Monday, August 1, 2011


Yes, I made it home safely and soundly last night.  I can hardly believe I was only away for eight weeks; I experienced so many things.  My time in Costa Rica was truly amazing, and it was hard to say goodbye to my host family, the staff at CIME, and the staff and children at Casa San Lazaro.  Thanks for all your support, prayers, and thoughts over the last two months.  And lastly, two more lists:

Favorite things:   
    1) My family: Marcos, Yadhi, Marco Antonio, McKenzie, Sebastian, y Tedi 
    2) Food: plátanos maduros, arroz con leche, casados 
    3) Nature: cloud forests, the ocean, lizards 
    4) Spanish:  I LOVED being able to communicate en español!

Biggest things I learned:
   1) Humility: I got pretty used to feeling awkward and clueless :P 
   2) Confidence: it’s a lot easier to speak up after having to do so in español 
   3) Direction:  I’ll be heading back to Superior in a week or so, ready to take on my final year at UWS = )

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Workshops, Tamales, & Montezuma

I can't believe another week is over, and I have only one more left!  This week we worked some more with the kids in Rio Azul.  I've really been enjoying serving lunch and getting to know the kids better.  We also went to the National Museum, ate some delicious Costa Rican tamales, and went to the playa de Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula.  This weekend is the celebration of the annexation of the region of Guanacaste of which Montezuma is a part.  The day after I leave is the celebration of the Patron Saint of Costa Rica, so I am planning a trip to Cartago this week to check out the pre-holiday festivities.  I need to enjoy every fleeting minute I have here before my plane flies out next Sunday!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Volcan Arenal

This weekend Amanda and i went to the town of La Fortuna at the base of Volcan Arenal.  Arenal is an active volcano, however it hasn't been spewing glowing red lava in a few months.  Nevertheless, i still found it to be rather majestic and mighty!  Praise God for volcanoes! We also got to spend some time in aqua termales (hot springs) while we were there.  A very relaxing weekend, unfortunately book-ended by some pretty gross bus rides : (  It is remarkable cheap and easy to travel this country in bus, but it is not very comfortable...pero yo todavia pienso que vale la pena!

Los Ninos

Amanda has been leading workshops with some of the kids (ages 9-12) at Casa San Lazaro, and i have been fortunate enough to get to help her.  We've covered the themes of feelings, goals, violence, and hope.  It has been really interesting to learn about these kids and their realities.

Some things that have stuck out to me:
   1) several of them know drug dealers/have been offered drugs
   2) one boy's biggest dream is to own a car
   3) several of them have failed grades in school
   4) most of them dream of traveling the world beyond Rio Azul

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Well last weekend we did, in fact, visit Volcan Irazu which has been inactive for almost 50 years but is still breathtaking!  I'll post pictures when i get a chance.  This week i started volunteering full time with an organization called Casa San Lazaro.  Basically this is a Christian ministry that serves lunch to almost 300 children every weekday in a poor neighborhood near San Jose.  They also provide tutoring, family workshops, and character development.   This is a really cool opportunity to give back to the community, to learn firsthand about some of the social conditions in this country, and to practice my Spanish!  So far it has been challenging, but i've been learning a lot too!

Recent Highlights:  
      1) going to the barrio church on Sunday with my host dad and little brother
      2) getting bitten by hormigas (ants)
      3) playing futbol (soccer) with the kids today!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No Se Preocupe

In case you heard about the earthquakes or the giant shark sightings in Costa Rica, you do NOT need to worry! I am safe in sound in San Jose and will not be heading to the northern part of the country OR to the playa (beach) this weekend.  I think we are going to go check out a long-inactive volcano instead.  I'm pretty excited about it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Perezosos and more!

This weekend we went to the Caribe (the Atlantic side of the country) to the small town and National Park of Cahuita.  We ate the typical Caribbean foods (jerk Chicken, Pan Bon, and shrimp) yum!  Also a highlight was a trip to the nearby Avirios del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary.  Here we saw many sloths ("perezosos" in espanol), and even got to touch a few of them!  We also had a guided canoe ride on a tropical creek where we saw (and heard) howler monkeys, basilisk lizards, lots of crabs, and some strange birds! 

A couple more observations:
  1) Flushing toilet paper is rarely allowed in public restrooms in Costa goes in the garbage can
  2) Spider Man = El Hombre Arana (with a tilde over the n)
  3) A hammock is a really great place to relax and reflect

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Last night Amanda and I went to Piratas del Caribe: En Mareas Misteriosas in the theater.  In Costa Rica, movie theaters have a "dos por uno"  deal every Wednesday, so we got in for less than $3 USD.  The coolest part is that tomorrow we are actually going to the Caribbean!  Costa Rica's Caribe region is apparently an entirely different culture from the parts I've seen so far, so I am really looking forward to this weekend's trip!

Also this week I made jewelry at a women's collective, drank holy water at Costa Rica's most important church (La Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles en Cartago), and ate raw coffee at an organic farm in the mountains.  Tonight i'll be learning some Latin dances.  Pura Vida.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Five things of note:
1) they apparently do not use carseats in Costa Rica.  Instead they hold their babies on their laps in the backseat, in the driver's seat, on motorcycles...
2) cold showers are not so bad when you can gaze out an open window and see palm trees and green mountains...
3) Taxi drivers love it when you can speak to them in Spanish, but they might still confuse a la derecha and a la izquierda (right and left)...
4) having lagartijas (geckos) inside the house is a good thing - they eat the cucarachas (cockroaches)...
5) Ticos (the Costa Rican people) are incredibly happy, friendly, and helpful - Pura Vida!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Manuel Antonio

Last weekend I visited Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.  We took a trail through the rainforest and saw many creatures up close.  The most exciting for me were the monkeys that came right up to us on the trail.  Check out my fotos on flickr to see proof!  There is also a beautiful beach in the park where we swam in the warm ocean and relaxed away the afternoon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I've posted a few pictures on Flikr.  If you want to check them out, the link is under Favorite Blogs on the right side of the page.

Also, this weekend Amanda and I are going to Manuel Antonio, a National Park on the Pacific Coast.  Pretty exciting!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Hola a todos!  If you haven't already heard, I arrived safely to San Jose, Costa Rica early Sunday morning.  My host family is very nice and their house is small, but comfortable in a cute and colorful neighborhood.  Everyday I take a 30 minute bus ride to CIME, the Center for International Multidisciplinary Education where I am taking Spanish classes.  Yesterday we walked to the downtown of San Jose to see the sights.  It is a very vibrant city!  I'm not sure it has completely sunk in that I am living in another country, but I am loving seeing mountains and tropical plants everyday!!!  Pictures to come = )

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pre-Departure Notes:

Well, I fly out of Minneapolis tonight, but in the meantime I'd like to post a little background info about the country where I will be living for the next two months:

I will be living with a host family in San Jose, the capital city (pop. 1.4 million).

The entire country of Costa Rica has a population of  4.6 million and is about the size of West Virginia.  There are rain forests, mountains, volcanoes and lots of coast line. 

The have a democratic republic government and enjoy a relatively stable economy.  Nevertheless, about 16% of the population lives below the poverty line. I plan to be volunteering and serving among the poor while I am there.

Random fun fact: Costa Rica hasn't had a military since it was dissolved in 1949. 

And finally, the official language of Costa Rica is Spanish which is what I will be studying while I am there! 

I will post pics and updates throughout the summer.  Thanks for reading!