Thursday, May 12, 2011

Last Day

There may be many little updates from today. I feel like today will be super emotional for me.


I cried yesterday saying goodbye to some friends. Crying definitely surprised me. I did not think I would feel this strongly about goodbyes. 


I saw this cover of this song a really long time ago and it is just so cute. A couple of my friends from USAC did a cover of it and I remembered how sweet this song is.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Somewhere Only We Know.

So, here I am at the end of the semester. I only have a couple of days left in Costa Rica. The first few months that I was here, I didn’t think I would feel the same as some of the students were saying they felt from the previous semester. I heard, more than once, the sentence “I never want to leave.” I thought that would not be me only because I have never felt anything close to that when leaving Flagstaff. Sure I am sad to leave friends, but I know that I will always see them the next semester.
For probably my first three months here I knew that I would be excited to go home, and hearing stories of other students going home for a visit during the semester made me extremely jealous. I even tried to look for a ticket cheap enough during our spring break, but it just wasn’t close enough.
Now here we are, the last week of school, and I feel like an emotion rollercoaster. I cannot wait to finish with these classes; the end of a semester is always a nightmare. But at the same time, being finished with these classes mean being closer to leaving Costa Rica on Friday. And at first I thought I would only be sad to leave my host family, but now it’s every one that I have had class with, living in this beautiful country and being fully immersed in this language.
Ever since last week at out USAC goodbye party, I have been so torn about leaving here. I have made such good friendships with people all over the country. I think what gets me the most is that I don’t know when I will see this country or these people again. Way to be a Debbie-Downer I know, but this is what is going through my mind.
What it comes down to is that I got an amazing experience here that I am so grateful for. Seriously I spent the semester in Costa Rica and experienced so many amazing things. And when it comes down to it, I am satisfied with what I have done while here. 


Monday, May 2, 2011

The End of a Chapter

Last Friday we had the goodbye party for all the Costa Rica USAC students (there are two other programs in other towns). While I don't know any of the students from Puntarenas or San Ramon, it was so good to be with everyone from Heredia. I always love the events when we all get together (Jaco, Nicaragua/Guanacaste, Arenal and now this). It's amazing that a group of 60 students can get along so well. There is almost never any conflicts between us. 
Any way, we were all hanging out at the party and music was playing. One of the things I will miss is hearing the silly songs that are so popular here. This is hands down one of the most popular songs here and I cannot even begin to count how many times I have heard it. And it just makes me want to laugh and dance at the same time. 

Friday was the first time that I got really sad about leaving. I will miss everyone in this program, after seeing everyone almost everyday for a semester and travelling around with them, and then not knowing when I will see them next is such a sad thought. I will miss Heredia, and seeing my gringo friends while I am out and about in a country of ticos (BTW gringo is no longer a derogatory term so don't take offense. It's totally okay to be called gringo). I will also miss Spanish everywhere, even though it is sometimes confusing. I was at a copy shop this morning trying to print something out for class and my professor showed up. The lady at the store tried to tell me something and I had no clue what it was (I am blaming it on the fact that I only had 5 hours of sleep). Thankfully my teacher was there to clarify it for me (although I am positive she was probably thinking I should have understood what was going on). I am definitely gonna miss my host family. There is no way I can express enough gratitude to them for sharing their home with me.

I won't miss my classes, or the trash, or the fear of being robbed at gunpoint. I also won't miss the lack of refrigeration of products that in the US are always refrigerated. 

The countdown is at 10 days as of tomorrow. And I am satisfied with this semester. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Outdoor Market

Yesterday I went to the Feria with my host parents. This week is Semana Santa, Holy Week, and we went to buy fruits and veggies since most stores will be closed. The Feria is a huge outdoor market with vendors selling all of their fruits and vegetables. The line of vendors is so long and there are so many people there. Here is a picture of it. You can see how far behind me there are vendors. It was a lot of fun. There were things there that even my host mom didn't know.
Mama Tica and I at breakfast before Feria

Monday, April 18, 2011

Coffee and Saints

So let’s overlook the fact that I am way behind on this blog. The last few days/weeks have been incredibly busy and I haven’t really found time to blog. But this week is Semana Santa (Holy Week) and I don’t have classes all week long as we celebrate the week before Easter. I am definitely looking forward to this relaxing week. However, after this week we only have two more weeks of classes then the last week for finals. 

The countdown is at 25 days. 
Crazy.

So more about what I have done. A couple weeks ago a couple of us girls went to a coffee farm in San Francisco del San Isidro. We were given a tour of some of the farm and shown all of the processing that takes place for coffee. Since I work in a coffee shop back home with our own coffee farm I knew most of the information, but it was cool to see this particular farm and see everything they do. Something that is really interesting about Costa Rican coffee is that when they separate the different grades of beans, they take the highest quality and reserve that for exportation, so whatever is sold in the country is the lower quality beans. Needless to say, anything that you buy in the States with the name of Costa Rican coffee will probably be better quality than anything I can bring back from here.

Also last weekend I went to a town called Cartago with my host mom and her parents. Cartago is about an hour away from San Jose and is home to the Basilica to the patron saint of Costa Rica, Our Lady of Los Angeles. Here is a link to a short description about it: http://www.costaricapages.com/
It was really interesting to see the basilica, it was beautiful. 

So those are a couple of things I have done in the last few weeks. I hope that it won't be too long before the next update. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

Okay everyone. I love Costa Rica. Absolutely have been having the time of my life. But I am gonna admit that I am really excited to go home and I will show you why.


http://www.konaweb.com/


This is literally ten minutes from my house. I miss it a lot. 


I also just found out about this: 
Oh home.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Whistle While you Work

So I have the cutest Lit teacher here (she is also my language track teacher and even though she sometimes intimidates me, she is still super cute), and while we were studying a certain author she starts singing this song having to do with one of the poems we are reading. Anyway long story short, she brought in the music for us to listen to and we all sometimes just start singing this song. This will definitely be something that I remember Costa Rica by.


Celia Cruz-Guantamanera

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Arenal



La Fortuna
So finally I can blog about last weekend. It was such a fun trip. The last USAC trip of the semester, we went to Volcan Arenal. It was about 4 hours away from Heredia and was gorgeous. We arrived at our hotel and it was great. We could see the volcano from our room and the pool area.

Hotel Room
After we changed into our bathing suits, we went to the Baldi Resort to visit the hot springs. I am not sure how many different pools there were, but there were a lot and they all ranged in different temperatures. It was so fun to hang around the hot springs for a few hours. Later, we met with everyone and ate a buffet dinner at the resort. It was SO delicious. They definitely feed us well on these trips!

Scary Bridge
That night when we got back to the hotel, we all hung out at the pool together. For this trip the Heredia program was split in two groups on different days, and our group happened to travel with the USAC San Ramon group. San Ramon is about an hour and a half from Heredia and their program specializes in science classes. So we were able to hang out with them and get to know them which was fun.

The next day we went to these hanging bridges. There was this path that had six different bridges at different heights. I was pretty freaked out, since I don’t like heights. I never let go of the bridge while walking across, but it was definitely a lot of fun. We were hiking through the rain forest and there were a bunch of different birds and animals. Such a good trip.


View from hotel room
Nothing too exciting, but it was definitely a fun experience. The area was so gorgeous and definitely a better trip than the ones where we stay in hostels. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blog, blog, blog...

So this week is going to be/has been really busy. I have a final on Thursday and a bunch of stuff to do. But I am letting you know that I went to Volcan Arenal this last weekend and had a blast! An awesome blog about it will probably be posted this weekend, along with some photos.


Volcan Arenal


I am dying to write out this blog, but by the end of the night I am just too worn out from the day, so I promise that this weekend it will get done!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Does This Count as Culture?

Let me tell you something about Costa Rica. 
It is really loud. As I type, two yes t-w-o different car alarms are going off on my street. 
Wanna know why? 
Because a motorcycle drove past them.
Yes, these car alarms were set off because of a loud noise. Now, two alarms is strange, but there is one car in particular that has its alarm go off nearly every single day. Usually pretty early in the morning, and I hear it while I am getting ready for school. It is ridiculous, and it’s not like the owners try to stop it from going off. They just let it do its thing until the alarm cycle comes to an end. That is probably the most annoying part.

Dogs also are another thing. I don’t understand the role of dogs in this country (and from what I hear in every Latin American country). First of all, in regards to this noise issue, most of the dogs that are pets are the smaller dogs. You know the ones I am talking about, those small YAPPY dogs. Walking down the sidewalk is fun. It’s like a game to see which house has the small barking dog that is going to bark its head off at you. 
Now the next thing about dogs is their part in the family. My little sister told me that people here love dogs much more than cats. I asked her if that was the case, why are there so many dogs on the street. She seriously looked at me like I was talking about aliens. She said that when people don’t want their dogs anymore they leave them on the streets. I said that was very strange and told her that in the states we have places where people take their pets when they don’t want them anymore and that there are never dogs living on the streets. The idea was so strange to her, not having dogs living on the streets, I could see it in her face. It is so hard sometimes to see all of the dogs wandering around the streets. There is one black and white spotted dog that lives at the university and it is always laying out in the sun. And sometimes there are the cutest puppies too. None of the dogs are fixed either which only is going to make the problem worse.

So if you are someone that likes the quiet, Costa Rica probably isn’t the place you want to be. Between the cars, dogs and people, the only quiet you get is in the middle of the night.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Coffee!

So I never really realized how much I am gonna miss this one part of my daily life here in Costa Rica. I just finished my cafecito. (This is one of the many reasons I also love living with a host family.)

What is a cafecito you may ask? Well I am gonna tell you right here in this blog.

Coffee and bread. Yum!
Every day in the afternoons (for my family it is anywhere from 3 to 5), coffee and bread is served (it’s usually a sweet bread). I have to tell you that today I was really looking forward to this break as I am working on a really boring homework assignment that is due on Monday.
And the bread selection today was especially delicious (let’s be honest, yesterday was too). Today, I had a selection from doughnuts, empanadas, and this bread they call pudding, but it’s just like a wetter version of bread, not like that Jello stuff. Usually I just eat two pieces of bread and drink two cups of coffee (at most), but today I realized that when I go home, I probably won’t be having coffee and sweet bread every day, so I might as well enjoy it for what it was worth (I upped the bread to 4 pieces, but in my defense, the doughnut was small, and I only ate half an empanada and my first piece of the pudding was like half the size of the second one).

It was probably last month that my host father asked me if we had cafecitos in the US. I told him sort of, but they could be at any time during the day, not just in the afternoon. Then he proceeded to tell me that in any business at around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, everyone would be having their coffee and bread at their desks. Now I don’t know about you, but I am all for starting this tradition in the US. I am gonna miss me some yummy bread and coffee.
This is a way to make coffee. My literature teacher
 says the coffee is "mas rico" (better) like this.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Another adventure in Costa Rica.

So, I just got back from the most relaxing weekend since getting to Costa Rica. A group of 12 of us went to this little town of Dominical. It was seriously a tiny little town, and was basically closed by 10PM. The first night we went out for some pizza then went out to the beach. The moon was full this weekend so there was a lot of light and we could see pretty well. We went to bed around midnight and the next morning we were able to sleep in a bit. We ate breakfast at the restaurant at the hostel and I had banana pancakes, so delicious. Then we went to the beach. The only thing that I wanted to do was sit out at the beach, and this beach was huge! We got in the water for a little bit at first. The waves were really big and you had to work hard while swimming out there. I got out of the water and we stayed on the beach for the entire day. It was so relaxing to just be on the beach, watching the surfers and reading a book with friends. We watched the sunset, which was gorgeous over the water. None of us could get enough of the beach as we returned to lay on the beach after eating dinner and it being dark out. We returned on the 6AM bus which got us to Heredia around midday. I have slept for most of the afternoon and finally had a good shower.
I love that we can travel and everything is relatively close and cheap. Being able to go to the beach was really nice and enjoyable. It’s always fun when travelling with your classmates to get to know them better and really hang out with these people outside of class. I look forward to the next adventure. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Once Upon a Stumble

So there is this website where you can designate your interests and based on the information you input it brings up other websites or articles that may interest you. It is called "Stumble Upon" because you are basically stumbling upon these things. I have found some pretty awesome things on there such as photographs, interesting articles and just things that make me laugh out loud. (And if we are being honest, I have also lost many hours to this website.)


Well the other week I was "stumbling" and this website came up:


www.twobackpackers.com/3192/central-america/10-weird-things-from-latin-america


I read it to see if this experience mirrored mine. For the most part it did. Pay attention to 
numbers 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9. 


These are the things you find quirky about living in a foreign country.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Haircut anyone?

So, for those that don’t know, which is probably a lot, I got a fancy haircut yesterday. My mama tica works in a salon and on Monday she came home telling me she went to a seminar and saw a haircut that she thought would look good on me. So I decided I would let her do whatever she wanted, after all, it was free. Then I got to the salon yesterday afternoon and she was talking about blonde highlights. This made me SUPER nervous. But it has turned out great. I really like it and am glad I let her do whatever she wanted. It was a good life choice to be the guinea pig.
It's not the best quality, but it is what it is. I promise to get a better photo!

I am not gonna lie though, I will most likely not keep up the highlights. I am not high-maintenance enough to spend money on these highlights. So I will enjoy them while I have them. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

El Puesto del Sol

So I basically take pictures of an amazing sky from my window every day.
BEAUTIFUL!






Monday, February 28, 2011

Nicaragua/Northern Costa Rica Adventuring!

I have SO much to share with you all!

Last week was the USAC Nicaragua/Northern Costa Rica field trip. We were gone for the entire week adventuring around the two countries. I cannot even begin to describe how much fun it was, but for the sake of you all wanting to know, I’ll do my best.

The first day (Monday) we all met at the University at 5AM. It was rough to wake up that early, but it was better so that we could get to Nicaragua as soon as possible. So we made a five hour bus ride to the border, then had to wait a few more hours while everything was being processed and off we went to Granada. Granada is a beautiful town. All of the buildings are brightly colored and it has an old colonial feel to it. The minute we got out of the bus at our hotel, however, there were kids in the streets asking for money and food. That was tough to have to deal with, but we got into our hotel and it was gorgeous! It was like a little oasis inside of this big city. Later that afternoon we went on a horse drawn carriage ride through the city and saw some amazing sites. Here are some pictures:
 
The next day we went on a boat tour of the Isletas in the lake right next to Granada. There are 365 islands and most are privately owned with huge houses built on them. The richest families in Nicaragua have houses on these little islands, but usually during the week they are occupied by the locals. After this tour (there were monkeys!)
we went to the Masaya Volcano Park. We went to look at the crater of the volcano and it was huge! Our tour guide said that there were some explosions in 2001 and that it could happen again at any time. On top of a hill was this huge cross and we all climbed it to get a better look into the crater.

We went into the city of Masaya for lunch and to visit the market there. Nicaragua is fairly new to the tourism industry because of the recent wars and in this market they sell a lot of handmade goods. I was able to buy a lot of souvenirs, all things that I was sure were made in Nicaragua, some things looked really generic. It was fun to walk around the market and see all of the vendors with their stores.

 

The next day we headed out to San Juan del Sur, on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. This was by far my favorite place, probably my favorite day. We got there and checked into our hotel around lunch time. We walked down the street to the beach and it was amazingly beautiful!





I rested a bit in the afternoon and later that day we went on a boat tour. We all got on boats and went out in the ocean. A couple of minutes into the tour we encountered at least a hundred dolphins that swam around with us and were jumping. It was absolutely incredible! Later we went to this little cove were we all got in the water for a bit and swam around together. From the boats, we were able to watch the sunset, and it was so nice to see a sunset over the ocean. We ate dinner that night and afterwards went out for some ice cream (which is my new obsession because of Costa Rica).  













The next day we left to go to Guanacaste in Costa Rica. We got to the Buena Vista Lodge around lunch time. This lodge is up in the hills and has acres and acres of land. After lunch we went on a horseback ride to this “spa.” It is this place where there are hot springs that are naturally heated by the volcano. First you sit in a sauna for five minutes, then you go put mud on your skin and leave it on for five more minutes. After you rinse off you get into the four hot springs with temperatures ranging from 75 degrees to 106 degrees. Our skin felt so soft afterwards, it was amazing!

The next day we went zip lining (again!) but I am gonna say that it was more fun in Jaco the first time around. I was able to see toucans for the first time though! Let me tell you, they look nothing like the “Fruit Loops” toucan. They are definitely much smaller than expected. After lunch there was a waterslide, but I opted to stay behind and sat by the pool to catch some rays (and came home with a tan! My little tica sister says I look much prettier with a tan haha!) Later that evening we went to the Sunset Bar to watch an amazing sunset and after dinner we went back to dance with some tico friends we made.

We all had such an amazing time. We were all sad when we got back to Heredia because it meant that we didn’t get to adventure together every day like the week before. But at the same time, I am glad to be back with my family.  (Let me now mention that I was sick this entire week, and lost my voice one day. But I didn’t let that keep me down and had an amazing time!!) I hope you enjoy the stories and the pictures. I really wish that I could better convey how much fun last week was. I am so glad that I went on this trip!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yo soy...


So I decided that since it has been over a week since I last updated, and I am really not ready to study for my final exam tomorrow or write an essay or really do any homework right now, I will give you a small little update.

So I am not sure if you all know, but the television show ‘Ugly Betty’ was based off of a Colombian comedic “novella” called Yo soy Betty, la fea. Right now they are playing reruns of it on television and it is watched religiously by my papa tico, mama tica, and sister. At seven o’clock every night they run around yelling “Once, once” (11, because that is what channel it is on) and “Betty, Betty, Betty!” And I have to admit I am totally hooked on it. I cannot really understand most of what is being said, but I definitely know what is going on. And when the weekend comes I am literally out of my mind because episodes only play during the week.

Well, my family just found all of the episodes on YouTube and we have been watching it to get ahead. But it’s almost over, like only a few more episodes until it is done forever, and I seriously don’t even know what I am going to do when we finish (well I actually do, I am watching it from the beginning on YouTube). 

So that is the exciting news of my life in Costa Rica. Next week I will be going on a field trip to Nicaragua set up by USAC. I will definitely have some great stories to share. It is going to be a lot of fun and I am so excited!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Puerto Viejo!!

A View of Rocking J's

Oh like I promised, this weekend was full of exciting stories. A group of about 20 students went to Puerto Viejo this weekend. It is a tiny town in the south of Costa Rica, close to Panama. We left Heredia at 12, caught the 2PM bus from San José, and arrived there around 6:30. From the bus stop we walked to the opposite side of town to our hostel, Rocking J’s. Here is the website if you want to check it out:  http://www.rockingjs.com/. This place was insane! Everything is very artsy, mosaic art decorates the entire hostel, along with paintings from past visitors. Any surface that could be decorated, was. We entered the lobby and right there were tables filled with people conversing and a beer pong table. Then behind that were hammock that we were staying in for both nights. There weren’t separate rooms for these hammocks. They were all in one big room (well there were actually two rooms) and only covered by a roof. Everything was very open. My hammock happened to be the very first one, right next to the beer pong table. I knew that I was in for a long night of barely any sleep in this place that was truly “rocking.”
The Hammocks

La Playa at Rocking J's
After we put our things in lockers, we headed back into town to get some dinner. After dinner we went back to the hostel to wait for the beach bonfire. While we waited, we went down to the beach to put our feet in the water. We were all so excited to be at the Caribbean Sea. The bonfire started and we hung out there for a while before going over to our hammocks to try to get some sleep. At midnight, they kicked everyone out of the main area so that it would be quiet for the people to sleep. I was very happy for this, hoping I would get to sleep a little more than planned. Some girls and I were up talking, and realizing how relaxing it was to swing in the hammock while you are sleepy, when we were joined by some friendly and chatty Argentinians that hung out with us till well after 2 in the morning. Finally I was able to get some sleep. Some girls wanted to get up and watch the sun rise, but at 5 we woke up and saw that it was so cloudy. It had rained the night before and the clouds hadn’t gone away. So we decided to get an early breakfast and ate at this awesome restaurant called “Bread and Chocolate.” We wandered through town a bit, bought a return bus ticket for the next day, then went back to the hostel. I felt too exhausted from only three hours of sleep, so some of us just stayed to explore the beach a little and then we hung out in our hammocks for a few hours. After a rest, we walked into town, looked at the shops, then met up with some others for ice cream (that was super delicious!). We went back to the hostel and wanted to say our goodbyes to the ocean and then went our separate ways. I was able to fall asleep earlier, 12:30 and woke up at 6 for out 7:30 bus back to Heredia. I got back home and was SO exhausted, but had fun. 
Super Tall Trees

View of Rocking J's from the beach












So I hope that was interesting enough. I sure had a great time there. Enjoy the pictures and hopefully I will update soon. Only 94 days left in Costa Rica!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is "Homesickness" Even a Real Word??

So it’s been a while since I last updated you all. Nothing really exciting has happened. I will hopefully be going on an adventure this weekend that will be far more interesting than my weekends have been in Heredia.

So with nothing too exciting happening here, I am just gonna update you with where I am at.

HOMESICKNESS

I knew going into this, the first few weeks would be the hardest. But to be honest, I am doing much better than I thought I would be doing. I literally thought for the first two weeks I would be crying myself to sleep every night and not be able to communicate with my family at all. So, homesickness hasn’t hit me too hard. But it’s just the little things that get me.

Let me tell you how this study abroad happened, cause it is relevant to this topic.
Thought Process: Hmmmm, I want to study abroad.
                                Hmmmm, I want to go to Spain, but hello, that is WAY too expensive. How does anyone afford a whole semester there?!
                                Costa Rica sounds cool. I will be just like Hawai’i, but in Spanish.

It will be just like Hawai’i, but in Spanish. I thought that would make me NOT be homesick, but it is kind of having the opposite effect. And I think it is because there are things that totally remind me of home, and then right there is something so extremely different from what I would experience at home. When we went to Jacó, I was looking out the windows of the bus and for a second couldn’t remember where I was. Then there are the geckos, which I really like hearing, and I am pretty sure one is living in my bookshelf, and the flowers and fruits that are the same, and there are always roosters crowing too.


Totally thinking of Hawai’i.

Then on Sunday I went to a mall with my family to see a movie. I was walking around with my little sister and all I was thinking of was going to Fashion Square with my sister. Then at the movies, there was a preview for Secretariat, which I saw in Arizona. Definitely started tearing up a bit. And yesterday I had this strong desire to want to go to Home Depot, and I do not even like going to Home Depot. I feel like it comes for brief moments and then it goes away. I keep myself pretty busy so I haven’t found myself absolutely miserable. I will admit, though, that I am counting down the days till I go back to Arizona. There are just things I miss, like Sonic, and toilet paper, and not being stared at or called after by guys (machismo is HUGE here, and annoying), and TRAFFIC LAWS, living without bars around a house or on the windows.

Yeah so that is about all. It’s not that bad, but like I said, it is just the little things that get me.


Here are some pics of Heredia.   
 View from my room. Beautiful sunsets!
 Another view, towards San Jose.
 Statue in front of the Church.
 Another Statue.
The Church.

Hopefully this weekend will be more interesting and full of lots of stories. I am planning a trip already and it is going to be epic!

Hasta Luego!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Food

Food.

                                  What can I say about food?

I am pretty sure that in this first week I have gained at least five pounds.

I don’t even wonder about what I am eating anymore, I just eat it. Of course my family does explain everything to me. They have gotten to telling me after every meal that I eat too little. For me I am eating way more than normal. I stuff myself until I feel like I am about to throw up. But I haven’t encountered anything that I haven’t liked.  And if you know me well, you have probably heard me say, “My tummy hurts,” or “I can’t eat that because of my stomach,” and I have major stomach issues. Well, so far here, nothing has bothered me, and that is saying a lot!

I told my mama tica that sometimes in the US I don’t eat breakfast and she was so surprised by this. Yesterday my breakfast consisted of this thing that was the size of a pancake but was made with eggs and fideo, freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee, gallo pinto (this is with every breakfast),  fresh fruit, and sooo much more. Seriously, I can’t eat this much for ONE meal, let alone three.  

I wish I could bring home this food for all of you to try. I am going to try and get some recipes before I leave and maybe make some of it when I get back.

Seriously, food is a big deal.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

They Say to Go Out of Your Comfort Zone

So, yesterday was the first of three USAC organized field trips. Now, in the brochure for USAC it said that this field trip would be going to Café Britt and to the Volcán Poás, which I was really looking forward to. But at orientation last weekend, we were told it was changed to zip-lining and a crocodile tour.

Let me explain something:
I am terribly afraid of heights,
like I get nervous going up elevators, like I need therapy for this fear.
I had the opportunity to go zip-lining for free over Christmas on Maui, and I declined because of my fear for heights. Now I had been dreading this trip for the whole week, I really didn’t want to do this. But at the same time I did, because it sounds like so much fun. Seriously, being afraid of heights is the stupidest thing ever.

Anyway, I decided I was going to make myself go, and if I even if I was crying at the platform getting ready to go, I was going to do it. We arrived in Jaco after a two hour bus ride, and went straight to the zip-lining place to get all harnessed in. I was in the truck with the first group. We drove up the mountain side and were dropped off at the platform. Our guide told us the instructions and off we went. My every instinct said, “Wait till most of the people have gone, wait to see how they do.” But I ignored that and was one of the first to go (okay so I was like 6th). I was so nervous, like I had to pee nervous. On this first platform, you had to stand on another box to reach the line, this is what I had trouble with. Luckily it wasn’t that bad. Everyone was giving me encouragement and off I went.

Since I was so nervous, I didn’t really look around at what was around me. I felt like I was going so fast and kept my eyes on the next platform. In all reality, I was scared most of the time, but I am so glad that I did it, and I would definitely do it again if I had the opportunity.

After lunch, we drove another 30 minutes to the Crocodile Jungle Tour. We all got into a boat and took a two-hour tour. We saw birds and, of course, plenty of crocodiles. Our guide told us that in that river, there were about 2,000 crocodiles living there, and that they would usually swim out to the Pacific Ocean during the day. We went down one part of the river, and there we met “Fidel Castro” one of the biggest crocodiles in the river. The driver of our boat got out and started to feed the thing! It was enormous and swan right next to the boat, and in all honesty, probably could have jumped up into the boat if it wanted to. It was so awesome to see it so close up.

Yesterday was an awesome day, and I was so exhausted that I had trouble staying awake while watching a movie with my “hermanita.” I literally think I fell asleep in 30 seconds. Now just because I went zip-lining doesn’t mean I am over my fear of heights, (although I wish it did)but now I know that I can do something like that.  I felt like an uber tourist yesterday, and that was okay with me (even though I know how much I loathe tourists that act like tourists in Hawai’i). I had so much fun!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Good Old U.S. of A

Okay so I am totally enjoying my time here, but already there are things that I miss about the US. I started a list last night and already there are a lot of things.

Being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet.

Using my camera without fear that someone will grab it out of my hands.

I will never say that people in the States are crazy drivers.

To go along with that: traffic laws and pedestrians having the right of way.

Trash cans in public areas. For a country that is so environmentally conscious, there sure is a lot of trash everywhere.

The fact that dogs are actually pets and aren't wandering all of the streets.

For the most part, people are aware of noise pollution.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Settling In

“All at once the world can overwhelm you, there’s nothing you could tell me that could ease my mind. Which way will you run when it’s always all around you the feeling lost and found you again the feeling that we have no control…Keep asking ourselves is we are really strong enough, there so many things that we got too proud of...I want to take the preconceived out from underneath your feet...There’s a world we haven’t seen, a world to see between.” 
Jack Johnson 'All at Once'

Jack Johnson inspired me with these words. I decided the other night to listen to him while I was falling asleep and it was a good choice! I am so overwhelmed, so lost and seriously questioning what I was thinking when I decided to go to Costa Rica BY MYSELF.  I hate the feeling of having no control, but I have to know that what is supposed to happen will happen. Already I am learning so much about myself. So this blog is a combination of days adventures because I realize that I really want to update every day! I have so much I want to share and remember!!

16-01-2011 Sunday

My mother told me that I would be able to sleep in because I told her I didn’t sleep well (only two hours) and boy did I! At 8 in the morning the neighbors started playing really loud music. I was not okay with waking up at 8, so I put in my iPod and went back to sleep, waking up at 10. I woke up and took my time getting ready and around 11 my mom asked me if I had any plans because they wanted to take me to San José.  Let me tell you that at orientation they made it sound like San José was not safe at all and this made me think that I had no desire to visit. So I was a little nervous, but was not going to say no to and opportunity to go somewhere with my family. So we went and took the bus, a good experience. We got there walked around, went to “El Teatro Nacional” but it was closed and my father was telling me a story about a painting inside when a man approached us and showed us some older money that had the picture on it. He sold it to us and my father gave it to me. It is SO beautiful! Then we went to “El Museo de Oro” and saw muchas gold artifacts! My father told me that the building was, and because English is failing me right now, like the building NORAD (look it up) where it’s safe from an atomic bomb, but now it’s just a museum. After we ate lunch, at Pizza Hut, and went to the most beautiful church for mass. After dinner (Sopa Azteca, ¡que rico!) I watched the Golden Globes, in Spanish because my mother is a hairdresser and she likes to see the styles. It was the best. So tomorrow is the first day of classes and at this moment I am not nervous about it (we’ll see how I am doing when I try to fall sleep).  In all honesty, I think going to San José was a good experience. I don’t think I am so afraid to walk to the university in Heredia, I feel like it is much safer having been to the big city. So I should go since I have to wake up early. I just wanted to get that all written down.

17-01-2011 Monday

So today was the first day of classes. I woke up much earlier than I like and ate breakfast. My mother asked me if I wanted her to walk with me to school, but I wanted to do it on my own (and I didn’t get lost!). It took maybe five minutes to get there. I walk down this big hill (which is awful to walk up in the afternoon heat), and walk a few blocks to the school. Classes are really long, like three hours each. For my first class my teacher was sick, so we just went over the syllabus with a lady that works in the office and then we were done. I went back home to have lunch because my family likes to have me home for lunch, which I am totally cool with, and returned to school for a class at 1. It is a class of Latin American cultures and the teacher is pretty awesome. I think I am going to enjoy it very much.

The food here is awesome! Gallo pinto for breakfast, which I love already. Today I had arroz con mariscos (rice with seafood) and it was so yummy! I have fruit with breakfast all the time too. My mother keeps telling me that I eat too little and I don’t know how to tell her that is just how I am.

I wish that I had more to say, and I wish that I had more pictures, but I am so afraid to take my camera out in public. Eventually, I hope, I will feel better about it. I already feel like I am forgetting things in English, which I guess is alright while I am here. In English I am thinking of how I would say something in Spanish, so if my posts are worded a little strangely that is why. I guess that is all for tonight.

¡Hasta Luego!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bienvenidos a Costa Rica

Well I am here. In Costa Rica! I seriously don’t even know how to feel right now. My family is super nice and they are trying to help me when I don’t understand what they are saying. So far so good. And they have internet, always a plus. They also told me I should be able to walk to school (yay!). But it is dark here and I haven’t been able to see anything yet, so I look forward to tomorrow and the walking tours of Heredia.

I am pretty sure I will not be able to sleep tonight. I will just unpack and try to relax. I can worry about sleeping tomorrow after my orientation. The Spanish is coming along pretty easily for me, thank goodness. But I really cannot wait until I get to be amazing at it.

I guess I don’t have too much more to say other than that. I am gonna try to relax and unpack, make my room a home. Maybe, possibly sleep. But if you see me on facebook, please say “hello” since I am sure I could use more assurance about being here.

I suppose I ought to go. I will keep you all updated about tomorrow and school. I would love to skype with anyone!!



Love you all!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Here it Goes

Well, tomorrow is the big day! In just a few more hours I leave the United States to go to Costa Rica until May. SO crazy that it is finally here.

For about a week and a half, I was literally freaking out. Like totally having second thoughts, but not wanting to admit it because I knew I would have a break down. I kept telling myself, “Everyone says that they loved being in Costa Rica, you’re going to be fine.” It became my mantra, but I wish that I had actually believed it.

Then a couple of days ago I started reading my travel book, which I had been avoiding because I seriously thought it would stress me out too much, and I got unbelievably excited. Despite all of the unknown aspects to going, I was definitely finally feeling excited for being there. It’s a relief to be going into this and be looking forward to it rather than just be thinking about all of the unknowns, and there are a lot.

So tomorrow I will be boarding two airplanes to get me to San José (let the record show I have already been on four airplanes in the last month and I am really looking forward to the next two, sarcasm*).

I am really excited to meet my family, and to go to my orientation on Saturday. I am excited for all of the field trips that are going to happen this semester and all of the places I get to go. I am also very excited for all the people I will be getting to meet. So far, I know all the girls from NAU that are going to Heredia, and it is such a relief. What is an even bigger relief is that I am flying out with one of them, since I thought it a grand idea to get my own flight instead of go on the group flight.

So here is the last night I will be spending in the United States until mid-May, praying that everything goes well in Costa Rica. I hope to be able to update soon after I arrive in Heredia, being that I can find a wi-fi connection or internet café somewhere close by to me.

Here’s to hoping next time I will have some awesome story to share with you all!

This is the link to the program I will be attending in case anyone wanted to see it :)