Location: La Carpio
Today we woke up at 7:00 am for a breakfast of plantains, sausage, and, the staple food of Costa Rica, rice and beans. Then, we headed out for La Carpio, one of the poorest areas here. On the bus ride there, we all observed the gradual shift from the built-up metropolitan area to the impoverished area of La Carpio. At first, the streets were paved, busy with cars, and lined with street signs, stores, and business buildings. Then after about ten minutes, the buildings became dilapidated homes, and the street became scattered with potholes. We could feel the difference in the way the bus bumped. When we arrived, we cautiously stepped out, having unsure expectations of what we were able to do and see. We arrived at a two-story building where Gail, who founded the program that we are volunteering with, gave us a thought-provoking presentation about the history of poverty in Central America, especially Nicaragua and how the people left their difficult situation and went to Costa Rica to find jobs. She said that the way out of poverty for these people could not be compared to steps, but to be compared to a spiral, with room for mistake and can only go up. Also, in this metaphor, there is a necessary line of self-esteem. Next, we took a walk to the end of the town where the roads were lined with tin houses and garbage. There were stray dogs everywhere. We then went to an educational center where we drew and talked with the local children. A few of us sitting at the same table met a boy named Martin who was four years old (I know because I asked en Española). He was very amoroso!. We went and saw his house, which had a tin roof, and looked around. When we had to part ways, he started to cry. After this, we went back to the school building and had lunch. Of course, our lunch had rice and beans in it, not that I’m complaining; I love rice and beans. Then, we took another scenic bus ride through the mountains. We arrived at the indigenous village and met an indigenous person named Juan who explained to us the struggles, culture, and traditions of the indigenous people. He showed us where they go to physically heal themselves, where they cleanse their souls, where they bury their dead, and their sauna (a hut with hot stones and water inside) for healing. I found it very interesting how the indigenous people are born with a unique name, color, and animal-protector. This is because they don’t believe in death, and so their animal counterpart helps them find their way after they leave their bodies. We bought some souvenirs from the indigenous people and then traveled back down the mountain and back to our hotel. Back at the hotel, we got ready for our salsa-dancing lesson. While we waited for the instructor to arrive, we played Broken Telephone and a card game called Spoons`. When our instructor arrived, we learned three simple Spanish dances and broke up into pairs to dance along to the upbeat Spanish music. It was extremely fun, but I don’t see myself becoming a professional dancer anytime soon. After that, we ate dinner. To conclude the day, some of us went into the hot tub and sang/screamed out songs from the late 2000s. Today was a great first day of being out and about, and I know we’re all excited to see what the next two weeks bring us!