An article from Patrick Brennecke’s journal “Pura Vida o Pura Paja” about his one-year volunteer service in Costa Rica. You want to learn more about Patrick’s world in Costa Rica? You wonder what he does as a volunteer in Costa Rica and which role VISIONEERS e. V. plays in it? Then take a look at the journal! You find it here in German.
My host mother, cutting an onion, paused for a moment and pondered. “Two tomatoes for the weekend, a bunch of coriander for the beans and ice tea.” I nodded and took my leave. My host sister rolled her eyes. By now, she had gotten used to me being barefoot all the time, but she could never understand how I could walk out of the door with no shoes on. I laughed, climbed on my bike and began to pedal hard. The week before last, the gravel road in our neighborhood had been renewed so that now there was a small difference in height between the road and our garden that you could only overcome if you had enough drive. Our house and the ones of our neighbors stayed behind. There were two ways to the Pulpería. I always took the gravel road along the residential houses. On the asphalted main road there was always too much traffic. As a biker, I would be just like the last mosquito in my father’s bedroom. –
The Ticos were sitting on the terraces of their houses and greeted me with a smile. On the left side, there was the field, and the Señor working on it, all sweaty, looked up from his bean plants and waved. I felt the sun burning on my arms. As soon as I would get off the bike, I would start sweating, but so far the airstream prevented it. Colored houses made of wood and concrete passed by. The electric fence above the wall of the big brick house crackled as always, and there was also the garbage heap, where it always was. The vultures fled into the next tree when I came in. In the church, a couple of people sang of God’s mercy and next door, the men from the garage were lying in their hammocks. They had no customers. The Pulpería was on the right side of the gravel road.
But the entrance was at the main road and I had to go around the building. When I turned, I recognized a few students from the Colegio, the high school, by their beige uniforms. In the Colegio, I volunteered as a teacher. In front of the entrance of the Pulpería, there was a crossing and on the other side of the road the elementary school. In the beginning, I used to give lessons there as well, but now I had shifted my focus on the Colegio. Here, at the crossway, the road of Río Blanco began, one of my favorite bike routes. I often
followed the road up the mountains. My mentor lived in this street, too. Everything was close at hand, I could get everywhere by bike. I got off and entered the small shop with only three shelves. In such a tiny space I would find more groceries than in any German supermarket. “Pura Vida, Mae”, the owner greeted me. I shook his hand. We knew each other well, I came often. After only a short time I held in my hands everything my host mother had told me to buy and lined up at the checkout. “¡Patrick! ¿Cómo estás?”, asked somebody, how I was doing. I recognized Carlos and smiled. Carlos was one of the men who built the school in Limón2000. From my house, Limón2000 was in the opposite direction than the Pulpería. That district was a world of its own.
There lived the poorest of the poor, there you saw the misery in the streets and, right beside it, children playing with marbles. Since I was a teacher, Limón2000 always showed my its best side. People were always nice to me. In those streets there did live a happy community – but also despair. My host family was afraid of that place. They never went there. I went there every evening. At my assignment location, I gave English lessons. In no other place people laughed that much when learning a language. After the classes, it would already be night. Once in a while, I would see people shooting with weapons. – “I am fine”, I honestly answered Carlos’ question. We started to talk about his family and he was interested in what my parents thought about my life in Costa Rica. When we said goodbye, we decided to spend a day at the beach the week after, with his family and Isabel, my co-volunteer. I climbed on my bike again and cycled back slowly over the well-known gravel road. I passed the colored houses and the smiling faces of friends. Back home, my host mother was already awaiting me.