Friday, May 31, 2013

french fries and hamburgers


One of the things I missed most when I was in Costa Rica was a delicious hamburger and fries. 
Hamburgers in Costa Rica were really not good. 
So for my first meal home I went with my parents to Lazy Dog cafe and 
got a delicious hamburger and cajun fries. And it was so yummy!!!!




I never thought I would miss this giant boat of a vehicle. 
But after months of not driving I was so happy to see my giant minivan. 
A car isn't just a car you see it is a key to freedom. 
I love public transportation but it is really nice to have a car and be able to go wherever you want whenever you want. 


I was also super happy to go to Nordstroms cafe and get a delicious bowl of tomato soup. 
Pretty much what I missed most about the states besides my friends and family was food. 
Cost Rica just really isn't the place to go for culinary deliciousness. 



Thursday, May 23, 2013

a coffee tour and some beautiful butterflies



The week before I left for home Jeni, Alyssa, Courtney and I visited a local coffee plantation. 
It was really cool because they also had a bonsai garden and a butterfly garden. 



Here is the oldest tree in the bonsai garden. This little guy is over 70 years old. 


Here are a bunch of pictures of the pretty butterflies! 







Here are the little guys in their cocoons. 




Here is our coffee farm tour guide. Surprisingly he was also from orange county, CA.
It really is a small world. 





Some beautiful flowers!!!!!! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

creepy crawly creatures

So part of living in a tropical country is the excitement/terror of 
finding new creepy crawly friends in your house. 

Here are just a few of them. 

And I made them extra big just so you could see them nice and clearly. 


Here is your friendly neighborhood tarantula. 
We actually found three of them in two days in our living room.


We weren't sure what to do with them. So I put a class jar over one of them. 
And then we were afraid that they were hulk tarantulas and that they could turn over the jar so naturally the best solution was to duct tape the jars to the ground. And in the morning while my roomies were sound a sleep I took them outside and let them rome free. 
Luckily they seemed to learn pretty quickly that we didn't want them and they didn't return. 
Smart spiders. 


No idea what this is. But it flies. And it was in our laundry room. 


Here is a giant toad. He was creepy and he would hide out next to our door. 


And here is the giant iguana who lives in our backyard. 
He is terrifying. 
It was kind of like finding a giant dinosaur in our backyard. 







Monday, May 20, 2013

a big red box


This past Christmas my mom gave me this big red box. 
A red box that I had seen sitting high on the shelves of her sewing closet. 
All these years I had just assumed it was some random box that would be given away as a gift to someone. 
But all along it had been waiting there for me, filled with something I never would have expected but couldn't possibly mean more to me. 
My mom had been collecting Christmas ornaments for me for every single Christmas since my very first one in 1990. And for each ornament she wrote me a note.
Some of the notes were just quick words about the year and others were longer handwritten letters about life and our ever changing relationship and her growing daughter. 




I have had the box since December but for some reason I could never bring myself to open it and look through it. I knew what was in it. It just felt like the end of era, you know like I was actually growing up and that this might just mean I was a big kid. 

But today ended up being the day. I was organizing my room and it just felt right. 
So I started with 2012 and read all the cards backwards all the way to 1990. 



By 2004 I decided I need to go and get tissues cause I had mascara running down my face and snot dripping on to my jeans (cute I know!). 
But after seeing those 23 precious ornaments and reading my mama's sweet words I have never felt more loved in my life. 
I can't imagine a better gift or something more meaningful. And I can't wait till I have my own home to hang all my ornaments on the tree. 

I am so blessed to have the mom that I have. And for her not only to be my mother but one of my closest friends. Now there are always rough patches and this whole growing up none sense hasn't been the easiest but through the years we have had some wonderful days and trips. And much of what I know today about love and life my mama taught me. 
I am ever so grateful for her and the time we have shared together. 
And for the many years to come!!! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Field Course: 8 Days in the Rainforest

One of the most significant (in my opinion, and I will tell you why in a bit) 
courses that we take while at UPEACE is the natural resources field course. 

Why do I think it is the most important?
Well because it is our opportunity to actually go and see and do. We spend all of this time reading about the rainforest and rural communities and national parks, but nothing can replace going and seeing and spending time in these communities. You can't begin to understand the value of a forest until you have seen it and the communities that depend on it. 

The field course gave us the opportunity to do just that. 
We spent eight days traveling through the Osa Peninsula visiting various national parks, NGOs, communities and community based projects. 
There were 24 of us students. And we spent most of our days dripping with sweat as it was the beginning of the rainy season. And oh boy was it humid!

The Osa Peninsula is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world and one of the last remaining areas of primary forest in Costa Rica. The region use to be filled with plantations and gold miners until Corcovado National Park was created. Although the park created a protection for the flora and fauna of the region it created a lot of hardships for the local communities as they had to find new sources of income and livelihood. 

Now originally I had planned to take tons of photos of the trip so that I would be able to do a post for every single day. But you know that just didn't happen. I even carried my huge camera with me the entire time but I just didn't feel like taking pictures. So sadly there is just this one post with a bunch of pictures and most of them are from my iphone. 

So here you go!


So here is all of us after a 2 and a half hour hike to a ranger station within Corcovado National Park. Now originally our professor told us the hike would be 2.5 hours, I thought that would be in total...but now it was 2.5 hours each direction. We brought the makings for lunch with us and all ate random bits from the grocery store. We then had the opportunity to talk with one of the rangers to learn more about the challenges of the park and of the rangers interactions with the local members of the community.


These were all the trees that surrounded us as we stopped to rest and eat lunch. 


During the hike we also crossed through 15 rivers. No exaggeration.


And for us crazies there was an extra little hike to a waterfall and back. And then you know the 2.5 hours back to the bus. 


You see I made the mistake of wearing my good old trusty vans. I had worn them the day before when we reforested an area with mangrove trees. In order to plant the mangrove trees we were knee deep in sulfury smelly mud. Surprisingly vans are actually the perfect shoes for this activity because once they fill with mud they pretty much suction cup to your feet. So I figured they were already wet and smelly why not wear them on the hike. They aren't meant for five hours of hiking. I learned a life lesson that day. Some days you shouldn't try to look like the super cool skater you aren't. 
Anywho back to the point I threw those smelly suckers away after the hike. One they were disgusting and would probably start mildewing and two they were actually old and were falling apart on the inside. 
One less thing to carry back to the states!


Here was the beach we stopped at after we planted all of those mangrove trees. 


This was the tiny very scary bridge we crossed to get there. What was crazier was that our bus drove over it. Our bus drivers were fearless!!!


And this is the second pair of shoes that bit the dust during the field course. 
They were also super old and were also mildewing. 



On another day we went on a hike up to see a biological research station. We saw this giant beauty on the walk up. These are my favorite trees. There is something just so wonderful in their roots. I feel like they would be a great place to lie down a blanket and snuggle up for a nice long snooze. 


We also saw two beautiful Toucans. They were just chilling out in the trees. 


Here was the view from the research station. 



And here were are rooms at the other research station site. Yep those were the lovely mosquito nets that kept us mostly bug free at night. I am so not a fan of mosquito nets. I have never felt so claustrophobic in my life. Plus we didn't have pillows. This was also towards the end of the trip and I think we were all real ready to go home. 



So much happened in those nine days. And they came to an end with utter exhaustion. 
I am so glad to have had this opportunity.
I mean the whole point of studying in Costa Rica is the fact that you are surrounded by nature.






Friday, May 17, 2013

Blogcation

What is a blogcation you might ask?
 Well it is when you take a vacation from blogging. 
Not sure that is a real term but you know what I am going to use it anyways. 
So sorry that I have been gone for so long but coming home was quite overwhelming, wonderful and enjoyable but overwhelming.
 So much to do and so many people to see

So I am going to do my best to get you all updated on the last few weeks of my time in Costa Rica and then share what I have been doing now that I am at home and then we can start talking about what adventures lay ahead. 

And for now.....here is a beautiful butterfly!