Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last weeks of winter

Lately, time seems to be passing very quickly. I find it hard to believe that I will home for Christmas in nearly 3 weeks. I'm trying to get in as much beach/surf time as I can before my flight on the 18th. I spent last weekend in Samara and the weekend before that in Tamarindo. I don't know what this weekend will bring, but I probably won't spend it in San Jose.

It really doesn't feel like Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Last week I realized that I really don't have many American friends here, but I still managed to find a small group of gringos to go out with tomorrow night. We have reservations at a restaurant in Escazu that serves a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It will be nice to see friends that I haven't seen in a few weeks, and it's definitely better than sitting at home.

Well, I hope you all enjoy your long weekend! As for my family, I hope you don't miss my awesome stuffing too much. haha

Much love

P.S- I've been reading more Paulo Coelho lately and thought I would share...

"When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Visitors from the North

A few weeks ago I had the luxury of traveling gringo style when my dad and Brian came to visit. They arrived Thursday afternoon and had already made reservations to go to Tortuguero to go Tarpon fishing.

We left early Friday morning on a charter flight, which by the way never even bothered to ask for our names or identification. The Tortuguero airport (one runway) is closed for reconstruction, so we had to fly into Barra del Colorado. The hotel had a boat waiting for us there; Tortuguero is surrounded by water (ocean, river, and canals). After arriving at the hotel, we spent the day exploring some of the trails around the hotel and checking out the beach. The beach was not too impressive; it's famous for the annual turtle nesting that occurs from July to October (we barely missed it).

Saturday morning we had a guided tour of the national park. We got to see a lot of wildlife...toucans, sloth, three types of monkeys, iguanas, various birds, turtles, and a few caiman. We were back to the hotel in time for lunch and an afternoon of relaxing by the pool followed by drinks and more delicious food.

We spent our last day in Tortuguero (and Brian's birthday) fishing, which turned out to be an interesting experience due to the fact that Brian and Eddie (our captain) didn't really see eye to eye on much of anything. My dad and I were both afraid of getting in the middle of a fist fight; well it wasn't that bad, but it was mildly entertaining. My dad was the only one to reel in a tarpon; Brian and I both had our chance but they got away.

Tortuguero was nice, but 3 days is more than enough time to spend there, especially during rainy season. So, Monday morning I was ready to cross the country to go to the Pacific coast in Guanacaste and hopefully find some sun. Saturday we had made arrangements for another flight from San Jose to Tamarindo. In theory, we would be in Tamarindo by noon.

Well, my dad was in Tamarindo by noon; however, Brian and I were stuck in the tiny Pavas airport in San Jose until 2. While trying to check in for the flight, I had a little run in with migration due to the lack of carrying my real passport. I only had a copy of the original, which was a bad copy with illegible stamp dates. On top of that, when the migration officer went to look up my information in the "system" it didn't show that I had left the country to go to Nicaragua. In other words, according to the system my 90 day visa had expired and I was illegally residing in Costa Rica. The officer explained to me that I was being detained until someone could retrieve my original passport so she could review all my entry and exit stamps.

To say the least, I was less than impressed with my current country of residence at this point. Prior to this incident, I had traveled within Costa Rica carrying only a copy of my passport and in two cases it was reviewed without any problems. Although both cases were on a public bus, I thought carrying a copy was acceptable while traveling within CR. Anyway, Brian offered to take my keys, go to my apartment and bring back the passport; all the while my dad sat in astonishment. The airline changed the tickets to the next flight for Brian and I and my dad went on to Tamarindo.

Despite the difficulties, we had a great time in Tamarindo. They both decided that they wanted to come back and spend more time in Guanacaste. Also, they told me that I should quit my job in San Jose and move to Tamarindo. Ojala.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stuck in transit

Last Friday I left San Jose at 3:30 pm for Tamarindo. I was expecting to arrive there six hours later; however, after living in Costa Rica for three months I know that six hours can easily turn into seven depending on unexpected stops or traffic. Pura vida, right? (By the way, "pura vida" is a saying in CR, but it's really more like an attitude/way of life). So, three hours into the bus ride when we were stopped in traffic, I wasn't too concerned.

After 30 minutes of listening to my ipod and ignoring the fact that we hadn't moved, I began to notice the growing restlessness of the other passengers. Due to the many ambulances that had passed us (driving on the wrong side of the road) we knew that there was an accident, but we didn't know where it was or why it was taking so long to clear the road. In fact, nobody seemed to know what was going on, but everyone had something to say about it. Some people said that the equipment to move the cars involved in the accident had broken down. Others explained that the same portion of the highway was closed the night before due to rain, and all the traffic had to turn around and go back to San Jose. Many feared this would happen again, and they weren't happy about it.

For the first hour or so, I was really frustrated and impatient, but finally I just started laughing when I realized how ridiculous the situation was. For as far as I could see, there was a line of cars, all turned off, with people wandering around on the dark two lane highway somewhere in the mountains between San Jose and Liberia. On top of that, some of the other passengers decided to start walking to their final destination, which was obviously a terrible idea. I had never seen anything like this before.

Being the only gringa on the bus, I quickly made friends with the ticos and laughed with them as they bad mouthed their own country (I heard "only in Costa Rica" many times). After being stuck in the same spot for nearly two hours, the bus driver decided to get everyone back on the bus and drive on the wrong side of the road for about a kilometer to reach the closest restaurant. At this point, I had accepted the fact that I would arrive in Tamarindo considerably later than expected.

While killing some time at the restaurant, we heard the road was still closed due to the fact that the people who worked for the morgue never came to pick up the two dead bodies from the crash scene. Well, at least that was the rumor, who knows if this is actually true. Regardless, with this news we were hopeful that we would reach Tamarindo before sunrise.

I was in line for a beer at the restaurant, when the bus driver frantically tapped me on the shoulder to tell me that the road was open and we had to get on the bus immediately. I soon realized that every vehicle that had stopped at the restaurant was trying to get back on the highway, creating a traffic jam spanning both lanes. Then, surprise, surprise cars started coming from the opposite direction so we had to back up to let them through before we could cross to the other lane.

We spent another hour in bad traffic, but at least we were moving. I arrived in Tamarindo after 1 am, nearly ten hours after I left San Jose. Up to this point, this is the best example I have of the crazy things that happen in CR. Pura vida.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Traveling North of the border

Hey all, as you already know I got home from my week vacation in Nicaragua last Sunday. It was a really rewarding week of travel and as much as I would love to tell you every detail I realize that some people probably don't care that in Nicaragua instead of greeting people with something like "buenas tardes" you greet someone by saying "adios". So, I will try to summarize the 7 days and 8 nights as best as I can.

Well, Stephen (co-worker/friend) and I left Saturday and spent a little over 12 hours in transit to reach our first destination, Leon. The 12+ hours included 3 hours spent at the border crossing, roughly 8 hours in the bus from San Jose to Managua, 1 hour in a bus (really a van) from Managua to Leon, and three taxis. Saturday night after dropping our stuff off at the hostel, we wandered around, found a place to eat, and called it an early night.

Sunday after taking advantage of the free coffee, tea and internet at the hostel, we set out to explore Leon. The city is known for its colonial architecture and churches. We didn't come across many tourists, which was a refreshing change from traveling in Costa Rica. Besides visiting churches, we also stumbled upon a museum run by a group of Sandinista war veterans. This "museum" was simply an open room with newspaper clippings, photographs and a few maps lining the walls. For 20 cordobas (about a dollar), we were able to hear the story firsthand from one of the veterans. It was very interesting to hear about the guerilla warfare that took place in Leon.

Monday morning we left our hostel fairly early to make our way to Laguna de Apoyo, a crater lake to the South of Leon. After trudging through the "streets turned rivers" of downtown Leon, we found the bus to Managua and finally got out of the rain. We changed buses in Managua and despite the fact that the van was over capacity (I was standing), the bus attendant continued to yell the destination to anyone we passed on the street, and yes we did pick up a few more people. Also despite the number of passengers, I managed to remove my soaking wet shoes and socks with the help of an old man sitting next to where I was standing. It seems insignificant now, but at the time it was of utmost importance to me.

Eventually we were dropped off on the side of the highway by the road leading to the entrance to the Laguna. Being budget travelers, we opted to walk to the Laguna instead of taking a taxi. After all, it seemed like a good idea considering the travel guide said it was only a 2 kilometer hike. As it turns out, it's more like 6 kilometers from the highway to the hostels that are on the Laguna, but the hour and 45 minute hike was well worth it. We spent the rest of Monday relaxing, swimming, reading and enjoying the local beer, Toña. Tuesday was basically a repeat of Monday with less beer involved. Although it was hard to leave the enticing, friendly atmosphere of the Laguna, we took a bus to Granada late Wednesday morning to keep our trip on schedule.

Granada is a colonial city in Nicaragua and it is well known by tourists and expats alike. Wednesday we explored the city a bit, had dinner at a popular pizza restaurant, visited a Nica wine bar, and then met up with our friend Andrew, who joined us for the rest of the trip. We spent Thursday morning visiting churches and museums and we even climbed a couple bell towers. After a late lunch, we walked to the Lago (lake) de Nicaragua and decided to take a tour of the isletas (small islands). Being low season, we were the only three on the boat. It was a well needed break from all the walking we had done that day.

Early Friday morning, we set off for our final destination, Isla de Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua. To get there, we took a bus to a town called Rivas, then a taxi to San Jorge, and finally a ferry to the island (fully equipped with music videos from the 80s for your entertainment). Once on the island, we shared a taxi with a few other travelers to go to Playa Santo Domingo. The "beach" was pretty much nonexistent, but it was a good location for hiking either volcano, which was the whole purpose of coming to the island. The two volcanoes on the island are Concepcion, which is still active, and Maderas, which is not active.

We spent a lot of time on Friday trying to decide which volcano to climb and if we needed to use a guide or not. Our travel guide recommended using a guide and the locals tried to convince us that there was a "ecological military zone" that made a guide a necessity; however, after talking to other travelers, we discovered that it was possible to do it on your own. So, Friday night after carb-loading on pasta at dinner, we decided that we would hike Concepcion without a guide. Our only concern was the weather; around 9 pm Friday night it started storming, and by "storming" I mean that we could see lightning hitting the water in front of our hostel. Still hopeful that our Saturday wouldn't go to waste, we went to bed early.

To our surprise, Saturday morning we woke to clear conditions and started the hike at 6 am, expecting it to take about ten hours. The summit of the volcano is roughly 1610 meters (5300 feet) above sea level, and the hike itself is around 7 kilometers each way. In the beginning, we had to walk through a banana plantation and then a forest before reaching an area where we could view the rest of the island. The climb to the top was far from easy, especially considering the abundant number of rocks on the trail, but I really enjoyed the challenge. The trail basically ends before reaching the summit (guides won't take you beyond this point). At this elevation, there is far less vegetation and the vegetation that does exist is wilting and covered in ash. The last part of the hike was a little trickier due to the loose sand and rocks, but we all made it to the edge of the crater at the top.

As I sat on the hot sand/rock surface admiring the view of the entire island (we were fortunate that the summit wasn't covered in clouds), I began to realize that I had to climb back down this steep, rocky volcano in my old puma tennis shoes (not exactly hiking quality). Briefly, I was struck by panic and the fact that I was sitting next to the crater of a volcano that had it's last (small) eruption in 2007 didn't help my state of mind. After a few minutes of taking pictures, resting, and for me mentally preparing myself, we carefully began our descent.

Although I spent a good amount of time basically sliding down the volcano, my anxiety dissipated within the first few minutes of climbing down. I was feeling great for the first half of the way down; then, we realized that we were out of water, which is really the last thing you want to happen. For the last two hours or so of the hike, we were all becoming dehydrated (and we were obviously tired). Luckily, we made it down and found water without any serious problems. We arrived back to the main road around 4:30 pm (right before it started raining) and waited about an hour for the bus back to Playa Santo Domingo. For out last night in Nicaragua, we went to the nicest restaurant we could find, which still only cost around $45 for three people (including drinks, an appetizer, 3 meals, and dessert).

Our long day of travel back to San Jose began at 5 am Sunday morning. We waited for the bus in front of our hostel, wondering if we should have spent a few extra dollars and called a taxi. The bus was only 15 minutes late, so we were hopeful that we would still make it back to Rivas in time to catch our 9 am bus to San Jose. The bus ride was longer than expected and we barely caught the 7 am ferry back to the mainland. I have to mention that while riding the bus I saw a Nicaraguan man wearing a KU First shirt. Rock Chalk! Unfortunately, he got off the bus before I could get to my camera.

After a short taxi ride from the ferry port to Rivas, we arrived at the bus station with time to spare. At this point, I was actually looking forward to getting on the bus and hopefully going back to sleep, but once we were on the bus we reached the border faster than I expected. Getting our exit stamps was as simple as giving our passports to the bus attendant and waiting 15 minutes; however, getting our entrance stamps to Costa Rica was a little more complicated because the "system" was down and they were supposedly calling in every passport for verification. To tell you the truth, I'm still not really sure what happened, but what I do know is that normally we would have had to wait in line but instead we gave our passports and customs forms back to the bus attendant who miraculously got each and every passport stamped within an hour.

The sketchiest part of the border crossing was when they told all of us that we had to take our luggage off the bus for inspection. First, everyone lined the luggage up on a few benches outside the immigration office. Then, a customs officer walked by the line of luggage and handed each bag back to its rightful owner. I think I saw him open one bag. So, after getting our laugh for the day, we got back on the bus and left the border only 2 hours after arriving. The remainder of the bus ride seemed to take forever, but I was back at home in San Pedro around 5 pm.

Well, this wasn't exactly the "summary" that I intended it to be, but adding details makes it more interesting. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Surfing in Tamarindo

This past weekend I took my first surf lesson in Playa Tamarindo. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be; I think my biggest challenge was overcoming the hangover that was ruining my balance. haha! The waves at Tamarindo are really small, making it a really popular spot for beginners. With the help of my instructor, I was able to stand up on my first try and actually stay on the board. However, over the course of the two hour lesson I did manage to take a few less than graceful falls. It was nothing painful (minus swallowing salt water). Overall, I think it was a successful first attempt and I will definitely continue to try to be a surfer, which shouldn't be to complicated living in Costa Rica.

As far as everything else, I've been busy at work this week trying to catch up, write tests, grade tests, etc. before I leave for my "visa vacation." In case you didn't already know, I have to leave the country every 90 days to renew my tourist visa. So, I have next week off work and I will be traveling in Nicaragua with a few other interns. I'll keep you updated! Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Independence Day

I had another great weekend outside of San Jose! This past Monday was Independence Day, so we had a three day weekend. I traveled with 5 others to Montezuma and Santa Teresa, which are beaches on the Pacific. We left from San Jose early Saturday morning (7:30 am), but didn't get to Montezuma until around 3 pm. The traveling was more complicated than I expected, but definitely worth it. First, we had to take a bus to Puntarenas, which was packed and we were lucky to have seats, then we got off the bus and onto a ferry. We got on the ferry around 10:30, but it didn't leave the dock until 12 pm. After the hour ferry, we got back on the same bus for about an hour, transferred buses one more time and finally made it to Montezuma. It sounds more complicated than it actually is, but as they say here, pura vida. In other words, just go with it.

Although the beach in Montezuma is beautiful, it isn't the main attraction. Most people go to see the waterfalls, so as soon as we checked into a hostel that's where we headed. The path that leads to the waterfalls was fairly treacherous; it was a good workout to say the least. We stayed at the top for awhile to jump in, swim, and relax. It was really beautiful and one of the coolest things I've done thus far in CR. 

Sunday we took a bus to Santa Teresa which is a well-known surfing beach and by that I mean well-known by serious surfers. The waves are brutal, and even though I do want to take a surf lesson, Santa Teresa is definitely not beginner friendly. The beach there is really big and it was nearly deserted. We spent most of our time lounging in some hammocks that we found and walking along the shore.

We left Santa Teresa Monday afternoon. The travel time back to San Jose didn't seem as long as getting there, maybe because we were able to watch a beautiful sunset from the ferry. I got home around 11 pm, which isn't too late, but it made for a long Tuesday. Hope to here from you all soon!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cancelled class...

My advanced class was cancelled last minute this evening.  In other words, only one person was going to be able to come and she decided to work late.  So far, it's been a slow week for teaching; everyone seems to be preoccupied with work or out of the office.  I'm using the extra time to read through my Costa Rica travel guide and hopefully finish reading Three Cups of Tea before this weekend.  Also, a new intern arrived yesterday from Germany and she is staying with me until she can move into her place.  We work in the same area of San Jose, so I showed her around today after my morning classes.  It's strange to think that I was in her shoes only a few months ago, overwhelmed by loud car alarms, non-existent crosswalks, cracked sidewalks, lack of street signs, and the abudance of fast food chains from the North.  Welcome to San Jose!  At least I can laugh about it now, right?  Time goes by fast...or does it?

Well, besides the obvious (teaching, working out, reading, and becoming increasingly frustrated with US politics) this past weekend I went to Cahuita.  It's a small town on the Carribean coast in the province of Limon.  I left Saturday morning with two AIESEC interns and two non AIESEC interns.  We got into Cahuita around 11 am and didn't have any trouble finding a hostel.  On our way to Cahuita it looked like it was going to rain all day, but it cleared up and we were able to spend all day on the beach.  We spent the majority of the afternoon at Playa Negra, which really wasn't that negra.  The sand was dark, but not black at all.  There isn't much surf in Cahuita, so it was a nice beach to go for a relaxing swim and observe the numerous sand dollars.  I probably spent a good hour looking for one that was already dead, but it was a failure.  

By 3 pm we were ready for a change of scenery, so we headed to the national park on the other side of town.  Then, Saturday night we went out to dinner and enjoyed live music at the only bar in town.  Sunday, we went back to the park to check out some of the trails.  We walked along a trail that follows the shore; well, more or less because sometimes you can see the ocean and sometimes you can't.  It was about an hour and a half walk until we reached a long stretch of beach that we had all to ourselves.  The walk was really enjoyable, minus the fact that the hostel owner told us there were lockers at the entrance to the park and when that turned out to be false we had to carry all of our belongings.  We had another great day of weather (despite the rainy season), so there's really no reason to complain!

The ride back to San Jose was traffic jams, no accidents, we even had AC, which really is something to be excited about (Limon is hot and really humid).  As for my future travel plans, next Monday is Independence Day so I will probably leave early Saturday morning for somewhere in Guanacaste (Northwest province).  Then again, I just found out that a lot of people will be out of the office Friday, so leaving Friday is a possibility as well.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another day at the office...

As I finish my sixth week working at GSK, I'm becoming more and more comfortable with my "teacher" role. In the beginning, it surprised me how easily I was able to adapt to creating lessons, organizing class schedules, and relating to students. I can't exactly say that I felt prepared to teach coming from OTP (read: Old Town Pizza), and I don't think ochem helped either, but I'm gaining more and more confidence with each class. In most cases my students are self-motivated, which makes my job a lot easier and more entertaining. Overall, I'm enjoying my work here.

This past weekend I went to Palmares to visit a few other interns who are working on a nature reserve called Madre Verde. Palmares is a small town about an hour and a half outside of San Jose. There were twelve of us staying in a two bedroom cabin, so it was a bonding experience for all those included. We arrived Saturday afternoon and bought the necessary items to make dinner, which included pasta and guacamole (prepared by two Mexican guys working at the reserve). Palmares isn't really the place for nightlife, so we had our own cocktail party for entertainment. Of course, I was the one sipping the tequila concoctions (tequila, lime juice, fresca, and a dash of salt) with my two new Mexican friends.
Sunday morning we got up at a decent hour and wandered around the reserve and enjoyed the great weather. I guess you could say that overall it wasn't a very eventful weekend, but I enjoyed the "small town" feel of Palmares and spending time with the other interns.

This weekend coming up I am dog sitting for an American couple who moved to Costa Rica last April. I met them through another intern from Germany. I went to their house last night and was able to meet Lucy (the dog) as well as a group of peace corps volunteers. Tyler and Anna (dog owners) met in the peace corps and try to stay involved in the program. It was great to hear everyone's story and just chat with other Americans about life in Costa Rica.

That's all I have for now!
un beso para todos

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pura vida

Although not much time has pasted since my last post, I have a lot to tell you about. After spending a few nights at Tania's I decided to move back to where I was living before. Well, not exactly where I was before, but into an apartment that is literally right in front of where I was living (by right in front I mean maybe ten feet). When I first realized that I had made a poor decision to move I was really upset because I didn't think I would be able to go back, but then I realized that the apartment in front of where I was previously staying would be avaliable this week. So, I went and talked to Diana (landlord) immediately about that apartment and that night (last Wednesday) I saw the apartment and decided right away that I wanted to live there. For the first time since I arrived in Costa Rica I finally felt like I was making a good decision. In other words, instead of trying to rationalize everything, I just went with my intuition. It was such a relief to feel so sure about living there, because before I was really confused.

So, this Friday I will move in to the new apartment and until then I'm staying in the house where I was living before. Have I confused you yet? Hopefully not. Anyway, this new apartment has a bedroom with two beds, kitchen, and bathroom. It's furnished with the basics. I will probably try to find a roommate to keep my expenses low, which shouldn't be too hard because there are a few new interns coming in September. I will be able to walk to work and the gym, which is a huge plus. Also, I'll be right next door to the friends I made in the other house. As far as improving my Spanish, one of the girls living next door only speaks French and Spanish so obviously I will communicate with her in Spanish. That basically sums up my housing situation. I had to laugh at myself for moving all my stuff to Tania's just to move it back again.

This past weekend I went to Liberia with Tania to visit her family. We left early Friday morning and got into Liberia around noon. Friday, we spent time with her family and watched tv and slept for a large portion of the afternoon. Then, Tania and her sister, Stephanie, showed me around Liberia. It's really small compared to San Jose; it's more how I imagined life in Costa Rica. It's a place where everyone knows each other and its common to see kids playing outside or people sitting on their patios just enjoying the day. I really enjoyed the small town feel of things and staying at Tania's house. Tania's mom has somewhere around ten siblings, so it was hard for me to keep up with names but it was really fun seeing people come and go from the house all day. The door was always open, which reminded me of home.

Saturday I went with Tania's boyfriend, Marco, and a few other people to Playa Tamarindo and Playa Avellanas. We were supposed to leave around 10 am, but considering "tico time" we didn't leave until 1 pm. We had a great time and got to watch a really beautiful sunset at Playa Avellanas, which you can only get to by taking a dirt road with dangerously large potholes. I was really lucky to be with someone who had a car and knew about this particular beach. Saturday night we returned to Liberia and went out with some of Tania and Marco's friends. Since it was a holiday weekend here they saw a lot of people from high school (think Coach's over Christmas break).

Sunday Tania and I drove to Playa Hermosa and spent a few hours there before it started raining. Then, we went back to Liberia to catch our 4 pm bus to San Jose. It was a really relaxing weekend and if I get the chance to go back to Liberia I definitely will. For now...back to work!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

First Weeks in CR

So much has happened in the last few weeks. I probably should have started this earlier, but "better late than never" I guess. I'll do my best to recap what I've been doing since I arrived July 12th. Here is goes...

My first few days in San Jose were overwhelming. I guess you could say I arrived in San Jose with few expectations, which could good or bad depending on how you spin it. I knew that San Jose wasn't the safest of cities; however, I never anticipated so many people telling me how careful I need to be here. Luckily, I'm living in San Pedro, which is a fairly safe area by the University of Costa Rica. I've always been aware of my surroundings, but I've definitely stepped that up a bit since arriving here. For the first week or so I despised going anywhere alone, but now I'm more comfortable with the idea. I know where I can go and where I shouldn't go and I know how to get around using public transportation. So, for all those who are concerned about my safety rest assured that I'm being cautious!

On to other things, I started working the Monday after I arrived in San Jose. I didn't necessarily need to be in the office, but I wanted to stay busy and learn as much as I could before Jane left. GlaxoSmithKline is like any office, nothing special but I like it here. The people have been really welcoming and helpful. I've started teaching; however, I don't know if the students realize that yet. haha! I have a few really dedicated students, but generally english classes come after everything else. Fair enough I guess. I'm working on accepting the fact that classes will inevitably be cancelled at least a few times a week. So, I have to keep a somewhat flexible schedule. Right now, I have four group classes that meet once a week for two hours each and 10 individual students who have one or two hours of class per week.

As some of you might already know, I'm probably going to be moving in with my friend Tania. She is from Guanacaste (northwest region in CR), but she's studying in San Jose. A week or so after I settled in living with other foreigners I realized that I wasn't speaking enough spanish, well by my standards/expectations at least. So, I panicked at first but then Tania offered me her extra room. It's nothing special. Ok, so it's really really small, but I'm still really excited about it. I know it will help my fluency a lot.

Well, for some more exciting news I've already been to a few amazing beaches here. I went to Puerto Viejo the first weekend that I was here, which is on the Carribean side. Last weekend, I went to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast. I definitely want to go back to Manuel Antonio. There is a big national park there full of wildlife and a few of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen, almost Puerto Vallarta quality. I know I'm biased! Hopefully I can get some photos up soon. This weekend I'm going to Jaco for my friend Lici's going away party. She leaves to go back to Germany next friday. Apparently Jaco is a more tourist type of destination and a lot of the other interns don't like it for that reason, but it's the closest to San Jose. It's still a beach so I won't be complaining about it!

I don't want to bore anyone so I'll leave it at that for now. I'll try to start posting on a regular basis. Miss you all!!!