26 September 2010

manuel antonio

One of the great things about my work schedule is that we have at least one three-day weekend each month. Because Costa Rica is a pretty small country, this schedule gives us enough time to travel around quite a bit. Over the last long weekend, a bunch of us went to Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific coast. Manuel Antonio is known for its beaches as well as its wildlife.

We had to walk quite a ways to get to the park entrance:

Before heading to the beach, we decided to hike to a waterfall, and along the way we saw at least 40 of these little guys:

After hiking for about 45 minutes through thick-ish jungle (we managed to lose the trail on the way there, hehe), we finally reached the waterfall:

Ok, so I know this dress/aquatic sneaker combo may look a little ridiculous, but let me tell you, it's worth it because these shoes are totally amazing. They're like hiking boots and water shoes all in one. And let's be honest: anything that dries in under half an hour in this humid climate is fine by me!

A few hours later, we made it to the beach and were totally ready for a swim.

The monkeys and raccoons on the beach were super-aggressive. This guy ran up to me a minute after this pic was taken and stole my yogurt cup from right next to my foot. Too bad for him he didn't realize that it was already empty. Haha!

A mama monkey ran by carrying her little baby on her back. Look how cute they were!

We found this fallen tree and thought it would be nice for taking Christmas-card-esque pics.

As we were leaving the park, we saw these three-toed sloths:

When we arrived back at the villa where we were staying, this spider had set up shop near the door and was getting ready for dinner. I'm not really squeamish, but I mean...look at the size of this thing! And I don't about you, but those yellow stripes on its legs kinda scream "POISONOUS!" to me.

This was the view we woke up to each morning we were there. How can you not have a great day when you wake up to this?

We found this lizard friend sunning himself on the roof:

Our friend who planned the trip knew of a fun restaurant called El Avion, which is built in/around an old airplane, so we decided to go there for dinner.

On our last day there, we went to a new-to-us beach, where part of the group decided to give surfing a shot. A nearby restaurant delivered smoothies and cocktails to those of us who decided to relax on the beach instead of go surfing.

Then some horses rode by?

Eventually, we realized we had to head back to San Jose. On our way back, we came to a nice bridge...
...with a bunch of HUGE crocodiles swimming underneath. The guard rail was completely missing in places. Don't slip!

Manuel Antonio was a great place to go visit! Props to M.D. for planning such a fun trip!

Many images courtesy of EG and EA.

20 September 2010

counting down the days...

...until this most exciting event:

I've always wanted to see Bon Jovi in concert, so when some of my co-workers asked me last month if I wanted to go see their concert, I couldn't get my ticket fast enough. Naturally, my friends and I experienced some mishaps along the way to getting our tickets (we accidentally went to the wrong place at first, then the actual ticket vendor didn't have any tickets left...it was pretty dicey and I was worried for a while there), but the important thing is that now I have my ticket, after my friend's husband did some heavy wrangling to help us get them. I'm guarding it very carefully, as it's pretty much the most valuable thing I own right now, other than my computer.

So I'll be enjoying JBJ's great jams in my apartment until Sunday, when I can rock out to them in person. Hope your week is off to a great start!

P.S.: If you're wondering why the pic at the beginning of this post looks so blurry, it's because of all the rain that was falling as I took it, not because of my horrible photography skills :).

13 September 2010


In anticipation of Costa Rica's Independence Day, some of the other teachers and I took the fourth- and fifth-grade students to visit Quitirrisi, a village about an hour from San Jose where the indigenous Huetares people live.

We had the great opportunity to enjoy doing lots of fun things like:

Admiring the view from the edge of Quitirrisi

Watching a demonstration of how to throw a clay pot on a kick-wheel

Meeting this adorable Huetare girl

Befriending one of the many village pets

Listening to the chief of the Huetares share some of their origin stories

Cooking empanadas over an open fire

Watching artisans weave baskets and trying basket-weaving for ourselves

Surveying the finished products (believe it or not, we didn't actually make these particular baskets...they were made by the professionals)

Painting with dyes extracted from local plants

Visiting a Huetare temple and ceremonial rock mosaic

Steering clear of a car-sized anthill/metropolis

Visiting a burial site and baptismal font

The Huetares are one of eight indigenous groups in Costa Rica. Although they do not retain their original language, they preserve many of their other traditions in religion, dance, and other arts.

During a presentation on the Huetares people during a music rehearsal the other week, a little second grader became very agitated after hearing that the Huetares do not still speak their original language. "They lost their language? You mean they can't talk?!?!" he exclaimed to me in an extremely concerned way. I stifled my laughter as I replied, "No, they just speak Spanish now instead of their original language." Little Daniel seemed relieved to hear that, but his confusion makes a lot of sense, don't you think? Later in the same presentation, when the music teacher announced that the students should bring food and gifts to offer the Huetares people when we visited their village, he called out again: "Oh, I can bring pancakes!" I think it's so cute that he was so eager to share what he loves with the Huetares.

09 September 2010

hitchin' a ride

Don't these girls look like they're having fun? That's because they're hitchhiking. And we all know that getting a ride with strangers is always more exciting, if a little more dangerous, than than just driving yourself around.

When I moved to Costa Rica, I was worried about not having a car, but it has not been a problem at all. On the weekends, I walk or use public transportation to get around, and on the weekdays, I catch rides with co-workers or take the school bus.

Here's a picture of EA and me, waiting by the street for our ride to school. We just stand in this spot every day and wait for someone to come along and pick us up. Sometimes we take bets on who will drive by first.

You just never know who will lend a helping hand or what you might see on the ride to school, which is all part of the excitement. The other day, EA and I got a ride from our co-worker and her son, Raudel (who also happens to be one of my students). I sat next to Raudel, who was in his car seat (which by the way was pretty much the cutest thing ever), and met his friend, Rumplestiltskin, star of Shrek: Forever After. The whole ride there, Raudel kept bopping his doll's head, which made the doll cry out exciting things like "Ha! Haha! Hoho!" and "Bap bap bap!" It was a really funny way to start the day.

Check out this crazy character, Rumplestiltskin:

(Side note: is it just me, or does Shrekerumplestiltskin bear an uncanny/kinda-creepy resemblance to the Treasure Trolls of yore?...

...yup, that's what I thought.)

Anyway, I'm very grateful for my co-workers' kindness in driving us to work every day. I have not had to take the bus to school once since school began, which I think is pretty amazing!

Going home from work, I usually ride the school bus. The afternoon ride is fun for chatting with other teachers and students in other classes who also ride the bus. That's how I met my new best friend, Rodrigo. During our bus rides, Rodrigo teaches me about dinosaurs, minerals, and everything he's learning in first grade.

I must say, as much as I love my car (which is so loyally waiting for me at my parents' house while I'm in Costa Rica) it's really nice not to have to worry about car repairs and learning how to drive in the crazy San Jose traffic. So for now, being car-less is working out great!

Hitchhiking, Shrek, and troll images via, via, and via.