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.