Friday, April 30, 2010

Futbol - Soccer

Here are some pics from the futbol (soccer) game from Wednesday. We went to Alajuela to watch the team called La Liga play. Enjoy!

While waiting on the bus we saw a couple of guide dogs fighting off the rainy season with their very own rain coats! They even had flaps for their ears.

Getting warmed up for the game. On my side of the stadium we had a roof over us so we weren't in the rain the entire time, or sun during the dry season.

This group of energetic folks sat in the far end of the field. They are a group that attends all of the games, and they beat on drums and cheer and dance the entire time. The ENTIRE time, all 1.5+ hours! They definately made the atmosphere more fun (not that it wasn't entertaining enough to learn all sorts of new words from the disgruntled fans, even if they were words I wouldn't use around my grandmother!).

Pura Vida,


Lo Siento

Lo Siento, or I am sorry for the lack of posts lately. Internet at home has not been working.

Highlights from the last few days include:

Went to a soccer game Wednesday night. Had a great time. Got absolutely drenched getting there. My umbrella started getting leaks, and I had to walk through a river that appeared in less than 5 minutes. Shoes still aren´t dry.

Got my other pair of shoes completely wet today.

Raining season is now on my list of things I officially DO NOT LIKE!!!!

I hope to get internet going again soon. Look for pictures then, and my smiling face back in the states on Thursday night!

Pura Vida,


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Random Pics

Today we went to my teacher's home for breakfast and class. It was great fun to eat in her backyard and enjoying the nice weather.

For lunch, we had our last cooking class, and the teacher and her husband cooked for us. It was supposed to be in the park, but it rained. Thank you rainy season.

Here are a couple more photos from the university that I visited this weekend. Hope you enjoy them!

Pura Vida,


Monday, April 26, 2010

Rainy Season

The rainy season has started here in Costa Rica. It has been a gradual process over the last few weeks, starting as overcast afternoons. Now almost every day in rains at least a little bit. Some days it absolutely pours for an hour about 3 in the afternoon, and other days it will rain steadily for just a little while (it poured last week when I was headed to the airport to go to Panama...I had completely wet shoes and jeans until I could change that night in Panama!).

This tropical changing of the seasons brought me a very nice sunset last week as I looked out at the mountains from my room. Its odd to think that there are only two seasons here, and the only thing that changes is whether it rains or not!

Pura Vida,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cooking Class

It may be a little late, but here is an update from last Tuesday's cooking class!
This week we made homemade spaghetti. Yes, once again, I am confused about what part of Latin America this comes from! It was fun to make the noodles from scratch, but I think I will stick to going to the store and buying them. Much simpler. We made a regular red sauce, and then a white sauce, also, which was delicious.

Making the noodles. It got a little messy.

For desert we made 'volcado de bananas.' This is kind of like a sweat bread with bananas on top. Also delicious, and definately something I will be looking at making when I get home!

Pura Vida,

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Today I went to Turrialba, about a 2 hour bus ride from San Jose. In Turrialba there is an agricultural research university that I wanted to check out. Luckily, today they also had an expo with a few booths highlighting programs that the students have made. It was a beautiful place that was fun to walk around, although they wouldn't let me visit the dairy! This place is what I imagined all of Costa Rica to look like before I came.

One of the main buildings with a massive open space for soccer and recreation.

What I assume to be the director's house. Not a bad perk, if you ask me, with a huge tree in the front yard and a view of the pond.

One of the booths in the expo was Argentinean food. There was a booth for every country in Latin America. I was very dissapointed that I had already eaten!

A 'cafetal,' or coffee plantation on the side of a hill during the bus ride home.

We took a stop in Cartago on the way back to visit the church ruins. This church was built in the late 1500's. It was destroyed in the 1800's by an earthquake. They tried to rebuild, but it was destroyed again in 1910 by another earthquake. Then they just gave up. The only part that must have been constructed poorly was the roof, because the walls are still standing strong 400 years later. Now it is a park with gardens in the interior of the walls.

Pura Vida,


Friday, April 23, 2010

Panama City - Last Day

On the last day in Panama City we had just enough time to hit two sites before our plane left. We started the morning off by visiting Panama Viejo, or Old Panama. Panama Viejo is the site of the original city that was built in the early 1500's. Many of the stone buildings still have remants of walls remaining.

Pics include: Old church, water storage system, ruins with modern buildings in the backdrop, walls of a convent and tower.
We also had the opportunity to visit El Parque Nacional Metropolitano, or Metropolitan National Park. This is close to 500 acres on the edge of the city, known as the lungs of Panama City. Not much to see except the city skyline in places, leaf-cutter ants, and mosquitos.
During the flight home, I had the unique opportunity to be in the window seat. I got to see the entire city, and the Panama Canal. We also flew over Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica, where I went the second weekend here. Then we circled the beach over the Pacific Ocean for 45 minutes because it was raining too hard at the airport to land. Not a big fan of the rainy season so far!

Pura Vida,


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Panama City Day 2

On day 2 of our trip, we started off by making our way to the Causeway. The causeway is a series of three islands with a approximately 1-mile-long strip of road to get to the islands. The islands were built from the excavation of the Panama Canal. Now, the Causeway serves as a popular place for people to run, ride bikes, and roller blade. There are also numerous restaurants on the islands, as well as a couple of hotels.

From the islands, we took a boat to 'Isla Taboga,' or Taboga Island. The boat ride was about one hour as we weaved through the ships anchored off-shore waiting to go through the canal. Isla Taboga is home to the town of Taboga, a quaint little village with a small beach. It is a popular spot for Panamanians to come during the weekends.

One of the ships that we passed on the way to the islands. I tried to count all of those that were waiting, and counted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35.

Once we arrived to the island, we found the second oldest church in the western hemisphere. Unfortunately, it was not open for us to visit the inside, but nonetheless was fun to see. We wandered around the town for a while, which resembled a town from Italy or Spain with the mountain serving as a backdrop on one side, and the ocean on the other.

After eating lunch, we enjoyed the beach for about an hour before having to catch the boat back to the mainland. There were all kinds of shells in the sand, which were fun to collect, and the water felt amazing in the Panama heat! Can you imagine living somewhere that is close to 100 degrees every single day of the year with high humidity? I was sick of it after two days!

That evening, we decided to give Sky Bowling a try. Sky Bowling was a bowling alley on the 10th floor in downtown, with a great view of the city skyline. It was the fanciest bowling alley I have ever been to, with screens above the lanes to watch sporting events and music videos. Pretty plush!

Pura Vida,


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Panama City Day 1

Whew. Finally made it back from Panama, and what a trip it was. I highly recommend Panama as a vacation spot if you are looking for somewhere to travel internationally. Just take me with you when you go...I'll do the translating!
After waking up and cooking chocolate chip-banana pancakes for breakfast, we began to explore the city since we got in late the night before. We enjoyed making pancakes every morning, as well as cooking dinner every night at the hostel.

Next, we headed off to the Panama Canal. We went through the museum, and then got to watch a ship go through the Miraflores Locks. It cost this ship $193,000 to pass through the canal, which saved it over $2 million should it have to go all the way around the South American continent!

Note the change of the level of the ship as it sank down with the water in the locks. They are getting ready to build a new set of locks that are more efficient. The current locks are too small for really big ships, and the canal will become obsolete in the trading world by 2012 if they don't improve the system.

Afterwards, we headed to the walkway between downtown Panama City and Casco Antiguo. It is probably a mile long, with great views of the city skyline and the Pacific.

Next we headed to Casco Antigo/Viejo. This is an older part of the city that has parts fixed up very nicely, and others are more like slums. The parts that are fixed up are very pretty, and there is a lot of history in this part. The president lives here, and it is also the location of the national theatre and many places to eat and shop. This pic is an example of how the historic streets looked.

Remember you can click on the pic to make it bigger in order to see more details.
Pura Vida,


Friday, April 16, 2010


Sorry for the lack of postings the last couple of days. Please check back Monday for an overview of my trip to Panama City this weekend. We will spending 2.5 days, so I should see some pretty cool things, including the Panama Canal!

Pura Vida,


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cooking Class/National Theatre

Tuesday at cooking class we made a dish that had a layer of potatoes, followed by breaded meat on the top. It was delicious.

Then we made a 'torta de fresa,' or a strawberry tort. It was one of the most delicious things ever.

Last night we went to the National Theatre for a dance show. It was about an elephant that got lost and ended up in a dance studio. I finally figured out it was an elephat at halftime (intermission). I decided that either I am not mature enough to handle artsy events like that, or I am just not appreciative enough of the arts. Maybe it is both.

Pura Vida,

21 Days

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cooking Class

This is a cooking class update from last week. Last week we made 'crepas,' or crepes. Yes, it is the same type of crepes as they have in France, only I think it has a little bit of a latin twist on it (at least I hope...I am taking a Latin American cooking class!). They were delicious!

Here is also a photo of my classmates sitting outside during a break.

Pura Vida,


Monday, April 12, 2010

Juan Santamaría Day

On Sunday, my host mom and I visited Alejuela to celebrate Juan Santamaría Day. Juan Santamaría was a man from Alejuela that helped defend Costa Rica from the invasion of American William Walker during the 1800's. William Walker devastated much of Nicaragua in a quest to aquire slaves to send to the U.S. Knowing they had to protect Costa Rica, Juan Santamaría led the group of barefoot Costa Ricans to defend their country. Okay, enough of the history lesson, let's get to pictures!
In the town square they had speeches from important people, including the Costa Rican President. We didn't get our picture taken with him this time. There was, however, a tent set up for some people to get out of the sun. It was an Texas A&M tent. I doubt they knew what it meant.

Statue of Juan Santamaría in Alejuela.

Parade. They are very different in Costa Rica. It is mostly schools that bring their bands to play. Their bands consist only of percussion instruments. It was also the slowest parade I have ever seen. Really kind of boring, actually. Nonetheless, the streets were absolutely packed with people.

For all of those interested in agriculture, you will enjoy the next part. We took a drive about later that afternoon. At one point, we passed a mango orchard. We are getting very close to mango harvest, and all of the trees are full. This is a pic of the mango trees. Often there were Brahman cattle grazing underneath and eating fallen mangos. Tough life, no?

Mangos hanging on the trees.

Pura Vida,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Los Chorros

Yesterday I went to 'los chorros' with my host family. 'Chorros', loosely translated, is a spot where water comes out of the rocks, like a water spring or water jets. There were also two 'cataratas,' or waterfalls.
This is a photo of the waterfall from far off. It was too tall to get the whole thing in there any closer than this. It had to have been at least 100 feet high. Very beautiful.

This is an example of the 'chorros.' You can see the water spring out of the rocks.

I waded through the water to get as close to the waterfall as possible. The water was cold coming off the mountain! Again, you can only see a part of the waterfall in this photo.

Next, we headed to Sarchí, a pueblo known for furniture and carts. An odd combination, I know. The carts in Sarchí are actually the national symbol of Costa Rica. They are beautiful pieces of art, and they are definately not cheap! More for show than actual work, they come in all sizes and colors. This is an example of the carts at the shop we stopped at. Unfortunately, the craftsmen were not working that day, so we didn't get to see how they were made.

This is the cart that was in the town square. By my expert estimation, it looked big enough to work for Paul Bunyon and his ox. Very amazing. You can spot me in the black t-shirt for a size reference.

Pura Vida,


Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Parents Arrive - Day 5

On the last day, we started off by eating breakfast at the hotel overlooking the beach. We had a guest for breakfast; a bluejay looking bird. He sat on the chair next to me and just watched us eat the whole time, and chirped pitifully for something to eat. It didn't work.

Before leaving, we enjoyed playing on the rocks, looking at fishes trapped in the pools of water, and finding sea shells.

Photo of the beach at low-tide.

Puente de Amistad. Friendship Bridge. This was a gift from Taiwan, which used to be a great allie of Costa Rica until Costa Rica decided to be friends with China instead.

Mom and Dad's flight taking off the next morning. The hotel was right across the street from the airport. It is strange here in the fact that the highway runs right next to the runway, and you can stop on the side of the rode and watch the planes take off. I waited for their flight to take off so I knew they were gone (just kidding). It was fun to know when they were taking off, though.

Pura Vida,