Do you even want to know how long I was lost on my way to school this morning? You know what, I’m going to let you think up your own number because if I told you, I would have to claim my title as Worst Navigator EVER. But, the point is that I made it, so who cares about the time? I was definetely in for a huge surprise with the way the school system in Costa Rica is set up.
I learned another lesson today: the way things are set up in America, isn’t exactly how things are set up everywhere else in the world. I’ve always known that but knowing something and seeing it unfold before you are two different things. The school system in Costa Rica is…different. First off, the teacher doesn’t have a classroom, the kids do. So the kids stay together and a teacher bounces from one class to another. Also, the teacher doesn’t have the same kids each time. Everyday, there is a different classroom and a different grade level. Hmm.
It was a surprising set up and I didn’t feel like it worked all too well, considering each class was less than an hour but…different is different. In all the chaos of difference, I managed to figure out how to keep the kids from becoming chaotic. Bribing them. Stickers. Lots and lots of stickers. I don’t really know how I stumbled upon this discovery and if anyone else has figured it out by now but it’s actually a bullet proof system. By the end of the day, I had taught 3 formerly loud and currently quiet classes and each of the students sat cradling a puppy notebook, a colorful eraser and a shiny sticker.
Oh, I forgot to mention. Today was my birthday. You didn’t know? It’s ok, most people didn’t because I neglected to tell them. I had planned a very low key day to celebrate my coming of age and didn’t tell anyone at school or home. In the afternoon, Isabel and I went to visit her mom and bring her some lunch. It was actually very interesting watching the “baby bird” take care of the mom in that way.
After she cleaned out the fridge, washed the dishes, mopped the floors and dusted the furniture, she warmed her up a meal and put on a fresh pot of coffee. I’m not sure if the age had just gotten to her, but I was convinced that this was the happiest grandmother alive. She couldn’t stop smiling or laughing or dancing and she had this contagious enthusiasm to her that almost made getting older seem appealing. But, we got home in the afternoon and I was yawning as I walked up the stairs to go to sleep. Wait one second, I’ll be right back, there’s a knock at the door….
The first thing I saw was the flowers. Then it was the volunteers that I went to school with (who apparently Isabel had told this morning that it was my birthday and they didn’t say that they knew). Right afterwards, it was the balloons and the streamers. Then the cake made its way through the doorway. And then all of the family members, most of which I had seen today as well and had said nothing about the party.
That’s a lot to take in in a matter of 23 seconds. Let me back track a little. I was half way up the stairs, my bedroom was in my view point and I was about to go to sleep and then, there is a party in the kitchen. Just BAM. There was no party and then a minute later, party. I like to pride myself on the fact that I can usually see these surprises coming; but this was way beyond even my grasp of comprehension. A party. For me. On my birthday. Even though I had told no one. It was my first surprise party (and definetely my best) and I realized that I had nothing left to wish for when I blew out my candles. Everything was perfect. I had gone from one crazy, surprise-loving family at home, to one crazy, surprise-loving host family in Costa Rica. I just can’t seem to catch a break.