I looked at an apartment that I really loved so I’m hoping the details can be worked out and I can move in soon. The only furniture included in the apartment is a king sized bed….Judging by the size of the elevator, I assume it was a nightmare to move in, I doubt they want to move it out again. I’m happy to have a bed, but I’m not sure how I’ll handle having such a big bed to myself! What side do I sleep on? How many pillows will I need to buy for it? Do I set my alarm clock ON the bed so I can reach it in the morning? Will I need to buy a step stool so I can actually get into bed? My legs are short: How long will it take me to make the bed in the morning if I have to walk all the way around to the other side?

I've been able to catch a few photos lately, but I'm not going to risk trying to upload them....I may crash the whole wireless connection here as I'm sure that all the people in this hotel are using the same connection...soooooo sloooooow! But I promise that as soon as I get a faster connection I'll get caught up on posting photos, including my last days in Costa Rica!

Friday, August 19, 2011

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 really am going to miss seeing them every day. We arrived Saturday afternoon here in Caracas and then Sunday morning it was off to church. I loved the service and everyone was so welcoming and gracious with our communication difficulties. The accent here is very different, so I am usually scrambling to keep up with the conversation!

Hopefully this weekend we will be able to check out some apartments, I'm itching to get settled in my own place. Will let you know if I find something.

And in breaking news....I just discovered that there is at least one skating rink in Caracas (check out the photos!). You have to take a cable car to the top of a mountain to get to it....but at least I can rest easy that there is a rink here. Sigh...

Monday, July 18, 2011

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 terrible I chose a non-shaky option. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

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 as we were getting ready to head out it started pouring. So I tried calling for a cab to come pick us up at the house but nobody would answer. We tried for about 10 minutes, redialing and redialing. Sonia, my host mom informed me that when it starts raining and everyone wants a cab, the dispatcher will just stop answering the phone because they won't be able to keep up with the demand! So I grudgingly went and got my umbrella and started complaining about having to walk down the street in the pouring rain to hail a taxi. And I was sure that we would have to wait on the street forever since they would probably all be full. Chelsea can attest to the fact that I was complaining to the point of being annoying (sorry about that)! I unlocked the gates and the moment I stepped out onto the sidewalk, a taxi drove by the house and motioned to me that he was free to take us. Seriously. If I had walked out 5 seconds later, I would have missed him. And during the drive to Walmart, it hit me that if He cares enough to send me a taxi, I can trust Him to take care of all the other things that are weighing on me right now, as well as for the unknown future. He anticipates and puts the wheels in motion (pun intended!!!) to answer our prayers even before we ask!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

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 body. Many people also leave gifts of great value for thanksgiving. There are cases full of these silver charms on display, as well as cases full of items like University diplomas, jewelry, and trophies given to thank La Negrita.

Please remember in your prayers, those in Latin America who worship and put their trust in idols instead of God.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

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!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Personalize a slideshow

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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 stayed near Playa Manuel Antonio. We all had a great time in the pool, hanging out at the beach, relaxing and going on a "scenic drive". Angela and I often laugh at some of the odd situations we have been in here in Costa Rica, and often remind ourselves "always expect the unexpected". We had booked into a vacation rental and knew that it would be a little more secluded than most other rentals, set back in the tropical forest. Chris was driving and we all had our eyes peeled for our turn-off. We drove by a gravel road and kept driving but Chris quickly realized that was the road we were supposed to turn onto. So he backed up and we began our journey down the road. I need to mention that this was not your ordinary gravel road. In fact, this road drove right through....and I mean right through....a palm tree plantation. This plantation is in use and there is a palm oil processing facility not too far away. It was in a word: beautiful. Oh ya, and bumpy. Ok, two words. We continued on our way, navigating down potholed roads, joking that we were going to drive straight into the jungle. And then we kind of did. We passed a little village. And then an abandoned property development. And then we saw a sign for the development where we were going to stay. There was a picture of a home on that billboard, and we realized it was the house that we were going to stay in! Panic sunk in, as we wondered if the house we were renting was the the only house in the development! When we arrived, we found out that it was not the only house; it was one of 6 or so houses in a development of 200 lots! Because of the economy, many people have had to abandon their plans of building vacation homes in Costa Rica. We followed the property manager up a road, including a few switchbacks and realized that a 4X4 would have been wise....but thanks to Chris's skillful driving of the Corolla, we finally made it up to the home and after deciding it was a good thing the car was a rental....we were able to enjoy a quiet, peaceful holiday in "el bosque" (the forest). Here are some shots of the beautiful palm tree farm (please forgive the quality...they were taken through the window!):

Monday, May 30, 2011

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 of a cross between a lemon and a lime), cas, guanábana, mora (a type of blackberry), and kola. They also serve awesome milkshakes and a Costa Rican drink called "The Churchill". But I've learned the hard way that if you walk out of their air-conditioned shops, the ice cream will melt at an alarming rate...turning a leisurely stroll home into a frantic dash so you can wash your shirt before the stain sets.

Stores with Random Items: When it comes to all the little stores lining the streets of the city, anything goes. If a vendor can aquire items at a low price and resell them for a profit, there will be a place for the item in their store. I've walked by a store that sells guitars and musical instruments, as well as pots and pans. A while ago there was a store by my school that only sold light fixtures and hooded sweatshirts. This makes shopping a lot of fun, because you just never know what you might come across in a store. It can also make things frustrating as you might have to visit 10 stores before you find that one little thing that you were actually looking for!

The Rainforest: They say that the beauty of Costa Rica is found outside of San Jose. Although I love San Jose, I definitely agree with this statement. The beauty of the rainforest is something indescribable. The air is so fresh and clean, the innumerable species of animals (and the sounds that never cease-a little unnerving at times), and my favourite part, the tarzan vines!!! In Costa Rica, you also find "cloud forests" which is kind of like a rain forest, but it is usually veiled in low-lying clouds/fogginess. It's an amazing feeling to be standing in the middle of a cloud as it passes get wet without being rained on, it's more of a mist. And the rainbows are out of this world (yes, even double rainbows....all the way!). If you ever have the opportunity to visit Costa Rica, the beach resorts are nice, but try to get out and tour the rainforest and/or cloud forest!

Well, I will wrap this up for now...I hope everyone is enjoying their spring, summer is just around the corner!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

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 some games online--it's kind of a taste of home, especially when it's tuned into CBC television. Then I get the full deal, including commercials about David Suzuki and petitions to tune into 'The National' after the game. Anyway, here is my list of Spanish hockey vocabulary (commit it to memory--there will be a quiz on Monday), followed by a soundbite of a hockey announcer that made me laugh....


hockey game=partido de hockey

ice hockey=hockey sobre hielo.... as opposed to.....

field hockey=hockey sobre hierba


goal crease = zona de la portería

goalie, goaltender = portero

goalie's stick=bastón del portero

face-off spot = punto de saque

centre face-off circle = círculo de saque inicial

face-off circle = círculo de reanudación del juego

period=tiempos (tres tiempos)

blue line=línea azul

red line = línea media/roja


neutral zone=zona neutral


wing, winger=extremo


linesman=juez de línea

boards=valla de madera



stick blade=pala del stick




skate blade=cuchilla





mouthguard=protector bucal






penalty box/bench=banquillo de los penaltis

playoff=los playoff

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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 also marks the first time I have ever had to pay to see a doctor! Costa Rican's, like Canadians have a form of socialized heath care, but because my student visa still has not arrived, I am required to pay. However, I realized today how blessed I am to have grown up in a country with excellent health care, and now to live in a city with accessible heath care as well. I realize that many around the world (and even in Costa Rica) do not have this luxury. So thank you, Lord for access to doctors, thank you for the means to buy my medicine, and thank you for good friends who I can trust to give me an injection! (Thanks, Kristen for your superb injection skills!!)

Monday, February 28, 2011

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!

Monday, February 14, 2011

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 Canada". I'm thankful for my years of Jr. High and Sr. High french as well, since many words have the same roots in both languages and it has really helped with my comprehension. However, sometimes my french vocabulary gets me in trouble when I say something to a teacher and use a french word instead of a spanish word! There are a few words that I can never remember in Spanish and they keep coming out in French! On the other hand there are some words in Spanish that I think are more useful than their english counterparts, and lots of words that are just really fun to say (I love any word with "mente" at the end...finalmente, exactamente, naturalmente etc.).

Today I came across a part of the BBC website where they offer "mini-lessons" in other languages! I clicked on the Spanish site and they have this interactive video mystery called "Mi Vida Loca" (My Crazy Life). There are 22 videos and during the videos you get instruction on some basic Spanish words and phrases then at certain points, the video stops and you get to use your phrases and words for asking directions, etc. It is for beginners and I am now working my way through the videos to see what happens at the end! After that, I might just try another language for fun! Here is the link for the website, if you have a few spare minutes give it a try and tell me what you think! (Please note, the video is from Spain, so the pronunciation is slightly different than in Latin America, but the idea is the same!)