Monday, March 21, 2011

Los fin de Semanas

I don’t even know where to start. Each weekend has been incredibly fun, interesting, physically enduring and very rewarding. We did things ranging from visiting farms to going to hot springs! Our first weekend we went hiking in Las Juntas, the hottest place in the world or at least it felt like it was. We went hiking along what was “tres Hermanos” x-golg mine. Of all the observations I’ve been making I think working on a gold mine might have been my least favorite job, second to Banana Picking. I think I would have been a coffee picker. After 2 hours of hiking with my sandals I made it back safe. What better way to celebrate but with hot springs and fruit cocktails!
Hiking with style.. that's how we do!
Defeating gravity

Jaquelin and I enjoying our fruit cocktails :)

The other weekend we went to San Gerardo. We were going to be staying at a Biological Station in the heart of the Bosque Del Eterno Ninos. It was quite a steep hike down… super regretting my decisions of not wearing my rain boots we made it after 2 hours of walking. Our Guide was Mike Wright. And what a perfect guide he was… he made everything super interesting. We also had a night which tour which was super cool, we saw snakes and frogs…and other cool things that glow in the dark… (I tend to use super a lot... cause it’s actually a thing here ;)
Beautiful epiphytes
Wonders off the night tour

The Bio-Sation

El Bosque del Eterno Ninos

Following day we hiked back the steep path to make it to the Puntarenas Carnival; we heard that a famous Salsa singer Oscar was going to be there. We got to the capital of province of Puntarenas. The city was right along the beach. It was so crazy I didn’t expect that many people there… there were bars ever 20 meters playing different genres of music ranging from Latin music to regaton. It was quite a shock in comparison to our little Monteverde with its two little bars. I kind of felt like Monteverde was a little bubble in the whole of Costa Rica. I had the heavenly churos for the first time, they are like caramel filled fried bread sticks covered with sugar… I can’t remember how much I had but they were so delicious lol.

 Now let’s not forget the farms. A lot of the field’s trips for out sustainable development class involved visiting different farms. Oh my goodness all the farmers we visited despite their age were super in shape, que hermoso. We visited dairy farms with wind breaks, Coffee plantations, the cheese factory followed by a pig farm, windfarms and hydro electric plants.. We learnt a lot about sustainable agriculture and the advantages of it for the local community and the environment. I think I have done a pretty good job summarizing this month. Anyway … we are off to Nicaragua this week so ill update this blog soon ciao….y hasta pronto!

Coffee picking... my speciality


Quetzal (pic is from google)
In 1950 eleven families from Alabama wanted to escape U. S militarism and avoid getting drafted for WWII. They were first about to move to Canada but then decided that it would be too cold for them. Costa Rica had just then abolished its army so they thought it would be a good choice. So they came down to a part of Costa Rica that had been owned the Guacimal mining company. They purchased the land and called it Monteverde. Quakerism has existed for over 50 years here in Monteverde. The Quakers and the high concentration of scientist here played an important role in preserving the unique Cloud Forest and making Monteverde the model touristic destination it is today.

Monteverde is home to key stone species such as the beautiful Quetzal and the Bell bird. Nowadays I feel like Monterverde is transforming from an eco-touristic destination to a more adventuristic tourism as zip-lines, bungee jumping and canopy tours are on the increase. Other than that there are a lots of coffee, dairy and terrepiche tours (this is how they squeeze/crush the juice out sugarcanes and boil it and then pour them into molds, and cool them down and preserve them as tapa dulces).

The Bellbird (pic from google)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Estableciéndose ......Settling Down

I can’t believe it’s been like 6-7weeks since I have been here. Ahh time is going by super fast and it seems like I am updating this blog once per month… Do bear with me… The first week was the longest one and then pow two months have already gone by. A good week and a half after 50 minutes of walking to school and back I was like um… why not take the bus like any other regular person… so yes I haven’t been walking 1hr 40 mins every day. But hey, I still walk back, so I deserve partial credit for that. It was just too exhausting to walk soo much lol.

Spending more time with the same people makes you learn a lot about them and a lot about yourself and your flaws. I realized that I use ‘so’ more than necessary and this was pointed out to me while I was speaking Spanish, just to emphasize how much I use it. Another flaw that was pointed out to me was that I complained a lot, I feel like I complain unconsciously for no particular reason… so I have learnt to suck it up, which is really not hard here.

One of the funniest nights I had was when we had a sleep over at Patis’ house (super cool instructor). We were planning on watching the stars and ‘motor cycle diaries’ with no subtitles… instead we spent the whole night imitating each other and everyone at the institute and for anyone who knows me, I love making imitations. It gives me the freedom to show people how I perceive them without being offensive. Linn and Cally; our two musicians were playing their guitars, it was a super chill night and we had great pasta made by Allison and Natasha… with their special ingredient that worked astoundingly !

La rutina diaria: On the other hand life here has been super tranquilla, it involves a lot of going to cafes to use the internet and ‘trying’ to get work done, cooking, hanging out and a lot of field trips… I feel like Im in IB Geography again!!! Every weekend there is always something planned; nothing has been repetitive despite having the same class schedule each week.

Monteverde is blessed with artists. I’ve never seen such a high concentration of amazing artists in such a small place. Everyone seems to have a talent… I won’t lie marrying an artist and moving here has crossed my mind a few times, but my Spanish teacher from Spain from her own experience ;) told me to make sure that they could do more than just paint con sus manos (with their hands) … so I am still looking for my handy man lol. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

La Vida Nocturnal

The night life here is muy interesante. There are actually two very distinct bars, one is mainly for ticos. Oh I know I wasn’t clear about what I meant by tico’s in my previous post, Costa Ricans are known as “Ticos” for the usual –tico- they add after the end of every possible word, ‘un pocotico’, ‘delgatico’,’gordotico’ etc. And so that is the story behind “ticos”. Anyway where was I… Bar Amigos is the local bar, very lively, we usually try to get there before the cover charges. The music is mainly the latin version of every possible music you know. So our first Saturday I went out ‘dancing’ to find out that …Oh boy I really don’t know how to Salsa… That was one thing I forgot to prepare for. Yes folks, if you’re planning on coming down to Central America or any Spanish speaking country for that matter learn your salsa before coming. Especially guys, because ladies can get away with following- it doesn’t work the other way. The other bar is Mate Cana. This is the tourist spot, owned by gringos (foreigners/white people) , it has a more loungier feeling, and regular salsa classes on Thursdays. The one time we went I was surprised/ disappointed that the instructor was from England, forgive me but I wanted the real thing. Watching passionate couples dance away on the dance floor made me fall in love… yes I have found a burning passion to become a dancer here lol… I wanna learn it all; salsa, meringue, bachata, cumbia, swing and each week I learn something new. Best way to dance I’ve learnt is just say yes when a ‘tico’ comes and asks you to and just go with the flow ;)

Anécdota; Insects here are pretty bearable. There are none of those annoying mosquitoes. Except there are these small little black bugs that come and bite you and leave a small red spot that hurts and itches for days! Especially depending on where they bite you the pain differs. Other than that I have accepted the presence of insects as living creatures in this earth. NOT Scorpions though! I hate them! One night I was leaving to go out to Bar Amigos (typical Friday night routine) I found something black on my bedroom floor, ‘curious’ me I tried to move it aside to see if it was alive… not only was it alive it grabbed on to my foot, but I was too fast for it as I kicked it off. But then I didn’t know where it went so I had to stay another half an hour or so to hunt the scorpion down, I was not about to come home to a scorpion waiting for me… alas I found it under my bed. The bad thing was that I had to pay the cover charge at Bar amigos that night :/

Thursday, February 10, 2011

La vida de los ticos

Everyone here wakes up so early. I am really surprised with myself also. I have started getting up at 6am every morning. (clap clap clap). Noemy, my host-mum is such a great cook, I am motivated to learn how to make tortillas, frijoles, arroz con pollo, empanadas etc. … even though I walk to school every day, I'm not sure how much weight I can possible lose since the food is so great. I might have to start jogging to school…vamos a ver. Being here really reminds me of being in Ethiopia the weather, roads, stores, plants and how welcoming and warm the people are. The ticos are very chill about everything. I love how they are always “tranquilla”.  

Las classes

So I am only taking 4 classes this semester (as I have learnt my lesson from the previous one). Even though the psychology of environmental issues sounded very interesting I thought tropical ecology would be much more fascinating here in Monteverde. Sustainable Development with Pati, which involves going on field trips and working on a final project of making a documentary to share with the community. Social Change and Development with Jim, who is actually an Anthropologist and Spanish of course, with Christina from Spain! I really don’t know how I feel about my Spanish I thought I knew enough, but I still have a lot to learn.  The thing I love about the institute is the free coffee and tea in the kitchen. And of course let’s not forget the cheese factory that is right by the school which has the world’s best ice-cream!!! Flavor of the month has to be macadamian .. Que Rico!!!! After walking so much who doesn’t deserve ice-cream!

Primero día

I found out the hard way exactly how far the institute was from St. Elena. I was personally planning on taking the bus, but since everyone else wanted to ‘walk’, I thought why not. But this was not a walk! It was more like a hike up the mountain. It’s not how far the institute was that got me so tired but how steep the road was. But by day 2 I was much more comfortable walking, and by day 3 I became a natural …and so we all started walking to the institute every day back and forth… My favorite part was definitely walking back, not only because it was downhill, but because of the gorgeous atardecer; Sunset.

La Casa de la familia de Santamaría Villegas

Noemy my host-mother came to pick me up from the institute. I was so excited to see her and I was looking forward to going home, unpacking, having my own room. When I got home I met Antoni the youngest son who was about 16, very good looking but again he was 16, Suzi who is here for vacation, and Estibali is in the process of applying to Uni. Noemy also had two other daughters who were living with their husbands and a son who lives in San Jose. Of all the people on this trip who like dogs I don’t know why I had the house with the three huge dogs.

¿Dónde está?

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Coming to Montverde!

Friday January 14th, yes I am very behind with the blog, but finally we were going to go to Montverde to meet our host families, which by the way we knew nothing about , until Anibal gave us a brief letter describing our family and where we lived. I was going to be staying with the Santamaria Villegas Family. The house was 15 minutes from down town St. Elena and 50 minutes from the Institute. I was happy about the first part, but I was still processing the later part. The housing arrangement turned out great because Cally and Jacqueline were going to live 2 seconds away for me. However I was concerned about the dogs that bark when they see people walking in at night.  

We got to Montverde around noon and I really did not know what to expect. We passed by St. Elena which is a small tourist town with one main road with restaurants, souvenirs shops, small hotels, internet cafes, supermarkets and various travel agencies. Then we drove through Cerro Plano which also had fancier restaurants and hotels… then finally we got to an unpaved road and we were finally in Montverde. The institute was very nice, it had lots of space and it was very clean, I have never seen so many different categories for trash.