Friday, March 6, 2009

travel just by folding a map...

I've learned a lot in the past 8 months, but I think it would bore you to read about my better understanding of English grammar or how my perspective on life has changed. So, here's a short list of some random (and hopefully entertaining) things I've learned in Costa Rica...

1. Rice and beans make great breakfast, lunch or dinner, or all three if your lucky.

2. In German roosters don't "say" cock-a-doodle-doo, but rather kikeriki.

3. In Japan, it's offensive to show "public display of affection", which is definitely not the case in Costa Rica.

4. San Jose was once featured on South Park for it's abundance of prostitution, garbage and drugs. The Costa Rican government was less than thrilled and even publicly denounced the show.

5. In Australia, the word "jumper" is used to describe what gringos might know as a sweatshirt, hoodie, zip-up, cardigan or basically any article of clothing used to keep warm that isn't as heavy as a coat.

6. It's possible to get a good night's sleep in a hammock.

7. If you act like you deserve respect, you often get it.

8. "Ahora" (now) could mean 15 minutes from now, 4 hours from now, tomorrow or never.

9. Aloe vera has a wide variety of uses, making it essential for traveling. (por ejemplo...sunburn relief, hair gel, moisturizer, shaving cream, make-up remover)

10. Intentions are often as important as the actions that follow.

11. Germans have trouble understanding Swiss German dialects.

12. It's possible to safely cross a busy round-a-bout, highway or street without the use of a cross-walk.

13. It's hard to kill a cockroach on carpet...need I say more?

14. There are far worse things than a cold shower.

15. Working for the US Embassy is not a bad set-up; it's actually quite the opposite.

16. Traveling alone doesn't have to be "scary" or dangerous; it's more likely to be challenging, exciting, and rewarding.

17. Patience is essential for living, working or traveling in Central America. Try sitting on a bus stuck in traffic for 4 hours without knowing what the hell is going on or coming into work at 7 am to find out the students aren't coming. ha

18. Some Costa Ricans take offense when people say "I'm American" because so are they. (I try to stick to: "I'm from The United States" PC ha)

19. It's possible to find your way around a city where street names/signs don't exist.

20. There's more than one way to get where you're going....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"procrastinate now, don't put it off"

As I patiently wait for the arrival and Hank and Vanessa (8 days to go!!), I've kept myself fairly busy. Let's see, maybe three weekends ago or so I went to Monteverde, which is a very popular tourist attraction due to the abundant wildlife, canopy tours and hanging bridges found in Cloud Forest Reserves. I went with a group of 6 people and even though we only stayed one night; we had a great time. Saturday we went to the Santa Elena Reserve and did a canopy tour and walked through the park. The longest cable on the canopy tour was around 1 kilometer; we had some really amazing views, even though it was raining a bit.

The next day, we got up very early to go hike around the trails of the Monteverde Reserve. There you can hike up to the Continental Divide and see both the Pacific and the Caribbean, well at least in theory. We weren't able to see the Caribbean due to clouds; turns out they call it a "cloud forest" for a reason. Anyway, we saw some wildlife, mainly birds (including the famous Quetzal and many hummingbirds), as well as waterfalls and amazing plant life.

After the Monteverde trip, I realized how exhausted I was from traveling every weekend. So, I decided to slow down a little, but I still managed to go to the beach the very next weekend (luckily by car, which makes a huge difference).

Besides that, did I forget to mention that I'm so excited for Hank and Vanessa to visit? haha. For me, it's like Christmas in March. Even though they are ones escaping the cold KS weather to come to paradise, there is no possible way they could be as excited as I am. I mean, I'm the one who already knows how awesome it is to travel here, plus I'm looking forward to time away from work, mostly from explaining (and re-explaining) that you CANNOT use the preposition "to" with "near". Besides the traveling, I'm just as excited to show them what my life's been like for the past 8 months.

One last thing, I just want to let everyone know that as of right now I will be home el cinco de mayo; just in time for a late night margarita! I tried (and tried again) to change my ticket to a later date so I could enjoy the end of the dry season here, but I decided it wasn't worth the cost. I don't for how long or where I'm next, but I'm going to put that off for now...and focus on enjoying my last two months as a "teacher" (still sounds weird, I know).