The only gringa on the bus.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” Mother Teresa

 Asociación Asilo de la Vejez de Cartago is a 100-year-old green building surrounded by a stone wall. Nuns primarily run the nursing home. The male and female wards are separated with a courtyard that contains colorful stone benches, beautiful trees and a pathway connecting each side. The nurses’ station is located in the back of the establishment. Here is where you often find Sor Elena, Hellen, Luciana or Nina, a few nurses of the home. The genuine love the staff has for the residents at the Asociación Asilo de la Vejez de Cartago is beautiful.

This previous week, I worked with the wound care nurse to help residents who have pressure ulcers, skin tears or just general skin breakdown. Supplies are very limited at their facility. Many times they use extra supplies from surrounding hospitals or contributions made by volunteers. Over the next few weeks I’ll be formulating a list of supplies that could be used at the Asociación Asilo de la Vejez de Cartago. If anyone would like to be apart of these donations, please let me know! I brought some gloves and they were so appreciative of such a small gesture! I am really enjoying my placement and love working with the residents! Although I know only a little Spanish, they are so sweet and patient with me. Even if I don’t speak much spanish, I hope my love and kindness is conveyed with my frequent big smile and, ‘Hola’. At the nursing home, I am known as a “gringa”, a foreign girl or someone that is not a tico (a native costa rican). One of the wound nurses, Gary, is almost fluent in English. He teaches me Spanish while I teach him English. I also finished my first week of Spanish lessons yesterday! Personally, I think it’s more beneficial learning from interacting with spanish speaking people rather than class. BUT I must say, in class I did learn the basics of sentence structure. Learning Spanish in a Spanish speaking country is A LOT easier than learning in the US!

I just found out that my mama tica (my house mom), Vera, is a professor for both Spanish and Mathematics. Mi mama tica es muy inteligente! My tica sister, Alejandra, also knows English very well. Although we usually try to talk only in Spanish, many of our conversations turn into Spanglish. Slowly but surely, I’m learning! Not only am I learning everything there is to know about the Spanish language, but I’m also learning about traveling.

After this experience, I have no doubt that I’ll be a serious traveling pro. From Monday to Friday I volunteer from 9-12am at the Asociación Asilo de la Vejez de Cartago. Traffic is crazy in San José so waking up early is crucial to get anywhere on time. I live in a small town called Vargas Araya. To get to Cartago, I take a 20-minute bus ride from Vargas Araya to San Pedro. From San Pedro, I take a 40-minute bus ride to Cartago (sometimes it’s less, depending on the time you catch the bus). From my bus stop I have a 10-minute walk to my placement in Cartago. What comes with lots of traveling in Costa Rica? Beautiful views:). Each trip something new catches my eye.

Today I am going to Corrine’s, my other tica sister, baby shower! Her house is located in Cartago, which is the same city I work in. I’m excited to meet more of their family! Rather than traveling by bus, we will be traveling to Cartago by car today. This will cut the trip from the usual hour to 30 minutes.

Pura Vida!

Lots of love,


One thought on “The only gringa on the bus.

  1. Hi Sweetie! Sounds like you’re super busy, learning the culture and embracing all people you come in contact with. I was so happy when you Skped Dad & I today. It’s amazing that you’ve learned so much in one week, and now you’ll be teaching an English class. I love it! Glad you’re meeting lots of people too. Please post a supply list as soon as you can. I want to help! I love you so much and look forward to talking again soon as you can! XXX OOO 💗💗💗💗💗💗


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