Hola! It’s been a while! Life has been good (and busy), but I clearly haven’t been taking the time to blog much these days. As I’ve said before, that’s pretty much because even the adventures just feel like part of life now. And while I know I have a loooong way to go before I actually am casi tica (almost a tica), this beautiful country really does feel much more like home.
So, I figured I’d just post a few updates and pics with the highlights of the last couple of months!
Vulcán Turrialba, a volcano about 60km from where I live, has been going through a series of eruptions over the past couple of months. What does this mean for me, you ask? Well, because of the wind, the volcanic ash is blown over to San José and dumped on top of us. At this point, it’s not too disruptive, although there was one day that looked like a snowstorm! Any time I stepped outside, it got all up in my eyes, nose, and mouth. It also settled all over the floors at Gringolandia, and I am still finding it on my desk at school.
The last few eruptions have not been as crazy as the one that caused the ash in the pics below (that was a one-time deal), but the ash (ceniza) has just sort of become something I’m used to seeing/feeling in my life. I don’t think I ever would have predicted a life that involved volcanic ash in any way! But here we are.
Here, check out the ceniza! Crazy, right?
To get away from the ash (and to see our friend play in his band), a few of us planned a quick beach getaway to Hermosa Beach (pronounced “air-mo-sa”, without the “H” sound). We just stayed one night, but it was so great to spend some time out of the city.
The ocean at Hermosa is too rough for swimming, so we basically just hung out at the pool for the day. Trust me, I am not complaining.
Our friend’s show was great, although I forgot to take pics! He plays blues-like music, but with a bunch of twists (African blues is one of the twists, for example). The show was at the Green Room, a pretty popular restaurant in Jacó, a touristy beach not too far from Hermosa. We had a great dinner and even danced a bit. Good times!
Keepin’ it Active
This semester, I have been trying to be more active and make exercise a regular part of my life again. It’s been a bit of a challenge without a gym membership and weekly classes like I used to have at WOW (they do have gyms here, but they’re kinda expensive, and I feel like I’d have a hard time convincing myself to go without a car with which to get there).
So, I am taking a yoga class at school, which I love (we’re working on handstands!), and I was running for a while (I can’t say that “I’ve been running” because I have been a bit of a slacker about it lately…). I was training for a 10k, but I had a rough start, so I ended up dropping down to the 5k. The very first time I got back out there and went for a run (which was scary to begin with since I’ve lost so much strength and endurance since my half marathon days), I took a nasty spill on the sidewalk! Luckily I didn’t land on my face, but my legs, arms, and hands were beat up a bit. So, all of the enthusiasm I had about starting running was sort of sucked out of me for a while. I also was struggling with distance much more than I used to (I think it’s due to the altitude and hills), so I got discouraged.
However, I kept at it (not as much as planned, but enough) and survived my first Costa Rican 5k! A bunch of friends of school and I did the Anna Ross Run, which is a race for breast cancer research. Exercise and a good cause…can’t beat that! And it might sound weird, but doing a local race made me feel even more like I’m home.
It felt really good to be racing again, and as I sit here writing about it, I am wondering why I haven’t been keeping it up. Perhaps writing this post will motivate me to jump back into it once again.
Exploring My Potential New Home
I still am not sure if I will be staying in Costa Rica next year (working on that decision, though), but if I do, I will be leaving my beloved Gringolandia. Pod and I have been doing some exploring of the new area where we want to live. It’s a pretty hip neighborhood with a bunch of coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. San José isn’t the artsiest of cities, but this area is probably the artsiest. There’s a ton of awesome street art, beautiful parks, and indie movie theaters. So, we have been going for walks to explore the neighborhood, talking about how cool it would be to live there! Here are some pics from our adventures…we even found a library with a real card catalogue that is still in use!
We had a three-day weekend for Cultures Day in October, so Pod, Chelsea, and I went on a little adventure to Dominical, a beach town down past Manuel Antonio National Park. We chose Dominical because it was something different, and also because it was the end of whale watching season. We went on a whale tour and actually saw whales! It was pretty awesome; there were some babies swimming with their mommas, and they were practicing jumping.
We learned that one of the main reasons that whales jump is to get all the barnacles and other stuff off their bodies. When they slap onto the water, the force is so strong that it shakes all that stuff off them. The moms have to teach the babies how to do it, which was what was happening when we got to see it. It was awesome to watch. Our tour left from Parque Nacionale Marino Ballena, which is where the famous whale tale beach formation (I forget the scientific term) is. We didn’t get to walk down the whole tale because it was covered by high tide when the tour was over, but it was still fun to see it!
The whole weekend was really nice. We had beach time, fun places to eat dinner each night, the whale tour, and lots of relaxation. The house we rented was all open, which was also really cool. It was a little crazy the night that it downpoured for hours, and the rain was literally coming down through the roof. But as my mother would say, I live in the rain forest…what do I expect?? It was a fabulous getaway!
One other fun tradition we have in our little community here is Guactoberfest, a tournament to determine the best guacamole in all of Costa Rica (ok perhaps that’s a bit hyperbolic, but still).
Basically, we all bring homemade guac (punny name required), and each one goes head-to-head with another (with brackets a la March Madness) until one is declared the winner. It’s really fun, and everyone is super creative with their recipes and their names. I went simple this year, making plain guac and naming it Guac to Basics. And I would like to humbly announce that I won! But I do have to say that voting on all of them was extremely difficult because they were all riquísimo!
Regardless of the competitive part of the day, it was a lot of fun to hang out, eat a ton of guac, and spend time with friends! Such a fun tradition, and thanks to Adriana for hosting!
That’s about all that’s been going on here! Last night was a work holiday party, which was fun because I got to dance the night away! I haven’t danced in months, but the steps came back. It was so fun doing cumbya, salsa, and bachata! One of my favorite parts about the nightlife in Costa Rica is that when people here dance, they actually dance. It’s not like at home when people just sort of bop around and start bumpin’ and grindin’. Here, there are actual steps, and you get to spin around 100 times like in the movies or on So You Think You Can Dance. It’s quite enjoyable indeed!
Ok, well, there’s my update in a nutshell. Living here is still an adventure, but it also feels like a normal life. I’m extremely excited to be going home for the holidays in a month or so. I can’t wait to see family and friends, eat pork roll, Jersey Mike’s, Panera, Mogo tacos, BrickWall, and a spicy crunchy salmon roll. But until then, pura vida!