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: 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.


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!