Archives for posts with tag: Costa Rica

I never actually wrote this note back then, the note that completes this journey but there’s a couple good stories in here so I’ll share it now.

I left off sitting in Honduras trying to figure out what to do for my last 2 weeks of travel, thinking I’d head to Roatan that next day. Well I got in the bus in the morning and met a guy who told me that Roatan was a mess and that he was headed to San Pedro Sula(SPS) airport to get a plane out of the country. I figured I’d go along with him so I did. On the way into SPS our bus got stopped at a roadblock, there was no way it was getting past it but we were told that if we were willing to walk there would “probably” be buses on the other side of the roadblock that would be willing to take us the rest of the way. How far I asked? Maybe a couple kilometers I was told. We decided to go for it. This very kind gentleman who I had met offered to carry my large pack (in addition to his own) if I would carry both our smaller packs, good deal, I’ll do it! So off we walked, with others from our bus as well. It was high noon and boiling hot so I was soon using my umbrella as a sunshade as we went along. At one point a group of local people passed us, carrying various farming implements, machetes, hoes and such like. I don’t think they were planning on doing any farming with them though but they were smiley with us so there was no cause for concern. We made it eventually, probably after about 4 or 5 kilometers, to a bunch of minibuses one of which I was silly enough to sit in the very back far corner of, I then proceeded to get more and more squished in a we picked up more and more people, I was soon literally hanging my head out the window gasping for air and desperately trying to catch a breeze, we ended up with about 30 people in a bus made for 12, good times.

Finally arriving in SPS we caught a cab out to the airport, fairly far out of town. The guy who had helped me with my bag had his ticket already so he was set but once I got there I was told I couldn’t get anything for 2 more days, so I booked it then and there, heading back to San Jose Costa Rica. In the meantime I had to kill time in SPS, a major Honduran city in the midst of some serious protests about this coup, I didn’t want to go back there so I asked a cab driver to take me to the closest hotel to the airport, I figured it would be expensive but outside of town at least.

He dropped me off at a veritable fortress, a very large complex with walls about 10 feet high with barbed wire running around the top, I’m pretty sure this looks like a good place to wait out the apocalypse, nevermind this coup so I take a room there. It’s got everything, a kitchen, wifi, restaurant, pool. Ok I can do this for a couple days no worries. I phone home and reassure my worried mother that I am in a very safe place and that I have a ticket out, I’m just waiting. Then I get online and figure out what the heck I’m going to do. I’m exhausted from traveling for these last 2 months and I think I might have picked up some little bug when I was on Big Corn Island in Nicaragua as I am sometimes slightly feverish and have the runs about once or twice a day. It’s bearable…just, but I really need a break. I google resorts in Cabo San Lucas Mexico, what the heck, it’s on the way home right, and easy as I’ve been there before. I do a search for adults only as I don’t want to deal with screaming children as I relax poolside and I settle on a place that looks quite lovely and is a good price, I book it and my flight and spend my next 2 days hanging around the pool waiting to fly.

I do eventually make it to the resort without much incident, just a lot of plane changing and waiting around. When I walk into the reception area the first thing I see is a statue of a man and a woman who are, shall we say, intimately entwined. Oh no, with a sinking heart and major sense of dread I start to consider that I may have booked myself into one of “those” places. This is confirmed once I make it down to the pool and am confrontedΒ  by many pairs of naked breasts, entirely of the much older saggy variety, shit, I’m in a swingers resort! I tough it out through the week, ignoring the passes made at me and burying my nose in a book at virtually every conceivable moment, I should have known something was up when I read the name of the resort….Temptation, but believe me I wasn’t, at all!

I made it through my week at Temptation and then headed home with misgivings, I was looking forward to starting to teach yoga, in addition to my pilates, it would make a nice change and offer a new challenge, but I knew it might be hard to settle back into a routine after being so free for the last 4 months. I planned to stay with my dad and step-mom once I was home, my stuff was to stay in storage and i would start planning my next trip, longer this time….

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originally published on facebook – June 17, 2009.

So I finished up with the yoga program on June 6th, so glad to be done and able to get back out on the road. I stayed in Montezuma until the 9th, relaxing and enjoying lazing around in the sunshine again, then caught a bus up to Liberia (close to the border of Nicaragua). I spent one night in Liberia and then the morning doing a quick wander through the town until it was time to catch my bus to the border. I love waiting for the bus, the cabbies are always right on you asking if you need a ride, when I tell them I am waiting for the bus they stay and just want to chat with me as much as possible and always make sure to let me know where the right bus is and when it is leaving (it’s kinda like having your brother looking out for you). It’s also a good chance to work on my Spanish which is really still quite abysmal, I have a lot of words now but don’t conjugate them properly at all, everything I say is in the wrong order and I don’t know the “in between” words, I think I might be getting a little bit better though and can understand more and more of what is said to me even if I can’t answer back. I however am getting the hang of answering the same questions, where am I from, how do I like (insert current countries name here,) isn’t it (this country) beautiful, do I like the local beer (or rum on my case), how old am I, do I have any kids, where is my husband/boyfriend (I’ve created an imaginary one who is at home) and why isn’t he traveling with me? Oh yes, and usually they are kind enough to tell me….you are beautiful. Smooth and not subtle at all,

Anyways made it across the border without incident, this flu thing is pretty bad I guess, all the border staff are wearing gloves and surgical masks, we have to fill out a form that states where we are coming from and going to and whether we have any of the following symptoms, I check “no” to all of them and I wonder at the one that asks about diarrhea, don’t almost all travelers have upset stomachs at some point, what if I checked “yes” in that box? Would I be denied entry to the country, quarantined somewhere? I don’t want to find out. Besides, I have been particularly lucky with my belly so far, touch wood…:)

From the border I took a “chicken” bus (still haven’t seen any actual chickens on these buses) to a border town called Rivas, got chatted up the whole way by a guy who works at the border checking peoples cars, basically the same sort of conversations I have with cabbies at bus stations but he was particularly persistent, even asked for a kiss, the cheeky bugger! But I laughed him off with a “no, no” and a wag of the finger and he took it all as fun and was respectful of that, was even kind enough to show me which bus I should get to transfer to to my next destination and shook my hand like a true gentleman when we parted ways πŸ™‚

Made it to next stop, San Juan del Sur. Is a beach town, very touristy but I choose it because I figured it would give me a little time to get used to the new currency/exchange rate (20 cordobas to the US dollar). Found a hotel with my own private room and bathroom with A/C for $13usd, saw a bit of the town etc. That night I woke up around 3:30 in the morning, I wasn’t sure why, I couldn’t get back to sleep so I thought I might sit out on the deck for a bit of fresh air, when I opened my door I noticed it was unlocked, I thought that was strange but I didn’t really register it that much as was half asleep. The next morning I realized that I had been robbed, while I was in the room asleep…creepy! My wallet was in my purse on the extra bed as well as my camera, passport and computer. The only thing missing was my cash, about $200 usd worth, credit cards were still there along with everything else even though this person could have taken everything they didn’t, and most importantly I was safe. I handled this incredibly well, I must say πŸ™‚ got a tiny bit angry at first and a bit creeped out but I soon realized that it was only money, could have been so much worse and I accepted it, is all good. Am quite proud of myself for that response! I visited a beach the next day, about 12kms up the coast, met a few people and came back to town. I decided to leave the next day, didn’t love it there, too touristy and perhaps a little jaded by the robbery.

Next morning I headed to Isla de Ometepe, an island with 2 volcanoes, one of which is active. On the ferry on the way over I met a lovely couple from France, we were both headed to the same part of the island (Santa Domingo) and I suggested we share a cab there. We ended up hanging out together the whole 4 days I was there. We were pretty lazy I must admit, none of us really felt like climbing a volcano or anything however I did teach them both their first (and second) yoga classes ever!, Good practice for me! My last day there we rented horses for a couple hours, by chance I got the good one, she was a runner! We rode along the beach for about an hour and then along a path to see some petroglyphs, not quite what I expected but it was somewhat interesting. Our bums were killing us already so we headed back. Saddles here are not western or English, kinda a hybrid of the two, is impossible to post while trotting so makes for a bumpy ride unless you are walking slowly or galloping along…seeing as I had the speedy horse, I choose to gallop….super fun! Once we were back at the stable I told our guide that my horse really was a fast girl, he agreed telling me I rode muy, muy rapido! He seemed quite pleased with me actually πŸ˜€

We were going to move the next day to the other side of the island but while in the bus on the way there I met someone who told me it was possible to fly to the Corn Islands in the Caribbean for as little as $150.00 usd. I gave it about 2minutes thought and then changed my plans. I had previously considered heading there and had thought it would take too much time by bus, I never thought about flying! So I said my good byes to Cecile and Mathieu (they are traveling the world for a year and there is a chance we will meet up in S.E. Asia sometime in early 2010) and got on a ferry to come to Granada.

I am still here in the big G. Staying in a super nice Hostel (Hostel Oasis). Spent the rest of my travel day wandering through this city and spent today doing so as well. Had an extensive tour of the city trying to find the post office. Lonely Planet is so easily outdated, the damn office has been moved sometime in the past year so I spent about 2 hours trying to locate it, but I did eventually find it and get my parcel sent home. Granada is a beautiful and rough place all at once, more people begging then I have seen anywhere, kids, even really little ones, older folks and families even. It’s hard not to feel guilty but I can’t help them all, I wish I could though. I seem to attract a lot of male attention here as welI, sometimes it’s flattering and I wonder if it’s me or is it just because I am another gringa, with lovely white skin? (I don’t have the heart or the language skills to explain that for me this is tanned!) Some of the streets are crazy, sidewalks are so narrow that you walk in the street and cars and horse-drawn buggies are honking at you just to let you know they are coming. There are horse-drawn buggy tours you can take of the city but some people are using them just like a car, bringing fruit and veg to sell at market, a handyman/carpenter, a furniture re upholsterer, etc. On the central road what sidewalks there are are crowded with vendors of all sorts of things, from running shoes to fruit to sunglasses and t-shirts, people with trays full of candies and cigarettes and gum, all sold by the piece. It’s like a market of sorts. So much to see and absorb all at once, almost overwhelming sometimes, but I somehow manage to stay relaxed. I surprise myself a bit with this ability, before I left home i would have thought that this kind of “chaos” would have totally stressed me out but I really do seems to take it all in stride. I do my best not to look like a tourist, I wear a bag slung across one shoulder, not a backpack, I use a wallet, not a money belt and I keep my wits about me at all times, so far, so good. Maybe these aren’t smart things to do, it’s definitely not what is recommended in all the travel literature but it’s worked well for me thus far so I will keep at it.

Just one of many churches….

And this was inside one…

And this is something I saw at the central market that I just couldn’t resist photographing, it brings new meaning to the term “horny toad”…

It’s raining tonight so think I will stay in until I have to grab a bite to eat (soon). I wanted to get to see the cemetery today as well as another church or 2 but didn’t happen due to the post office stuff, so I think I may have to spend an extra day here before I can get to Managua to fly out to the islands. I haven’t booked it, I hope to just show up at the airport an hour or 2 ahead of time and get on a flight (wish me luck) if I can make it all happen tomorrow I will. So there is a small chance that by this time tomorrow I could be dangling my toes in the Caribbean blue!

I booked my flight home a couple days ago, will be arriving back in Vancity on July 8th. Have somewhat mixed feelings about it, will be wonderful to see everyone again but is hard to not be disappointed about coming back to the same place I have lived for the past 37 years. Also, once I start moving I just want to keep going, it seems there is no end to the places I want to see in my life. There are some places I want to go back to and some more places that I wanted to see that I didn’t get too, guess I’ll just have to come back sometime.

Originally published on facebook – May 25, 2009.

I had my first encounter with a Scorpion today. He was all curled up inside my yoga mat and as I unfurled it he flew across the floor and scuttled under my fridge. He is still there. I am hoping that my landlord comes home soon because I am scared to go into my kitchen, and it’s close to dinner time. I’m pretty sure that this is irrational behavior on my part however I am not taking any chances with a creature like that. This thing is at least 3 or 4 inches long and honestly, I am not sure what would happen if it stung me so I am not taking any chances. Have I mentioned that the nearest medical care is 7kms away by taxi? (Aline, I think that you would happily welcome a nice little gecko into your home (or even your bath towels) after seeing one of these freaking things.) I just talked to my neighbor Kristen, she said they are not poisonous, however it would still hurt like a summbitch if you got stung. She advised waiting for a man to come along and take care of it, I will happily acquiesce. Yes they are as creepy and scary looking as you might think. I was thinking that I was getting pretty lucky in the creepy-crawly department…hadn’t seen any snakes, tarantulas or scorpions before today and now this. Please God, Buddha, Krishna, Gaia, Mom or whomever is listening, I beg of you, no more scary creepy things in my house! After this I would welcome a few land crabs, no problem!

Here’s a photo of what he looked like after he got smushed….

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I am still in Montezuma, It’s been raining every couple of days here, mostly at night. It’s never really just rain, it’s always preceded by a good show of lightening and then it DUMPS. A couple Fridays ago we had a big one roll in, thunder, lightening etc. I watched and heard the storm approach along the coastline then hover directly overhead (I seriously considered the possibility that my house might get hit as my roof is corrugated metal, but then so are most roofs here) and then it moved on down the road. Was pretty darn cool really. I love watching the storms but practically speaking it is a bit of a hassle as the roads become mud rivers and if you walk around in flip-flops you get speckles of mud all up the back of your legs and butt. Also they can come up super quickly and if you get caught out in it you are instantly soaked through, I am starting to recognize the signs of impending downpour now (it gets windy and the clouds roll in dark) but still I bought an umbrella and carry it at all times. I don’t care so much about me getting wet as it’s still nice and warm but I am often carrying my school books (or library books) and if those get wet, well that would suck. A rain jacket is inappropriate as it’s so humid you stick to the inside of it, not so comfy.

During a storm last week I lost power in my place for almost an hour. I was trying to study so I lit candles and experienced the most amazing array of bugs flocking to the light that I have ever seen, all of them appeared quite suddenly and commenced to attempt mass suicide by tealight, many succeeded and their remains now decorate the re-solidified wax. As well lightning bugs (about 1-1/2 inches long) seemed intent upon landing in my hair every few minutes, So I watched them flit around the room, lighting up every few seconds as they fly, trying to duck when they came near. Lightning bugs are new to me, I’ve never seen them before as we don’t have them at home (I don’t think). Their glow is like an old fluorescent green light bulb, they are really kinda neat but it’s hard to study through that, to say nothing of the crazy looking beetles that kept showing up on my bed as well.

I am getting itchy to start moving again yet I still have 2 weeks left go here before the training is finished. I am enjoying it but at the same time quite miss being footloose and fancy-free, going wherever my impulses took me. I am looking forward to getting back out in the world again. Montezuma is a lovely place (probably the most beautiful and unique place in Costa Rica that I have been to anyways) but I have been here for a total of 5 weeks already with 2 more to go and I am ready to move on and get back to a traveler’s existence. Plus I could use a night or two to let my hair down and have some bevs, just not able to do that while in the yoga program as the amount of studying required does not allow for a day spent hungover. As well, much as I like the ladies I am taking the program with I think a little more masculine company would be quite pleasant around now. I think after I am done here I will be heading up to Nicaragua, though I have been kicking myself for not visiting the San Blas area of Panama when I was down there. I have been told by many people who have traveled all through South and Central America that it is THE place for beautiful beaches (you might think I would be bored of beautiful beaches by now, but no, no I’m not!) so I may look into the possibility of a cheap and quick flight down that way before heading north to Nic.

A few words on local forms of transportation: Atv’s or Quads as some like to call them – these vehicles are a major form of transportation here, you often see whole families riding on them, mom, dad, a few kids, the family dog, and no helmets, everybody hanging off the bike, holding on to I don’t know what. In the dry season especially it gets really dusty on these unpaved roads and people wear handkerchiefs around their heads and faces so it looks as if the whole town is out to rob a bank. Sometimes you see people wearing surgical masks, and even ski goggles. The other day I saw a mom and dad sharing a dirt bike and their kid following on his own mini quad, he couldn’t have been more then 6 years old. At least he had a helmet! Pick-up trucks drive around with little kids in the back, little kids maybe 3 years old bouncing around with shovels and hoes, maybe some groceries as well and a spare tire. Guys drive around on dirt bikes, either sitting on their surfboards (both sides sticking out into the road) or holding them in one arm while they steer with the other. I have even seen women on the backs of motorcycles holding newborns. It’s crazy but it’s normal here.

It’s funny how obsessed we are at home with making sure that everybody is safe and can’t get hurt. We enforce all these laws and standards and consider anyone who would do these kind of things at home as being negligent or dangerous or bad parents or perhaps even self destructive and suicidal. Yet I come to a place like this and realize that most of the world is not as worried or judgmental or as cautious as us and it’s refreshing or at least eye opening to see people live in a way that is somehow freer then we do at home. It makes me wonder if we relaxed the driving laws (and maybe other laws as well) we have at home whether we would see a difference in the way people drive (or conduct themselves)? Perhaps I speed only because I know I am not supposed to, if I was allowed to drive at any speed would I enjoy going so fast? Sometimes we break rules because it’s fun, if there weren’t any rules then maybe we would be more careful of our own volition. Here it’s never a local who speeds dangerously by you on one of these dusty dirt roads, it’s always a tourist (you can tell by the rental cars because most of them are exactly the same brand, getting kicks because there aren’t any cops handing out speeding tickets) a local wouldn’t speed because they know how obnoxious it is to be walking down the road when someone roars by and you end up choking on a mouthful of dust. Of course I don’t have any statistics on motor vehicular related deaths here compared to Canada, so maybe I am way off base. I’ll climb down off my soapbox now, but before I do….

Here are some other examples of how different things are here in terms of health and safety: raw eggs are not refrigerated in the supermarket (I know, crazy right, just asking for salmonella or whatever to happen…it doesn’t). Dogs and cats are allowed in restaurants or supermarkets (that’s stray dogs, yup, with fleas and all. The cats often just live there). You can buy booze at the corner store and hang out in the street or the beach or anywhere and drink it (much more pleasant then the actual bar here btw). I believe I have already mentioned (in a previous note) the response to fires on the sides of roads (none). Bonfires are allowed on the beach, anytime of year. The dogs that aren’t strays don’t have licenses and in fact most people just let them run around free, they come into town on their own, they go to the beach, they go get a snack at a restaurant (is this what they mean by a dog’s life? If so I want to be a dog next time). One lady in my class gets a ride home from the school with another classmate and her dog follows the car all the way home, running happily behind. If you go out for dinner and haven’t finished your bevies by the time you want to leave the restaurant they will happily provide you with a to go cup (I love this).

Anyways enough on this one, my thought are rambling (I’m not even sure I made that much sense) and I should be studying so I’ll put this one to bed for now.

Love to all…pura vida!
xoxo

PS – I have been wondering what the land crabs eat and I just found out. One of these crafty little guys just caught a big wasp right underneath my chair….I wonder if they like scorpions?

Originally published on facebook – May 20, 2009.
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You all want to know about the first week of yoga training so here goes…. Our first day was Sunday (a half day) we show up in the afternoon and meet our teachers. One of them I can tell right away is amazing, beautiful energy, very able, and open, the other I instantly have some reservations about but I think, maybe I’m being judgmental, give it time before forming an opinion, try to find out who she really is. Turns out a few of us ended up having difficulties with her, however we all seem to be working through them and trying to let go of any differences. The important thing is we are here to learn and part of that learning process is to deal with different personality types and to be accepting of them. She has a lot to teach us so we are trying to stay open so we can learn. Don’t want to write too much about this so I will tell you a little about what we have been up to.

During this first class we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves, our names, where we are from etc. We did our first Asana practice together and we did three “communication” exercises. In the first one we had to choose a partner, someone we had never met before, and then we had to sit in front of each other with our eyes closed and meditate on the other person, trying to feel their energy, for 5 minutes. This was pretty easy to do except most of us found that instead of trying to connect into the other person’s energy we ended up just going into ourselves. The second time we had to partner with a different person and do the same thing except this time we had to keep our eyes open, looking into the other person eyes, harder for sure. A lot of people ended up laughing, my partner and I had a small chuckle at first and then we got into it. I tried to think about sending her heart energy, I visualized it as if our two hearts were connected by a loop of firey energy and we were opening to each other. I was thinking about the idea that what you put out is what you get back , energetically, and I was trying to send out pure love. It worked, but after a while I began to feel anxious, uneasy (maybe too open to a woman who was, after all, a stranger) and started breathing quite shallowly. Involuntarily I had to break the eye connection and inhale a deep breath, my hands moved as if to pull more oxygen into my lungs. She noticed this obviously and right away I sensed her sending me calming energy. I noticed her make her eyes smaller and I thought about how I had read that to calm an aggressive or scared cat you can half close your eyes and it soothes them. It worked (I’ve always thought I was part cat) and I felt calmer and started trying to allow the connection to happen again, unfortunately our 5 minutes were up a very short time later. We talked about it a little afterwards and she told me she had felt the heart connection initially as well, and had tried to send calming energy to me when she realized that I felt anxious. Was quite beautiful really and brought me near to tears. For our last exercise we had 3 minutes with a new partner and this time one of us was to try to stay in meditation while the other did anything they could (except touch) to make the other break concentration. Being the person staying in meditation wasn’t so hard at all, it was being the other person, the person who had to be silly, that most of us found challenging (myself included for sure). We talked about our experiences at the end and then finished for the day.

Day 2, really our first full day. We started our day at 7am with a 1-1/2 hour Asana practice. Afterwards we did a little talking about what we would be covering that afternoon and our teachers told us a little about themselves and their experiences both with their personal yoga practice and with teaching. we break around 9:15am and then come back at noon for 5 more hours (this is the typical times we are in class). In the afternoon we cover various things, sometimes we break down poses to learn how to make corrections or increase sensations for our students, sometimes we cover theory like, the 8 limbs of yoga, or philosophy or anatomy (both physical and energetic, eg: chakras) as well we are expected to learn all the Sanskrit and English names of poses (tricky!).We also have to start to learn and memorize sequences of poses like the Sun Salutations.There is so much to learn it is sometimes a little scary. I am struggling with the Sanskrit, my brain just does not seem able to retain this stuff very easily, it appears that it really is harder to learn and memorize once you get older! Old dog, new tricks….. We have started trying to design our own sequences of poses, eventually this will lead to designing full classes, sometime soon we are going to actually teach parts of our sequences to the entire class, good practice for the real world. We are breaking each exercise down and learning how to make adjustments in the poses as well as moves that will help students feel the poses more deeply and bring them into better alignment. We have to learn variations and modifications on all the poses as well as which chakras are associated with them and, as well, what the benefits (physical, mental and spiritual) of each pose are. There is more, much more but I’m kinda done writing about it…lol.

I wanted to share with you about my first meditation experience, because really it was pretty darn cool! We were on a beach in the early part of our day, I made sure to separate myself from the others walking about 30 or 40 meters down the beach so I could feel space around me. We had 30 minutes. This is what I wrote in my journal immediately afterwards….

Meditation #1 – Difficult. Started cross-legged (Perfect Pose). After about 5 minutes my right hip started to really ache. I tried to bear it but only lasted another couple of minutes, then allowed myself to straighten my legs forward. Initially i tried to focus on my breath and count without thinking. (The idea is to count to 10 breaths without thinking, if you have a thought that you chase you return back to 1). I never made it past one. Sometimes I barely made it to one at all. After 5 or 10 minutes with legs extended I brought them back to perfect pose. My right hip started to ache again within minutes. I was still trying to count. I felt it wasn’t working for me, I felt myself beginning to get frustrated so I thought about trying to look at my third eye instead. Very quickly I noticed that everything was yellow. I kept focused on trying to look where my third eye would be behind my forehead and I noticed that there was a more concentrated light there, kind of like a ball. I remember thinking about the fact that the light was yellow and how that related to my golden tree of light (I won’t get into this but some of you know about it already). At some point I became aware that my hip no longer hurt and of course because I became aware of that it started to hurt again. I realized that I had the power to ignore that discomfort, so I did. I returned to the light. At some point a wave of pinkish red rose up and I immediately thought of the root chakra. Then I had a conscious thought, I wanted to work my way through the colours and up through the chakras in my body so I started to trying to see orange and pretty much failed. I guess when I started trying to control the experience I lost the connection. As I was realizing thiswhen my teacher walked by and whispered “It’s time”. So time was up. The first 15-20 minutes seemed to drag on but the last 10 went so quickly. I actually felt like I was doing something even though there was still thought. At a certain point I felt like an observer, being taken on a very cool ride.

So to add to that I’m pleased that at points I was noticing things and thinking them but wasn’t following my thoughts, I was allowing them to happen and then letting them go, this is what I have been told is “proper” meditation (and I was doing it!) thrilling! We are apparently going to do this every day, working up to 2 hours by the end of the program! I am not sure how many of these I will share, it kinda depends what comes up but I thought you might find this first one exciting, I know I did!

The other students are lovely, I relate to some more then others of course but I look forward to getting to know all of them better as this month goes by. I am glad that I have rented my own place away from everybody, it is good for me to have a place where I can be away from them sometimes as we do spend so much intense time together.

We have a lot to cover this next month (written portion – 8 quizzes, 1 midterm and a final exam, practical testing – I don’t even know), it is intimidating and I am worried about how I am going to learn it all and how this teacher is going to be. But I also know that I am going to do my very best to ace this program and to get along with this difficult person. Wish me luck! πŸ™‚

Namaste….

P.S. It’s now our second Tuesday and the teachers are starting to split up the days a bit more, one will teach the morning and the other the afternoon. It seems to be working out quite nicely for both them and us. The “difficult” teacher is doing better this week, I think she realized that a lot of us were struggling with her personality and she seems to have toned it down in some ways. You can tell she is making an effort to be more accessible and light, so things are looking up! After my first awesome meditation I haven’t been able to get back there, kinda disappointing, I suspect I may be having problems because I now have expectations about what meditation will be like, having had such a great first time. So I’m thinking I have to learn to be more in the moment and not to expect or anticipate what might happen, I just have to let whatever will happen, happen. We are working our asses off, my wrists are in rough shape from all the poses we do. Yesterday we did an hour and a half asana practice, then we did a abs and headstand workshop and then we did 7 sun salutations A and 7 sun salutations B. Today same thing except this workshop was on arm balances. Tomorrow we have TWO, one and a half hour asana practices, an hour or so of breathing exercises another ab workshop and god knows whatever else they throw at us! I think I will be either made of steel or broken by the time this month is over!

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Originally posted on facebook – May 14, 2009.Β·

More random thoughts…..

The sound a gecko makes is like a bird chirping. I love them, they eat mosquitoes.

Land crabs are everywhere in beach communities. They live in holes in the ground and you can see them scuttle down them sideways as you come along. They are colourful creatures, reds and purples and oranges and pinks. On average they are the size of your hand, sometimes smaller. You typically see more crabs out at night and you see the remains of an awful lots of them smushed on the road by cars and atv’s.They have the one bigger claw, that looks quite threatening really as they like to wave it around, and they move exceedingly quickly. They are exceedingly shy, and fast, however perhaps one will pose for me someday (I got one, see below). In Domincal we stayed in a place that was on ground level just a few yards away from the beach. I came into the bathroom one night and found 2 hiding behind the door, I jumped up on the toilet seat and squealed (a very girly action, I shamefully admit), fortunately my knight in shining armour Jon was there and herded one out the door of the room with a magazine, unfortunately the other one took this opportunity to disappear down the shower drain (which did not have a screen, just a hole in the floor). Needless to say I kept my eyes firmly fixed on that shower drain during each subsequent shower! My home in Montezuma has the same thing, the first night I was there I put a bowl over the drain! Every time I showered I would pull it away and keep my eyes open. Now I have a screen held down by 2 very big rocks, this keeps them out of my house! Last night I went into the bathroom and I saw one hanging out just below the screen, he was trying but there was no way those rocks are going to move! It rained yesterday and today they were EVERYWHERE, seriously I walk down the road and can hear them scurrying around in the brush at the side of the road, I see them on the road ahead of me racing in both directions for cover as I approach, kinda funny actually. I’m much more used to them now and realize that they are harmless and really pretty stupid, literally dozens of their smushed bodies are on the roads, fresh ones every day, every hour….

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When it rains it’s like taking a strong shower, in fact the water pressure is often better then what you get in the hotels/hostels. Warmer too.

Falling asleep to the sound of waves is incredibly relaxing, however I have noticed that I have to get up more often in the night to pee, I wonder if these things are related?

Gatorade (or Powerade) is a godsend on long bus rides, keeps you hydrated and you don’t have to pee as often as you would if you were drinking loads of water.

When they do make a rest stop on a long bus ride they never tell you how long you have there, could be 5 minutes, could be 30. Once I was almost left behind, I came out of the bathroom and the bus was pulling away, I’m not sure I have ever sprinted so fast, the driver was laughing his ass off at me when I got back on, I’m sure the expression on my face was priceless.

If you are on a bus making multiple stops they don’t announce where you are, yup that’s right. Everybody else just somehow knows, but I get to look like the stupid tourist who only speaks a little Spanish and ask questioningly of the driver, “es (insert name of destination)???” If he answers “Si” then I have to scramble all my stuff together and high tail it out the door, and make him get up and get my bag from down below. If he answers “No” then I have to struggle to maintain my balance as I try to make it back to my seat as the bus is careening wildly (and speedily) down the road.

No matter how much sleep I may have had the night before, every time I get on a bus, I am asleep within an hour. I’m sure you can imagine how disorienting it is when you’ve just awoken from a nap to find yourself pulling out of a station or away from a bus stop. Was I supposed to get off there? Did I miss my stop? Where the hell am I? Does anybody habla ingles? Por favor? I then spend the next however long staring out the window trying to spot a road sign which might give me an indication of where I am and trying to compare that to my pitiful Lonely Planet map trying to figure out how much further I have to go, finally figuring it out, I’m ok! Then often fading off to sleep again, only to wake up disoriented…..

Maybe if I didn’t get so sleepy on buses I wouldn’t have these problems…..mind you so far so good, haven’t missed any stops yet.

Why do all the hostels think that “free” or “included” pancake breakfasts are a good idea? I swear I am so sick of pancakes and fake maple syrup…….Granola anyone? Maybe cereal of some kind? Seriously…..please?

Pizza is everywhere here, usually thin crust and most of the time quite good. There is no such thing as rice pasta or corn pasta down here, I am screwed, and coming home bloated and fat.

Oh, and beans don’t really agree with me either, how ironic is that? Casado anyone? Uh no, thanks, I’ll pass and you and everyone around me will be quite happy I did.

Casado – For those of you that don’t know a Casado is a set meal of rice, beans, some sort of meat of your choosing (chicken, beef or pork) and what can only be described in loose terms as a salad (usually some shredded cabbage, maybe some shredded carrot too). This is often the cheapest and largest meal you can find anywhere, at any soda or high end restaurant. And no, no thanks, like I said, the beans…..

I’m not sure I can ever eat Arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) ever again.

I have noticed that all hermits crabs like to travel North as sunset approaches, don’t ask me why…. but they all head the same way every day. Maybe at sunrise they all travel South? Will have to get up at dawn sometime to check this theory. Hmmm, not likely.

Howler monkeys sound like what I imagine Satan laughing would sound like.

In the rainy season the river and waterfalls in Montezuma look like the one in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a far cry from dry season when it was like swimming in liquid emerald. If you are up high you can see the mud spreading out into the ocean at the mouth of the river. Yes, it is still swimmable, though nowhere near as pretty.

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I pick mangoes up off the ground where they have fallen and eat them, (as long as the monkeys haven’t bitten into them first). Imagine….. FREE mangoes!

My backpack now weighs in at 30lbs! I’m honestly not sure how I manage to fit it all in there! It’s like a tetris puzzle every time I have to pack up.

5 pairs of underwear are not enough for 4 months. Not when you get laundry done 1-2 times per week. One word….disintegrating.

Why not buy more underwear you ask? Because I prefer thongs and they seem to be impossible to find, seriously are all these beautiful Costa Rican women wearing granny panties?

I have yet to do my own laundry, even though I brought these cute little individual packages of Woolite from home with great intentions. When it costs $2.00 Cdn. to get 1 kilo of laundry done, you just don’t do it yourself. Period. Also most hostels don’t want you to do it in their sinks and typically reinforce this by not providing sink plugs.

Every animal I meet has fleas, LOTS of them (advantage anyone? flea collars?). Sometimes after hanging around with them I do too.

Some hammocks have fleas, you get used to it. Everything else about hammocks…rocks! Though I do get seasick sometimes.

Originally published on facebook – May 6, 2009.

A few random things…..

I will be on a bus from somewhere to somewhere else and then all of a sudden notice there is a fire slowly spreading along the sides of the road, burning grass and bushes and fence-posts, leaving a trail of blackened landscape behind. Nobody seems to take much notice of this, nobody is worried, nobody is fighting the fire…..it seems as though this is not out of the ordinary….surprising in a country that has a dry season that is over 6 months long.

Women carry their babies and smaller children here, ALL THE TIME. Rarely have I seen a stroller being used. I’ve seen kids as big as 3 or 4 years old passed out asleep in their mothers (or grandmothers) arms, while the woman stands there waiting for a bus or even buying groceries. These women hold onto their kids for hours at a time! Their arms and backs must be incredibly strong, wouldn’t want to arm wrestle any of these ladies!

When having a meal, most everything comes promptly, except the bill! They never bring it without asking. In fact sometimes it seems like the service staff disappear once I start thinking hhmmmm, maybe I’ll get the check now, poof, they are nowhere to be found!

The bus will stop anywhere, either to pick you up or drop you off, now that’s service! Today I didn’t see the bus coming until the last second and waved just as it went past me, I figured that was it I was stuck waiting another half an hour, but no, it came to a stop about 15 meters down the road and waited for me to get there, (I ran but probably didn’t really have to) the driver even had a big smile for me as I got on.

New, English language books are stupid expensive here, approximately double the jacket list price…this hurts someone like me who reads super fast….usually can trade books at hostels or buy them used for a more reasonable price but I am in a small town right now without any of those options, so…..ouch!

I don’t know how this can be but you can walk from one beach to the next and they will only be separated by a very small little point of land or bluff or whatever you want to call it, and the colour of the sand will change completely. One beach has dark grey almost black gritty sand and the next will be fine and white with all sorts of pretty seashells. I don’t understand how or why this happens, can anyone explain it to me?

Last thought…..mosquitoes suck! Why do they like my elbows so much?

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Originally posted on facebook –Β  March 15, 2009. Β·

That dress I bought didn’t work out so well, too big and it was strapless so kept slipping down, not dangerously so but enough to be annoying. also I didn’t notice when i bought it but it was polyester on the inside, yuck! I will try to find someone who wants it, maybe a trade so I don’t have to cart it around with me. I should have known better then to buy it without trying it on, live and learn….

I certainly wouldn’t call myself a seasoned traveler yet but I am learning to sit back and let things happen more easily, not forcing. also to take the time to observe a situation before I jump (eg: finding a cab at the airport when surrounded by pushy drivers all trying to get me to take a ride with them) trying to stay calm allows me to be able to think in Spanish (what little I remember from my one year of it in high school) a little better and I am trying to be more patient and remember to be accepting of “Costa Rica time” I do well unless I’m really hungry, then I want my food NOW!!!! πŸ™‚

I must share my idea for a palm salad recipe, it is so good and so easy, just lettuce, avocado, tomato and heart of palm which you buy ready made in a jar, the key will be to making a good salad dressing, I think a pesto based one would be amazing, but salad dressing are not my strong suit, still I will try once I am home.

Today I went with an American nurse from San Diego named Mandi to a wildlife reserve in Cutu, (about an hour and 25mins by bus) we saw white faced and howler monkeys free in the wild and I got some good pics (quite proud of this one actually). Howler monkeys make a sound like a dog barking and a loud growl, pretty cool, there are a lot of them (and the white faced) here in Montezuma as well but they are harder to see (at least so far).

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We also saw some spider monkeys that are being rehabbed to be released back to the wild, they were in a pen but it was pretty nice and large as far as pens go. One of them (a female) came right up to us at the face and put her hand through the fencing, she wanted us to hold her hand and we did, it was so incredible, I almost broke down in tears. she and I looked into each others eyes for a time and she was so wise looking, her eyes were a beautiful deep shade of brown and you could see her intelligence, it broke my heart. I thought she seemed sad, but I don’t know if she was really, how can you know what is going on in a monkeys head? Her hands were so soft (much more then I imagined they would be) with longish black fingernails and on the underside of her tail there was the same sort of skin as her hands. She turned her back against the wire and let us rub and scratch her. Her fur was coarser and thicker then I thought it would be. It was an amazing moment I know I will never ever forget. And yes I have a picture of this as well.

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Some people that I had met left today, some new ones arrived. I’m beginning to see that saying goodbye will be something I have to get used to. When Mandi and I got back to town from Cutu I ran into the 2 girls from Sweden that I had met at the airport when I arrived. In the moment I was desperate for a pee and a shower so I said a quick hello, We know where each other are staying so I will try to find them again tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I finally start school, my first Spanish class (beginners level 1) is at 12-2pm and the Spanish lab (all levels, where we practice speaking what we have learned) is from 4-6. from 6:30-8pm I have yoga, so the 4 extra days I gave myself before starting everything, “my vacation” is kinda over, lol.

I found a woman who does shiatsu down here. I got my first one yesterday and she is amazing, she doesn’t really speak much English at all but she is very intuitive and did an amazing job, I would put her up there with Kat! (sorry Kat!, forgive me?) later int he day a few of us went up to the closest waterfall for a refreshing dip. so nice!

I feel like I am settling in here, for the first few days I felt antsy and like I wanted to move on, now I feel quite content and excited about the learning I get to do over the next couple of weeks.

Originally posted on facebook – March 13, 2009.

After years of delaying I have finally set out on this adventure. I’m heading to Costa Rica for 5 weeks. I haven’t backpacked since I was 19 years old and am now 36 and scared witless. I have ended my relationship, sold my condo, put everything in storage and taken a leave of absence from work, I’m ready to go. I’ve planned it out and will spend the first half of my time in Montezuma, studying Spanish and practicing yoga. From there I’ll probably head over to the east coast to explore a little before I head back home to real life.

These will be quick random things that happen in my days, maybe will get to longer posts but not sure…

I went into a small local town today called Cobano, I took the bus and spent and hour in the bank. my debit card wouldn’t work in the machine so I had to do a visa transfer, the teller at the bank told me that my debit card will probably work in another little town about a half hour away called Santa Teresa, I will try going there next week sometime. I forgot how high security banks are down here, the security guys were all holding shotguns and I had to pass through a metal detector on the way in, sunglasses off and they looked inside my bag. friendly enough though. I’d forgotten how you are supposed to take a number and sit in the chairs waiting, so glad my mom and I had visited a bank in La Paz, Mexico when we went there so I had at least done it once before! I wandered around the town a little bit and bought a nice aqua coloured sundress, am wishing I brought less shorts/shirts and more dresses/skirts as they are soooo much cooler, so I am stocking up, hope everything fits in my backpack when I’m ready to move on! I shared a cab back to Montezuma with some people I met so it only cost 4 bucks….yes the bus is only 60 cents but wasn’t due to arrive for another hour so I splurged. Funny thing….on the bus on the way to Cobano there is a very big hill with hairpin turns, the road is very dry and sandy/dusty. we couldn’t make it up the hill so the driver shouted out something and everybody stood up, I thought we were going to get off the bus and have to climb up the hill but he had us all move to the back seats and then we made it! πŸ™‚ I tried heart of palm today in a salad with avocado, tomato and green olives, so yummy, I think it may be favorite new food!

fyi, i have been lucky enough to meet people who have their own computers so I have been able to use them thus far, not sure how long this will continue so I may not be able to post so easily (or cheaply) once they leave. I will have to use the internet cafe $$$!!!