Just So You Know…

This doesn’t make me an unpatriotic American, just a human being with a bleeding heart.

I dread the day the Affordable Care Act is repealed and dismantled. Which seeing as it has passed both in the Senate and the House, is becoming an unfortunate reality.

As an aspiring writer and future grad student(hopefully), I was excited about being covered by my parent’s insurance until I was 26. It would give me more time to not worry about  being in a ‘real’ job, and allow me to pursue art with passion because insurance is expensive and…

…I have medical conditions. My parents’ insurance is generous and helps me afford my doctor visits, but more importantly, my medicine. Without it I. Could. Not. Function. But if the pre-existing medical condition protection clause that fully protects my care, regardless of pre-existing conditions, is repealed (which of course is happening)…

…I’d be spending ~$200 a month on medicine. Not to mention I’d struggle if not be  unable to obtain insurance because of my health conditions. And I have to see specialists so I wouldn’t be able to afford all my doctor visits either.

I’m a 21 year old college student. I should be prepping myself for class, studying for GREs, and perfecting my craft. I shouldn’t be stressing about how to keep my medical costs reasonable, and be thinking about the unfortunate possibilities my future might hold. (Will I have to emigrate? Will I have to take up a job that kills my soul? What if my disease progresses? What do I do if I can’t afford to live?) 

 I’m just one person, and this is one tiny issue. There is climate change, poverty, immigration, class, race, and so many other problems. Progress and the change that come with it can be scary at times, but we cannot regress. Things cannot be the way they were ever again. But we can try to learn, move forward, and find ways to better ourselves and the situation at hand. 

The repealing of this flawed, but progressive and monumental legistaltion will not make my America ‘great’ again. It’ll make it hell.

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Arm Balances and Inversions

While this break I was hoping to get back into my daily yoga routine, I am sad to say it didn’t happen. Between work, the cold, and feeling perpetually drained and exhausted I often lacked the motivation. When I did have the motivation the frustration of my stiffness and the aches caused by my Rheumatoid Arthritis didn’t exactly make it a wholly relaxing experience. While my medication has worked for the most part, thank goodness, I still get some stiffness in my wrist. I seriously took for granted how many poses require using your hands and wrists in supporting your body weight.

I have always been afraid of inversions. Something about falling, landing the wrong way and smashing my mind, losing my ability to think the way I do. Now, I’m not sure if I will ever be able to do them. While it is important to keep moving my wrists and hands, to keep up range of motion and strength as best I can. You can’t keep pushing, you’ll cause damage. And needless to say the cold hasn’t exactly helped much. Maybe with a stronger core and some more upper body strength it will come. But I cannot help but cringe of placing all my body weight on my hands.

I am trying not to get frustrated or angry. Trying to stay optimistic. I have been meditating regularly. I finally got myself a zafu and some Mala beads and for 5-10 minutes I sit and try to quite and focus myself. I have been successful with that, but I struggle with consistency. I’ve been working a lot this break. I didn’t have the opportunity to work hardly at all this past semester because of conflicting schedules. I will be this coming semester, hopefully getting at least triple the hours I had last semester. I dream of a day when college students in this country don’t have to work while they study. I dream of a day when I can do inversions. Well, at least arm balances.

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Another Week Flies on By…

Time seems to be moving so fast, but at the same time so slow. I know I should blog more and write in my journal more but there never seems to be enough time in the day.

I am officially homesick. I miss home, even though home means crazy mornings and evenings, a super noisy family, and hating school. And my job. And the cold nd the snow, wondering if I will ever see the sun again. It is interesting that everyone calls this culture shock, because it is more about missing home than being shocked by or disliking the host culture. At least for me anyways. And it is always the food. ALWAYS. When I have a good food day, life is dandy, when I don’t, it is terrible. Also some of the socializing disconnect from my peers. I do not like to drink a lot. Maybe something with my dinner but other than that, I’ll pass. And sometimes it just gets so old, and exhausting knowing that a big aspect of socializing here revolves around going out and drinking. It makes me feel lonely, and that makes me feel homesick too.

But anywho, enough of that. I went to the University of Costa Rica last week, and heard part of the president of Bolivia’s speech. Unfortunately we were a bit misinformed on the time and missed most of his speech, but we did get to hear a bit. He is, like most officials is good and engaging talking in front of crowds. His remark about how the United States declared the Americas an area of free commerce opportunity when it really should be labeled are of economic gain for the united states, was both shocking and true. I met two Costa Rican politicians/senators if you will, and got this super snazzy poster.

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For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, on the arm it reads:
The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean united for independence and progress.  And the two cowering men represent the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

I finished up my Basico Uno class and received a 92. Not as high as I wold have liked but I passed and did well and learned a lot.

Then off to Panama. Panama, like Costa Rica is gorgeous and green. I went to Bocas Del Torro, an archipelago on the Caribbean side, close to the border. We crammed into a tiny boat to get there. In fact to go anywhere for the weekend involved a boat ride of some kind.

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I got to go snorkeling, and it was amazing. A little know fact about me, the ocean terrifies me. We know more about the surface of mars than we do about our own ocean. And while it rises up to our land when you chose to step foot in it, you are at the mercy of whatever is in there. But seeing the coral, urchins, fish, star fish, and even the jellyfish with its pulsing electric beat was amazing. It only reinforced to me how important it is to save our oceans and our precious natural resources. Who in their right mind would destroy that? Of course too many encounters with almost getting stung by the jellyfish prompted me back into the  boat.

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Star Fish Beach

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Red Frog Beach

The beaches we visited were very beautiful. On the first day we visited Star Fish Beach, and on the Second Red Frog Beach. Both were gorgeous and at both I spent a considerable time in the shade not being burnt the fear of another sun posioning episode lurking in my mind.

Oh and I bought Nutella. Probably paid a bit too much but Nutella.

Basico Dos has started and I like it. It is going to be a lot of work but I am pumped for it. One of my housemates is in my class and it is reassuring to have someone whom if needed I can consult with on Homework and assignments.

I got a head cold which i am not excited about, but I can already feel it getting better. I think.

Starting to plan where I m going to go on the weekends, and it very exciting. I am worrried I am not going to have enough time to do everything but I will ft it all in.

Por Mi Tia Ginny:
Yo hablo espanol con mis amgigas de mis casa. Es mucho como spanglish pero nosotros tratamos. En mi classe de hisoria yo ayudamo sobre la histroria de Nicuragua hoy. Es muy triste.

Day Trippin’

So this weekend I didn’t go somewhere far away. In fact it was nice to do a series of day trips instead. All of the travel is exhausting, especially since for the seriously long bus trips I need to take motion sickness medicine and I am in a fog for the rest of the day.

On Friday for Spanish Classes we went on field trips. Mine was to Cartago to see the Basilica of the Virgin of the Angels, and to go to the market. I slept on the bus ride with my sea bands. The church was very pretty with painted columns and a high and arching ceiling. We then went to a little shrine where you could get holy water, whether you bought, brought, or just wanted to drink/anoint yourself. I personally just drank some because I was a bit thirsty and didn’t have a bottle. Then we went to the market. So many fresh food and fruits and vegetables it was overwhelming. I roamed the market with a few other people. It was a confusing mess of things, they even sold dog food! I sampled a very sour tasting citrus and bought some apples, probably a bit more than what I should have been willing to spend, but APPLES. I passed up the opportunity to buy a cute backpack (colorful owl print, jansport, decent sized) for 2 mil/4 USD and have been kicking myself. I got some cake and hoped back on the bus for the ride home.

That afternoon was another Bus ride to the Palmares festival. Since everyone kept saying different things I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Fair? Music Festival? The Bull fighting/chasing thing? The day we went must have been a lower key day, as it reminded me a lot of a small county fair than a large festival event. It was interesting, a culturally experience, and a bit of a money drain. We were there for 6 hours, but it felt like we could have easily left after only 3. And for dinner? Fried Chicken. I don’t even eat fried chicken at home, but who cares?! I had my first rude encounter over my Spanish, I ordered a hot chocolate in Spanish and the man retorted “why are you trying to speak to me in Spanish?” Rude.

Saturday was a brief trip to Grecia to see the red metal church, a brief stop at an artist workshop and gift stop in Sarchi, and then to San Luis for our zip lining canopy tour. I have done ropes courses before. I like them and zip lining was no difference with a few exceptions.

  1. The Tarzan Swing. Literally a rope/cable and they throw you off to see the view. I like jumping on my own thank you. And is twisted up my stomach.
  2. It is hard to enjoy anything when you are hungry. We were supposed to eat at 1pm. We were just getting done with the ropes course at 3:30. Breakfast was very long away by then.
  3. I don’t like people cutting me and passing me. It isn’t fair or polite. I am sorry that you have reservations but the fact you don’t know when they are and/or are running late is rude.

I did love the last long zip line though. They strapped us in superman style and we flew over the forest and stream and it was incredibly beautiful. And the sensation of flying over all of the beauty. To be a bird and to fly, it is such a privilege and I would totally be cool being reincarnated as a bird.

Sunday was to Irazu (again) and to the Basilica of the Virgin of the Angels (again). The clouds were thick on the mountaintop so there was nothing to see more or less. And the Basilica was the same except busier because it was Sunday and mass was starting soon.

Homesickness comes and goes. The food often trips it, something I don’t like or a hunger that just can’t seemed to be quenched. Owning food and being in control of food too. It is unsettling. But even though it triggers it I find ways to pull through, there are other levels of sustenance that you need to survive and often that helps. Books, writing, doing amazing things. Whenever I feel the tears coming I remind myself that food is necessary but what I eat versus what I want is not the end of the world.
Para mi tia Ginny

Estoy muy cansada. Espanol es difficil. Proxima semana yo hablo solamente en espanol mas o menos. Estoy nerviosa pero yo necesito si yo quiero hablar espanol bien. Yo voy a Panama proxima fin de semana. Mis amigas no van, porque ellas van en febraro a marzo.

Give me Fried Chicken and Chocolate Cake

Even though I am not taking as many classes, I’m not working, and don’t have to worry about all of my time commitments that I have at home, I feel like I have significantly less time. I don’t know what it is but I have been slacking not only in blogging but writing in my journal, and taking and posting pictures. Aiiee!

Well this past week was a bit rough. I had an encounter with sun poisoning on my back, but my two awesome roommates nursed me through the brunt of the pain and I don’t know if you knew this, but Plantains feel absolutely amazing on sunburned back. My back is much better now, and I have a swim shirt now to protect me from the strong sun at the beach.

We had our first exam for Spanish and while I didn’t do as good as I would have liked I am doing quite well, and learning a lot. I am glad that I ended moving down to basic one. I feel a lot more comfortable and I am actually learning a lot more that I thought I would taking basic one again.

Our trip to Puerto Viejo (El Carribe) this past weekend was pleasant. I really liked the food there. I really enjoyed the food. I liked the coconut and tiny kick in the rice and beans and don’t even get me started on the shrimp and rice I had. It was AMAZING. The town had a very different feel than Tamarindo and I liked the more laid back feel but I wasn’t a fan of the fact that there was a large cockroach in someones bed. And the ants. If I had to pick a bug that grosses me out that I’m just 100% done, it is ants. Spiders come close too. Really all bugs honestly.

I went to yoga class last night, and man I have missed my intense yoga sessions. I do yoga at home but its usually not as intense, rapid, and sweat inducing as my home practice. I’ve needed that here and I think it is an excellent addition to dance class. I missed my om-ing with other people, and having a teacher to point out tiny things to focus on, like keeping the inside of my palms on the mat and remembering to fully spread my fingers and toes.

I have been feeling a bit homesick, it really comes and goes. I just really miss my family and my dogs and American food. I really was missing American food. But today, was an excellent food day and I feel a lot better, at least about the food situation. I had an awesome pancake with maple syrup for breakfast. Then for lunch, vegetables, rice, and fresh amazing fried chicken. I have never had such amazing fried chicken in my life. And of course Mora Juice, aka blackberry juice aka the best stuff you will ever consume ever. Then at the cafe at school I had cake. Chocolate cake. With Carmel for frosting. I was so happy and it really was what I needed. When everything seems to be going wrong and I just feel done with everything, a slice of chocolate cake makes the world of a difference.

Para Mi Tia Ginny:

Yo no quirero frijioles, pero hay mucha frijoles. Para Desayuno, Almuerzo, y Cena. Yo Bebeo cafe en la manana con leche y cinco azucar. A mi me gusta mucho. Encantanto juego de mora y marmelada de mora. Es muy rica y delicioso. Yo hablo un poco espanol pero yo aprendo un poco cada dia. Yo pienso en espanol con un poco palabras.

Everyone Should Dance and Why you Should Learn to Surf

So the first week of class and my first weekend trip are over. It was exhausting and all the same, I am in love with everything. Don’t get me wrong, I am still missing home and begining to navigate my way through culture shock, but I feel myself settling in, slowly and surely.

The first week of school was a bit draining, listenning to spanish all of the time is somewhat throughly exhausting. I haven’t begun to try and speak soley in spanish but this week I start. It is going to be diffiult but I need to if I am going to learn, especially since writing and speakig are the most difficult for me. My spanish isn’t as strong as I originally thought, so I moved down to basic one. While it was a bit frustrating I am grateful for the opportunity to develop a stronger mastery of my spanish and to work on grammer and vocab.

Now why everyone should learn to dance. So I went to Dance class on Thursday night, and it was amazingly fun. Sure I was terrible and sure I got sweaty and tired, but that doesn’t matter. Dance, like music, love, English, and Spanish is a language and a form of art. Being in tune with your body and the way it moves is an importnt skill to have. Sure I get that from yoga, but your body in motion is different. You cannot be tense when you dance, and you cannot be worried of making a fool of yourself. You just must simply do and feel and move. Humans began dancing for a reason, so even if we are terrible at it, like me, there is an obligation to respect and uderstand our tradition as a member of the human race to move to the music.

My weekend trip was to Tamarindo, a nice and rather touristy beach town on the pacific. It was a long, long, bus ride. 6 hours. The hotel was small and cute, not overwhelmingly fancy nor depressingly shabby. I was the first one down to breakfast on Saturday and had to keep shooing away a pesky bird that kept eyeing my fruit and toast. I went to the beach with my friends and we lounged around and got in and out of the water until a few of us went horseback riding, myself included.

The horseback ride was nice, except my horse was naughty. Literally the worst behaved out of not only the bunch but that I have ever ridden. It would always start trotting if another horse tried to pass us and even broke into a canter about it. But we did get to ride on the beach a little bit and see the sun start to set. I didn’t get to actually see the sun set which made me a bit sad, but the beach at dusk was still Beautiful. I went out with some friends for a while and danced. It is amazing how much American Pop Music is present here, and everywhere you go. At the club we went to they played a remix of “Mr. Brightside”. Talk about a flashback.

The next day, was the beach again and surfing. I knew the steps involved in surfing, my Uncle J. let me give it a try a couple of times when we were in California for his wedding a few years ago. But I had no idea of understanding or even concept of what it would be like. The sun was bright, the sky a clear blue meeting the ocean with picturesque white cumulous clouds off in the distance. For a solid 3.5 hours, I didn’t leave the ocean even though I was tired and my lips were caked with salt. It is you, the sky, and the waves. Constantly looking, assessing, and waiting. There is a serentiy and acceptance that you find in that waiting. The reality of life becomes miniscule and all of your stresses are insignificant an you realize that I am just a piece of this planet, a piece of this universe, and nothing can change that. So why worry? Why stress? I am just a piece in oblivion trying for tat brief moment of being one with nature respecting it and basking in its beauty and strength. If I suceed or fail what does it matter? You get back up and try again. It took me all of those 3.5 hours but I finally stood up. It was a moment of zen, a moment of om. I cannot wait until next weekend to try again, with a little more attention to sunscreen.

Por Mi Tia Ginny:
Estoy mut roja porque el sol es super fuerte. Me gusta mi profesora de espanol. Es muy simpatica y le gusta hablar con nosotromos uno en uno. Necesito hablar solamente en espanol, pero es muy difficil. Pero, soy intenando.

Por mi Tia Ginny:
Estoy roja porque el sol es super fuerte.

Día Uno

So yesterday was orientation and today was the first actual day of class. A lot of vocab has slipped out of my head which made things a bit difficult, but not overwhelming or frustrating. My spanish classmates were very nice and I didn’t feel as overwhelme as my first day of spanish class bak in the US.

But before today a bit about orientation yesterday. We got a basic tour they explained some stuff and gave us information, not only about the university but also activities . One of the professors talked about how different culturally Costa Rica is compared to what we are used to, and gave us tips on overcoming and dealing with culture shock. While I feel like I have already experienced that sorta and a bit of homesickness too, I feel like I am doing well. Everyone talks about how awesome going abroad it, but its also important to talk about how sometimes you miss home. A LOT. I find that I am really missing my bed, mainy because my pillows are simply too soft and my bed has a saggy spot from too many previous visitors sitting on that edge.

So Spanish class. It was good. Its going to be a lot of hard work but I am ready for it. It is hard to fully communicate when you cannot remember all of the words and verbs you need, but I survived thus far, ad I am kind of excited for tomorrow. My history class (Contemporary Latin American History) is also really interesting. I like the teacher and knowing exactly what is going to happen when. We have to do a 40 minute partner presentation about the history of a country which I am nervous for, but also weirdly excited for. Its more practice with public speaking and more practice for teaching. Which in case you didn’t know, I want to be a professor when I grow up.

I am going to the beach this weekend, as I get three trips with the affiliated travel agency for free. Its a beach on the pacific called Tamarindo. It is supposedly a good place to learn to surf, so who knows, I might try and learn!

Por Mi Tia Ginny:
Como pescado por cena hoy. Normalente, no me gusta pescado pero el pescado es muy bien! La clase de espanol es difficil pero me gusta. Me gusta la chicas en mi casa. Son simpaticas y comicas. Compramos a la universidad in la manana. Ellas tienen electivos lunes y miercoles, pero tengo mi elecitivo martes y jueves. Necesito estudiar espanol mucho.

The First Few Days

Well I made it. Getting up at 3:30am was terrible and I was absolutely exhausted all day. I couldnt seem to get into that restful travel sleep that my motion sickness medicine lures me into usually. But I navigated the airports and customs (granted not gracefully or even extreamly confidently) and was able to find my ride, Uncle M.’s cousin N. Honestly of all the things I was worried about, it was that for whatever reason I wouldn’t be able to find him. And that my checked bag would get lost. And that I would be detained.

Well I got all set up with a phone and we headed off to the country. A roughly three hour drive. Of winding hills going up for hours and then going down. The fog in the high elevations was eriely thick at times, even more so as the sun began to set. I dozed in out of sleep actually waking up as we came down into the last large city or town before our destination.

As we left the town the road narrowed and the further along we went the rougher it became, at times looking more like a mountain biking trail than a road. We arrived and I was introduced and put down my bags. My Aunt G. and her family called and made sure I was okay, and then my mom and dad too. Being thrown into a completely spanish speaking environment was a bit scary and intimidating but as the night progressed it wasn’t so bad. There was chicken cooked in a pot over and open fire and rice for diner. I couldn’t make it to midnight, so I went to bed.

I had coffe with sugar and some bread for breakfast. I spent some time reading, well a lot of time and did some journaling too. The water and food didnt make me sick thank goodness. There was a birthday party that night. Another delcious meal and cake too. At one point someone tried explaining to me that the hand towel I was dying my hands on was called a paño, but I didn’t quite unnderstand. I eventually got it and we all laughed.

Coffee and bread for breakfast and then we headded back to town. Costa Rica is absoltely gorgeous. I had some allergy snuffles form the new pollen in the air but I don’t mind. There are Hydrangea blossoms as big as my head! I got asked as we were leaving if I would be coming back for Holy Week, so that is something to consider. In all though, I am doing well and having a wonderful time!

Por mi tia Ginny:
¡Hola! LA Familia de Nolberth es muy simpática y comprensiva. Costa Rica es muy guapa. Frijoles no es mi favorito, pero no es mal.