May 31, 2010

COSTA RICA (week 3)

Week 3 already?

Sunday, May 23, 2010:

I had my first experience with a cockroach this day. I had just started using the bathroom when I glanced over at the door and was greeted by a HUGE cockroach. Now if you know me at all, you'd know that I can be quite a girl when it comes to bugs, and this time was no different. I immediately stood on the toilet and squirmed as the cockroach made it's way down toward the doorknob. Knowing I would be stuck in the bathroom the rest of the night if I didn't move fast, I flew open the door before the cockroach reached the knob and ran straight into Kate's room. Laughing at my crazyness, she decided to have a look for herself and became equally grossed out. Our solution? Knock on our Tica sister's door...she's used to cockroaches, right? Obviously not enough, because she yelled for our mama Tica who was already sleeping, and she ended up being the one who killed the sucker. As much as I hated seeing the cockroach, it was definitely a hilarious moment we were all able to share, which I loved!

Monday, May 24, 2010:

My Oral and Written Expression professor is always thinking of fun ways to help us get a better grasp on the Spanish, and to practice commands, he invited 5 of us to his house to cook a variety of delicious foods. In order to save money and avoid making a fool of myself, I decided to bake some brownies, which turned out to be awesome! I was impressed with how everything turned out, actually. We had gallo pinto, sushi, guacamole, strawberry vinaigrette salad, mini sandwiches, mini pastries, and of course, brownies.

My professor!

All the food!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010:

Our cultural activity for the week was the best one yet. We visited the museo de los niños and had a blast! It was nice forgetting about the stresses of school and acting like a kid for a couple hours.

Playing dress-up!

"High-five Mr. Colgate!"

What's a children's museum without a swing set?

I loved how the museum was a castle!

After we were finished with the museum, Angie, Kate, Price, and I went to get smoothies from a place Price discovered. A smoothie sounded delicious, but unfortunately my smoothie wasn't at all what I expected. I was feeling adventurous and decided to order what I thought was a tomato, pineapple, and plum smoothie. Sure that probably doesn't even sound very appealing to anyone but me, but what my smoothie turned out to be was even less appealing! "Apio" is the Spanish word for celery, and the rest of the group and I thought "apio" was the word for plum. So while I was aiming for a smoothie that tasted like V8 splash, I was left with a smoothie that tasted (according to Kate) "like grass." Somehow I managed to drink half of it in hopes that it would taste better, and it never really did. Hah! At least it's a funny story to tell!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010:

Kate, Angie, and I decided to see another movie, and "Dear John" was really the only thing that stuck out to us. I had mixed feelings about seeing this movie, because originally I thought it didn't look very good, but I was pleasantly surprised. Channing Tatum wasn't his usual ghetto self, and I loved Amanda Seyfried! The movie also had an unexpected twist. I love unpredictable love stories. However, watching a chick flick made me miss Luke even more. :(

Friday, May 28 - Sunday, May 30, 2010:

For our third excursion, we headed to the relaxing Manuel Antonio after classes on Friday. We weren't stuck on the bus for too long, which was nice. When we arrived to our hotel at around 4:30, we unpacked our stuff and headed straight for the beach. Although this hotel wasn't as nice as the others, the beach was incredible! There weren't a lot of people and it was so peaceful. We decided to walk the beach and explore the shops until we were hungry for dinner. We went to a restaurant across from the beach and the food was awesome. I ordered pesto and a bottle of coke. I wish I would have ordered the fish, though, because it was delicious! After we ate, Kate and I hung out in the hotel room, and I watched Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants dubbed in Spanish! It was pretty entertaining.

Manuel Antonio at it's finest!

Or is this it's finest?

Angie and me at dinner!

Pesto!

Saturday and Sunday I literally spent the whole day on the beach. I decided not to participate in any extra excursions to just take a weekend to RELAX. I have no regrets. I woke up early on Saturday and was able to see the most beautiful rainbow. We spent the rest of the day laying out, boogie boarding, and swimming. The waves in Manuel Antonio were SO powerful. I couldn't even keep my balance most of the time. We also spent a little time swimming in the pool. I was sad when the sun started setting, but dinner was delicious, once again. I ordered fajitas and they were the best fajitas I've ever had. Dinner was also pretty entertaining because a TON of monkeys surrounded our restaurant. After dinner, we went to get snacks from the store and then a bunch of the girls chatted in the room for the night. We woke up early the next morning to eat breakfast, and we were supposed to go on a tour to the National Park, but the group left without us! It was kind of a bummer, but Angie, Kate, and I ended up having some good Jesus time on the beach, which is better than any tour of any park!

Rainbow!

Yay for pretty backgrounds!

Jumping for joy because Manuel Antonio is BEAUTIFUL!

Boogie boarding!

Coconut milk!

Monkeys!

Puerto Viejo is our next excursion, and I can't believe it's our last one. My time in Costa Rica is coming to a close! I'm excited to spend the next 2 weeks taking advantage of every moment!

As always...

PURA VIDA!

May 25, 2010

COSTA RICA (week 2)

Even with a semi-redundant schedule, my second week in Costa Rica was filled with awesome adventures, nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010:

As previously stated, every Tuesday the ISA students participate in "cultural events." Our second cultural event was going to the "Museo de Oro" (Museum of Gold). It definitely wasn't the best museum I've ever been to, but it was fairly interesting. Basically, the museum focuses on the importance of gold in the history of Costa Rica. The museum lacked diversity in its artifacts, but it was neat seeing different objects made of gold. We were given an hour to look through the whole museum, but we only needed about 30 minutes. Like I said, it definitely wasn't the best museum I've been to, but I am thankful to be given the opportunity to learn more about Costa Rica.

After the "Museo de Oro," we all got POPS ice cream for free! I decided to order blackberry sorbet and it was delicious. Then, Kate, Angie, and I went to visit with a missionary family in San Pedro, about 10-15 minutes from where we live. It was nice hearing about their ministry and how God has worked through them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010:

Wednesdays are pretty cool here, because movies only cost about $2. I have been dying to see Robin Hood, so a bunch of the ISA students went to the movie theater this night. The theaters here are no different than the ones in the states. Comfy chairs, popcorn, candy, etc. But of course the theater prices are so much better here. :]

Saturday, May 22 - Sunday, May 23, 2010:

It was hard for me to imagine any excursion being as beautiful as Tamarindo, but our second excursion to Arenal definitely gave Tamarindo a run for its money. Unfortunately the Arenal excursion was only two days, but the trip was still incredible!

Saturday started bright and early with the bus leaving at the good old hour of 6 am. I managed to sleep on the bus for a bit, and the rest of the time I listened to my Ipod. Seeing as they hardly ever play good movies on the bus, I have thoroughly enjoyed thinking about life while listening to Mosquito Fleet. Their album is one of the few albums I can listen to straight through, and it's a perfect bus ride companion for zoning out the trash and insane amounts of profanity coming from the TVs.

Anyway, our first stop was to this really cool garden that reminded me of Edward Scissorhands! Then we went to this beautiful waterfall. Of course, right when we got off the bus it started to rain. As if the hike to the waterfall wasn't difficult enough, it began to pour! There I was with my water bottle and my mom's Canon Rebel trying not to fall and doing everything possible to keep the camera dry, until eventually I was looking at this creation that left me speechless. Eager to join the rest of the group in the water, I had our tour guide guard my camera as I jumped in and felt the strength of the mass of water flowing down from above. I even jumped off a log fairly high up from the water! I was sad we weren't able to stay longer but was excited to get to the hotel, Los Largos.

As we drove to our rooms and passed all the hotel had to offer, I could not believe I was staying somewhere so incredible. The plant life was gorgeous and the view of the volcano was jaw dropping. The day was spent swimming in the pools and hot springs and enjoying the water slides. Later in the night we had a delicious dinner provided by the hotel, and we surprisingly called it a night soon after, which was probably for the best considering I was going canyoning at 7:30 the next morning.

Originally I wasn't even planning on going canyoning, but I am so happy I decided to partake in an unforgettable experience! The first repel was down a 164 foot cliff with a waterfall to my right. All I can really say is BEAUTIFUL! I never would have guessed I would be given the opportunity to do something so extreme. There were 3 other repels including waterfalls (most going directly through the waterfall) and 1 repel down a regular cliff. We were repelling down at least 80 feet each time! I was sad when all was said and done, and I definitely wasn't ready for the bus ride home.

Cool garden place!

The waterfall!

Pool!

Awesome view!

After my first repel of 164 feet!

Week two was another great week for me, despite moments of homesickness. There are a few things I haven't mentioned yet, though, and I should. First of all, my mama Tica is the most amazing cook! I haven't had a bad meal since I've been here. It's amazing how much better everything tastes here because most of it is fresh and natural! I am pretty sure I've gained at least 5 pounds, so I know what I'll be doing when I get back to the states...RUNNING! Until then, I will enjoy eating whatever I please. Also, the coffee is so incredible, and I can't wait to bring some home with me. And oh yeah, trying to learn a language in 5 weeks is impossible, especially at the level I started out with. Everyday tests the patience I have with myself...and I realize I don't have much. However, I do think I am better than when I came, and as long as that's the case, I will be happy. :]

Until next time,

PURA VIDA!

May 18, 2010

COSTA RICA (week 1)

I'm beginning to realize how fast my 5 weeks in Costa Rica are going to fly. But so far, my days have definitely been well spent!

Saturday, May 8, 2010:

After rolling out of bed at 3 am for an early flight out of Chicago, I was more than happy to use the whole flight to Dallas to get some sleep. The plane landed a few hours after take off, and reality and excitement began to sink in when I was greeted by my house mate, Kate. Our journey together was about to begin, and we tried our best to speak in Spanish the entire flight to San Jose!

Expecting to be greeted by our ISA director as we walked out of the airport, we were a little nervous when she was no where to be found. Instead, we were bombarded with Tico families waiting for their loved ones, too many taxis to count, and an uncomfortable amount of Tico men trying to "help" us. After about 20 or 30 minutes we finally found the rest of our ISA group, and before we knew it, we were headed to our university (ULACIT) to meet our Tico families. I was surprisingly not very nervous, and the little nerves I did have went away as soon as my mama Tica (Maru) gave me a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek. I knew God had answered my prayers for a good host family.

When we arrived to our "new" home, Maru and our papa Tica (Luis) showed us our rooms to drop off our bags, and then took us out to get some food. My first meal here was delicious. I ordered pupusa and coffee. Looking back, I wish I would have taken a picture! Anyway, Luis drove around San Jose to get us familiar with our surroundings. To be honest I was fighting to keep my eyes open at this point, and was happy to spend the rest of the night relaxing at the house. Overall, I could not have asked for a better first day in Costa Rica!

My house!

My room!

Kate and I with Mama Maru!

Sunday, May 9, 2010 - Friday, May 14, 2010:

These 6 days were filled with meetings, school, and homework, and I was constantly tired. The days here are much longer, and my classes last 3 hours! My weekly schedule is as follows:

Monday & Wednesday:
7:30- wake up/shower/get ready
8:00- breakfast
8:30- devos/check my e-mail/make a sandwich for lunch/etc.
9:20- catch the bus to ULACIT
10:00- oral and written expression
1:00- lunch/hang out in the ISA office/explore San Jose
3:00- literature
6:00- catch the bus home
7:00- dinner
8:00- homework/hang with the family/skype/journal/etc.
12:00- bedtime

Tuesday:
I have no class on Tuesdays, which is awesome, but my days are still jam packed!
8:00- breakfast
8:30- shower/get ready
9:00- devos/homework/check e-mail/etc.
10:20- catch the bus to ULACIT
11:00- weekly meeting with my ISA director
12:30- weekly meeting about the weekend excursion
1:15- cultural activity
3:00- free time
7:00- dinner
8:00- homework/hang with the family/skype/journal/etc.
12:00- bedtime

Thursday:
8:00- breakfast
8:30- shower/get ready
9:00- devos/homework/check e-mail/etc.
10:00- free time
3:00- literature
6:00- catch the bus home
7:00- dinner
8:00- homework/hang with the family/skype/journal/etc.
12:00- bedtime

Friday:
7:30- wake up/shower/get ready
8:00- breakfast
8:30- devos/check my e-mail/make a sandwich for lunch/etc.
9:20- catch the bus to ULACIT
10:00- oral and written expression
1:00- leave San Jose for weekly excursions

As my schedule says, we have cultural activities once a week. In our first cultural activity we were able to go into a classroom full of Ticos and practice our Spanish. It was really nice meeting a bunch of Ticos, even though I'm sure I made a fool of myself trying to talk to them. I was really surprised how well they knew English, though!

Sorry I don't have any pictures of my school yet. I'll try to take some for my next post!

Friday, May 14, 2010 - Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Every weekend, all of the ISA students are fortunate enough to go on amazing excursions. Our first was to the lovely Tamarindo, where we stayed at a gorgeous hotel only footsteps away from the pacific ocean. Staying in a hotel right on the beach was incredible! Much of the weekend was spent under the sun, either on the beach or at the pool, but other highlights included a mangrove tour where we saw wild howler monkeys, boogie boarding, zip-lining, a beautiful sunset, a beautiful sunrise, and delicious food!

Mangrove tour!

Gorgeous beach!

Poolside!

Zip-lining!

Beautiful sunset!

Chocobanana smoothie! The best smoothie I've ever had!

Footprints after sunrise!

Obviously, my first week in Costa Rica was a success. Sure I've been a little homesick, and classes are definitely a challenge for me, but I am so blessed to be in such a beautiful place. Plus, I'm getting better at Spanish, too. Now all I need is my boyfriend here to experience it all with me! Oh if only....

Until next time,

Ciao!