Yat's Big Trip travel blog

I didn't feel settled for the first few days, and felt pretty lost and disorientated. I was still living out of my backpack - which wasn't too much problem, as I was used to that on the road. But didn't really understand what my tasks and activities were to be in Tarcoles. My homestay family seems to be the point of congregation in the village, and there were always lots of people coming and going - and not really understanding who they were... family, neighbours or friends. Worst of all, was the language problem. I didn't really understand what they were talking about, hence couldn't answer their questions or join in their conversations. Also couldn't express myself well, and couldn't act my normal self - especially as didn't want to offend with my strange sense of humour. Wasn't allowed to speak in English with the other volunteers either, though we had to convert to that, because I was getting really lost. So understand my frustration!

Luckily met Fiona, a fellow Londoner, who is working in the National Park and studying the macaws there, as a prepartion for her PhD. She was teaching in the village's school the next day, so only a short walk away. It was so good to be able to speak in English again, and understanding totally what the other person was talking about! She invited me to a nearby school's last day of term party, and I felt a lot happier playing with the children - although couldn't say simple things (such as, "be careful!", "be nice!") and not understanding their questions. But Fiona and I had a good chat when only the two of us went to Jaco, the closest town to us, only 30 minutes away and about 5 buses a day. Unfortunately, she doesn't live in Tarcoles, but then it would force me to learn more Spanish.

Work wise, have been helping with some painting. They are building some new accommodation for future employees and volunteers at the National Park. I do enjoy the painting, although clothes artistically dripped with green paint are now strictly allocated work uniform. Oh, it is tiring too, especially with painting the ceiling - very difficult and strenuous work (particularly for the neck...), and hence sleeping many hours each night.

A typical day is as follows. Wake up at around 6:30am, by the sound of the Amazon parrot screeching outside my window, and also the chats of the family as they prepare for the new day. Then take the 7:30am bus (usually arriving at 8am though) to the Park and then painting for around 3 hours. Then we try to hitch a ride back to the village (with Sami and Yanick persueding me to show my boobs and legs) for lunch. Then catch the 1:30pm bus for more painting, and back for dinner by 5:30. But then, to be honest, there has only been one full day of work for me so far... it's very flexible here! :p

Have also been asked by Alex to design a bridge for the boy scouts, a challenaging task for me, as he believes me to be an architect, not simply a student of four years, and I am not sure how much help I will be getting. Still it would be a lot of fun, and went for a site visit on Saturaday to understand the site better, despite being very badly hungover. Bought myself a new sketch pad and pens, and trotted off for a second site visit this afternoon. I do have some ideas for the bridge, but I have no clue of the budgets nor how feasible it would be - will need some engineering inputs for sure! But hope that would be able to work with the scouts (and teaching them English at the same time), and maybe kinda slipping in some summer camp activities too. So a lot of work there!

Sami and I took three scouts to clean the beach today. We didn't clean very much (in my eyes), but we had fun trying to make the task more enjoyable for them - trying to exercise my camp knowledge! They had to race to collect the most rubbish in five minutes, which Sami, very diplomatically declared all results to be equal, then as a reward, we sang and danced the Princess Pat - which they liked a lot. Afterwards, Sami even took out his guitar and did a few more songs with them, so they ran off, at the end, very happy - and maybe even looking forward to their next beach cleaning session! ;)

Also received a phone call from Fiona the other night, asking me to help her organise an up and coming fair (in March) to raise awareness of macaws. It does sound a lot of fun - lots of organising, community work, fundraising (which Sami enjoys), and could involve lots of visual and graphical work for me, which I am really excited about. But it would be a lot of work, especially when the macaw society Lapas isn't very motivated at the moment. Nonetheless, we arranged a meeting in Jaco tomorrow afternoon for a preliminary meeting to find out more about the work - I was assured everyone could speak English, fortunately.

So not sure exactly how much lazing about on the beach there will be for me! Still it would be good to feel my time has been used constructively!

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