March 4, 2011–Guanacaste

MARCH 4, 2011


There are two international airports in Costa Rica. One is just outside the capital city of San Jose, and the other is in the province of Guanacaste, located in the northwest, along the Pacific coast. The terrain in Guanacaste is dryer than other parts of Costa Rica—it’s not tropical. In fact, areas of it remind one of the southwest United States, with brownish plains and tall grasses.

The airport is adjacent to the city of Liberia, an hour from the beach towns that I would love to visit, but with my travel plans, do not have time to appreciate, since I arrive late, and will be taking a bus in the morning. After my bank card fiasco, I spend my first night at Hotel Santa Ana, five minutes from the airport, and five from the Pulmitan bus station in Costa Rica. My friend, Horacio, has made the reservation, but left the bill to me. I’ve agreed to come and do these workshops on a volunteer basis, and to cover my own travel, but with the explicit understanding that once I arrive in the country, the festival can take care of all my expenses in terms of meals and places to sleep, and transport to the beach on the Caribbean Coast for a meeting the participants will have after the festival is over. Lately however, though he has not contradicted this statement directly, he seems to be talking about discounted rates for things, as though I will be picking up the tab. I’ve prepared for this to happen some, but I’m hoping it won’t be too much. I’m assuming that when I get to San Jose tomorrow, he will have arranged some kind of home stay, although any details about arrangements have been hard-won, and even then, limited. (For instance, I know “someone” will meet me at the San Jose bus station tomorrow afternoon, but I don’t know who, as Horacio is apparently on the Caribbean coast with some of the other participants, doing so pre-festival activities. I’m hoping the person will have a sign.)

So I pay the bill with my credit card, proprietress hands me a key, and a remote for the air conditioner. I settle in to my room. It has a desk, which is nice, and wi-fi, which I love. I take a small shower, then step outside my room for a few minutes to enjoy the post-heat-of-the-day balmy breezes, before retiring to my room to make a stab at the long job application. I make it to the prompt where they asked me to recount, in backwards order, every job I’ve ever held, and give the names and phone numbers of my supervisors. As a freelancer and frequent part-timer, my “supervisors” could run to the dozens, more, if you counted my time in Chicago. Many of the companies where I worked are defunct, or my supervisors left long ago. And even if my supervisors were still at those places, most large companies only allow prospective employers to speak to human resources (or the payroll company) who are only allowed to verify dates of employment and not make other comments. So overall, this listing an exercise of will—a will that I don’t quite have in me this night…

Instead I turn to my notes for my upcoming workshops. I have my two DVDs full of clips safely tucked into the backpack I plan to carry tomorrow–sometimes luggage migrates from under the bus, so these most important items will stay with me. I think I have my concepts laid out for the three-hour version of the class on Monday, but am nervous about the five-hour class I’m supposed to do the following day (I’m nervous about it all, of course, but have more nervousness about the longer class). I was initially thinking of doing writing exercises, but I’ve realized that while I can lecture with the aid of a translator, going over exercises written in another language is not the best idea! So I’m considering adding some more concepts, and showing longer clips of film for the second class. Or, in truth, plans can be slippery down here, so possibly I can just announce that the workshop will be shorter, and no one will bat an eye.

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