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


Montezuma

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!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

70 Days and Still Going Strong

Wow, I've been in Costa Rica for 70 days!!! Who would have thought this would have been possible? Not me, that's for sure. 3 weeks from yesterday and I will be home. I'm not ready to leave, that's for sure. I already know I want to come back. When I come back I want to bring my friends with me and show them around. I think I will forever be looking up flights to Costa Rica so I can one day in the very near future come back. I've started to realize that I only have 2 weeks left with the people who have helped me call this place home. I've started to let it set in now so I'm not so much of an emotional wreck when I have to leave.

To start it off see below a photo of one of my favorite meals my host mom has cooked here. Everyday I'll try to post photos of my favorites here because it's the same thing as making a list that I need to say goodbye to. Now keep in mind this is not just ANY pasta, this is the pasta I crave at least every week or every two weeks. A simple tomato based sauce (fresh tomatoes that is) add in some fresh cilantro and some cheese and I tell you this is the pasta I make sure I fill up on because it's that good. This is also probably the pasta I will have a recipe to bring back, which might be tough since my host mom tends to just cook based on instinct and doesn't really measure stuff out. Sound familiar mom?

It was like my host mom read my mind today because I was craving it practically all week and for sure today! So excited to have it for dinner and now so full from it.

Tomorrow is a day trip to Jaco (only 2 hours from San Jose) to continue my nice Latin American tan. A nice relaxing day on the beach is what I need since Nebraska is conveniently land-locked. I just hope it's warm when I get back because I left during the winter for a reason. Hopefully there will also be plans for the beach next weekend and all other free time after that, gotta get in all the ocean I can. For now I'm slowly going to start saying my goodbyes. I can't deny that I have to leave and the longer I deny it the harder it will be when it comes time to leave. It'll be a bittersweet goodbye but it'll also be nice to see everyone I've been missing in the states. See you all in less than 3 weeks!!

Hasta luego!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life is What You Make It

This week has been pretty content, which I'm ok with. Well I take that back, all week I've felt like I'm missing a part of me. It's also because my watch, that if you know me I wear all the time, broke this weekend in Tamarindo. Somehow it got water behind the glass and faded away the display. Sad story of my life. Good thing my mom kept the receipt so I can return it since it's um, only like 3 months old. Stupid watch. I've been trying to get by this week without one but it sucks not knowing the time during the majority of the day and constantly having to ask people what time it is. I have a clock on my ipod but it's not really something you can just easily glance at. You have to physically take it out of your bag to check, such a pain and not worth the hassle. Hopefully I'll get by for the next 3 weeks here. I'm sure I'll survive but it's still a bit rough, not gonna lie.

This week I had a professor tell me to stop being an overachiever. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to take that. As in I'm not sure if he was just joking or serious. What he doesn't understand is when I'm in student mode I have a need to stay in good student mode. It's been a routine that had been ingrained in me since I was little, I probably also get some of it from my mom ;). Anyways I was a little offended because I wasn't trying to be an overachiever I was just trying to explain my thoughts about a particular source I'm working on for a paper in this class. I'm by no means trying to overachieve it I'm just really excited about this topic and I want to write a good cohesive paper on it, which is a rare occurence in my college career. Maybe he just doesn't understand my student moral code. I guess he's not the only one that's been judging me on actually trying in my classes even though I don't need the credits. I'm not going to spend a fortune studying abroad and screw over the classes and waste the money just becuase I don't need the credits. I'm sorry but that's not what I came here for. I've been receiving a bit of crap from a few people the entire time I've been here about how I care too much about my classes and blah, blah, blah that I've had my limit. Good thing there are only 2 weeks of classes left. That way I can just get my assignments done and people can stop worrying about me.

The last few weeks have been a little frustrating for me and I'm not sure if it's just because of me or what. I've felt like my host mom isn't taking too kindly to me much anymore. Again, I don't know if it's just me or not but it seems like she's taken more to Ashlee and seems to favor her a little more. I mean these observations are subtle things I pick up on. I guess it's kind of hard to explain but the point is at first it really bothered me and now I just don't care anymore. She's been nice to me when she's needed to be and maybe I was seeing something that wasn't there but for this to be a consistent feeling I don't think I'm making anything up. Hopefully these last 2 weeks will still be worth coming here. If not, maybe I'll still keep in touch every now and then. We'll see. I'm not keeping my fingers crossed.

Today one of our professors were telling us that we need to start saying our porper goodbyes to the things important to us here so it's not as overwhelming when we leave. Even though I'll be traveling the last week here, in 2 weeks I won't see the people I've been taking classes with for 3 months anymore. That's a sad thought. I've meet some amazing people and at least a couple I plan on continuing my friendship with after I leave. I'm scared to think of the culture shock I'm going to be going through when I get home. I'm afraid it'll be harder to cope with than here. It'll be a roller coaster of emotions I'm sure but I'll get through it. It'll be nice being home and seeing my friends. Getting a job and having a steady income again will also be a nice perk. And especially seeing my family. I've missed them the most here and I'll be happy to be with them again. I'm glad I made the decision to come here. Now that I can evaluate the majority of my trip I can without a doubt say that this was the best decision I made during my college career. I would love to be a study abroad advisor just so I can make sure college students don't miss out on this opportunity.

Alright enough with the deep blog post. Hasta luego, I'll see you all soon!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Only Time Will Tell

This week is going to be an exciting week, I can feel it. I can't divulge any details now but I'm sure in short order all will be out in the open.

Today at the gym was probably one of the best runs I've had in awhile. I think there was a nice combination of my running off some steam in conjunction with trying to out run the random aching my ankle has been doing. It's been on and off a little sore. It must still be a little off from when I rolled it in November. Stupid stairs in my apartment.

I felt like I had something I wanted to blog about today and have been meaning to all day but now the thought has escaped me. Oh well. I'll just ramble. Classes as usual today. Again, trying to soak up every moment here. It's nice to only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays now. I do like my free days that come on the days I don't have class. More time to get other things done. Now I'm just busy trying to finish up and get going on final projects/papers for my only 2 classes this month. Then before I know it, I'll be home, then to attempt to get a job in the somewhat real world, or any job really.

I've gotten into Sudoku here. I always said I never understood it and never got it, until I tried out some puzzles here, and now I'm hooked. I have a sudoku book I've been cracking into every now and then.

I just found out my brother started a blog. Welcome to Brandon to the blog world. skoczknows.blogspot.com is the site if you want to know everything and anything there is to know about Husker sports. Trust me, this kid knows his sports. I've heard his ramblings many a time and I don't even know where most of it comes from. Amazing really. So check it out if you are into the Husker sports scene, he'll give you the 411 for sure.

Off to bed so I can get up for the gym in the morning. I've been promised an adventurous day tomorrow so I'm excited for the outcome.

Hasta luego!

Monday, March 9, 2009

As Luck Would Have It

This weekend was probably one of the best weekends I've had at the beach since being in Costa Rica. This weekend my friend Kirsten and I went to Playa Tamarindo, a 6 hours bus ride from San Jose. Not too bad of a ride, but long enough to not want to be on the bus a minute longer after it arrives at said destination. We left at 11:30 on Friday and were more than stoked, especially since it had been a little chilly and cloudy in San Jose all week. We were definitely ready for sun and beach. When we arrived we were approached by an American that lives there who asked us if we had a place to stay. Prior to arriving we had made reservations at a hostel and told him so. He told us that he rents out apartments here and had one available and offered us a ride to our hostel if we looked at his apartment first. We agreed, I was under some impression that maybe he was trying to get us to invest in a timeshare or something. We arrived at the apartment that was furnished, had a private bathroom and kitchen with dishes at our disposal. The best part was he was going to rent it out to us for $10 a night. The hostel we were going to stay at was $12 a night that was in a dorm room with 3-5 others we didn't know and possibly a private bath. Plus this apartment had a sweet pool as well. We decided to take the apartment with it's amazing view of the ocean because it was such a sweet deal. We were excited to start our weekend off with an awesome start.

After we settled we went to get some groceries to make meals so we could save money on eating out all the time. Kirsten made some macaroni and cheese and I had a cup of noodles because it sounded so good. Plus, if you know me you know my appreciation for ramen noodles. Our new friend we met from the bus came and visited us later that night to hang out. We also ended up testing out the pool and all it's amazingness. At night there were 3 frogs that decided to swim with us in the pool as well, which was kind of fun. The night was topped off with Batman Begins on TV, which we could not miss.

Saturday was dedicated to beach day. The apartment also rents boards for $5 which we only rented one since they were so massive. We trekked our long board down to the beach to catch some waves at some point in the day. Our new friend, Chris met up with us on the beach just after we arrived and caught some rays with us as well. Kirsten and I attempting to do a bit of surfing but the waves weren't very strong nor were they very consistent. We were content with just hanging out and enjoying the cool water to cool off. Saturday night we went to dinner with Chris at a nice Mexican restaurant. The food took forever to prepare but it was delicious and totally worth it, a bit on the spicy side too, which is a first here I think. After dinner we hung out at Chris' hostel before we met up with Sarah (our friend from ISA) and her boyfriend. We all went to a bar nearby that seemed to play just about every 90s rap song I happened to know. It was a done deal for me. Another late night swim was cut short due to it being a little chiller at night and a neighbor wanting to sleep because he had to work in the morning.

Sunday we had to check out before noon but we were able to keep our things in the landord's apartment. We headed to the beach to meet up with Sarah and her boyfriend, Zach and hoped to meet up with Chris as well. No sign of Chris but plenty signs of jellyfish hanging out in the shallow water. It was kind of cool seeing them swim like that but we were afraid of being stung. This was the first time I've seen jellyfish in the ocean and not at the zoo. Then we got to observe some cool mussels that were washed ashore by the tides. I also discovered I have some kind of fascination with sea animals because I was perfectly content just watching the mussels attempt their way back into the sand after being washed ashore. We caught our bus back to San Jose at 3 p.m. We had to buy more expensive tickets because the public bus back was already sold out on Saturday and this was all that was available for Sunday. That ticket set me back finacially a bit more than I hoped, but I'll just have to save somewhere else so I can still enjoy the heck out of my last month here. The bus back was nice though, more like a van and had AC. Can't complain.

Now I feel like I'm still recovering today. I'm still tired from the weekend. Being at the beach and in the sun, a lot is taken out of you, that's for sure. Not much major going on this week, just working on a few projects for class and just soaking up the culture even more. Below are links to photos if you are interested. Hasta luego!
Album 1
Album 2
Album 3

Thursday, March 5, 2009

60 Days and counting....

I've surpassed the 60 day mark in Costa Rica. Technically it was yesterday but it can be just between us. I've been meaning to blog the last couple days but have found myself caught up in other matter, so again I apologize to my faithful readers.

The last time I blogged I forgot about what I wanted to blog about and of course I remembered yesterday. So now I'm going to blog about what I meant to blog about: Mayonnaise.

Costa Ricans love mayonnaise. I don't know why and I don't think they know why but every Costa Rican loves to put mayonnaise on things you wouldn't think to put mayonnaise on. For example after leaving the clubs Saturday we made a late night visit to Taco Bell, not my idea I swear. While my friends braved the massive line I stayed at the table and people watched. I saw a group my age sit at a table near me and watched one of the males put globs of white stuff on each bite of his crunchwrap he was eating. At first I thought he maybe had a packet of sour cream and I wondered to myself when Taco Bell started giving out packets of sour cream because as far as I knew that didn't happen in the states. Then I caught a glimpse of the Hellman's mayonnaise logo and almost hurled a bit in my mouth. I could not imagine putting globs of mayonnaise onto basically a taco before EACH bite. I also don't care for mayonnaise on anything so the thought of putting it on everything makes me a little sick to my stomach. Again, baffled by this obession. They even like to mix it with ketschup (which is sweeter here) and dip whatever in it. Maybe they wanted to fill the void of sour cream so they discovered mayonnaise. I don't think I'll ever get used to it here.

In other news, I'm excited for my advanture to the beach this weekend. My friends and I are going to Tamarindo, a beach on the Pacific and I couldn't be more excited. My tan is starting to fade from my last trip to the beach 3 weeks ago. My plan is to continue my beach excursions for the last 4 weeks of my time here so my tan won't fade as fast in the states. Not that I have to have a tan but it would be nice. The goal is to also practice my surfing skills. I'm bound and determined to come back a fairly decent surfer, not like there's many places to practice in Nebraska but you never know.

Other than that, I'm just trying to soak up every last minute here. Before I know it I'll be home and job hunting and then graduating. Scary thought, entering the real world. I hope I'm at least somewhat prepared but I have a suspicious feeling that I won't be and it's gonna suck when it all hits. Good thing I'm trying not to think about it here. Here's to enjoying my graduation present to myself!

Hasta luego!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Speed Kills

I'm not sure I've blogged about this before and if I have then I'm going to again. Let me mention now that the drivers in Costa Rica are terrible. See in the states we have this security called "pedestrians have the right of way" that rule must only exist in the states because pedestrians never have the right of way here, the drivers do. I think the drivers get extra points if they hit a pedestrian or scare them so badly that their life flashes before their eyes. My Costa Rican professor claims that since Costa Rica is so calm in general, the Costa Rican drivers release their anger when they drive, which I would believe in a heartbeat. We have to cross a highway everyday to get to and from school and although it may take awhile to get across I'm glad I make sure no cars are in sight before I cross because there are times when you think you have enough time to cross but before you know it you are hightailing your butt across the street to avoid being it, scary indeed. When I get back to the states I am going to be an expert street crosser from all this experience.

Today is day one of my 5-day attempt to work out. I figure now that I have my mornings free I might as well be productive and get to the gym more. I also think I'm going to try to volunteer at the school near my house or at an orphanage near the school. I have one month left and thus, I need to make every second count because before I know it I'll be home wishing I were here. Although if I went home tomorrow I would definitely leave satisfied. So I'm glad I have an month left. My goal is to master surfing, learn more Spanish, make some sort of an impact on the community, and to leave with no regrets. I hope I can accomplish those for sure.

Today has been a pretty lazy day, but I'm also ok with that. I went to the gym around 12 today and I've been helping my host mom with her computer since she just got internet access today. I think I'm gonna walk over to the grocery store near my house and get myself some crayons so I can do some long loved coloring. Nothing brings back your childhood memories like coloring a picture for someone. We'll see how that works out.

Hasta luego!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lo Siento

I've been meaning to update for the past few days but seemed to have gotten caught up with finals and well stuff this past week. This weekend has been a good combination of productiveness and fun. Thursday I had a nice surprise and received a care package in the mail with many goodies, including Cheez-Its. Just about the best thing that was in that box, among many other awesome goodies. Pretty sweet day brightener if I do say so myself. I've been munching on some of the goodies off and on since I received it. I guess it's a good thing I'm still going to the gym otherwise I would probably be gaining weight. Maybe I am, after weighing myself at the gym once and knowing the scale was wrong because I have never weighed that much in my life, I've refused to step on it again. I think it was off by 12 pounds.

Friday was the ultimate Spanish final. I was a little nervous about it, not gonna lie. It didn't turn out to be as bad as I had thought but I guess I can be the judge of that when I find out the grade I got on it. Thankfully we started right away thus giving me plenty more free time once I finished. This was also my last Spanish final of the program because since I chose to take 2 electives then I was only allowed to take 2 Spanish classes. I'm ok with this because we learned a good chunk of information last month so it'll be nice just to practice speaking this month and to remember more verbs and vocabulary.

One month, that's how much I have left. Crazy to think I'm 2/3 done with this program. I have a huge feeling this last month is going to fly by and then before I know it I'll be at home in a frantic search for a job since I'll mostly likely come back with little to no money. I'm ok with this fact here. Who knows when the last time I'll be in Costa Rica will be right? Might as well live it up as much as I can. Right?

Now onto the weekend updates. Again, the plan was to stay in San Jose in order to get homework done and save a bit of money for my last month of traveling I'll be doing. Success probably in both ways.....well maybe a bit more on the productive end than the saving money end. Friday night we originally had plans to go to the casino but they were changed from group majority to seeing a movie instead. We went and saw Slumdog Millionaire. The best part about living in Costa Rica is you can see current movies that are out for $3, and usually on Wednesday nights they are about $1.79. My goal is to try to catch up on the movies before I get back so I don't have to pay outrageous prices in the states. I would highly suggest seeing Slumdog Millionaire. I garuantee you whatever you think the movie might be about without reading any summaries, you are probably wrong. You just need to go out and see it for yourself and you will most likely enjoy it. And probably fall in love with the soundtrack, like I have.

Saturday was supposed to be, again, a productive day. I guess I can say that I got some reading done but I ending up mixing in a few naps with that as well. Saturday night became bowling night. It was kind of our fair trade to Nestor, a Venezuelan exchange student, for going to the movie the night before. Bowling was a blast. I can't even remember the last time I've been bowling. I also bowled terribly, but I've never been an excellent bowler. Afterwards we decided to hit up some of the bars/clubs. This was also the time everyone else in Costa Rica decided to go out becuase every place we went to was packed and had a huge line. We hopped back and forth until we decided to just wait in line at the original bar we stopped at. By the time we got there the line was down and we were able to get in right away. This bar was called "Retro" and had retro collectibles all over. They also played a nice mix of 80s music, which is fairly popular here. I also didn't end up gettin home until 4 a.m, which was also later than I had originally hoped. Oh well, I was able to sleep in today and I still had fun last night.

Today has been more focused on the productive part. I've gotten everything else I wanted to get done this weekend except writitng the rough draft of a paper I have due on Tuesday. I don't know how I want to start it. I just need to jump into it and get it done. It's just a rough draft so it's not like it has to be perfect. No biggie.

Now that I don't have Spanish the plan is to go to the gym 5 days a week in the mornings since I have more free time. Should be an awesome work out month, that's for sure.

57 days and still going.....

Here's to making this last month count! If any of you readers out there want to mail me anything you should get it in the mail soon because most times it'll take 2-3 weeks to get here, sometimes less but that's few and far between.

Hasta luego!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Life's Woes

It seems like in this lifetime you can't depend on anyone. If you want something done you have to go out and get it done yourself. Although if someone else does it, the chances of it getting done right are, well, slim to none. I have learned this the hard way. I shot a football game for another company this fall and turned in my paperwork in November. I found out in January that I needed to turn in a different form. I as so before I left for Costa Rica. Almost 2 months later, I still haven't gotten paid. The person I am in correspondence with is getting the run around from his boss or just giving me the run around. The thing is after getting $125 less than what I requested for my loan (because of stupid fees) I am in desperate need of the $150 I am owed. I have 5 weeks here and I am scrimping and saving in every way possible so I can make it through my last few weeks. I also don't know what else I can do except e-mail this guy constantly to find out if they have mailed me a check or not. I've tried being persistent and even patient and still no money. No more nice girl now. I don't care if they have to have a bake sale to pay me, they shouldn't have contracted me if they weren't going to pay me. That's not right. Let's add the factor of me being in a foreign country to the mix and to further my frustration and feeling of not being able to do anything but send e-mails.

I've been trying to update since Sunday but I became distracted with naps, the Oscars, homework and working on a project for Spanish class that will now leave this a long post. Bear with me readers I'll try not to bore you (my hope anyways).

Sunday I returned from a photography fieldtrip where I was able to snap one of my favorite photos from the trip:

We were supposed to work on composition for this assignment. I'd say this resembles an S-curve, a type of composition. Overall, the fieldtrip was fun. After dealing with constantly complaining and dramatic girls it was a nice fieldtrip. The nice part was that it was paid for by the University since it was a school fieldtrip. Bonus on my end right?

Sunday night was of course the Oscars where I watched them until the end. Overall sweet night. Then to the beginning of this week and also my last week of Spanish classes. We are allowed to take 4 classes to be a full time student and since there were 2 electives I really wanted to take I was only allowed to sign up for 2 Spanish classes. I was told that if I pay almost $800 I can sign up for a 5th class, that's also $800 I obviously don't have. So instead I'll have my last month free of a morning class and where I also plan on going to the gym 5 days a week. I mean what else will I do with all my free time? Might as well workout right?

Today in Spanish we had a mini-market. Each Spanish class had to do a presentation on a specific Province in Costa Rica and talk about it. It's apparently a big thing they do every year. The Basic II class had to talk about the province of San Jose. I think we did a pretty good job on ours considering we were the class with the least amount of Spanish experience. Then afterwards we were able to try food from the different provinces. My tica mom made arroz con leche (rice with milk) for our presentation and I swear it was gone in about 10 minutes tops. Good stuff indeed though. I'm going to learn how to make it before I come home so some of you folks who know me will have the pleasure of trying some. It is indeed delicious.

This weekend will be devoted to staying home so I can finish dong research and writing a rough draft of a paper I have due in my Intercultural Communication class. I probably should take advantage of the long weekend but I have a lot of work I need to do on this paper and have hardly started. I'd feel better if I used the time to get the paper done. Plus I'll be saving money for the week of traveling I'll be doing at the end of the program. I am 100% ok with that. Plus there are a few other people who are staying so I'm sure I won't be cooped up in the host house all weekend.

5 weeks- that's how much time I have left here. Crazy to think that I have 5 weeks left. It seems so long and yet so short of a time. I also have a feeling it's going to fly by. I just hope I get the most out of my experience here in the last month as I have in the first 2. I don't want to make this too long so I'll leave you with 2 albums, one from the wood factory and one of my photos from the ecological photography fieldtrip mentioned above.

Album 1

Album 2

Hasta luego!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wood Time

So today I visited a wood factory with my Spanish class. It was pretty sweet, actually. This factory cuts down trees from various parts of Costa Rica and uses the wood to make various objects. They also use every last scrap of wood from the tree, which I think is the best part. I learned a lot about wood and trees today and I'm ok to admit it. I took a few photos so I'll be sure to post the link when I have a chance to upload them to facebook.

This weekend I have a fieldtrip for my ecological photography class. We're supposed to be taking photos in the cloud forest here in Costa Rica. We leave bright and early tomorrow at 8 a.m. and return on Sunday after 5. It should be a fun trip considering we are also doing a Canopy Tour on Sunday. I'm excited for this fieldtrip because everything is paid for by the University because it's a class fieldtrip which means another weekend that I can save my money so I don't run out, I just need the rest that I'm waiting for to come in, otherwise I might be royally screwed come the middle of March. That's the sucky part, budgeting money that you assume will be coming and it taking longer to come and leaving you scrimping every way possible. Also why I really hate money and dealing with it. So hopefully after the numerous e-mails I have sent that the check I am owed from shooting a football game in October will come in before I leave here. I've been counting on that money since January and low and behold I have not seen a dime of it. Argh, it's just so frustrating. So I'm crossing my fingers that things end up how they should and that I make it through this trip while still being able to enjoy it. I'm just trying not to think of the lack of money I have at the moment, I stay more sane that way.

In other news, our internet is randomly back. I hope it stays longer this time because lack of internet and needing to use it for research is a little frustrating. But since technically it's someone else's internet somewhere in the neighborhood I guess I can't complain too much.

Crazy to think I have 6 weeks left here. Boy has the time flown by. I'm already a mixture of emotions now. There's a part of me that is ready to come home and another part of me that knows I will want to be here when I'm home and wants to stay. It's just hard to convince yourself to stay when you are running out of money. Back to that dang money thing. Oh well, here's to budgeting a little more and spending more time at home in order to get through this trip. Here's also to getting the rest of the money owed to me (hopefully sooner than later).

Hasta luego!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Things I Love

1. Power naps
2. A hard workout at the gym

Just a random start to today's blog. I just got up from the best power nap ever. I'm still at the groggy point where you try to convince yourself that you want to sleep more but you know that you should just stay awake so you can sleep better when you go to bed. Yep, that's me. Although I'm pretty sure I'm a little tired because I had a nice workout at the gym today. I was kind of already tired when I went but I fought my way through to get my workout in. Very good workout today indeed, various parts of my body are already a little sore=good sign.

A friend of mine and I were talking in Spanish class today about how San Jose in general tends to have a bit of a prison feel when you are walking through the neighborhoods. I say this because EVERY house either has a really huge fence with barbed wire wrapped around the top or many locked fences to get through in order to get into the house. My house, for example has 2 gates to get through in order to get to the front door, plus a security alarm, and a dog. I'm also pretty sure there is barbed wire wrapped around the outside fence as well. They don't joke when they say crime is a problem here and a lot of houses have intense security to prevent any crime from infiltrating to their house. I heard today that a couple days ago a woman was held up at knife point in broad daylight. Don't freak out mom, not only am I extra careful here but it's uncommon for crimes to happen in broad daylight and most times, it's just bad luck. Most of the crime here happens at night and if you aren't smart about going out at night then you are just asking for it. Hell, I spent 2 1/2 weeks in Jo-Burg, South Africa so I know how to keep my wits about me here in San Jose.

In other news, I just got word of my new second cousin that was born today. I'm so excited! I love when there are new babies to hold in the family. Congrats to Lindsay and Wade on their first baby!! I saw a photo of him I'm guessing when he was hours old and he already looks cute so I can only imagine what he looks like in person. So exciting.

Now off to my mounds of homework I have tonight. I'm a little disappointed because I was going to go to a movie tonight with some of my friends but I don't think I'll be able to even finish my homework before it's time to leave for the movie. Oh well, movie deals are every Wednesday so hopefully I'll be able to catch the next one. Hasta Luego!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Internet on the Fritz

Ok, so the consistent internet we've been having is on the fritz. The person who's internet we are stealing just needs to reset their router and all will be well in the world of the interweb. So sorry for the lack of updates, you now know the reason.

Other than that topic, last weekend was nice and relaxing. I didn't do much on Saturday except hang out in the house all day doing homework and taking a nap on and off, you know just a typical Saturday really. Sunday Ashlee and I went to a country club our host mom's friends belong to. We spend all day there basking in the sun, swimming in the pool and sitting in the steam room and jacuzzi that was there. And of course there was plenty of sangria, paella and chalupas to be had. Very pleasant day if I do say so myself. The only complaint was the random rain the showed up from basically nowhere but all in all perfect.

Now of course back to school and such this week as usual. It's weird to think next week will be the end of my second month of Spanish. Crazy! Today in my intercultural communication class we took a field trip to the mall to observe Costa Rican behaviors. It was odd at first but I really enjoy people watching so I had a blast moving to different spots and watching people interact. It was very intriguing, if you have a free afternoon ever I highly suggest just watching people in a mall, you'd be surprised sometimes at what you see if you pay close attention. Then when we were taking our taxi back to the university with our professor the taxi driver totally tried to take us the long way and rip us off but of course our professor wasn't going to have it and we ended up getting out of the car a little before halfway and we walked the rest. While we were crossing the street I'm pretty sure the cab driver called us lots of nasty names but all I could understand was puta which is "bitch" in Spanish. Oh an interesting day indeed. So now I'm off to do homework which included looking up the history of San Jose for a mini-market we are doing in Spanish class next week. I have to bring in my info tomorrow so my group and I can collaborate and such. I very much dislike group projects but I'll do what I need to in order to pass. Hopefully it ends up being more fun than I imagine it will be.

I was told by my host mom that we are having empanadas for dinner, oh the excitement has been bulding all day so I'm quite excited.

Also, FYI to anyone that is going to mail me anything, with the regular mail it'll take at least 2-3 weeks to get here. With priority mail through USPS it can take 10-14 days. So better get anything you might want to mail me in the mail now if you want me to get it before I get back (wink, wink).

Well better go enjoy this 75 degree day while I can. Hasta Luego!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Scratch That

Ok, well the plans for the beach went through. We tried to make our reservation today but failed because they were booked. Then the thought of us not being able to just wing it and find an open room on account of Valentine's Day weekend leaves me hanging out in San Jose this weekend. I'm ok with that too because I need to budget the rest of my money a little more because I'm still expecting a little more influx of dinero and I'm afraid I'll go through my stash before the other money comes through. I nice relaxing weekend will be nice after the last few weeks of constantly traveling. A nice balance indeed.

So as of now I don't have any plans except relaxing and possibly going to the farmer's market with the host family. It just depends on if I can get up early enough, my hope is to be able to so I can check out what it's like and such. But I'm pretty sure there are a good amount of others that are staying in town so I'll still be able to keep myself occupied to have fun. I have a fieldtrip for my photography class next weekend and possibly beach time again the following weekend. So here's to a relaxing weekend at home.

Hasta luego.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 40 in Costa Rica

In my attempt to get a post in before the end of the week, it is now Thursday and my first chance I have gotten to post. Since returning from an awesome girls weekend at the beach I have had a verb quiz, a test in photography that we were able to talk ourselves out of, a presentation in Spanish and a presentation in Intercultural Communication. Now I'm taking a break from studying for my Spanish midterm that I have tomorrow. I'm a little worried about it because it's basically all over verbs, and a lot of them to boot. This week was packed with a lot of stuff and at the same time felt like it took forever to go by. I don't know why. Oh well.

This weekend I have plans to go to Playa Dominical with my friend Sarah in hopes to surf a bit. Even though we just learned last weekend, we hear it's a good beach to surf at and are dying to go. We'll leave early Saturday because we'll still have 2 days of beach time and it's one less night to pay for in our cabinas we are staying at right on the beach. After this trip I'm gonna have to cool it for a couple weekends and budget my money a bit more. It'll work out fine I think because next weekend I have a fieldtrip for my photography class and the weekend after I already have plans to stay in San Jose. Then holy crap, it'll be March already. That's a crazy thought, along with the idea that I've already been in Costa Rica for 40 days!! Wow, the time has indeed flown by.

Ok, quick break over. Back to studying so I can rock out my test. I'll try to post more frequently next week, I swear.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Surf's Up

This my blog readers is the gorgeous sunset at Playa Hermosa, a beatuful black sand beach that was recommended by a couple friends of mine. I also have to say this weekend was a very successful girls' weekend. Here's the recap:

Saturday started bright and early, our bus to Jaco was at 7:15 so our goal was to get to the bus station by 6:45 so we would have ample time. Things getting there went smoothly. We met up with my awesome friend Krystal from Nebraska and were on our way to warm weather and beach. The 2 1/2 hour bus ride went fast as Krystal and I caught each other up on our lives since we hadn't seen each other in about a year....ek! Once we arrive in Jaco we found a hostel by the beach that was $13 per person. We quickly settled and then took a taxi down the road to the previously mentioned black sand beach. It was gorgeous indeed and breath taking to boot. The day was full of relaxing, swimming in the ocean and tanning. We also decided to stay to watch the sunset before heading back to Jaco for the night. We ended up having TCBY for dinner on account of the big lunch we ate and to be honest, that was the only thing that sounded good. Can't go wrong with splurging on some American delicacies right? After the ice cream dinner we headed to a club that was having a grand opening celebration that included no cover and an open bar. Open bar meant free mixed drinks with the cheap wells of rum, whiskey, vodka, and tequila. Still, free was free and we weren't going to be picky. It was a fun time and we met some awesome people, including a group of travelers that have been driving from Canada through Central America in a biodiesel car, it was awesome. We even got to sign their car. Good times.

Today, we met up with a group of American boys from Louisiana that we met at said club who told us they would teach us how to surf. Lucky for us they already had boards so we just had to take turns between the 2 longboards they had. I think I'm getting the hang of it pretty well. I was able to get up the first couple times, then my last shot I hardcore rode the waves. It was by far an awesome time. Next weekend we have plans to go to Playa Dominical where I hear the surfing is good so we have plans to do some more practicing, I'm stoked! We're hoping our new American boy group will join us so they can help us out some more to master the waves. It helps that they are cute too.

So now I'm catching up on internet stuff at home. It is very nice and convenient to have internet at home now. I missed having my laptop with all my music on to too. Here's to week two of month two in Costa Rica. It's still surreal to think that I'm here but I'm having a blast at the same time so this is by far the best experience I've had in my lifetime. I'm so glad I was able to take advantage of this awesome opportunity.

If you want to see photos from the beach I have again posted a link.
Album 1

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mad Cravings

Alright, I have now gotten to the point in my stay here where I'm starting to crave various American products. Yes, there is a large influx of American goods here, but obviously the ones I'm craving aren't sold here, duh. So here's my recent list of cravings (in no order of importance):

1. Cheez-Its, you gotta love this cheddar snack cracker. I love me some cheez-its from time to time and not having them available to me here is KILLING ME!
2. Valentino's pizza. Granted I don't eat it much in the states and they do have decent pie here but you can't go wrong with Valentino's specialty pizza.
3. Spinach and artichoke chicken sandwich from The Watering Hole. Ok, make that a girl's night at The Watering Hole with a half price pitcher and the sandwich.
4. Dark Chocolate. I haven't attempted to venture out and find any but I doubt it'll feed my craving.
5. My mom's cooking. Granted my host mom makes some killer food, I miss my mom's meatballs with brown gravy and wild rice. Yum.
6. Blue Orchid Thai food. They do have some Thai food here, it's just a little different and not the same as the classic.
7. Ramen noodles. I dunno where this came from but Cyndi Tweeted about ramen noodles and they sounded soooo good. Although I'm liking the lack of massive amounts of salt and preservatives in the food here. I did see cup of noodles one day when I was at the super market. Hmmmm.
8. My family. I'm missing them the most. But it's ok because I'm still having a blast here.

Yeah I tried to come up with 10 but then I would be making stuff up. I can't believe I'm almost finished with my 1 week of my 2nd month here. Crazy. I'm loving my Spanish class this month. It's a little more fast paced and I'm learning a ton. Yay.

This weekend some friends and I, including Krystal from Omaha, are headed to Playa Hermosa. It's a black sand beach recommended by a couple friends of mine who backpacked through Central and South America. I'm infatuated with black sand beaches, really. I also here there's a surfing competition in Playa Hermosa this weekend so it should be awesome and filled with watching boys surf.

We are randomly picking up a wireless signal from our house so I'm posting from my bed in the host house. Feels nice to have internet at home because now I can leisurely browse online and post blogs instead of having to get it all done in a certain chunk of time. Sweet times indeed. I promise there will now be more consistent postings now that I have more consistent internet. Be on the lookout for photos from this weekend. Hasta luego!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Finally made it home

The usual 4 hour bus ride from Puerto Viejo to San Jose lasted 6 hours Monday on account of a couple flat tires. I didn't think I would eve get off that bus until finally I saw the bus station. The weekend at the beach was fabulous. I want to spend every weekend on the beach. So here's the run-down.

Friday we arrived in Puerto Viejo around 6 (about on time) and then took a taxi to our hostel, Rocking J's, known for it's cheap hammock rental and overall rasta feel. Once we all got settled into our lockers some of us headed to dinner. I found my dream restaurant, a Thai Fusion place with amazing guacamole. I ate this amazing peanut chicken salad and one of the girls with us shared some of her guacamole. With the happy hour, it was heaven. Once we got back to the hostel it was hangout central. The owner had lit a bon fire, where a few people were hanging out with. I met some Brasilian boys and a few other people staying at the hostel. Once this crazy Caribbean lady came by wanting to tell me about her sexual experiences, I knew that was my cue to exit. The first night in the $5/night hammock took a little getting used to. I woke up a few times from drunkers stumbling back to their hammocks and just overall uncomfortableness. Woke up with a krinked neck and bounced back soon there after.

Saturday was spent walking through town and trying to find our host parent's hotel because they came down for the weekend as well. Unsuccessful, we went back to the hostel because rain looked like it was approaching. We decided to wait on renting bikes for the day to see if it did rain, and it did, all day. Fine with us because we didn't have plans so swaying in my hammock, listening to the rain was alright with me. Once it finally stopped raining we walked into town to visit our host parents, who had also traveled to Puerto Viejo for the weekend. We hung out with them for awhile and then stopped for some pizza on the way home. We managed to make it into the hostel just before it started raining again. Ugh.

Sunday came around and looked promising because there was not a cloud in sight. We ate breakfast and headed to the beach. We weren't there for long before it got cloudy and windy again. We then headed back to the hostel for another lazy day in our hammocks. We had to take our bikes we rented back into town and Ashlee and I walked around a bit before heading back to the hostel to watch the Super Bowl. Rocking J's had set up a projector for us to watch the Super Bowl and they had food specials all night, which was pretty sweet. The only downside was the channel was ESPN Vivo, the Latin American channel so we missed out on all the commericals. So I hope there weren't any we should have seen. Too bad the Cardinals lost, but it was a good game.

Monday was dedicated to traveling, which now brings me to today. I started my second month of Spanish today: Basic II. I think I'll like the professor I have, although I have a feeling she's going to give us a lot of homework just by looking at what I have to do for tomorrow. Darn, but at the same time I'll be able to practice my espanol more, which is the main point to me coming to Costa Rica. Should be a good time.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Off to the Beach

I haven't been to the beach since the first excursion with ISA to Manuel Antonio and I've been itching to go back these last couple weeks. I'm pumped. This weekend a bunch of us are taking the bus to Puerto Viejo, a rastafarian-esque beach on the Caribbean side of the country. This will also be my first time to the Caribbean side, so I'm more than stoked. I need some more color on my skin, my previous tan is starting to fade. Also, don't fear mother, I have stronger SPF sunscreen with me courtesy of my host mom, so I plan to not come back burnt to a crisp because I have plans to attend another beach next weekend. In Puerto Viejo we are going to be staying in a hostel that has hammock for beds. The hostel is also literally right on the beach, so I'm pumped. It'll be nice to get out of San Jose again and to soak up some rays and swim in the ocean, sometimes my life is really rough.

The plan is to get back Monday since we don't have Spanish on Monday because it's the start of a new month. So 3-day weekend at the beach= me so excited you don't even know. But right now I'm hanging out in the ISA office until we leave to head to the bus station. I took my Spanish final already so I can not think about school for the weekend and just relax, perfect weekend to spend at the beach. My host parents will also be at Puerto Viejo so Ashlee and I will stop and visit them at some point.

Anyways, I'll be back with updates on Monday. I heard it's gonna get a bit warm this weekend back home. Hasta Luego!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Photos from Monteverde

Now that I got faceboook to work properly. Below are the links for my photos from the Monteverde weekend. Enjoy!

Album 1

Album 2

Monday, January 26, 2009

Los Montanas estan bonita

Well a successful trip outside of San Jose has quickly come and gone. The trip to Monteverde was awesome and amazing. The ride down there took around 5 hours. We checked into our "rustic" looking hotel and rustic being a loose term here. It was nice but it seemed like a Super 8 in the mountains. My comforter smelled moldy because I think it's fairly moist there, not to mention the bed was hard as rocks. The only downfall was the rooms, everything was fantastic.

Saturday we awoke for 6:30 breakfast and had to be ready to leave by 7:30 if we were doing any other trips on the excursion, which most of us were. The only thing I wanted to do was zipline through the jungle while I was here, I determined that even before I left. Well I got to zipline in Monteverde but in the mountains, which was even better. The tour had 11 different cables and a tarzan swing, which is exactly what you think it would be. The tarzan swing included jumping from a really tall platform and swinging back and forth until the guides caught you. I would post the video but it was taking way too long to load. I'll find another way to post it sometime

It was the best part of the canopy tour. Even people who were afraid of heights successfully completed this part of the trip and loved it afterwards. Then we finished up the tour by going on 2 really long cables (at least a mile) across a valley and it was just gorgeous. I have video but I'll try to find one where you can really see what's going on in it. We were all still in a buzz after the canopy tour. The rest of Saturday was spent in town down from our hotel and some of us went dancing Saturday night.

Sunday we were supposed to go to the biological reserve and we were in a bit of a gloomy mood about it because it was raining all day. It was still raining while we toured the nature trails and most of us soaked our clothes while looking at the nature in the cloud forest. After the tour, we had lunch and headed back to San Jose. We ended up making record time and arrived at around 4, which was a couple hours earlier than expected.

Now I'm off to complete my hectic week of classes before a mini-vacation at the beach in Puerto Viejo. I have a birthday party to bring food to in Spanish tomorrow (I'm bringing homemade epanadas courtesy of my host mom), an oral exam on Thursday and a final exam in Spanish on Friday. I did find out that I don't have Spanish on Monday which means a longer weekend at the beach, life is indeed rough here. Well gotta get home for dinner. Hasta Luego!

P.S. If any of my fellow readers feel the need to send me a care package with any sort of American goods because you love me so much that you don't want me to pay import taxes, here's the address:

ISA
Attn: Vanessa Skocz
PO Box 101-2010
Zapote, San Jose
Costa Rica, Centroamerica

Just sayin'.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Going on a roadtrip

Sorry for the lack of updates, not much to write about this week I guess. This weekend we're taking a trip to Monteverde, in the mountains. I have plans to go ziplining tomorrow, which is the best place to zipline in Costa Rica. Ziplining was the only thing I for sure wanted to do when I was here, so it should be a blast tomorrow.

We head out today at 1 and should be at the hotel by 6 tonight. Should be a blast. There will probably be ample opportunities for fantastic photos as well. Next weekend some girls and I have plans to go to Puerto Viejo, right on the beach on the Caribbean side. We're staying at a hostel where we will sleep in hammocks both nights, for $5 a night. Amazing. Everything here is so cheap. Don't be jealous aunt Julie but I can get a pedicure here for 4000 colones, which is um $8. Getting a manicure and pedicure is about $10. So I'm pretty sure I'm going to frequent the place by my host house.

This week I had a freak out moment about what I'm going to do after I graduate. I haven't heard from any internships and I fear I won't get one and with this stupid recession I fear I won't get a job period. Stupid economy. Then I had a relapse and decided I needed to just enjoy Costa Rica and deal with the whole job situation when I return, since I will have a month and a half to job hunt.

It's crazy to think I've been here for 3 weeks already. I don't know if I'm going to want to leave when my time is up. It's gorgeous here and I can't get enough of it!! I'm ready to explore the rest of Costa Rica and soak up as much culture as possible.

Today in Spanish class we went to the market to buy some fruit. I was able to practice my Spanish skills and was very successful. I'm picking up this language rather fast. I'm amazed at how much I know even after 3 weeks. Go me!

Well I'm off for the weekend. Updates on the weekend to come Monday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

El Presidente Nuevo: Barack Obama

All the buzz today was the inauguration. We were lucky to be able to watch this historic event during our Spanish class. I don't think our teachers could avoid it, plus I think they wanted to watch it more than teach.

I don't have a lot of time to blog today because I need to get home before dark so my Tica mom doesn't worry on account of me walking alone. Thankfully Ashlee gets back tomorrow so I'll have a walking buddy and my roommate back.

Yesterday was a successful day at the gym. Definitely sore today. Definitely going to keep it up. I might take up the spinning class on Mondays at 12:15 or perhaps another class that fits into my schedule.

Today is one of many days I'm proud to be an American. I can't wait to hear all about Ashlee's trip to D.C.

Now I'm off to head home. I put a photo album on the last post. Those are all my photos from last weekend.

Hasta Manana.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Week 3: Esta Bien

Photos like I promised: Album 1

It's crazy to think I'm already on week 3 here. Classes are going great. I'm in my full routine and now that I know my schedule I was able to sign up for the gym and work that into my schedule as well. Day one of getting back in shape started today. The gym is about 3 blocks from the university so it's convenient to go when I get out of class and make my way to ISA after to check e-mail and all that jazz.

This weekend was spent at Volcan Arenal. I apologize, I forgot to bring my card reader and camera cards so you will have to wait until tomorrow to see photos. It was a fun weekend indeed. We left early Saturday morning (it wasn't even light out yet). Our first stop was a some place with oddly shaped bushes. Next was breakfast, lucky for me my host mom packed me a lunch/breakfast so I didn't purchase any food. We then went to la Fortuna, which is a town that has a huge waterfall. We didn't stop long, but long enough to make the hike down to the waterfall and swim a bit in the pools next to it. The water was freezing but the scenery was gorgeous. After a quick dip in the freezing water, we were off to our hotel at the base of Volcan Arenal. We stayed at Los Lagos which was a huge resort and spa on at least a large amount of acres. To give you an idea we had to take a shuttle to get to the pool and reception area because it was a pretty far walk. After we were settled we went to the Baldi hot springs. I was expecting them to be tucked away in the wilderness but no, they were in a different resort. The mineral water was real, just not the spring pools, which of course were man made. We found the warmest hot spring and settled there until it was time for dinner. The resort was nice but it was difficult to just relax in a hot spring for 2 hours. That's a lot of water time. We ate dinner at the resort, buffet style including a chocolate fountain for dessert. No one left hungry. The rest of the evening was spent at the pool near the hotel. They had a regular pool, a jacuzzi (with a swim up bar) and 4-5 hot springs (one of them was cold I believe). I'm telling you this place was huge. Sunday we left around 11:45. Beforehand some people went on excursions but I just hung out by the pool in attempt to work back some of my tan that has now peeled off.

By the time I got home around 5 I was exhausted. It was hard not having Ashlee there. With her going to the inagural ball and all she skipped the trip. I would have too if I had the opportunity. I ended up going to be by 10 so I could be refreshed to get up at 6:45 (my usual wake up time). Ashlee won't be back until Wednesday evening so I'm flying solo until then. Not too bad except I need to make sure I get home before dark since I don't have a walking partner for the next few days. Plus I don't want to worry my host mom since I'm by myself. Here's to an awesome weekend!

I promise photos tomorrow!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold Front

A small cold front has hit San Jose apparently. It's in the 60s here which is chilly compared to what it normally is. I had to put on a sweatshirt and the choice of a cute skirt and sandals is leaving me on the chilly side. I heard it was -15 today without the wind chill. That really sucks, sorry to all those back home who have to endure it. My suggestion to you all is to come visit me here and you can by pass all that cold. Let me know when you are coming and I'll free up my schedule.

Wow this week sure has flown by. Makes me realize that before I know it I'll be back home wondering what happened to my study abroad trip. Today in Spanish we had an oral exam. We were all taken by surprised because we were told by our professor that there was only an oral part for the final. I guess we just assumed the oral was just a practice. Not so much, real exam. I was the first to go and I ended up doing pretty well on the spot. I was proud of myself after only a week and a half of Spanish. Tomorrow is our midterm (because each Spanish class is only a month long) so looks like I will be at home studying (not that I usually go out during the week anyways).

I found out today that my roommate is leaving me to go to the inauguration ball in D.C. I'm so jealous that her boyfriend got tickets and she gets to go. She'll be missing a few classes but she only needs 12 hours anyways so she'll just make it up next month. Lucky her. I would give anything to go in a heartbeat. Oh well, at least it's still warm here. I'll just enjoy that.

In other news, I'm pretty sure a guy flashed us on our walk to class today. We were walking and there was a guy walking towards us with what looked like a napkin covering his pants, a small one. Then just before we passed him he took the napkin away and all I got was a glimpse of some of his junk hanging out. Welcome to San Jose. Here it's common for guys to give cat calls to girls, especially American girls. We are told to just ignore it and by now I barely notice the cars honking at me and the hisses from guys. Just something you need to tune out.

Last night our mom made us individual pizzas for dinner. They were amazing, then she ground up some fresh parsley, olive oil, and fresh garlic cloves to put on top of it. Awesome combination. I believe my pizza had sausage, corn, mushrooms, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on it. That may sound odd because of the corn but trust me, amazing. Try it before you dis it. There has never been a complaint from Ashlee nor I about our host mom's cooking. A nice variety with some nutrition. I wish I could take her home with me when I leave.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Day of Sun and Clouds

I have homework I should be doing, a lot actually. Today in Spanish we learned about household objects and then we made drawings of our house in the US. We all thought it would be a good idea to make them more or less detailed until we realized that meant a lot of homework to make up for the time used up. Thanks to my parents building such a large and intricate house, my drawing was very detailed. My attempt at a blueprint of the house turned out fairly well, my step dad would be proud (maybe?). I'm sitting in one of the rooms at ISA and getting distracted very easily from the breezy day followed by spurts of clouds and sun. Gorgeous. Another cool day today, it's been in the 70s for the majority of the time I've been here. It's nice because even if it's warmer during the day, it usually starts to cool off by 3. Perfect. I'd say it's comparable to a Nebrasaka spring or early fall, except insert palm trees and various other tropical plants into the picture forming in your head.

One thing I haven't been able to get past here is the toilet paper situation, let me explain. In Costa Rica, the plumbing systems aren't yet as high tech as in the States. Thus, it is advised that if there is a trash can places by the toilet then that's supposed to be used to discard used toilet paper. I'm so used to the habit of throwing in the toilet and flushing it away. I've slipped up a few times but I'm getting better. It's just awkward and will take some practice and getting used to. It's also inconsistent because newer buildings can handle the toilet paper so some have trash cans and some don't. I have a feeling by the time I get to the states I'll be throwing my used paper in the trash out of habit.

This weekend we are going to Volcan Arenal, a volcano about 4-5 hours drive from San Jose. We are also stopping at a hot springs/waterfall spot on the way, should make for some amazing photos.

Things to do today:
-Inquire about a gym membership and the cost
-Take photos for my photography class (we're learning about focusing woo!)
-Do my massive amounts of Spanish homework
-Maybe see Si Senor (Yes, Man) en espanol since it's $2 on Wed (Ashlee and I saw Marley and Me last week)
-Start studying for my Spanish midterm (since each level is a month)

Last night Ashlee and I met our host dad, who I believe is in the Caribbean. He doesn't live at home with our host mom and there's a lot of personal reasons behind that. He was super nice and hilarious. We had a good time talking to him after our delicious dinner of pasta and vegetables (we were also told it was fat-free). My host mom is convinced I'm going to become a vegetarian here because I'm eating a lot of what she makes Ashlee, I don't mind, it's healthier and I don't want to be a burden and force her to make me meat. Once in awhile I get to have meat, like yesterday I had sausage for breakfast.

Ashlee and I were really lucky with our host mom placement, I know I've said this a lot but I'll say it some more. Some students I swear eat rice and beans all the time because their moms don't make a lot of variety. We've only had rice and beans once and that was for breakfast before we left for the beach. Thankfully, our mom varies a lot of what she makes us, we haven't had the same thing twice yet. Pretty lucky.

Now I'm off to eat my bag of watermelon for lunch and venture to find the gym and perhaps bring someone that knows more Spanish than I to translate. If for some reason you can't view the albums I put up in the last post, let me know and I'll find another way to show all my photos.

Hasta Luego!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Una dia a la playa


Well I never thought getting out of the city would be so breathtaking. Friday afternoon we left for Manuel Antonio, which has beaches everywhere. We left about noon and got to our hotel around 6:30. We stopped at a grocery store as well to get food so we wouldn't have to pay the outrageous prices at the restaurants. After we were settled into our rooms a group of us decided to take a taxi to the center of the town, Manuel Antonio. Once we drove the um, 2 meters to our spot we were charges 4800 colones which is close to $10. No one in our taxi asked them to turn on their meter and since we are obviously not natives they took advantage and way overcharged us. Even though it was 800 colones a peace (about $1.50) it was the principle of the matter. Yes, cabs are cheap but when you are going such a short distance you should be getting charged about 1,500 colones (about $3 total, even if the car is full). Oh well, Ashlee and I just walked back to the hotel to make up for the lost money and have now learned who to ride with and who not to. Our directors were right when they said Manuel Antonio was expensive. Most dinners were $10-$30 a piece. I only splurged on dinner on Saturday night because I couldn't bear the thought of eating another peanut butter sandwich for dinner. But I did have my snacks to eat during the day while on the beach.

On Saturday we met up at 9:00 to go to the National Park in Manuel Antonio. Since this was an ISA excursion, the $10 fee for foreigners was paid for by the company. We then walked to the beach in the park, which was gorgeous. As seen in the photo below:
This was a little less crowded than the beach by our hotel. The sand was hot and the water was cool. It was fantastic. We did some exploring and came across an animal not rare in this area:These are white faced monkeys and if you don't watch out they will steal your belongings looking for food. Lucky for us they didn't steal any of our stuff but they were just so cute. This photo isn't the best because of the sun but it tells the story. It was so nice to swim in the ocean, amazing rather. We stayed in the national park for awhile until some of us decided to venture to the beach by our hotel so we made the trek back. Myself an 4 others decided to do the banana boat in the ocean, which only cost 4,000 colones (about $4), probably the cheapest attraction you could pay for. A jet ski pulled us on this big banana shaped tube in the ocean trying to knock us off. It was fun until we flipped and about the 4th time of me inhaling salt water in my nose, I had enough. We lasted about 30 minutes before we were taken back to shore. Sad story was I lost my sunglasses in one of the flips. Adios $4 sunglasses to the bottom of the sea. Good thing I brought a spare pair.

By the end of Saturday we were exhausted and I was very burnt. Here the sun is closer so bringing a lower SPF wasn't a good idea. Mom, if you saw me, you wouldn't be happy. I promise I put on sunscreen, even more than once. The sun is just a lot closer here. Oh well, my problem, I'm not going to complain about it. I took a ton of photos, between Saturday and Sunday. We didn't leave until Sunday at noon so we spent the morning on the beach as well. The ride back was exhausting, but the sunburn prevented me from getting comfortable to really sleep. Good thing there were movies on the bus because my ipod was dead too, rough life. We got back to San Jose around 5, where it was probably 20 degrees cooler than by the beach, since we are at a higher altitude. The beach was hot as hell and humid=Nebraska July. Ick. I'd live by the beach if it weren't for the humidity and heat.

When we got home Ashlee and I tried to find and internet cafe but a lot of places close on Sunday so we turned up with no luck. I watched some of the Golden Globes before finally going to bed at 9 because I was so exhausted. I didn't sleep well because of the damn sunburn. It's slowly healing, but yes, it hurts. Now to get through classes this week, hopefully with no earthquakes, and we'll be heading to Vernal, the volcano that has hot and cold springs. Should be a blast, and I'm sure, less sun exposure. A few more photos for you. I'll see about posting albums online. More to come later.

Don't forget to notice the sunburn. I figured out I can post a link to my facebook albums, which is probably where I will upload the bulk of my photos. So just click the links and enjoy: Album 1
Album 2

Don't forget to leave comments if you want!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dangerous Natural Disasters

Apparently in the last few days there have been earthquakes all around Central America. There was one near the mountains in Costa Rica and a couple tourists were trapped and had to be dug out. I guess there have been a few casualties as well. Even though it was surreal experiencing my first earthquake I can't forget how easy it can be to be in a dangerous situation because of it. Last night there was an aftershock when I went to bed and I was a little anxious at first but then it subsided.

Today we are leaving for the Manuel Antonio beach. We are going by bus and have been told it'll take 6-7 hours to get there. Our mom made us lunches for the trip. I'm pretty sure we are the only students to be so lucky. In my lunch, two tuna sandwiches, a bag of coconut cookies, a juice box, and some fruit. I feel like I'm in grade school. I do appreciate the gesture because that's less money I'm spending on daily food. I couldn't be more thankful for my host mom. She's fantastic and amazing.

Updates to come about my adventure at the beach!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Earthquake

When I first arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica I was informed that it is not rare for Costa Rica to experience earthquakes.  They come on a fairly regular basis.  I braced myself considering I was informed of an earthquake that happened yesterday and I didn't even feel it.  I did not expect an earthquake to suddenly occur while I was in class this afternoon.  We were in class on the second floor and suddenly we were kind of shaking around.  I felt like I was sitting in my desk and felt as if I was moving on an amusement park ride or something.  Hard to explain if you've never experienced an earthquake.  It is rare to experience an earthquake as strong as todays, about 6.8 I've heard.  We just sat in our room until the earthquake stopped until we decided to go outside for a bit where we saw any Tico in sight on their cell phone.  Since this was a rare earthquake just about 90% of Ticos were probably freaking out.  It was kinda cool and surreal.  I know I should be a little more cautious but we were informed that Costa Rica has strict building codes they have to follow because of the occurance of earthquakes so the chance of a building collapsing is very small.  Still, it was kind of cool to have lived through the strongest earthquake in San Jose this year.  I should make t-shirts and sell them here.  I'll bet I would make a fortune.

I'm predicting now that there will be earthquakes in San Jose in August and this is why.  In Costa Rica, the farmers believe that the first 24 days of the new year will predict what the climate will be like in each corresponding month.  Since today is the 8th then it would correspond to August.  On the 5th it rained, which was fine because in San Jose it normally rains in May.  On the 13th it will go back to January and end on the 24th or December.  

Lucky day as well, I was able to get into ecological photography.  I went to change my class last night and it was full so this morning I came to inquire about an opening spot and I took the last spot.  I thank that person that dropped out because now I can take a photography class that takes fieldtrips.  The first portion of the class is easy because it's starting from the basics but I'm sure it'll get a bit more interesting once we get to start producing projects and such.  That way I only have classes besides Spanish on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Tomorrow we get to go to Manuel Antonio.  I'm excited to spend the weekend on the beach and get rid of some of my pale Nebraska skin.  There's a lot of trails around the beach so it should be an awesome weekend.  Ashlee and I are just excited to get there and do some exploring on our own.  Can't wait to take some awesome photos as well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Classes: Day Two

Classes today went better. I finally had my original Spanish teacher. She wasn't as exciting and awesome as the one I had yesterday but she'll do. We went over the same things we did yesterday. I guess it was a good review. I'm picking up more Spanish but by no means to the point where I can speak in any sort of conversation. I'm still at the basic level. It's fine though, I'm not complaining.

Last night after class Ashlee and I headed home wondering what our wonderful mother was going to cook for dinner. We were glad to be hungry when we found out our mom prepared some amazing bean and cheese epanadas. They were very, very, good and I think we ended up eating past our full point because we were both still full this morning. I'm really happy about my situation here, I have an awesome host mom, an amazing roommate and I'm living in an awesome area. I'm still getting used to getting around but it's only the first week.

Last night Ashlee and I decided we wanted to do our own traveling if we decide to go to Panama or Nicuragua because the prices ISA gives us to travel "through them" is so expensive. Since Ashlee and I are on a budget we're not looking to pay an arm and a leg to enjoy the many things you can do in Costa Rica. Some of the students here are so quick to buy into some of the things offered by ISA not even thinking there are probably cheaper options available. I may see if there are other students that want to travel independently with us but some of them are a bit aprehensive because of the safety issue. I think either way you can still be safe. We're ready to start planning.

I have decided to take ecological photography. We'll be learning basic stuff in the beginning but I guess we'll be doing editing as well. There's a total of 9 projects and I think I'll like that class better than tropical marine biology. There are still field trips with ecological photography so I still get to explore other places, plus I may end up with some portfolio worthy photos. That's my goal anyways. Hopefully I'll be able to get into it. I have to go switch later this afternoon. I also think Ashlee and I are going to explore some of the other places by our house. I heard there is a shopping center near where we live so we might check that out later today.

Last night we were going to go to dance lessons the school offers twice a week but we got caught up in catching up and playing Brain Age and Ashlee teaching me how to solve a rubik's cube. I'm addicted now. It'll be a good thing to bring along on our 5 hour ride to Manuel Antonio, a gorgeous beach area. We'll be spending all weekend there. Hello to me working on my tan. I need to get going on some photos so if I don't take any this week there will for sure be some after this weekend.

Not much else. Hasta luego!