Monthly Archives: June 2010

Arenal Adventure

Saturday morning we woke up, ate breakfast, and left to go hiking.  We did a hike near the Arenal volcano, between it and the man-made lake below it.  We started at this viewpoint, taking pictures, and examining an old shrine in honor of the people who died when the “mountain” first erupted and they discovered it was actually a volcano.  Then we walked down a small gravel road along cattle ranches to enter the rainforest.  We did a three-mile hike looping through the rainforest and up to a lava rock wall from 1968 above the viewpoint we started at.  It was a nice hike but the heat made it more difficult.  Everyone was happy to get back on the air-conditioned bus when we were finished.

End of the hike to the lava rock wall

After a quick stop at our hotel to change and drop off our stuff, we went to the hot springs just outside of La Fortuna.  They had twenty-something different pools, of all different temperatures from scalding hot to pleasantly cool.  One of the pools had three different water-slides going into it and everyone enjoyed trying them out.  One went really slow and people would run into each other going down it.  Another went super fast and would spit people out of the bottom, knocking their head against the slide or making them do flip over in the water.  Unlike the other two, the third slide was open and went at a medium-fast speed.

The place was nice, but very resort-like.  This meant that anything you wanted to buy would be way overpriced.  They had the bars inside pools, like in Mazatlan, which was cool, but I had the feeling the place was more a tourist trap than anything super exciting.  It was nice, and I’m glad we got to go, I would have wanted to see it once, but I probably wouldn’t have wanted to pay the full price to get in (I’m not sure what that was, but I’m glad it was included).  After spending a few hours wandering from pool to pool, we had dinner at the hot springs resort, on the hill up above the pools.  The food was a buffet that was decent but nothing great.  Some people were able to see the lava rocks from the volcano as it erupted, but there were so many lights it was hard to make out.  Overall, it was a nice day.

When we got back to the hotel, everyone decided they wanted to go out. We found a driver who would take us in two trips to a disco (what we would call a club) in La Fortuna that he recommended for $3 transportation.  Only 3 students didn’t go (that means 26 did) so everyone crammed in the shuttle for a night of reggeaton, salsa, merengue, and other fun Spanish music, drinks, and dancing.  I even knew a couple of the songs, so that made it even better (Thank you Sonia for your Spanish music).

Most people slept on the bus

We left around 1am since we had to drive back to San Jose the next morning.  I went to bed after another cold shower in order to leave by 10am.  Everyone was tired, but the bus ride provided a great way to rest up on the way (for most people at least).  We stopped for lunch at a place called El Jardin (the garden) and stayed for the first half of the game between Argentina and Mexico.  After exploring the garden, the caterpillars, the butterfly garden, and seeing the toucan, we set off for the town of Sarchi.

Sarchi is a small town known for its craftsmanship.  We went to a souvenir shop that was huge (and where I found an awesome machete for about $20).  Then, we visited the giant ox cart that the town is known for.  It was huge and beautifully crafted.  The wheels alone were probably 7-8 ft tall.  Unfortunately, my camera died when we got there, but everyone else got some great pictures.  After the quick photo-op stop, we headed back to San Jose and the Hotel Colaye.

Everyone got new rooms this time around, Alex and I are now on the second floor but our room is still basically the same (it is a hotel after all).  It can be frustrating sometimes though because there is no air conditioning, just a  fan and a 1sq.ft. window, and the lighting is terrible (only two small standing lights in the entire room).  Fortunately, it is a lot cooler here in San Jose than it was near Arenal, though it is still warm and humid.  No one is really looking forward to the week of school work ahead of us, but at least now we know that the weekends are worth it.  Everyone is looking forward to our next adventure.

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Beginning the Travels

This weekend was our first expedition to other parts of the country.   Thursday was just a normal day at school, interspersed with studying, facebooking, eating lunch with friends, and making runs to Rice n Smile for arroz con leche.  That evening, however, we all went to the movies and saw Toy Story 3 in 3D.  It was really fun and the 3D was really cool (I was skeptical but pleasantly surprised).  We went to the showing in English with Spanish subtitles so that we’d be able to understand it.  The whole night was a lot of fun before we got back to the hotel to start packing for Friday we set off for the Arenal Volcano.

After a quick breakfast we threw all of our stuff (except small overnight bags/backpacks) into a storage room at Hotel Colaye before meeting Andres, who would be our driver for the trip.  We then took his fancy tour bus (equipped with air conditioning, a bathroom, and a DVD player) to a hotel near the volcano.   We stopped at a souvenir shop and took pictures of the excellent view on the way.  the whole drive was through lush rain forest, mountains, valleys, and farmland for several different crops.  We saw pineapple and sugar cane (the main crops of the area) as well as papaya, banana, rice, and yucca.  there were also crops for ornamental plants to be shipped out to the US or Europe.  Almost everyone used living fences and Fernando explained how cutting one branch off of one of those trees an sticking it in the ground would sprout an entire new tree to add to the fence.

We drove through a few small towns, passing churches and hospitals and schools along the way.  All the kids were in school and Fernando explained that the scool year runs fromt eh second week of February to the second week of December, with a two-week break in July.  In small communities the schools have two different shifts: 7am-12pm and 12:30-5:30pm.  They switch off who has which shift throughout the week.

After crossing the continental divide (where the rivers flow to the Pacific on one side and to the Caribbean on the other) we stopped on the Caribbean side at a fruit stand about a half hour away from our new hotel.  Across the street was a cocoa tree which the owner of the property kindly allowed us to examine.  Fernando managed to cut a ripe cocoa bean pod down so we could taste it, too.  It was really hot and humid outside but the kind lady of the house made us stay int he shade until we got back on the bus to continue on our way.

Fernando with guanabana and bread fruit

Fernando also used this opportunity to show us bread fruit, which when cooked correctly tastes like a potato, and guan’abanana.  He said that the guan’abana is really good if you just put it in a blender with ice and sugar and then drink it.  He also found some pejivayes (from which we ate soup our first lunch) which turned out to be small yellow/red fruits about the size of an egg. The fruit stand also sold fresh, natural cashew nuts.  Fernando told us that they sometimes have cashew juice and that cashews are fruit as well as nuts (the picture he showed us of this was really cool).

We spent the weekend in the Hotel Jardines Arenal (Arenal Gardens Hotel), where I stayed in a triple room with Sam and Indira.  Our room was right behind the reception desk, with the window opening onto the patio where everyone hung out.  It was a funky place.  The paint was colored (yellow in our room) with white scribbles over it and wood paneling over the ceiling and top third of the walls.  There was no hot water and our AC was broken so we suffered the heat and humidity with only a fan for relief and bugs and geckos for company.

After leaving our stuff in our rooms we got back on our bus and went to the town of Fortuna.  Fernando showed us a tree that they used to make perfume (the flowers smelled very perfumey) before we all headed to the Soda Parada for lunch.  I ordered garlic bread (pan con ajo) and casado con pollo but when my entree came, they gave me chicken fajitas instead. My order had been switched with that of another girl’s further down the table but it took us a while to realize it. Both dishes tasted good and the portions were so large that we couldn’t finish the food even after switching and sharing.

When we had finished eating, the weather started pouring rain.  a few people brought out their ponchos or umbrellas while other just huddled under eaves and ran back to the bus.  Everyone was worried because we were supposed to be leaving to go on the canopy tour, but were unsure if we’d be able to with the rain.  The rain soon stopped however, and by the time we arrived at the canopy tour place, Fernando’s friends there said we could go ahead with it.  We commenced signing waivers and getting into harnesses.

By the time everyone was geared up, the weather had cleared and we had a perfect view of the volcano.  The Arenal volcano (as Fernando explained on the bus) is  1633 meters tall and has been active since 1968.  We were apparently extremely lucky with our clear view of it for many people who visit never manage to see it so well.  We were even able to see smoke and steam coming out of it as it erupted, it was really cool.

Ready to take on the zip line adventures

The Canopy Tour Guides split us into two groups so I, and everyone else in the second, waited for the entire first group to go ahead of us.  We listened to the screams of fear and yells of excitement of the first group while Fernando gave us a few extra pointers.  After a short hike and a quick demonstration, we climbed the stairs to the first platform to be sent down the first zip line.

The guides were really funny and continuously imitated and made fun of us.  They hooked us onto the cable one at t time and we each began flying through the treetops.  There were 11 zip lines and 12 platforms and everyone did them all.  On the way zipping down the mountain we saw monkeys, a toucan, and a three-toed sloth that was right under one of the platforms.  The experience was absolutely amazing.

When we reached the bottom of the hill, a group of people met us with water and a tractor to cart us all back up to the bus.  When everyone was ready, we took the bus to a restaurant for dinner where we enjoyed some old 80s music, strange music videos, and kareoke.  Though everyone was tired, we had a great time and did not head back to the hotel for several hours.

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Exploring the Neighborhood

Today I got to sleep in.  Yes!  That makes me so happy.  Anyone who knows me can tell you I am about the furthest you could get from a morning person (unless you count 2am as morning, then I’m wide awake).  Thankfully there was no class this morning so the bus did not leave until 11:45.  The only things scheduled for today was an optional guest speaker and the Public Health Communications class after lunch so I didn’t go.  I didn’t want to be bored and stuck at the University again (I would bring my readings but I can’t do that ALL day, and then I would have to lug my huge, clunky laptop around the whole time).  Also, I wanted a chance to explore the area around the hotel a little bit more so I decided to stay behind.

Big tree in Parque la Sabana

After everyone left, I decided to go wander the neighborhood.  Camera in tow (I know, its amazing! I’m actually remembering to use it and bring it with me!), I set out for the park down the street.  Locals greeted me with a friendly “Buenas” as I passed by and I soon found myself crossing the street via a walkway-overpass-thingy overlooking the park.  Parque la Sabana, as its called, is huge.  I wandered the paths, listened to a group of musicians that had set up with some drums as one lady danced to their music, and watched different kids and adults playing soccer as if it were their own mini World Cup (Costa Rica is not playing in the World Cup this year, but everyone enthusiastically follows it and every TV I see is on a channel that displays it).  The big trees provided enough shade to counteract the heat and many people were reading, sleeping, or just hanging out with friends and family under them.  I wandered around the big lake near the back of the park before circling around to the front on the street where the Museum of Art is.  The park used to be the old SJO airport.  One of the main buildings was turned into the museum when they turned the area into a park and moved the airport from San Jose to Alajuela.  Outside of the museum is also a big statue in honor of a Costa Rican president.

Museum at the edge of the park used to be part of the airport

While wandering the park, I met a friendly Tico whose name I think was Emanuel (but I barely caught it so I’m not entirely sure).  He asked where I was from and told me about how he visited San Fransisco once.  After speaking with him for a while, I went on my way to get some lunch at la Soda across the street.  The place looks reminiscent of an old 50s diner, with everything red and white.  I sat outside, watching the game between Ghana and Germany on the TV along with the rest of the customers, and ordered a steak sandwich and a bottle of water.  The sandwich was more like a panini but had lettuce, tomato, and salsa in it.  I was starving and it was absolutely delicious.

Though it was only about 2:15 at this point, the weather decided to start drizzling, so I decided to continue my wandering in the direction of the hotel so I wouldn’t be too far away when it inevitably started pouring.  By the time I got back to where I entered the park, however (about 3-4 blocks away from the hotel), the rain  had decided to fall in earnest so I just made my way back.

Part of the hotel

After getting back around 3:00pm, I spent the rest of the afternoon on the computer.  I managed to finish two of my six reading assignments by the time the rest of the group got back.  Turns out I was the only person who didn’t go to school today (that explains why no one responded to my post on FB about getting together here) but that was fine, I enjoyed wandering alone.  I hung out with my roommate and finished another reading assignment before going out to dinner with her and her dad.  He came down with her early to make sure she would be alright here.  He was very surprised when I told him I had not yet called my parents (though I have sent an email or two so they at least know I’m alive).  I’ll probably try to use skype to do that sometime tomorrow (hopefully I’ll remember) since that seems to be the cheapest and easiest way to go and we leave on Friday to go to the Arenal Volcano.

No one really wants to do anything else tonight, they’re all really tired so I’ll probably spend the rest of the night working on homework.  Alex and I went and paid Fernando for the optional trip the third weekend (I managed to get rid of all my extra $1s and ₡100s) so we won’t have to worry about doing that later.  Tomorrow I have my next Ecosystem Health class so I’m looking forward to it.

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First Day of School

Today was my first day of actual classes here in Costa Rica (yay, I caught up to real time!).  I am enrolled in two classes: Public Health 121 and Public Health 179.  Public Health 121 is about Alternative Medicine (I’ll probably abbreviate this to CAM [Complimentary and Alternative Medicine] or Alt Med in the future so be prepared), which sounds really interesting but we don’t have any lectures for it the first week. Public Health 179, however, started today.  The course is called ECOSYSTEM HEALTH AND PUBLIC HEALTH: THE CASE OF COSTA RICA and sounded relatively interesting before today.

Mall Paseo de las Flores, across the street from ULatina

Let me explain.  We all (except 4 people who did not have class today and decided to stay at the hotel) got on the bus at 8:15am after a breakfast at the hotel (by the pool of course) of rice and beans, eggs, fruit, and tamarind juice (delicious).  It was actually my first serving of rice and beans since I arrived in Costa Rica, though I am sure many more will follow.  When we arrived at ULatina, we split off into groups.  Those in the Biodiversity class took the bus further on to InBio, the Institute of Biodiversity.  Those in Dr. Bic’s (a UCI professor who transferred from the Prauge program that was cancelled and lives in the room across the hall from mine) Introduction to Public Health class followed her across the street to where all lectures (other than those for Biodiversity) will be held.  Everyone else, the eight of us who either didn’t have class that day or didn’t have class until the afternoon (like myself) were left to our own devices.

Tyler stayed by the library on campus to work on his application to Medical School while the other seven of us wandered around campus for awhile until we decided to go wander the mall and see what else was there.  We were bored, there was nothing to do, and when we got to the mall, everything was closed.  Parul (who is almost fluent in Spanish) asked a guard when it would open, which turned out not to be until 10:30am, so we took pictures by the fountain to waste some time.  Eventually we got bored and went back to hang out in the building where our lectures will be.  The building is part of the mall, on the end closest to the university, and has 6 floors.  The fourth is where we had our orientation on Monday.  There are tables and a snack bar there as well but our classes will be on the third, past the lobby area with a reception desk, a Nescafe dispenser, and several couches, in the classrooms beyond.  After hanging out on these couches, dozing, using the WiFi to check Facebook, email, etc. (most people had brought their computers, I used my iPod Touch, and others just stared into space or talked) we went back to the mall to wander and check movie times.  Everyone wants to go see Toy Story 3, which has two versions in the theater, dubbed in Spanish, or in English with Spanish subtitles.  Of course, we want the subtitled one so we can understand what they’re saying, but it only plays at that theater at 8 or 9pm.  The movie theater is relatively cheap here too, only about $4 dollars ($6 for 3D) per ticket.  With extra time to fill between classes, I’m sure the group will make good use of it.

We stopped at a stall called “Rice ‘n’ Smile” for some Arroz con Leche, and wandered around, looking for an open bank so people could get colones (Costa Rican currency).  After checking the movie times, we eventually went back to a Citibank on the outside of the mall, where Tyler caught up with us again.  Finally, after returning to an appliance store so one of the girls could buy a hair dryer, we all went back to campus to grab lunch at the cafeteria.

My second serving of rice and beans was supplemented with pasta, salad (that looked like dry coleslaw and had no dressing), garlic bread, and what I think was peach tea.  They don’t seem to drink much water here, only juice and tea (though the water is potable I’m afraid it might be overly treated to make it so because I think it dries out my throat – looks like its bottled water for me anyways, oh well).  The darker clouds started rolling in around 12:30-1pm and we could hear the thunder.  What had started out as a beautiful, blue-skied morning, was soon to become another typical rainy-season afternoon.  Everyone that had Ecosystem Health at 2pm decided to run back across the street and get back to our classrooms before the skies opened to drown us.  We were successful (and it didn’t end up raining that hard after all anyways) and we waited on the couches for our as yet unknown professor to arrive.

Turns out the professor was at a conference, so he wouldn’t be there until 3:30 (class was supposed to be from 2-5).  Instead, his significant other took over and gave us a presentation on la Fundacion Neotropica, a foundation that strives to balance the needs of humans and those of nature.  We had a quick break before our professor arrived but he quickly made an impression.  I can already tell he’s going to be a great teacher, he is enthusiastic, interesting, humorous, and quick-witted.  He thought it was funny that we had traveled so far from the O.C. (the program is through UC Irvine) just to listen to lectures in a strip mall.  He then asked each of us why he should want to get to know us as an introduction.  After going over the logistics of the course and telling us to form groups for our research presentations by this Thursday, he let us out early to “explore the country”.  This would have been great if we had had something to do or a way to get back to the hotel to dump our stuff.  Unfortunately we did not, so I for one would have liked to listen to Professor Bernardo Aguilar give a lecture.  The class which had sounded interesting before now sounded amazing!

The group eventually, and somewhat reluctantly, left and returned to the mall to wander into the main supermarket-type store called Mas X Menos.  While waiting for the bus to arrive outside later, I started talking with Dr. Bic.  She strikes me as  a very interesting person.  I don’t know where she’s from (yet) but she has an accent from somewhere and has traveled to many different countries.  This is her fourth time in Costa Rica and she told me the story of how she once drove across the border to Panama, but she wasn’t supposed to and it might have even been illegal at the time.  We also compared stories about India.  It seems she is an expert on headaches and, though she is in charge of the Alternative Medicine class, will be a guest lecturer for the professor actually teaching it.

On the bus on the way back to the hotel, we organized the possibility of having multiple buses per day back and forth to the hotel and university so that we wouldn’t be stuck there with nothing to do all the time.  Fernando also told us about a trip to Monteverde and the Cloud Forest that we can sign up for the free weekend we have (I’m pretty sure I’ll be going, anyone who does will also be eating in a treehouse) as well as the possibility to go white-water rafting (maybe even on the Pacuare – class III/IV and rated one of the best/most beautiful rafting trips by NatGeo).  Fernando is really flexible and very helpful.  Anything we want to do, he is willing to help us arrange.  I can already tell this trip will be great!

I especially can’t wait for the weekend trips though.  As much as I enjoy being in a foreign country, San Jose is a city: noisy, dirty, crowded, and  polluted like any other.  The people are friendly but I feel like I could learn more about the traditional Tico culture outside of the city.  Here you can get anything; all the major American brands, foods, and companies are present.  Though my roommate Alex admitted to culture shock, I think the area is too Americanized.  It is still definitely Costa Rican but globalization has its drawbacks.  Much as I love the influences of other cultures on each other and the expansion of global ideas, there are many things I’d like to leave behind in America.  Did you know that in Costa Rica McDonalds and Burger King deliver?  Yep.  A lot of restaurants do, particularly any sort of fast food or to go type place.  I know I will find some great places here, and I appreciate the opportunities the city offers for people, services, banks, schools, stores, resources, etc. but I can’t wait to get out into the nature that Costa Rica is so famous for.

Tonight some people (well probably most of the group, along with Fernando) went out to dinner.  I however, stayed behind.  They were going to a seafood place (which is alright, but I never developed much of a taste for it, I could take it or leave it) and I had a lot of work to do.  I have been working on this blog now for over 2 hours, probably closer to 3, and when I checked the disk my professor handed out in class today, I found I have a lot of homework too already.  That will not be my favorite part of the trip, but it sounds like for this class at least, the readings are just beneficial and not imperative.  That will help but I would still like to read at least most of them.  We will have take-home exams that will be part of our field trips and a research presentation we’ll have to work on, but that should be about it.  The class sounds really interesting but lectures are 3 hours long for every class.  I’m not sure how that will go.  The professor for Environmental Health seems like he could hold the class’ attention for a long time but I don’t know about Alternative Medicine (I will have two classes of Alt Med on Monday to make up for this week, eeek!).  We shall see.  In any case, school shouldn’t kill us, there’s too much fun to be had and exploring to do here in Costa Rica.

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The First Full Day

Alright, so I may wish to record my experiences, but I don’t want to have to go over them again and again (I admit to being lazy, but you’re just gonna have to live with it) so for information about my first full day in Costa Rica, I am copying what I wrote in an email about it (please excuse the fact that I use a slightly different writing style for informal emails than for blogs, I still wrote it, be happy).

Alex and I didn’t end up going to the dinner last night but it was fine, we just snacked and hung out here.  We met one of the other girls in the lobby later that night and she told us what went on (which wasn’t much) and what we needed to know for today (up and ready to go at 8:15am) so we were fine.

The first day was fine, we had like an orientation at the University, which is 20-40mins away depending on traffic.  We’re studying at la Universidad Latina which is part of Universidad Interamericana which has campuses in 21 countries.  They focus on globalization of education. sounds awesome, maybe i should transfer, haha.

Universidad latina has a school of culinary arts, hotel management, architecture, engineering, and idk what else, as well as just the general school.  For lunch we ate at the culinary arts center and the students served us a full three-course meal that was really really good.  We had soup of a costa rican fruit thingy that looks like a small coconut and grows on palm trees but the soup reminded me of butternut squash soup, it was called crema de pejivaye.  The next course was very good steak served with a mushroom marsala sauce, a carrot and small pieces of that yellow round space-ship-like squash as well as a potato ball that was stuffed w/cheese and mushrooms (one girl at my table is vegetarian and she got a portobello mushroom stuffed w/tofu instead of the steak).  For desert they had cheescake (which wasn’t that great but was decent) w/a passionfruit glaze that was tart and really good and a slice of fig and a strawberry on top.

After touring the university, and the mall across the street from it, we went back to the hotel to put our stuff down before Fernando, our guide (who’s great) gave us a small walking tour of the area around our hotel, stopping at the bank, am/pm, and bookstore so we could get whatever we needed.  I really wanted to buy a book in spanish to read and found some good ones but they were really expensive, all $15-20 each for regular paperbacks so I didn’t get any (tho I might find some later if they’re cheaper).

Everything here is pretty much the same prices as in the US, if not even more expensive for some things.  The only stuff that’s cheap so far is fruit (I paid $1 for a tub of sliced pineapple at the am/pm on the corner) and beer (its like $1/can).  Ticos dress a lot more formally and our group stood out a lot today, it was funny b/c most ppl swore by the end that “after today I’m not wearing shorts”, etc. but they’re all really friendly people.  I think out of our group I’m one of the one’s with the most spanish speaking skills, no one really speaks spanish except like 2-3ppl who are hispanic, but I’ve been enjoying testing my skills on the locals.  The flight down here was really fun, everything was in spanish (and then they’d say it in English after so I could test if I got what they said right) and when I spoke to the guy at Immigration, it wasn’t until the end of our conversation, when I accidentally said “Public Health” when he asked what I was studying instead of “Salud Publica” (which I then corrected after he gave me a confused look), that I realized he didn’t speak English.  TACA airlines was nice btw, it was like the latin american version of Virgin (tho not as awesomely sarcastic) and they have billboards and advertisements for it everywhere here, (tho the older planes aren’t as nice – I was on one from SAL to SJO but they’re just normal, standard planes like UA or US or AA has) and my flight to SAL was actually crosslisted as United too.

Looks like I’m in for a lot of early mornings.  Bfast is at 7am at the hotel and the bus leaves at 7:30 when I have 8am class, or 8:15 when I have class at 2pm.  Oh, it sounds like I might be able to add another class if i want too so I’ll see if i want to do that in the next day or two, but I’ll probly just stick w/what i have.  The biodiversity class sounds really cool and its taught at the Institute of Biodiversity a few minutes away from ULatina but its lower division and I wouldn’t really be able to use the credit for anything.  They also have an extra fieldtrip but other ppl might be able to go on it too so I might end up just doing that.  Otherwise, I’d look into Public Health Communications, the teacher is really nice but it conflicts w/one fieldtrip to a museum.  Most likely I’ll stick w/what I’ve got: Alternative Medicine, and Ecosystem Health.  In our free time at the University we can study, wander, go to the mall (which has a movie theatre thats like $4-5), or come back to the hotel on our own.  What I like about this trip is they give you the chance to be independent and do things on your own (dinner is not included so the McDonalds ppl can go do their thing and those in search of authentic, real food can find it on their own and explore the city (fortunately, bc this program is mostly Public Health, most of the group doesnt like McDonalds=automatic brownie pts).  We are responsible for our classes, our schoolwork, and notifying staff if we want to deviate from whatever they have planned for us, but otherwise, we can do whatever.  I’m excited!

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Alright, so maybe the trains shouldn’t be in the title, but that would ruin the aesthetics of the phrase.  This entry (or entries I should say) focuses mainly on planes.  After all, I was on one plane or another for a total of 8.5 hours.  Luckily, I somehow managed to record the experience at the time.  I began writing before I even left California.  The following is what I wrote while in the SFO airport:

20 June 2010

I am hopefully about to depart on my first solo international flight.  I am going to Costa Rica, with a quick stop in San Salvador, El Salvador on the way.  I wasn’t in SFO more than five minutes before I made my first friends.  standing in line to check in with TACA airlines for the trip to SAL I got to talking with two girls in line behind me.  They will be staying in El Salvador for 10 days working on building houses.  The group they were with was taking group pictures without them because they’re all from the same school in Sonoma (where the program is from) and my two friends are from Sacramento.  They don’t know anyone but each other.

One of them was interested in the UC system, even UCSD in particular, so I answered her questions and hopefully gave her some helpful information.  I managed to find a good book I’ve been looking for in tone of the shops here at the airport so I’ve been well entertained since then.  now i’m just waiting, hoping they will board soon so I don’t miss my connection to SJO (thought at this point I don’t see how I’ll make it as it is now 1:27am and we were scheduled to take off at 1:22, boarding at 12:52am).  There is another TACA flight headed to San Salvador in the gate next to mine but it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon either.

Wait, it is now 1:30 and they are just starting to board my flight.  I’ll (hopefully) write more later.  I’m so excited!

Later that night, I actually did manage to pick the pen back up and continue:

I am now situated in my hotel room with my roommate, another Alexandra who goes by Alex.  Because my first flight was delayed, I ran to catch the connection in SAL but everything went smoothly.  They knew we had connecting flights so they waited for us, thankfully.  (My first flight landed at the time my connection was supposed to take off).

I didn’t sleep much on the plane until the last hour before we reached SAL.  The flight from San Salvador to San Jose was too short (only an hour – that’s even shorter than the bay area down to San Diego) to get much sleep and I was awake from running to catch the plane anyways, so I got no extra sleep there.  Instead, I took a nap after Fernando (our guide for the trip) picked me up at SJO and dropped me off at the hotel, telling me he’d be by later to tell me when to be ready to leave for dinner.

I awoke around 2pm to dazedly find my roommate and her dad dropping off her stuff (they arrived in Costa Rica a few days earlier), but quickly fell asleep again.  Later, when I was more awake and actually somewhat coherent, we started talking and getting to know each other.  Alex is originally from Utah (she told me this with the disclaimer that she is NOT Mormon) and just completed her first year at UC Irvine.  Not knowing when dinner would be, we joked about the group leaving without us only to find a few hours later that they had.  When we asked what time they would be leaving, the lady at the front desk of the hotel told us that they had already left about a half hour before.  She said Fernando was picking up people from the airport still though, and might be able to come and get us.  She called him (well, she at least told us she did, she hopefully at least left him a message) and we waited.

Categories: Costa Rica 2010, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Hello world!

Now I know many have been sucked into the blogging trend lately and I had no intention of following them.  However, I am notoriously terrible at keeping in touch with people, writing things down, journaling, getting my camera out to take photos, and anything else related to recording and communicating great experiences.  Its not that I lack the skill, its just that I am always too focused on living and actually experiencing those experiences rather than talking, tweeting, photographing, or recording them.

So, I have decided to begin writing a blog.  I’m not trying to become famous or get into journalism or anything.  I just want to share my experiences and leave something to help remember them.  I have been to many wondrous places on this great Earth and failed miserably and recording my experiences each time.  That needs to change and I hope to start here and now.

You may be wondering where exactly that may be.  Well, I am currently in Costa Rica.  I will be here for five weeks on a Travel-Study program with UC Irvine, studying Public Health.  This is my first solo trip abroad, for which I will receive 8 credits for UC that will be put towards my minor.  I am so excited and I hope to successfully record at least some of my experiences.  Wish me luck!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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