Weeks 3 and 4: Settling In

Now that school has started, we are slowly finding our routine and realizing that we are weekend warriors. We know we have at least two years here but the idea of not venturing out every weekend seems outrageous. Em put it best when she said, “I feel like I work 5 days and then I go on a 2 day vacation.” EVERY.WEEK. It’s the best. Here are two pics from the waterfall hike we did a few weeks ago to tide you over until we get to adventures.

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Forming Routines:

1.) School – I just finished my second week of school at CDS and am finally understanding the schedule, getting to know kids, and feeling like it’s my place. I teach 9th graders in Bio and 10th graders in Honors Physics – they are a fun bunch of kids who like to learn and love to laugh – it’s a great combo. I’m also diving in and getting to know the 9th and 10th graders as their guidance counselor – although it’s what we all strive for as teachers, it’s fun having “supporting students” as your number one responsibility. In two weeks I start teaching 9th Grade Life Skills (a full-year class) which essentially will be talking about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll – so that should be awkward and wonderful.

It has been really fun figuring out how to get to school. Right now my morning routine consists of walking 1.25 miles to meet a friend and then walk to a bus that, for $0.80, takes me to school. On the way home I ditch the bus and Brett and I walk the 2.5 miles home after we stop off at the market. It’s a great routine and even though I’m sweaty when I arrive at school I am awake and ready to go for the day. I think I’m the only person who arrives at school in shorts, a t-shirt, and purple sneakers. I change by 7:30 into my “real” clothes but still – it’s a scene. I listen to a podcast, Coffee Break Spanish, on my walks and am slowly but surely remembering the grammar rules that so many of my wonderful teachers taught me over the years.

2.) Food – For most of my life I have said that I could eat rice and beans every day. The universe sent me to Costa Rica to test that theory. Universe 1, Kathleen 0. I gave it a good go for a few weeks but I couldn’t hang. We still try to do rice and beans a few times a week and Em is especially creative – come on over and we’ll (she will) cook for you. My diet also consists of at least half a fresh avocado everyday (I keep telling myself that it’s good fat so it’s fine). We have been using a ton of jalapeños and cilantro for guac and basil for everything so we went out and bought some plants. We are notorious plant killers (Em put that as her number #1 skill in her application to GOA) so please send green thumb vibes our way.

Jalepeños Basil!Planting

Saturday mornings always begin with a trip to the Escazú farmer’s market. Em likes to get a coconut and wander while we browse the blocks of deliciousness. This morning our haul was about $23 for everything in the picture below (which includes 1 pound of tuna and a mint plant among many other things). It’s the best.

Casual Saturday CoconutFarmer's Market Haul

3.) Monday Night Hoops – this past week I played my first legit pick-up game. Legit because it was with adults and because I actually forgot about my back for the first time while playing. I played with 17 Costa Rican men and 2 of my colleagues from CDS. What a sight. Soccer has always frustrated me because of all the flopping and whining and basketball here is no different. It takes about 35 minutes to play a game to 11 because no one can ever agree on the score and anytime you touch someone it’s a foul (but it’s never a foul when they do it). It was fun to get out there and show them what “ella” can do. It was fun getting that first game out of the way and proving myself. I realized that a big part of my game is talking and communicating with my teammates – something that was challenging because I don’t know the language very well. But I did my best to get involved in the arguments over the score, “Cinco cuatro!” with a stern face, called out screens “Derecha!””Izquierda!”, and during games off talked with Ticos about other important words. I decided I’m mainly just going to make weird noises until they pass me the ball. If you’re a baller and if you plan a visit to see us, make sure you are here on a Monday night so we can go play – it’s the best. Side note: There are some neat courts here – neat in the sense that they are surrounded by the beautiful hills of Escazú. I can’t wait to take some pics and send them to 94feetofconcrete, a photo project one of my Boston friends just launched. Check it out.

4.) Cornhole Thursdays – it was much to my delight that I realized many of my colleagues are gamers, are competitive, and love corn hole. Special shoutout to our director who made a set out of recycled CDS doors and retired uniforms. That’s school pride. Two of our colleagues have been nice enough to host Corn Hole Thursdays by their picturesque pool. Teams are randomly selected each round, stats are kept, and trash talking is abundant.

Cornhole Team

Those who have tough nights compete for the wooden spoon award. Em, with three loses on the night, came out on the top. Here was her prize:


We’ve also found friends who play Settlers of Catan and while it will be difficult to play without T, Halls, MC, Katy, I can’t wait for my true nerdiness to come out.

5.) Staying in Touch – Please keep reaching out. It’s been so wonderful to see your faces and catch up! We have been talking with different people as we cook and/or eat dinner and it’s almost felt like you are here. Along those lines, winter is coming, so start planning trips to come on down and we can take you on some adventures!

On a similar note, so impressed with so many of our friends and family who are taking on adventures of their own – Glacier National Park, studying abroad in Australia, biking the San Juan Islands, biking from Buffalo to NH to finish a cross country bike trip, Harvard Business School, planning weddings, raising kids – you guys are so impressive.

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1.) Saprissa vs. Heredia

A few Sundays ago we headed to the Saprissa stadium with some friend to watch Saprissa take on Heredia. It ended at 0-0 which was a bit of a bummer but the stadium was set in an incredible location surrounded by mountains, the fans were wild, and there was a minor fire. All and all it was very exciting. I almost bought a jersey – I can’t wait until September to break out my Pats jersey so I’m really grasping at straws.


2.) Playa Blanca

Last Saturday we headed to the beach with a crew and discovered Playa Blanca which has quickly become my favorite. We had our own space, it was a bit off the beaten path, the water was turquoise, there was space to explore and play with crabs, and scarlet macaws flew over head; we are definitely going back. It was a little piece of heaven.

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3.) La Paz Waterfalls

On Sunday we got up early and decided to do a double header and to set out to see Poás volcano. It’s about 1.5 hours from us and supposedly looks like this. It was a clear morning (perfect conditions we were told) so we jumped in the car with our friend Callie (Everyone, this is Callie. Callie, meet everyone) – she teaches math at CDS. On our way we stopped to get coffee at a coffee plantation and saw this incredible view. The sky was still blue and we were feeling good.

View of coffee fields on our way up

We got to the entrance of Poás and were told that, although we were welcome to still pay the $15/person entry fee, we wouldn’t see anything. We knew this was a possibility so took it ok and talked about how beautiful the ride was and that it was worth it. I’m working on being more optimistic. We had passed a sign for La Paz Waterfalls on the way up and while it was pretty expensive it seemed worth it. We had gone all that way so we went for it and it was worth it. A brief overview – waterfalls, toucans, scarlet macaws, jaguars, pumas, snakes (woof), poisonous frogs, orchids, monkeys, and more. We were really happy to have gone there at the beginning of this trip to get a sense of what is in the country around us. The snake house really made me feel sick and I’m pretty much terrified to walk in the woods but I’ll get over it.

With Callie at the waterfallChoke hold

Toucans are funnyNo words needed

YikesHave this guy memorized

On our way home we went to a restaurant that had a 180 view of the central valley. It was incredible and so delicious. Come visit us and we will go to the volcano and this place.

180 degree View from lunch

Random Thoughts

Fantasy Football Draft – Tonight I am heading to a CDS Fantasy Football draft. I’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t done more research but I guess I’ve had more exciting things to do. Let’s hope I don’t choke and draft Plaxico again.

Isn’t this the cutest?

Cute pillow!

So glad it made the trip from home. It’s the little things.

Until next time…

K and Em


3 thoughts on “Weeks 3 and 4: Settling In

  1. So fun! Love reading this and seeing how happy you are in my beloved Costa Rica! A few things you need to try and do: arepas (delicious Costa Rican pancakes), Playa Hermosa (beautiful, pristine beach), and Osa Peninsula (we stayed at a place you could only get to by boat–I remember arriving and thinking to myself, “If heaven exists, this is what it must look like.”) Pura vida, chicas!!!


  2. Had a smile on my face as I read your post. I know how much work goes into capturing the experience–and you did it amazingly. From the challenges to the discoveries, I recognize many experiences. Welcome to life as an ex-pat! Enjoy and continue to capture–for yourself and for others. And I admire you for living in slither country. My greatest accomplishment of living in South Africa was never seeing one, but too phobic for me to do Costa Rica.


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