Wednesday, March 4, 2015

From Kindergarten to McDonald's Costa Rica with Jerky in Between

We have had a busy couple of weeks. Last week was Max's first full week of school at Escuela San Fransisco, just North of San Isidro de Grecia in kindergarten. Last year he was in Materno and at the end of the year, his eyes were examined, along with the whole school for free. He was diagnosed with acute astigmatism and needed glasses. Of course he picked the nicest pair in the lot at 40 mil ($80 US). This year, we have already received notice of a dental exam this week in Grecia, also free for all the kids. I am a stickler when it comes to my kids' teeth so I am not expecting anything other than bright news about his pearly whites. We are so pleased that our son is receiving such great hygiene education. They even have toothbrush and toothpaste on the school supply list. 

I ended last month with a reunion (meeting) with all the mothers and his new teacher. I was in a room with about 12 other mothers, all Ticas, and the teacher. I was very proud of myself and my Spanish, for the most part. Occasionally, they would get off topic and begin chattering very fast, eventually apologizing to me and the teacher while reminding themselves to speak slowly so I could follow the instructions. My list of notes was detailed and bilingual, meaning half written in English and half in Spanish, kind of the way we speak these days. I knew when I returned home Matt would want to know everything that he missed, he is just like that. So I was careful to take good notes for Daddy.

Sara was supposed to start in a Preschool called Cen in San Isidro, but they ran out of spaces, so she and her best friend Iliana were not allowed to begin with their peers. They base admission on income and I guess either we were too honest, or we made the most money; nevertheless, Sara and Ili are not in school this year. They keep telling us they will call in a few weeks when they think they can handle 2 more children, but for now, she is at home with us while Max attends school for his second year. However, Sara insists on dressing for the occasion most mornings for the walk, wearing full uniform, new school shoes and backpack. Pobresita, she was very upset when we were told there was no room in her class, it took her almost 2 weeks, until now to understand. 

After a near 3 month hiatus from the classroom because of the long Christmas holiday, you can imagine not only how difficult it is to get in gear, but also to get the boy fed and dressed and into the classroom by 7am! Not to mention, we filled our largest order to date of Beef Jerky for AutoMercado, smoking a whopping 33 cases in 1 week! We are super happy about selling our Jerky in all 17 AutoMercados, but at the same time, we are exhausted. It is a good thing we are surrounded by eager workers. Our housekeeper, Marcela just found out she is pregnant, so she has taken on the nanny role, an extremely important job that she is handling well. Although she is currently mother of a ten year old, 3 kids is taking some getting used to. Matt and I awake at 4 am to start cutting, hanging meat and smoking jerky and we sometimes laugh at her when she runs out to the outside kitchen to ask us a question. "Nikole, donde estas lentes de Max?" (Where are Max's glasses) or "Mateo, Max no quiere despertar!" (meaning he does not want to wake up) Meanwhile the baby is screaming her mumbo jumbo from the high chair in the house and Sara is crying because she can't go to school today. Pobresita! Marcella definitely has her work cut out for her and Matt and I giggle and tell her it is practica (practice) for the new baby she is having. All jokes aside, she is doing a great job. We also have a neighbor, Terri who helps us hang and package the meat. I was told she has the fastest hands in the coffee fields during coffee picking season, so I was pleased to see she is super fast at hanging the meat, meaning we get our jerky on the smoker much earlier than expected, saving Matt several hours at night. Now we have an excellent team in place to smoke even more jerky

So Jerky sales are great and this week we are hoping to hear back from Walmart. Our distributor, ComproIm has registered our product and it should hit the stores by the end of this month. We drove into San Jose last week to purchase awesome new zip-lock, stand-up bags for our jerky. They are thicker and stronger and with the zipper, they will last longer for our customers!

We picked up Max from school and finished our business in San Jose. As we drove toward the round-about in Sabana Sur, Max and Sara both shouted, "I see the sign!" Low and behold it was the notorious golden arches of McDonald's. Matt and I were less than excited, but we caved anyway. This McDonald's was impressive. It was large, 2 stories and clean and the first floor was filled with business class locals eating salads and drinking smoothies. The line moved fast and Matt escorted the kids upstairs to the jungle gym playground while I purchased some kids meals and a couple of McWraps. Matt and I were happy to see Max and Sara pull an actual chicken leg out of their boxes; instead of those frozen nugget things they sell back in the states. Sofia stole Sara's chicken and walked around the playground gripping it with her life. The playground was full of kids of all ages and Max, Sara and Sofia had a ball. We noticed face painting in the adjoining room and were delighted to hear it was gratis (free). So Captain America (Max) and Butterfly Girl (Sara) were so busy playing, they did not even eat their ice cream cones. 

As we left, we were happily full and painted. I highly suggest this McDonald's if you have kids. Whether you are visiting Costa Rica as a tourist, or you live here and just need a good, old-fashioned USA style lunch for the kids, visit the McDonald's in Sabana in San Jose. We spent less than $20 US and actually ate pretty healthy. It was a perfect ending to a busy week. All the kids slept the entire way home. Pura Vida!


  1. I am enjoying your blog. I was wondering if you homeschooled or not or if your kids went to a private school or not. Is there a particular language program you used to learn Spanish?

  2. We do not home school, although many expats do. Our kids will be in public school for their first few years. We live in a small mountain community with an excellent public school. We will reserve the option of private school in a few years, when they grow up a bit:) We read English books every night and try to use as much English around the house, watching TV in English as well. Our son actually speaks with an accent, so it is important to us that we back up as much English at home as possible. We also try to keep certain traditions alive, like the Easter Bunny, Santa, the Tooth Fairy and other stories that they might not hear in a Costa Rican school. Civics are very strong here, as well, so we try to teach some American history too. They are still pretty young, so they have not memorized the Star Spangled Banner or anything, but they have heard it from us. We definitely live in two languages.

  3. I visited my son's school in session. I popped there unexpectedly in the middle of the day. Every parent should do this. At Phoenix preschool they had some structured learning but also a lot of playing which I think is the best way for children to learn.

    1. I agree, it is important to know what the schedule is to mimic a routine at home. Kids definitely need to learn to play as well:)


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