29 November 2010

la fortuna

A few weeks ago, some friends and I went to La Fortuna to celebrate my birthday. The trip started off on a high note, as our cab driver made our ride down to the bus station pretty awesome by blasting good jams such as "Gangsta's Paradise" and "Give Peace a Chance" the entire way (is it just me, or do those songs seem to have inconsistent messages?) He even had Lennon-esque sunglasses to wear while listening to GPaC!

After a three-hour bus ride, we arrived at La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano (one of the most active volcanoes in the world). One of the main attractions is the hot springs where water is heated by geothermal energy in connection with the volcano. There are dozens of resorts that you can visit to enjoy the hot springs; we chose to check out Baldi Hot Springs, as it's one of the less expensive options (only $25 for a whole day pass with dinner included). There are 28 or so hot springs ranging in temperature from 92 degrees to 105 degrees, waterfalls, and four swim-up bars. Totally amazing and relaxing...I highly recommend it.

During the night, a really funny thing happened at the hostel. EA and I were in a dorm room with a bunch of other travelers while the guys camped outside. Around 3 o'clock in the morning, the dude on the bunk above mine rolled off the bed in his sleep and crashed onto the floor! The funny part was, he didn't quite remember it the next day and asked us if he had fallen off. (It was funny only because he didn't seem hurt at all...unfortunately, he landed on my alarm clock and that definitely was hurt!)

The next day, we went in search of a rope swing that RB's brother had enjoyed while visiting Costa Rica earlier this year. While we were walking, it started pouring, and we found shelter under a bridge for a while.

As it turned out, the rope swing was really close by (the bridge you see in the background is the one we hid under.) Look at that gushing water! Would you jump into it? EA and I wouldn't, but RB and GH were all about it.

GH and RB channeling their inner-Michael Phelps.

By the time we left the rope swing, the trail had turned into a mini-waterfall.

After the rope swing, we went to a public hot springs river and chillaxed there for a few hours. That night, we had some delicious dinner and cocktails at Cafe Rufino. Look at EA's coconut chicken, which was served in a hollowed-out pineapple! This was probably one of the top 10 best meals of my life. During dinner, EA gave me my birthday present: a 1.9-pound bag of Swedish Fish! Awesome!!! I love Swedish Fish, but have not been able to find them here. She had some friends who were visiting from Colorado bring the Fish. So thoughtful! Obviously, I'm rationing them to make them last until I visit the United States in a few weeks.

On our last day there, we went to La Fortuna Waterfall Reserve. It had a nice Lost-esque vibe going on.

We took about 1,000 steps down to the base of the waterfall.

I have never seen such blue water at the bottom of a waterfall.

La Fortuna is probably my favorite place in Costa Rica so far. I'm definitely planning to return!

23 November 2010

giving thanks

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, I like to spend time reflecting on the great people and blessings in my life. Some of my favorite things to do in anticipation of this holiday are to write at least one thank you e-mail a day (I got this idea this year from Marta at marta writes, and I love it!) and to write down things I'm thankful for on slips of paper to re-read at Thanksgiving dinner. This year, as I approach the four-month mark of arriving in Costa Rica (which just happens to fall on Thanksgiving!), I feel that I have even more to be thankful for than usual:

::The people I have met since moving to Costa Rica have been so friendly, and have continuously gone out of their way to be helpful as I get settled into life in a new country. My students are wonderful, their families are supportive of me and their children, and my co-workers have given me advice and rides to work and elsewhere every single day, invited me to parties, etc. The friends I have made here are fun and great to talk to. Everyone's friendliness has made the adjustment to living here so smooth.

::The many, many people who helped me coordinate an international move. There were so many details to take care of, and countless people came from all different directions to help me get everything taken care of: friends helped me pack up my apartment, others let me stay with them when my things were already in storage, others gave advice on living abroad and what to bring and what to leave behind, others traveled with me to help me take care of business when paperwork issues came up, and my mom continues to save all my mail for me and lets me know when I'm called for jury duty or when random bills are due! I could not have done it without all their amazing assistance.

::The support and encouragement I have received from family and friends as I have moved to a place even further from home than Texas.

::All of the forms of technology that have allowed me to keep in touch with my family and friends...between Skype, e-mail, and Facebook, it almost seems like we're not 2,000 miles apart!

::Most of all, I'm thankful for my family. I come from a big extended family, and we are very close. Last week, my uncle went through a major surgery. The 17-hour operation went as well as could be hoped for, and he is recovering faster than expected, which is the number one thing I am thankful for this year. My uncle's strength and positivity as he goes through the recovery process and gears up for further treatments are truly awe-inspiring.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with the things that make life good.

Image found here.

14 November 2010

holy moldy

Why hello, life-long dream! Nice to meet you!

A few weeks ago, some friends and I went to see Bon Jovi, one of my favorite groups, perform. It was kind of amazing. "It's My Life," while not my #1 of theirs, was my favorite to see and hear live.

This pic is a little blurry, but it shows off some of JBJ's awesome dance moves.

Gettin' down with the mic. He kept this up all night.
Rumor has it that U2 is supposed to come next year. Not sure yet, but if that happens, it will totally make my life.

Funny side note: as I was getting ready for the concert, I went to put on my denim strapless dress (you know, just in case JBJ decided to make a detour up to the nosebleeds and I got to meet him in person rather than just admiring from afar...). When I took my dress out of my closet, it looked like this:
Yes, that is mold growing ALL OVER the bottom of it!! Maybe it's a sign that I have too many clothes. Or maybe I just need to find more occasions to wear my denim strapless dress. What do you think?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy a de-humidifier for my closet.

Concert images courtesy of EG.

06 November 2010

foreigners say the darndest things

It's not just kids who say the darndest things anymore.

There are a bunch of new teachers from the United States and Canada at my school. We're all at different places on the road to learning Spanish; nonetheless, we all have the common experience of communicating in a language that doesn't always come quite naturally, and blundering through the awkward conversations that sometimes result.

Exhibit A: The school director took us out for pizza our first week here. When the waiter came to take our order, one person asked, "?Puedo tener un pizza con ojos?" [Can I have a pizza with eyes?] While I have heard that eyeball pizza is tasty, I think I prefer hongos [mushrooms] on mine!

Exhibit B: A few weeks later, as my friend was walking past the cafeteria, she was tempted by the delicious smells emanating from within. She crossed paths with a new colleague, and in a demonstration of friendliness, meant to say "!Mmmmm, tengo hambre!" [I'm hungry!] Instead, she exclaimed, "!Mmmmm, tengo hombre!" [I have a man! Like in the Biblical sense.]

Fortunately, everyone we've encountered has been very patient with our bumbling Spanish. What can I say...at least we're trying, right?!

Image found here.