The Wonders of My World

A Tall Texan in Search of Pura Vida.

  • 5th December
    2011
  • 05

Hometown Glory

I’ve been walking in the same way as I did
Missing out the cracks in the pavement
And tutting my heel and strutting my feet
"Is there anything I can do for you dear? Is there anyone I could call?"
"No and thank you, please Madam. I ain’t lost, just wandering"

Round my hometown
Memories are fresh
Round my hometown
Ooh the people I’ve met
Are the wonders of my world
Are the wonders of my world
Are the wonders of this world
Are the wonders of my world

I like it in the city when the air is so thick and opaque
I love to see everybody in short skirts, shorts and shades
I like it in the city when two worlds collide
You get the people and the government
Everybody taking different sides

Shows that we ain’t gonna stand s***
Shows that we are united
Shows that we ain’t gonna take it
Shows that we ain’t gonna stand s***
Shows that we are united

Round my hometown
Memories are fresh
Round my hometown
Ooh the people I’ve met

Are the wonders of my world
Are the wonders of my world
Are the wonders of this world
Are the wonders of my world

  • 3rd December
    2011
  • 03

As we go on, we remember all the times we had together

I took my time getting up this morning because I knew I had the day to relax.  I woke up just a little before 11 and checked in for my flight, which I was surprised to learn was at 10:30 tomorrow instead of 11:10.  I don’t know what I had been looking at, but my flight leaves earlier tomorrow, I have a longer layover in Dallas, and I get in later than I thought, so I guess it’s all good, but I was just surprised.  I was also worried about what that would mean for Laura and asked if I needed to leave in the earlier group with the other girls, but she assured me that everything was okay, so I guess I’ll be leaving for the airport at 7:45 in the morning.

When I got up, for the brief time that I left my room, no one was home so I grabbed my breakfast and went back to my room.  I don’t really know how I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon.  Just relaxing, which I guess is a good thing.  It’s still just a hard thing for me to grasp.  I organized some things, made a plan for the day and packing and basically just went from one task to another trying to decided what to do, but then saying that something else had to be done before it.  I talked to my mom for a little bit which was nice.  I can’t believe I’ll be home tomorrow. It’s so weird to think about.

As I was preparing some of my things and charging all my appliances for tomorrow I noticed that I wasn’t as lucky as I thought.  A lot of the girls have been talking about how they have found mold on their things and I thought I had escaped that, but I was wrong.  When I pulled out my phone for the first time in four months today it was covered in mold. Mmm.  I cleaned that and the cord up and then plugged it in.  It’ll be so weird to have a phone again.  I haven’t thought about phones in forever.

After hours of procrastinating and avoiding seeing the other students remaining in San Jose today because I didn’t think I could do goodbye again, I finally got myself up, got ready and headed to San Pedro to go to ACM and the gym. When I went to ACM I was super surprised that there were so many people there.  Donna, Diana and Crystal were all in the computer room.  I said hi to them, tried to help Donna with her tickets and printed my own.  Then I gave another of hugs that I had been trying to avoid and headed to the gym. 

The gym was so empty, but since it was a cold Friday afternoon I understood.  I was doing my warm up on the bike when my head phones, which have been acting up, finally broke and now one side doesn’t work. It’s not ideal with my long hours ahead at the airport tomorrow, but at least it happened on my last day.  I had a good last workout in the gym, even though it was absolutely freezing in there.  When I finished I headed toward the bus stop but made a stop to pick up some treats for my family.  I decided to get four pieces of cake, which were kind of expensive, but I thought it would be a very suitable gift, because we all like dessert.  I got frustrated with the lady though because she was trying to charge me for a to go box even though I had to carry four pieces of cake alone on the bus.  It all worked out in the end though and I was on my way.

As I was walked to the stop Diana called my name and she was headed home too.  We had a really good visit and talk on the bus and we said our goodbyes when she got off at her stop.  I went home and tried to convince myself to get cleaned up, but it took a while because it was so cold that I didn’t even want to move!  Finally I convinced myself and fought with my shower for the last time.  Once I got out of the shower I got cleaned up and got stuff together.  Then I had to deal with some airport stuff.  Donna wanted to leave earlier to the airport so I figured all that out and then I found out Diana was coming with me to the airport so I was really excited about that because I would have someone with me and it would be cheaper.

For dinner, which we ate really late and I was absolutely starving, we had lasagna.  Laura said she made it especially for me and it was only the second time in her life that she’s ever made it.  I felt really special.  It was just the two of us at dinner because the girls were out.  We had a good dinner chatting and were just relaxing when all the sudden we heard screaming and a car horn honking nonstop.  We stopped talking and just listened and then decided to go look out the window.  We could see a man on the ground and people around him.  Laura decided to go outside to check it out and he was right across the street from us and it was obvious he was in pain and was bleeding from the mouth. We got him some water and Laura heard the story.  He was walking down our street when a man on a motorcycle passed him and stopped.  He pulled a knife on him and tried to rob him. However, as this happened a woman was passing in her car and she starting honking nonstop to scare the robber away. It worked, but not before he punched the victim a few times.  So much for our guarded street.  The guard was off drinking coffee.  That kind of defeats the purpose.  Half the neighborhood was out with him and the police arrived shortly and an ambulance after that.  It was really cold out and I couldn’t do anything so I went back inside and packed while Laura was trying to help.

Packing went relatively well and though my bags are bursting at the seams and are super heavy, I think I’m going to make it.  I picked up my big one and it didn’t feel like 50 pounds so let’s pray I’m right.  In the middle of packing Gaby and Caro came home so it was time for dessert.  We got out all the cake I brought and had a little feast.  It was good and a lot of sugar, but mostly the company was great.  We had a good visit.  Around 11 Laura decided to go to bed since she has to leave at 430 in the morning and the girls followed suit to go upstairs.  Caro gave me a big hug and we said our goodbyes, or rather-see you soons, and Gaby just left to go upstairs because she said she doesn’t like goodbyes.  I understand that.  And of course, I’ll see Laura in the morning.

After the girls went to sleep I finished packing, redid my nails which were ruined from rolling my clothes in the vacuum seal bags and tried to get everything ready for the morning.  I can’t believe I’m leaving.  It honestly doesn’t feel real.  I’m going home, but this is a home too.  When your life changes so much in one place and you meet people who have affected you in such a way that I have been affected, you can’t just walk away.  Costa Rica and the people I’ve met here will always have a place in my heart.

It was a hard semester.  I had a lot of impossibly hard things happen, but I’ve also seen some of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life.  I met challenging people, but I also met a few soul mates.  I met one of the goals I’ve had my whole life and now have a skill that I can use for the rest of my life.  I worked hard, cried, laughed, stressed, traveled, ATE, hurt and loved.  It had been four months that I will never forget and that have helped push me in the direction of the person I need and want to be. I thought I chose this program rather randomly, but that wasn’t it at all.  It was God telling me where I needed to go and He was right.  God was in Costa Rica.

My friends from ACM will always be so special to me and I can’t wait for the reunion tours.  The people of ACM were amazing and I can’t wait to come back and visit them some day.  My family has been so supportive and helped this whole experience be so much better.

I want to smile, but at the same time I have an aching feeling in my throat from the need to cry.  It’s been amazing in every since of the word and I’ll never forget this place, the good and the bad, and I can’t wait to take a little bit of Pura Vida home with me.

We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other with us.

Pura Vida.

  • 2nd December
    2011
  • 02
  • 2nd December
    2011
  • 02

Finally it has happened to me, right in front of my face

Waking up was a weird feeling, to know that it was my last day at ACM, but at that point I was just focused on my test, so it wasn’t really hitting me.  I got up and had a really good breakfast, papaya and gallo pinto with Laura.  Then I basically had to run out the door because I was moving so slow.  It didn’t matter though because the bus got us there in 7 minutes which was record time, especially in morning rush hour traffic.  I got to ACM and everyone slowly arrived.  We started the test a little after 8 and I finished in less than an hour and was feeling good about it.  I found out an hour later that I was right to feel confident because I only missed two questions and got a 98!  If that doesn’t get me an A I don’t know what else will.

When I finished my test it was time to do the evaluations and they took forever.  There was one specifically for ACM Costa Rica and another general one for ACM and they took over an hour and a half.  I’m so glad I don’t have to do evaluations for a while. When I finished with those it was such a weird feeling; I had nothing to do.  No homework to continue on, no tests to study for, no essays to write.  It was odd.  I hung out at ACM for a little bit and then headed to the gym for my last kick boxing class and Carlos made sure it was a toughy.  And, in every class there has always been this older man. He’s always there sweating like crazy, and always up in the front.  He was there, as always, yesterday, but it was really weird because he wasn’t up in the front.  He moved to the middle and it was so weird because he’s always up there acting as a second director almost, someone to follow when the teacher isn’t doing the moves.  So, because he was in the middle and there were so many people yesterday, it was crowded.  So crowded that I felt claustrophobic and like I was going to kick someone in the face or get kicked by someone in the face, so I moved up to the main spot.  It was so weird because I could feel people watching me.  It was good though because it pushed me a lot.  That was probably why I was so incredibly sore after.

After class Crystal and I headed back to ACM and made it just in time to have lunch.  We had some delicious chalupas and had a really good time visiting.  Crystal played a beautiful song on the violin for us and then we went back and forth between the staff and students by saying how grateful we were for each other and saying bye.  It was hard.  I didn’t expect that, but I think I’ve just been so clouded by the stress of all my work that I haven’t been able to think about what was coming.  Mario was the first to say bye and watching him almost tear up was hard.  Slowly but surely we all hugged, took some pictures, cleaned out the rest of our stuff and headed out.  I didn’t like it at all.

I got back to my house a little before three and hung out with Laura and Caro for a while, just talking.  We also watched a little bit of The Goofy Movie in Spanish and I still remember a lot of the songs.  We had a good visit, but the exhaustion started to hit me so I headed into my room and slept for almost two hours.  When my alarm went off I was tempted to just stay in bed.  I think I honestly could have slept through the night at that point.  It was so cold and windy too, so that didn’t help.  I finally did manage to pull myself out of bed and made it to the church a little after 630. 

We ended up waiting for over thirty minutes for everyone to get there and even with my jacket, scarf and gloves I was still cold.  When everyone finally arrived we meandered through the streets and found the restaurant.  They looked closed but I reached my hand in to open the door and we went on in.  I asked if they were open and when they realized how much business we were going to give them they sat us right down.  We had a good, but quick dinner because we were trying to get to our teacher’s dance performance by 8:00.  However, we got there at 810 which we thought would be fine, but Tico time wasn’t on our side today.  The show had actually started on time and they wouldn’t let us in! We told them our professor was dancing and that we could go in during a break or an intermission, but they wouldn’t budge.  The ticket lady finally said she would go ask the director, but it was just a ploy to escape us and she didn’t come back.

We waited for about 15 minutes before we realized she wasn’t coming back and headed out, which turned into an adventure in itself.  We had the hardest time deciding where to go and after thirty minutes in the cold finally found a bar.  We spent a little over an hour there just visiting, watching 13 going on the 30 which was playing on the TV (random) and talked.  It was fine, but then people started leaving and we had to say goodbyes.  What I had thought would be a fun night just turned out to be really sad for the most part.  Carmelita was the first one to go and that was really hard.  Joey left soon after and even though I tried to ignore him to see if that would get him to stay, it didn’t work.

As he left we switched locations and we lost Crystal there.  Then we tried to go to one bar, but it had a cover so we headed to another which had a drum performance which was pretty cool, but the bar was open to outside which was cold and it was pretty loud, so we stayed there and then migrated to the final place of the night, Escape.  Originally we thought we had to pay to get in, but they ended up just letting us walk by.  I was really tired at that point (around midnight), but that quickly changed when it was cucaracha time.  Ever since we got to Costa Rica we have heard of the infamous cucaracha which is a flaming drink that’s famous among the college students here.  It’s supposed to be really strong, but the biggest thing is that it’s on fire.  I had determined that I had to have one before I left the country, so even though I was tired, it was time.  It was strong and I swear the fire stayed in my body.  My friends and I kept comparing every few minutes after about where the fire was.  After that we danced for another hour, but around 1:00 it was time to go.

It was terrible.  I guess I hadn’t thought about how goodbye would feel, but it didn’t feel good.  I’ve lived with these people for four months, spent so much time with them and had my life changed while being around them.  And now I had to leave them.  It didn’t seem fair that we were brought together and now we were leaving to return like nothing had happened.  As I hugged people goodbye I could feel the strength of my connection with each person, and with a few it was really hard to let go.  Instead of saying goodbye I said see you soon, because I know that we will make the effort to have some reunion trips.  After my hugs I couldn’t handle it anymore so I just left the bar and waited until Kallie and Diana came outside.  We took a quick taxi ride home and I was at my house by 1:30. 

As I crawled into bed it didn’t seem real.

  • 30th November
    2011
  • 30

I’ll be there for you through it all, even if saving you sends me to heaven

I woke up this morning and the first thing that came into my mind was “This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  I don’t know what made that pop into my head, but it was definitely a good thought to begin this day.  I was tired and nervous as the thought of my presentation ran through my head.  I got up and got ready and kept waiting to hear Laura in the kitchen but I never did.  She never came downstairs or home (I don’t know which of the two), to make my breakfast.  So, I had some cereal, but I’m fairly certain the milk was bad, so that wasn’t delicious.

I got to the bus stop ten minutes earlier that I normally do, but just ended up waiting ten minutes longer than I normally do because the bus didn’t come until late.  Something must have been happening today for there to be less buses because when I got on there were so many people and every bus we passed was the same. 

When I got to ACM I made the changes to my presentation, practiced once more and then we settled down for basically 5 hours of presentations.  We each got 12 minutes with 3 minutes for question.  The first group that I was in was really strict with time, but it all went downhill from there and the time got more and more lax and Chris gave more time for questions to the projects that he was interested in.  He also tried to commandeer a few people’s presentations.  Also, he let his phone go off three times within the presentations and even picked it up once.  I just wasn’t thinking the most of him today. 

I think that my presentation went well.  I was apparently more obviously nervous than normal, which I don’t really know why that was, but I finished in time and basically had it all memorized, so I think I’ll get a good grade.  When I asked Manuel how I did we pounded fists so I’ll take that as a good sign.  I’m going to miss that kind of positive affirmation when I go back to CC. 

After my presentation we had a snack break thanks to the wonderful Iveth and after the second break we had more food and it was time to take group photos. which were much more complicated than necessary because the guard who took our photos refused to count down from three.  We managed to get some good ones though, so our legacy will proudly hang in the halls of ACM for the next forty years along with the past forty. 

We finally finished the presentations around 1:15 and we tried to make plans.  No one could really decide want they wanted to do, or focus because the end is so near- just one test to go!  I had more of a schedule in mind, but I got distracted by food and that took my attention for a while.  Then I napped/studied grammar for a bit, managed to pass another hour doing I don’t know what in ACM, packed up the things out of my locker and finally left for the gym a little after four.

I had a really good workout and studied on the bus on the way home, but that would be the most I would study for the next few hours. No one was home or rather, around, when I got home so I went to my room and talked with some people for a while about housing.  I can’t believe something a year away already rules my life.  Then, a little after 7 I was starving and I heard Laura so I went in search of food.  She was still cooking so I talked with Gaby for a while and helped her get ready for her date with Fo fo, her boyfriend.  There was a lot of scarf adjusting and I even had to practice walking with her while holding her hand to make sure that she wasn’t walking weird because of her heels.  Oh the things we do for family.  She left shortly after that and Laura had some visitors from the neighbor watch program she’s in charge of.  Then, when they finally left it was time to eat, but by myself.  Gaby and Caro weren’t there and Laura ate earlier so I just ate and she sat at the table and talked with me.  We ended up having a really good talk and talked for over an hour.  It was fun, but I eventually had to cut it off to go study.  I sat out in the living room looking over my notes while she watched the X factor and when she went to bed I went to my room to try to focus and study some more, but I was fading fast at that point.  I got myself to study for one more hour and then showered at almost 11:30 at night and then crawled into bed.  12 hours til the end of this academic semester.  Si me puedo!

  • 29th November
    2011
  • 29

I ran away from your love, but you waited for me

This morning I woke up with some butterflies in my stomach.  It was a big day.  I had two papers, a presentation and an oral exam all due.  I got ready, had breakfast with Laura, read an article (in Spanish- it’s just as easy as an English newspaper now which blows my mind!) about how people are having seizures in the movie Breaking Dawn.  Then I caught an earlier bus and made it to ACM in time to print out my essays and practice my presentation a little before it was time for class.

For class it was just our four presentations and I think we all talked for 25 minutes or a little over which is pretty impressive.  This program has definitely worked if we can all talk about literature for 25 minutes straight in Spanish now.  All the presentations were good and I think mine went well so that was a good way to check it off my list.  Luckily I’ll find out for sure how I did on that and my essay on Thursday, so I won’t have to wait long luckily. 

When I finished with that presentation I waited for about 20 more minutes and then it was time for my Oral Spanish Exam.  I had been really nervous, especially because there was a camera in there to film the exam to send back to Colorado College, but when it actually began it wasn’t so bad.  It was just like a conversation with Mario but with slightly more pressure.  We talked for what I guess was ten minutes even though it felt way shorter and then he went over all the errors I made.  There weren’t that many but they were all silly little things that I shouldn’t have gotten wrong.  I’ll just blame it on the nerves.  But, at the end he told me that I did really well, so I’ll hope that it was fine and I know it was definite improvement from my introductory exam.  I also got my Introduction to Costa Rica final exam back from him (my two essays) and I did really well, so I feel good about that class and it is officially done, as is my Literature class I guess.  Lots of good news.  Oh and more good news, I found out Alex, my little brother, made Varsity Basketball this morning and I am so proud of him! I didn’t make it to any football games but I will be in the stands at as many basketball games as possible over the break making up for the missed games by being obnoxiously loud.  Everyone will know who I’m cheering for.  Also, I found out that my cousin Devin is getting better.  He’s still in the ICU but they are hoping to move him to a normal room soon and possibly send him home tomorrow, so keep praying for him.

When I finished with my exam I quickly changed and ran with Christina, Carmelita, Crystal and surprisingly, Esther, to our last Kickboxing class.  It was really good and I’m going to miss that part of my weekly workouts.  When the class finished we did a little bit of abs and then came back to ACM.  I had some lunch because I guess the workout just took it out of me, and then saved my final presentation to the server for tomorrow, so there are no more making changes to that baby.  Then I went upstairs and spent almost two hours working on applications because I couldn’t bring myself to do more homework yet.  I finished and sent in my application for the FDIC internship and filled out a housing application for a house that I really want to live in senior year, so cross your fingers for all of that.

When I finished with all of that I finally got myself to settle down and try to study for my final Spanish test a little bit. I got a decent amount done and then left to go to the bank to pay for my taxes to leave the country, Luckily, Donna told me that the bank I went to yesterday was not working, so I headed to the mall to do it there.  It was really busy so I ended up waiting thirty minutes, but I finally got it taken care of and that will save me some time on Saturday morning. 

I took the bus home from there and was looking over my presentation for tomorrow when someone asked me where I was from, in English.  I jumped because first it was English, and second, no one really talks on the buses.  Turns out, it was a guy from Iowa who goes to school in Boston who is also studying here for the semester.  He told me that his brother goes to Cornell College, which is also in the ACM and he knew all about the block plan.  So weird.

When I got home Laura was having some form of meeting and I went to my room and was incredibly unproductive and sleepy.  I ended up passing out for over an hour which I guess was good because I was so tired I felt sick, but it really set me back.  Then I woke up to tons of housing messages and started freaking out about that and had to talk to my parents.  When I finally calmed down a little, but still didn’t have anything settled I showered and got ready for dinner…but my family wasn’t around.  This didn’t make me very happy because I was starving, so I decided to practice my presentation to pass time.  About ¾ of the way through it I realized I was already over time and started freaking out and tried to cut stuff.

Soon after that Carolina came home so the two of us quickly ate dinner together and then I returned to trying to work on my presentation.  I stayed there desperately trying to shave time off of it until Laura came and got me and told me it was time to decorate the tree which was the highlight of my night.  We all had fun putting on the lights and deciding where everything went.  We even covered the coffee table in fake snow, despite the fact that my family has never even seen snow.  When we finished we sat there with the lights off just staring at our work.  It was beautiful and I was so glad I got to take part in it.  We also exchanged a few Christmas stories and I told them about Christmas in my house.  They were surprised that we didn’t have mistletoe everywhere.  They also showed me one of their fun traditions which is that they keep baby Jesus out of the nativity scenes until December 24th when they sing happy birthday and put him back in.

We finished about 10 and I went back into my room to keep working.  I took a longer than planned break to talk to my parents because Skype was absolutely horrible.  We basically couldn’t hear everything and had to start it over constantly.  I can’t wait to not have to use that stupid program anymore.  I just want my phone.  It’s so helpful and it’s been great, but I’m ready to move on from it.

When I got off with them I just wanted to go to sleep, but I managed to practice two more times before I called it a night.  Hopefully everything goes well tomorrow.  Just two more days of school left.  Two days.

My epiphany of the night:  Sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much for them.

  • 28th November
    2011
  • 28

I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me.

This morning I slept in until nine and then slowly got myself to be productive.  I had breakfast with my sisters who also didn’t have school today and then got working on things.  It was so weird to be home during the week for the second time in four days because I got to see things that I never have before.  It turns out Marcos is at my house pretty much all day and the girls just hang out.  Today they were cleaning up a lot of the Christmas explosion that happened last night and I spent most of the day locked in my room trying to get things done.

Around one Laura came into my room to say she was leaving and that I was welcome to lunch.  That’s the second time in a row and it made me feel really nice.  I actually wasn’t even that hungry but I ended up having a little because I knew I would be starving later if not.  I also asked her about how I should plan to get to the airport on Saturday and she told me she would take one person for 30 bucks or if there was a group it would be 16 per person.  It was still a little pricey, but that’s at least 10 bucks cheaper than a taxi, so I was happy to hear it.  I talked to the two other girls who are leaving that day and unfortunately they both have flights that are a lot earlier than mine, so they will get to go together and I’ll go by myself later in the day.

Around three I got ready and headed to the gym because I knew if I put it off much longer I wouldn’t go.  I took a really slow bus to San Pedro and headed to ACM first to print out some things.  I was really surprised to see that there were so many people there working, but decided it was a good idea that I didn’t go because even though I was distracted in my house, I would have been even more distracted there.  I meant to stay for 15 minutes and I ended up staying for 45.  I also got to talk to Alejandra and she told me that I could pay the taxes I have to pay to leave the country early which will save me some time at the airport, which is good news.

I left ACM and headed to the gym and had a really good workout.  I actually wanted to stay longer today, but that probably has more to do with the fact that I was trying to avoid my work.  When I walked a good way down the road to go to the bank and pay my taxes, but Alejandra was wrong and I needed my actual passport, so it didn’t do any good.  I guess I’ll just try again tomorrow.  I caught the bus home from there and worked on editing my essay on the way.

When I got home I chatted with Laura for a while and we had a really good talk.  She told me about Gaby and Caro’s quincineras and they sound so fancy.  Gaby had people walk on stilts at hers.  When we finished talking I went to get cleaned up and then came out and worked on my essay some more until dinner.  I was really hungry when we finally started eating about 7:45 and we were all excited when Grey’s was about to come on at 8.  Unfortunately it was a repeat tonight so we all kind of dispersed after that.  I finished editing my two essays and then watched Private Practice.

When that show finished I moved past my denial and made myself practice for my Literature Presentation which was pretty painful.  When I finished, not that I was really done, I headed to bed. 

I don’t want to fast forward the rest of my time in Costa Rica, but I need this academic week to be over.

Please pray for my cousin Devin.  He had surgery on his brain tumor today and is currently in the ICU.  They think the surgery went well, but we just have to wait and see, so keep him and my family in your prayers.

  • 27th November
    2011
  • 27

Something always brings me back to you

Saturday morning started at five and that’s never my preferred hour.  I pulled myself up, got ready and made it to the bus by about 5:30.  We made it to San Jose in record time, about 15 minutes, and Kallie was already sitting on the bench waiting.  We waited for about 25 more minutes and then we saw our beloved blonde Sarah bouncing her way towards us.  We took a taxi to our final bus stop and got on the bus with ten minutes to spare.  Then began our five hour bus ride to Monteverde.  Within the first few minutes we were all asleep and stayed that way for about two hours when the bus got really hot and we had to shed the layers we had put on in preparation for the cloud forest.  The bus made a quick stop for food/bathrooms and then we finished the way.

We got lucky and it dropped us off right in front of our hostel, Casa Tranquilo, and it turned out to be really nice. It’s run by two guys and they were both really welcoming.  We got a really good price, $8 per night including breakfast and got settled in.  Our room had a mini balcony, a view, a bunk bed and a full bed.  We set all our stuff down and went to explore.  We met the hostel’s two dogs, Rocco and Sasha and they were so precious. Rocco is only 6 months old so he is so precious and has huge paws!  We also saw the kitchen area, found two computers downstairs and saw some sitting areas and two hammocks.  It was nothing fancy, but it was really nice and welcoming.

We went to check out the town which didn’t take as long as we expected because it was so tiny.  I don’t know what I expected from Monteverde, but that wasn’t it.  I liked the town a lot, but I guess I felt it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  We made a trip to the bank, made a loop and then went to find the Frog Exhibit. It was 12 bucks and I had already pretty much seen one so I left Sarah and Kallie to do their one hour town and went back to the hostel.  I met a woman named Karen from Seattle and talked with her for a while and gave her some tips about where to go and what to do there.  Then I hung out with the dogs on the upstairs balcony and did a little homework, but they were back soon after that.  

We had a little time to kill before our horseback riding trip at 3, but one of the guys from the hotel soon had an idea for us.  He took us to see a hollow tree and said it would only take 20 min.  What he forgot to mention that it was 20 minutes moving at a fast pace, climbing two mini mountains.  It was quite the trek.  When we got there though, it was worth it.  The tree was incredible.  I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.  What happened was there was a normal tree, but then another tree basically grew around it and killed the one inside, leaving the outside tree hollow and kind of like a ladder.  It’s impossible to explain, but it was beautiful.  Sarah and Kallie decided to climb to the top, but being claustrophobic and valuing my life, I decided to stay at the bottom.  

When they came town they were covered in dirt and we had to book it back to the hostel to make it before our transportation for our horses.  We got there right before three, changed, got things together and then took our cab.  We went down some pretty muddy, aggressive roads and that should have been our first clue.  When we got there they assigned us to our horses.  I got Anteras and he was a giant.  I guess it suits.  He was really good for the most part.  We didn’t get helmets which I didn’t like and we were soon off with me, Sarah, Kallie, the guy from our hotel, 3 women from Florida and a couple from San Jose.  

It was rough, and I mean rough.  This was nothing like the horse backing riding I did in Arenal.  It was kind of like mountain climbing on horses. It was so muddy and rocky and at times the horses would start to slip or buckle and it was scary.  The women from Florida were freaking out and asking where the rolling pastures were.  I knew that we weren’t just going to be in open fields, but at that point I wanted some as well.  It all paid off though because when we got to the top we got to run, and we ran fast.  It was so exhilarating and I was going back and forth between screaming and laughing.  That was the best part by far.  Another part that didn’t really help was all the mud.  I was lucky in comparison to a lot of the people, but I still got pretty dirty and that’s not my favorite thing.  The trip was about two hours and at the end I was happy we had done it, but ready to get off good old Anteras. 

We got back to our hotel and Joey and his family showed up shortly after that.  It was obvious that we needed to shower so they left us to get ready and Joey came back to get us at 630.  Kallie and I were freezing our tails off because we each only brought one pair of paints, and they were covered in mud (and mine were forming a threatening hole in the nether region), so we had to wear shorts.

We met up with the rest of Joey’s family (Dad, Mom, and sister) and then went to a restaurant named Morphos which was really, really nice.  Originally we didn’t have a table, but we had one before our food came so that worked out well.  It was such a good dinner and the food was some of the best I’ve had here.  We were there for about three hours just visiting and talking and I really enjoyed it.  A little after 9:30 we were getting dirty looks so we decided to head out.  We said our goodbyes and headed back to our hostel.  We had planned to go out, but we were all tired, cold and sore so we decided to call it a night and we were in bed by 11:30.

I wish I could say the night ended there but it didn’t.  At 3:30 in the morning I woke up to man saying my name and I was so confused.  He wasn’t in our room, but he was close.  I was really out of it and I could figure out what to do.  Sarah and Kallie told me not to open the door, but then I heard Karen, my friend from earlier, telling me that she had broke her key off in the door downstairs and couldn’t get in so she needed me to let her in.  I went to go try, but we were securely locked in.  I thought that was a good thing at the time, minus I couldn’t let her in, but a few minutes later I realized I was not a fan, because that meant if there was a fire or something we really had no way of escaping.  I told Karen I couldn’t let her in, so she commenced to climb from one balcony to ours, using a spiny tree and an electrical wire, so she could get into the hostel through our room.  It was quite a show, but as soon as they were gone I locked everything and went back to sleep.

But wait, there’s more.  Around 6 I heard an alarm and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  I was searching everywhere and going crazy because I couldn’t find it.  Sarah got up and tried to help me, but we finally figured out that it was coming from the room next door.  I went out to knock on the door, only to have Karen come up behind me and tell me it was her alarm, but she was locked out of her room.  I could have perhaps strangled something at that point.  She asked, won’t it just go off?  I snapped no, went back to our room, put in my iPod, put my pillow over my head and went back to sleep for an hour.

Sunday officially started at 7:15 and we got up and got ready. We had really good banana bread and bananas for breakfast and then were ready when our shuttle came a little after eight.  It was a good drive up the mountain, but we finally arrived and it was a really nice place.  There were tons of people there and we got in line to get our tickets.  It was weird because we had no form of identification or proof that we had paid, but they let us through anyway.  From there we went to get suited up in our freezing and still wet harnessed and headed to the shuttle that took us to the first platform.

We were in a pretty big group, but we spent the majority of our time talking to a British couple on their honeymoon.  I guess that’s a requirement for my canopy trips now.  Despite the cold and on/off rain, the canopy tour was incredible.  It had 13 cables, one over 3000 feet, and a Tarzan swing.  It was probably one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen, and definitely one of the prettiest forests.  The beginning cables were shorter, but there were three really long ones and my breath was just gone. On the last cable we had to go in pairs for more weight because it was so long and the wind was so strong.  The Tarzan swing was so fun too.  It was a bit of a straight drop at first, but then I was just going back and forth and I had the guys hit me so I would spin too.  My stomach dropped and I couldn’t see at the end, but it was so worth it.

When we finished we were cold, our faces were covered in mud and we were pretty wet, but it was so worth it. We literally got to fly through the clouds.  It’s a day I’ll never forget. We had about 20 minutes and then took the shuttle back to our hostel.  They were such nice people because even though we checked out this morning they still let us stay there and cook.  Kallie made some sandwiches and Sarah and I had some pasta.  We all just relaxed for the next hour and then got our stuff together and went to explore the town for a little bit, where I ended up buying something even though I told myself I was done, before our bus left at 230. 

The bus ride took five hours and it was a long five hours.  I started off focused, then took a nap for a little bit and then got back to it and despite the lack of light for the last 2 and a half hours I still managed to write the first draft of my paper and work on my presentation, so it was time well spent.  When we got back to San Jose we quickly got a cab, caught the bus and I was back home within an hour.  When I walked up to my house I saw the Christmas lights up and I knew they had started decorating without me which made me pretty sad.  I had asked weeks ago if I could help them decorate and they chose when I was gone.  It really hurt my feelings.  I walked in to find the girls, their boyfriends and Laura all getting everything ready and they kind of ignored me.  I tried to talk to them or pitch in, but it didn’t work.  About 20 minutes later we had a big dinner and then the girls went to bed shortly after.  I talked to my parents, unpacked, tried to do a little homework and then called it a night myself.

By the way, Sunday was my 100th day in Costa Rica.  Hard to believe.

  • 27th November
    2011
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  • 27th November
    2011
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  • 27th November
    2011
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  • 25th November
    2011
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I’m looking at you through the glass, don’t know how much time has passed, but it feels like forever.

I got to sleep in this morning until 9, which was really nice, but when I woke up something just felt off.  I had the weirdest feeling and it wouldn’t go away.  I moved really slowly all morning.  I did my devotion and watched a little bit of a movie and didn’t even leave my room until 10:30.  When I went out to the living room no one was there, but there was some bread and jelly left out for me.  I had a light breakfast and then started to work on some homework.  It took a while to get focused, but I finally finished my music presentation, so that’s ready for Wednesday and I’ll just practice it a few times before I present on Wednesday.

In between the homework and tons of distractions I also was working with Kallie and Sarah to try to nail down our Monteverde plans.  We got everything booked for canopy and we just decided to play the rest by ear.  Around 1:00 my family came home and I hung out with them for a while.  Then they surprised me and Laura asked me to have lunch with them.  We had leftovers from last night and soon after that the family left and I fought the urge to take a nap and worked on my presentation for a while longer.

Around 330 I took the bus to San Pedro and went to ACM to pick up some of the things I forgot.  Then I went to the gym and had a really good workout.  After having an off day it was just what I needed.  When I finished at the gym I got ready to go to Sarah’s concert, but was surprised when I saw Sarah and Esther walking towards me.  It turns out Sarah’s concert is next weekend, so we had a change of plans.  We shopped around for a bit and around 6 we had dinner at an Italian restaurant.  We had a nice long dinner and when we finished we went for dessert and I had some tres leches that was pretty good. 

Around 8 we headed out of there and went to a bar to hang out for a little bit and to meet up with Sarah’s brothers friends.  They ended up being an hour and a half late, so we just visited and had a good time minus all the smoke that I inhaled.  Around 10 I decided to head out since we have to leave so early in the morning and I took the bus home.

When I got to the house my family was just having dinner.  I sat with them until they went to bed and then watched TV for a little bit and talked with my family briefly.  When I finally got moving I showered to get the smell of smoke off of me, packed my bags and headed to bed.

  • 24th November
    2011
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When you lose something you can’t replace, when you love someone but it goes to waste

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  I’m in Costa Rica, which is great, but it also means I’m away from my family and friends, but I still have so much to be thankful for.  I’m so thankful for my family, my friends, the opportunities I’ve been given, my God and so much more.  It’s been a great year.

This morning I was hoping to start the day off with Laura and hopefully have some pancakes, but no one was up this morning so I just had some cereal and headed on my way.  It was pouring the rain this morning, which was really weird, so I grabbed the umbrella and headed to the bus stop.  Kallie was walking out of her house at the same time and she told me her mom said that the electricity was out at ACM, which was not the best news.  I told her I thought it would be back by now since the worse of the storm was around 4 this morning and it was just drizzling when we left, so we just hoped for the best.  The bus was really busy this morning and to complete everything there was a man playing the guitar.  It was a little weird, but nice to have some tunes on the way to school.

When we got to ACM the electricity was working so we breathed a sigh of relief and headed to class.  Today we had our rehearsal for our final presentations for music class.  They were supposed to go from 8 to 10, but we ended up going until 11.  I went first which sounded like a good idea on Tuesday, but I was a little more nervous when it came time today.  I also had planned for a twenty minute presentation, but found out right before I went that we only had 12 so that didn’t work out so well.  I ended up talking for way longer than I should have, but Manuel gave me some good pointers about what to cut out and my fellow students told me it was pretty good, so I feel okay about it.  I’ll work on it this weekend, practice a few times and hopefully that will be all.  If we were only presenting to our class I would feel less stressed about it, but to make everything that much more stressful ACM has turned out presentations into a symposium and both classes are doing together and we have to go all together from 8- 12:30 next Wednesday and all the students, professors and staff will be there so I’m nervous.  That’s just a lot of people and all our projects are so different.  I just don’t like being compared.  Hopefully it will all turn out alright.

Midway through class I went downstairs to make my contributions to the Thanksgiving meal- I was going to make green bean casserole and corn casserole.  The key word is was.  When I went downstairs I asked Iveth where the supplies were and when she asked me where I put them I knew I was in trouble.  I asked her if she had bought them, since I gave the ingredients to her over two weeks ago and she said that would get them.  Turns out she said she thought I was buying them, but she never told me that, so long story short, there were no casseroles.  I don’t know why I took it so hard.  I guess I just wanted that piece of home.

When we finally got out of class at 11 I should have been working but I mostly just mingled and hung out in the kitchen looking for scraps of food.  Right around 12 we started and it was delicious.  ACM cleared out the big room and set three large tables.  Iveth made a fruit smoothie type juice and we had most of the classics, turkey, rolls, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob and salad.  Then for dessert I tried a bit of everything since my friends mostly made them.

At 1:20 I ran out the door to go to the mall to meet Carolina to see Breaking Dawn, which I was really excited about.  I wanted to stay at the dinner longer, but we had already bought our tickets.  It ended up not even mattering because when I got to the mall my ticket wasn’t in my purse.  Stupid Amanda cleaned out her purse last weekend and left my ticket in my room.  I couldn’t believe it.  I went to try to buy another one and it worked out great.  I told her I wanted the first possible show, the 1:40.  She told me it was 1:50 and even after I questioned a few times and was confused I went with it.  When I arrived at the theater I was even more confused because no one was there.  I know this isn’t the US but I had thought the premiere would be bigger.  Also, I could find Caro.  I ended up seeing the movie alone, which wasn’t too bad since I enjoyed the movie so much.  It would have been nice to share it with someone though.  That’s my second solo movie in a row.  I guess that is something I’ll have to get used to.  Something I’m glad I don’t have to get used to though is electricity outages.  The lights went out in the theater twice during the movie, for a total of about 20 minutes.  It wasn’t fun.

When the movie got out I found Carolina, who was in the 1:40.  The ticket lady lied! I apologized a million times, she got an ice cream and we took the bus home together.  When we got home we all talked for a bit then Caro took a nap, Laura was cooking and I came to relax.  Before I knew it seven rolled around and it was time for dinner.  We had a tico Thanksgiving tonight, and Gaby pointed out it was their first one ever.  I also tried to explain a turducken to them and that led to a lot of laughs.  Instead of turkey we had rotisserie chicken but we did have corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, salad, and the tico touch- rice.  Before dinner I said a few words and then we prayed and said what we were thankful for and then commenced to eat while watching Grey’s Anatomy.  It was a good meal. 

When we finished I cleaned up the kitchen and then went to talk to my parents.  We had a good visit until 9 when Glee came on and I watched it with Carolina.  When Glee finished it seemed like everyone in my life went to bed so I took forever to wind down as usual and called it a night myself.

Overall today was different.  I wasn’t with my family for Thanksgiving for the first time in my life and it was hard.  However, everyone around me- ACM, my family here, my friends- made such an effort to make it special and traditional and I really appreciate it.

I am thankful.

  • 24th November
    2011
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  • 24th November
    2011
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Hair wraps and Thanksgiving in Costa Rica