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Showing posts from 2013

Turri Town

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I'm going to miss this place. As much as we complained about this town over the last 6 months and tried to get out every weekend we could, it really was a great place to live.

I'm going to miss the Central Valley rain. The afternoon downpours that made for the perfect nap. Seeing the Turrialba Volcano puffing smoke on a clear day. Smelling the scent of fresh cut grass and rain. Even the lights from the houses in the mountains sparkling like Christmas lights at night. I'm going to miss being surrounded by beautiful mountains and landscapes that literally take your breath away. All these things made for perfect bike rides to the grocery store, walks or runs around campus, and even bus rides in and out of town.

Turri Town may occasionally be referred to as "Terrible," but I do have to say that it is a perfect, quiet, safe, country town. So the night life isn't all that great, who cares? The people are absolutely incredible. And you are surrounded by natural beau…

Sell it!

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I will apologize now, this one is a little more personal..

I feel like so much has happened in the last few weeks. It is different when you are living in paradise and surrounded by natural beauty and wonderful people. You don't really want to think about the sad things. I knew coming into this program that I was signing up to be an international professional, but I never thought it would be hard being this far away from home.

A few weeks ago I got news that my grandmother had passed away. I had no idea I would take it as hard as I did, but being so far away from your family in such times is much harder than you can ever imagine. Fortunately I was able to make it home for the funeral and some spend much needed time with my family, but I am beginning to understand that I may not always be so lucky.

Today, my dance teacher of 15 years, and her husband passed away. She was an inspiration to me and so many other young girls. She was tough and unrelenting, but she taught us how to shine…

Passion

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If I have learned anything through the course of my time in Costa Rica it is that everybody has their own story. We all have a history and sometimes it takes time for us to realize who we really are and what our story is. But the greatest part is that people down here understand. No one cares if you messed up in the past, they're just glad you're here now. It's an interesting dynamic, but it can be challenging at the same time. 
Costa Rica is a tourist destination. Therefore it is full of people coming and going. You meet people one day and they are gone the next. A friend of mine said he has to be careful what he shares with people. He has to guard his heart in a way because it seems that just when you get to know someone, they are leaving again. Fortunately this doesn't stop us from enjoying the time we have at that moment. Yes, it is hard meeting people and then leaving and never seeing them again, but you learn to find joy in the time spent with them and in knowin…

Vacation Time

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I know this is about a month too late, and I'm sorry. But I've been busy, okay? I'll get back on track, I promise.

During my short 2 week vacation in August I got to travel around a bit and spend some time with my family. And let me tell you, this vacation was much needed. For the last three months, while it was a blast, we were very busy with classes and projects. Yes, we did often travel on the weekends, but, let's be real, that doesn't really allow for much actual rest. So this vacation couldn't have come at a better time.

We started the vacation in Puerto Viejo (our new favorite spot on the Caribbean Coast) and spent a few days there hanging out and relaxing. PV is the perfect little Caribbean town with gorgeous beaches and great people. If you are looking for a fun place to travel this is definitely a good option. Over the last few months we have met and made friends with local restaurant, bar, and hostel owners making it much more fun (and affordable) to …

Life is full of lessons

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I've been living in Costa Rica for 9 weeks. Talk about a life-changing experience. I feel like I'm always saying this, but it really is impossible for me to put into words all the beautiful things I am seeing and emotions I am feeling. This isn't even the halfway point, so I know that there is much more still to be learned. All the same, I felt compelled to write this blog on the small things I have learned thus far in my adventures. Some are silly, some practical, and some serious. But they are all certainly worth the read... I could live minimally and still lead an exceptionally happy life. Good coffee really does make a difference.Fresh fruits and vegetables really are better.Don't just go willy nilly picking things up!Lizano sauce is absolutely delicious.. on everything. (Yes, Candace, you were right.)Wearing no makeup will decrease your perceived "need" for makeup. It's all relative. Dry shampoo would be very nice to have as hot showers are not alway…

The beauty of nature

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A few weeks ago we got the opportunity to travel to a fairly "undiscovered" beach community in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Playa Coyote is a fishing community that has yet to truly be developed for tourism and visitors, but it is definitely worth the trip! It took us about 10 hours of driving in CATIE vans/buses to get all the way up the Pacific coast and back down the Nicoya Peninsula. Most of the roads further down the peninsula are unpaved and require much more time to get to your destination.. especially if it is raining (you better have 4-wheel drive).

This community relies heavily on fishing and realized a few years ago that their fish populations off the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula were quickly decreasing and endangered species were being harmed due to trolling careless fishing practices. These beaches are also home to several different species of Sea Turtles who come there specifically to lay their eggs. In order to protect these areas PRETOMA was created. In the last …

The Bri Bri

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Imagine riding in a canoe upstream on the Yorkin River between Costa Rica and Panama, powered only by one small motor on the back and the strength of a guide at the front of the canoe with a staff to ward off the rocks. The view is breathtaking. All around you is clear river water, steep rocks, and dense forest. Occasionally you spot the natural waterfall hidden in the mountains or the beautiful red flowers set against the dense green background. A colorful bird taking flight. The landscape is absolutely unbelievable..

This is the only way to get to the indigenous Bri Bri tribe of Costa Rica. The trip is not a short one and few people actually choose to make it. We were in the canoes for at least an hour, if not more, being guided by the strength of the natives who know these rivers and navigate them on a daily basis. The closest "grocery store" (which is more like a small convenient store) is where we got on the river. But for a long ride, it certainly is worth the view. As…

Jaco!

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Have you ever gone to a place completely open to new experiences and people? If not, you definitely should. Simply letting go and fully allowing yourself to enjoy your vacation makes it that much more worth it.

This past weekend we traveled to Playa Jaco on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Again, since we are all looking to spend the least amount possible on weekend trips, we took a fairly inexpensive route. So, no judgments please.. and I will definitely say that it wasn't bad at all. There will be many more such trips.

The cheapest mode of transportation (aside from walking or riding a bike of course) is taking the bus. We were able to take a direct bus from Turrialba to San Jose for about $2.50. Then in San Jose we got on a collective bus to Jaco which was $3-4ish. Total it took us about 4 hours on the bus to get there.. and for less than $10, I think that is a success. Yea, you may not be riding the bus with the, uhhh let's say.. "cleanest" of people, but honestl…

Santa Cruz

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We've been in Costa Rica for two weeks now. Dr. Vargas still says we are in the honeymoon stage. I suppose it could be true. We are finally settling in to our official class schedule and have all of the orientation stuff done. So we are getting down to the real business now.

I'm getting used to the customs and lifestyle down here. A kiss on the cheek to greet someone. Close-toed shoes when eating out. Walking or riding a bike pretty much everywhere. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables (seriously, if I'm not skinnier by the time this is over, something is wrong). Washing clothes and waiting 2 days for them to dry. And slowing down my pace of life in general to live more on "Tico time." Even my Spanish is slowly improving! It is an incredible experience just to be able to morph my lifestyle into this new culture and pick up their traditions and everyday habits.

On Friday we took our first field trip to Santa Cruz to see the Turrialba Volcano and visit a sustainable …

Jurassic Park

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Saturday was definitely one for the books. We've only been here a few days, but are already making connections and seeing things that mostly only locals know about.

We were in town one afternoon getting necessities and we met a store owner who has a son working at CATIE as an intern in the Director's office. Ironically, he speaks English perfectly and has lived in the States for most of his life. So we made an effort to stop by the office and introduce ourselves (something I would normally never do if you know me well haha). We got his Facebook information and got in touch over the weekend. He took us out in Turrialba for our first night on the town and helped us find our way, and Saturday we went with him to the gorgeous Aquiares waterfall in the mountains just outside of Turrialba.

It would have been really hard to do without Sergio. The trails weren't the most visible and certainly not paved. So, somehow we were lucky enough to meet him and experience Costa Rica with so…

Settling in

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It's incredible, really, to think about the small things that we take for granted every day. We've been at CATIE for about 2 whole days now. We are all moved in to our apartments and have come across some things that we don't really have here or don't have the funds to purchase. Now let me tell you, we are living on a budget. And a serious one at that. Instead of spending our money on luxury items such as  coffee machines, we are saving it up for more traveling.

Since here a coffee machine would cost us around $40 we took a more simple route and went for a percolator of sorts.. it's basically a wooden stand with metal to hold up a filter/sock-type thing (see the picture below). We boil water on the stove and pour it over the coffee grounds in the sock and into a coffee mug. Now I don't know about you, but I never would have thought to try something like that.


We are so used to our convenience items and technology that takes care of everything, but we don't …

Lessons Learned

Throughout your travels you always have to go through a period of trial and error. Adjusting and adapting to the culture is important for sustainable tourism. You can't just expect everyone to understand you and accept your quirks. It's like going to a new school. You slowly pick up on key words and different ways of doing things that helps you to fit in a little better.

Today was our first real day to get out and explore San Jose, the capitol of Costa Rica. And, let's just say, in one day we learned quite a bit. We took a simple walk to the downtown area (about 30 minutes) and wandered around to see what we could find. It was a great way to just aimlessly wander and enjoy the new scenery and architecture. By talking, or attempting to talk, to the different people, we were able to find our way to the Teatro Nacional, beautiful downtown churches, and the Museo Nacional where we were able to meet Sofia Ruiz, a Costa Rican artist about to open an art exhibit at the museum. It…

Southern Comfort Zone

Flying to Costa Rica today I definitely did get a little sad. Just the initial idea of leaving Texas, my home for the last 23 years of my life, was difficult to accept. But then, in that same moment, I understood that I would always be able to come back. Texas will always be there and my friends and family will always welcome me home. Even though I'm in a new country and culture, I will always be a Texan at heart and no matter how far I travel out of my "Southern Comfort Zone" (thanks Brad Paisley), I know that I can always go back.

This experience will allow me to grow in ways I never thought possible. It is already testing my patience and ability to adapt to a different culture. For instance, our hotel for the next few nights give uses actual keys, not electronic cards, and the rooms don't automatically have AC. Apparently the sun rises around 4:30 in the morning and nighttime begins around 5:30pm. Wireless internet access is also patchy and hard to come by. But al…

A word of Thanks

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It's so true though.. the feeling can't really be put into words perfectly.

I live this life of mine with no regrets. Every minute of every day I am thankful for all of my blessings. As I prepare myself (body and mind) for this new chapter of my life I can't help but think of all the friends and memories I will be leaving behind here at UNT and all across Texas.

For five years, I have created a life and a family here in DFW. I came here on my own and I will be leaving with a network of friends who I will truly miss. I am going to miss tailgating and going to football games (or not going to the football games...), cooking with my roommates, nights out on good ol' Fry St., Greek Life in general, Dallas shenanigans with my single ladies, and spending time with my beautiful pledge class. I mean, I could go on for hours listing every little thing I will miss, but this is more a way for me to say thank you...

Thank you to everyone I have met over the last few years. From Ea…

Nerves

It's official. I've started looking for flights... Scary, right? I mean, a year ago this graduate program was just a dream, and now it's actually happening. The reality of it all is finally sinking in.

I know, I know such a cliche. But seriously, in less than TWO MONTHS I will be packing up my life here in DFW and moving to another country. I've lived here since the Fall of 2008. That's almost FIVE YEARS. It is finally hitting me that I will be leaving this family that I have found up here. I'm really going to miss it...

The preparations for this move are very extensive. We are meeting occasionally to discuss the Student Visa process, how to pack, items we will need, living arrangements and so much more. Lucky for us, groups before us have left behind essentials like pots and pans, and other random items that we won't have to worry about packing. I love them for this! Each year the students add to the 'stash' and leave information behind. It's s…

One Down!

Semester #1 is officially complete, papers submitted, and grades are posted (all A's baby!). Let me tell you, this has been an interesting semester to say the least... a little tougher than I had originally expected. Not that I thought Grad School would be a breeze, not at all! But it was fewer classes, and I'm not active in all those extracurriculars anymore so I had hoped... ehhh, I digress.

I really can't believe that this semester is already complete. 2012 is over! Time is flying by so quickly that sometimes I feel like I'm holding on for dear life. It's insane! I mean, think about it... We leave for Costa Rica in almost 5 months! FIVE. MONTHS. I think it might be time for me to start working on my Spanish... maybe.

This next year is going to be absolutely incredible. I can already tell. Classes start next week and we get to dive even further into our topics of Hotel and Restaurant Operations, Tourism Services Management/Marketing, and Policy in Sustainable Tou…