Every morning around 8:25am, the bus pulls up to my bus stop and throws its doors open wide so that I can get on. I pay my 310 colones and make my way down the aisle in search of the perfect seat. Ideally, every morning I would have a window seat. But seeing as other people ride the bus as well, my wish is rarely granted. On one particular morning though, I found a window seat and I took it as my own. Ah, sweet victory!
Just as my mind began to wander to far off places, something caught my eye. At the 3rd to last stop before mine, there is a fence that surrounds the outside of a home. Between the slats of the fence was a perfectly spun spider web, glistening with the morning dew. As I stared at the web, it occurred to me how amazing it is that God gave spiders the awesome ability to essentially carry their homes with them. They don´t worry about packing bags when they change locations; they just pick up and create a web somewhere else.
So, about the point that I got lost in the awesomeness of spiders, two more thoughts came to me: 1.) humans are not spiders (ok no one said I had to have profound thoughts), and 2.) even though we are not spiders, we are pretty adaptable creatures. We can just as easily move across town or across continents as long as we have an idea of what to bring.
I thought I knew what to bring to Costa Rica. I checked off all the items on the packing list, but now that I am here I feel I owe it to future Whitworth students to make some small changes/additions to the list. So here goes…
1. Umbrella: I´m from Oregon. It rains all the time in the Willamette Valley, and the last time I used an umbrella in the rain was during the Clinton administration. Sure, every Oregonian owns one, but nobody actually puts it to use. In fact, I´m pretty sure there is a law against the use of umbrellas in Oregon. You will be publicly humiliated and laughed out of mediocre restaurants if you show up with that awkward contraption in hand. Perhaps this is why I chose to bring the Dollar Tree version of an umbrella instead of the nice Burlington Coat Factory umbrella my mom offered me. EPIC FAIL.
I will admit it, I was wrong. The cheap one was lighter and smaller (probably because it was missing parts to begin with), and it was already worn a bit. That´s really all I can say in its defense. A cheap umbrella is a cheap umbrella. And while it´s fun to point and laugh at people who´s umbrellas have been blown inside out, it´s not fun to be the one getting laughed at in a torrential downpour. The point of this story is: go for the umbrella from Burlington Coat Factory. It may seem like a lot of money at the time, but you´ll thank me when you´re dry and the laughter is directed at someone else.
2. Backpack rain cover: Right now I suspect you are sitting in front of your computer saying to yourself, “A backpack rain cover? That´s the nerdiest thing I´ve ever heard of!” In all honesty, if I were in your position, I would say the exact same thing. Before I purchased my backpacking backpack for this trip, I didn´t even know these rain covers existed. It turns out, they do exist (and my backpack came with one attached!). If I ever meet the person who came up with the idea, I´m going to take them out to a nice seafood dinner just to say thank you. It´s a little known fact that while umbrellas keep humans dry, they actually soak backpacks and the contents therein. Trust me on this one; go for the backpack with the rain cover!
3. Laptop with a web cam: The packing list we were given listed personal computers as optional because there are plenty of computers on campus. This is 100% true. There are plenty of computers to go around, and there is really no reason to bring your own computer…unless you want to Skype, offload pictures, listen to your own music, and just be more mobile in general. From talking with other students on this trip, one of the most common things people wish they would have brought is a laptop with a web cam.
A majority of students that study abroad (myself included) use the video-chatting program Skype to keep in contact with friends and family back home. Because I brought my laptop with me, I have been able to utilize the wireless internet we have on campus (thanks Whitworth!) to connect with people back home with relative ease. Once again, the laptop is by no means necessary, but it sure is handy.
4. Patience: Unfortunately, patience is not something they sell in stores. If they did, waiting in line would still suck but people in the parking lot would probably be a whole heck of a lot more understanding when you stall the manual Jeep you´re learning to drive 5 times in a row…Anyway the interesting thing about patience is that you can´t practice it until everything that can go wrong goes wrong and you´re stuck in a foreign country, in bed with a fever and sore throat.
If you read my short blog post before this one, you´ll know that I was super sick this past week. I did a lot of crying, a lot of praying, some more crying, and even more praying. The funny thing about prayer is that most of the time there is no audible response, and in the silence the answer is, “Wait.” I don´t know about you, but I hate waiting. I like to be in control and going places. Getting sick here has probably been the most trying part of the trip thus far, but is has also reminded me that I´m not the one in control. I lose patience with God for letting me get sick, but how often do I do things that try God´s patience? Like I always say, “I´m a work in progress.” I´m really appreciative to my host family for their daily love and support and to my family and friends back home that continuously lift me up in prayer and encouragement. Thank you so much!
Until next time… (and by next time I mean after I get back from the BEACH!!!!)