Archive | March, 2009

jack & jill, 1.6

31 Mar

march madness, sweet sixteen, elite eight, final four. next year syracuse, next year…

jack & jill, 1.6-march madness

jack & jill, 1.8-death & taxes | jack & jill, 1.7-traditions | jack & jill, 1.6-march madness | jack & jill, 1.5-food | jack & jill, 1.4-global warming | jack & jill, 1.3-toilet seat | jack & jill 1.2-ice cream | jack & jill 1.1-bumper cars | jack & jill season teaser


initials please

30 Mar


Take two of your initials (can be first and last, first and middle, or middle and last), and use these two letters to create 4 separate designs. You can scale letters up and down, rotate them, move them anywhere on the page, make them run off the page, and combine them together. You can’t skew or stretch the letters beyond their original proportions, and you can only use two letters but you may duplicate them. You will use serif letterforms for 2 of your designs, and sans-serif letterforms for 2 designs. You must use only black letters on a white background.

here... and here.

here... and here.


26 Mar

Friday started off well. 5:20 alarm, cool morning, and a hot shower! Rather than shower hopping, I picked my favorite shower and would run the water until the hot water stopped (about 2 minutes). Then I’d wait for the motor to rest, and repeat. It was brilliant… and it only took me the entire week to figure out.

After having gallo pinto for breakfast, the Insights headed off to our last day of work at our placements. Tired from the week and, perhaps, coming to terms with the fact that it was our last day with the kids, we still finished the laundry rather quickly even though people drifted about. Once blouses and pants spanned every inch of clothes-line, Jackie, Maria Paula, and I went to work washing the downstairs windows. Armed with a bucket of water and some newspaper, we wiped away the dust and grime that had accumulated. Francesco and Andrew took over cleaning the upstairs windows and even drew a crowd of adoring fans. Jose and Andre insisted upon helping out and playing too.

Of course, we had arts & crafts time with the usual favorites: paper towel rolls and assorted paper, markers, crayons, glue, and scissors. Jose made a cardboard short staff out of the rolls while the rest of the kids were content to draw and make 3D paper houses. The creativity was soaring. It was inspiring to see what everyone could make out of a single piece of paper.

At 11 or so, I took Jose and David to pick up Casey and Lucy from school. Jose led the way there and back, but made sure to stop at a little shop to pick up a some Ben trading cards – 10 for 100 colones. Both Jose and David were preoccupied with the new cards, so I held Casey and Lucy’s hands as we walked back to Dona Melba’s since neither of them had yet developed a healthy fear or awareness of the cars whizzing by us.

While I was out picking up Casey and Lucy, Maddie had taken Caesar to a parade… none of the Insights were really sure what that meant – other than the fact that she wasn’t with us when we sad our goodbyes, or rather hasta el proximo tiempo (until next time) and pura vida (pure life/full of life). It was bittersweet.

Lunch at the homebase was a bit of a surprise- spaghetti and garlic bread! Maybe this was their way of spicing up the usual rice and beans. It was a great meal, if not a bit anticlimactic for some people’s last lunch in Costa Rica.

After eating, I took a walk to the nearby city of San Rafael in order to mail some postcards and pay the $26 departure tax (paid in either USD, CRC, or with a VISA credit card) at one of the national banks: Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica, or Bancredito. A traveler can also pay the tax at the airport, but I didn’t want to risk missing my flight because of waiting in line.

Once I had meandered around San Rafael for a while, I took a short nap and then headed out for my last walk around Cartago before dinner. There was a lot going on in the streets. People were setting up Stations of the Cross at their homes and a folk festival and parade was being put on at the Basilica and the ruins, which must have been a continuation of what Maddie took Caesar to earlier in the day.

I watched the parade start, but had to run back to the homebase to make it in time for 6:30pm dinner. It was worth the extra effort to get there on time, because we had olla de carne (pot of meat), a special Costa Rican dish: a big pot of soup with large chunks of meat, potatoes, yuca, chayote (a local pear-shaped vegetable) and other hearty vegetables. Even with such an awesome meal, Jackie (a fellow Insight) and Sarah (a Core volunteer) wanted something more… pizza.

Sarah, having been in Costa Rica for 6 weeks already, was familiar with the local pizza place down the street. We went there via an alternate route because there was a procession of people walking the Stations of the Cross that I had seen earlier. Had my camera not run out of batteries during the parade, I’d have taken some pictures of the candle lit streets and beautiful altars people made outside their homes.

Some people went out to Sunset, the local hot spot in Cartago… there’s only one apparently. I opted to stay at the homebase to paint my hand and continue working on my lanyard. It was a sound decision considering the fact that I had no “nice” clothes or money anyways. Hasta el proximo tiempo.

☼ Domingo (I found Jesus…) ☼ Lunes ☼ Martes ☼ Miercoles ☼ JuevesViernes


26 Mar

Thursday started off a little differently. After waking up at ridiculous in the morning, I made my way down the hall determined to have a warm shower. This particular day’s solution was to turn the faucet on just enough to get the water going and the motor, making sure that the water coming out would heat. Unfortunately, these motors would putter out after a few minutes. That being said, the second phase of the day’s warm shower adventure was to shower hop. Each motor worked differently, and I ended up taking a variety of pseudo-showers ranging from a nice hot to lukewarm. In the end, I didn’t take a cold shower and discovered which one was the best. Success.

When we arrived at Doña Melba’s we met Tayna and Shayna, two volunteers from London. They worked at the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but hadn’t been able to come earlier in the week because the father at their homestay had passed away and the entire house was in mourning.

We started laundry as usual and now after having 3 days experience, we’d set up an efficient assembly line. Two to pull, two to fold, and Andrew was our designated sorter. By the end of the dry clothes phase, people would somehow drift off, and much of the wet clothes would be hung up by the one or two people who hadn’t been pulled away by the kids or other chores around the house.

After an hour or two, the kids perked up and started saying vamos al parque (we go to the park/let’s go to the park). We all shook our heads no and tried to explain to them, in our broken Spanish, that we couldn’t go to the park unless we had enough people who wouldn’t have to go to school. But the kids were insistent… they knew something we didn’t. After the number of voices overwhelmed our own, Maria Paula announced that Doña Melba had approved a visit to the park. And so, we led a very bright-eyed and energetic group of 9 kids to the park next to the Basilica.

I pushed Anita to the park in her wheelchair, since the walk would have been a little much for her. Before Doña Melba’s, Anita had lived in an abusive home. After an incident, her legs had been maimed and people had said that she would never walk again. But CCS was able to connect Anita with surgeons in the US who restored her legs.  She now walks, but her muscles and balance aren’t as developed as they would be in a normal girl her age. Even so, Anita was always smiling and happy- especially knowing that she was going to the park.

Once there, I spent some time on the swings with Anita who was insistent that I sit next to her and swing too. Then I sat at a sheltered table where we had set up a little games and crafts area. While I chilled in the shade, Jackie played escondido (hide and seek) with a few of the other kids. Two kids from Doña Melba’s saw the group of us at the park and joined us for a while before returning home. 

In the afternoon, Jose held a “History of Costa Rica” session which was both informative and fun. The session helped to give some background on Costa Rica’s political and economical background. It was a nice relaxing follow up to the previous few hours at the park; and for about 2 hours, Jose captivated both Insight and Core volunteers with information about Costa Rica’s recent history.

☼ Domingo (I found Jesus…) ☼ Lunes ☼ Martes ☼ Miercoles ☼ Jueves ☼ Viernes


25 Mar

The routine was set by Wednesday: 5:20 alarm, cold shower, light breakfast, and then out to Doña Melba’s at 8am. Pull, fold, and sort dry clothes, and then hang wet clothes (we’d play with the kids every now and again to break the monotony).

Once laundry was finished, we were free to play with the kids. After a while of playing, I set up a crafts table with the supplies I’d brought from homebase: assorted paper, cardboard rolls, wooden clothes-line pins, glue, tape, a few scissors, and of course, markers and crayons. I didn’t tell them what to make – but rather let them decide how they were to use the materials. One girl, Michelle, was extremely creative, making a tower out of two different sized rolls. While Luis drew an outline of peole’s hands. The scissors were in high demand as well as the goma (glue).

Jackie also brought play-dough and the kids loved it. At first kids would take an entire stick of color to make something, but upon realizing that there was a limited supply, creativity skyrocketed while the amount used dropped to a more reasonable amount. After making a few little animals, an abeja (bee) and an oso (bear), one of the teenagers from Doña Melba’s sat down and made a pig and a fence. The kids liked my elefante (elephant) and arbol (tree) too. All in all, the play-dough was definitely a hit with the kids and the volunteers.

At noon we left Doña Melba’s and headed to homebase for lunch. Of course, lunch was nothing short of awesome: chicken, beef, rice, salad, and mangos. YUM! I hadn’t eaten that well or that regularly in far, far too long.

After lunch, the Insights went on a trip to the Irazu Volcano. However, the park closes at 3:30. Luckily, we made it with just enough time to walk around, peruse through the souvenir shop, and snap photos of the main crater. The craters filled with fog in moments, and the last few minutes we spent in the park, we were surrounded by it.

We returned to homebase to wash up and get ready for dinner. Since there was some time to spare, Bonnie and I walked to Pali, the local grocery store, in hopes of finding some more supplies to bring to our placements. We didn’t find much to work with there, but Bonnie filled out a materials request form back at homebase.

I sat in one the Core’s Spanish class for beginners. That was a lot of fun. I found that I remembered a lot more than I thought, but my troubles were the fact that I didn’t know many adjectives… in short, I’d be able to pick out the nouns and a few verbs here and there… which makes up for a very, very skewed translation. As it was with the Insights, the class was tailored to the individuals taking it so there was a nice Q&A session where we learned some more words and phrases like termina/terminaste (finished), cuando te vas (when do you leave here), tuanis (cool), and chocola (high five).

Determined to stay up a little later, I started working on a lanyard from string. This is much harder than one might think and now I know why plastic is used. It’s difficult to get the lanyard started because the string is much looser and the ends fray quickly. But once the first knot was made and a few loops finished, the process got a little easier. After about an inch or two was completed, I set my alarm, said goodnight, and went to bed… not as early as the previous nights, but still well before midnight.

☼ Domingo (I found Jesus…) ☼ Lunes ☼ Martes ☼ Miercoles ☼ Jueves ☼ Viernes

jack & jill, 1.5

24 Mar

food. it’s all a matter of taste- and ethics apparently. yes, i’ll take a murder-burger with one deep fried halo to go please. cheers.

jack & jill, 1.5-food

jack & jill, 1.5-food

jack & jill, 1.7-traditions | jack & jill, 1.6-march madness | jack & jill, 1.5-food | jack & jill, 1.4-global warming | jack & jill, 1.3-toilet seat | jack & jill 1.2-ice cream | jack & jill 1.1-bumper cars | jack & jill season teaser


24 Mar

Another cool morning and cold shower woke me up on Tuesday. The fresh cut melon and tangerine with oatmeal at breakfast made for a quick and easy meal, leaving ample time to meander the homebase before work.

Looking forward to my first full day at Doña Melba’s, Maria Paula led myself and the rest of the Insights to Doña Melba’s at 8am. The first daily task was to do the laundry: pull clothes off clothes-line if dry, fold, sort, and hang wet clothes. Simple, but time consuming especially when kids are vying for attention and running about all around you. Once the laundry was finished, we still had a few hours to spend with the kids.

The kids loved every moment. Maddie had brought some craft supplies: paper bags, assorted markers and crayons, paper, and pipe cleaners. Before long, a crowd of kids surrounded the table and Maddie was making “gafas del sol” out of the pipe cleaners. One entrepreneurial individual, Herman, insisted that Maddie continue to make him more gafas so that he could sell them.

We left Dona Melba’s at noon for lunch at the homebase. Most everyone else went zip-lining, but unfortunately I missed the memo (the trip was organized outside of CCS by the University of Maryland group). Instead, I power napped and dreamed of zip-lining.

Dinner was choice, and afterwards Bonnie, Lydia, and myself took a stroll to the internet cafe by the Basilica. The price for an hour was 300 colones, less than a dollar. I milked every minute, checking my email for the first time in 3 days and sending out a quick update to family, letting them know I was alive and well.

Later, I spent some time looking up activities to do with the kids. Bonnie teaches first and second graders, so she had a few quality resources for me to look through. After taking into consideration the ages of the kids at Doña Melba’s and the craft supplies readily available at the homebase, I came up with a few craft ideas: making animals out of cardboard towel rolls (rolls, scissors, glue, paper, markers, pipe-cleaners, cotton balls), paper lanterns (paper, scissors, markers, tape), and butterflies (wooden clothes pin, paper, markers).

Content that I had found a few fun things to do on Wednesday. I set my alarm and went to sleep at a more reasonable, but still early 10 something pm.

☼ Domingo (I found Jesus…) ☼ Lunes ☼ Martes ☼ Miercoles ☼ Jueves ☼ Viernes


23 Mar

My alarm went off and was quickly shut off before anyone seemed to be disturbed. It was surprising cool in the morning, and I took a cold shower too. Apparently 2 out of 5 of the showers motors were broken, so I wasn’t the only one having troubles figuring out how to get the hot water working.

Altogether, it was a good day. Breakfast was simple but delicious: watermelon wedges, a tangerine, and the best oatmeal ever. Right after, Jose led the orientation session for the new Core volunteers plus Francesco and I, while the rest of the new Insights and veteren volunteers went to work. Around 10 am, after the program overview and a Q&A session, Jose walked Francesco and I to our placement where Maddie and Jackie (two Insights), Maria Paula (the Program Assistant), and Andrew were already working. Making myself comfortable by the tv, I introduced myself to Jose and David and played with them by the tv. Shortly after, I was whisked away by Luis and we toured the entire house. Luis would point to the ceiling lights and the tops of shelves; and to his delight, I would hoist him up so he could reach them all. 

The afternoon was full of activity. Maria Paula led the volunteers back to homebase for lunch (amazing) and then took the Insights on a tour of Cartago. We visited the Basilica as well as the ruins at the center of town before heading back to homebase. Once we had returned from our walk, we had Spanish class specifically for our placement, learning the words for games like landa (tag), escondido (hide and seek), papa caliente (hot potato), and sillas musicales (musical chairs) as well as going over a few helpful phrases like compartean (share) and ven/vengan aqui (come here). Shortly after class, dinner was served: rice, beans, cream of broccoli soup (which I poured over the rice – yummy!), and fruit.

Tired from a full day, once again, I went to my room ridiculously early. Lydia ended up moving out into her own private room and Maddie took her place (as she had been displaced by Lydia). Once my alarm was set for 5:20am and my clothes and toiletries set up for quick and silent access, I passed out for another early night.

☼ Domingo (I found Jesus…) ☼ Lunes ☼ Martes ☼ Miercoles ☼ Jueves ☼ Viernes

I found Jesus…

22 Mar

sitting across the street from baggage claim and holding a Cross-Cultural Solutions sign, when I arrived in Costa Rica last Sunday.

A charming person, but we quickly discovered that neither of us was looking for the other, so we kept each other company and chatted while we waited for the ones we were expecting to find. Apparently, Jesus is the driver for CCS in San Carlos. He said it’s much prettier in San Carlos and that I should go their instead of Cartago. I said, “Next time.”

Jesus found who he was looking for, maybe half an hour later or so. They looked like a dad and his two sons, all bright-eyed and ready to spend spring break volunteering. Jesus assured me that the driver for Cartago had just arrived and waved to me with a smile as he led the three kings into the parking lot behind me.

Just as I was told, Allan, the driver for Cartago came walking up from the parking lot and told me that I’d be waiting for 3 more people to arrive before we left for the homebase. So I kept seated and he meandered off towards the Arrivals sign. The first to arrive was Ella from Minnesota, taking some time to volunteer during her gap year. Then Francesco from Italy, but currently living in Florida. And last but not least, Lydia from Greece. By the time Lydia arrived, I had waited outside the airport for a little over 3 hours.

Allan led us to the CCS van and handed us our welcome notes. Francesco read the bullet point list aloud as we sped out of the parking lot and made our way to Cartago. I tried to stay awake and alert, but drifted off to sleep once everyone had introduced themselves and the van became quite.

We arrived in Cartago a while before dinner, but just after the Insight Orientation, which Francesco and I were supposed to attend. But Jose, the CCS Country Director, assured us that all was well and that we would attend orientation with the Core volunteers on Monday morning instead. So, I unpacked and upon seeing that two of the three bottom bunk beds were taken, took a top bunk bed, and met my roommates: Bonnie, Joanie, and, my van buddy, Lydia. I was the baby of our group. The rage of ages and experiences in the room reminded me of my trip to India.

Dinner was scrumptious and I was able to see most of the volunteers who would be living at the homestead. Ella and I sat at the same table and another Core volunteer, Andrew joined us. He was volunteering for a total of 10 weeks, and this past week was his 5th one. It turned out that Andrew was volunteering at la Casa de Doña Melba as well, and he had nothing but good things to say about the placement.

I was very tired from not sleeping the night before and all my travels, so shortly after dinner I climbed up to my bed. Breakfast would be served from 6:30am – 7:00am, so I set my alarm for 5:20 to give myself enough time to shower and relax before starting the day. I assured my roommates that they could talk and leave the light on; and within moments of resting my head on my pillow, I was out.

☼ Domingo (I found Jesus…) ☼ Lunes ☼ Martes ☼ Miercoles ☼ Jueves ☼ Viernes

jack & jill, 1.4

18 Mar

(some people find this problematic- others… not so much)

jack & jill, 1.4-global warming

jack & jill, 1.4-global warming

jack & jill, 1.8-death & taxes | jack & jill, 1.7-traditions | jack & jill, 1.6-march madness | jack & jill, 1.5-food | jack & jill, 1.4-global warming | jack & jill, 1.3-toilet seat | jack & jill 1.2-ice cream | jack & jill 1.1-bumper cars | jack & jill season teaser