Happy Halloween party people!
K: It occurred to me that we hadn’t shown you any photos of our new friends, the diaphanous dinosaurs who visit us when we drink too much tap water. They protect us from pickpockets and monitor our visa status.
In a recent consultation, they advised us to go to Panama. More about this *~VACATION WITHIN A VACATION~* soon.
M: Life in Costa Rica has grown strange, dear reader, in ways that no bulleted list can capture. Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you read a poem about my feelings. God knows there exist several other, less effective methods of communication between bulleted lists and poems and today, for sport, I will employ perhaps the least effective of all: the blog post that features wikipedia block quotes prominently.
I read somewhere that culture shock, inasmuch as it actually exists as a phenomenon and not just a dumb word that people throw around to describe nothing in particular, comes in stages. Usually I am of the opinion that the phenomenon of things being described in stages is a peculiar kind of bullshit that arises when someone with a PhD in psychology or sociology realizes the insurmountability of their discipline’s problems and, in an act of defiance, narrows her scope, frees herself from the rigors associated with actual insight, and settles for just describing, in stages, something which is already very well understood. Stages end up in lists, which are somewhat of a siren’s song for students because students go to great lengths to memorize lists rather than attempting to assimilate difficult material, which unfortunately has yet to be described in stages and is thus completely impenetrable to oh, 78% of the population of any university in America.
Still, lists of stages provide a kind of intellectual kiddie pool, and who doesn’t like to roll around in a kiddie pool every once in a while? Actually, don’t answer that, or even think about it for that matter. Let’s just talk about what someone says are the stages of culture shock.
Thus spake Wikipedia:
During this period, the differences between the old and new culture are seen in a romantic light, wonderful and new. For example, in moving to a new country, an individual might love the new foods, the pace of the life, the people’s habits, the buildings and so on. During the first few weeks, most people are fascinated by the new culture. They associate with the nationals that speak their language and are polite to the foreigners. This period is full of observations and new discoveries. Like most honeymoon periods, this stage eventually ends. ”When an individual sets out to study, live or work in a new country, he or she will invariably experience difficulties with language, housing, friends, school, work…”
I am actually still in the Honeymoon phase of reading that paragraph, a phase in which I ignore the fact that it says things like “Like most honeymoon periods, this stage eventually ends” and pretend that I am reading a real encyclopedia. As far as our travels go, this phase probably ended when we stopped zipping around looking for the prettiest beaches we could find and settled down to OH GOD THE HONEYMOON PHASE OF READING THAT PARAGRAPH JUST ENDED, WHAT AN INCOHERENT WORD SALAD! IT READS LIKE LIFETIME CHANNEL CLOSED CAPTIONING!
The second phase is apparently something called the
After some time (usually three months but sometimes sooner or later, depending on the individual), differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety. Excitement may eventually give way to unpleasant feelings of frustration and anger as one continues to experience unfavorable events that may be perceived as strange and offensive to one’s cultural attitude. Language barriers, stark differences in public hygiene, traffic safety, food accessibility and quality may heighten the sense of disconnection from the surroundings.
Still, the most important change in the period is communication: those people who are adjusting to a new culture would feel lonely and homesick because they must get used to the new environment and meet people with whom they are not familiar every day. The language barrier may become a major obstacle in creating new relationships: special attention must be paid to one’s and others’ culture-specific body language signs, linguistic faux pas, conversation tone, linguistic nuances and customs, and false friends.
Due to the strain of living in a different country without parental support, some students might develop additional symptoms of loneliness, ultimately affecting the lifestyle as a whole. International students therefore often feel anxious and have a higher pressure in adjusting to the
Blah blah blah, am I right? I even spared you a paragraph which appeared to be about intestinal flora because it did not meet the rigorous marketing standards of this blog. Anyway, judging from the quoted chronological window of either less than, equal to, or greater than three months (which appears to accommodate all positive integers in our number system) I would say that I am probably in the Negotiation phase.
Halt your tweets. I know what you are thinking, and yes, I will describe for you the mundanities of my daily life in excruciating detail. To do otherwise would run counter to the purpose of blogs, and the last thing I wish to do is to paint a target on my head by ignoring the will of the blog gods. Blog gods sounds like a palindrome but I believe you will find that it isn’t.
For starters I visited a dentist who gave me some mouthwash that she said would cause me to temporarily lose my sense of taste, which has allowed me to eat frugally without feeling like I’m missing out on, you know, tastes. This is actually less strange than the time I went to ye olde Costa Rican pharmacy asking for Neosporin or a comparable antibiotic ointment and was given a tube of Clostebol, which I later found to be, oh, just your basic anabolic steroid used by athletes from East Germany. I proceeded to put it on my cut for fun and the infection went away, thereby proving beyond a reasonable doubt that nothing is actually anything.
It has also come to our attention that while Costa Rica’s literacy rate is through the roof, the average young Costa Rican’s understanding of human reproduction is somewhere between Old Testament and ancient Greece, which would be fine and maybe even quaint if its consequences weren’t so thoroughly depressing. At first we thought it odd when people kept saying things that equated to “You never know when you’ll get pregnant!”, an assertion with which I would take issue, were it ever conversationally feasible to do so.
Anyway, at the risk of sounding like the end of every episode of Scrubs, I suppose I took [BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF HUMAN REPRODUCTION] for granted and now that it isn’t around anymore, I lament its absence, maybe even stronger than I ever appreciated its presence in the first place. This epiphany causes me to stop joking around and stare into the distance until the obligatory reflective montage is over. I’ll wait while the David Gray fades from your mind.
Assuming that happened, let’s talk about the good stuff. Kaleigh and I are still in very good spirits and spend our days batting our eyelashes and chirping gaily at one another. We go to the beach, enjoy the occasional horchata, and are routinely made to feel powerful by the overabundance of tiny dogs that characterizes this continent in the same way that SUVs probably characterize North America. We have made friends with a motley assortment of people, an assortment too motley, in fact, to sound like I’m not making it up on the spot. Here, I’ll show you.
- Apparently homeless deaf Mexican who, if we understand him correctly, has survived every natural disaster imaginable
- Friendly Tico waiter who constantly showers us with free limoncello
- Young Blonde hotel proprietress who grew up on the Canary Islands
- Karaoke-loving Nicaraguan expatriate
- Apparently homeless self-proclaimed “King of the Sea”
- Talking robotic dog with a heart of gold
The last one is of course not true, but it probably didn’t sound that out of place, did it? Anyway, they are all great folks except perhaps the King of the Sea, who did not produce a sufficient number of professional references to become my friend.
I continue to write my novel, albeit at a speed which would make a galapagos tortoise look like a f***ing ferrari. It’s a fictional exploration of Plato’s Republic through an alternate history superhero caste system STOP LAUGHING. Kaleigh on the other hand has begun a rigorous weight training and self defense regimen and is halfway towards becoming the ultimate killing machine, equally prepared to build you or a website or break your arm at a moment’s notice.
Look, I’ll level with you. It’s 7 AM and I was awakened by the sound of a dog and a monkey fighting. The honeymoon phase of my visit is over, which is what happens to honeymoon periods after a lunar cycle or two, and I’m not too sore about any of it except that we don’t have hot water, cheese is really expensive, and I don’t have any shoes. While I can no longer enjoy some of my previous hobbies (namely soaking in a hot bath with shoes on and gnawing idly at a block of Manchego) and at times I feel like an anachronistic character in a poorly thought out novel (which isn’t far from the truth no matter how you look at it), I am finding life here to be refreshing and rewarding and I hope that you are too, wherever it is that you are.
Immerse yourself luxuriously in the warm shimmering waters of Baldi Hot Springs. Experience the nutrient-rich, luxurious, moisturizing, all-natural heat of the volcano as it exquisitely surrounds your exquisite body like the loving touch of ten thousand silk scarves from your monogamous partner. Relish the lava-infused droplets of beautiful, sensual water falling on your lashes like a gentle Parisian rain. Provide the inspiration. Perfect the luxury. Baldi Hot Springs.
Men, get ready to get your soak on at Baldi Hot Springs, where our state-of-the-art, scientifically engineered piping system turns geothermally heated groundwater into ten thousand tons of extreme hydrokinetic whoop-ass. Microscopic tephra assault your skin and muscles as linear induction motors propel you at lightning speeds down our water slides to the pools below where bikini-clad women, made more pliant than ever by the pyroclastically heated pools, await your arrival. Our pools feature temperatures as high as one hundred and thirty degrees Fahrenheit, and our swim-up bars keep the tunes pumping and the brews slamming all day. Baldi Hot Springs—Can you handle it?
Man, we’ve been disloyal! Cheating on our trusty audience with, you know, real life. Sorry about that. Please take us back. Please? We’ll tell you what we’ve been doing…
First of all, since we last spoke, we’ve procured a beautiful two-bedroom apartment in Quepos, and you know what that means—the hustle and bustle of packing, unpacking, decorating, adjusting. More specifically, we moved our two suitcases inside the apartment and left our clothes in them, and we bought two green plastic plates. You are welcome to visit! Whether you are our family members, close friends, or the mysteriously obsessive reader we have acquired in San Jose. We will even buy a third plate for you.
We’ve also been busy Googling embarrassing questions about animals. A look at our recent search history yielded the following queries:
Is it okay if a poison dart frog swims in your pool?
Do horses kill people?
Do horses kill people on purpose?
Can you mace an alligator?
Can you mace a bear?
This was partly spawned by my unfortunate stint in horseback riding and partly by the fact that Cahuita, a tiny Caribbean town we visited, was so overrun with fauna that it was impossible to cross the front porch without being hissed at, giving the experience a Jumanji-esque, fend-for-your-life type atmosphere. There was even a feral, parentless German baby running around our hotel complex. It was wild, and the beaches were perfect.
We spent a week in Cahuita, which was just enough to enjoy its charms without being driven mad by its mosquito population. Please stand by as our tourism ends and we become ACTUAL PEOPLE.
Just another indulgent monkey video.
Arenal Volcano outside the town of Fortuna. According to legend (see: concrete, recently documented history) there is an underwater village at the bottom of the lake on the left.