Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Break!

Sorry about the lack of posts since Wednesday. Nothing exciting has happened.

Yesterday started our spring break. Mom and Dad will be here in about three hours, so I will get a chance to play tour guide/translator (although, the places we are going have so many tourists that a person doesn't even need to know Spanish). Look forward to a recap of this weeks events to start next Saturday. Not sure if I will get to post throughout the week.

In the meantime, here is a photo of the park in La Fortuna, the town where we visited the volcano last week. We will be going back there this week, so I hope that the clouds disappear. I want to see some lava!

Pura Vida,


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nutrition Lab

The animal nutrition class that I have been attending started its lab today at the university farm. We spent three hours at the farm, and reviewed an experiment that the students will be starting next week. The project involves roosters, and they have to feed them and collect everything to determine how digestible the feed was. It was fun to hang out with the students and practice Spanish, and I had lots of opportunities to start getting knowing other people (much easier than just sitting in a classroom).
Weighing the rooster.

Happy hens at the farm.
Pura Vida,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birthday Surprises and Cooking Class

Today was my birthday (and my parents 25th anniversary...congrats to them!). I wasn't expecting to do much, and tried to keep it pretty low key. A few people found out, and to my surprise, three girls brought me a cake after class that they made themselves! I was floored, because it was so nice of them to do, and they didn't need to. After they surprised me we went to the cafeteria to enjoy it. What great people, and the cake was absolutely delicious!

Enjoying the cake!

Today was also cooking class. We made 'tartas', which is kind of like a casserole, but not really. One had jam and cheese, another onion and cream, and the other spinach and cheese. They were amazing. Needless to say, I can't eat anymore at this point.

Someone else organized a movement for a bunch of people to go dancing tonight in celebration of my birthday (everyone always finds a good excuse to go dancing). I am looking forward to spending time with them later this evening.
Pura Vida,

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Volcán Arenal

This weekend we headed to Volcán Arenal, an actice volcano in the northwestern part of the country. It is supposed to be very cool if you can see the top, because it is always spewing magma. Unfortunately, it rained the entire time we were there. Go figure.

After arriving, we headed to Baldi Hot Springs for some fun. For the five hours we were there it was only misting, so we could enjoy the warmth of the water (one pool was 152 degrees, which I avoided). The highlight of the springs was a trio of water slides, one that was long and kind of boring, one that was short and pretty fun, and one that was short and extremely dangerous (practically skipping you like a rock over the top of the water when you came out!). These were great fun until a guy from our group chipped off about half of his front tooth and someone else we didn't know almost got a concusion. Then we quit the slides.

Today we went to 'puentes colgantes', or hanging bridges. Several of the bridges were very high (I can't remember the actual height, but I did a scienctific experiement to get an idea. The result was it takes my spit about 5 or 6 seconds to make it all the way to the bottom!) This is a pic of the highest bridge from down below.
Our ever-so-stylish makeshift ponchos, ie. trashbags.
The town park and church in La Fortuna. You can see the lower half of the volcano in the background.
Pura Vida,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Go Cats!

Today I went to a sports bar to watch K-State play in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Congrats to them!

I am going on an overnight trip with the program tomorrow to a volcano that spews lava out the top. Look for pics of that Saturday night or Sunday.
In the meantime, this is an orchid that is growing in the tree of my back yard. It is super tiny (not much bigger than a dollar coin!)

Pura Vida,


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Today I went to the animal science class, and, like usual, took a quiz and didn't know how to answer it in Spanish. I gave it my best shot. I look at it as a good way to entertain the teacher, but I'm not sure he even reads mine.

After heading to the gym I went to the city pool to pass a few hours with some friends. The pool is great, but I could go for a few less (actually a lot less) old men in speedo's. Things that make you go 'bluagh'! Below is a pic of the pool. It is pretty big, and really only set up to swim laps, so I need to get a pair of goggles!

Pura Vida,


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

El Teatro al Mediodia

Today my class went to San Jose to have a little fun and get out of the classroom. We first went to the University of Costa Rica (I go to the National University), which was the first university in the country. It is a very large university, and very pretty also. I tried to find their animal science department and a professor there that Dad met while he was here a few weeks ago, but was unsuccessful. I will have to return sometime soon.

Next, we headed to the National Theatre for a show at noon. There is a show at noon every Tuesday, and it only costs $1. Today, it was an interpretive dance of life in the city, with 50 people 'dancing.' To me, it looked more like 50 people having an epileptic seizure at the same time. It lasted for almost 40 minutes, and it was dreadful. Just people running around on the stage. One person in our group actually enjoyed it.

After that, we headed to a French restaurant that specializes in making crepes. I will just say I am going to have to go back, and if it is any indication of the food in France, I need to make a trip there!

We also had cooking class today!

This is a picture of the education building on the UCR campus.

Bread that we made in cooking class.

Guiso de arroz. A dish with rice, meat, onions, and some other things. Once again, I'm not sure because we mostly stood around and talked while everything cooked!

Pura Vida,


Sunday, March 14, 2010

El Caribe

This weekend I headed to Cauhita on the Carribean with my host mom, her daughter, grandson, and my friend (and fellow K-Stater), Aaron. We rented a couple of 'cabinas,' or cabins next to the water a couple miles away from town. We did a lot of relaxing on Saturday when we got there, and today we hit up the national park for a little swimming. It was a very relaxing weekend and a great way to see another part of the country. The beaches weren't the pretties by any means, but still a lot of fun. Check out the pics for details:

Our cabina (which had mosquito nets. I have never used them, and didn't have to, but I thought they were very cool!).

A little green space around the cabinas. You can see the sea beyond the trees.

Sunrise over the caribbean. Aaron got confused and woke me up at 4:50 am thinking the sun would be rising soon. I told him to go back to bed, and when I woke him up the the appropriate time he didn't want to go. Boy, did he miss out!

Leaf cutter ants in the national park! I've never seen them before, and think they were pretty cool.

Pura Vida,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Leche de Burra

This afternoon I was walking home from school when I saw an advertisement on the side of a van that was promoting all of the benefits of 'leche de burra.' Let me translate this for you: Donkey Milk. WHAT?! I did some research after sheer astonishment (I was a little creeped out, I must admit) to find out that they make it into soap and it is supposed to be really good for your skin because it has extra retinol. Whatever. On the website I got a big kick out of one line that said there isn't much availability of this product because donkeys don't make as much milk as cows. DUH! Have you ever heard of there being a lot of donkey dairies? I didn't think so. I can't tell you how relieved I was that it was soap and not for consumption. I don't ever plan on bathing in donkey milk despite their lovely advertising...that just ain't right...

I have posted a photo of the high school where my host mom works. This is where she took me last Friday to cook with the students. Doesn't look like a bad place to work or study with a great view of the mountain!

Pura Vida,


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tico Friend Group

Today I went to nutrition class, and again took a quiz. This one went better, but who really cares since I don't get a grade for it?! At least it is good practice.

Had Tico Pal group tonight. I think I talked to one Tico, and Americans the rest of the time. Oh well. It was a low-key get-together at a professor's house, with a nice entertaining area in the backyard. We did sack races (in old fertilizer that healthy?), and then there was some music to dance to. I didn't get in on the limbo, but here is a photo:

Pura Vida,


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cooking Class

Nothing exciting today except for cooking class. We made pizza. If any of you can tell me what part of Latin America pizza comes from, please let me know. It was, however, delicious!

Preparing the pizza

Finished product. As delicious as it looks.

Pura Vida,


Monday, March 8, 2010

I got my picture taken with...

The President of Costa Rica!!

This evening I attended, with many other students from my program, an opening ceremony of an education summit/conference/or something of the sort for about 10 countries, including the U.S. This was held in the National Theatre in San Jose. The President of Westchester University, Ambassador to Costa Rica (who ironically didn't speak Spanish) and Rector of the National University that I attend here all spoke in addition to the President of Costa Rica, Óscar Arias Sánchez . Afterwards, the President walked down the aisle, and I was in the second seat from the aisle. I didn't get to shake his hand, but we attacked him (not literally) outside the auditorium for a picture. It is interesting here, in contrast to the United States, that we could get so close to the President. They had body guards, but they were nowhere near as concerned as they would be in the U.S.

Also today, a guy in my class asked if I wanted to be interviewed with him by a couple of Ticas for their English class. I agreed, because I wanted to practice my Spanish. Three hours later, we finished hanging out with our new Tica friends. It is great to finally be practicing my Spanish with other people than my host family and teachers!
Here are the photos from tonight:

All of the speakers on stage, with the President in the center.

Then a group sang.

Then the President spoke.

Then he walked right past me.

Then we got a picture with him. When I get it, I will be sure to post it!
Pura Vida,


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Volcan Irazú

Yesterday two girls from my program and my host mom went to visit Volcan Irazú. Most of the students went to the beach this weekend, but I didn't want to forget all of my Spanish and get bored to death by just sitting on the beach for hours upon hours (I can't sit still that long). We left at 7 in the morning and made it to the top of the volcano about 3 1/2 hours later (Sounds far away, right? Only about 50 miles. Boy do I love public transportation in the mountains!)

The drive to the top was picturesque. Although in the dry season, this area still gets enough rain to keep everything green. It is a big area for the dairy industry, with dairy cows grazing the mountainside everywhere you look (yes, I thought I was in heaven, especially since you can see we were above the clouds!) There were also gobs of vegetable fields, including onions and potatoes. The yellow in this picture is some type of greens that has gone to seed.

This is a big flat area with volcanic rock sand with a desert appearance. The crater, which wasn't the most impressive I have seen, is just to the right. What a great place to play some football or soccer, right?

This is a photo when we were going up to the highest point (11,260 feet!) You can see how far we are above the clouds, and the other mountains across the valley.

This is another photo the other direction looking out over the clouds. You can also see the crater from here. From this point we ate lunch and relaxed for about 30 minutes. What a view for lunch!

Finally, this is a picture of Volcan Turrialba. Turrialba suddenly woke up in January when I arrived, and has been spewing gases and smoke for the last two months, killing most of the vegetation on the side of the mountain. If you enlarge this picture, you can see the smoke coming out of the crater.

Today, I had an awesome lunch that Rebekah, my host sister, made. We went to a festival that was the the center of our town, and now I am listening to the music drift this way thanks to the wind. What a great day to practice my Spanish. Another awesome weekend in Costa Rica!

Pura Vida,


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Last day of trip photos

Here are photos from the last day of the trip:
I started out the morning taking a walk through the canopy of the forest. There is a series of bridges that runs through the canopy, and it is a neat way to sneak up on creatures such as coatis or toucans. We got some pretty good views of the valley, too. My roommate for the week, Jaycee, went with me. Another first for him, as he had never seen the ocean, ridden a horse, played in mud or ziplined. What a trip for him!

This is a picture of the 425 meter long water slide down the mountain at the resort. It is fed by (I assume) a spring up the mountain that produces a lot of water. It was very cold, but when they filled the tank up to send you down the slide it could really send you fast! This photo is a group of three of us going down at the same time, which at times was so fast I wondered why they allowed us to do it!
Finally, here is a photo of the food we prepared last week in cooking class. I can't remember what the food on the tortilla was called, but it was alright. The small, yellowish things are 'patacones,' or plantains that have been squashed and then fried. They kind of taste like a big french fry.

Last night there was another earthquake, a 4.6 on the Richtor Scale. I was in bed, but when I felt it, jumped up to grab my clothes and head for the backyard, but by that time it was already over. I thought it would be the strongest I have felt, but it is not. The epicenter was the closest though, so maybe that made a difference. Ugh. Needless to say, I didn't sleep much after that.
Today I went to another volcano. Look for pictures for that tomorrow. I always say this, but it could have been the coolest one I have seen yet!
Pura Vida,

Friday, March 5, 2010

Trip Day 5 Pics

Had a great day today. Had a test this morning, and this afternoon my host mom took me to the technical high school where she works. I got to hang out with the kids who are in the cooking class and cook with them (they start at 7 am and cook until 4pm on tuesdays and fridays!), and practice my Spanish. So much fun! Spent some time at my host sister's house afterwards, and then went to the market. The day flew by, and now I am writing this and listening to the mariachi band across the street play music. Can it get any better?

Here are some pictures of the 5th day of my trip to Nicaragua, only this place is in Costa Rica.
We started the morning out by taking a horseback ride to hot springs and a mud bath. This is me on my crummy horse who wouldn't turn, go, stop, or do anything else I wanted him to. So, I just rode without using my hands, because it was pointless! It was actually pretty dangerous with 40 people on horses that don't listen (and 39 of them didn't know how to ride a horse or had never been on one. Can you guess who the one is that had?). The guides got to pushing the horses to get them going, and everyone was bumping into each other. Not a good situation.
This is a picture of the group after we sat in the sauna and then applied the volcanic mud. All the girls were talking about how grea their skin felt afterwards...I just thought I felt like I went and rolled around in the mud, but it might be a difference in viewpoint that caused that. But, it was still fun.

The next two photos are of me on the zipline through the jungle canopy. The first one is how you normally zipline, and the second one I did upside down, which was definately a different experience! What a cool way to see the jungle, although it is kind of silly, too.

Finally, a cool picture of a horse (probably the stupid horse that I had to ride) on a hill close to sunset. Caught this photo on my evening walk.

Pura Vida,


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trip Day 4 Pics

Sorry about not posting yesterday. I got super busy with homework, and went to a meeting to meet Ticos (Costa Ricans) to practice my Spanish. It lasted longer than expected. Also went to the animal nutrition class yesterday morning, and took a quiz in Spanish. Its a good thing that I am not getting a grade in there, because I pretty much did horrible. I understood the questions, but couldn't express myself, and I didn't have a calculator!

Here are pics from the fourth day of my trip last week. This is the first day back in Costa Rica. They are all views of the scenery in the area, because we didn't get to do anything cool after waiting at the border for four hours. The resort was in the foothills of the Rincon de la Vieja volcano. It is a very dry area with a lot of pastures and hardly any habitants, making it my favorite place I have visited in Costa Rica!

Pura Vida,


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Nicaragua Recap Day 3

Day Three was probably the most fun day spent on the trip. Here is a picture recap:

This is the day that I caught the mackerel. I have been wanting to go fishing on the Pacific, and accidently got to! It didn't fight very hard, but I when they first handed the pole to me I was worried about getting pulled in by a monster fish...obviously not the case.

A closer picture of my catch. Really kind of a pretty fish. Never mind the huge hole in its side where the stabbed it with a hook to pull it into the boat. It kind of ruined the essence.

This is the private beach that we took the boats to. It was beautiful, and the sand was perfect. The water was also clear, but I didn't get to enjoy it, because I was too busy playing with the hermit crabs (including having crab races!) and on the rocks further down. Definately didn't have enough time there!

Ride back to the hotel and main beach at Playa San Juan del Sur.

Another photo of the sunset.

As always, you can click on the photo for a larger image.

Pura Vida,