Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Last Few Hours

Krystal and I returned from our 4 day adventure this afternoon, the trip taking a little longer than expected thanks to traffic. Needless to say we were exhausted.

Monday we missed the direct bus to Montezuma and took an alternate route where we had to pay for out buses each time we got on, which was a bit of a pain and we had to wait 2 hours in the heat for the ferry. It was som extensive traveling. We arrived in Mal Pais at around 3:3o and checked into our swanky hostel and hit the pool right away. We went to the beach to watch the sunset that wasn't amazing but was still pretty. There was also a restaurant at our hostel, which was where we decided to fill our bellies, just because well, it was convenient. The food was delicious. This hostel had everything we would need, beds, bathrooms, a pool, surfing videos played 24/7, amazing food and well pure relaxation. Tuesday we rented some boards and decided to hit the waves for my last chance at surfing. I managed to ride the board a few times, as well as been rocked a few times. It was still a good ride considering I learned a month ago and haven't had much practice. Good times. The rest of the afternoon was spent napping in the shade and relaxing.

Wednesday morning we awoke bright and early so we could catch the bus to Cobano and then on to Montezuma. Once we got on the bus we realized there were 3 other times we could have caught the bus but we were glad we were on it either way. Once we got to Cobano we met a girl who was traveling from Sweden and we split a cab to Montezuma. Johanna ended up sharing a room with us and hanging out with us, which was nice since she was traveling alone. After we found a hotel to check into (that had AC!) we decided to hike to the waterfalls that are around the town. The first waterfall was cool but we wanted a challenge so we agreed to take the super steep hike to the second waterfall. When I say steep I mean during most the hike we had to grab onto tree roots to help pull ourselves up. Once we got up though it was worth the hike. The second waterfall wasn't as crowded as the first one and has a nice pool to swim in. There was a waterfall with a 30 feet drop where I made a brave jump into the pool below. It was extreme and fabulous. After the waterfalls we went back onto the beach because we were sweaty and dirty from the hike back down. Glad I went up and probably won't again. We had dinner with some friends Johanna had made, including a couple from England who are basically travelng around the world for a year! Amazing trip!

Now I've been getting the last of things done and I just finished packing all but what I need to use to get ready tomorrow. My flight is at 6:30 a.m. which means I'll be getting up at 3:30 to take a shower and get eveyrthing rounded up. The cab is coming to the apartment at 4:15 and I'll be off to the airport. I'm anxious to go home but sad to leave for sure. This trip was the last trip of my Costa Rican adventure and hopefully there will be others to come. I should be going to bed but I'm surprsingly awake. Perhaps I'll be able to sleep past the anxiety. Maybe I'll veg out to some tv until I fall asleep. Below are links to the photos from this weekend. Next time you hear from me will be when I'm home! Hasta luego!!

Mal Pais


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Making the Most of Every Moment

Yesterday I said goodbye to my host mom before heading off to the beach for the day. It was indeed a sad moment. My host mom has been the best any international student could ask for. I know I went into enough detail in the previous post but I can't help but not think about leaving all the time. Being on the beach helped me to not think about leaving so much and so will being in Montezuma and Mal Pais Monday-Thursday. It's a sensitive subject for me and I have to say everytime it was brought up yesterday I was on the verge of tears talking about it. I'm really going to miss this place, this tropical country that I've called home for the last 3 months. This is a place I want to come back to and to visit those that I've come to know so well. I even have some friends from Guatemala and Mexico that have extended and invitation for me to stay with them if I visit those countries. I'll just have to mkae it happen.

Today I'm keeping it low key. I safely made it to Krystal's apartment and am hanging out while she's at work. Then bright and early tomorrow we'll be on our way for my last trip in Costa Rica. Updates will for sure come Thursday when I get back, hopefully. Otherwise you'll probably hear from me when I'm back in the states. Crazy to think 5 days from now I'll be home. It'll be a nice feeling but a hard one at the same time. I afraid of dealing with the culture shock at home and I hope it's not too unbearable. At least I'll have others to turn to in case it's too unbearable.

Hasta Luego!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Saying My Goodbyes

Tonight is the last night I'll be spending in the host house that has been my home for the last 3 months. I've had a blast in this house and if it weren't for my host family I know that my study abroad experience would have been completely different. They were amazing and kind and the best international family could ask for. Ashlee and I got the better end of the host families and there will never be a moment where we won't be grateful for all they've given us. I'm gonna miss Marjorie, my host mom with the amazing cooking skills and the best second mom one could ask for. Jerry, Marjorie's husband, who you could talk to about anything and he'll offer the best advice one could ask for, not to mention he knows just about anything there is to know about Obama. Memo, the spunky dog with the small dog complex. I won't miss being woken up at 5 a.m. because he's ready to go for a walk and doesn't care who he wakes up bit I will miss how cute he is with his obsession over bread. And I can't forget fluffy, my feline friend who was there for me so I didn't miss my cat as much. The Siamese cat has slept with me a few times and took advantage of sprawling out on me when I watch tv. The cute cat who is always looking for someone to rub her head, I'll miss her indeed. The house in Barrio Cordoba, a 15 minute walk to Veritas will be my second home I'll always remember. It'll be a bittersweet goodbye tomorrow morning when I take off. When I visit Costa Rica this will for sure be one of the stops. If you ever go to Costa Rica I'll tell you how to get to Marjorie's house so she can cook you one of the best meals you'll ever have.

Today was also the day I had to say goodbye to my friend Kirsten, whom I bonded with since the beginning. Kirsten and I are almost the same people and have shared our filled of laughs over the dumbest things. I'll miss that tall blonde girl with her blue eyes because her dad's a painter (ask me about that comment sometime). She lives in Colorado which is just far enough where I can't see her all the time but close enough to make a roadtrip doable in the near future. She's off traveling around Costa Rica with her family and won't be back in the states until after I get back but we hope to stay in touch and I'm glad we will. If we don't then I'll pissed over all the tears I shed today when she left.

Today's been a depressing day but tomorrow I'm spending the day at Playa Hermosa, one of my favorite black sand beaches near Jaco one last time. It is one of the most gorgeous beaches I have seen in Costa Rica and might as well go one last time before I leave. Then tomorrow night I'm off to stay at Krystals and then some traveling before I return to Nebraska a week from today. Sad days ahead but I'll always be able to look back at this experience and remember how amazing it was and how much I've changed because of it. I'll never forget the people I've met here and have help me feel at home in Costa Rica. The white girl from Nebraska has to return to her hometown eventually but this time she won't be so white.

Hasta luego!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Ode to the Man Who Sells Eggs from His Car

For the last 81 days I've been here I've always heard a man drive around my neighborhood spouting something off in his megaphone. Knowing little to no Spanish in the beginning and now knowing a good amount but nothing when a fastly worded phrase is thrown at me I never knew what he was saying. Until today. Today I figured it out. The man in the car wasn't advertising a political figure as I imagined in my head, the man is merely selling eggs. the key word was "huevos," the Spanish word for eggs. I also have heard my host mom talking about how sometimes she buys eggs from the man in the neighborhood if she forgets to get them at the farmer's market. This must be that man. So this blog post is dedicated to the man in the blue station wagon that drives around Barrio Cordoba selling eggs to those who need their supply of protein. I will miss the convenience of your egg selling ways.

Today wasn't a super busy day but tiring for sure. I spent the day working on my photography project due tomorrow. The last bit of work of my undergraduate career *gasp*. Then this afternoon was dedicated to purchasing souvenirs for various members of my family. Some people were easy and others, are just plain difficult to buy for. Spent a good amount of time in the Central and Artisan markets trying to find a good deal. I hope the people receiving gifts from Costa Rica will enjoy them. I hope they will since I've spent 3 months pondering over the right gift. If they don't well, then I wouldn't mind it for myself.

Received yet another care package today. That brightened up my day. Exciting to see some American snacks filled within it that will be put to good use at the beach next weekend for sure.

Tonight is the ISA farewell dinner. This will be the last time that the Winter 2 ISA group will all be together. Most people will be heading home on Saturday so of course, it'll be a bit sad to see everyone one last time. Tomorrow is the last day of classes and then the last days of the beach. Sad days indeed. Plans for this weekend include just a day trip to Playa Hermosa one last time in order to save my money for the 4 day trip to Montezuma next week. I'm excited.

At first I was worried that I was going to be homeless on Saturday evening because my host parents are going out of town for a vacation and I was hoping to be able to stay at my friend's house for the night but that didn't work out either. I was relieved to find out that Krystal will be home on Sat evening and I'll be able to head over to her place a day early. Quite exciting and such a relief! The last resort would have been to find a hostel nearby for the night but that would have meant paying $12 that I could use foro next week's beach trip. All worked out though so I can sleep better tonight knowing.

9 days until I'll be back in the states. Oh man!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Adventure at the Beach

Spent the weekend at Playa Dominical. I have to say I really liked the vibe at that small beach town. Gorgeous beach, gorgeous sunset, an existing night life but not too crazy and just an overall relaxing feel. Krystal and I began our adventure to the beach on Friday. We wanted to take the 10:30 bus but ended up taking the noon bus. We were ok with that because it gave us time to catch up in the bus station. Unfortunately there are no direct busses from San Jose to Playa Dominical so the fastest way was taking a bus from San Jose to San Isidro. The reason we wanted to take the 10:30 bus was so we could catch the connecting bus from San Isidro to Dominical. Well once we arrived in San Isidro we realized that a 30 car ride takes 2 hours by bus because of all the stops, not to mention the bus leaves from a different station than the one we arrived at. We decided to splurge and take a taxi, I take that back, Krystal decided to treat me and we took a taxi. We just wanted to get there and be able to see the sunset in time.

We successfully made it to Dominical despite the taxi driver's need to drive fast on the curvy road to the beach. We checked into our room at the Tortilla Flats, a cute and small hotel on the beach. Literally a 2 minute walk to soft grayish sand. Gorgeous. We lounged, watched the sunset and just hung out. Then the adventure really came. In our room Krystal's bed, the double bed was for some reason infested with ants. We even sprayed down the bed with raid and they seemed to want to stay, for whatever reason. After inquiring about moving to a different room we were told we'd have to find another hotel because they were booked for the night. After being offered a discount we decided to stick it out.

The next morning we awoke with a few ant bites and the immediate need to move to a different room. Lucky for us one was available. The rest of the weekend went smoother. Plenty of time on the beach and plenty of relaxing time as well. It was hard to fully relax this weekend because I kept thinking about all the things I have due this week. Not really THAT much but a bulk of my overall grade in both of my electives. I wasn't looking forward to this week at all.

Not only is basically everyone in the program leaving this week but I have an 8-10 page paper due tomorrow (also my last paper of my college career) and a 10 photo photography project about tropical flowers. I was told to find flowers that were less obvious but I have neither the time nor the patience to go out of my way to find less obvious flowers. I understand the idea I just can't be bothered. Not a big concern of mine at the moment. I just finished my paper, of which I've been working on all day. Hopefully it'll be edited soon and will be fabulous. Then tomorrow I have to briefly put together a presentation to talk about my paper, or I could just wing it, I haven't decided yet. It's only an 8 minute presentation so I could probably wing it.

All I gotta do is get through this week and then it'll be a day trip to Jaco on Saturday, most likely Playa Hermosa and then a Monday-Thursday trip to Montezuma and Mal Pais with Krystal for my last hoorah in Costa Rica before I fly out on the 3rd. Que triste! I know the time will go by fast. In the mean time I'm going to enjoy every minute left. Hasta luego!

Album 1

Thursday, March 19, 2009

One of Many Goodbyes

One of my first favorite foods my host mom made us were bean and cheese empanadas. Tonight was the last night I'll get to eat those delicious, delicious homemade pockets of amazingness. I tried to get the recipe from her but I'm afraid mine won't turn out as delicious as they've been here. I ate 4 empanadas for dinner, a record for me since I've been here. I guess I figured if this was going to be the last time I'll eat them that I might as well live it up. My host dad, Jerry spiffed up the plate for the photoshoot, he's a pretty awesome chef as well so he couldn't help it.

It's still surreal my time is almost up. I know I keep saying that but it is. It probably won't set in until I'm flying out of San Jose and by then will be followed by endless tears. Next week will mark the last week of my college career. After next week, no more classes for me. My last photo project and my last college paper will all commence next week. That's even more of a crazy thought. I can't believe that not only will I be back in the states but graduating no less. Granted, I'll get to hang out for a bit, hopefully find a job and relax before the actual graduation ceremony but it's a nice feeling that I won't need to be rushing around the last few weeks to get papers done, tests taken and any other loose ends taken care of, I have a month to do it instead.

This weekend I'm headed to the beach, again. Might as well while I have the chance. I'm going to Dominical with Krystal. I've been wanting to go for awhile now, and I'm also going to try to budget seriously this weekend so not only my money lasts through the trip but also so I don't blow it all away before I get back since it'll probably be awhile before I not only get a job but get paid as well, and unfortunately everything costs money. I'm trying not to think about that part though, I just want to enjoy the rest of my time in Costa Rica. There's still a lot to get done here. I even still have presents to purchase. Hopefully I can get most of it done this week so I don't have to worry about it the last week when I'll mostly be traveling. Oh man, it'll be nice to see everyone back home but it's going to break my heart leaving here.

Every moment feels like my last here. I'm just glad I was able to enjoy every opportunity that I've had. See you after the weekend! Hasta luego!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day

Again, I've been meaning to post but have been distracted by other things. It's allowed ok.

First of all the day in Jaco was fabulous. It was a nice last day in Jaco, because I'm guessing I won't have another chance to take a sweet 2 1/2 hour bus ride to a beach so close and so pretty. It was a really hot day and the water wasn't very cold, which didn't offer much as a refreshment but all in all it was a nice trip. We were all exhausted by the time we got back.

The last couple days have been dedicated to working on a final paper and a final project I have due in my two elective classes. The class I have a final paper due in I also have to do a presentation and 2 of my sources are surveys so today I was diligently passing out surveys like they were nobody's business so I could have time to compile the results and work on my paper. Not too stressful and definitely not as stressful as finals week at UNL, so I can't complain much.

This weekend I'm heading up to Playa Dominical to relax for the weekend with one Krystal O. I've only had a chance to hang out with her one other time since being here so it sounds to be a nice weekend. We're going to be staying at a hotel on the beach that's only $15 a night, which you cannot complain about one bit. Come Friday morning we will embark on our adventure there and hopefully sometime during the stay get some surfing in as well. I'm excited and I know Krystal is as well.

People in Costa Rica don't really do much to celebrate St. Patrick's day but I'm sure one of the few Irish pubs in San Jose do. That's where a bunch of us are headed tonight, Stan's Irish Pub to enjoy some (hopefully) St. Patrick's day specials. I don't have class tomorrow so it'll be nice to hang out, unwind and have fun. The countdown is about 2 1/2 weeks which is creeping up faster and faster as the days go by. Before I know it I'll be home and won't know what to do with myself.

Speaking of not knowing what to do with myself I was confused when I turned on my cell phone to look up a phone number. I can't believe I'll have gone 3 months without using a cell phone. And frankly, I'm not complaining. It's been nice to not have someone try to get a hold of you at all times or to always have the convenience of calling someone. Granted there are those times where it's nice to call someone in that moment but for the most part it's much more peaceful not being able to. Little things like that I think might get to me when I'm home, that and using American currency again. I have a feeling it might feel foreign to me for the first few days. I'll just have the instinct to calculate what it would be in colones and find the appropriate amount in colones. I just know it's going to happen to me at least once or twice when I'm initially home.

It's down to the wire here. I'm constantly reminded of how much time I have left and it's crazy that it all went by so fast. I'm for sure going to miss this place and already have plans to come back, it will indeed happen! Other than that, life in Costa Rica couldn't be more fabulous. No regrets or complaints here. Just living the life.

Hasta luego!