It’s Friday and I’ve just completed my first week of school at Escuela del Mundo in Jaco. A few stories to share, to help paint a picture of what life at the school here is like.
First class on Monday, I meet Lyda, mi professor de Español, and my fellow beginner class classmate, H. H is German, just finished high school and on a gap year…as the Germans tend to do. Oh to be so young again! We start slow and the pace is generally kept slow or slower, for the rest of the week. I can’t say I’ve learned that much Spanish so far, but the classes are certainly not typical.
The schedule is designed so that there are two hours of lessons + 1 hour of language lab each day. The labs can be interactive and activity based; this week we’ve played Scrabble en Español, which is extremely difficult when you don’t know any vocabulary in the language, we’ve made empanadas, and we’ve gone to the froyo shop in town to get dessert.
Today’s class was even more interesting, but not sure it was very effective in actually helping me learn the body parts. Because my profesora also works part time at the emergency clinic around the corner, we go there for class today to learn the names for body parts in Epañol. She lets us into the X-ray room to watch a couple X-rays being taken. One little boy had his foot caught in a bicycle and was crying. Another girl hopped in on crutches after being kicked in the ankle (tobillo in Español) during a soccer game. The boy will be okay, but the girl has fractured her tibia.
HIPAA standards in Jaco are non-existent; I’m in the room while X-rays are being taken, and later, we learn vocabulary for the various body parts by reviewing the X-rays of the patients’ files.
I’ve enjoyed my photography courses a lot. I’ve known about aperture, ISO, shutter, exposure, in very vague terms from playing around and reading a bit, but the first class solidified the basic understanding of these fundamentals for me. Carlos, my uber cool photography teacher (cum-surf-teacher-cum-DJ-cum-muralist), goes over the history of film photography and how that translates to aperture, ISO, shutter, etc. in digital photography. It’s a class of two this week, just me and J, an Americano from Nueva York. J is definitely muy New York.
For homework, we’re tasked to take some shots that showcase balance/golden points, and play with motion and freeze-frame, so I tag along with all the other students on their afternoon surf lesson to try and get some photos. It seems I’m the only one not taking surf this week.
The next day, Carlos drives us to the fishing village of Tarcoles, as a setting for practicing photography. Along the way, he entertains and educates with explanations of Costa Rica’s economy, tradition of co-op companies, and what happened in the 2000s after some poorly thought out trade deals with the US. This fishing village is a co-op, everybody fishes for themselves, then sell their catch to the co-op, who are then responsible for selling to onwards to everyone else. Cool system.
Costa Rica has no army, is highly educated because education is free, and traditionally, everyone was given free electricity, water, healthcare, and housing. Some of it’s changed now, but the economy of Costa Rica is good compared to the neighbouring countries largely because of these progressive policies.
The weather this week has been extremely rainy due to a storm system passing over the region, so we were pretty rained out the last few days and didn’t go on as many day trips for photography class as normal. However, today, we stopped by the house of a retired pro surfer, Carlos’ amigo, to get some landscape photos. He lives on the top of a cliff, overlooking a bay, with stunning sunset views (apparently). I think I have the basic understanding of photography now to get on with it…just need lots of more practice and some photo editing tools!
The other students here are a mix of young gap year muchachos and older folks like me who are in between jobs. It’s low season, so there are only about ten of us here, which makes it very nice and relaxed. I like the vibe here.
Pura Vida, as the Ticos say.