Peace Corps sent me to a small town in Alajuela, near the border with Nicaragua and in the tropical near-rainforest. I´m staying at another volunteer´s place. This is how volunteers live:
It´s pretty rural. Here´s the view from the kitchen window:
One of the volunteer´s main projects is an internet cafe. He raised $4000 to buy 8 computers, software, desks, wiring, backup batteries, and a printer, and uses a free satellite uplink provided by the government:
He teaches computer classes and has trained a few kids to run the cafe and teach their own classes. A lot of the classes include activities in Excel and Word which ask kids to be creative, reflect on their experiences, read, and write, so the class becomes a way to teach a lot of different things. The kids who help administer the cafe are learning entrepreneurial, teaching, leadership, and communications skills. Sometimes it´s easiest to teach kids because they have free time and nothing to loose.
Classes for adults have their own advantages, though: you can teach accounting and other business skills, and you can connect people to far-away resources, like helping farmers to communicate with the Ministry of Agriculture and take advantage of programs which give away better seeds.
On a seperate note for the biologically, chemically, or environmentally inclined, here´s a picture of a nearby ¨biodigester.¨ Waste from the pigpen goes in one end, slightly cleaner water comes out the far end, and in the middle anaerobic bacteria produce a lot of methane, which fills up the bag, connects to your house through the hose, and powers your stove. Now that´s cooking with gas!
As my host put it, Costa Rica is a developed enough country that Peace Corps projects aren´t just about helping people to survive. They´re about figuring out better ways to live.