CostaRica

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The Feria

Where can you get fruits and vegetables unbelievably cheap and fresh, feed the entire family breakfast for less than $9.00, and get a lession in culture at the same time? The supermarket? No, you need to go to the feria.

Each Saturday and Sunday in Plaza Viques in Central San Jose, and in Zapote, east of San Jose there are ferias, or open air markets, where you can take in the sights and the sounds of the everyday life of the Tico people.
There are farmers selling everything from ajo (garlic) to zanahorias (carrots), chanceros selling lottery tickets to the passersby, and artisans selling handmade jewelry. You can hear vendors yelling prices and people catching up on the latest news and opinions of day in the various stalls along the avenues. Among all of this is the smell of typical Costa Rican food like gallo pinto(beans and rice) and of course coffee! (Unfortunately the booth we stopped at only sold coffee with sugar.) All of the produce that is grown in the country can be bought at the feria.

We had the opportunity to drive to the feria this weekend with the kids and take much of what it had to offer. We came away with full stomachs, great strawberries, watermelon, and carrots, money left to spare, and a new perspective of life here in Costa Rica.

The New Year has begun with a bang, literally, here in San Jose. It all started with a get together in our house, where the language school students, as well as several of the resident missionaries rang in 2006 with some highly competitive games of UNO Attack and Cranium , as the kids stayed up to celebrate amidst the explosions of bottle rockets and firecrackers throughout the neighborhood.

Following a groggy first, I drove for the first time here in San Jose (good thing I had a license), practicing in order to get the new students arriving on the third to the grocery store to pick up their first round of necessities. Following a slight detour onto the autopista, we were able navigate successfully thorough the streets of Curridabat and Zapote, arriving at our house a little wiser, and perhaps older from the excitement.

The new students arrived on the third, full of excitement and wonder as they hit the tunnel leading from the airport and into the Costa Rican night. Memories rushed back of our first days here. It is hard to believe that it has been 4 months since we’d landed. Among the arriving students were Josh and April Amiot and Peter and Delia Breit, fellow missionaries to Mexico, and we got to pass along the favor that Missionaries Mark and Sandra Smith did for us as newbies here at CINCEL.
Some other items:

  • The trimester starts tomorrow with a welcome lunch. We begin classes on Tuesday morning.
  • Mike (my twin brother) was mistaken for me during the World Missions Summit you can read about his experience at his blog.
  • We tried for the second time to view the crater of the Volcano Poas, but we were unsuccessful as the clouds kept us from reaching the top. We did stop at the Tres Generaciones coffee plantation again, this time for the tour. We’ve added more pictures to our coffee collection for your viewing pleasure.
  • Kelly updated her blog with more about the kids and the goings on in the Godzwa household.

Being the adventurous type, as most missionary families are, we decided to spend our Christmas vacation at one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Volcan Arenal. We drove for about four hours by van over less than perfect roads in order to reach our destination, and what greeted us was nothing less than majestic.

The volcano towers over the town of La Fortuna and dominates all of the surrounding landmarks. But there is much more to this volcano than meets the eye. During the day sounds that can only be described as roars emit from within the mountain as rocks the size of cars are spewed from the cone to tumble noisily down the active face. The nighttime, however, is when the show really begins as the volcano treats visitors to the sparsely populated and rugged west face to a light show that needs to be experienced in order to believe. The molten rocks, which look gray in the daylight, now glow a bright orange and leave trails like rivers of fire as they roll down to be extinguished hundreds of feet below the cone. It is a sight that forces you to appreciate the amazing creative power of God!

Of course, we did more than simply watch the mountain during our vacation. Take a look at our pictures of the trip here.

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The 10th Annual Festival of the Lights was held in downtown San Jose this past Saturday. Knowing that this was an event that families travel from miles around in order to see, we felt it worth 15 minute trip to experience, and wow, what an experience!

By the time that we made it to our spot, about 15 minutes before the 6:00 start time, both sides of the street were packed. We had to pick our way through the crowd in order to find a spot to stand. Few were available but we were able to fall into line with some very gracious families. In, fact. One group gave Rebekah a front row seat while others helped us by giving us water and catching candy for Jonathan and Joseph. We had planned to sit with another missionary family, but we were unable to find them. The funny thing is that we found out later that we were probably only a matter of yards from them, but unable to reach them through the sea of people

The parade started promptly on time, around 6:45, and after one group filed by, it ground to a halt. It stayed that way for another half hour as a generator had to be replaced in one of the floats. After the repairs, the parade started rolling, and it was a sight to behold. I’ve added some pictures in order to convey the idea. Unfortunately, our camera doesn’t do the best in the dark. Still, click here or on the picture in this post to view the shots we were able to capture.

We made it back to our apartment around 9:30 exhausted, sore, and ready for bed, but certainly enriched by the experience that we had standing shoulder to shoulder sharing a moment with the culture to which God has called us!

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Words cannot describe the frenzy that I experienced as I attended what some would call the premiere Latin cultural event, a futbol (soccer) game. Some of the men from CINCEL hopped aboard the school bus in order to witness the championship game between Olimpia of Honduras and La Liga of Alajuela, Costa Rica.

Futbol in Latin America has no real equivalent in the US. There are baseball fans, there are football fans, but here they have fanatics! I had trouble getting a good shot, as it was nighttime, but the group of “fanaticos” in the picture were truly a sight to behold. Things got started as a flurry of fireworks erupted from the stands. Firecrackers, bottle rockets and sparklers exploded and flashed as the area was literally covered in a plume of smoke. Then the jumping began. The Ligistas jumped for 1 hour and 30 minutes singing and clapping their hands, only stopping to try to pick a fight with the contingent of Hondurans that attended the match. It mattered not that La Liga was putting on a subpar performance in front of them.

The game ended with Olimpia beating the Alajuelans 1-0, but because of a game with the opposite score in Honduras the week before, the series needed to be decided by penales, or penalty shots. As the final kick of the Ligistas entered the goal, sealing the victory, the staduim erupted into a deafening roar. With the game, the fans, the police in riot gear, and the smell of pepper spray in the air, it was truly a night to remember.

How do you drive in Costa Rica, referred to as Ticoland by the nationals? You get a license of course!

Pictured to the left is Dave’s new “Tico License.” He spent the afternoon following classes this Friday getting his medical examination as well as standing in line to purchase his license.

The “vigorous” exam, administered by a chain-smoking doctor, consisted of about 4 medical questions, most answered by the doctor, some gym class style calesthenics, and an eye exam. After another hour of standing in line following the exam, Dave became licensed to drive anything from a small car to a large truck here in Costa Rica.

Not that he has plans to do much driving. Cars here in Costa Rica are expensive, and the purchase of a vehicle takes time and lots of money. Costa Rica imposes an additional 37% tax on all car purchases. Most Ticos use public transportation including the numerous taxis and public buses, but the license will provide a necessary form of identification as well as provide discouts throughout Costa Rica.

We thought that you might like a look at one of our house guests here in Costa Rica. With no winter to speak of here in San Jose the spiders have opportunity to grow quite large!

In actuality, there are only two seasons in Costa Rica, dry and rainy. Right now, were in the rainiest month of the year. It rains here nearly every afternoon. This will continue until December when the dry season begins. We have come to find out that the umbrella is a necessary item…sometimes the hard way!

Here in Costa Rica, September 15th is the day that the Ticos celebrate their independence from Spain. The festivities began last night with the singing of the national anthem at 6:00 in the evening. Today, a day off for most Costa Ricans, the celebration continues with a parade and other activties to mark the event.

We thought you might like to experience a bit of Costa Rica for yourself so we have included this short video clip of a trip to the Plaza de la Cultura, located in central San Jose. These guitarists play most days in the plaza. If you take a close look, you might notice that they are all blind.

We have made it to San Jose, Costa Rica! We have been in Costa Rica since Tuesday and are now getting settled into a routine before classes begin on Tuesday. We are relieved and excited to be here although a bit overwhelmed at the realization that we now have the equivalent communication skills of a two-year old!

However, even though we have left the United States, we find that are thoughts are constantly brought back as we continue to hear reports on the damage and the situation on the Gulf Coast. We ask that you would continue to remember us, be we hope that you would find time to remember the victims of Hurricane Katrina in your thoughts and prayers. Also, if you feel so lead, I know of two excellent organizations that will facilitate your relief contributions: Convoy of Hope and Rural Compassion. Both are Assemblies of God ministries, and both are playing a large role in facilitating relief, spiritual as well as physical, to these distressed people.

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