So Many Feels

What started off as a terrible morning, filled with tons of frustrations with my class and program, was quickly turned around by a quick vent session with my best friend and big. It’s crazy how talking to someone who means so much to you can completely turn around your day 🙂 I am forever grateful for all she does for me and for all the amazing days she has helped me have even when we are no together.


The concept of a waste of time is one that should be rid from someone vocabulary when he/she are abroad. Today I was going to get bus tickets for our trip this weekend.

I had checked the name and location of the bus station a million times.
I checked with people who had gone last week.
And I felt pretty competent in my ability to make the trek and it was very easy (bus to taxi, taxi to bus).

My roommate was on Skype with her boyfriend who she rarely gets to talk to due to an 8 hour time difference and so I said I had no problem going by myself. I’m sure you all know where this is going – you know I never have easy trips. Problems started when the taxi driver didn’t know where the stop was.  Then, when I finally made it to the station (which ended up being the same one we went to for another trip) it turned out you couldn’t buy tickets in advance. Thanks web articles. Talking solely in Spanish, I tried to communicate with the bus workers about buying tickets and making sure this was the only station to leave from. After getting the same answer over and over again, I decided it was time to give up and go home with complete confusion on how my friends bought their tickets early. Usually at this point, I would have been extremely mad about my time that was wasted with this trip, but instead I choose to look on the bright side and check an item off my Costa Rican bucket list: “exploring/traveling” around by myself here – sorry mom, promise I was safe about it. Additionally, I now knew the best way to get to the station on Friday. 2 bonuses from a rather unsuccessful trip.


Fear is the number one thing that holds us back, and when you say “yes” to things that scare you, you take back control of your life and open yourself up to infinite new experiences.

I’m type a. Don’t get me wrong. I like having a nice and best schedule, being very productive, things being on time and taking only the slotted amount, and things making sense. But when you’re abroad you can’t think like that. If you do, you’ll not only be frustrated day and night, but you’ll miss out on some of the best experiences. This might get annoying to some people on the trip worried about safety or logistics, but just let it be. If you keep a positive attitude and let all the frustrations go you’ll end up with a memory you’d never expect. Its pretty cool how things end up working out for the best.


The day continued to improve with an amazing dinner, it seems my Mama Tica is finally back to being herself even though another family member is sick. During dinner we got on the topic of the exercise parks in the neighborhood, so after dinner we took a walk to explore. After 10 weeks of being here, I just found out about these. It’s so comical how you can be in a place for a long time before you find out about spots that could easily become your favorite. For instance, the second park we went to is on a hill and has a great view of city. I am sure it is an amazing spot for watching sunrise and sunset (this is now on my roommate’s and I to do list).  This evening was filled with  so many laughs trying out all the different exercise equipment and I was so happy to finally get my Mama Tica out of the house. She seemed to get so much more energy, it was heartwarming to see!


Tonight, things got real when I realized I only had 2 weeks left here. Where has all the time gone? I may never understand why I am served potatoes and rice in the same meal and why there are no street signs. I may not be able to completely rid myself with frustration for my program or travels here, but one thing is for sure: I am so sad it’s all coming to an end.  I seriously can’t fathom how I only have 2 weeks left in this fabulous country.  My life has completely changed since I came here 10 short weeks ago. I still remember how awkward it was the first day: my host mom and I sat for 2 hours trying to communicate without being able to speak the language. And now, while we still can’t have in-depth conversations without translation help, I have learned so much from her, from her family, and from this country. It’s amazing to know when I leave,  I’ll always have a family and a place to stay in Costa Rica. It’s a constant motivation to learn spanish in order for me to be able communicate on new levels with my family.


Coming full circle: you never know what you can experience until you take a step outside of your comfort zone and being vulnerable. 

My Life in a Nutshell

Recently, I have found two quotes that sum up my entire life. From things not going as they should to spending days not being productive to dressing in cute clothes and being sad when you haven’t seen anyone that day to not living my day to the absolute fullest. What quotes define your life?

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The Hard Gets Harder

Moving into my last 3 weeks, last class, and last time friends leave has caused a lot of mixed emotions.

1.  On Saturday, I officially saif goodbye to all of my friends (besides one of my roommates – thankfully!) Yes, a new group of students came during the last 3 weeks and on Saturday (summer 3 and 4). However, it has been extremely hard to get to know the ones who are not in my class. I still have been able to have wonderful weekends and be with cool people – especially with my mom visiting me this upcoming weekend. Yet, the weekdays have become more and more low-key with each session. This is due to the fact that I have fewer people who I would go out with/hang out at night,  but also because there are really no more places I am dying to visit during afternoons.

I am still happy here because I have my family and my roommate and It’s so much less lonely than last summer. It makes  me really truly appreciate everyone who I still have in my life here. Even still, the hardest part, besides losing so many friends, is seeing my roommate unhappy. I know she has really missed her family this entire time and it has been doubly hard losing all of our friends. It’s hard to know exactly how to help her besides trying to stay busy. I know these last 3 weeks are going to fly by and will be amazing, but it is really challenging to no longer have the convenience of all my friends being here with me.

2. My Mama Tica’s cousin died of cancer this past Thursday and it has been really hard to see her go through this. While today things are definitely looking up, she seems to be doing a lot better and having more energy, it has been so difficult to know how to help her. We’ve been trying our best not to push her, but to do things to take her mind off of it. I am so glad she is doing better and am praying for her family everyday.

3. In a month, I will have already moved in to my chaffin, started training for VUcept and Tour Guides, and starting school in less than a week. WHERE HAS TIME GONE??

A Cinderella Story

And that’s a wrap – Germany wins the world cup.

But not before a team filled with heart and spirit went farther than anyone ever imagined.

Costa Rica’s La Sele became the team that found its way into the hearts of people around the world.

Our World Cup run ended may have early, but the legacy of what was accomplished will continue to live on in the hearts of the wonderful Costa Rican people, as well as all around the world. I’m so blessed to live alongside such loving, lively, and beautiful people who allow me to feel like an ADOPTED Tica. It’s not common to find fans who will still parade the streets after a loss in support of their team. Costa Rica, I love you. # costarica # vivalasele # cinderellastory -Emmanuelle Quitzau

20140709-232718-84438537.jpgWhile the day we lost, Ticos may not have stayed out long after the game, the people of Costa Rica continued to hold their heads up with pride. Although they would no longer be competing for the World Cup, we were incredibly proud of how far their team came and how well they played throughout the entire tournament. It’s not everyday that your team loses and people are still honking their horns in the street. Costa Rica made it farther than they ever had and only lost to the Netherlands in a close shoot-out. Costa Rica made its presence known and showed the world what we were capable of. We made our story known: A Cinderella Story, accomplishing what no one thought we could.

The Tuesday after they lost, La Sele (Costa Rica’s team) returned home.  The Tico times released event details to celebrate their return : 3 pm in La Sabana. Tens of thousands of fans were expected to be there.

20140709-232718-84438343.jpgThis may have been the biggest understatement I have ever heard. My friends and I show up to La Sabana around 2:15 pm and fans have already lined the street starting at least 5 miles away. Some people that we met had been there since 8:30 am. The crowd was absolutely insane, people filled streets and sidewalks that weren’t closed and waited for La Sele to join. Around 5 pm there was still no sign of the team. People were growing antsy but no one moved. Fans ran into the closest restaurants and grocery stores to refuel, but no one was moving. The news had reported La Sele left the airport at 3 pm and had been headed our way ever since. So what took a 30 minute drive so long??

People. Hundred of thousands. Fans. Crowded streets.

The welcome bus was moving so slow due to the enormous crowd of people who were there starting at the airport and continuing all the way to where I was. The bus could barely move and continuously stopped to say hi to fans, sign jerseys, and smile for a picture. Around 6 pm, we decided that the team was nowhere near us (the news showed people walking right behind the bus – like a parade) and that we should sadly go home while we still have the chance and before it gets dark.

Thankfully, there was only traffic on the main road and we were able to make it home in a good time via taxi. Once home we watched the news, continuing to see the bus make its way to La Sabana. At 7:15 pm, La Sele finally made it – 4 plus hours after expected. But not to worry there were now even more fans than before all ready for the concert and welcome ceremony to start. Around 9:30 the concert finally ended and people started to disperse home. Although we weren’t there – we still felt the pride and spirit of the entire country. It’s not everyday you get to see an enormous celebration for a team that “didn’t” go all the way. But believe me when I say this – we went all the way and more. We made history. We made others fall in love with us. We made tears. We made ourselves known. 20140709-232718-84438123.jpg

La Sele will forever be my team and I am so incredibly proud of what they were able to be. Experiencing the World Cup here was an event of a life time. I am so lucky I was able to be a part of it.

Gratitude

Everything else, is immaterial.
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There are so many things we think we need in life. There are so many times where we get caught up worrying about an event or action that seems life threatening. Coming to Costa Rica has reminded me that the people in your life, the passion with which you take experience, the awareness with which you think about events, and giving to others is really what matters.

At home, my room is cluttered with things I have wanted over the years. But here, without any of them I realize that even if I don’t need any of the material goods to make me happy – I just need my friends and family by my side. With them I know that anything is possible. When a stressful life event happens, remember to be thankful for getting the opportunity to push through it and be grateful for at least one thing everyday.

To all my family and friends out there – you are the reason I laugh, smile, and love.

Dulcita de leche

What’s good muchach@s! Alright…my apologies for not keeping up with this blog as much as I would like. To all three of my readers, if you’re still out there give me a sign (wave?  smoke signal? anything?).

As I’m nearing the end of my stay here in Costa Rica, I can’t believe how fast time has flown by. Before coming to this beautiful country, I knew no one, had a rustic understanding of the language and didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. Five weeks later, I’ve met some wonderful people, can actually keep up a conversation with a native without saying “lo siento” every 15 seconds, and have experienced some kickass adventures through rain forests, beaches, volcanoes, mountains – you name it. Throughout this fantastic journey, I’ve been given the opportunity to see a part of the world that has SO many beautiful things to offer.

Saying that I feel…

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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.

A Quick Apologie

Dear Reader (well, let’s be honest. Mom you are probably the only one reading this 🙂 ),

Why have I not posted in age?

Am I safe? Yes.

Have I been so extremely busy that I haven’t had the chance to write? Not completely.

Am I giving up on the blog? No.

My computer finally gave up on me about a week and a half to two weeks ago. I haven’t been able to fix it on my own and am getting Apple store help tomorrow. While I am able to write on my phone, it is challenging to edit and add pictures. Hopefully, I will be able to be connected again soon.

Again, sorry for the delay.

Much love,

Allanah

 

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A Change of Perspective

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After 2 months of living in Costa Rica, I have had a lot of time to reflect on my experience and on my life. Being in such a different culture has helped me discover the most important parts of lie.

1. Family life and selfishness

It’s been eye-opening being in a culture that values family so much. For example: it’s extremely common for kids who have moved out of the house and are married to eat most of their meals at their parent’s house. The way our host mom explains it – why wouldn’t they be independent, there is no reason. And this way parents get to see their children a lot.

While this is very different from America, it’s extremely heartwarming that Ticos most important thing is family. It really makes me rethink how much I always want to travel and do activities, when really I should be spending more time at home, being there for all the important life events, and making sure to always be updated on daily life.

Note to self: I don’t have to give up my dreams of traveling, but I can take some time traveling continental US with loved ones. Since I can remember, I have traveled more outside the US than in it.

2. Fitting in

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to be abroad for so long is to be fully immersed with in another culture. There is a huge difference from being a tourist, a traveler, and a resident of a country. Regardless of which title you have, there are always “dos” and “don’ts”.

I have tried to adapt my way of life while in Costa Rica to fit in: I speak Spanish (to the best of my abilities) when communicating, I don’t wear shorts out  of the house only pants, skirts, and dresses (I will, however, admit I occasionally break this rule when it is really hot), I eat almost all of my meals at home, I travel on public buses, I live simply (heck, my computer has been broken for a week now and besides being able to write blog posts – it’s not a big deal), I am fine with taking cold showers, I don’t throw toilet paper in the toilet, and I visit places that are a little off the beaten path. Nevertheless, there are still a few things that will make me stand out until (and if) I become fluent in Spanish and completely adapt to a Tico’s way of life:

1. I am extremely pale:  yes, some Ticos are pale but they also have flawless spanish accents. 
2. I have blond-haired:  even fewer Ticos have blond hair but the ones that do fit in every other way. 
3. I have blue eyes: even less Ticos have blue eyes, combined with the other 2 people may question is they are Ticos. Then they will talk and all will be right with the world. 

I know that regardless of where I go, I may look like a foreigner. Yet, I can still try my hardest with every other aspect.

Note to self: I really should stop wearing workout clothes on weekends. Regardless of the activity – riding a bus, hiking, going to the beach – Tico’s will look presentable. This is definitely the hardest “rule” for me.

3. Safety

It has been very hard living in a country where I am not supposed to walk around by myself or anywhere at night, even with a group. For starters, it’s been a really strange change after living in Hong Kong last summer. Hong Kong  is one of the safest places I have ever been and I was able to walk at any time of day/night by myself. Secondly, I’m a very independent person and while I love company, I also want to be able to do things on my own if there is no one else who wants to do the same activity. Even a walk to the gym, which is around the corner from my house, is scary at night. If I have my roommate with me, I usually feel safe, but it is a risk not taking a 1 minute cab ride.

Note to self: I must live in a safe neighborhood when I settle down.

4. Traveling to Latin America when I am young

I never imagined myself traveling to Sweden, China, Hong Kong, or Costa Rica. I’ve always wanted to travel around Europe and experience that way of life. But yet, I always find myself in other countries, that are far less traveled too. The way I see it, especially with Costa Rica, I have the rest of my life to travel to countries that fit my desired way of life. However, when I am older and taking vacations I probably won’t enjoy traveling to countries that are not as glamorous or easy to navigate. Thus, while I am young, I should take advantage of being in these types of countries.

Yes, transportation is an absolute nightmare and figuring out how to get anywhere is like solving the hardest math problem you’ll ever have, but PURA VIDA MAE. This is the characteristic of the country you are in and there is nothing you can do about it. So suck it up and go with the flow or else you are going to hate the time you have here.

Note to self: Appreciate the simplicity of planning and traveling at home. In fact, appreciate all the small things you never thought you’d miss.

5. Being the constant

When I signed up for my program, I was under the impression that there would be around 20 kids who would be spending the full 12 weeks with me. In reality, there were two others in my session who are here for 12 weeks, 1 who is here for 15, 2 who were staying for 9 weeks, and the rest stayed 3 or 6 weeks. Out of session 2, there are 2 people staying 9 weeks (meaning they leave the same time as me), 1 staying 12 weeks, and the rest for 3 or 6 weeks.

While, I do have session 3 and session 4 kids to befriend, I have had to say goodbye to over 50 friends, listened to their complains and wishes to go home when they were a week away from departure, and had to continuously make new groups of friends. Yes, the last statement is not always a huge problem; It’s always great meeting new people. However, the problem lies in the fact that the first 3 weeks anyone is here is filled with programmed activities making it hard to bond with the new kids who are making their own groups or meeting anyone from the new group who is not in your group. Its been a running joke with everyone that I won’t have friends when they leave and telling the new group to “BE MY FRIEND” :).

It really hasn’t been as bad as I had thought it would be. Yes, life during the week has become less social, but I still have great weekends and have been very lucky having 2 other roommates. And luckiest of all – one of my roommates is here the entire time with me. I really don’t think I could be here without her and to think I didn’t even know her 2 months ago.

Note to self: Don’t be a drama queen and deal with problems as they arise – not before.

6. The food

For the first time since I have traveled to another country, I really don’t have complaints about the food. Yes, I eat more eggs, hamburger meat, and fish than I have in my entire life, it’s incredibly easy to be gluten free here and all of it tastes good. There are only two dishes that I have been given that I had a hard time finishing; not a bad track record. Since everything is muy rica (a phrase meaning very rich that Ticos say about all of their food), I will miss it. Thankfully, my Mama Tica started teaching us a few recipes. Keep an eye out for photos and posts.

Note to self: Become a good cook, find a store that sells the correct products to make Costa Rican food, and share dishes with friends and family. Become “famous” in your family for doing so.

7. 12 weeks

In hindsight, there are many times where I think 9 weeks would have probably been the perfect amount of time here. But in reality, I am very fickle. We all get frustrated  especially with being with a select group of people everyday. Sometimes the frustration gets too much and all you wish is that you go home. But then most of the time, you see an incredible view, have an amazing moment with your family, or experience the Ticos welcoming home La Sele (or their soccer team) and you think “I never want to leave.”

12 weeks allows me to have more time practicing my Spanish, really become a part of the culture, and my family, and most importantly – feel more like I live here. It allows me to have some low key weekend where I stay at home or do day trips, not have every day programmed, and allow myself to be lethargic everyone in a while. Reason being because I am not a tourist and don’t have to squeeze everything into 1,3,6,7, or 9 weeks. I have now hit this sweet spot where I do really feel at home.

Note to self: Keep in contact with Mama Tica and the rest of the family. I will miss them all so much and know that I will forever have a second family and home here. Maybe one day I can return. P.s. Mom, I am so excited for you to meet them!!!

8. Nonverbal communication

What I find most interesting about the World Cup, besides the incredible plays, is the idea that all the players on the field don’t always share a common language. Being a past participant in international soccer games, I know that it is both a challenge and blessing to not be able to communicate fully with the other team. This idea relates directly to my study abroad experience, as I am living with a family that speaks little English while I speak only a small of Spanish.

It never ceases to amaze me how much we can communicate without words. While my speaking in Spanish is not great,  I can understand a majority of what is said at home (sometimes in class too) using context clues and non verbals. And in return, I am able to speak with people without using all the right conjugations  sentence structure, or words.  I have always wonder how people can form relationships without speaking the same language and then you experience that same thing and realize how much you can communicate and bond without understanding each other fully.

Final note to self: As with everything, there are definitely some parts of my trip that are less glorious than others, but at the end of the day – I am in Costa Rica and I can either spend my days frustrated with how things work or I can accept it and move on.
There is a big difference in happiness between the two.

Worry-Free Wednesday: Everything Happens for a Reason

My big gives some pretty awesome advice!!!

Adventures of a Yankee Belle

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Unfortunately, we can’t control everything. For a Type-A-must-have-an-organized-plan-for-anything-and-everything like myself, this can be a difficult concept to grasp at times. Add that to an already especially tumultuous period in one’s life, the twenties, and you have a recipe for a stage 5 mental breakdown.

Welcome to life as a twenty-something. It’s a decade that is held up on a pedestal by those yearning for the independence and adulthood they naively believe turning 20 automatically brings, as well as by those who pine away for their so-called glory years. But for those who are actually experiencing it in the present, to quote lyrical genius, T-Swift,”we’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.”

We’re faced with so many big life decisions and opportunities, all while trying to figure out who we are as individuals and what we value at our core. We may be moving far away from the comforts of home to a city…

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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 🙂