Gringa to Tica to Gringa Again

April 27th, 2014

My first full day back in Colorado.  It felt completely unreal.

I went shopping with my cousin Sarah and I was utterly astounded at how EASY everything was.  To my surprise, I spoke in English the entire time.  That was weird.

I finally had my much needed driving jam-sesh in my car! Oh it was AWESOME.

I went to mass at 7:00pm in Greeley.  It wasn’t just any mass.  First off, my friend Ben was getting confirmed, so that was pretty exciting.  But second off,  IT WAS IN ENGLISH!  That was super exciting for me. Not only did I understand everything but I also was able to sing along to the songs.  It was absolutely beautiful. Oh how I missed mass in English.
At the beginning of mass my friend Lily saw there was no one sitting by the pulpit to read and said “uh oh, I better be a reader.”  Well, they needed one more, and I was a reader last semester… so I figured might as well.  Just got back and already bein put to work.  So I cold read the reading and actually read it better than I do if I had practiced before.  Thats the Holy Spirit workin for sure.  At least the reading was in English, that made it WAY easier.

And so the “hello’s” began!
Most of my friends saw me for the first time in church before mass started.  They were shocked! I was cracking up.
Stanci screamed, ran to me and wouldn’t let go.
Alexi dropped all of the papers that were in her hands and gasped she was so shocked.
Natalie and I hugged for like five minutes.
I had never seen Valarie so surprised.
I couldn’t stop hugging Tanelle.
Ben just straight up lifted me off the ground.
The hugs just kept comin.  My love tank was SO filled.  I just felt so joyful to see all my friends again.  I had missed my Bear Catholic group SO much.

People kept telling me how tan I am! YES. GOAL = CHECKED.
I worked long and hard for that tan, finally, recognition!!!

Theres so much catching up to do with people.  I drove Stanci and Ben home from church and we ended up talking for two hours in my car.  I hung at Jackson and Matt’s till 2 in the morning and then Tanelle and I talked till 3:30.

Its so good to be back, so good to see loved ones, so good to feel like I belong again.

But I am already struggling with some aspects of being gone.
For example: Every time I go to the bathroom and I dont see a trash can next to the toilet I think “OH NO WHERE AM I GOING TO PUT MY TOILET PAPER!?”  Oh wait…. right… It just goes in the toilet… Four months… Four whole months of training not to put toilet paper in the toilet are all doing down the drain! Pun intended. ;)  But seriously, its a mini panic attack every time.
I also accidentally keep speaking to strangers in Spanish.  Instead of excuse me I said  “permiso” or “perdon” and instead of bless you I said “salud”.
All that time, I was working on turning into a tica so I could fit in.  I would say I achieved the title of my blog, I went from Gringa to Tica.  I learned how to live the Pura Vida.  And now… well, it’s time to go back.  This will take a while to get used to.

 

Just like old times, driving Stanci and Ben around in my car.
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This was taken in December, driving these two around for the last time before I left for Costa Rica.
the trio

Colorado Bound

April 26th, 2014

I finished packing at 2:10 am.  I woke up at 3:00 am.  And so the emotional rollercoaster of a day began.

Saying goodbye to mama tica was THE WORST THING EVER.  That was one of the hardest goodbyes I have ever said in my life.  Now, I am not much of a crier when it comes to goodbyes, but man, this one got me.  I gave her a hug, pulled away and then the tears came a rushin.  It was like a dam broke… there was no stopping them!  We hugged again, and again, and then she blessed me.  She had become like a grandmother to me.  What a blessing from God, that when I lost one grandmother I was given another to be in my daily life.  How could I say goodbye?  It was rough for sure.
My angels and blessings from heaven (aka Tatiana’s family) picked Lizzie and I up from our house to go to the airport at 3:30 am.  Now I need you to understand why this is such a big deal.  In the states, it is no big deal to drive someone to the airport.  But in Costa Rica, the gas costs $6.50 a gallon and your average fast food job pays $2.50 an hour.  Therefore driving is not cheap by any means.  They drove 30 minutes from Boqueron to our house in Zapote, and then 40 minutes from Zapote to the airport, and then the entire hour and ten minutes back to their home.  That isn’t a cheap drive!  And on top of that, they picked us up at 3:30 in the morning!  They really love us.  And they saved us $35 dollars on a cab.  They also refused to take our gas money.  Figures.  Them Costa Ricans are so hospitable.
They took pictures with us in front of the entrance, made funny jokes, laughed with us, and put off saying goodbye.  I gave Tatiana’s mom, Cira, a big hug goodbye.   See, mama tica was more like my grandma tica, and Cira was more like my mother tica.  I love her family so much.  They truly have a special place in my heart.  Saying goodbye to Tatiana was sad, but I know I will see her again.  We are sure to be friends for the rest of our lives.  How beautiful is that?

And then the madness began.  HOLY CRAP MY BAGS WERE HEAVY.  Yes, Lizzie and I were THOSE girls in the airport; we were THOSE girls who brought more stuff than they could carry; THOSE girls struggling to walk ten feet because their bags were so heavy.  It was a process.  In fact, between my two bags, my back pack, and my purse, I was carrying over 120 pounds.  Wow.  I must be talented at packing to have gotten all that crap to fit!
Besides that, I was in a state of madness because it was 5:45, I was waiting in line to check my luggage, security had a line, and I had to find my gate all by 6:20 when I would board.  I was freaking out, just a little.  Thankfully Lizzie and I regrouped to go through security and so we could say goodbye.  I got there in time with 10 minutes to spare (thank you God).  That was the shortest amount of time I have ever waited in the airport.  Close call, for sure.
I did run into Darren at my gate.  He studied in Heredia, a different town, but went on all the same ISA trips with us.  Hes from Denver and goes to CSU.  Small world, eh? It was good to see a familiar face there!
Saying goodbye to Lizzie was really sad.  We saw one another everyday for the last 4 months, went on all the same trips together, had all the same friends, and slept only a room apart (with a very thin wall between us, mind you.  so we often had conversations through the walls).  How can I live without her now? Its going to be so weird not seeing her all the time.  But I know she and I will continue to be friends.  We hope to travel together again sometime in the future.
I made one last study abroad friend on my plane: Ariella.  Shes from Oregon, but is completely tica.  We talked for about the first hour and a half until I finally had to tell her I needed to pass out.  And pass out I did… for the rest of the flight.  If I had slept the night before there would have been no way I would have been able to sleep.  That was by far the most uncomfortable plane I have ever flown on.  Thanks a lot, Frontier.
I landed at 11:30, survived customs with my giant bags, and finally saw my parents!!! My mom was standing with camera ready, as usual.  (I got it from someone, you know.)  It was so good to give the ‘rents great big hugs.  So relieving to see familiar loving faces.  My pack animal (as my mother so lovingly called him), my dad, grabbed my bags for me, like the saint he is.  Those suckers were heavy!
After the airport they took me to Red Robin to get my first burger being back in the states.  It was delicious, but man was it weird not ordering in English. I got home, didn’t procrastinate actually, and unpacked my bags (with the help of my wonderful mother).  When that mess was all said and done I decided I deserved a nap.  So I got in my fluffly amazingly soft bed at 3:30 And then I woke up at 8:30, walked out of my room totally disoriented to where my parents were watching TV.  Apparently I looked super hilarious and out of it.  My mom told me to go back to bed and I didn’t argue.  All I needed was someone to give me permission so I didn’t feel guilty about sleeping so much.  And the sleeping continued.
Woke up at 6:30 am the next morning.  Hahaha. I slept for 15 hours! It was MUCH needed sleep. And MAN was that bed soft!

 

Lizzie, Cira (Tatiana’s mom) and I at the airport
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Tatiana, Jean Carlos, Lizzie and IIMG_5504

Our final goodbye. :(
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Graduating from Tica School

April 25th, 2014: The last day in Costa Rica

Bueno,
Estoy aqui…es mi último día en Costa Rica.  ¿Dónde ha ido el tiempo?  No puedo creerlo.  No quiero creerlo.
This final blog entry was written while I was at the beach:

As a last hurrah Lizzie and I spent the day at Jaco for a last trip to the beach.  Man this beach sucks.  The countryside is beautiful but the water is filled with sand, the shore is rocky ,and the tide too strong.  Theres next to no one here.  Oh well, it’s nice to feel the sun on my skin, the ocean breeze, the smell of salt, and to watch my freckles slowly “pop!” in the heat of the bright sun.

Sadly our friend Kelley didn’t make the bus to come with us.  I did make some new friends though.  A Canadian named Gabby ended up coming alone because her friend didn’t make the bus either.  She ended up spending the whole day with us.  I also made two awersome friends on the bus ride up, Guillermo y Nelli.  They met via a Mormon online dating site.  Shes tica, he’s Mexican but lives in Utah.  We laughed, make jokes, and spoke in Spanish the entire 2 two hours here.  Que lindo es para hacer amigos nuevos.

We probably shouldn’t have come to the beach today, we’ve got a lot to do!  Here it is, less than 24 hours until I fly home and I haven’t even started packing yet.  I’ve truly come full circle:  I didn’t finish packing to come to Costa Rica until minutes before I left for the airport.  Might as well finish as I started: with my good old friend procrastination.  In fact as I type up what I wrote earlier, I am procrastinating by blogging!

I am getting a lot of questions as to if I am ready to come home.  I would say so.  I’ve really gotten homesick these last two weeks.  There are some things I just started really missing.  For example:

1. I miss feeling like I belong.  Before I came I thought it’d be cool to stand out; to feel special.  Jokes on you, Melissa, cause it’s not.  It’s actually dangerous; it makes you an easy target to be robbed or sexually assaulted.  But besides that, everyone just thinks I’m an annoying, rich, typical tourist.  None of those things are true (well, my brothers may argue that I am the first one).  I’m ready to fit in again.
2. My car.  Oh how I miss driving!  Before I left I said i would definitely not miss driving for four months.  How wrong I was!  Public transportation is hardddd.  And taking taxis is expensive. But walking isn’t always safe.  I’m sick of being piropo’ed (cat called) everywehre I go.  I ain’t a piece of meat, dirty old ticos!  And oh how I miss singing in my car.  Blanca Jane (my kia) and I are gonna have a good jam-sesh when I get back.
3.  I miss having family.  Not gonna lie you guys, took me a while to get here, but now that i am, I’ve realized I’ve missed the crap outta you.
4.  English.  Okay.  I said it.  I miss English.  I miss how easy it is.  I miss being able to communicate intelligently and clearly.  It will be so easy to get around when I am back in Colorado in comparison to here!  So easy to find places, buy things, order food! I’m lista (ready) for sure.

But even still, I’m gonna miss the poop outta this place.  Yesterday mama tica said we’ve graduated from tica school with an A+! Haha.  Here are the reasons Lizzie and I are ticas:

1.  Were pretty much fluent in Spanish.  We know and use all the tico slang like tuanis (too nice), mae (dude), pura vida (everythings good/pure life), que chiva (how cool), and al chile (really?).
2.  We eat everything and anything ticas eat.  We love platanos (plantains), yucca, rice and beans, refresco de cas, tamarindo, guanabana, mango, pineapple… the list goes on for days.  If it’s from here, we’ll eat it.
3.  ¡Que torta!  This is what they say when something funny/bad/stupid happens.  They always do a specific hand gesture when they say it too.  I’ve been trying to learn how to do it since I got here.  You pres the pad of your thumb to the pad of your middle finger and then, while keeping your pointer finger loose and relaxed, flick your wrist so the pointer hits against the middle creating a snapping sound.  Guess who’s finally succeeded? This girl.
4.  Working the system.  I finally know where things are and I know how to use public transportation.  It feels good to know where you’re going, where to buy things, and how to defend yourself from unjust taxi drivers.
5.  I love Imperial beer.  And nothing gets more tico than Imperial.
6.  I’ve fallen in love with salsa dancing.  even though I didn’t go as much as i wanted to, I definitely figured the dance out: and fell in love with it.
7.  I am tan!  For me that is.  And so long as you’re not pasty white you can pass as a tica.  Check!

It’s good to know what I’m doing.  I love this culture, these people, this country.  Going back is going to be really hard.  But I know I’ve had my time: my fun, adventures, shenanigans, and experiences.  Time to go home.  And that’s okay.  The thing I struggle with the most is how fast it went by.  How am I already here?  It seriously amazes me.  Time moves way too fast.

 

And so now, what does the rest of my night look like?  Well, its 10:30, I’ve got a bed covered in souvenirs, two empty bags, a closet full of clothes, a box of wine, and a roommate to hang out with.
Tatiana’s family insisted on driving us to the airport, so they are coming to get us at 3:30 am.  Yeah, you read that right.  SO EARLY.  So Lizzie and I are probably not gonna sleep.  Gotta soak up every moment we can…and finish that box of wine we just started.

Pura vida.

 

Jaco with Lizzie
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T-48 Hrs

April 24th, 2010

I woke up this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep after having a nightmare about coming home.  I dreamt that I was at UNC’s campus, hanging out in a soccer field when it suddenly started to flood with water.  I started drowning, and every attempt I made to save myself eventually failed!  Well, I must have been rescued cause the next thing I knew I was in the school- except it had been remodeled and I didnt know where anything was.  I kept seeing my friends but no one wanted to talk to me or be my friend anymore!  Ah! How sad!  I guess you could say that as I am approaching the end of my trip I am getting more and more nervous to come home.
People keep asking me if I am sad to leave.  I wouldn’t say I am sad to leave, I’d say I am ready to leave.  I miss home, my family, feeling like I belong, and my friends.  But I am sad that the trip is over.  I am sad at how fast it flew by.  I was looking forward to this for 5 years! And now its already come and gone! Its not even fair.  I just can’t believe it.
I got back from Marianellas around 11:30, took a very much needed nap, and then took mama tica out to lunch with Lizze at Soda Montelegre.  We wanted to treat her to a meal before we left.  It was a really nice time to spend with her.
Lizzie and I meandered through downtown one more time to buy our bus tickets to Jaco (the beach) for tomorrow.  We came home to a big dinner with the whole family!
The table was beautifully set and was filled with all our delicious foods!  She even invited her son and granddaughters, Gonzalo, Paula, and Cristina.  We ate broccoli and rice casserole, yucca, and ensalada.  It was so delicious that I ate too much and almost exploded. #myproblems

And the next thing you know were back out the door onto the next event.  We met up with a bunch of people to go to La Calle (the bars) to have one last night out!  We went to my favorite bar, Caccios, for flavored beer and shots of Chile Guaro.  It was so much fun to see people one more time before leaving.  Thankfully I got to say goodbye to Scarlet, Erica, Fanni, Darren, Kelley, and Mark.  Dang it.  Goodbyes suck.  And these goodbyes are worse than the goodbyes to my family and friends: because I don’t know if I’ll ever see these people again!  Si dios quiere.

Wow.  Second to last night here.  You mean I only get to sleep in this hard bed two more times!? D:  AHHHHHH WHERE DOES THE TIME GO!?

Dinner with mama tica, Paula y Cristina
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Brandi, Erica, Lizzie, Me, Scarlet
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Saying goodbye to Fanni.  I almost started crying! Ahhh nooo.
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Kelley and Mark.  These kids are just the best.
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Michael and Darren.  As Darren said for the caption of this picture: OREO!
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Them Ticos Know Hospitality

April 22nd, and 23rd, 2014

Tuesday the 22nd:
Took my final trip to my favorite mercados in San Jose today- especially el mercado artesenal with Erica, Scarlet, and Lizzie.  I said goodbye to my friend Isabella, who I met in January when she sold me my tico backpack.  She had been such a sweet heart to me anytime I came to the market…and always gave me lower prices than the other vendors.  We bought a few more souvenirs and then went to go enjoy our favorite cosechas/batidos (smoothes/milkshakes) from Cosechas Los Yoses.  And then Lizzie and I were on our way back to Cartago.  Man that trip took forever.  And our bus driver was crazy! We almost got in several car accidents.  The trip from San Jose to Cartago, which usually takes a half an hour, took a full hour during which Lizzie and I were doing everything we could not to fall over in the bus.
We somehow made it to Cartago, found our second bus, and took a very dark and bizarre feeling ride up to Boqueron, Tatiana’s town.  Well… heres the funny part.  I suddenly saw Tatiana’s cousin Jaquelin on our bus.  She was trying to signal something to us, but we didn’t understand.  Turns out she was signaling our stop… Oh.  Opps.  So we missed our stop.  #noobmistakes.  The next stop was about a mile away and down a giant hill.  So we ended up walking to Tatiana’s house in the pitch dark up a steep hill.  We couldn’t stop laughing at how stupid that mistake was.
We ate a delicious dinner with Tatiana’s family and sat around talking, enjoying conversation for a while.    We soon realized everyone except for Tatiana’s mom were out of the room.  What was going on?  Suddenly everyone was surrounding us all holding gifts.  What?  Tatiana’s mom and dad gave us a sweet Costa Rican coffee maker, Jean Carlos and Tito gave us snow hats and Costa Rica shirts, Kendall made us bracelets, Christian (Tati’s boyfriend) gave us earrings, and Tatiana gave us Costa Rican candy and a mini photo album she made.  I almost started crying.  What generosity!  They are honestly the best hosts ever! They have done so much for us and then they each gave us gifts to say goodbye.  Wow.  They have made me reconsider how to host others ate home.  I couldn’t believe them.
After all the emotions started to wear down, we played Super Banco (monopoly) again.  I destroyed this time around! I was a total millionaire.  Its about time! I lost horribly the first time (the last Monday)  Before we knew it, it was 1:00 in the morning.  We had to wake up at 5:30.  Ouch.  How fast the time moves.

Wednesday April 23rd:
Today was one full day. Tatiana had all of us get up at 5:30 so we could get a move on with our day. When we got up Tatiana’s mom had a breakfast of gallo pinto, jamon, and fresh fruit waiting for us- like she hadnt already spoiled the crap out of us already. And oh did I savor that breakfast. Tati’s mom is the best cook. Everything she has ever fed me was magical. I tried to enjoy that last gallo pinto as best as I could because its gonna be a good while before I get to eat it again.
Tati, Lizzie, Jean Carlos and i went running for the bus stop at 6:20. Note to self: don’t run after stuffing yourself with a final gallo pinto breakfast. Thankfully we caught the bus and off we headed to meet up with Tatiana’s cousin Marcella, her friend Miguel, boyfriend Christian, his brother Luis, sister Tita and friend Roberto. Yeah… There were a lot of us. But there had to be. Why you ask? Well, we needed enough people to make teams because we were going paintballing! Yepp. For one of my last days in Costa Rica I went paintballing.
And it was awesome! But que miedo! It was so scary at first. And man did getting shot hurt. I can’t say I ever completely got over the fear but I did start to get a little more brave.
The second round of we played was in the forrest and was capture the flag.  Unfortunately for the other team, our base was perched on the mountain side.  Therefore, since I am a chicken and I didn’t want to go for the flag in fear of being shot, I staked out on the side of the hill, hiding behind some stealthy bushes.  And I held my own! I shot all five players on the other team, most of them at least twice.  Capture the flag with paintball was like a real life Hunger Games.  We all turned against one another… it was crazy!  By time we were done, we all looked like we just came back from war.
We returned to Cartago, ate lunch, and eventually said goodbye.  How sad it was to say goodbye to Tatiana.  I will miss her so much! But I know our paths will cross in the future at some point.

Immediately after Cartago I headed to meet Marianella, a friend I met at my church, El Votivo.  She so kindly invited me over to her house in Acosta, a little pueblo with coffee plantations deep in the mountains.  The bus ride lasted an hour, but it was absolutely stunning- well besides the lady who was all up in my personal space.  I understood that since she had to stand for the ride, and that the bus was really crowded, she needed to hold onto something near.  But man, lady!  Her bosom was only inches from my face for most of the bus ride.  A strange womans tetas in your face for an extended period of time just isn’t a comfortable thing.  Ticos just dont have the same sense for personal space like gringos do.
Marianella told me that I was going to have to go to her second job with her.  When I asked her what it was, she told me it was aerobics…as in shes an aerobics teacher.  Que chiva! How cool!  So, after my early start to the day, running from place to place, and playing paintball, I did a full hour of aerobics.  It was actually a ton of fun, but damn am I sore today (being the 24th as I write this).
The rest of the night consisted of hanging out with her daughters (Melony who is 16, and Michelle who is 6), her boyfriend Jonny, and cat Figaro.  They cooked me dinner, we ate tres leches, talked about life, and went to bed.  By that point my Spanish was barely functioning.  I just can’t speak Spanish when I’m tired.  Man I miss English sometimes!
She was so hospitable to me! I couldn’t believe she wanted to have me over.  Since she works at the church I have seen her several times a week since January.  However, we had only spoken three or four times before she inviThemted me over.  Wow.  Ticos just amaze me with their hospitality.

The paintballing group.  From left to right: Miguel, Tatiana, Jean Carlos, Marcella, Luis, Christian, Lizzie, Tita, Roberto, Me.
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Melissa and Lizzie = Paint ballin bad asses

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Saying goodbye. :(
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Me, Michelle, Marianella, and Melony
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Our Last Rapiditas Monday

April 21st, 2014

Wait… You mean to tell me this is our last Monday in San Jose?  Does that mean this is our last rapiditas Monday!?  Mama tica always makes rapiditas for breakfast on Monday.  Rapiditas being 2 mini bean and cheese quesadillas and one chicken and cheese quesadilla. Mmmmmm. Our favorite!!!  But wait.  This is our last rapiditas day!? Nooooooo!

Well, actually its not… cause we asked mama tica if she’d make them one more time this week since they’re our favorite.

Today was our last Latin American Culture class- which meant our final….which I didn’t study for.  So as you can imagine I was a little nervous for the test; especially considering the last exam was extremely difficult.  (I did get a 100% on that exam, but that was only because he made it open note/open internet for us exchange students.  I also think he was an easy grader on us.)  Turns out the exam was pretty simple- gracias a dios.  And the last two hours of the class was spent watching the tico student’s presentations…well, most of them.  Two groups didn’t follow the instructions very well and profe chewed them out infront of the class.  That was awkward, and inappropriate to say the least.

Before class I went to the library with Kelley and Lizzie for the first time.  Yepp, I really had never stepped foot in our library before.  From the entrance it looked really small, and like it was one room, so I never bothered.  Turns out its huge, has studying areas, and is really nice and pretty and filled with plants.  Well, can’t say I got good use of that amenity while I was here. Opps.  Oh well.

But when class was over us gringas (Erica, Scarlet, Lizzie, Kelley and I) went to go get Cosechas Los Yoses (smoothies and milkshakes) to celebrate!  I got my favorite flavor here in Costa Rica- Chocolate banana. SOO GOOD!

The rest of the day was spent chilling at home with my tica family.

Last Monday in Costa Rica = checked off.

Ahhhh thats so sad!

So San Jose was pretty cool today… Like, 65 degrees, guys.  Cold, I know.  Sitting around my house I got cold and decided to wear my Costa Rican poncho I bought in January.  I realized that it was crazy that I was wearing a poncho in Costa Rica, since this place is supposed to be warm, and decided to take a photo…well, photos. When I uploaded them from my tablet to my gmail account, google combined these photos make this hilarious gif.  Enjoy!

poncho in motion

Christ is risen from the dead!

April 21st, 2014

Happy Easter!  Wow.  It is finally here.  Throughout my time here in Costa Rica thinking ahead to Easter has always been my final check point.  Now I am here.  I have reached that final check point.  There are no more big grand plans.  Where did the time go?

Easter is such a joyful day!  It means family, going out to breakfast, dressing up, chocolate everywhere, getting to say “Alleluia” again, and rejoicing that Christ has risen!  That last one is most definitely the best part.

But sadly, my day lacked most of those things.

Breakfast was cereal and toast, I went to mass without my family (well, Lizzie’s practically family at this point, and she joined me), there was no Easter egg hunt, no family party of any sorts, no Easter basket to wake up to, and no Easter feast.

We were supposed to go over to mama tica’s famliy’s house, but due to a lack of communication it never happened. #languagebarriers

So instead I finished writing my final paper thats due for my last day of class tomorrow, skyped with my family back home, and watched some How I Met Your Mother.

It was a cloudy and lonely Easter, friends.  At least the best part couldn’t be taken away: the fact that Jesus is resurrected! Lent is over! I still rejoice for that. :)

The final week is here.  Five full days and six nights left.
Where oh where does time go I ask you?

Happy Easter from the Lizzie&Melissa family!IMG_5445

Snapchat from the cousins (the volume icon got in the way of my screen shot)easter1

Skyping with the little brother.

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Mom, aunt Cathleen, and Mary Margaret trying to get in contact with me to skype

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Would You Like More Rice and Beans?

April 14th and 15th, 2014

I just love going to Cartago.  It’s like the most homey town I’ve been to here in Costa Rica.  Everyone is so polite, friendly, and nice.  Not to mention it means I am going to spend time with Tatiana’s family, which I love.

I went solo to Cartago on the 14th to meet with Tatiana.  She took me to the Basillica of Our Lady of the Angels again so I could buy souvenirs, drink and bottle some holy water, and enjoy the city of Cartago.  It was a really fun time, just walking around with her and catching up on life.  Its always interesting explaining boy problems, telling stories, and understanding stories in Spanish.  Another thing is she and I almost got hit by taxis about three times.  We laughed and laughed.  All we do together is laugh.
After our adventures in the city we went up to her parent’s house in Boqueron, which is a little town/neighborhood in Cartago.  They live on the side of the mountain where the weather gets surprisingly cold.  The entire mountain was covered in clouds and the weather must have dropped about 25 degrees from the bottom to the top.  Still, it couldn’t have been less than 55 degrees but I was shocked that I was cold; I was sweating when I was in San Jose.  Crazy Costa Rican weather.
When we got to her house, Jean Carlos, her brother, had made us lunch (how nice) and so the stuffing me full of food began.  Not even 40 minutes after we ate a big lunch her mom placed infront of me a tamale and a cup of coffee.  Sooo delicious! I am so spoiled any time I go over to their house!  But there was nothing I could do, food just kept appearing in front of me!  After the tamale I played futbolin (foosball) with Tatiana, Jean Carlos, Kendall, and Kenneth (also known as Tito) for about an hour.  Right after foosball it was time for dinner.  Ahhhhh, so much food.  But it was homemade pastel de pollo, aka, chicken pot pie; which is one of my favorite dishes.  It was soo delicious that I ate an extra piece even though I was stuffed!
After dinner we played Super Banco (monopoly) in which I lost miserably.  It was all going so well, I had houses, properties, but then I had the worst luck ever and continued to be the poorest player for the rest of the game.  I didn’t mind, we made jokes the entire game and it was hilarious.
We called it a night after monopoly and Tatiana and I squeezed into her twin sized bed.

(The 15th:)
And when we woke up, round two of eating began.  Now, I’m not really complaining, so much as bragging.  I am impressed that I can fit that much food in this little body.  That’s like… talent, or something.  Before noon, I ate a giant plate of gallo pinto with tomato, natilla (a better version of sour cream), and slices of cheese, two eggs, a cup of coffee, a decently sized bowl of arroz con leche, and more chicken pot pie.  Impressive, I think.
Jean Carlos, Tatiana, and I headed out to el Mall San Pedro to meet up with Christian (Tatiana’s boyfriend), Christina (a friend of Jean Carlos), and Lizzie.  The six of us headed out to go bowling.  It wasnt until we got there that I learned that all of them (besides Lizzie) had never bowled before.  Como!? How!? How have they never been bowling? I was shocked.  I guess I never realized just how American it is.  So I taught them all how to bowl and bowling etiquette.  I took a bowling class back in the day, so naturally I know everything- me and my 75 average.  They ended up being wayyy more fun to bowl with than Americans.  Anytime anyone got more than four pins they cheered and clapped.  I felt like I was professional status or something.  It was super fun.  They only thing we lacked was typical bowling alley food.  I told them that they didn’t get the full experience because they couldn’t drink beer and eat french fries while they bowled.
After bowling we headed back to the mall, got smoothies with boba, and played in the arcade.  Such a fun day.

Lizzie and I headed back home for tonight so we can get started on our paper due Monday for our final.  Tomorrow were heading back to Cartago to spend the rest of the week with Tatiana’s family.  Now I just need to find motivation to write a paper.  I feel like I’m on vacation therefore motivation for anything school related is running low.  Wish me luck.

 

So Tatiana has all the photos from bowling, but I did receive these photos in an email from my mural painting professor, Esteban, today.  This is our last day of class in March.  I already miss all these guys.  This was a great class.  #throwbackthursday
Photo on 3-26-14 at 4.33 PM #4

In order, Cara, Sheri, Melony, Melissa, Kaitlyn, Fanni, Melissa, Elizabeth, Gracie, Esteban

Photo on 3-26-14 at 4.33 PM

It’s Good To Be Back In San Jose

April 12th and 13th, 2014

Saturday
The morning consisted of getting ourselves ready for another long day of traveling.  Lizzie and I bought a bag of twelve pastries for .75¢, a bag of some weird fruit for .50¢, and two sandwiches each for $5.00. We weren’t getting stuck on a bus for 10 hours without anything to eat again.  No way no how.
Next we went on a hunt for dufflebags.  We both decided were going to have to check a second bag on the plane ride home to the states, so we needed to find a cheap bag to take it all back if we were gonna make it worth it.  Well, we found that cheap bag here in Nicaragua.  We each got a large dufflebag for $10. Rockin.

Turns out we got to the bus station an hour and a half early… because even though our ticket said 12:00, the bus wasnt going to come until 1:00.  And so the waiting began.
Customs took forever and we were once again left without our passports.  I laughed pretty hard when the guy handing them back called out my name.  He said “Melissa T… Estado unidence…?” Which means United statesian. He saw the monstrosity which is my last name and gave up before even trying.  I laughed to myself.
We finally arrived in San Jose at 9:30 and we were totally exhausted.  As we waited to get Lizzie’s check bag I saw the door to the offices were nearly blocked with taxi drivers yelling “Taxi!? Taxi!?” to any poor soul who walked out the door.  I looked at Lizzie and said “I so don’t wanna deal with that right now.”  She was thinking the same thing.  I think she and I spend too much time together.  We are always thinking the same thing.
We braved the door and were yes indeed bombarded with taxi drivers.  Pushy, dishonest ones at that.  The one that was going to drive us insisted “Cinco mil para ir a zapote.” Uh, no way.  He wanted $10 to take us to our neighborhood.  The way there we paid $6 using the meter.  Since he said a specific price that means he didn’t plan on using the meter.  That is against the law.  They usually will do that to rip people off.  He thought that since we were clearly not from there we would fall for it.  And he argued with me for a good while.  What is up with these taxi drivers lately!  I told him how much it cost me to get to the station from my house again and again until he yelled “Fine!” at me.  Just rude.  Have a little integrity, dude.
And how much did it cost me to get home? Not $10, but $6.  And he was rude the entire drive there.  At first I thought he was taking us a round about way… which I’m pretty sure he did, but whatever. I ain’t lettin no tico walk all over me and take advantage of me! No sir.

Coming back to mama ticas and seeing my hard bed waiting for me was a total relief.  It is good to be back.

Sunday
As for today?  Well, applied for jobs, went to church, and wrote my blogs.  I took a day to recuperate.  It feels good to be back in San Jose.

Central Park in front of the cathedral.
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This is how people here get around. Its awesome.
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Granada: Day Two

April 11, 2013

Friday
Lizzie and I both agreed the day before that we didn’t have enough money both for souvenirs and for another tour/excursion so we decided to hang out in Granada in the markets.  Ohh study abroad student problems.  So much time to travel, so little money to do it.
To start the day we checked out the Choco Museum.  It was really just like a an expensive chocolate store/hotel and some information on a wall, but it was really cool to see the history of the cacao bean, how it is grown, and how chocolate is made.  Lizzie and I enjoyed ourselves a nice cup of cacao tea.  It was like hot chocolate but different… It had a different taste to it and was way more delicious in my opinion.  Turns out we sat right next to the owner of both the museum, factory, and hotel and ended up talking to him for about 20 minutes.  Hes from New York and has opened up organic chocolate factories and museums all over central America.   So that was cool.
We went into the day determined to get souvenirs for really good prices.  And that only kind of worked out.  We went to each little store in the market multiple times and those Nicaraguans just didn’t want to negotiate.  They were stubborn as heck!  Maybe were just terrible at bargaining.  I don’t know what it was, but it was exhausting.  And its not like they even started off cheap either… they wanted us to pay five dollars for little friendship bracelets.  I could make 10 friendship bracelets for that much money.  No way guys, not payin that.

The sun was blazing hot, and it was hotter inside the mercados, and lets just say everyone was grumpy by time it was midday.  Lizzie and I ate a cheap lunch and went to take a nap.  I truly understand why Spain and most Latin American countries all have a daily siesta (nap).  It is so hot that everybody is grumpy, nobody wants to work, and everyone just wants the heat of the day to pass quickly, so they nap.  And truth be told, hardly anyone is out midday.  I saw more people shopping in the evening/at night than during the heat of the day.  Guess we made a noob mistake.  And that probably explains why no one wanted to negotiate.
After I napped I decided I really needed some Jesus time so I went to daily mass at the Cathedral.  It was at 6pm.  Just another testament to the midday siesta thing.  After mass we ate dinner and called it a night.  We ended the night the same way… knitting and a movie with our German friend.  This time it was The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  It was a good end to a long day.

Gotta say though, Nicaragua kind of got us down.  All the poverty, grumpy people, and the heat exhausted us.  Okay, its an exaggeration to say everyone was grumpy, but it is fair to say that the people there were nice but not friendly with us.  Except the men. The men were flirty with us whenever we were walking somewhere outside.  Then they had all kinds of “nice” things to say to us.  I’ll leave it at that.
I felt like I seriously didn’t belong while I was there.  And by the end of the day, Lizzie and I looked at one another and said “I think Nicaragua made me ready to go home.  Home home.”  But seriously though.  Not feeling like you blend in or like you belong somewhere for so long can get to you.  Nicaragua just amplified that feeling.  Made me miss home a good deal.  But now isn’t the time to be homesick.  Two weeks left.  I gotta go strong for the next two weeks!

A cup of cacao tea. And Lizzie.
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We were feeling grumpy and hot. So we got smoothies.
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The Colorful Granada
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