Irony

Irony: a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected

This has most likely been the weirdest trip of my time in CR, maybe besides my day trip to Cartago.

For our last weekend we went to Guanacaste with our Tica Mom, Aunt, and Cousins (Mario and girlfriend and Esteban) to celebrate Guanacaste Day (I had only met Mario before). I had expected huge celebrations like what we experienced from the World Cup, but It was an extremely different.

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Beach day – casually the only one in a bathing suit

Friday

We left Heredia at 5 am to catch a bus to San Jose and from San Jose to Guanacaste. We got in around 12 pm. Took a taxi a few streets down to wait outside of the courthouse for our Tica cousin to pick us up. Once we got to the house, we realized how tired we were from the early morning and long travel. We went on a walk to the center to see what celebrations were happening…it was mostly just vendors selling items and a lot of people walking around. So after looking at everything, we went back to nap for a bit. Once we woke up we chilled a little, then went out with our cousins to explore some more now that it was later in the afternoon adn there was a bit more going on. Although there were moments where  Emmanuelle and I were not really involved in the conversations with Mario and his girlfriend, it was nice to be out with them. Emmanuelle and our cousins got a really weird snack: mango Dinner was better and we were able to get to know everyone a little more. After dinner, the kids went to the concert in town. However, the first act was very slow music and was putting us to sleep so Emmanuelle and I went to grab ice cream. Not to mention we were surrounded by couples, which made Emmanuelle miss her bf and was a slap in the face for this single girl (joking…kind of 🙂 ). Once we were done the main act, Mal Pais (a well-known CR band), was on. It was fun to see, but since Emmanuelle and I didn’t know any of the songs we went back to the house and talked with Mama Tica and Aunt Ines. This was the first time we had seen our mom drink and she was so funny. Talking with them was the highlight of the day. It was nice to talk with them and be away from Heredia with our mom. She looked really happy being there with her sister.

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Saturday

We woke up early and made our way to the beach after breakfast. Our mama Tica and Aunt went on the bus because there wasn’t enough car space. The beachwas hot, but not extremely sunny (which was nice for fair-skinned people).

Best highlight from the beach: We went drove an hour to the beach to sit in the grass behind the sand, under the trees (with a lot of bugs)… So Emmanuelle and I went in the water and then laid out on the beach. A soccer game that I badly wanted to join kept coming very close to us, no matter how far away we sat. The soccer ball must have been a chick magnet. (get it?) Anyways, after lunch people seemed more up for going into the water – a little wave jumping and boogie boarding fun.

Once we came home from the beach (after stopping 2 times for ice cream – Emmanuelle and I only got it once) everyone was in the shared bedroom and showering and Emmanuelle and I in the kitchen.  Emmanuelle and I didn’t want to sit in the house so went to explore and ended up in a karaoke bar for a drink. While I can’t say that anyone was particularly good (or really pleasant to listen to) they had a lot of passion. So props to them.

That night, everyone was really tired and after our 9 pm dinner. Our Mama Tica slept in the living room, Emmanuelle and I in the kitchen, and everyone else in one bedroom. Since, as usual this weekend, everyone was in their respective quarters and Emmanuelle and I had some fun watching geckos outside of our windo- one didn’t have a tail. Ask me about this. But yes, the highlight of our evening was seeing a gecko without a tail. I know this trip sounds wildly entertaining. Don’t let my gentle sarcasm fool you, the trip was still lovely in a very non normal way.

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I’m not sure what look I was trying to go for

Sunday

We woke up early but still somehow missed our bus. Mama Tica thought that our bus left at 9:30 but our tickets actually said 9 am. However, with a lot of seat shifting (I sat in 3 seats before we made it home) we all settled on the bus and were ready to depart home. Arriving home around 2 pm, we were all very exhausted but weren’t able to sleep.  

Nevertheless, what really made this a memorable trip was all the weird food I was given:

Lunch  1: Served with fresa (a juice?) that was straight up vanilla ice cream with a milk consistency (I haven’t had real milk in 7 years).

Dinner 1: “Vaca”. Basically a pot luck dinner the resulted in getting dishes from several nearby shops. We had dark meat chicken, some other meat, rice, salad, chayote, and a Chinese noodle dish. Now this happens in the US too, but if I don’t put something on my plate (for instance the dark meat chicken) or ask for something it’s probably because I don’t want it and not because I don’t know if I can take it. However, saying no to food here doesn’t work. It’s might get really awkward when I have to eat things I don’t enjoy, but sometimes (very very rarely) I can get away with it. 

Breakfast 2: Frosted corn flakes (that said they contained gluten…with no ingredients that should include gluten…) and milk. Since I didn’t eat the meat fried in egg, I was offered a special side of simply tortilla and natilla (sour cream like taste with a mayo consistency) from a bag. 

Lunch 2: Bean “dip” from a bag mixed with salsa, chips (all corn chips that said  say they may “contained” gluten), tuna salad from a can mixed with cream cheese (?), and salad. Again only taking the things I wanted was not an option. Open up – the helicopter is coming through. 

Dinner  2: Since everyone else was eating pizza I was offered fries.

Solo papa fritas, I ask.

Umm, vegetables and salad?

Okay, thanks.

What I actually got – fries, salad, veggies from a can, and chips. Yumm.

Breakfast 3: Eggs.

Hold on though, Would you like vegetables from last night that have been sitting uncovered on the stove all night?

Since, no is usually not acceptable, I accepted rather than trying to fight it. Once they were heated up, I realized Mama Tica didn’t actually want any for herself….A great morning snack if I say so myself.

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all smiles and a black eye (?)

Did I have a good weekend? Yes. Am I happy I went? Yes. I think it was just incredibly chill and not a lot to do. Pero, esta bien. (as usual). 

Things to ask me about: 

1. Our younger cousin, Esteban 

2. More about the town where we stayed. 

Far Away

Friday night marked the last time that almost all of my friends would be in Costa Rica. It was a bittersweet goodbye for most of them: wanting to go home and see family/friends, but sad to leave life and family/friends here. Because most of us were exhausted and had long travels the following day, we decided to choose a low activity – going to a movie: Transformers 4. While I was a bit confused as to why we would pick something in which we couldn’t talk, it was still great to get a lot of people together for a last event.

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After having our last roommate ice cream run, being “forced” to eat an incredible amount of  popcorn, laughing obnoxiously at the corny lines in Transformers 4, it was time to say goodbye to people who had accepted me for all my weirdness. Who knows if we’ll ever meet again, but they will be in my heart forever.


 

Saturday morning, we (Emmanuelle, Morgan, Breenna and I) had a 4 o’clock wake up call so that we could make it to our 6 am bus in San Jose. Long story short, accommodating people who were rather stressed about making our bus on time (I promise it wasn’t me) we ended up getting to San Jose around 5 am. Thankfully, the city was pretty alive and we were able to safely wait for our bus. Around 6:30 am we were on our bus and finally ready to head out on our journey to Tortuguero. The ride there was broken  up into a portion before breakfast, a portion after breakfast, a boat ride, and another bus ride (through a the bumpiest and most pothole filled road I’d even been on). Thankfully, I was able to fill the time with many naps, except on the last driving portion.

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Yes there is a “train stop” for the banana train.

Once we got to Tortuguero, our Tour Guide, Victor, was waiting for us to direct us to our hotel.  After being led to our hotel, directly on the beach 🙂 and settling in we found out that since it was so rainy today we were only going to our turtle tour today and save both the canal and jungle tour for tomorrow. This turned into being a wonderful gift.

We had met two fellow Americans (Bethan and Paul), who were volunteering at an orphanage in Cartago, on our bus ride. When we arrived, we had awkwardly parted ways without getting information to contact each other. However, thankfully Tortuguero (like every other place we have been to) is a small enough town that on our way to lunch we ran into them. And once we made it to lunch, we ran into the other friends we made on the bus, two Chileans. It was a little difficult for the 8 of us to communicate altogether since not everyone spoke english or spanish, but we managed.

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After lunch, Emmanuelle, Morgan, Breenna, Bethan, Paul and I went to hangout on the hammocks at our hotel. They happened to have exactly 6. Bethan (from UK) and Paul were really fun to hang out with and it’s moments like these that make you really appreciate traveling and meeting all sorts of people just by being friendly and open…vulnerable. Our hotel sold beer for $2, so everyone was extremely happy chilling especially after waking up so early. However, since Emmanuelle and I don’t drink beer, we went on a walk to the store in order to find other drinks. Our map showed a corner store supposedly right down the “street” from us. Of course, that would be way to simple. So after getting a little lost in this small village, we took the time to enjoy our explorations and got to see why this place was so cool and extremely different from every other place we had traveled.

1. It was an island.

2. Much of the town’s buildings were on stilts and surrounded by water.

3. We were in the Caribbean.

4. There was a mix of people and cultures.

5. It was not filled with english  speakers.

After we returned from our mini adventure, we got to know Bethan and Paul a little more – such interesting people! And after adding them on facebook, we realized that Emmanuelle and Bethan had a mutual friend. Not just an acquaintance, but actually someone who they were both good friends with – Thomas. Thomas had lived in Texas for high school and went to the same International School as Emmanuelle. Since then, he has returned to the UK and attends the same school as Bethan. HOW SMALL OF A WORLD? Literally. It’s incredible.

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Around sunset, we went out to beach to see the view since the rain had stopped. We ended up  spending a bunch of time there, having a handstand photo shoot. Pictures to come that will be able to show how much fun this was. Nevertheless, we got soaked and covered in sand after the waves came crashing into us.

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I am alive and I am living. (Vivi = I lived)

Victor had recommended a nice place for dinner, but when we showed up we didn’t realize how nice it was going to be. In the middle of a “run down”  village, was a waterside, gorgeous restaurant. The chefs were so accommodating and lets you change items on your order (this is a first here!!). It was a delicious dinner and great company.

At 9:30 we met up with Victor to begin our turtle night tour. For those of you who are not aware, Tortuguero Beach is a known nesting ground for green sea turtles during June – August  (?). At night, turtle conservatory workers search the beach for turtles, take research measures, and alert tour groups (no more than 20 people at a time) to come and see the turtle. It was crazy that we were able to stand extremely close to the turtle without it leaving. The nesting process takes around 1 -2 hour. First the mom has to dig a hole, release the eggs, and then cover up the hole. By the time my group got there, we were able to see the turtle covering up the eggs and the first hole she tried to dig before realizing there  were too many roots in that spot (poor turtle – so much energy extended).

We knew it was time to leave once the mama turtle startling kicked sand at us. Afterwards, it was very funny, but we were all unaware this was going to happen. We left the spot, learned a lot more about the nesting process, and then were able to see the mom again. This time, I got blinded by the turtle after it kicked sand into my face – thanks. But thankfully, I was able to get almost all of it out without a problem.

Then we waited for around 30 minutes until the turtle was making its way back to the water. It was such an amazing thing to see and a realization of how big these turtles were. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures, so I guess you’ll all have to go to Tortuguero to see for yourself 🙂


June 13: 

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We woke up early on Sunday morning, with the rest of the town, to go on a canal tour. It was so cool to be in a small canoe paddling around the national park waterways but also being able to go into super narrow passageways.  We were able to see monkeys, sloths, birds, iguanas, and caimans.

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can you see the baby caiman?

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In the afternoon we went on a Jungle hike. Thank goodness for Victor because there would have been no way we would have seen all the awesome animals hidden high up  in the tree. He also had incredible binoculars. Who knew binoculars could show you something that amazingly clear. We also saw our first two sloths in the wild! So exciting 🙂 On our way back, we walked along the beach and got to see where turtles had laid their eggs last night. 10532790_10152562692293630_4804264490632641274_n

Overall, it was an incredible week. Ask me for much more details on all of our tours!

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Sidebar: VICTOR WAS AMAZING!!! We got such a good deal (hotel, transportation, turtle night tour, canal tour, and jungle tour for $115) and it was totally worth the few extra dollars for ease of transportation and extra information. If you ever find yourself going to Tortuguero, ask me for his details!!

 

Covered in Mud

This post is from June 20-22. Many apologies for the extreme delay :/. 

Sit back, relax, enjoy a cup of coffee, and hope my memory is able to recount all the details.


6 weeks has come and gone faster than I would have ever imagined. Come Saturday, almost all of the close friends I have made this summer would be leaving to go back to the US. While there are of course other people for me to hang out with, its unreal that I still have 6 weeks without a lot of my original best friends.


Friday night we said goodbye to everyone at Rumba. This time it was a lot more fun. We all were dancing with different ticos and ticas and laughing the night away.


On Saturday morning, my roommates and I woke up to go on Cafe Britt’s Coffee Tour. For anyone who enjoys coffee, I highly suggest this tour. It takes you through their coffee garden, gives history of coffee, and takes you through the plantation and production process. It was very informative, funny, and enjoyable. I am now on my way to be a coffee expert. For instance, if the coffee is too hot, it’s been burned. After the tour we got to taste test all the coffee and chocolate products. It was like being in heaven. In addition, the actual grounds of Cafe Britt were very pretty and after getting out favorite iced coffee we went to eat lunch at the picnic tables.The town that Cafe Britt is located in, was supposed to be a really cool colonial town so we went to explore after the tour…but didn’t find such luck.

Nevertheless, there are a few things we saw.

1. This really creepy mural

2. Heads on sticks at the street corners

3. A room filled with heads

4. Heads so large they could fit only on mythological creatures. Turns out Barva is the town of heads.


My roommates and I had been craving a hike with a great view, so on Sunday we traveled to Braulio Carrillo National Park . After assuring we had the correct directions were on our way, packed with lunches and rain gear. After a very long, but easy bus ride, we made it to the park entrance. After paying an entrance fee and receiving a map, we thought we were set to go. Even though the map is very well labeled, it didn’t seem like we were going to be able to find the different entrances, so we just started walking on the path closest to us.

Naturally, being who I am, I was avidly trying to climb on and up and thing that looked durable. A few times parts of the rain forest would come down with me. And other times I was rather successful. 

About 30 minutes after we had started the hike, we landed back into the main entrance and where we had started. Turns out we had just been on a very short horse shoe hike. However, we were not discouraged yet. The day was still young and we had already seen a very cool ecosystem (minus animals). So we took round two at examining the map, looked for someone who worked there and then finally saw another group of students coming from a trail (?) across the street, and a little later saw another woman enter through a wooden fence for that same trail (?). We all thought, why not. As we got closer to the fence, we saw a trail name and recognized it as one of the ones on our map.

We started off extremely pumped and confused as always to where we were, besides the obvious fact: a rainforest. We continued a long and quickly made it to a view of the Rio Sucio (or the dirty river).

Next stop: a flowing river which we had to take our shoes off in order to cross. After walking a bit further, we found ourselves making a decision between walking back or continuing on to another trail.We figured we hadn’t walked too much yet and we came all this way to hike, so we might as well. An hour and a half later, covered in mud, rainforest attached to every part of our bodies, soaking wet from the rain, extremely hungry we made it of the loop and proceeded to walk back to the start of the first trail.

When we finally made it there were a few other people waiting for the bus to San Jose. They said 2 busses had already passed them without stopping. Therefore, we got out our lunch, sat on the side of the road, and waited for the bus. Naturally, being in Costa Rica means being overly crowded, so we had to sit on the stairs of a double-decker bus with tons of people staring at us because we looked terrible…great end to the day.

But seriously ask me about this hike – too many great stories. 

Peace out Braulio Carrillo National Park.

Somewhere in the Clouds

A weekend that started off being a complete nightmare to plan, has ended with so many fabulous memories.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost

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There comes a point in life where you must accept all the snowballs thrown at you or you they will bury you. I, thankfully, was taught to be resilient, to get myself up when I have fallen, to be happy-go-lucky and make the most out of every situation…and that, my friend, has made all the difference.

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Plan 1: Two weeks ago one of my roommates and I signed up to volunteer in an indigenous village through a program sponsored by our University. Although hesitant, due to all the hassle with signing up, seeing an indigenous culture was on both of our bucket lists. Yet, on Tuesday of this week, we received an email letting us know that due to weather issues our trip was being pushed back to July 26 (remember its original date was June 27th). Not only did my roommate and I already have plans for that weekend, we now had to scrabble to figure out plans for this weekend (most of our friends were going to Uvita and since we had already been, didn’t feel the need to go back) and get our money back from volunteering. While I understand that the change was for my safety, the weather has been bad for a while and the company should have told us way earlier. Lesson learned: you can’t trust planned trips. This is not the first time something’s been cancelled on us and it won’t be the last.

Plan 2: There were limestone caves in the Nicoyan Peninsula that we had heard about and really wanted to see. So Tuesday night we started to plan a trip to see them. My guidebook had a lot of great resources and made the trip sound pretty simple. Only problem was we needed to figure out what else we could do in that area since the beaches were all on the coast and we were at least an hour (maybe more) from any of them. After finding a few friends to come with us, we decided that we would ask one of our directors tomorrow what else we could do there. When we asked our director, he said that he would love to come with us and he’d plan the trip and everything and then come back to us with a quote. I was a little worried that it was going to end up being a little more expensive (especially after finding out he had a tour company on the side), but we would take it one stride at a time.


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Plan 3: He got back to us Thursday with a quote and after running numbers on my own I knew it was a little pricy. He went back to the drawing board and gave us a new quote that night. Although still a bit more than we would have liked, having him as a guide and driving us everywhere would save a lot of hassle and frustration in the long run. By Friday, we were all set to go. Just needed to pay and confirm the exact departure time. Long story short, at 1:30 pm Friday afternoon from him saying that he was just give a contract by our program that restricts him from planning trips for students (something that I had been wondering the entire time) and that he couldn’t take us this weekend.

Plan 4: This entire weekend has been a big pile of terrible communication and so my roommate and I immediately trying to plan our own trip to the caves. Pretty early on in that process, we realized that all the information in my handy-dandy guidebook seemed to be wrong… We great, now we are pretty much out of luck because there doesn’t seem to be a way for us to get up there and travel around once there. Our director, obviously feeling terribly, said he could help us figure out plans but there would be no middle man charges (something that should never have happened at all-seeing as we never asked him to plan the trip in the first place, but nonetheless I digress). 10488112_10152961527013272_7873316942245347763_n

Plan 5: His plan – My 3 friends and I would rent a car with GPS, leave early in the morning, drive straight to the caves, then drive to our hotel and beach. Although the driving here is insane and my roommate and I were a little concerned about our safety – if our guy friends felt comfortable for the road trip, we’d be down. So we tell our guy friends and wait for a response. An hour passes and we still haven’t heard from them. We call their house and their mama Tica says that they went to the gym, so we wait. 2 hours pass, then 3 and we decided to call the trip and make other plans (see below). 5 hours later our guys friend finally message us back saying, ” what’s the plan, we’d love to road trip.” We had to tell them that we had made other plans since they never responded. Wake up call: if you are planning last-minute trips with friends, DON’T BE OUT OF CONTACT.

Plan 6: My roommate had read about La Paz Waterfall Garden that was supposed to be really pretty and is close to where we live and two of our friends were down to go. We called to get directions to it from our house. They were incredibly helpful and told us the following: 7 am bus outside of the National University. Take that until you pass through La Paz around 8:15 am. Then there is a 1 pm or 5:30 pm bus back to Heredia. Thankfully, simple directions.

1907368_10152961520388272_6645965059581988972_nPlan 7: What really happened. We woke up at 5:30 to make it to the bus station by 6:50. At this point, we really had no clue what the bus looked like and started asking every bus that passed if they went to La Paz. After several people saying no, we called La Paz to get further details on the bus. The man kept telling me he didn’t know bus details, its red and white, and passed between 9 and 10, but we could get on the La Paz tour bus. Welp, so much for an easy trip. At around 7:20 we decided that this bus wasn’t coming and got on a bus that went to Alajuela, from where we could take a bus to Poas Volcano (which was 20 minutes from La Paz), and figure out the last step when we got there. We arrived Alajuela around 8 and the bus didn’t leave until 9, so we went to grab coffee and a little snack. Around 45 minutes into the drive, the bus stopped because there was a huge semi that fell off the road. It didn’t look like it would be moving anytime soon meaning the bus wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. However, this was a gift sent from god for us at least. I checked my GPS and we were around 15 minutes from La Paz so we had one of our friends go ask the store we were by if we could get a taxi from there. After a few minutes, our friend comes back to tell us that this random man, William, is going to take us. None of us question the safety and feel so blessed by this random act of kindness. The drive was gorgeous and William was a sweet heart. He didn’t even ask us for money when we got to La Paz, but obviously we paid him.10450758_10152961570193272_2761460446100555937_n

By the time we got there and bought our tickets it was around 10:30. However, after taking a trip to the bathroom we knew this p
lace was going to be a wonderful way to spend our day. (The bathroom had waterfall sinks and the coolest decorations). The day was absolutely marvelous, we saw (and got to hold) Tucans – one pooped on my friend -, hummingbirds, frogs,  snakes, monkeys, monkeys, jungle cats – and we saw them being fed -, birds, butterflies, and went on a hike that led us to 5 different waterfalls.  We were basically at an upscale Zoo. While none of these animals had been taken from the wild, meaning they were all rescue
animals, I still struggled with them being caged in. For lunch, we ate at Trout Lake, where you could go fishing for your fish for lunch/dinner. I actually felt like I was in a country club. After lunch, we took advantage of the garden’s trails, but ended up getting lost and not making it very far. However, we did come across something spectacular: a river. And me being me, I naturally started to explore. Thankfully, I was with others who felt the same and we ended up staying (playing and sitting) in the river for over 1 hour. It was incredibly relaxing and an amazing way to end the day.

Side bar: Before we began our exploration, we made sure we knew how to get home since this mornings directions didn’t go so well. A lot of the front desk kept saying that there was only a 1 pm bus, but then some others said there was a 5 or 5:30 bus. We just decided to go about our day and finalize the bus deal when we were done. After we saw the Jungle Cat feeding, we went to figure out how to get home. After getting 2 more different bus times (6 and 6:30), we were told we could take a bus back to Barva (which we were familiar with and knew we could taxi home from). Although our driver was crazy, we miraculously made it home safely after being gone for 12 hours.

* We later found out that the La Paz bus doesn’t stop at the University, it just passes by. This means you have to flag it down when it drives past…because we were totally supposed to know that…


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Other thoughts from the day:

1. We ran into a lot of very nice people at La Paz and talked extensively with 3 different groups. It was really amazing talking to them, because I was able to give tips and advice for things in Costa Rica. It really made me feel like a Tico and not a tourist.

2. This was an incredible place to explore, feel free to ask me more – I just didn’t want to make this post any longer 🙂

Zoom Zoom

This past weekend I headed out to Montezuma, in Puntarenas Province, with 10 friend to get in one last fun weekend before many of them leave. Highlight and blooper reel below:

1. Two of 10 decided that the 6 hour-long journey to Montezuma was not for them and bought $118 (roundtrip) “plane” tickets. But the rest of us headed out straight from school to catch our first bus. We would be taking this bus to the ferry and then getting back on it to reach a connecting bus which would then take us to our hotel. Although this sounds complicated, our second bus went on to the ferry with us, so we were able to leave all of our belongs on it and then proceed back on the bus after the ferry ride was over. Although this was a long ride, we were all super excited and got to enjoy the beautiful a sunset. (I probably took 30 photos of it setting).

*Ask me about: Our comical preparations for the first bus and the mirrors of our second.

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2. After last weekends arrival ending in no dinner, we were pleasantly surprised that the town of Montezuma (one main street) was alive and ready to serve us a hearty dinner.   Little did we know, Montezuma was also going to provide us with a ton of “entertainment” for the evening: a run in with the immigration police. What they told us was a regular inspection consisted of around 60 policemen and women walking through the streets, checking everyone’s passports. Later that night we found out this happens about once a year. Thankfully, all my friends cleared the check. However, the police’s presence totally killed the town’s energy for the night.

3. After breakfast, we headed out to the town’s 3 tiered waterfall (however, we were told the 2nd and 3rd 10440749_10204205507803050_4106661428122884394_ntiers were very challenging to climb to). To make sure we didn’t get lost getting to the first tier, we confirmed directions from a local. Instead one of them said he would come with. Without our guide Jesus, we probably wouldn’t have ever found the waterfall or made it through the hike there. Upon first site, the waterfall looked anything but appetizing – see brown murky water. In fact, the water was so dark that I was able to fix the bathing suit that I accidentally put on upside down. I really was worried that swimming in this water may cause health problems down the road.  However, what I really should have been worried about it my intense love for adventure. After being at the waterfall for 5 minutes, my friends and I realized that Jesus had climbed up its side and was about to jump…from the top. I knew that I had to jump off this waterfall, even if not from the top. Before we left, I finally convinced one of my friends to jump with me and Jesus showed us the way. I was able to make it up fairly easy, but when I was ready to jump – I freaked. I was supposed to make a pencil jump, but had to somehow clear the large pile of rock 10406376_10152132563691022_4039666244882090870_nright below me. After several other groups had stopped to watch me, I worked up the courage to jump 30 ft. It was incredibly thrilling and definitely worth the bruise that immediately started to form on the entire left side of my body – from butt to calf – due to my poor landing. Thankfully, the initial shock and pain wore off and the bruise barley hurt.

* Ask me about the manhole and the creepy breakfast spot.

4. After that thrill, we headed to the town’s only bar to watch the first Costa Rican World Cup game. It is so incredibly nice to be in a country that cares about futball. See world cup post to read more about the insane celebration we were able to be a part of.

5. I really enjoyed the town of Uvita more than Montezuma, but the beach at Montezuma definitely won the competition. It was wonderful to be able to sit on the beach at night with all my friends, talk, take in the setting, and breath in the wonderful energy that fills Costa Rica.

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6. Surf lessons: I could write an entire post about surfing, but for now I will give the short version. To start off, I encourage every single person to try surfing at least once. After taking a long hike (sleepwalking) at 7 AM, our two guides (for my 3 friends and I) were ready for us to start learning. They prepped us on land and then allowed us to start in the water. Although most of our 2 hours was filled with a massive rain storm (meaning that taking pictures was difficult), it was one of the most freeing things I have ever done. There was no way to keep a smile off of my face as I slow slid across the water. While I might have only learned to stand up and ride baby waves, I got to experience the high that I am assuming all surfers feel. I can now fully understand why people would devote their life to this sport. It’s empowering, thrilling, and challenging. 10410259_10102035222634450_8690390166334290060_n

* Ask me about the fruit and our bus fiascos turning our 6 hour journey into 8.

Lessons from the weekend

1. Bug bites: ALWAYS PUT ON BUG SPRAY – when you wake up, during the day, at night. I came home with at least 30 bug bites, most of them on my butt. Let’s be honest, everyone knows that is the worst spot.

2. Backpackers: On our drive home I got to witness a beautiful conversation between two backpackers. Although it kept me from falling asleep, I realized something incredible. As we all have been told, each one of us has our own, unique story to tell. What is amazing about traveling, is you get to share your story with all those who you meet – people who have come together for one special purpose, but that you are also very different from. When two backpackers come together, you realize how much of the world they have seen, how exciting their life has been, how eager they are to make friends, to take in the culture, to learn, to just be one with every moment that comes their way. It’s hard not to smile when they get to share their journeys with others. This is something I have always wanted to do (although I can’t imagine carrying all my belongings on my back) and truly hope I can.

3. Traveling in Latin America: It sucks. End of story. In Hong Kong, the web was so helpful in giving me step by step directions to get from point A to point B. Even when I was confused, I could easily look at street signs and figure it out. In Costa Rica, traveling means never being even 90% sure that you are headed in the right direction, taking a non direct route, and buses being overly crowded. This is just something that you must accept or you will be incredibly annoyed during your time in Latin America.

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Apologies for the brief explanations, I am more than happy to talk to you about this wonderful weekend in more details.

Life is Good

A little after the fact. A detailed account of my getaway to Uvita. It’s surprising how many stories came out of the little moments. Everything that happens here is comical and questionable aka a very long post awaits.

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June 6 – 8

While last weekend was a unprogrammed, free weekend to explore on my own, this weekend truly reached the status of what I was hoping from my trip. A group of eight of us left Friday afternoon to head out to Playa Uvita on Puntarenas Province. We were taking a semi-private bus (think greyhound without the sketchy people), that was supposed to be anywhere from 3 1/2 to 5 hours (because that’s how people describe things in Costa Rica, apparently). I was so tired that I crashed almost immediately after sitting down in my seat. We ended up getting stuck in a lot of traffic that contributed to a very long bus ride, but besides that it was all good. However, there were a few times where my friends and I had no clue what we got ourselves into. Example: we legitimately picked people up on the side of the road. I am assuming they had tickets, but were no bus stations or rest stops were nearby. It was bizarre to say the least.

Fire Show from one of the hostel dwellers (he had been here for 7 months)

Fire Show from one of the hostel dwellers (he had been here for 7 months)

We made one stop for the bathroom before the stop where we were getting off at. By the time we made it to our final destination before the hostel we had been on the bus for roughly 5 hours. We were ready to get some grub and relax to say the least. The rest stop/ restaurant where we got off looked anything but appetizing so we decided to grab food when we made it to our hostel. Upon arrival we were mesmerized with where we had landed. It was full of beach hippies, plants, hammocks, and a general vibe of chill. Sadly, our aw came to a stop when we found out that no place was going to be open for dinner. We ended up drinking and eating the few snacks we had brought.

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Farmer’s Market

In the morning we started our day early with the best Gallo Pinto I have had since being here and then took off to explore the town. Our first stop the farmers market. While it took us quite some time to walk there, it was really fun (and hot) exploring, getting in a nice walk, and running in to some friends we made at the hostel we were staying at. Yes, it was that small of a town where we ran into people we knew multiple times. The farmers market was filled with a lot of local, fresh food products and Brits. Apparently that’s the town to stay in if you are English. There was a woman there who had a lot of gluten-free baked goods and I bought an incredible granola bar.

Afterwards, we finished our trek to an absolutely incredible waterfall. It was definitely worth the hike.  We hung out at the different parts of the fall for a while. Climbed up the fall to jump off a small cliff – it was actually incredibly difficult to find the right gripping and to swim into the current.


IMG_1232After the waterfall we were all pretty tired and decided we didn’t want to make the trek back down to the hostel/beach so we called a taxi and sat down to grab a snack (first guacamole we has seen since being here!) since the wait was around 20 minutes. The cab ended up coming before our food came out so after paying the taxi driver, we decided to stay and all ordered lunch. After lunch we thought it would be smartest to walk down the hill we were on to grab a taxi. Our walk down was rather frightening. A car of 5 Ticos was driving behind us, moving around 5 mph. We were in the middle of no where in this deserted town. Eventually, they passed up and stared out the window at us for a good 5 minutes. Thankfully, nothing happened.

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In other good graces, when we got down to the bottom of the hill there was a truck taxi that we were able to grab. By truck I mean the type of truck that carries animals, but hey it was able to fit the six of us (the other two went to the beach for the day). We had the cab let us out at this ice cream place everyone kept telling us to try. But when I say Ice Cream place I mean a woman’s house. You walk to her door (which was open every single time we passed it that weekend) and she and her daughter came outside to take your order and 400 colones (cheapest ice cream I have ever bought – less than $1).

say what?

say what?

She comes back with bags of Ice cream and all of us just sort of look at it. After the number of people who had told us about the ice cream, one of them might have mentioned it came in a bag. Anyways, so we are all trying to figure out how to eat it when she comes back with my vanilla (that was as yellow as the sun) and chuckles at my friends, who have untied their bags and are biting it, and apologies for not giving us the instructions on proper technique. 1. Bite a small hole in the corner of the bag 2. Eat it through the hole. Not only did we get delicious ice cream, we got entertainment for our walk home.

Next on our agenda was to walk to the whale tail on the beach while tide was still low. After walking for what seemed like 10 miles, we finally reached it. And it was something I had never experienced before. The beach is behind you as you walk on to a strip in the ocean and make it to the end where the tail Is made by all rocks. When tide started getting high it was incredible to be standing in a place where two tides become one.

The rest of the night was very relaxing, minus a short power outage at our hostel. We had dinner at a delicious restaurant and I had the most refreshing smoothie. The rest of the weekend was chill. We woke up early to get a few hours out of the beach before we needed to leave. Note: the sun is much more powerful out here. Even with a nice layer of sunscreen, one should be wary to lay out in the run. Result: a back burn that lasted a week.

My friend, Lauren.

My friend, Lauren.

All in all a fantastic weekend with even better people.

Things to ask me about:

1. The taxi meter and our BFF driver.

2. More about our hostel.

3. The restaurant owner.

4. Trying to leave Uvita

A Weekend of Bliss

Although a little after the fact, I couldn’t resist reflecting on my weekend of bliss.

Highlight Version – La Fortuna Waterfall, Hot Springs, Zip-lining in the Rain Forest.

We left early morning Saturday to drive around 3-4 hours to the town of La Fortuna. While I had been out the night before with not a lot of sleep, I was energized and excited for the day. By the time we arrived to the waterfall the rain had started. However, I had stupidly forgotten to pack a raincoat or umbrella. Oh well, a little bit of rain never hurt anyone. To get to the beauty of the waterfall you have to walk over 400 steps down in the rainforest. The scenery was gorgeous and I was completely awed when I saw the waterfall for the first time.Yet, it wasn’t until we swam in the water that I understood the full amazement of this place. At this point, the rain was in full swing and there was zero hope of keeping any of my stuff dry.

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Just the gals and some natural beauty

When I stepped into the freezing cold water, slippery rocks emerged beneath my feet and I was immediately overcome. This was by far one of the best things I had ever experienced. The force of the waterfall was producing a huge current which made treading and swimming incredibly tiring. After being in the there for 30 minutes, I went to explore the rocks (per usual). When it was time to leave, I realized that everything I took off the bus was soaked. This began a theme for the entire weekend: absolutely no dry clothing.

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One of the hot springs with a swim up bar

After the waterfall, we had around an hour, hour and a half before we reached our hotel. Our hotel was beautiful and each room was in a little cottage. Shortly after arriving, we put back on our bathing suits to go see the hot springs. I was imagining that they would be straight up hot springs, like the ones you see around volcanoes. However, they were far from it. While the water was heated from the volcano, the resort we went to had made each spring into a beautifully designed pool. Although there was slight disappointment, the night ended up being extremely relaxing.

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That mountain doe

After returning from the hot springs, my friends and I decided that we had to fight the tiredness and go out. After all, we were only going to be in this town once. About 13 of us headed out to El Establo, a bar right next door to our hotel, and were immediately stared down by all the locals. However, it ended up being a really fun night. We went into the dance club attached
and joined the Tico’s dance circle for a while. All in all it was a definitely worth a little less sleep.

The next morning we went going zip-lining in the rain forest. To be honest, this is what I had really been looking forward to all week. And it did not disappoint. The feeling of zipping through the air, alone, with such an incredible view around and below is breathtaking. There were so many moments I would just start laughing aloud at how beautiful everything was. There are not many people who get to experience this.1901180_10101993094095380_5281254817974180461_n Even though it was raining (told you I didn’t have a single pair of dry clothing by the end of the trip) we still had a great time. The rain actually made zip-lining even better because when you were watching someone before you, there would be times that he/she would suddenly disappear into a cloud. Eery but incredible.

I am so grateful for all the amazing things I got to see this weekend and truly hope that all of you can at some point in your life as well.