September 22, 2006

Everybody´s Workin For The Weekend

As Jon Bon Jovi once said, "I´m feeling like a Monday, but someday I´ll be Saturday night." Right now it´s Friday, so that may not make any damn sense, especially since right now I´m feeling quite Satuday night. But I just wanted to use that quote to segue into the topic of the day for this blog. A few people have inquired: what do I do in my free time in Costa Rica?
Well, I hang out a lot. I haven´t really travelled much around the country on the weekends, mainly just because I have a five-day work week. Man, it´s a pain in my ass. But still, I get plenty of down time.
Sometimes I watch a bit of TV, because Abuela has cable...sort of. There are around 25 stations, and three don´t come in at all. Another five have major reception issues. There is also a channel that shows old operas, and it plays on three stations. There are then about two or three decent channels, including a local one that plays an hour of dubbed Simpsons at 8. And another channel shows a fair number of movies in the evenings.
But sometimes the dubbed Chuck Norris movies can be a bit much (as they were last Friday night, when Forced Vengance and Delta Force were playing at the same time). When that´s the case, Pablo usually comes around my room and convinces me to go to town with him and some people he knows. The people we go out with always seem nice, but it´s hard to be sure, since we usually go to a "dance club" called Secretos. Secretos is so damn loud that even yelling over the music is basically a futile undertaking. To make the loud music even more perturbing, some fucker with a microphone is usually yelling machine-gun-speed Spanish gibberish OVER the music every 14 seconds or so. And I put "dance club" in quotes because by around 10 o´clock, it´s so packed you´d be lucky to be able to shake your ass just a tad, let alone get your grove on completely. It´s a pretty mind-dumbing experience, but a bottle of beer is around a buck 25, so we keep going back.
Finally, I also just hang around the hacienda a lot. We (meaning me and/or Abuela, Pablo, Katie, etc) often hang around, chat, or watch a bit of TV. Tonight, there is even talk that we´ll play a pirated version of "Monopolio" I bought at a local convenience store. I bought a bottle of wine and some popcorn for just such an occasion.
¿¿So, when are you coming to visit??

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

September 18, 2006

Independence Day

This last Saturday was Costa Rican Independence Day, so on Friday there was a big parade downtown. I went there early in the morning, because some of my fourth and sixth graders were in the parade, and they needed teachers to help. I didn´t actually DO anything, but I enjoyed some icy treats and took a few pictures:

Here´s a picture of the guy that was making a shaved ice thing. He cut the ice off the big block, and then added all sorts of sugary shit to it to make it delicious.

Here he´s topping off the sugary shit. The layers, from bottom to top, were: Ice, red sugar liquid, ice, powdered milk/sugar, red sugar liquid, sweetened condensed milk. It was awesome!

Speaking of awesome, here´s a guy watching the parade with an iguana on his head.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

September 17, 2006

Quickest PhD Ever...

It occurred to me recently that I am a Professor here in Costa Rica. Not like I have a PhD or anything, but in Spanish, the word for teacher is profesor. So I´m either Teacher Ryan or, better, Profesor Ryan. Which I like.
Back when I was living near Hannover, Germany in 98-99, some fellow exchange students dubbed me Professor. I think it all came about when we were at a Zoo one day, and I was the one that was able to decipher signs like "Elefant," "Bär," and "Delfin." Basically, I didn´t earn the title then, and I didn´t earn it now, either. But I still kind of like it. It´s good for a power trip.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

September 14, 2006

One Thing That Scares Me (Besides Snakes)

Here´s a picture of my shower head here in San Ramón. I am very happy that I am able to shower with hot water and all, but still, this kind of looks electric chair-y. Especially the part on the wall with the switch. And the random green and yellow wire sticking out. But it´s actually a pretty common set-up in these parts, if you want hot running water (which Abuela doesn´t have in the kitchen, for example).
When you take a shower, it heats up the water right then. And it makes the same sound as those water cookers popular in Germany. Like I said, I like having the hot water, but it´s probably good that I´m really groggy every morning when I get into the shower at 6.30 am, because if I wasn´t, I´d probably be afraid to even get near the water coming from this thing.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

September 10, 2006

Belligerent Bear?

Every time I walk to town, I see this sign with this bear. I still think it´s hilarious, especially with a bit of imagination. See, Bimbo is a brand of bread, and the sign says "Aquí está su pan"..."Here is your bread." The bear is sort of a mix between the Downy Bear, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and Chef Boyardee.
For some reason, though, I imagine two frowny-lines above his eyes, and he kinda looks pissed. And instead of Spanish, he speaks English, with a New Jersey accent. And he grabs his fluffy crotch and says, "I got ya fuckin´ pan right heah!"
Good times...good times.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

My First Soccer Game

Here´s a picture from a soccer game that I went to in San Ramón this afternoon. It was the first live professional game that I´ve been to (not counting the games our German Department intramural soccer team played, which made us look like professionals). It was pretty fun: San Ramón won, and there was even a lot of angry yelling and some quasi-violence. Some asshole threw a three-foot piece of jagged metal toward the line judge. No real good reason, either, except that he seemed to think the line judge was very "puto" or "maricon."

Just to put some faces with the names, here´s a picture of Pablo, on the far left, and Abuela at the soccer game. The other guy is some friend of Pablo´s.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

Schoolroom With a View

Like the volcano picture, this one´s not terribly interesting, but I still thought I´d throw it in. This is a view from the school I work out. There´s a porch around the entire building, and it looks out on these hills. It´s really cool to watch the rainstorms roll in from the horizon in the afternoon, and the fog gets so thick it almost looks like smoke, and you can sometimes hardly see 20 feet in front of you.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook


Here´s a picture of the Volcano I saw in La Fortuna. It happened to erupt this morning when I was eating breakfast. It´s got clouds all around it, but I thought it was still cool nonetheless.
Also, last night I went to a hot springs outside of La Fortuna. It was pretty incredible. As you went up the mountain, you kept getting to warmer and warmer pools. One had some chairs built in, and you could lay back in the dark and watch lava spill out of the volcano. Pretty awesome, I have to admit!
Anyhow, I´m back in San Ramón now, and will go back to the grind tomorrow...

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

September 8, 2006

Today Was A Good Day

Like the title says, today was a good day. It was "Dia de los Ninos," or Children's Day. When I was a kid, I always asked my parents why there wasn't Kids Day, but they said every day is kids day.
Anyhow, they have it here. So I didn't really have to teach. I just hung around the school with my fourth graders for about four hours. That grade is pretty cool and pretty funny. Some sang karaoke, and then we played Dance Dance Revolution on the Play Station (I handed their asses to them). Then I joked with a little girl about taking her water balloon, and that eventually turned into me chasing about 12 of my fourth grade girls all around the school grounds. I'd hide, jump out from a corner, and yell "BWAAAAAAHAHAHA!!!", chasing a pack of screaming girls away. It's pretty much what usually happens when I talk to girls, I guess, only this time the girls are a lot younger...And it was hilarious.
And now I'm in a little town called La Fortuna. I'm hoping to see a volcano called Arenal tomorrow. But if not, I'll just hang out in my hotel room (12 dollars for three beds, a bathroom with hot water, and free internet access!). And to get here I took a nice, winding, three-hour bus ride filled with good music on the ipod.
So like I said, today was a good day!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

September 7, 2006

A Few Random Things

Things are still going well here in Coast Tasty. I finally had a chance last night to write another music review, so if you want to read it, I could send it to you. Unfortunately, I won´t be able to put it on any time soon, due to boring technical limitations. But if you´d like to read it and didn´t get it emailed to you, send me an email and I´ll forward it to you.
Now, without further ado, here´s a picture of me driving a bus like four years ago. The people in the back are employees of the vet clinic I volunteered at in Boulder:

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

September 4, 2006

Stupid Address

OK, I thought I had my address correct before, but I forgot an important word, and without that word, anything that might get sent this way would get sent to a San Ramón on the other side of the country. That word is "Alajuela."
Anyhow, my revised address (and I´ll change it in my previous entry to make that correct, too):
Ryan Sitzman
c/o Doña Nidia Sandoval
Tres Marías Dos,
de la primera entrada,
25 metros al norte.
San Ramón, Alajuela
Costa Rica

Hopefully that will work. Like I said before, I´m not holding out too much hope that anyone will write, but a postcard is always nice...

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

September 2, 2006

A Comment About Comments

Hey there...
So, I thought I had set up the blog to take comments from anyone, and it did. The thing was, is in Spanish here, and I didn´t realize that I had to moderate the comments before they got posted. So, if you made a comment, it should be posted now. Thanks for reading!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

Last Picture For Now

Here is a guy trying to adjust a Virgin Mary on a float for the Día de San Ramón parade. Since I live in San Ramón, the day is a pretty big deal, so I got the day off of school. There was a large parade downtown with a procession of saints, each one being carried by representatives from different neighborhoods. It was pretty cool.
That´s all the pictures for now. It´s kind of a pain in the ass to get them up there, since I have to go to an internet café to do so. Eventually, there´ll be a Costa Rica picture page on, but that probably won´t be until I get home and am able to use my web design software and my own computer...

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

Another One

Who´s a pretty bird?

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

Another Picture

Here´s one of the three kids in the family I first stayed with. They are Alejandro, Fabian, and Valeria. Valeria is in one of the classes I teach (sixth grade), and the other two go to the same school.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

A Few Pictures

Here´s a picture of me at the volcano Poás. I went there in my first few days here, when I was staying with the Quesada Aguilar family.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

September 1, 2006

Third Wheel Surprise

I think that sometime in the past, I may have mentioned the kind of subtle, happy surprises you come across sometimes when you´re new to a place and you´re just a stupid tourist with no idea what´s going on. Well, at this point, I guess I´m fixing to be a bit more than a tourist, but there are many times that I nevertheless still don´t have much of a clue as to what´s going on.
One of those times was last night. I went out with my housemate Pablo, and we met up with his friend María at a sort of Costa Rican beer garden. Well, at lest it was a place and it served beer outside. So, they were playing music and all that, and after a while Pablo´s Colombian blood must have got boiling, because he led María out to dance. In a sort of deserted parking lot. Which is fine, but it also left me sitting alone at the table. While they danced about and made out a bit. Now, I´m not much into dancing, and even less so when there´s literally no one else to dance with, so I was unsure what to do. It turns out that you can only recross your legs, stretch your arms behind your head, or stare off into space in thought for so long before you realize you need to do something else besides just sitting around. That length of time--for me, at least--seems to have been about five songs. So, not wanting to make things awkward, I decided to head for the bathroom to have a whiz. At least that would kill a few minutes if I took the scenic route.
So, as I went inside the building, I was stopped at the door by a burly lady bouncer. She wouldn´t let me in at first, but then I explained to her that I was looking for a bathroom so I wouldn´t have to pee in the parking lot like a lot of people were doing (the same parking lot that Pablo and María were dancing in...yet another reason to not take up dancing). The bouncer let me in, and I got really excited because they were playing a Guns N Roses song, which was a welcome change from the cumbia stuff they were playing outside. As I walked in, I noticed that every table and chair inside the building was faced in one direction, and when I looked toward that direction, there was a lady dancing on stage in her underwear. Her very small underwear. An announcer was yelling something unintelligible over a microphone, and it seemed to be some sort of loungerie dancing competition.
The lady, as well as the next one that came out to "Livin´on a Prayer," was somewhat plump, but not overweight (that seems to be the way they like them here). But I´m not sure if they were local girls or what. Anyhow, after appreciating the strangeness and awkward-ness of the whole situation, I went back to the table and told Pablo and María about it. They each went to the bathroom themselves about five minutes later, and I guess the place had cleared out and was completely empty when they went in.
So, I´m not sure if the surprise was that I walked in on a random exotic dance-off, or that I walked into a random GHOST exotic dance-off. Either way, it was weird.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook