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.

Veragua Forest

Right before we were about to leave for Monteverde we went to the visit The Veragua Lowland Tropical Forest in Limón, the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. We went on the trams to the heart of the forest it was incredible. We saw a few interesting creatures whilst we were there, the strawberry frog, sloths and many types of birds. The guide was very entertaining to watch. You would not think he did this a couple of times during the day by the way he would get so ecstatic the second he saw a living creature. We learnt about all the medicinal qualities the rainforest has to offer and that there is yet so research to be done to learn about all the species that exist there. On the way back I learned the Costa Rican word for cool was “twanies” from the guide. It was from the first surfers who came to Costa Rica, who repeatedly used the word ‘too nice’ for everything they saw.


We also visited the Guayabo Archeological Monument located at the base of the Turrialba Volcano. It used to be a major settlement around 1000-1100 years ago until the whole settlement vanished right before the Spaniards came in the early 1500’s. The site was found by Michael Snarkis who was exploring through the forest before he stumbled upon the remains of the settlers. One can tell that from its geographical strategic location it was a key trading point in the past. It seemed to have been such a developed community, the consistent diameter of the foundations of the houses; they even also had their own underground aqueducts.

Volcán Irazú

So the trips did not end there we also visited the Volcán Irazú, about 21 km North of Cartago. But it was so cloudy and rainy, as were our first few days in Costa :/, we were hardly able to make out the crater; I really didn’t know what I was looking at, or what part of the volcano I was standing at. We were experiencing a lot of rain since January is usually the transition month between the wet and dry season.  On a clear day though, one would be able to see the gorgeous turquoise lagoon in the crater pero… I'm there will be many more other oppertunities to see volcanoes here.  In the mean time we walked around exploring all the wild faunas that were growing on the fertile volcanic soils. Not as exciting as watching a volcano erupt or a lagoon but all the while still important.