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se diga sal, diga sol!

The title, “se diga sal, diga sol,” is Costa Rica’s equivalent of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”  (sal = salt, sol = sun)  I am using it this week because my computer has died.  Hopefully not permanently, but at least until I get back to the States and my dad can take a look at it and work his computer magic…  It’s frustrating because I have to plan out more when I am going to do my homework – there’s a computer lab at school, and my family has a computer that they said I can use, so I’m not in crisis mode.  However, I am thinking this means no more Skype or TV shows and limited Facebook.  BUT, on the “sol” side, that means I’m forced a little more to interact with my family and watch Costa Rican TV and take advantage of what little time I have left here!  See?  Digo sol!!

Quiz!!  Which of the following is not a real word in Spanish?  (NO cheating!!  Dictionaries not allowed!!)  The answer is a couple paragraphs down.

a)      banano

b)      papaya

c)       mango

d)      avocado

I am finally a legal student in Costa Rica!  When we entered the country we were granted tourist visas, which are valid for 90 days.  This past Thursday, on day 87 of being in the country (yes, it really was that close), I finally received my official student visa.  This after 2 trips to the bank, 3 trips to San José, and countless hoops to jump through.  This most recent trip to the visa office, I was nervous because previous groups had said their appointment to take an ID photo and receive the printed card took over 5 hours.  Luckily, ours only took about an hour and a half.  That’s really good for Tico time!  Plus, by this point I always bring a book or homework or at least my iPod to keep me occupied.

Yesterday my host mom served “olla de carne,” which is a very typical Costa Rican soup with beef, potatoes, corn, and rice.  Normally you would just put everything in a bowl, but she serves me everything separate (I think in case I don’t like something) so I got a whole bowl of the soup and meat, a little bowl of rice, and a huge plate of potatoes.  Now, a lot of the potatoes are really vegetables, but they all have a pretty potato-ey consistency so from that perspective it is still a huge plate of potatoes.  I think I counted 8 different types: choyote, a peppery potato, a sweeter potato, another sweeter potato, a huge potato with a non-edible skin, a grey potato that was surprisingly tasty, a purple potato that I really didn’t care for, and – my favorite – yam.  So I sat down to eat with abuela, she finished and left, then came my host aunt and siblings, they finished and left, and then my host mom sat down to eat.  This whole time I am just sitting there plugging away at my plate of potatoes.  They must just think I am the slowest eater.

Okay, the answer to the quiz question above is d) avocado.  The word for avocado in Spanish is aguacate.  I found this out because my host dad told me he was eating an aguacate sandwich.  To me it looked a lot like avocado, so I asked him what the difference is between avocado and aguacate.  (In Costa Rica they have a million fruits and veggies, and a lot of them are slight variations of each other, for example the guava/guayaba/guanábana family…)  No, he replied, it’s aguacate.  Well okay, I responded, but what’s the difference?  Finally I got it – avocado IS aguacate.  Well there you go.

The weekend before last we did a day trip to Volcán Irazu, which is the highest active volcano in Costa Rica.  I had pictures, but since my computer is broken I can’t access them to post.  Volcán Irazu is famous for erupting on March 19, 1963, the day JFK started a state visit in Costa Rica.  Its most recent eruption was in 1994.  That was almost 20 years ago, but a lot of the national park is still volcanic ash and there is not a lot of growth where the eruption was.  It was pretty amazing to me that 20 years after the fact, there is just starting to be little tufts of grass on the ground.  That just goes to show the power of volcanic lava.

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