The End of Another Sumer

Another month, another summer, another school year, another last minute panic scramble attempt at packing. While I am glad to be going and about classes starting again there is still a hint of worry an anxiety that comes with new things. And I have become a terrible homebody as we all know. Well maybe just me, but now you know too. As I sit here I realize how out of shape with typing I have gotten. Like this is mildly painful and exacerbating. Did you know that exacerbating is an annoying word to type?

So where did I leave off last? Well My cousin got married to her superfab fiance. My aunt from DC took me shopping for a dress the day before, because thats how we as a family role. I still don’t know how I feel about weddings. They can be fun, and mushy, and happy, and sad. Also, dancing at them is the bomb. Anyone who argues otherwise clearly doesn’t know how to have fun.

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The Happy Couple

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Me and da Bro. Shout out to the person using flash and taking a picture too and making me look like a ghost

After that it was a lot of working and trying to make time to see people and do things. I ended up playing in a friend’s Symphony Orchestra that he conducted. It was a pretty good concert, ambitious definitely, but it came together marvelously and I enjoyed the experience. Except, playing that much horn ended up exacerbating my hands a bit.

I am finally, praise the entities of the universe, done working for the summer. While I can go back to all three jobs, I only anticipate going back to one for breaks and such. Its the only one I enjoyed and felt fully comfortable in. And while it was nice to amount a few thousand in the bank, paying for tuition, textbooks, and all the small things I needed this fall at one point put me broker than when I got back from Costa Rica. YIKES.

Despite the amount of work I had going on I still managed to go on some family excursions in August. The first was to a privately owned zoo that this guy in a village nearby runs. While like any zoo we got to see the animals, this one was cool because we got to feed them too if we opted. Which we clearly opted to feed the giraffe, because why wouldn’t you? IMG_0223

Zoos are a complicated issue. Are they good? Are they bad? Talking to one of the woman who works there(my parents knew her when she was little because they were friends with her parents), I could definitely see the good, the mission/goal of this small one. The animals are clearly well taken care of, and it allows kids and people who have never seen animals to get a first hand encounter: Up close, personal, and something they will remember. As hundreds more animals become endangered and go extinct, maybe these bonds, interactions, and childhood memories can make a difference in encouraging conservation. But then again you can never predict these things. And who am I to make these bold assertions?

Zoey, one of our family dogs, has had a rough time this summer. The arthiritis in her hips got a bit rough, she couldn’t stand on slippery surfaces in the morning. But with regular exercise and a supplement she seems to be doing a lot better. She also doesn’t stop eating when she is full. Those neurons just don’t seemed to be hooked up. Our dog food storgae container is right at her height and one day after filling it and no one was home she got into it and ate probably around 4 cups of food. Needless to say she was sick that night, throwing up on her walk, in my bed, in her crate. But this carried on into the next day. After a day of fasting though she got better, but had to be jailed off into an easy to clean area where she couldn’t get into any food.

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Zoey in Jail: Does she regret everything? Probably not.

The medicine for my RA seems to be helping. Sure it can make me painfully gassy at times, but that has mostly passed. I do have achy moments and achy days, but nothing terribly excruciating, and if I get up and do things and move about I usually tend to feel better or not notice the pain. But I do notice that I I can have problems opening cans and jars. That standing 12 hours a day does not do wonders for my feet the next day. And unfortunately chocolate and foods that are proceed/contain high fructose corn syrup, tend to exacerbate the discomfort I feel the next day. I am pretty satisfied with my choice of medicine and how I have been able to manage the pain quite well. While sometimes I still feel angry and bitter about it, Its a passing feeling. I have to learn how to deal with the cards I have been dealt. I have been dealt some that have made me swallow my pride, encouraged emotional and charecter growth, resilience, and now life outlook and endurance. Also the fostering of life long healthy habits. I have been running again, and while my feet may not always like it it feels good. And with the yoga I notice a huge improvement in my hands and ankles. Nothing is impossible if you try, right?

I move into college tomorrow and start a JumpStart program. As I like to explain it with my sense of humor, is that it involves sitting in a circle singing kumbayah while making friends. But I actually get to see and do some pretty col things. I am doing the “green Tour” which means I’ll be experiencing nature, farming, and green practices and lifestyles that make up Ithaca. Something I am excited and curious about because of my time in Costa Rica. Then classes will start, I’ll blink, and it will be thanksgiving and time to register for spring classes. Which, includes grammar. So I’ve included one of the more amusing grammatical illustrations that I have found. Because we could all use a giggle or a smirk of a smile. #OxfordCommaForLyfe

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One Month Home

So I have been home about a month now, actually a month to the date. I am happy to be home in my own bed, with my dogs, and with my family. But sometimes I miss Costa Rica. It is definitely a place that I will be going back to one day, without a doubt.

Even though my adventures abroad have ended I have decided to continue to blog and update occasionally. How often is occasionally? I have no idea. So try to bear with me.

It was kind of a surprise to actually understand everyone around me, and also the amount of green. Having lived mostly in the city seeing our backyard surprised me, in a good way. And much to my surprise I kinda do miss having Gallo Pinto, especially with cilantro. Not to mention Juice everyday all day. But needless to say, I haven’t really gone through the reverse culture shock as badly as I went through my initial culture shock. Part of me still can’t believe that I just studied abroad for four months.

After who knows how many job applications I managed to secure two jobs. One, didn’t work out but with a job offer that I received yesterday I am able to leave it and move onto one that is a better match for me. I think it is always important to consider the environment and people you are going to be working with. If you cannot laugh and jive, than you’ll be miserable. And life is to short to be miserable. Of course, sometimes we have to take those unhappy circumstances for reasons. Unfortunately our world is still driven by money which means bills to pay and buying necessities. For me? College. I hope that future generations have the opportunity for affordable higher education without the burden of financial stress and crippling debt.

I am getting super excited about college. I have done almost everything I need to do, and orientation is coming up. I am however stressing about classes because for whatever reason, as a transfer student, I am incapable of picking my own classes and figuring out what I should take. But I guess it shows they care, which is more than I can say about where I am coming from. I will be taking a full load, or as close to it as I can get. My desire to double major and specialize while good and ambitious means a tight and full schedule. But to be honest, I kinda like it that way. Hopefully I will be able to make it into the life guarding class with any luck. Which means a lot of swimming this summer but it will be good for me.

I will be working hard this summer, but I do intend to make time for myself and self development. And of course preparing for a new start at a new college, and everything fun that goes with that. Hopefully I will have time for some adventures with friends and family, and I will somehow acclimate to air conditioning.

Genuine Souls and Banana Ice Cream

I have learned a lot in Costa Rica. Not just Spanish and culture and another way of life, but things that are so much  less tangible. I have learned a lot not only about myself but about people too and life and perceptions and everything really. It is hard to put it all into words, even harder into a brief-ish blog, but here goes.

Everything is coming together as everything seems to be falling apart. Here I have seen my social life atrophy in my last month, and while I saw it coming I am okay with it. This last month, as I spend more time alone I have had a lot more time to think about things. I have barely done any journaling in the past four months, something almost completely unheard of for me. But good things are coming up. I find that I am crawling out of my sea of sadness and depression. I am growing stronger, and the world is becoming beautiful. Not to mention all of the opportunities that I have blooming in front of me. I am so excited for the fall, and the most annoying and hard part about getting a summer job is not that I am in short supply, but that I am not conveniently home to easily return phone calls and go to interviews.

I think what I have come to realize most and appreciate are the people who love and care about me. Being so far from home in uncertain waters you have to reach out when you are lonely, something I have always been terribly afraid to do. I have such wonderful Beautiful souls in my life, who love me, care for me, and seek to uplift me. Even though everyone home is 2000 miles away, I have still managed to have their support, love, and have deep and profound and sometimes downright silly conversations. Laughing and smiling with them, despite the distance, is so important.

In Costa Rica I have many a lot of different people. People I hate, People I find intriguing, and People I genuinely like and adore. I have met people who lead different styles of lives and who have different priorities than me. While I have always prided myself in being open-minded it has been difficult here. At times it has been overwhelming how much I have not liked, whether it is people, food, or things. In the process I have learned that it is okay to not like everything, in fact it is impossible to like somethings. What is important is that you try to understand, keep things in perspective, and be patient. We are all learning, we are all on different planes of existence, and all have different paths leading in different directions.

And, I too have come to realize that I am a beautiful, genuine soul too. That when I choose, I let it radiate out of me in my heart, words, smile, and confidence. The process of self love is a hard one, but I feel like I am making strides here. I will always find people with whom I connect and celebrate my life with. Sometimes, you just have to accept that they may not be in the places that you are looking.

In the end, in my opinion, you can always tell the true character of a person by how they treat a dog or by their favorite book. Dogs because well I love dogs. And if a dog doesn’t like you it is for good reason, they can sense your fear or hate or malevolence. And what reason could you possibly have for treating a dog with anger, cruelty, hate, and fear? Sure it is okay to experience them, but how you act and manifest those feelings is what counts. If you can treat an animal mean, what is to stop you from treating me the same way? As for books, choosing to give into helping create a post-literature society is alarming. I don’t care if your favorite book is “The Cat in the Hat” for the love of the world take the time to exercise your literacy. Choose to be educated and aware. With literacy you have greater control of your circumstances, of your fate.

My Experience in Costa Rica has really been a bowl of Banana Ice Cream. It sounded exotic and interesting at first, and while apprehensive I was eager to try. Then I came, nosed around and discovered that I didn’t like banana ice cream as much as I thought I would and had 3 more months of it. So I tried avoiding it, actively disliking it. But then, I discovered that I do like banana ice cream, with a hint of chocolate. Homemade and fresh. But I am dreaming of chocolate fudge brownie with dinosaur sprinkles.

[In case you failed to grasp or care for my explanation of above metaphor let me elaborate. I was really excited about Costa Rica, and for about the first month I was pretty okay, but then it wasn’t. It was hard, and I was bitter and critical. But in the end I found out how I like to travel(solo or in small numbers), that I liked certain activities and places, and how to cope with all of the drastic changes in my life (Star Trek, Reading, and Ice Cream). Even though I am excited to leave I am still a little sad to go.]

I really like solo travel I have come to decide. You meet new people, it can be incredibly uncomfortable, and yet all the same this solitude has made me that much stronger, that much more resilient to everything. Sure there is always going to be that flutter of panic, that edge of anxiety. But you can let it control you, or just roll with what things happen. You have to go out and take the initiative sometimes. In the end it can be re really rewarding, like learning your favorite type of bird is a toucan.

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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.

The H is silent

Two weeks have gone by and I haven’t written a single thing: que torta. Any who instead of listing of a rambling of what I did and what I saw I think I’d rather share some of the reflections that I have had.

Hugs from your mom are magical. I loved spending 10 days with her and eating meals with her and traveling around with her.

Even being healthy doesn’t guarantee a long life. And we really don’t know when our lives are up. At the Chirripo race, a man died from a heart attack. But he died doing what he loves. It was a reminder to cherish the moment and let life happen as it does.

If someone can run 34 km, half uphill and half downhill at an extremely strenuous altitude, you can too. All you have to do is keep trying. And even when you feel like giving up know that they do too and will walk/stride up the mountain. Slow and steady until the end.

Tranquilo. Relax. What is the point of stressing, of insisting on being in charge, of worrying. Follow you gut, brain, and heart. Life is short and precious and it is all about learning, not rushing to the next thing.

But that being said, don’t do nothing. Take advantage of every opportunity you can. And if no one agrees with you, do it solo. It is better to enjoy doing something alone than be bored or miserable and regretful.

Money is money and in the end it burns. We chase after monetary wealth but it is emotional, mental, educational, wealth and a wealth of experiences  that make us rich.

Going to visit another culture, doesn’t make you cultured. Learning it and respecting it and learning from it however, does.

Trust the paper over electronics. Electronics are finicky and sometimes they fail you.

Don’t let people make you feel bad because you don’t like something or have a different opinion.

If you don’t like the food. Find something else to eat or if you can’t suck it up and shovel it down.

Always prepare for the worst weather.

Sometimes you lose things, and yes its okay to be upset but it also means you can replace it with something that has a different level of meaning.

History is important and if you’re not careful it will change you and the way you think about and perceive the world.

Don’t write someone’s life for them. If you are saying what someone else is going to do when they are right there and they are silent and/or apathetic, maybe it means something is amiss.

Looking for 5 positive things at the end of each day can be hard at times, but puts you in a better mood before sleep.

Sometimes you just need a 4 hour nap.

Traveling will improve your ability to sleep anywhere through anything. Howling dog pack? No problem. Dying roosters? Difficult but possible. Torrential rain and wind storm, or blaring music from the open club down the street,  even people partying until 3 am? All you need is an eye mask and maybe a nonwhite app on your phone. And you’ll be able to contort yourself into a variety of positions to sleep on the buses and the car even marble benches in bus stations.

Our world is beautiful and amazing.

Sometimes it important to do things that scare you, because they are exhilarating and it is amazing experience. Zip lining into clouds and torrential rain and wind gusts was scary, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe and the rain stung my face but I am so glad that I did.

Keep your people close.

Don’t self sacrifice for the sake of others and their happiness if it doesn’t actually make you happy. What is the point?

Sometimes the most amazing moments to you, bore others. And that is okay.

I saw a resplendent quetzal at Monteverde. Approaching threatened status the bird has had an important history in mesoamerica and the bird is difficult to see. And I got to take some photos. Whether they are any good your guess is as good as mine but even if they aren’t it still makes me happy.

Putting effort into something generally tends to yield results.

Your dreams really do try to tell you things, just pausing to even consider them is a step in the right direction.