I couldn’t sleep this morning and spent time checking email, catching up on current events and uploading photos to Flickr.  I was actually able to catch Rholanda Ash online and we shared like stories of weather, cars, maniacal driving and scooters!  She’s been sending out wonderful emails about her experiences and given that they’re so much more interesting to read than most of what I write, I’m going to post one of her letters here with her permission.  Hmm…. couldn’t this make for an interesting geography lesson?!  If you want to continue hearing from her, let me know and I’ll post future correspondence.

 Classes are begining and teaching English is different than what I thought it would be.  Right now we are studying grammar and  it is so deep.  I’m surprised that I can even speak and write correctly, that is how crazy all of the grammar is.  The course is intensive  and a lot of work . They want us to teach English the exact opposit of how I teach Spanish. We have to do these minilesson that are only 20 minutes long, but their is a target or theme of the lesson.  You really have to limit your explanation and teacher tallk time (ttt) and focus on student talk time (stt).  You can tell that I’ve been living in a world of abbreviated terms for the last few weeks!  Most of us who are already teachers are having a hard time adjusting to a completely student centered class where we have a mixture of basic to intermediate level of english speakers in the class.  The course if fine, I just haven’t found my groove yet.  We basically start our student teaching experience on monday.  We will be taking over a one hour class from one the teachers teaching here at Maximo Nivel and they will be observing us.  I feel like I’m in college again, but it will feel good to finally get into a real class and practice for a normal class period.  
  Well, I went camping this weekend with my family in Alajuela and I loved it. It was way better than going to the beach in Manual Antonio.   They own a little ranch house in the country (this isn’t like the ranch style house we normally think of.  It is more like a cabin with half constructed walls.  I will show you a picture later. ) On the way there we passed farm lands with cows, chickens, and horses, as well as beautiful country mountainside.  We even passed the Arenal Volcano and I saw the peek of it.  They had every type of fruit try imaginable on the ranch.  They had coconut, guayaba, banana, lemon, orange, and nannie trees.  There were also some nearby fruit trees on the way so we picked fruit from those as well and baught mamon chino (tlhey are similar to lychee fruit).  There were all of these exotic flowers around the property as well as a little pool (more like the size of a hot tub) on the property.  We cooked out and I learned how to cook several C.R dishes like patacones, gallo pinto, and more.   I also had a chance to learn more about the family and I really felt like one of them.  It was really weird though because it really felt like two parents taking their five children on a camping trip.  I don’t know if I told you but Carla (34), Marlin (26) and I in addition to their two grandaughters went on the trip.  My host parents Amalia and Jorge really did almost everything.  They cooked and did most of the responsible hard labor stuff while we mostly assisted them.  It feels weird to have the parents in charge , instead of me taking the initiative and being somewhat in charge.  They even bought all of my food for me and wouldn’t let me help with most of the stuff.  Even the two grown daughters (Karla and Marlin)  took more of a childrens role than adult, but It is the culture her for the kids to live with their parents until they get married.  Even though Karla and Marlin have their own kids, they still live at home like most Ticas ( C. R. women) Nevertheless it was great, peaceful and very pure family fun.  On the way home I saw some young boys playing soccer in field with all of these trees and flowers around them, and it reminded me of some pure chilhood innocence. These children were poor but they looked like they were having the time of their lives.    With all of this fun though came rain (like floodrain) and bug bites.  I hope I didn’t get Dengue or malaria.  I guess I will find out this week.  Take care everyone, and I hope all is well back home.
Rholonda Ash