Sunday, March 17, 2013

San Jose, a new friend.

I have always loved cities. I love the thrill of so many people moving so many places and so much energy all in one place. I love that everything you need is in one general area, little blocks that have character and street corners filled with anxious people. I love being outside just as much if not more, but for this posts purpose I'm going to address the city.
I came here excited to finally be able to live in a city. San Jose is definitely modern, big, and I have grown to love it. I have my coffee shops, I know how to get downtown, I know how to cross the streets (run.), I know which spots I like and dislike. I will miss the places I've grown to know so well. One of which is Cafe La Musa Confusa, where my friend Kristen and I make a point to frequent and drain them of all the coffee they have.
Here we are with matching green dyed pants. It always seems to happen like this.
Discovering coffee shops is one of my favorite ways to get to know a place. It's an opportunity to sit and people watch, while still practicing a little spanish and of course getting my caffeine fix. 


More of La Musa. I had my first macaron the other day. It was nutella, paired with a cafe negro that kept me awake until 2am...

This was a (painfully expensive) coffee shop on our way downtown one day. Cafe con leche (coffee with milk) is the most popular drink here, and I usually end up getting that or cafe negro (black coffee) when I'm feeling a little more feisty. 

Adventures downtown have always proved to be enjoyable. The other day a friend and I explored the thrift stores and struck gold. All the oversized neon jackets from the 90s are hiding in Costa Rica. It was hard to contain myself. We also had lunch at the National Theater, which still has shows and is right in the center of the city.


I had been craving vegetables... I finally got my fill. Although I do love the food here, I am definitely starting to get sick of carbs. Most of the food is very dense and vegetarian options are sometimes hard to find or there is really only one option. 
Besides lunch, the theater is beautiful. 



San Jose has proved itself to be a wonderful place to live and learn, but I am so excited to finally return home to place where it is safe. Not being able to walk alone at night is frustrating. The sense of independence I lack here because of a lack of safety is crippling. Possibly an exaggeration, but I am a person who loves my independence and I hate that I am afraid to just leave the house at night, even with a group of people. It's definitely real too, many people I know have been jumped or had money stolen from them. Being aware and smart is so important here, as in any city. Fortunately there hasn't been any violence, but it's definitely discouraging when you want to walk over to a friends house. We make sure to never walk alone at night.

It's strange to think that in three weeks I will never see most of these people again. Of couse we say we will visit, but once we return to our normal lives back in the United States it's difficult to integrate those parts of your life here into your old life. It's an odd concept, it's sad. Some of the people here I've met I know that if I lived close I would remain friends with forever. I've made close friends in Pittsburgh, New York, Seattle, Chicago, out West... It's impossible to think that I will be able to stay in close contact with everyone. 

So for now, we coffee. We chat. We adventure. As much as we can. I know this experience is coming to a close and I'm determined to squeeze out every last drop that I can.




San Jose Graffiti & A Mini Photo Field Trip

I'm in a digital photography class here, and last week we went out into the city to photograph some graffiti. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware that we had to bring our cameras that day. I don't like to take my camera out unless I know I need it, and often we're working in the lab for this class. But instead, I took some photos on my phone.

Most of the classes here are pretty interactive. My health psychology class took a trip to PANI, which is a center for women and kids to learn and have a safe environment when one is not available to them. We also went to a geriatric hospital last week.
In my Costa Rican history class almost every other week we go on city tours to see various monuments, museums, artwork... I find it a lot easier to learn when the information given to me is also reinforced by seeing it, especially in my history class.

Anyways, here is some San Jose graffiti, there is quite a lot everywhere in the city and most of it is pretty quality or has some sort of political significance.




After finishing exploring the graffiti we stopped by a small gallery that had pastries and drinks and I got a delicious pot of tea.


Montezuma

Last weekend us gringas and a gringo set off on the 6 hour journey to Montezuma. We took a bus from San Jose which connected to a ferry ride, then another bus, then another bus. The ferry ended up being beautiful, it was right at sunset.




After an exhausting day of travel we arrived in Montezuma. The hostel we dragged ourselves up to was playing Massive Attack, music I don't hear outside of my laptop very often. I immediately felt at home and was greeted by some of the nicest people I have met in Costa Rica this far. We set up in our bunks and made our way down to the town which was small and quaint. You could walk the length of the little place in about 20 minutes. I loved the feel that everyone was relaxed, of course everything was catered to tourists but not in the way where everything had to be new. It was a wonderful place.
The next morning we made our way to the waterfalls. The power and sheer mass that these have is unexplainable. The locals scale them like nothing, it's impressive and slightly terrifying. 
We made our way up to the next one and swam around in this pool until we finally made our way back to the beach. Another reason to love Montezuma, as there are many, it was a combination of all the places I had been in Costa Rica. It had the waterfalls like La Fortuna, the ride to had green mountains like Monteverde, the beach was beautiful like Tamarindo, the town was small like Puerto Viejo... Everything was perfect and exactly as I would have it if I could choose. I liked it so much that I cancelled my trip during spring break to Panama, and I'm going back to Montezuma instead.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Last 30

30 days remain in my Costa Rican journey. The 30 days leading up to this passed by me before I could realize what was happening. This is going to go fast.

My weekends are planned out. My schedule is set. A few finals, papers, projects, and presentations await me on campus. I'm getting down to it and the emotions are mixed.

Last weekend I traveled to Puntarenas for Envision Festival which was a life changing experience to say the least. The people I met there exuded such positivity and lust for life I was overwhelmed with happiness almost the entire time. I learned more about myself, this country, and people in general. I met new friends that live in Costa Rica currently, people from France, Sweden, Colorado, Austria... The list goes on. The experience only furthered my opinion that everything is happening to me for a reason. Since I've arrived in Costa Rica it seems nothing has been coincidence. The people I've met, the lessons I've learned, everything seems like this is the way its supposed to happen. I've formed such a better appreciation for this earth and the people that inhabit it!

This weekend we are traveling to Montezuma.

The weekend after that our tico family is going to Rio Celeste, some of the most beautiful waters I have ever googled.

After that We go to Puerto Viejo and Panama for semana santa, the day after we get back is my 21st birthday, then one more week and I am on a plane to the United States.

I'm definitely starting to feel ready. I miss my sense of independence, I miss feeling safe walking at night, or even being able to walk at night. I miss my family and friends most, the people that know me.

I know my time here is limited though and of course I'm going to soak up as much as I can before I have to leave this beautiful country.

Until then I will definitely try to write more. I've been behind. Love to you all.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quick!

Hello! I haven't been keeping up lately as I should have been.

Having free time has been wonderful, I'm finally getting to do things that I've been wanting to! I've been reading, working on a few art projects, doing yoga, running, walking around downtown, learning about the city, teaching myself spanish... I've been so busy but with all things I want to do!

A few weekends ago we hiked up a mountain with three crosses on it... It was beautiful. One of the best things I have done since being here.

This is about halfway up.

Tomorrow morning I am off to Envision Festival! A music/arts/yoga festival in Uvita about 3 hours from San Jose. I feel like a kid on Christmas I am so excited...

I can't believe I only have 5 more weeks in this beautiful country. I have to pick up and leave the life I've finally made for myself here. It's odd, thinking that I never knew these people existed 2 months ago and now they're close friends. After this, there are some that I will never see again. All the more reason to experience as much as I can now I suppose.

I will try to write more once I get back, I've been preparing for this festival and trying to catch up before leaving so I haven't had much time!

Much love to the snowy states.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Monteverde and Arenal Volcano

I am stingy. I save my money. I hate spending it. The thought of spending $200+ for a weekend trip is slightly nauseating. When I initially heard about the trip to Monteverde and Arenal I was skeptical. It turned out to be one of the most amazing weekends of my entire life. Aesthetically and mentally.

We arrived friday night and immediately took off to go to a hot spring resort in La Fortuna. There were maybe 8 or 10 pools leading into each other. The water was warm and there was a sauna, a slide, caves... Man made, but it was still pretty wonderful.
In the morning we took off for the La Fortuna waterfall. I'm not sure of the exact name, or if it even has one. The waterfall was massive and loud, unlike anything I had ever seen before. We walked down about 200 precarious steps to get to the waterfall. It was amazing. The photos don't do it justice. The power of the water pouring into this pool was unbelievable. The green was so vivid. We swam around and climbed on some rocks for a while before we left. 



On the way back to the hotel we happened to cross a river and saw people jumping off a rope swing into the river. Naturally I couldn't resist. 
We then got back in a bus, which took us to a boat to cross Lake Arenal. The lake was beautiful and everything surrounding it was surreal. I can't believe I live here. I can't believe what amazing things I'm constantly surrounded by! It's exhilarating and motivating.
We then got in another bus and drove through the most amazing green mountains that I have ever seen. The only green mountains I have ever seen, mind you. Monteverde is absolutely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life. It's tied with Pompeii for now. We saw a rainbow on our way and what are the odds that it ended right in front of our hotel...


The atmosphere in Monteverde was really different. It was much colder there and smaller, like everything around needed a second to breathe. I really loved it there, I loved looking out at the green that surrounded us. Sunday morning we woke up early and went ziplining! Pretty amazing stuff. I was fairly nervous but it ended up being an amazing experience. I also did the tarzan swing, an equally thrilling and scream inducing activity. You walk out to the end of a platform and jump! And then swing. The whole thing is about 10 seconds, but still really great.
The drive home sunday was something that will be lodged into my brain for the rest of my life. Coming down from the mountains was absolutely unreal. I have never been so overwhelmed by the sight of something in my entire life. The mountains are so beautiful green massive humbling sprawling amazing.... I can't even begin to put into words how much the sight of these mountains affected me. Being here has given me such a deeper appreciation for this earth, it's fantastic how many wonderful things are here and how just the sight of something natural can have such an impact. I didn't have my camera on me while we were going through the mountains, and honestly pictures are incomparable to the actual sight but I managed to take a few on my phone. The experience and soaking everything in is so much more valuable than any photo.

This country is teaching me so much! About myself, about people, the earth, language, I could go on... 
I hope everyone back in the states is doing well. I'm missing you all. Sending sun your way.



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Churches, Markets, and Anniversaries

On Friday our Spanish class took a trip to Cartago, which is about 45 minutes away from downtown San Jose. We went to the Basilica of Out Lady of the Angels. The church was absolutely beautiful. On August 2nd has a festival to honor Costa Rica's patron saint, the Virgen de Los Angeles. Thousands of people from Central America make a pilgrimage to this church on this day.

After walking around the iglesia we went to a market in Cartago. It was exactly what you would expect, tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and some unexpected shoe stores. I bought a mango, un mano de bananas, and raspberries for about three dollars. The fruit here remains one of my favorite things.

Monday night we celebrated my host families first year anniversary! Randall and Naty are such a wonderful couple. For being so young, they really exemplify a perfect healthy relationship. The dynamic in our house is so wonderful. Having such a wide range of ages in the house really makes it easy to get different perspectives on everything. During their anniversary toast Doc mentioned communication in relationships to be absolutely the most important part. Communication in general has always been really important to me but I think he was right. Especially being in a country where I don't speak the native language, communication is something that is always on my mind and it's something I'm always striving to become better at... I couldn't be happier with my family. Also congratulations to my beautiful host parents!

This was our dinner... Stuffed mushrooms, avocado with a baby carrot, broccoli and carrots, and toasted bread with garlic. Delicious!