One of the many reasons I am living in Costa Rica right now is to learn how to speak Spanish fluently. This past week I made huge leaps and bounds towards achieving that goal by becoming a student at an intensive Spanish language school. I have classes for four hours a day, five days a week. And after only one week, I am already able to have somewhat lengthy conversations with Julio’s mom.
Yes, his mom is the real test. She cuts me absolutely no breaks – she speaks fast, mumbles, doesn’t ever volunteer any alternate definitions when I get lost in the vocabulary, and insists she cannot understand me unless I pronounce everything perfectly.
So based on my success with Julio’s mom so far, I know I made the right choice in schools. I spent about a week or two researching the many options offered here in Costa Rica for learning to speak Spanish, and I eventually decided on the school that Julio originally suggested – Intensa. They have a long history of satisfied students of all ages (not just college kids doing the expensive summer abroad trip), and they were also willing to work with us on the price since Julio is an alumni (of English of course) and we are both locals. The only downside is that I’m focusing so much on Spanish, that I have no idea if my English is valid anymore…am I making any sense?
Driving in San Jose
There are four things that suck about driving in San Jose:
- The streets are not labeled with names or the fact that they are only one way or not.
- Lanes are only a suggestion – especially for buses, taxis, and motorcycles.
- Parts of the roads have potholes big enough to seriously damage a car.
- Traffic is bumper to bumper, side mirror to side mirror.
Driving in San Jose is an unfortunate necessity since I am now attending school in San Jose. There is an Intensa branch 5 minutes from our house, but Julio and I decided it would be … fun … to get up at 5:30 a.m., get ready, then drive an hour in traffic from hell to the Intensa on the other side of San Jose. He came with me the first two days to show me the route, then let go of my training wheels so I could navigate the labyrinth on my own in our teeny tiny 1980s Ford Festiva.
So after one week, the traffic is not as terrifying as it was at first. I’m starting to get the hang of it. It is just like playing any sport – no zoning out, you have to be alert at all times ready to go or stop in an instant.
How Not to Catch a Cat
It is the rainy season here in Costa Rica, and this means the critters have been washed out of the sewer system and are seeking refuge in nearby structures, like our house. Typical houses here are very airy since the climate is temperate, so blocking any vermin from coming inside is not an option unless you enjoy the suffocating sensation of stale air. So naturally, Julio and I decided we should get a cat to combat the critter problem for us. This is easier said than done. Costa Rica is dog country and any cats here are truly wild.
But as luck would have it, a stray cat recently gave birth inside a huge pile of old mechanical parts in an auto repair shop down the street. We heard one of the kitties whining the other evening and found it inside the Samurai’s engine in our driveway!, but it bolted as soon as we opened the hood. We then decided we could lure it back by putting out a nice cushion and a saucer of milk. Wrong. We’re dog people. We don’t know anything about cats. We need help. How can we lure one to our house??!