Though we all knew that our time in Panama was coming to a close, we were less than excited to leave our island lifestyle. Even so, we packed up our things and shipped out early on Thursday morning after a late night of partying on another island. It was not the easiest trip I’ve ever made but we got it done! We were met at the airport by our program “mom” (director), Isabel and we were all so happy to see her. She is such a fantastic woman and we would be nowhere without her. We loaded up our bus and drove back to ICADS to pick up the rest of our belongings, grab some lunch and hit the grocery store before our 3 hour drive to Dominical. Dominical is actually the town where our new “school”, the Firestone Center, is. It is our school’s nature preserve here in Costa Rica. The 9 of us are actually split up in two towns. I, and 3 others, live in Platanillo. As we pulled up to meet our new families, I remember the first time came to Costa Rica and met my family. I was so nervous that I made myself sick and ended up sleeping through that initial dinner. This time, I was filled with excitement to meet my new family and could not wait to spend time with them. With each my family stays (San Jose, Nicaragua and here in Platanillo), the transition has been much easier and I have been able to pick up on more and more.
Here in Platanillo, I have a mom, a dad and 3 little sisters! My sister closest to me in age is Melanie, who is 19; Jazmine, who turned 13 in December, and Maria Angel who is 6! I love having little sisters; we’ve had so much fun together and we get along together really well. I played more Uno with Maria Angel than I ever have in my life. I am convinced that by the time I return to the United States, I will be an Uno expert. We also play a game that Maria Angel made up and every single time I lose. Each time I think I understand the rules, and each time, I apparently have it all wrong. Interesting… 😉
My first morning we went to the kitchen at the church to help with the tamale making. Every 4-6 weeks, my mom helps make a big dinner that everyone comes and eats after church. My mom was there Friday for 5 hours, Saturday for another 4 and after Church on Saturday, we ate the tamales. They were SO GOOD. Wow! After making tamales, Jazmine was home from school and our dad was home from work, we loaded up the car and headed to the pool. I was expecting to go to a public pool but instead we went to a pool that I am fairly sure is owned by some friends of my parents. We spent a couple of hours there and then went to a family birthday party for a little cousin. As I was surrounded by about 30 new people, I couldn’t help but to think that 7 weeks ago, I could not have handled the situation. I would have quickly become overwhelmed. Instead, I was able to hang out with my sisters and our little cousins and though my Spanish was nowhere near perfect, my sisters were able to help me out and we all had a really fun night. We also stopped by the beach and took a sister picture. 🙂 And of course, when we got home, we HAD to play some Uno before bed!