When dealing with a two-ton animal, always keep your wits about you.

If you’ve never been to a bull-riding thing, let me explain cause now I’m an expert. And by me I mean me as a bull...

“So first the rider chooses you or your compadre out of a hat. Next, when it’s your turn, you are mounted inside a tiny little pen and they count down to your release. Once out, you buck as wildly as possible because they have your balls pinched up and obviously you want this guy off you cause you’re pissed about what’s happening with your juevos. When you finally fling him off, there are these guys that stand around the ring, trying to make you more upset. At this point you’ve had enough so you charge at them. Like cowards they scramble up the side of the ring, out of your way. If you want to hear the crowd squeal, buck one more time. The crowd loves that. Now if you’re lucky, and I mean really lucky, every so often one of those taunting SOB’s is not paying attention. JACKPOT!”

Hehe I’ll stop there. What happened next I saw in slow motion. This man was walking in the ring NOT PAYING ATTENTION! Old man, when dealing with a two- ton animal, you need to be looking around, ready to scramble. What I can’t understand is how he didn’t see it coming. He had his back to a small portion of the ring, with the rest of it in plain sight. If the bull is not in front of you, guess where it is? That bull came right up behind and FLUNG HIM in the air. I watched it all go down, wishing I could have screamed for him to move. He was up and just as fast plummeted down. That bull missed crushing his leg by a couple inches. Boy, did he get lucky! He finally scrambled out of the ring to safety. CRAZY!!!
After that Colleen and I decided to leave. How could it get any better than that? BUT JUST THEN a big black mass flutters in front of the light… almost blocking it out completely. I watch it, knowing exactly what it must be, and I think you do too… SEÑOR GRASSHOPPER!!! I cannot lose this guy! He sat on the wire, munching little bugs, thinking he was slick, but I saw him. I see you there, terrorizing me, Grasshopper! I’ll get my revenge soon enough…

"Honey, where are my spurs?"

And so, everything is about to get started. People are walking around fixing lights, the bulls are delivered, and the cameraman takes his place. One of the bull riders enters the ring, climbs up the side, and asks his wife for something in the stands. After a second or two, out of her purse, she hands him a pair of spurs. Colleen and I decide the conversation went like this:

“Honey, where my spurs? I checked my bag but they aren’t there”
“I packed them, I’m sure of it.”
“I’m telling you I can’t find them. I can’t ride without my spurs.”
“Don’t worry, you know I always carry a spare in my purse. Here you go.”
“Thanks, Dear.”
“You’re welcome, Darlin’.”
I don’t know about Colleen, but in my head they had southern accents.

Churros and Beer

So like troopers we head back to the bus stop and back to festival cerca de tres de la tarde. People we just filing in so we sat down, had ourselves a beer and asked around as to what this festival was all about. El Coriendo del Torros. Sounds perfect, what time? A las 5. You should know that asking a Tico what time something starts or when a bus come is like asking a really drunk girl for her phone number. She’ll tell you what she thinks it is, but chances are she’s got a few digits mixed up. 6:30 all the fun begins!
We made some friends with a family sitting next us once we got settled in seats. I asked the father questions about his hat, which said California on it and told me it was a gift from his sister, who he then brought over to explain. “Estaba en Los Angeles central por un semana, y despues Las Vegas.” “Vegas?!” I asked excitedly and she says “Si, VEEEGGAASSS!” YES! It’s not just me! It’s like you can’t talk about it without screaming “VEEEEGGGGAAAASSSSS!” We continue to talk to the family and I mentioned, casually, how yummy those churros that boy was holding looked and I want to go buy one. You know that moment when you realize someone might take what you say as a hint but you didn’t mean it to be? No more than a minute later this man, Jose, gets up, telling his family he is off to get food, he’ll call them when hes down there. I hear the ringing “Quiero comida china. Si, ah si, bueno. Chicas, tomen cervezas?” “Claro que si!” “Bueno.” 2 minutes later we each had a beer in one hand and a churro in the other. Mmm dinner! Very nice people.


So those very nice people, or more so the father of the bunch, turned out to be kind of a stalker! Jose, the churro man, showed up... AT MY CLASSROOM. I was so taken of guard I wasn't sure if I knew him or not. I went outside to chat with him for a minute and see why he was there. "Just was near by, wanted to say hello." ooookkkay. "This is my friend, so and so." "How are you?" Good "But, so, hows it goin?" Alright, teaching class right now. "Everything good?" Yeah, I should probably get back to my job now. "Oh really, wheres your house from here?" Needless to say it was suuuper awkward and kinda inappropriate. I would tell this story to Colleen and she will hardly believe it cause it was sooo random!

Apparently I know nothing...

Colleen, another fabulous WorldTeach volunteer had traveled from La Isla de San Vito to experience El Festival del Rio. “Isla de San Vito, que frio.” “Es muy frio alli, si?” “Oh en San Vito es mas frio de aqui.” Ticos have a way of comenting on the weather, no matter what it is or how common place it might be. It could be the same temperature every day, and still someone will comment “Hace mucho calor hoy.” “Que calor, teacher, si?” Same as yesterday, still really hot, but sure, “Que calor!” Anyways, I had heard really fun things about the festival and put out the word to the other volunteers to show up if they were able. Colleen emailed and said she was happy to join me in the festivities… or what I had heard were the “festivities.”
“Apparently there is a big platform they build out on the river and people can go out there and hang out and dance and it’s supposed to be a lot of fun.” Nope no such platform existed.
“I also heard that it is supposed to be a great representation of the native culture here in Palmar.” Nope, strike two.
“My host dad said it starts Thursday night, continues Friday night, and then Saturday and Sunday all day.” Finally, this one seem to be true since by 9:15 my family had abandoned us.
It was about 9 or so when Colleen arrived and the whole family was there to greet her. “Hola, como se llama?” “Que?” “Culeen?” “Bueno, mucho gusto, Culeen.” I took her on a “tour” of the town, which could not have taken more than 20 minutes considering the size of this place. But when we returned the entire family had left, save one host brother! “Lock the door when you leave, teacher.” “Donde esta la familia, Negro?” (Have I mentioned yet that my host brother’s name is Negro? En serio. I shutter to my liberal core every time I have to say his name.) “La familia esta en Palmar.” Wow, that was quick, everyone left for the festival already. Well Negro (*shudder*) said the next bus comes at 10. We’ll just wait for that one. 1030 rolls around and finally the bus arrives – with a surprise! Will is sitting on the bus! He waves and we head over, chatting about the morning’s news of the Chile earthquake. A few minutes later and we’re there, ready for La Fiesta! Will is heading to Dominical but his bus doesn’t leave till 1 so he decides to check out the festival too. And so we walk… to where a festival should be. STRIKE THREE! YOU’RE OUT! Festival starts at 3 in the afternoon…
And so we return home for lunch…shortly after running into my host family in Palmar who reaffirmed what we had been told about the festival was true by saying, “Why are you here so early, teacher, the festival always starts at 3 in the afternoon.” ALWAYS?! Hah! Must have forgotten that the last time I was living here in Costa Rica!

Señor Grasshopper!

Yes, once again, I have a story about insects of extra-large proportions.

I arrived in Dominical at 3 in the afternoon after a short 2-hr bus ride and had explored around a bit until 8 when my friend Ashley’s bus was to arrive. We were excited to head out and get our drink on, so to speak, but needed to hit up the cash money machine. But, unfortunately, no luck with ATMS. Sometimes they just tap out of money and you have to wait till morning until they are filled back up. And so we did. Ashley walked into the small ATM room and I waited outside. I already knew there were bugs in that room and I didn’t want to go in. So I was counting my blessing about not needing to take out money in that bug-ridden ATM room when I spotted him. Mr. Grasshopper! He followed me all the way to the playa, that jerk! Not a moment’s peace away from his wrath. So, of course, I squealed and moved back, warning Ashley what was right outside the door. But then, as I take a deep breath to subside the panic she says, “They are everywhere Amy, look.” And next to me was the granddaddy of all grasshoppers, Señor Grasshopper! Ashley and I will later describe them all as being man-eating grasshoppers. We counted 6 all together. And while this time we didn’t have cameras to document the size of the grasshoppers, I was able to take one later that I promise you does not do it’s size justice. Man-eating, I swear!

Speaking of Iguanas…

We saw a 2-foot-long iguana this weekend! I shit you not the thing was the size of a small dog! I have never seen anything like it! (I am realizing, living down here and writing these posts, that there are a lot of things I haven’t seen or heard yet.) As Ashley, Sarah and I were cruising around Domical, soaking in the warm beach weather and checking out the sites, an iguana comes running down a tree, crosses in front of us, and runs up another tree. “HOLY CRAP! DID YOU SEE THAT?” Hehe Indeed I did! I have the picture to prove it.

Dominical: The land of lost hippies

It was so beautiful there. The sunsets were amazing. And every night the hippies gather on the beach and watch the sun go down before their nightly drum circle and fire juggling. They seem to gather there, in packs, with their dreadlocks and long skits and…trombones? That’s right, a trombone. Have you ever heard a drum circle with trombone mixed in? I have! Sounds super neat actually.

It’s raining…parrots and iguanas!

It is Costa Rica after all. Raining cats and dogs just doesn’t fit. Cats and dogs are everywhere here, floating around the streets, begging under the table for scraps. No, the rain here is much more exotic, more tropical than just “cats and dogs.” Tonight I experienced this exotic, tropical rain. Now, I am not claiming by any stretch that this was the craziest rain there ever was. I’m sure this rain was standard for the Ticos in the house. And in fact I know it was because when my eyes lit up as the rain started everyone just laughed it off. Crazy teacher. Like I said, not the heaviest rain storm ever but have you ever experienced a downpour under a tin roof before? NO, I bet you haven’t! Holy Moses! No one in the house spoke because no one could be heard. The rain was so loud and so strong everyone sat in silence in the kitchen. There was the occasional question asked followed by “COMO?” “QUE DICE?” “PESCADO, OH, NO NO NO!” And actually that’s another amazing thing about the rain. It some how brings my family in one room and implores them to eat together. My family is very “American” in that way. They grab their food to go and move in front of the “tele.” I guess I can appreciate that, though I never do it. Even if I am eating alone, I am eating in the kitchen. Can’t move to a foreign country just eat TV dinners. No I sit, and eat, and usually someone takes pity on me and sits down with me. I’m growing on them I think.

My host brother bit me!

Do I really need to say anything else?! He bit me!!

I will say that I may have deserved it haha. This little kid wishes I was a boy so badly and not a girlie girl. I teasingly pointed out that the hammock that he had now turned into a flying machine was hiking up his shorts and showing off the bottom of his chonies. And so he said “Oh yeah,” grabbed my arm and bit it. HAHA then he spent the whole day making faces at me and running in the opposite direction. I have a way with the fellas, don’t I?

Today I wielded a machete, swept up bug carcasses, and ate fruit the size of my head.

I would like to think that among my many goals for my year here, growing a pair (so to speak) is one of them. The very first night here a green grasshopper the size of a small dog flew into the house and I showed my true colors to my new family. I leapt from my seat and ran to the other side of the room squealing “What is that, what is thaaat?. Like they understand what you’re, stupid. My host brother causally grabbed it by the wings and tossed it out. Well I want everyone out there to know that I AM getting better at this! I’ve noticed that changes occur pretty fast here. Today, when a roach crawled out of a book I was picking up, I threw it across the room BUT I didn’t scream. So improvements are being made.

After “school” I was walking around the house and noticed my host brother and the neighbor were using a machete to cut down large branches and small saplings in the front of the house. I, of course, walked over and asked for the machete. I wanna try, I gestured toward the machete. My neighbor, looking very confused, handed it over and why not, I guess. This is part of what he is required to do to help the family out and I want to do it for fun. Crazy gringa. So he pointed to the tree and said “That one.” I took that tree apart branch by bad-ass branch. Then I used the machete to gather the frijolios from the downed branches. After awhile, however, I got too hot and gave it back. The thrill was gone.

I walked back to the kitchen to see what was going on in there and my host auntie was carrying a bucket with a giant mass of whiteness inside. Guess what it is, she asked. They like this game here. “Guess how old I am” is their favorite. Well I am not a fan of guessing games, especially when food is involved. Cause chances are I’m gonna have to try a piece of the item in question. But “I am on an adventure!” I think to myself and so I give it sniff. It smells sour but not in the spoiled way. “Queso?” I say “QUESO!?” She says. “No sabe que es esto?” Isn’t that the point of the guessing game, lady? No, I don’t know. “Guanabana” she says and of course cuts me off a cerebellum sized chunk of this head of fruit. I shove a piece in my mouth cause “I’m on an adventure!” And guess what… it’s really good! How ‘bout that! That showed me.

And so my day continued… hot as all hell and little less eventful than the morning had been. And just before I walk this computer over to send the blog off my little cousin screams and points toward the ground. I look and “AAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHHhhhh…” and I’m off. My nemesis, Mr. Grasshopper, back for more! And I was starting to look so cool. Frickin’ Grasshopper.

If you’re going through Vergel, keep on movin’…

For my country fans (Annie, Maura, Kourtney, Cassidy, Emily, etc.) thank you for appreciating that lyric. If not, get with it! It’s Rodney Atkins! Hehe SO yesterday I decided to go check out Palmar, my hub “town.” It has the essential things, grocery store, copy place, 15 different shoe stores, and 3 chinese food restaurants. Go figure. Actually, there are lots of “chinos” down here. However, most places were closed down, due in part to it being Sunday but also because it was ELECTION DAY! I sat in front of the T.V. last night following the Election Day news, surely making my “real” parents proud. (And yes, I said “real” parents. It’s now something we volunteers have to distinguish between, especially when we have our Orosi families to include as well.) So congrats, Laura Chinchilla and Costa Rica, first female presidente! My Vergel family wasn’t too crazy about it because they were voting for Otto Guevara, who came in 3rd after Otton Solis. Something interesting to point out, all the candidates have “banderas” or flags that represent them. And the people fly them EVERYWHERE! Every single candidate starts with one. They are really simple, more simple than the Obama “yes we can” image, but they represent that candidate whenever you see it. Dad… we could be onto something really big here. We’ll talk. Anyways, yesterday, had I been wearing red and yellow Otton t-shirt, or a teal “Laura: Firma y honesta” t-shirt I may have gotten a ride anywhere I needed to go. Instead, I played it safe and took the bus. Ha. Probably would have had better luck with getting a ride from a stranger. After I was done roaming around Palmar Norte I hopped on the 12pm bus back home. I told the bus driver “Escuela Vergel” in my best Spanish and took a seat on the back of the bus near the door. I knew it was only a few kilometers away. Yup. Only a few kilometers cause there it went…SHIT! Alright don’t panic. Just need to go ask the driver what happened. Because the bus is so crowded I have to wait until we stop. So, at the next stop I say “Escuela Vergel?” in my best questioning Spanish, with the shoulder shrug WT taught us to use in case of confusion. Oh it’s way back there you say. Hmm. Why? Oh you thought I knew what it looked like and would have pressed the buttom. I see. Oh I should get off here at the side of the road and wait for the next bus going the other way. Gotcha. VERHELL NO! This is what I learned to not do in my orientation. Okay, sir, will you drop me off in Curre? I have a friend there (which isn’t true cause he’s at the beach) but I figured at least I was a little familiar with it and if the fit hit the shan and no buses came by, I would be able to stay at Will’s house in Curre. Oh thanks sir. I’m gonna go back to my seat. So I go back to my spot in the back of bus near the door again. 5 minutes pass and this nino comes looking for me. Yes little kid, I want to go to Curre now. It was Vergel but now it’s Curre. You want me to give you what? 300 more cause I missed my stop? Out of my way, twiglet. So, I stomp towards the front of the bus. Mr. busdriver you missed my stop. Sorry, I don’t really understand what you’re saying. No, I asked for Escuela Vergel first. You didn’t stop. No, I didn’t push the button cause this is my second day I don’t know what it looks like. NO I’m not gonna pay the 300 colones, sorry, this is your fault not mine. Please let me off at Curre. And after a 2 hour wait in Curre I made it back to Escuela Vergel. WOOHOO! Success! My first trip into town and my first act of defiance in Spanish! I was pretty proud of myself. So was my family apparently. Hehe they boosted about it to the neighbors. I am a feisty gringa, better recognize. “Real” Mom and Dad, aren’t you proud?

That sounds really nice but there’s a chicken in the hammock.

Here I am! In Vergel, no pun intended. I would be relaxing in hammock on the porch, listening to the much appreciated rain, readying my big girl book, Pride and Prejudice, and causally dozing off but its already been claimed. So instead I decided to write to all my faithful readers… cause all 4 of you have been really great. I am proud to say I survived day 2 yesterday, cold showers, missed buses (read on!) and all. Actually, I enjoy these feared cold showers, especially when it’s 90 million thousand degree outside, which it has been from when I get up at 7 till I go to bed at 9. And yes my sleep schedule is that of an old lady and I’ll take it cause honestly the only things to do when it’s that hot are take a shower, swim in the river, or sleep with a fan pointed at your bed. One shower a day is really all I can do, and even that’s a bit much for me. As for the river, in the words of Sarah the Dolphin, “eh eh” hahaha. Too squishy… too unknown… and to be honest, too many tales of crocodiles for my taste. Hehe my host brother, after hearing me refuse to come in, told me (well not so much me as the river cause he was staring at the river while he said this, possibly consoling the river, apologizing for the gringa who refused to be one with nature) “John always wanted to play in the river.” Well then, John, my hats off to you cause right now… eh eh. Maybe some other time. So you guessed it, in bed with a fan for me…and a movie. I’m going through these movies a little too fast. Gonna have to restock soon. But with all that said, it’s really not as sad as I remember it on my first visit. The family is really warming up to me, though I hear I’m about to see them less and less as the school year starts. The say they are happy that I come out of my room and talk to them more than past volunteers have. I am trying my best to be friendly but fear it might be in vain. I get word today if I am leaving this place and going back to the volcano or staying here. At this moment I think I want the volcano. It will be closer to friends and civilization. I will be able to get the airport quicker and will have a nice place for people to stay when they come visit. But how awkward is that “hey, it’s been great but I have another family I’m gonna live with now. Yeah they live near a volcano but that’s where I think I belong. But you all have been really nice. Thanks so much for your hospitality.” And now lets try it in Spanish… “Lo siento. Tengo un otra familia… cerca de un volcan. Lo siento. Gracias por su hospitalidad. Pero yo necessito ir ahorra. “ As you can see my Spanish is greatly improving.

Orosi, Orosi, Orosi

We passed a crazy bus/trunk thing on our way into town but I sorta ignored it. I was a little upset and didn’t really care about a bunch of crazy guys in the back of pickup jumping and going crazy. Well little did I know that these boys would soon follow us home. Or actually we beat them to their home. We, Sarah, Meryl, Rachael, and I, figured out that that was the Orosi under 17 professional soccer team on their way back from a silver medal placement in a their first tournament. Everyone was gather on the street between the plaza and the church, waiting to welcome their boys home. And boy, what a welcome it was. They were still on the back of that truck jumping a cheering. It seemed as if the whole town was there. The pulled up and the people surrounded the truck. There was music and cheering and showing off of medals. It was so beautiful. Everyone was so proud, even me, a temporary Orosian. Finally we walked away, letting the real fans enjoy the big win. And as we four girls were walking away from big party someone said “Now that was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.” I think that someone was me.

Pura Vida!

Did you hear? Stacey was mugged by a monkey!

Next morning we got up bright and early to go snorkeling. We walked down the road to a little rundown building and sat on a bench for a short talk about snorkeling. The man said hello and here is Rule #1: “No Sunscreen. It gives you cancer and then you give that cancer to the coral.” Awesome. He has no problem saying that because he’s African! No sunscreen needed there. I, on the other hand, am white. I have a red back and red butt to prove it. Also…sunscreen gives you cancer? Hmmm… not sure where he gets his facts from.

Anyways, we took a big boat out into the Caribbean and parked it for some fish gazing. I take my dress off, put my flippers on, grabbed my mask, and I’m good to go. I sit down to take the jump and… Oh wait! I’m terrified of the open ocean! And I start to panic. And maybe I tear up. And maybe I think of just hanging out on the boat. But then I hear my sister and brother and mother and father and boyfriend and all the other people who always seem to be super brave are in my head saying, “Really, Amy? JUMP IN! It’s the frickin’ Caribbean!” So I went. Thanks guys.

I saw a lot of really beautiful fish, a “seaworm”, and a sting ray! Hey, I’ve got a tough question for all of you smarty pants or nature freaks out there… Do sting rays fly? The answer is: HELL FRICKIN’ YES! We were just finishing up our last snorkeling stop and were waiting to climb (super gracefully in my case, of course) on to the boat. I was watching turned facing the open waters taking in the vastness of the ocean and BAM! Sting ray! That thing leapt out of the water and splash landed back down. I was the ONLY person watching dead on, though others caught glimpses form the side. The guide in the water turned to me and said, “That was really special that you saw that.” I had no idea they could do that! Very cool.

So the boat parks at this little tiny beach where a bunch of families are enjoying a nice afternoon. He hands us a couple plates of fresh pineapple and watermelon. Then he sends us on our way to the trail through Cahuita National Park with only one rule again This guy has very few rules but when he gives them they seem to be kinda wack. Yes. I said wack. Rule # 2: “Don’t feed the monkeys.” How about don’t bring food at all down the trail? Stacey had to learn this lesson the hard way. When walking down the path you realize where the monkeys are because there is usually a group of people ahead of you stopped to take pictures. “How exciting!!” I think to myself. “I’ve spotted a few monkeys in the trees so far but maybe these ones will be close enough to take good pictures of!” Ask Stacey how close those monkeys actually get! Cause she was going around doing the good deed of taking pictures of us standing in front the trees with the monkeys in the background. I got one. The monkey is a safe distance away, just the way I wanted it. Those monkeys were not afraid of us… or really anything for that matter. Stacey was setting up a picture of a few volunteers next to a monkey and her baby in the tree. And like any good scam the monkeys put on a cute show while mayhem was about to break lose. “Okay guys, that’s a good shot, one…two…thrAAAAGHHHH!” MY WORST FEARS HAVE NOW COME TRUE!! A monkey came out of the tree and attacked her!! It CLIMBED up her leg. She has scratches to prove it. It clutched on to her bag, at which time to start flinging herself around while everyone screamed different commons or expletives. “Holy S**t!” “Run!” “Drop the bag!” “OMG! “The monkey has got her!” And you thought I was over reacting to the death monkeys outside my window! They do come after you! She manages to wiggle the bag off her shoulder but does drop her camera too. Haha Stacey recalls as she was contemplating what to do in those split seconds during the attack she noticed a monkey on the group looking up at her baring its teeth in an attempt to say, “Drop the bag lady or your friends get it!” Haha I love that description. Well fortunately for her the monkey went for the bag, or more specifically the granola bar, and not her shiny camera. My buddy Sarah has video of it. He went right for that granola bar and ran into the tree…face all buried in the wrapper. We finally grabbed the bag and hightailed it out of there. We had a laugh about it a little bit later, after the shock wore off.

The rest of the walk was a little less eventful… and so was the rest of the day. We finished the walk, got our bags ready, and hopped on the bus. The ride was much more quiet on the way back. Everyone seem to coming down from the weekend high. Our drive passed slowly but that was okay. I was decompressing. I did get a little emotional at one point on the ride. Thankfully it was really dark. At one point the bus drove through Turriabla, my old site, and I started to cry. It looked like a place I wanted to be, not like a place to be fearful of. The volcano is smoking a lot and they have said the PH levels are high indicating lava starting to form. I know it is better to not worry all the time about an eruption but it still made me slightly homesick for a home I never even had. I pulled it together with the help of my friend Patty Griffin and made it make to Orosi in one piece.

When the night has come...

That evening, after returning from the beach, some of us penny pinchers decided it would be great to make sandwiches for dinner…which it was!! I had already bought a loaf of bread for my PB&Js (which were breakfast and lunch the next day) so I was on the right track. As a group we bought some more bread, American cheese, tomatoes, avocadoes, tuna, salsa, and chips. Let me tell you, there are a hundred different was to make tasty sandwiches with those ingredients. My sandwich has tomatoes, cheese, salsa, chips, and avocado. YUM-O! Oh and a 40oz of Imperial to top it all off!

After dinner we all went back to CoCo’s for the live band. They were great. It was like a big cliché, listening to live Caribbean music on the Caribbean, but we loved it. It was also a very special night because Stacey was celebrating her birthday. We asked the man upfront on the mic if he would sing happy birthday to her. And he agreed. So he calls her up to the front and starts to sing, “Stand by me” to her. However, he sang the same verse over and over again. We tried to help him out but “When the night has come…” is apparently his favorite verse. And that’s how the day ended. Very chill.

Puerto Viejo

We spent the first full day at beaches in Puerto Viejo. We took a bus about 35-40mins till we reached the little beach town. Puerto Viejo is a bigger and a bit touristy than Cahuita. We found ourselves a spot on the beach and that is pretty much where that story ends. But really, do you need more than that? A few of us took a long walk through the forest, which was beautiful, turned around and headed straight for our spot on the beach. Another short trip to a beachside restaurant with one other person for pina coladas and tex mex food. And then again back to the beach. I like this story cause it involves no scary animals and very little moving. The End.

If Death saw you struttin’ down the street…

What an amazing weekend! Lets start from the beginning. At 5pm, 23 of us, minus Katie (because of the stitches on her noggin) headed from Cahuita. It was a 4 ½ hour bus ride packed full of music, chatting, drinks, and the cliche back-row bus drunken make-out session. We all stumbled out of the bus, whether from exhaustion, motion sickness (moi!) or intoxication and headed to our rooms. I, along 9 others, were staying in a house, while the rest paired up in cabinas. In hindsight a cabina would have been the better arragement. The house was less than home-y. But for a place to sleep after days at the beach, it was just fine. As soon as we got settled the drunken caverly rallied the troops to head to a bar we passed coming in. We were on our way until someone yelled out, “Wait guys! Will can’t find his shoe.” Shoe? A huh, not shoes, shoe. He was walking around with one green crock on. So as good friends we searched around the house for it, no luck. Outside, maybe? Nope. AHA! In the bus?! A peek in the window revealed not likely. We concluded that it was possible that when he crawled over seats to get out of the bus for an “emergency!” pit stop, he lost it outside. We were a little too tired, and some of us a little too intoxicated to notice he returned one shoe lighter. Oh well! Were on vacation, right? So he was scooped up on someone’s back who was no more sober than he was, and carried to the bar. Party on, Wayne!

At the bar we drank a little bit, danced a bunch to the Reggaeton DJ, met some Americans, chased Shoeless Joe and his companion home around keeping them safe from themselves, and finally went to our home away from home.

I was so excited to get into that bed. It had been a very long week with Spanish classes in the morning and practicum in the afternoon. I needed some well-deserved sleeping in. So Catherine and I, both very tall girls, climbed into bed. We laughed a bunch as we tucked the sheets under dangling feet and our mosquito net under everything else in an attempt to protect ourselves from a mosquito attack (which, by the by, didn’t work!). Okay, all tucked in....now we’re ready…sleepy time…zzzzzzzz…


WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!? “Catherine, did you hear that?” No response. WAHHAAHAHHHAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! What the heck WAS that??? WAWHHHAAAHAHHAAAAAAA. Oh god. There it goes again. It sounds closer this time. Okay, Amy, pull yourself together. It’s only 3 in the morning. You can go back to sleep, get a good 6 hours...WAAAAAAHHHHHHAAAHAAAAWAAHHA!!! OH GOD! I’M GONNA DIE! IT’S COMING FOR ME!!!...

Some how managed to block out what only can be described as Death’s cat -call. I have never heard anything more terrifying in my entire life. Haha It’s funny now but at the time I really thought that that was the end. So when everyone was up I asked “Did you hear that really crazy scary noise last night!? ““Oh yeah, those are howler monkeys. They live in the trees right outside the house. They even threw poop at the house last night. Come look.” Oh good. Not Death, just poop-throwin’ monkeys. Mystery Solved. Hehe

El Vergel

So there is a little change of plans. If you aren’t up on your Costa Rican breaking news, let me fill you in. The very morning before our group was set to leave, a volcano erupted. Which doesn’t sound like a big deal since Costa Rica has many active volcanoes. But actually it is a big deal because I was set to move to Turrialba... 20 or so miles south west of the now active Turrialba volcano. So close to it in fact that they said we wouldn’t even be able to see the volcano if it erupted.

Now there was a lot of discussion and debate over the move. It was probably a more difficult choice than the one to come here in the first place. We were given the option of stay in the Turrialba area and sign a waiver or agree to be placed in an area totally different, unknown to us at the decision-making period. Our director very strongly suggested moving but the four people in the Turrialba area, including myself, had grown to love everything about our placement sites. One student had already bought collars for her families dogs, another had plans already for Spanish classes in town, and my host mom was apparently the best host mom EVER. And on top of that, living where we were, we had the best of both worlds rural and big town. But Mother Nature has different plans. So now, with an open mind, an open heart, and a slightly bum foot, I am moving to… drum roll please… El Vergel!

Here is what I know: El Vergel is located between the Pan American Highway and the beautiful Rio Terraba in the southern region of Costa Rica. I have an AMAZING view from my classroom, which is a converted chicken coop. I plan on doing another fundraiser (or continuing to receive donations ;0) or using some of the money I’ve already raised to start working on a new classroom for my school. My host family is less than amazing but maybe after awhile I will get them out of their shells. I have lots of host brothers and sisters. I have access to a lot because of my closeness to the highway and I am about a 15 minute bus ride away from another volunteer named Will. Giving it time… It’s all about adjustment and flexibility.

Pura Vida


Well I´m finally here in Costa Rica. I have been for about days. Though it should have been 3. Let me state now that I can´t quite figure out this keyboard so no exclamation poins will be used but I assure you they are needed for this story. As a group, of very very nice people, we all go on a plane leaving Dallas for San Jose. On our decent into San Jose we hit some CRAZY wind. I mean absolutly catostophic ... there is also no spell check so ... i apologize. We went in for a landing and wooosh, right back up into the air. And then in for a second landing which also proved to be danergous. And so because pilots are not allowed to fly more than hours, right todd?, we needed to land. haha I´m rushing cause im borrowing a neighbors computer so this note isnt very fancy. haha anyways the pilot needed to land in Managua, Nicaragua. We were all given a hotel for 3 dinner and breakfast, though by the time we got there it was 12am. And me, being me, had a bit of a spill in the hotel trying to rememdy the situation where we had key cards for our door but the door only took actual keys haha. so while walking...literally only walking... I tripped and fell. Sory mom and dad I didnt say anything. Didnt want you to worry. I now have big scratches on my foot and knee and have a super swollen foot. Not to mention Im now ¨that girl who fell¨ Hopefully the swelling goes down. My host mom, who btw is the sweetest person on the whole planet, wanted to help me. SO she cleaned it off with BOILING HOT WATER...ouch... and patched me up with the neighbors gauze. Everyone here is so nice.. and surprisingly related. My host mom keeps telling me ¨my sister has this, come on ¨my brother has this, lets go¨ Anyways after the night of the ¨accident¨ we all finally made it to San Jose. After some charlas...or talks.. we made it to Orosi. And then we met the famlies. My host mom, like I said, is soooo sweet. SOOOO sweet. SHe talked to my mom and told her not to worry, I am her daughter now and she will take care of me. She is always calling me her ¨bebe¨ and giving me WAY too much food. hehe I love it. Really quick funny story, becky dont read, while sitting down for dinner at the table by myself, because its customary to let me eat first, a GIANT spider...I mean HUGEEEE spider came crawling along the wall in front of me. MY eyes bugged out and I couldnt move. Everyone looked at me..the crazy gringa, until the figured it out. Of course they are used to it. That wall is right next to the garden so that spider visits them frequently. Im talking fist sized spider... and not a tranatula. Well that broke the ice to say the least in a some what awkward situation. All my host brothers...there are 5 in total... were laughing at me. Finallly he scampered away..I screamed once more.. and then we were a family. ¨Mi sola hija. Solo las mujeres de las casa. Las reinas.¨ My host mother is loving another girl in the house. Especially one to talk about ¨¨ amor¨ with. Rob, i dont mena to embarass you but she talks about you ALL the time. She adores the fact that I have un novio. Everything is ¨roberto¨ The two dolphin stickers on my ceiling.. Roberto y Amelia... and it is AMelia now. No changing it. She evrn said, when we were on our scavanger hunt for class, when asked what ¨pura vida, the costa rican saying, meant to her, she annouched that ¨pura vida is the look of love I get in my eyes when I talk to Roberto on the phone¨ Oh. My. Godness. She adores me and its adorable. Embarssing but what are host mothers for? Everyone got a kick out of it when we read our responses in class. Lastl, before I go I want to annouce that I can understand and speak more spanish then I ever thought I could. I´m kinda good at this. When my hoat mom or host little brother, emmanuel aka my shadow, talks, I understand. Its kinda amazing. ANd thats it for now. Thanks for reading all the way through. I am off to la plaza to meet up with the group on our day off. Its been so great so far. Im actually really happy...go figure haha LOVE YOU ALL.