21 on a Tuesday

It is hard to comprehend that I am am turning 21 on Tuesday. And no, I will not be drinking. Yes, you read that right. No alcohol for moi.

No, I have had it before and in fact love my mixed drinks and wine (so tasty). I just have finally made the proactive choice to not drink at this point in my life, for a couple of different reasons.

  1. I need my liver uninhibited. I dread the possibility that my current RA meds will become ineffective for any number of reasons and the next strongest stuff takes a toll on the liver, so I would like to keep it as healthy as possible.
  2. I like being in control. When I drink, I lose fine motor control, like everyone else. But I am incredibly upset by the fact that I have to think really hard about not slurring my words and what it is I am saying. I get stressed by the fact there is so much I cannot have control over, so intentionally putting myself in a situation where I lose control my faculties even a little bit is enough to send me weeping.
  3. I don’t like how sad it makes me. As someone who deals with depression and sadness alcohol is literally a horrible idea. Its a downer which makes it even a worse experience when I suddenly become a weeping mess. Not to mention I cannot emotionally bring myself to physically function the next day.
  4. There is a medical history of addiction in my family, and with this I have chosen to follow my parents choice to refrain from alcohol, and refrain from exposing myself to that possibility.
  5. I just don’t want to. Yeah its tasty sometimes, but in my opinion it isn’t that fun.

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For my birthday, unlike last year, I won’t be doing anything exciting. I am going to lunch with my parents, working, going to class, and then I have an honor society induction that evening. I’ll have a lot of homework to do and a paper to work on. And I don’t have a car, and my friends are really to busy to do anything. That makes me a little sad, but I guess I just have to cope with that. A lot of people don’t understand how important my birthday or celebrating it is to me, because its about managing to make it another year despite everything. So I guess I will celebrate it on my own, just like last year. And that wasn’t so bad. At least I’ll get a real birthday treat this year, not a brownie flavored protein bar. Ice Cream, here I come!

In other news, I have figured out my class schedule for next year, and will be registering in two weeks. I should get into everything I need. Hopefully. I mean  I will be a senior…even though I will be in Ithaca an extra semester. And besides, I’m am preregistered for most of those classes so its really just one that I actually need to worry about.

My arthritis flared up last week and it was really frustrating. I think the stress of everything right now is not sitting well with it, so I have put myself back on my 81mg aspirin routine and it seems to be doing just fine. I definitely will never again be taking an 18 credit semester. It works when you are only taking 100 and maybe some 200 level classes, but with upper level classes? Forget it.

There is a month left of school, and I can totally make it. I think.

The Mother of Tarzan and a Dog Named Lettuce

So it has been way too long since I last wrote. A lot has happened in the past two weeks. So I guess I will just get started.

Semana Santa was wonderful. I had an amazing week. My flights to and from Osa went smoothly, and I didn’t crash, burn, and die. So that is always a plus. The airport in Osa is tiny, I was expecting that. But I could hardly contain a giggle as to how small it actually was.

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Yupp. That is literally it.

I was supposed to me a taxi driver to take me up the mountain to the place I was going, but the Canadian couple that runs the place was in town, so they picked me up. Up the mountain. The road reminded me a lot of the road to Monteverde in terms of its condition, but this time I wasn’t as worried about plunging off the side of the cliff to my death. I was greeted by the three dogs (Foxy, Dolly, and Letchuga), and settled into my cozy little tent. I am a sucker for getting away in nature and love the idea of camping, but I am such a spoiled old lady when it comes to sleeping on hard places. I would have sore hips and arms in Mexico when the mattress was too hard or too thin. The bed was excellent, and I was way to excited to be living in a tent for a week.

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The crib.

The food was amazing. The best food I have consistently had in Costa Rica. I was getting a lot closer to the amount of fruits and vegetables I like to eat, and I got to try something tasty and new everyday. The best tomatoes I have had in quite some time. Also, Costa Rica has deepened my appreciation of bananas. It was hot and humid, low 90s every day and only a slight reprieve in the shade. But I got used to it. There is something nice about the heat. It makes you take the day a bit slower, and its nice to slow down sometimes.

Then on Saturday I departed for Drake’s Bay for my adventure into Corcovado. First I took a taxi down the mountain, then another to Sierrpe. Then I got on a boat with the hotel owner. We drove through a series of mangroves or canals or rivers…I’m not really sure what to call them. But after about 40 minutes we came to the river mouth and the waves were huge for out tiny little boat. I will admit the possibility of dying felt very real, a lot more real than when i was on the tiny airplane. But by some miracle we survived. I saw a Turtle and a Dolphin on the way to the hotel.

I wasn’t terribly impressed by the place and found myself spraying bug spray around my bed in a hopes that the ants and cockroaches wouldn’t crawl into bed with me. It was another tent which I was totally fine with, but a tent is only effective if you shut it, something the management seemed to not consider. And the food wasn’t too hot, and the coffee? Literally the closest I have ever come to drinking straight up river mud. It was so thick and strong and dark I just couldn’t do it.

But, Corcovado made it all so totally worth it, a perfect birthday adventure. I rose early, and prepared. I was picked up at 6:00 am by boat and managed not to puke on the choppy hour ride on open ocean. The hike while exhausting and hot was so worth it. I saw lizards, all four types of monkeys in Costa Rica, toucans, Scarlett macaws, wild pigs, tapiers, a snoozing sloth, and others as well. I felt good. I was happy.

I have to Osa really is what made me fall completely in love with Costa Rica. Sure I liked it before, but it was my experience and what I saw and went in Osa that made me smitten. If I make it back to Costa Rica one day, that is where I am going.

I returned to the hotel around 2, this time a bit too seasick for my taste which soon dissipated after a nice shower. I talked to my family and ate a chocolate brownie protein bar for cake, seeing as the nearest store was an hour walk away. I relaxed, read, and turned in early.Of course I would treat myself to some dessert goodies tomorrow at the MusMani mini super.

The boat ride back I thought would kill me again, and my boat taxi was loaded to the brim. Seriously, there was no more room to sit and some guy even brought his bike on board. Shuffled back to the airport I waited to board and read. I slept on the plane ride back and took a taxi back home.

But I also switched host families. My host mom, the Thursday before I Ieft, fell on water leaking from the fridge in the kitchen. She broke her upper arm and injured her shoulder as well. Watching her for two days I knew that it was incredibly difficult for her to take care of herself, let alone be a host mom, so I decided to move to give her a restful and low stress recovery. My new host family is lovely and their dog Nuna reminds me so much of Ginger and Zoey.

I am ready for home, but I am still making the best of my stay here. I am keeping myself busy, exercising, applying to jobs, reading, and writing. I have decided to attend Ithaca in the fall, and I am starting to plan for that as well. I am going to have to work this summer. Hard and a lot. But in the end it will all pay off. The future is looking bright and everything is coming up roses.

Semana Santa and the end of being a teenager

So Holy week (or semana santa) kicks off on Sunday. While for the longest time I wasn´t sure what i was going to do or where I was going to go I have finally figured it out. So here it is.

I am flying to the Osa Peninsula, the southernmost peninsula in Costa Rica and on the Pacific side. The Osa has been described as on of the most geographically diverse places on Earth and is without doubt one of the more difficult places to get to in Costa Rica. Taking a public bus easily takes upwards of 6 hours, often 8 and private shuttles, well since they are often a set flat rate the cost one way would be ridiculous for me. So I am flying. I am a bit terrified because I know it is going to be a small ass plane and dear god small planes scare me shitless. Please excuse the strong language, just trying to illustrate the point. I get one checked bag that cannot exceed 30 pounds, a small carry on, and a no worries carry on item which I have already decided will be my camera. I think.

After the hour flight I will be going to an organic farm up in the higher elevation. I will be volunteering and working there from sunday to saturday. I am super excited as my roomate J. has been teaching be about sustainability and agroecology practices for the past three months and I am excited to learn more. I am also thrilled that I am getting to volunteer and give back a little while I am here too. I am ´glamping´ while I am there, staying in a protected platform tent, and while I will be sharing a bathroom with the other visitors we will have wifi supposedly.

Then I am going to a hotel, I guess. Again, more glamping but right on the ocean and secluded. Part of my stay at the hotel includes a day excursion and hike in Corvocado. I. AM. SO. EXCITED. Corvocado is the one place that i really, really, have wanted to go to in Costa Rica. And I am hiking there on my birthday, so I guess that is pretty freaking cool. I have never spent a birthday really alone, as in I don´t know anyone around me. I have always been a secret birthday person, but as I have aged I have discovered I am a rarity. As I told a dear friend in an email last night, ¨It’s always a milestone to me, especially because of the depression. I always tell myself ‘congrats Amanda, you have made it another year and you are still here alive and breathing. try not to forget life is beautiful.’¨ But seriously though, I am no longer going to be a teenager. I am sinking deeper into adulthood, and all of the delightful things that brings.

Oh and I don´t have to worry about food for the week. Both places provide me with three meals daily. Hoorah.

The college process is coming along. I have been accepted into all of my colleges so far including my top choice(I still dont have answers from two) and it is looking good. I am going to have to work my little but off this summer, and during the school year as well, but if I can pull it all off good, it will work out. How can it not? But already I have to think about GREs and what my next step is going to be after undergraduate. Its overwhelming because oh I don´t know I am transferring and it is confusing and stressful?

I have about one more month in Costa Rica. I am retaking Intermediate 1 next month, and I am relieved I am. It would have been too much to go on and I need to practice and solidify what I already know. One month to see everything, scrabble for souvenirs before squeezing everything into suitcases and heading home. Part of me is so ready to come home but at the same time part of me does´t want to leave. But that is life in the end and what can you do but live in the moment and embrace all there is to have?

Puttering Along

Its hard to believe that is has already been 3 months practically. In 6 weeks and one day I am going to be on a plane home. Yes, I am counting down. I have learned a lot here in Costa Rica and I have had a wonderful experience but it is time. I am ready to come home. Studying abroad has been wonderful, but at the same time a challenge, especially doing so in a developing nation.

Someone once commented to me how much healthier they eat in Costa Rica. I politely disagree. My stomach has been nothing but a confusing series of knots and I look forward to less fried things. They were okay for a while, but in the past week or so, my body has begun to tell me though my stomach “please, no more fried things”. I also really miss my milk. Yes they have milk in Costa Rica, but it isn’t milk. It tastes different and leaves a funny taste in your mouth.

I am exhausted. I physically cannot seem to get enough sleep. I have taken a nap in the afternoon 4 days so far this week. And they usually range from 40 minutes to 3 hours. And my hands specifically my fingers have been achy. I cannot tell if it is from the not so great food (eating crappy has made them hurt before), or if I am simply dis too much writing holding my pencil last week when I had my two tests.

I am however, excited to say that I will be spending Holy Week alone. I am volunteering on an Organic farm and then I am going to hike in Corvocado for a day, specifically my birthday if all goes well.

I think I might have to repeat Intermediate 1, not so much because I’m unable of passing the class but I don’t know if I could handle learning more grammar while sacrificing learning vocab and working on communication/speaking and writing skills. I would rather understand and practice then rush on and get in over my head.

This weekend I am going to Curu to see bio luminescence in the water. I am excited to see what that looks like. I am also excited to spend the weekend with some of my friends before they return home, their three months up.

While I am not feeling on top of the world, I am not feeling crushed by the weight of it. I am simply walking along, one step at a time, slowly and steadily, taking the time when possible to enjoy the little beauties along the way.

Give and Take

This weekend was a busy one. A field trip on Friday to a wood factory. It was okay, I got to take some nice pictures. Like of this Peacock.

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Then I went to Mannuel Antonio and Quepos for the weekend for a friend’s birthday. I had my first experience with dorming in a hostel (not bad at all) and went on a sunset catamaran cruise. I got seasick and even though I took medicine, I still felt sick on and off for the rest of the ride. We got to snorkel and dolphins came up and swam next to our boat!

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They say that it takes you around 2 months to fully acclimate to the study abroad way of life. At least that is what they say. I, however, beg to differ. 2 months in and I feel more lost than when I first got here, and I find that I am more homesick than I have ever been in my life. I can complain about a hundred and one things and even though everyone is happy and content, deep down I feel absolutely miserable. How can you enjoy yourself and your time here when that is all you feel?

What is it that is making me so unhappy? So many things.
The food is a good place to start. I eat fairly healthy at home but here, it feels impossible at times. Apples cost a dollar and I can only find unripe bushels bananas at the weekend farmers markets which I never seem to be here for. I haven’t had a salad in months and I am definitely quite deficient in vegetable consumption. And all of this makes me crave sweets, or anything that resembles what I would eat at home, which quite frankly there is not a lot.
Then there is the being stared at and verbally harassed. But, so we’ve been told, acknowledging even hellos can make it worse. And it does. I am not safe here, not as a white girl and the fear of being jumped coming home from simply class is an actual reality. I got oogled for a solid 3 hours on my ride back this weekend because I am white, and have blonde hair.
And the socialization via alcohol. I can’t drink. I’m a lightweight and one of the medications I have to be on amplifies the effects of alcohol. I had maybe a drink and a half this weekend and I hated it. So no more. But it is hard to socialize when that’s how people do it. I have no desire to be around it not to mention bed by 10/11 is the only way I can have enough energy to face the day.
Not to mention my Spanish classes. I am so, so frustrated with my classes. I cannot understand what I am being taught and my teacher is anything but kind and understanding. I am trying but half of the times I leave class so frustrated that I want nothing to even do with it for the rest of the day. And I cannot retain the vocab to save my life. And there are just tiny things that people do and say that drive me absolutely insane. I feel myself on the verge of boiling over into rage an increasingly large amount of the time.
And I feel like I have no actual privacy, or the ability to completely withdraw myself for the recharge that I so desperately need right now.

I love Costa Rica as a gorgeous country full of wonderful beauty and nature. It just isn’t really the place for me I guess.

Por mi Tia Ginny

Yo odio espanol. Yo no quiero estar en costa rica nunca mas. La pais es muy bien y me gusta pero yo odio la universidad, mi professora, muchas personas, y esoty muy frustrada.

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.