Friday, May 15, 2009

I am sitting here in MesoAmerica for the last time. Weird. I can't really focus on anything in the future, as much as I want to see my friends and family, but how much I am leaving behind.
Our closing banquet was fabulous. It was at Ram Luna which is a restaurant up in the mountains over looking San Jose. The city looked gorgeous all lit up at night and it brougth to tears thinking that was the home I had created for the past four months. The food and dancing were traditional which was fabulous. However, it was more fabulous to sit at a huge table with the 15 other students I have experienced this with and know that I can call each a friend and that we have a special bond that cannot be recreated.
Yesterday, Caroline and I traveled back to Cartago and Orossi. It was a great last adventure to run around and be tourists. That night I played with Ana Lucia for four hours straight. We have been playing whatever game we can invent every spare moment we have. I am going to miss her giggle and that bright smile of hers.
Today, Jessie and I traveled back downtown to San Jose for the last time. Correction - the last time this semester. I will definitely be back to Costa Rica. We also made sure to get a casado (rice, beans, plantains, salad, eggs, and a fresh juice). It's really hard to say goodbye to all of our favorite things, places, and people.
I am going home tonight to love on my family and pack up. I haven't packed anything yet, I refuse. I can't admit that I am actually leaving my home here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

home is where the heart is.

I just turned in my last assignment of the semester. I feel relieved to be finished with all of my school work, sad at the realization that it really is ending, happy to be able to enjoy my family and the city the next few days, and overwhelmed at the thought of returning to the States.

Last night I was a penguin waddling in my living room, a princess dancing in the kitchen, a student names Paula learning in my bedroom, and a roller coast running throughout the house. I love Ana Lucia's imagination. We always have so much fun playing together.

We have a closing banquet tonight and we are all just going to run around seeing a few more sights, enjoying our favorite places, and taking in as much of this country as we can before we have to leave. I can't describe how it feels to know I am leaving a new home in Costa Rica to go back to my home in the United States.

I refuse to pack yet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Once again I had an amazing weekend. Nothing we had planned happened, but all of the surprises were lovely. Mark, Charley, Mike, Wini, Martha, and myself were planning to go to Jaco for the beach. We could have left Thursday, but decided to wait until Friday afternoon so that we may finish up some final projects. The boys took a taxi and the girls took a taxi downtown to the bus station. We were right on time, so the girls got on the bus. However, before the boys got there the bus pulled away! We didn't know what to do, so we figured we could just meet them in Jaco. We got to Jaco, found a hotel for the 6 of us, shopped a little, and then went to the bus station the boys should have been getting off at. We waited, the bus from San Jose and the boys didn't get off. So, we went back to the hotel, got dressed up, and went out to dinner. None of us had cell phones or any means to communicate with each other, so we just had to let it go and hope they were safe. We met some really fun people and hung out that night. The next day we went shopping and out to lunch at this Taco bar. You were served just tortilla and meat and then you went up to the bar and put all of the toppings you wanted. The best part was that the seats were swings! You could swing while you waited for your food, it was just a really fun atmostphere. That afternoon was not that sunny, so we didn't even make it out to the beach. Unfortunately, Martha fell down the stairs at our hotel. She was hysterically crying and in a lot of pain, so we decided we needed to come back home to San Jose that night.
Sunday, I woke up to a giant breakfast with my entire Tico family. We had scrambled eggs, gallo pinto, bread & jelly, and cantelope. It was so nice to have one last huge breakfast with them since during the week all of us are running around getting ready for school. That afternoon I went to the mall with Eric and then to the internet cafe to get some more work done. It was just a normal relaxing day.
This week so far has been crazy! We are trying to run around town and see all of the sights one last time. And on top of that we have massive amounts of work to do and we need to prepare for our final exams. It's just a really busy time, but we are savoring these last few precious days because our lives as we know it are about to change as return to the States.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Friday morning I was sitting on a bench at a bus station, waiting for a bus that may or not come in the next three hours, in which I for sure wouldn't have a seat, but would have to stand for the 5 hour drive to Upala. I felt miserable and helpless, like I haven't lived here the past three months. We decided to visit Rio Celeste this past weekend and needed to take a bus to Upala to take a taxi to our hotel. It was labor day here in Costa Rica which changed the bus schedule. We had no idea how much that would have affected us until we had been to 3 different bus stations and taken a taxi to another town. After several weird encounters with taxi drivers, Oscar drove us all the way from outside San Jose to our hotel; well, almost to our hotel. The road from the highway to the hotel was full of rocks, so he let us out to walk (with our luggage) the rest of the way. It turned out to be 2K and all us a mountain. We must have looked awful when we arrived because the receptionist offered to drive us to our cabin. Our cabin is surrounded by pretty wild flowers, mountains, and cows. The receptionist, Jorge, became our new friend and took us to the village fair going on this weekend. There are a couple of rides, food, a dance hall, no tourists, and everyone knew everyone. It was so much fun!
We woke up early to go to Rio Celeste on Saturday morning. Jorge and his friend Max picked us up and drove us to the national park an hour (of backwoods, mountain) away. The hike was challenging and we spent the better part of the day making our way along the trails and river. I have never seen water so blue - it was magical! The legend says when God finished painting the sky, He cleaned his brush off in the river. And that's exactly what it looks like. This was my favorite national park I have been too. The only visitors were from Costa Rica, the land wasn't disturbed, and the river and waterfall were both nothing like I have seen before. We returned to our cabin exhausted. After showering and making banana pancakes for dinner, Max picked us up to take us to the rodeo that was being held at the fair.
It was obvious the whole town had come out to the event. We ran into lots of people we had met the night before. Jorge was also sure to give us the town gossip of everyone that walked by. It was fun to watch the cowboys ride and try to control the bulls. It was also a lot more entertaining being able to understand Spanish and laugh at the Rodeo clown's jokes.
I should have known the adventure would have continued throughout the ride home. We waited at the bus stop, a metal bench on the side of the highway, for a little over an hour. Luckily it was across the way from the pulperia and we saw a lot of people we had met over the weeknd ride by on their horse which was nice. We all felt like we fit in and were sad to leave Bijagua. The bus arrived and was standing only meaning all of hte seats were sold out. We stood for the first 2 hours of the ride then sat down in the aisle for the next hour where we fell asleep. Fortunately, two people got off and the men standing let us have the seats. We sat and rode the last two hours. Wini and I bought sandwiches a guy on the bus was selling for 500 colones ($0.80) each. There were delicious pulled beef (I think?) on fresh white bread with ketchup and mayo.
Overall, it was such a great weekend - by far my favorite weekend in Costa Rica. It was nothing like we had planned it to be which just added to the experience. For once we weren't staying in a hotel and surrounded by other tourists. It was just us and the great people of Bijagua, Costa Rica. :)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I feel like we are at a really weird point in our stay here in Costa Rica. I have finally become completely comfortable taking a public bus anywhere, I can order food in a resuraunt and have exachanges made from what the menu offers, I can play with Ana Lucia for hours and speak and giggle about things in Spanish, I can have meaningful conversations with my Tica family, I can watch the news now and not have to ask questions, and after becoming comfortable with the way of life here and the language - it's time for me to leave? I'm not ready to go back to the United States. Please don't confuse this with me not being ready to see my family and friends, because that I am for sure ready! But, i'm not ready to go back to my face paced life, having easy access to the internet, carrying a cell phone around, driving a car, and being expected to have a plan 24/7. Everyone is counting down until we go home, but how about counting how many days we have been able to spend in this beautiful country and how many days we have been blessed with friends and family here. I don't want to count-down my life away and I don't think we should because May 16 will be here faster than we can imagine. Once that day comes the count down will be over and we will just have to count down until our next trip back to Costa Rica for we are going to miss things that we don't even recognize now as worth missing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

God's timing is always perfect. ALWAYS.

This past weekend was exactly what we all needed. We traveled to Arenal which is home to the most active volcano in Central America. Our accomodations were at a resort that had a lot of activities and things to do meaning we didn't have to travel outside of the resort area to be entertained. I feel so relaxed and positive about my next three weeks of life/last three weeks living in Costa Rica.
Friday we all were so excited to have TVs and big, comfortable beds we spent the afternoon lying around and enjoyed being lazy. Caroline, Jessie, and I used the cloth skirts that were resting on our beds to play dress up. We each created a prom dress by wrapping the cloth around us. It was so much fun! We danced around and just laughed. We tried to get the boys to play along, and the did pick flowers for us, but that was about it. After dinner we returned to our comfy beds to relax more. It may seem pretty silly for us to stay in our hotel rooms while we are amidst amazing nature, but every now and then it's a nice treat to lay around.
Saturday a few of us woke up early to hike up towards the observation point. Apparently it offered a spectacular view of the volcano. It was 2K straight up, but lots of fun. We sat in this little shelter and watched the clouds float by and waited for the perfect view of the volcano. Afterwards we went to the animal sanctuaries on site. We saw ant farms, crocodiles, butterflies, frogs, iguanas, toucans, and fish. Later we went and played in the pools! There were hot springs and regular pools and a couple of waterslides. It was like we were all 8 years old again. Jumping off the bridges into the pools and going down the slides a million times. Then it was time to be grown ups and what a wonderful time it turned out to be - Caroline, Jessie, and I went to the spa. I had a volcanic ash body wrap, tropical fruits massage, and a tropical fruits facial. It was beyond fabulous. I felt so relaxed and my muscles were incredibly loose afterwards. I loved every minute of it. For dinner, several of us went into town, La Fortuna, and ate at the Lava Lounge. It was very touristy and high priced. It made us all laugh to see "Casado: A Typical Costa Rica dish!" on the menu for $9. A casado should be the cheapest thing on the menu as it always is everywhere else, usually about $2.50. We all jumped in the hot springs for the rest of the night. Sunday, we woke up early for breakfast and a few more hours of sunbathing and swimming. The drive home took the rest of the afternoon and all of us are turning into workaholics on all of the projects and homework we need to complete before the end of the semester.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I have to admit this has been one of the hardest weeks I have had in a while. I know it's hard to understand how I am in Costa Rica surrounded by adventure and constantly being blessed with amazing opportunity and having a rough time. Well, I have had visits to the hospital everyday this week for some kind of test or another. Two blood tests, two stool samples, one urine sample, an ultra -sound, and several doctor examinations later and we are still unsure of what is wrong. I am currently taking three medications in efforts to ease the pain in my lower abdomen. I have been completely stressed out by the unknown and the constant Spanish-English conversations I have with hospital staff about how I am feeling. It's challenging dealing with all of this on my own away from my family. I am forever grateful for the support and love I have received from my friends here and my Tican family, but it's not quite the same. I long for warm water to bathe with and my own bed to take a good nap. Everyone else in our group seems to be having a hard time now too; they all seem ready to go home. I am excited for this weekend trip to Arenal Volcano because I think it will be a good pick-me-up. I hope we can all get excited for the last three weeks we have in Costa Rica before it flies by and we miss it. I am sure we will all miss it terribly.