Friday, June 3, 2011

Costa Rica Day 26
I have officially completed my 4 weeks of studying in Costa Rica!! My final grade was a 86… so close to an A, but I’m completely happy with a B. I can’t believe how quickly this month has gone by. At times it felt like I would never return home, but as I’m sitting here tonight… it’s almost bitter sweet leaving this beautiful place. Not to confuse this with my complete excitement for returning home… but I’ve just met so many wonderful people here and formed some great relationships… it’s hard to say goodbye. 4 weeks is exactly long enough to get comfortable with people, form relationships, and then say goodbye.
After my test today, we had graduation. I got a pretty little certificate that will definitely be going on the fridge at home. When we were finally dismissed from school, I went to lunch with a group from West Georgia. We sat there for almost two hours and talked about our whole adventure here in Costa Rica. We can look back and laugh at everything now and it’s a great feeling to see how far I’ve come. There were definitely moments when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it… times when I doubted myself. But perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned from this entire experience is to never doubt yourself. Believe. If you don’t believe in yourself, then it’s hard to accomplish much of anything. That is a life lesson that I will truly hold dear to my heart after this journey. I know that I can do so much more than I ever thought. Not that I have other plans to live in a different country… but I know that I could make it. With the love and support from friends and family, and believing in myself… anything is possible!
When I returned to the house after lunch… I talked with my mamatica for a few minutes and then laid down to read some more of my book. I read a good 20 pages or so, and then fell asleep to the sound of another afternoon shower in Heredia, Costa Rica. I’m still not a fan of afternoon naps… I’m wide awake right now.. but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open during the storm today.
I ate dinner with my family tonight. I had a delicious plate of spaghetti. My mamatica also surprised me with a gift and baked me a cake. She made me a lemon pound cake, since I love lemonade so much… I guess she made the connection with “lemon”… haha… She is completely precious. I skyped with my parents for a while after dinner. I can see the excitement and relief on my mom’s face when I talk to her now. I know that she is more excited than I am that this month is almost over.. I know it took a lot for them to agree to this, so again.. I just want to say thanks to my parents! This has meant more to me that you will ever know.. and it’s all because you believe in me and are committed to making my dreams come true.
So now, here I am… sitting in my room and a million things are running through my head. My last complete day spent in Heredia. A place that I have grown to love. A place that is marked as my first big life journey and a place/journey/adventure/month that I’ll never ever forget.
I checked my facebook messages and received one of the nicest letters anyone has ever written me. I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m sharing this with you all… but it completely touched my heart… so here it is:
“Hello sir, So I just finished reading your blog. Thank you for making me hysterical. Since I haven't been able to see your pretty face via Skype recently...I haven't been able to tell you this, so I'm writing you this note (which is probably better considering you hate crying). But I just wanted you to know that I am SO incredibly proud of you for going to Costa Rica and doing SO WELL over there. I admire you so much...I know I never would have made it. My ass would've been on a plane back to GA after one week. I hope you know what an inspiration you are to me. I love how fearless you are. In every aspect of your always take risks and jump into things head first, never looking back. I wish I could be more like that...not so scared of everything. My life has NOT been the same since you left. Not being able to text you at the drop of a hat, when I have a random thought, or when something ridiculous happens that we need to has literally been awful for me. It's really proven to me just how important your friendship is to me. Having you in my life means so much to me and I just wanted you to know that. Again...I am SO proud of get your ass HOME! I love you to the moon & back!”     -Lauren
I had a feeling that this would happen… but I wasn’t prepared to shed tears until Sunday at the airport. But thank you so much Lauren for that amazing letter! You are an amazing woman and I am so blessed to have you in my life!
Tomorrow, I’m headed to spend one more day at the beautiful beaches in Costa Rica.  We are making a one day trip, so apparently leaving at 6 in the morning is a necessity. Weirdly enough, if it’s for the beach… I don’t really mind! I will, however, splurge on a bottle of sunscreen tomorrow… I don’t want to be FRIED when I get all those hugs at the airport in only TWO short-short days!!! J
♥ Fearless ♥
“Fearless is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, being fearless is living life despite all of those things.” –T. Swift

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Costa Rica Day 25
Today was my last real day of class here in Costa Rica! Man how time flies when you’re having fun! Ok, well it hasn’t been all fun all the time… but this has definitely been a adventure that I will never forget. 28 days… 4 weeks of class… 4 tests… 4 oral communication exams… and 4 weekend excursions = 1 month in Costa Rica. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world [except maybe a real diet coke right now]. But on a serious note, I will be forever thankful that I got to have this experience of a lifetime. I never would of thought I would of made it this far…but with only 3 days left… I think it’s safe to say that I successfully lived in another country.
Today, has been yet again, another typical day in Heredia. Everything now is simply a routine. But I guess maybe the most important thing to report from this morning is that my leg is looking much better. The [whatever it is] has decreased in size and some of the redness has also gone away. It doesn’t hurt as much as it has, so maybe that’s a good sign! I’m still using whatever cream my Mamatica gave me… so hopefully it will heal up soon! There is a part of me that still wants to know what I was bitten by, but then again.. maybe some things are better left unknown. That’s my only news update from this morning… breakfast was the same and then I headed to school for my last real day of class.
Except when I got to class, my teacher “had a long night last night”, so he brought in a movie for us to watch! And then we finished off the day with a little Spanish Scrabble. I’m not a fan of this game in my own language, so I sure didn’t like it when I had to spell out Spanish words… but it was better than writing paragraphs and answering questions… so I was just fine with wasting the whole class day!
After class, two other students and I went back to San Jose to visit the straw market for souvenirs. We decided that it would be much much cheaper to take the bus instead of a taxi. So here I was, on my last week in Costa Rica, and finally about to get my first public transportation experience. Not a fan. We thankfully got a seat on the bus, but I’m not sure if that was suppose to a plus or not. The bus was crowded which meant people standing and breathing over me. Gross. Not to mention it was a good 1,000 degrees on the bus and it was sprinkling [barely] raining so that meant we had to shut the windows. Not to be American and complain… but can I get some AC?! PLEASE!
We arrived in San Jose and headed straight towards the market… 10 blocks. It seems like I spend the majority of my day walking.. and then walking some more. And when I think I’m done… I walk some more. I didn’t want to jinx it so I haven’t said anything until now, but my shorts are definitely fitting looser. Maybe I can bring this new trend of walking everywhere back to the States… or maybe I’ll just hop in the Runner and she can take me where I need to go! Anyways, we arrived at the straw market and I purchased all of my souvenirs today! I want to so badly post everything I got and the prices, but that would give away some of the gifts… so I will save that for a later post. A post for when I’m sitting on my bed at home. We had a great time shopping around and then we grabbed some lunch. Yum yum KFC. I’ve never had a chicken sandwich taste so delicious. We then shopped around town for a little while longer before heading back towards the bus stop to board that dreaded bus ride back to Heredia.
When I returned to Heredia, I made the walk to the house and ate dinner with my family. Rice, beans, and chicken soup for dinner… definitely not anything I would have picked off a menu but tomorrow night will be my last meal with them so I took it like a champ. Tonight, will be spent reviewing some notes for my final test in the morning. After my test, I have graduation at 10:30! Yay for me! I would love to call it a day after that, but I’ sure I’ll have to go back to the classroom and sit around for the remaining class time. Yuck.
That’s about all I have from Heredia tonight. Another routine day but most importantly, another day closer to coming back home. A big big big thank you to my wonderful and supportive parents and grandmother. I would not be the person I am today without all of your love and support. I’m not sure what I did to deserve ya’ll, but I’m so thankful that I have you! Also, to all my other friends and family back home: Thank you so much to everyone who joined in on this adventure with me! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading everything as much as I have enjoyed writing. I’m sad to see my journey come to an end, but more than excited to be surrounded by all of you again when I come home!        
I dedicate this to all of you that have supported me on this journey. I could never thank you enough for your continuous thoughts, love, support, and prayers. I love ya’ll J

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Costa Rica Day 24
I’m in the middle of my 4th week and it’s starting to feel like I’ve been here forever. Nothing seems strange to me anymore.. and that’s how I know that it’s time to come home! So today, I’m proud to announce that the countdown is at 4 days J
Breakfast was the same this morning. However, I haven’t been getting mango lately but this morning, it was a delicious surprise. I even got ready with some spare time today, so I blow dryed my hair and put on a cute shirt, instead of my normal t-shirt and run out the door look. Not that my cute-ness lasted long… by the time I got to school I was already sweating, so up went my hair in a pony tail. Typical Heredia morning.
School today went well. Nothing out of the ordinary. We went over our homework.. went over a few more things for the test on Friday, and then spent the majority of the day creating a advertisement poster. Right up my alley. Finally, something I’m good at and have definitely done previous projects like this for class. Except, this was in Spanish… minor speed bump. We presented our posters to the class and then hung them on the wall. We then talked for the rest of class and taught our teacher some more English words. We also tried to convince him to go out with us on Friday night… I’m not sure if he was actually thinking about it or only pretending.. but we’ll see!
After class today, we had our last group excursion! Sadness. I love my group and taking adventures with them. Although the bus is still raggedy and cramped and hot and sometimes musty.. this is where most of our bonding has taken place… the many hours spent on that bus together and all the memories we created is something that I will never forget. So today, for one last time together, we loaded the raggedy bus and headed out of town about an hour for La Paz Waterfall. What another beautiful site to see! Incredible views and trail that took us right to the very bottom of the waterfall. The park also had different animals that we were able to see: Humming birds, parrots, monkeys, snakes, frogs, butterflies, a trout lake, baby tiger, and jaguars. I however, skipped out on the snake tour… just something that I really had no care to see. I also skipped out on the frog tour very quickly when I looked around and came eye to eye with an extremely ugly green frog. Not my favorite thing either. But I’m sure you can all guess by now which part of the animal tour was my favorite… of course the monkeys! J
We also got to eat lunch at La Paz today. Along with the restaurant is a resort and spa.. so we were hoping that everything would be nice. And nice, is exactly what we got. The lunch buffet was amazing!! The scenery was absolutely beautiful and I got to have lunch in one of the most beautiful settings ever. On the lunch buffet, American food!! Pizza, hot dogs [with sauerkraut], French fries, ranch dressing, BBQ chicken… oh my! It was absolutely delicious and made the whole hour drive completely worthwhile!
After our tour of the La Paz gardens, we loaded the raggedy bus and headed back towards Heredia.
My leg is looking a little better today. Some of the redness has gone down and my mamatica said it looked smaller today than it did yesterday. I’m still putting the cream she gave me and taking benodryl at night. I’m thinking about just sucking it up and going to the pharmacy after class tomorrow. Although a part of me would much rather wait to get back to the States with a English speaking doctor, I also would feel a lot better knowing that its nothing serious. So I shall report tomorrow on the findings on this thing on my leg!
Since this post is fairly short, I want to share something with you that has gained a great meaning to me while being here in Costa Rica. I used the phrase “pura vida” in a recent post and I want to share with you all the literal meaning and deeper meaning behind the catchy, most popular phrase in Costa Rica.
The most commonly used phrase in Costa Rica is Pura Vida.  Everything in Costa Rica is Pura Vida!  The simple translation is Pure Life but the saying has a deeper meaning to people of Costa Rica, and the travelers who fall in love with this beautiful country. The bank tellers, the restaurant servers, street vendors, and families will all greet you with this saying, as well as to say good-bye. In my short stay, a month that has flown by, I can’t seem to hear or say this statement enough. Used most commonly by Costa Ricans, the phrase has obtained other meanings throughout the years. Most people use the phrase as an expression of a leisurely lifestyle, of disregard for time, and truly living life. Pura Vida [Pure Life] - how simple and wonderful of a statement to live by.

I’m not sure if anything else needs to be said after that. Another day marked off the calendar. I’m off to read for the rest of the night, or atleast until this benodryl kicks in! Thank you so much for all the continued love and support. We’ve made it this far, so don’t give up on me now! Only a short 4 days remain! J

Costa Rica – Pura Vida!
Costa Rica Day 23
I’m caught back up with today’s post. However, there is nothing special or exciting to report on for today. Another typical day in Heredia. However, it’s another day marked off the calendar so in a sense, every day here is a special day.
I assume that the battery in my alarm clock is starting to go bad... this morning… I slept late because I didn’t hear it when it went off… It was only a few minutes late this morning so I guess it wasn’t a big deal. I changed the battery this morning though so maybe I’ll have better luck in the morning. So needless to say, I had another hurried morning of a quick shower and the least amount of time getting ready as possible. I headed downstairs for another delicious breakfast. I wrapped part of my sandwich up to take to class, so I ate the rest of it during the first break today.
Class today was super fun. I love my new class and the people in it. I like how this week, class isn’t so structured. Lesson for lesson by the book… yuck! I like things to be steady, but I am not one for structure. I like doing my own thing… doing things differently from day to day… I guess that’s one of the reasons that Public Relations/Marketing appealed to me as a major… Everyday would be spent doing something different… never the same old, same old routine. It took a long time for me to realize… but there is already a plan for my life. So no matter how hard I try to make my life follow a neatly constructed path, life is going to always intervene.
After class, I sat around and talked with the North Carolina friends for a while, and then headed to lunch with some friends from UWG. Some more “delicious” chicken and rice for lunch. And then, I headed towards the house. Today, was not a pretty day in Heredia. It started raining about 10am this morning and never really stopped. We had some bad thunderstorms this afternoon and I even lost internet signal for a long time. I didn’t mind though, I spent the majority of the afternoon reading my new book and taking a much needed nap J I have never been one for naps, even when I was a kid… nap time was boring to me.. naps typically make me more tired throughout the day, so I just prefer to not take them. But today, the thunder storms got the best of me and I fell asleep to the sound of rain. Which generally always does the trick for me.
At dinner tonight, my mamatica asked me if I missed home and I almost got teary eyed. She then cheered me right up and told me that she didn’t want me to leave and that she loved having me here. She even asked me to stay longer, but I quickly told her that I have class back at home starting Monday morning. Which definitely put a smile on my face. I’m so lucky and thankful to have gotten an amazing host family. This month would not have been as easy without a loving and welcoming family. I’m going to miss this place and the wonderful people I’ve met here.
And now for a medical update. I guess I didn’t really expect to live in Costa Rica for a month and not contact some sort of sickness. 4 of our students from UWG have gotten an extremely contagious virus. They have all been to doctor here and received medication. I luckily haven’t contacted that yet, knock on wood, however I have been blessed with something else. After the beach on Saturday, I noticed that I had quite a few bug bites. Nothing out of the ordinary though… I was hiking a rainforest and even the strongest bug spray doesn’t repel all of them… so I didn’t really think much about it. So yesterday morning, when I woke up and my leg was hurting I starting checking for the source of the pain. The “bug bite” that I had gotten had gotten bigger overnight and now, didn’t look like a bug bite at all. It went from being a small spot on my leg to about the size of a quarter. It doesn’t itch like a bug bite, but instead, it hurts and has the surrounding part of my leg hurting as well. I put some benodryl cream on it and went about my day… but of course I checked it throughout the day yesterday and it never got better. It even hurt when I laid down last night. So this morning, when I got to school, I asked a lady that works there what she thought about it. She told me that she didn’t think I should see a doctor just yet… but she did give me another cream to put on it.
So before dinner, I looked up a few words in Spanish, and showed my mamatica to see what she thought. Her initial reaction scared me even more… but then as she looked at it closer, she didn’t seem to think that it was a big deal. She did tell me, however, that if it wasn’t better in the morning then I should go to the pharmacy and they should be able to give me something to clear it up instead of seeing a doctor. I asked her if I needed to be worried about it, and she told me that she didn’t think so. But because I obviously got bit at the beach by something, it would be better to have it checked if it doesn’t decrease in size tonight. Yikes! Seriously? I should of known I couldn’t come away clean and healthy! I would post a picture, but it looks rather gross. So I’ll spare you all the images for now.
So say an extra little prayer for me. I am not looking forward to walking into a Spanish speaking pharmacy and communicating that I need something to prevent my leg from falling off!!
Well I’m off to do some homework now. I'm currently listening to a bar across the street play Wonderwall... and yes, in English! What a throw back to the States... ahhh :) We’re almost to the half-way point of the week… and the countdown has officially reached one hand… only 5 days left and then...

“Well I’m going home, back to the place where I belong
And where your love has always been enough for me.
I’m not running from, no, I think you got me all wrong
I don’t regret this life I chose for me
But these places and these faces are getting old
So I’m going home…”
-Home by Chris Daughtry
Good night everyone! Much love from Heredia, Costa Rica!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Costa Rica Day 22
This is a blog post from Monday.
After a long weekend of traveling and relaxing on the beach, things have returned to normal in here in Heredia, Costa Rica. I am proud to announce that today I started my 4th and final week of class in Costa Rica. What an amazing feeling! As my time here is winding down, I am becoming more and more anxious to return to the States. I miss everyone so much right now and as weird as it seems, I feel like the closer I get to coming home, the more I miss everyone. Stepping off that plane and seeing the familiar, loving faces of my family will likely be one of the most exciting moments of my life. And although I hate to admit it, I’m sure I’ll shed a few tears that Sunday night.
Breakfast also returned to normal. A delicious plate of fruit followed by a ham and cheese sandwich. I guess it’s a good thing that I like to stick to what I like, other wise… the same breakfast would of gotten old by now. But I breath a sigh of relief each morning when I walk downstairs and see a delicious and colorful plate of fruit.
Starting a new week of class, of course I got a new teacher and classroom. However, this might be the most fun week so far. My teacher this week is a guy and well.. to put it nicely.. he swings the other way. But he is awesome and I love him already. I also have a bigger class this week… including 3 other Greeks!!! And that’s not even the best part… there are three girls here from North Carolina that are Alpha Xi Deltas. I could not believe my eyes the first day I saw their letters. What an amazing feeling… to be thousands of miles away from home… and to automatically feel a connection with someone without even knowing their names. They are extremely nice girls and I happen to be spending this last week in class with 2 of them and 1 Pi Kapp. Kinda ironic, right? So needless to say, we definitely have the best class this week and we spend the majority of class time teaching our teacher slang words in English. He is doing quite well and is currently keeping a running list of words to practice in English. I feel like this is going to be a great week to end my journey with. Only 6 more days…
After class today, Samantha and I went to the mall. No worries Dad, I didn’t buy any clothes, shoes, jewelry, or other accessories. My only purchase for the day… a book. A Nicholas Sparks book to be exact. The Rescue… here’s the short version written on the back of the book:

“Volunteer fireman Taylor McAden is driven to take terrifying, heroic risks to save lives. But there’s one leap into the unknown he can’t bring himself to make: He can’t fall in love. A man who likes to rescue troubled women, he inevitably leaves them as soon as they want something more from him. Then, one day, a record-breaking storm hits his small-southern town. In his attempt to rescue a woman named Denise Holton, it requires him to open doors to his past slammed shut by pain. And with Denise’s help, dare him to make the greatest commitment of all: to love someone forever.”
If you know anything about my past, you’d know that as soon as I saw the words volunteer fireman, love, small town… I reluctantly put the book back down. But after scanning over other books in the English section, I picked it back up and read the first insert… I was immediately hooked wanting to turn the pages before I could purchase it. So this book is my new obsession on this journey. It's my new love since I can't stay on the beach with the monkeys... so  I’ll keep you updated on all the details of this sure-to-be, tear-jerker love story.
After dinner last night, which was delicious delicious plantains, I got ready and met some friends downtown to celebrate Kim’s birthday! We had a great time and I’m sure going to miss hanging out with these people. I have met some great people from North Carolina and I hope to keep in touch with all of them as we part ways this Sunday. I’m not sure why it surprises me that I have made close relationships with these people… It’s very easy for me to form bonds with people… but I guess coming here, I imagined being lonely and depressed about missing all the people and things that I love. Thank goodness I have met all of these wonderful people to feel the void of missing home.
So all in all.. Monday was a typical Monday. Getting back into the swing of things. School work and homework. Regular routine again… I’m not in paradise anymore… But that means, I’m one step closer to coming home, the place where I belong J

Monday, May 30, 2011

Costa Rica Day 19(continued) 20 and 21
This is a blog post from this previous weekend.
Friday after class, we loaded our raggedy bus and headed towards one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Seriously.. I’m not making that up. Manuel Antonio has been placed on many of the “Best Beaches to See” lists. And lucky me, got to spend the entire weekend there. But lets back track for a second… Raggedy bus. I shall explain this statement. When I use the term “raggedy bus” this is what I mean…  a tourist bus, which is smaller than a charter bus [and no bathroom or tvs] but bigger than a short bus. Our bus has 24 seats… but wait… we have 26 people. Exactly my point when I call it raggedy. Instead of upgrading to another bus, of course West Georgia decides that we will squeeze everyone on 1 bus with our luggage for all the weekend excursions. So yet again another weekend, we squeezed 2 more people than normal on the bus… and a 4 hour bus ride with 2 extra passengers makes for an extremely cramped ride.
If we were going anywhere else this weekend, I probably would not have been too happy when that raggedy bus pulled up at the school… but knowing that the sooner I got on that bus and left town, the sooner I would be able to put my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time! We arrived at the beach a little before 6 [Costa Rican time]. I was immediately impressed with the choice for our hotel. Well… at least it looked like a nicer place this time. My weekend-mates [roommates for the weekend] and I received our key and we were off to check out our room. 2 double size beds, dresser, and air conditioner. Typical American-ized hotel. Finally. This place was awesome. The scenery was beautiful and the restaurant, pool, and bar area were magnificent. So Friday night was spent eating dinner at a lovely little place close to the beach. Backpacker’s Paradise. It was a very cute, local restaurant that served great burgers and drinks. We spent the majority of the night there just hanging out and talking. After wards, we walked back to our hotel and hung out by the pool for a little while. It rained pretty much all night on Friday so we decided to call it an early night so we could be up for the beach in the morning.
Saturday. Breakfast was at 8am and we left for our hike to the beach at 9am. Manuel Antonio is a national park, therefore, it’s a private beach. $$$ to access their beautiful beaches. Luckily for us, the price was included in our overall trip so we didn’t have to pay when we got there. We received our passes and were off on about a mile hike through another rainforest. Something I have observed in the 3 weeks of living here… if you have seen one rainforest, you’ve seen them all. Finally, at the end of our hike, the trail led to the beautiful beautiful sandy beaches of Manuel Antonio Park. And like I have said before, not even pictures will do this place justice. I couldn’t even walk any farther when I saw it for the first time. I wasn’t even sure if it was real life… all I really knew at that moment was that it felt like I walked right into a scene from a post card. Absolutely amazing. And here’s a comment to all the people that think “beaches are beaches.. it doesn’t matter where you go” –you my friends, are completely wrong. You have truly never scene the beauty of a beach until you stand in Pacific Ocean, surrounded by beautiful crystal blue water, and watch as the water crashes onto the rocks of the surrounding mountains. Hands down the most beautiful thing I have ever seen… needless to say, our slogan for the weekend quickly became “this is not a postcard.. this is real life”. And I can’t think of another better way to describe it. I wasn’t looking at a postcard anymore, I was standing right in the middle of something I had only dreamed about seeing one day. Not to get all cliché but… keep on dreaming! They really do come true!
Saturday was spent all day on the beach. And yes, I should of splurged on that $20 bottle of sunscreen… I got fried. Capital F-ried. But the good news… luckly, my dad passed along those good genes and I have already turned for the most part. No more redness except for on my chest. Perhaps one of the best parts of the whole trip was seeing the monkeys. Not just one or two… but a whole group of them at the beach. I was warned before going to the beach that the little sneaky things like to steal things from the beach. And weirdly enough, this made me look forward to seeing them… but as the day went on we never saw them.. and then as we were starting to leave… I spotted one in a tree. A few seconds later… there were many many all around. I took some amazing pictures and it was awesome to just watch them. I even took a video of one eating watermelon, but I haven’t been able to upload it yet.
Do you think I could make it through customs with one of these little guys?!?

Later that night, we went back to the same restaurant for some more good food and drinks. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s really crazy how close we have all become in this short amount of time. I’m definitely going to miss all of the great times we have shared together when we return home.
Sunday morning was spent with an early breakfast and then shopping around at the local markets on the beach... and then of course followed by our return to Heredia. I have truly fallen in love with Manuel Antonio beaches. I can’t believe I have spent only a short amount of time here… this is definitely the good life. A little piece of my heart was left there, as I will never forget this experience of seeing one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I find it hard to believe that life gets much better than this, but at the end of another wonderful weekend, I know that my best days are still ahead of me.
Costa Rica.... Pura Vida! J

Friday, May 27, 2011

Costa Rica Day 19

Here is a quick little post before I head out of town for the weekend! My test went very well today... I got a 84 with barely any studying... and I am completely satisfied with a B! After the test I went to the store by the school to purchase sunscreen for this weekend... except... the cheapest bottle was $20. I will fry like a piece of chicken before I pay $20 for a small bottle of sunscreen. Pray that the sun has mercy on me and my wallet this weekend. Get the aloe ready!

I have all of my things packed and ready to spend the weekend at one of the world's most beautiful beaches! I absolutely can't wait to see how beautiful everything is! Although I am extremely hot natured and love the cold weather, my heart belongs at the beach... with sun on my skin and sand in between my toes!

I also want to apologize for the blah post yestrerday. It only took a few little things yesterday to completely change my good mood... but today is another day and I'm back to my care-free, loving life self. No worries. Just a small pity party.. but I had my party and now I'm on to bigger and better things... seriously.. better things. The only thing that could make this weekend any better, is if I were surrounded by my family and friends and we were sharing this wonderful adventure together. No worries... I promise to have enough fun for all of us. You can count on that!

I can't wait to share all the wonderful things about this weekend. Thanks again for joining me on this adventure! Love you and miss you all... Only 9 more dayssss!!!!
Costa Rica Day 18
Today’s post will most likely be a short one. I have a lot of things on my mind right now so I feel like keeping this post short and sweet will be the best. I’m just kinda annoyed with some things and as much as I would love to have another vent session… I feel like I should spare you all of that at this moment. Plus, I am so ready for the beach this weekend that I don’t want anything to ruin my sure-to-be, good time! So here it goes… a short and sweet version of day 18 in Costa Rica.
Same old routine this morning. Shower was semi warm this morning so I did manage to shave my legs before the beach this weekend, thank goodness! I, in fact, did not wake up early like I had planned to allow myself extra time to stop by the store for those drinks. So of course all morning I was running around trying to get to school on time. I made it with only seconds to spare before the final bell. Whew.
Class went well today. We went over our homework, did a few class activities, and then talked until the break. After break, is when we joined class with the other one down the hall and watched the movie. I knew just watching a movie would be too good to be true… so it was accompanied by a four page worksheet. Which in all honesty, I rather do than boring class exercises and activities. We had a lot of different snacks that people brought in and of course my delicious, last second purchased, drinks. We watched The Orphan in Spanish. The English subtitles were at the bottom, so all we did was read that while they were speaking. I’m not sure what the purpose of the subtitles were, but it made understanding a lot easier.
After class today, I went to lunch with some classmates. I enjoyed some nice chicken and rice. After lunch, we went back to the school and attended the cooking class. This class was exactly what I had heard from other students… boring. We sat in chairs and watched her throw stuff in a pot and let it cook for about 10 minutes. And that was the cooking class. At least now I can say that I have successfully attended all the optional classes at the school. After cooking class, Samantha and I decided that we should get our toes painted for the beach this weekend. Some other students from the school told us about a really cheap place that does pedicures and manicures. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I figured I would try it out anyways. I ended up not getting a pedicure because they didn’t have those big, nice, comfy chairs… or a pedicure station… so instead, I just got a polish change. They are adorable though..and only cost me $2 J
I then picked the color for my nails and proceeded to tell her that I only wanted them in pink. Nothing else. But apparently the “cool thing” to do down here is to paint designs all over your nails. Definitely not my favorite thing at all. I usually don’t even get flowers on my toes… much less my hands. But I just let her do her thing, because honestly it was too late then… she had already started the multi color flower design process.Thankfully, this cost the exact same so all-in-all I guess I can’t complain about a $4 mani and polish change.
When I got back to the house tonight, I ate dinner with my mamtica… yep, you can guess it. Chicken soup for dinner. We talked about my nails and I tried to explain the story to her and the place where we got them done… after we cleaned the table she told me to follow her to the living room. She then pulled out her big bag of finger nail polishes and gave me two different bottles of pink. She told me that pink looks better on me than it does on her… so she wanted me to have them. They are really cute pink shades and I will definitely be putting those to use when I return home.
Instead of studying for my test tomorrow, I am packing my things for the beach… which I will be leaving for after my test. How am I suppose to study participios in Spanish when I will be spending the weekend on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches?! Just doesn’t make sense. Obviously I am here to learn Spanish and to be a student… but my tourist side is kicking in as I am slowly but surely starting to reject all the school work. I am so excited to be spending my last full weekend in Costa Rica on the beach. I couldn’t imagine being at a better place right now.
Sorry there was nothing exciting or interesting for today’s post. Blah days exist even in other countries. And that is exactly what I am having today. At least it’s another day marked off my calendar… and the single digit countdown beings tomorrow! I’m starting to miss home a little bit more each day as I know my return is getting closer and closer!
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I can’t wait to share all the amazing things from this weekend’s adventure!
“Barefoot in the snow white sand
A bag of sea shells in her hand
She finally found a paradise it seems
On the coast of somewhere beautiful
Trade winds blowin through her hair
Sunlight dancin on the water
And I wish I was there…”
-On the Coast of Somewhere Beautiful by Kenny Chesney

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Costa Rica Day 17
I have been instructed by my parents to post no more sad blogs. So I apologize for any tear drops you lost due to reading my previous post. I just felt an extreme longing for home last night as I was writing the post and I didn’t want to leave that great emotion out. I haven’t felt extremely homesick yet, and I would say that last night was the first time I got really sad. But the good news? I’m another day down here in Costa Rica. 11 days… so close to single digits. So here is a review of my day.
I haven’t really mentioned the other student that is living here. Mainly because I don’t really talk to her. She is from Germany and is studying for an entire year in Costa Rica. She will be living in different parts observing the different customs throughout the country. She is doing all of this research for her doctorate, which needless to say, makes her a very boring person. The only time she ever leaves her room is to eat and go to the bathroom. Which brings me to my first point I want to rant about. She does absolutely nothing all day everyday… but she still has to get up at the exact same time and occupy the shower upstairs. I don’t know why this gets on my nerves so bad… but every morning I try to go to that shower, she is always in there. I just want to ask her if she can wait 15 minutes so I can shower since I actually do something with my life everyday besides sit in my room. Of course I could go downstairs and shower, but it’s such a hassle in the mornings. I much rather prefer walking the 10 steps to the bathroom and showering there. 11 days. 11 days.
So now that my vent session is over. The day started out normal here in Heredia. Typical breakfast complete with fruit and a sandwich. I walked to class this morning and it was hotter than normal. Today gave me confirmation of why I don’t even bother doing my hair in the mornings. I was sweating within 15 feet from the house after I left. Thank goodness my class has a fan in it this week. Speaking of class… it went pretty well today. We started the class by going over our homework and completing a few other exercises in class. For some weird reason, a chapter in our book covers superstitions and ghosts. My class had to make up our very own scary story today and present it. We spent about an hour creating the story and then presented it to another class down the hall. Our next task for the day was to create a story line using magazines. We made up our own stories and then cut out pictures and words to add emphasis to the story. I’m not really sure why this class is all about crafting… I feel like I haven’t really learned anything this week. And the one new thing we have covered, the teacher makes it way more difficult than it needs to be… so everyday I leave confused and then figure things out on my own later. But one thing about it…. Craft time definitely beats class time! And on the agenda for tomorrow? My class is watching a scary movie in Spanish! Yes! We are all bringing snacks and drinks for a mini party. I am in charge of drinks, which I forgot to grab after class today so it looks like I’ll be getting up a little earlier in the morning to run by the supermarket before class.
After class today, I grabbed a quick lunch and brought it back to the house. I didn’t feel like going anywhere to sit down so we kinda just all split up today and did our own thing. I grabbed a pan con pollo… which I had no idea what it was when I picked it out… but it turned out to be a lot like a hot-pocket.. but better! That was a nice surprise.
After returning to the house this afternoon, I worked on some homework, talked with Bree for a majority of the day. She always gets really bored at work so I like to keep her company… even when I am not 1,000+ miles away. I listened to some good music and made an awesome summer playlist. I also did some online shopping today. [Sorry Dad]. If you like your bank account the way it is, then I encourage you to stay away from Old Navy. Ahhhh!! I love all of their summer stuff right now! Precious shorts on sale for $16 and a lot of cute, new styles just in time for those summer nights. I think this is one of the few times that I’ve actually wanted to go to work when I get back to Carrollton…but only for that money to be bought on the adorable things I already have saved in my basket online J
Dinner tonight was not soup!! Yay!! I had a delicious piece of grilled fish with pico de gallo, pinto beans, and plantains. I think the grilled plantains are probably one of the biggest things I will miss about Costa Rica. I get them at every restaurant that serves them. They are so delicious! Maybe I’ll bring back a recipe… or maybe my mom will just make them for me [hint hint].  After dinner, I skyped with Bree for a little while. There is just something about this girl that always puts a smile on my face. I look forward to talking to her and getting wall posts from her everyday. I can’t wait to see her beautiful face when I get home. We have so many summer plans and I know that the remaining 2 months of summer will be well spent together. Not a day goes by that we don’t laugh together, and that’s something that I know will never change. Thank you God for blessing me with the most amazing little sister I could have ever asked for.
Just one quote for today…
“Home is the place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.” –John Pearce
Isn’t it weird that we spend the majority of the years growing up wishing we could leave home and explore the world? But little did I know then, that I would someday get that amazing opportunity. And now, as I am sitting miles and miles away from home… I know that my heart only belongs in one place. I’m definitely wanting to get back home… but in the end, I know that this journey is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It was the chance of a lifetime and I am so thankful that I was able to chase this dream. Thank you to all of my family and friends that have been so supportive on this adventure. You all have made it easier being away from home with encouraging words, thoughts, and many prayers. I have learned so much about myself that I never thought I would discover. I am more grateful for the things I have and a little less worried about the things that I don’t. I am a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason” and this journey has given me further confirmation of that.
And perhaps one of the most important things I have learned since being here: no place on earth feels as good as being surrounded by the ones you love the most.
That’s all for today. I hope everyone had an amazing day! We’re so close to the weekend… only 2 more days until I’m off on another adventure… and this time, it’s the beautiful beaches at Manuel Antonio.
Costa Rica Day 16
Right back on track! Finally!
Today had the start of another typical day in Heredia. The shower wasn’t bad this morning, not really hot, but definitely manageable. Breakfast was a little different. Scrambled eggs with ham and cheese… and of course a plate of fruit. The watermelon isn’t that great this week. It isn’t as red or pretty as it has been in the past, so I haven’t been eaten it in the mornings. But I’ll get lucky and get something different in the morning.
Class went well today. We started the day by reviewing our homework. We then joined with another class and did a debate on paparazzi and celebrities. That was very fun and entertaining. All of us were about on the same level speaking wise. We had to look up quite a few words, but eventually, we were able to make sense of everything and establish a great case. After that, my class proceeded to make a newspaper for the remaining part of the day. 2.5 hours spent cutting and pasting together our own newspaper. I’m not exactly sure what the point of today’s assignment was. We didn’t even talk about anything… the articles or why we were doing this. But I’m not complaining. It passed the time very quickly and I didn’t have to struggle to come up with answers/conversation in class.
After class today, we had a scheduled day trip to San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. I’ve been wanting to see the capital city since I arrived in Costa Rica, so I knew that today was going to be an awesome adventure. And it started off just the right way… lunch at the food court in the mall. On today’s lunch menu was McDonalds! Whoooo hooooo! Not that I’m a huge fan of McDonalds, actually I prefer to never eat there, but on this occasion.. I was thrilled and was extremely excited to see those golden arches. And perhaps the best part of the meal, it was free! Jackpot! American food for free! After stuffing our faces with good ole greasy burgers, we all loaded the bus and headed towards San Jose. Everyone has been telling me that San Jose is a very dangerous city. I have gotten warning after warning about this city. So I was curious to see what all the precautions were about. After we reached downtown and parked the bus, we began to walk the 4 blocks to our first destination in the city. It didn’t take long to realize what all the fuss was about. San Jose very similarly resembles downtown Atlanta. However, I would compare it more to the worst parts of downtown Atlanta. Although San Jose has beautiful landmarks, nice streets, glamorous hotels and restaurants, and first class shops… the atmosphere of being downtown is very disturbing. Since hundreds of people are everywhere… It is very easy to be robbed while walking downtown. Luckily, I had nothing with me but my camera so I figured I wasn’t a target. 
While trying to cross from the 1st block to the 2nd, a group of guys proceeded to shout... "How much do you cost? Blue eyes!" I'm not exactly sure if they were yelling at me or not, but in that exact moment, a complete scare and panic came over me. Too bad I didn't learn how to say "back off creepers" in Spanish. But regardless if their comments were directed towards me or not, I will never be in San Jose alone. I don’t prefer to walk by myself at night in Heredia, but I am ok with doing it on occasion. But San Jose is a completely different story. Definitely not by myself or even with just a small group of girls for that matter. Completely scary… but a beautiful city.
We reached our first destination in the city. The National Museum of Costa Rica. We saw a lot of cool and interesting things. I took some pretty awesome pictures too. The only downside to this trip, I really wish that we would have had a tour guide through the museum. It would have been really interesting to learn about all the different things that define their culture instead of just seeing them. I’m sure there are some great stories to go along with everything I saw, and maybe one day… I’ll learn them.
After the museum, we went to the market for souvenirs. This place is perhaps my new favorite place… well it at least ranks high with my other favorite locations. This place contains anything you could ever want in a souvenir. And the best thing… it basically functions like a straw market… so bargaining is their number one priority to get sales… and who has awesome shopping skills? ME! I will definitely be returning to work my bargaining magic… not alone of course!
We returned back to Heredia late this afternoon. I was anxious to get back to the house because I forgot to mention to my mamatica that I would be later getting home. However, when I walked through the door… she had dinner waiting for me. Another soup dinner. I’m starting to think if somehow I made the mistake of telling her soup was my favorite. But I actually know the Spanish word for soup and I don’t remember ever saying I liked it or wanted it 4 times a week. But I told her thank you and that it was delicious.
I just crossed off another day in my lovely Lilly planner. Gosh I love seeing those pink marks all over the calendar! Tomorrow is the half way point of the 3rd week and I couldn’t be more excited about the progress I have made since living here. At one point in the straw market today, I had a complete conversation with a vendor. As I started to walk away, I realized exactly what had just happened. I didn’t struggle at all with conversation… I was able to understand everything she was telling me and reply with full sentences… even discussing some possible prices for items. It was a great feeling as I was walking away. And I realized that speaking comes so much easier when I’m not thinking about it. Hopefully I’ll continue to make progress throughout this week and the next.
I’ll end this post by sharing a few lyrics from a song that randomly popped into my head today… I couldn’t listen to the actual song because I knew that it would make me sad… but I did google the lyrics to share. I hope everyone had a wonderful day. Keep the prayers and thoughts coming my way. Only 12 more days until I’m Georgia bound!
Buenos Noches familia y amigas![Good night family and friends]
“Another summer day
Has come and gone away
But I wanna go home.
Maybe surrounded by
A million people, I
Still feel all alone
And I wanna go home.
And it feels just like I’m living someone else’s life.
It’s like I stepped outside
When everything was going right.
And I know just why you could not
Come along with me.
This was not your dream
But you always believed in me.
Another airplane, another sunny place
I’m lucky I know, but I wanna go home.
I’ve got to go home, let me go home.
I’m just too far from where you are,
I wanna come home.”
-Home by Blake Shelton