When dealing with a two-ton animal, always keep your wits about you.

If you’ve never been to a bull-riding thing, let me explain cause now I’m an expert. And by me I mean me as a bull...

“So first the rider chooses you or your compadre out of a hat. Next, when it’s your turn, you are mounted inside a tiny little pen and they count down to your release. Once out, you buck as wildly as possible because they have your balls pinched up and obviously you want this guy off you cause you’re pissed about what’s happening with your juevos. When you finally fling him off, there are these guys that stand around the ring, trying to make you more upset. At this point you’ve had enough so you charge at them. Like cowards they scramble up the side of the ring, out of your way. If you want to hear the crowd squeal, buck one more time. The crowd loves that. Now if you’re lucky, and I mean really lucky, every so often one of those taunting SOB’s is not paying attention. JACKPOT!”

Hehe I’ll stop there. What happened next I saw in slow motion. This man was walking in the ring NOT PAYING ATTENTION! Old man, when dealing with a two- ton animal, you need to be looking around, ready to scramble. What I can’t understand is how he didn’t see it coming. He had his back to a small portion of the ring, with the rest of it in plain sight. If the bull is not in front of you, guess where it is? That bull came right up behind and FLUNG HIM in the air. I watched it all go down, wishing I could have screamed for him to move. He was up and just as fast plummeted down. That bull missed crushing his leg by a couple inches. Boy, did he get lucky! He finally scrambled out of the ring to safety. CRAZY!!!
After that Colleen and I decided to leave. How could it get any better than that? BUT JUST THEN a big black mass flutters in front of the light… almost blocking it out completely. I watch it, knowing exactly what it must be, and I think you do too… SEÑOR GRASSHOPPER!!! I cannot lose this guy! He sat on the wire, munching little bugs, thinking he was slick, but I saw him. I see you there, terrorizing me, Grasshopper! I’ll get my revenge soon enough…

"Honey, where are my spurs?"

And so, everything is about to get started. People are walking around fixing lights, the bulls are delivered, and the cameraman takes his place. One of the bull riders enters the ring, climbs up the side, and asks his wife for something in the stands. After a second or two, out of her purse, she hands him a pair of spurs. Colleen and I decide the conversation went like this:

“Honey, where my spurs? I checked my bag but they aren’t there”
“I packed them, I’m sure of it.”
“I’m telling you I can’t find them. I can’t ride without my spurs.”
“Don’t worry, you know I always carry a spare in my purse. Here you go.”
“Thanks, Dear.”
“You’re welcome, Darlin’.”
I don’t know about Colleen, but in my head they had southern accents.

Churros and Beer

So like troopers we head back to the bus stop and back to festival cerca de tres de la tarde. People we just filing in so we sat down, had ourselves a beer and asked around as to what this festival was all about. El Coriendo del Torros. Sounds perfect, what time? A las 5. You should know that asking a Tico what time something starts or when a bus come is like asking a really drunk girl for her phone number. She’ll tell you what she thinks it is, but chances are she’s got a few digits mixed up. 6:30 all the fun begins!
We made some friends with a family sitting next us once we got settled in seats. I asked the father questions about his hat, which said California on it and told me it was a gift from his sister, who he then brought over to explain. “Estaba en Los Angeles central por un semana, y despues Las Vegas.” “Vegas?!” I asked excitedly and she says “Si, VEEEGGAASSS!” YES! It’s not just me! It’s like you can’t talk about it without screaming “VEEEEGGGGAAAASSSSS!” We continue to talk to the family and I mentioned, casually, how yummy those churros that boy was holding looked and I want to go buy one. You know that moment when you realize someone might take what you say as a hint but you didn’t mean it to be? No more than a minute later this man, Jose, gets up, telling his family he is off to get food, he’ll call them when hes down there. I hear the ringing “Quiero comida china. Si, ah si, bueno. Chicas, tomen cervezas?” “Claro que si!” “Bueno.” 2 minutes later we each had a beer in one hand and a churro in the other. Mmm dinner! Very nice people.


So those very nice people, or more so the father of the bunch, turned out to be kind of a stalker! Jose, the churro man, showed up... AT MY CLASSROOM. I was so taken of guard I wasn't sure if I knew him or not. I went outside to chat with him for a minute and see why he was there. "Just was near by, wanted to say hello." ooookkkay. "This is my friend, so and so." "How are you?" Good "But, so, hows it goin?" Alright, teaching class right now. "Everything good?" Yeah, I should probably get back to my job now. "Oh really, wheres your house from here?" Needless to say it was suuuper awkward and kinda inappropriate. I would tell this story to Colleen and she will hardly believe it cause it was sooo random!

Apparently I know nothing...

Colleen, another fabulous WorldTeach volunteer had traveled from La Isla de San Vito to experience El Festival del Rio. “Isla de San Vito, que frio.” “Es muy frio alli, si?” “Oh en San Vito es mas frio de aqui.” Ticos have a way of comenting on the weather, no matter what it is or how common place it might be. It could be the same temperature every day, and still someone will comment “Hace mucho calor hoy.” “Que calor, teacher, si?” Same as yesterday, still really hot, but sure, “Que calor!” Anyways, I had heard really fun things about the festival and put out the word to the other volunteers to show up if they were able. Colleen emailed and said she was happy to join me in the festivities… or what I had heard were the “festivities.”
“Apparently there is a big platform they build out on the river and people can go out there and hang out and dance and it’s supposed to be a lot of fun.” Nope no such platform existed.
“I also heard that it is supposed to be a great representation of the native culture here in Palmar.” Nope, strike two.
“My host dad said it starts Thursday night, continues Friday night, and then Saturday and Sunday all day.” Finally, this one seem to be true since by 9:15 my family had abandoned us.
It was about 9 or so when Colleen arrived and the whole family was there to greet her. “Hola, como se llama?” “Que?” “Culeen?” “Bueno, mucho gusto, Culeen.” I took her on a “tour” of the town, which could not have taken more than 20 minutes considering the size of this place. But when we returned the entire family had left, save one host brother! “Lock the door when you leave, teacher.” “Donde esta la familia, Negro?” (Have I mentioned yet that my host brother’s name is Negro? En serio. I shutter to my liberal core every time I have to say his name.) “La familia esta en Palmar.” Wow, that was quick, everyone left for the festival already. Well Negro (*shudder*) said the next bus comes at 10. We’ll just wait for that one. 1030 rolls around and finally the bus arrives – with a surprise! Will is sitting on the bus! He waves and we head over, chatting about the morning’s news of the Chile earthquake. A few minutes later and we’re there, ready for La Fiesta! Will is heading to Dominical but his bus doesn’t leave till 1 so he decides to check out the festival too. And so we walk… to where a festival should be. STRIKE THREE! YOU’RE OUT! Festival starts at 3 in the afternoon…
And so we return home for lunch…shortly after running into my host family in Palmar who reaffirmed what we had been told about the festival was true by saying, “Why are you here so early, teacher, the festival always starts at 3 in the afternoon.” ALWAYS?! Hah! Must have forgotten that the last time I was living here in Costa Rica!

Señor Grasshopper!

Yes, once again, I have a story about insects of extra-large proportions.

I arrived in Dominical at 3 in the afternoon after a short 2-hr bus ride and had explored around a bit until 8 when my friend Ashley’s bus was to arrive. We were excited to head out and get our drink on, so to speak, but needed to hit up the cash money machine. But, unfortunately, no luck with ATMS. Sometimes they just tap out of money and you have to wait till morning until they are filled back up. And so we did. Ashley walked into the small ATM room and I waited outside. I already knew there were bugs in that room and I didn’t want to go in. So I was counting my blessing about not needing to take out money in that bug-ridden ATM room when I spotted him. Mr. Grasshopper! He followed me all the way to the playa, that jerk! Not a moment’s peace away from his wrath. So, of course, I squealed and moved back, warning Ashley what was right outside the door. But then, as I take a deep breath to subside the panic she says, “They are everywhere Amy, look.” And next to me was the granddaddy of all grasshoppers, Señor Grasshopper! Ashley and I will later describe them all as being man-eating grasshoppers. We counted 6 all together. And while this time we didn’t have cameras to document the size of the grasshoppers, I was able to take one later that I promise you does not do it’s size justice. Man-eating, I swear!

Speaking of Iguanas…

We saw a 2-foot-long iguana this weekend! I shit you not the thing was the size of a small dog! I have never seen anything like it! (I am realizing, living down here and writing these posts, that there are a lot of things I haven’t seen or heard yet.) As Ashley, Sarah and I were cruising around Domical, soaking in the warm beach weather and checking out the sites, an iguana comes running down a tree, crosses in front of us, and runs up another tree. “HOLY CRAP! DID YOU SEE THAT?” Hehe Indeed I did! I have the picture to prove it.