Didn't wake up fresh at all, in fact, was still feeling slightly intoxicated from Baden's belated birthday party the evening previously (rum, red wine, beer). Probably not the best first impression I could give to my new family! Though feeling zoombied, managed to stock up with more cash, and even bumping into my Guatemalan homestay brother and sister, the young married American couple David and Rachel!
Nonetheless, made it to Tarcoles fine - although the bus ride was slightly bumpy from going up and down the mountain, despite being on nicer quality buses (don't think the term "chicken bus" exists in the more affluent Costa Rica - oh, I miss them!!). Was expecting a grand governmental building called the "INVU Tarcoles" at the bus stop, but was dropped off instead at a supermarket at the entrance of the village. And there was no obvious appearance of Alex, my point of contact at the village, nor my homestay family.
The supermarket lady was amused at my lack of Spanish skills, and sympathetically phoned Alex to say, "The new voluntary worker is here, and she speaks only a little bit of Spanish". Bought myself an ice cream to cool off, as I waited for Alex to come and pick me up.
He wasn't how I had imagined either. Alejandro said that Alex could speak a little bit of English, but Alex looked pretty Gringo to me, with brown hair, white skin and even wearing travellers combat shorts. But he was Costa Rican, and proud to be one too. Ticos (Costa Ricans) are different than their other Central American counterparts, due to their mixed European and native blood. He could speak more English than I expected, so that was all good, though I wasn't sure whether I understood him correctly.
Apparently Alejandro called him up only the previous day to say there is a new volunteer arriving! Grrrr!! And there I was writing to him for almost a year, and making sure that it would be no problem for the family to have a stranger in the house over Christmas, and a vegetarian one too. The family I was assigned to only had two rooms for volunteers, and there were already two volunteers there. Sami, a French pharmacist student, arrived for a week and staying for about the same time as me. And Yanick, a Swiss biologist PhD (commencing shortly), leaving at the end of the week. So for a few days, would I mind sharing a room with the other volunteers, or with the daughters? Alternatively, I could have my own room at the family's villa, out for rent to Gringos, only 1km from the house.
Lovely. Very good start!
The daughter Angi offered me her room. She and her mother, Miriam were very friendly - they were used to volunteers, and they told me stories about the previous ones - although I couldn't be sure I understood them totally, as I had the impression there was also an English girl called Jenny, who eats a lot (actually, the Swiss Yanick), another English guy (left), a Dutch girl (left), a Chinese girl (left), a Japanese girl (left) - and I was glad that there would be so many other volunteers.
After lunch, spent the afternoon bonding with Angi - and even helped her translating a recipe into English, and resisting walking to the beach, with the Pacific Ocean only 50m away from the house...