It was a Wednesday. A mere six hours ago, I was stateside. Now, I’m in a room of a house owned by a sweet Costa Rican woman. Besides her, the house is occupied by four of her seven children and two of her three grandchildren. I’m unpacking my bags: a duffel for clothes, a bigger duffel for books, and my backpack, which will serve as my briefcase during this trip. Not two dress shirts out and I’m summoned into the kitchen, which takes me longer to figure out because the summoning is in Spanish. After a few page flips of a bilingual dictionary (which I stuff into my back pocket) and a few notes, I’m standing in the kitchen facing my Costa Rican host. “Are you ready to meet your supervising teacher?” she asks in Spanish. “Si, claro,” I respond.

After I’m escorted across another nameless Tres Ríos street, I’m being introduced to my cooperating teacher. Finally! After two months of e-mail correspondence, I am shaking hands with my cooperating teacher, who coincidentally is my neighbor. My host mother properly introduces us, says something in Spanish, which evokes laughter (a clueless smile from me), and she departs.

My cooperating teacher gives me a tour of her home, and I fall in love with her patio. It supports hand-carved, wooden furniture; has a hanging sign, “Memo’s”, in memory of her older brother, Guillermo; and, has one large square window that is full with the view of the greenest mountains I have ever seen. At her kitchen table, the tour fully circled, we discuss the details of my student teaching. Not one e-mail compares to the information, the many holes that I’m at long last filling.

To my surprise, she is not my cooperating teacher. She is my supervisor, my colleague, my morning chauffeur, my translator, my Costa Rican ambassador, my mentor, and my neighbor. But she is not my cooperating teacher. I will be teaching oral and written English with four other teachers—three women and one man, and I will meet them tomorrow.

Eight hours ago, I was stateside. About 13 hours from now, I’ll be drowning in a sea of names, for tomorrow, I start my student teaching. Funny: all that worrying—those many days of fearing the unknown and unanswered—all of it forgotten and replaced with a whole new whopper of uncertainty: what should I wear mañana?

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7 Responses to Arrival

  1. Matt Olsen says:

    COSTA RICA?!?!

    I don’t hear from you for who knows how long and now you’re down in Costa Rica teaching? Wow, I am in awe of where life has taken you my friend and the courage it must have taken to pursue such an endeavor. I wish you nothing but the best of luck down there. Those kids have no idea what kind of talent they’ll have the opportunity to learn from. I mean, come on, who else could ever possibly envision the Devil doing the Michael Jackson Thriller dance?

    Take care of yourself man and I’ll be following your blog the entire way.

  2. Tina says:


    Thank you for including me on your blog listing. This sounds like it will be a fascinating experience. In turn, it will open up many doors in your future when you return to the US. I’m hoping you will be posting pictures as well. Good luck on your teaching assignment!


  3. Brian,

    Welcome to Costa Rica. I enjoyed reading your first (and many more to come) blog about the arrival experience. It appears that you are off to a great start with a warm and welcoming reception. Each day will certainly offer new challenges yet bring a wealth of new teaching strategies you’ll remember for a long time. Good luck with your many exciting experiences and enjoy your new friends. I know you’ll bring home terrific memories of a fantastic adventure.


  4. Aunt Patsy says:

    Ahhh, Brian, bueno!
    What a new and exciting world is opening up for you! I am so proud of you for stepping out into the unknown. You will learn much and make many friends and memories to take you through the new life you are creating for yourself. I’m so happy to be informed of your blog and look forward to each and every post! Love ya, Aunt Patsy

  5. rdunc says:

    Sounds like a whole new world out there. Good luck dude.

  6. Andrew Roach says:

    I am very intrigued and can not wait to hear more because of how interesante it sounds. Tell me more about the town where you are staying, which is Cartago correcto? Are the early mornings as ‘peaceful’ as the suburban morning rush hours? What about the culture, the people? It appears that the friendly welcome made it easier for a nice transition to a South American lifestyle, and for this I envy you! Como es tu espanol? As I am easing into Spanish II and collecting vocabulary words every single day I realized that notecards are my portable professor; just a suggestion. Take me through a day in the life of Brian Roach as you venture into lands unknown, the seeds of life in the palm of your hand allowing you to grow into an even more extrovertido person. Hope to hear more soon, take care mi hermano!

  7. Andrew Roach says:

    Central American, my goof.

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