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

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.

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.

This is how people here get around. Its awesome.

Granada: Day Two

April 11, 2013

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.

We were feeling grumpy and hot. So we got smoothies.

The Colorful Granada

The Beautiful Granada

April 10th, 2013

Even though Toña was nice and all the night before, we could not have been more excited for the pancake, fresh fruit, coffee breakfast as was promised to us.  It was the good start to the day.

Our tour of the city was scheduled for noon but we were too excited to start our exploring to wait.  So we began our wandering.  We ended up in a strip of market place in which wandered into more secretly hidden market area.  It was giant, and it was the real deal. Like, this was the market all the Nicaraguans go to when they need to buy things not just the markets that attract tourist attention.  Au contraire, (French?) I’m quite sure this market place scared off most tourists because Lizzie and I were most definitely the only gringas in the place.  It was amazing.  There were stands of every kind.  Fruit, seeds, meat, baby chicks, underwear, tupperware, anything you can think of… it was there!  We were too overwhelmed to stop and buy anything.  It was a whole new experience for sure.  Especially since we got temporarily lost and couldn’t find the exit for a little bit.
After the mercado adventure we began our tour with Huáscar (sounds similar to Oscar) our tour guide, Paco our horse carriage driver, and Paquin, our horse, through Granada.  We learned the history of the famous Granada cemetery, the prostitute house, the cathedral, the church La Merced, the church Xalteva, and the historical museum.  It was a really great tour; totally worth the $20.  One thing that stuck out to me about the city was the colonial style and all the colors.  There were buildings of every color it was really beautiful.  It made me wonder why us Americans are so boring with our buildings and decorations.
After the tour we tried Vigoron at a local food stand.  It cost $2 for a whole bunch of yucca, “ensalada”, and dried pork in some leaves.  Not bad, if you ask me.  I was a huge fan of the dried pork, but the yucca was fantastic.  Worth it.  While we were eating two kids came up to us selling hammocks.  So we bought hammocks for $7.  Can’t find prices like that anywhere but in Nicaragua.
But man, the heat of the day started getting to us cause we were both gettin a little grumpy pants.  So that meant nap time in a hammock back in the hostel.
Once the heat had died down a little bit we hunted down a place to eat dinner.  Something I started to notice about this place was that you couldn’t go anywhere in the city without someone approaching you to buy their product.  Tours, pottery, hammocks, food, shoes, restaurants, begging for money, jewelry, serenades, whatever it was, it was constant.  We were trying to decide a place to eat and waiters in front of the restaurants would not stop trying to convince us to eat at their restaurant.  It was a little ridiculous!  We finally decided on a restaurant, and then made the mistake of sitting outside.  The rest of our dinner was spent saying no to serenades, hammocks, bags, children making flowers out of palm leaves, etc.  Yes, we had to say no to children.  That was the hardest part.  Earlier that day I bought an 8 year old boy lunch (I know. this whole buying lunch for strangers thing is starting to become a habit).  I want to help people, but I don’t have all the money in the world!  The worst part about the kids is that they’d make a flower for us, we would tell them “no thank you”, they would say “no regalo” (gift), and then would wait close by for us to give them money.  AHHH. I CAN’T GIVE MONEY TO EVERYONE!
We retreated back to our hostel after dinner.  We couldn’t take anymore begging from children.  We met a German guy at the hostel named Matias and ended up watching the movie Gravity with him.  I of course sat in a hammock and knitted the whole movie.  I looked like such a cool kid, I’m sure.

Our City Tour

granada collage


They drink soda out of plastic bags here so that Coca Cola can use the bottles again.  Lizzie and I were fascinated.

Nice to meet you Toña, (our new Nicaraguan friend)

April 9th, 2014

Don’t worry guys, I didn’t die in the 6.4 earthquake that was in Nicaragua on Friday.  In fact, I didn’t even feel it.  Mama tica said she was so worried about us; but we didn’t even know about it.  Probably happened while I was taking a nap in a hammock. That would explain it, right?

A traveling day.  Left at 12:30pm, didn’t arrive until 10:00pm.  Wow, now thats a lot of hours on a bus.  But surprisingly the bus ride was pleasant.  There was air conditioning (something I had almost forgotten existed), a bathroom, a movie, comfy seats, and plenty of leg room.  It was like luxury compared to what I have been used to traveling in; cramped buses, no air conditioning, crazy drivers, uncomfortable and dirty seats.  But eh, that’s how public transportation goes, right?  We watched three movies on the way up.  I couldn’t help but think it was hilarious to watch The Terminator dubbed over in Spanish.  Turns out the famous “I’ll be back” is “Yo volveré” in Spanish.
Lizzie and I expected the bus to stop at a rest stop like all the other buses in Costa Rica do.  At the rest stops we get out and stretch our legs, buy snacks, and sometimes even eat lunch.  Nope. Not a single stop; besides at the border, which, I’ll get to that experience in a second.  Naive little us… thinking there would be some place to buy food.  Its a good thing we packed lunch but its a bad thing that we ate it as early as we did because we had to go the rest of the bus ride without anything.  We figured we’d just eat dinner when we got into Granada around 8:30.  Yeah.. we didn’t get into Granada until 10:00 and… well… okay, I’ll tell you the next part after I explain the border story.  I’m getting ahead of myself here.
So crossing the border was normal and such on the Costa Rican side.  The Nicaraguan side was… different.  First off I personally never went through customs…even though my passport did.  What? Yes, that is correct, I had to forfeit my passport to one of Ticabus’s (the bus company) employees who took it through customs without me.  Uh, that’s sketch; who goes over the border without their passport?  Meanwhile all of the passengers had to get off the bus with all our luggage, get in a giant line and have one of the border patrol men do a security check.  It wasn’t through a scanner or anything though, he literally looked at us, our bag, back at us, and then decided if we were good or not.  If he decided no, then we would have to unzip our bag, take our all of our belongings in order for him to approve.  Don’t worry guys, I passed.  Apparently something about this adorable face doesn’t say drug dealer or terrorist. Pwef, wasn’t sure I was gonna make it.
So as we got off the bus we were bombarded (as usual) with multiple taxi drivers yelling at us “Taxi?! Taxi!?” And of course, the taxi driver we chose was totally into the gringas.  He kept insisting we needed a Nicaraguan boyfriend, kept telling us how pretty we were, blah blah blah.  He took a long route to the hostel insisting he needed to show us around the city.  Excuse me, we didn’t ask for the scenic route.  This guy, I’m tellin ya! AND THEN, the jerk tried to rip us off for the taxi ride.  And we were all “Naw naw naw, we weren’t born yesterday!” What a turd.
Around 10:30 we finally got to Oasis, our hostel.  It truly felt like an Oasis in comparison to the rest of the day.  And, now back to the story about dinner, when we asked the receptionist what places would still be open, she told us she didn’t recommend we go out that late at night especially if we don’t know our way around.  Well, great.  I guess that means we weren’t eating dinner… or were we?  I spied in my little eye a refrigerator with beer for sale in the hostel.  It was like Lizzie and I were on the same brain wave length because she knew exactly what I was thinking.  Yes. We drank beer for dinner.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, friends.
Toña was the best welcome to Granada after all the other crap we dealt with.  Oh, Toña being the beer.  She was light but filling and I’m sure calorie filled.
I haven’t even told you the best part yet… while we enjoyed our luxurious dinner we also knitted.  We sat in rocking chairs in the common area our our hostel, drank beer, and knitted.  Surprisingly, despite what you’d think, thats a great way to make some friends!  One girl even gave us all her knitting stuff she was about to throw away! ¿Que chiva, no?

Welcome to Granada, Melissa and Lizzie.


Spanish Mode

April 8th, 2014

Ahhhh 18 days left! WHERE IS THE TIME GOING!?   There is so much to do and so little time to do it!
So with that sense of urgency, how did I start out my day? I slept in until 10:45.  That is the first time in a long time I have been able to sleep in that late.  Between the morning heat, my bright room, and my hard bed, I find it hard to sleep in.  You could almost consider that an accomplishment.

After braving the heat of the day today and going to my chapel, mama tica brought Lizzie and I to her daughter Irene’s house for our fiesta de tejer! Another knitting party!!
Those knitting parties are so much fun.  They are filled with gossip, coffee, pastries, Costa Rican cheese, knitting, and a whole lot of Spanish.  I think crocheting actually clicked with me this time around.  I had some pretty bad mess ups, but in the end I got it.  Maybe this is something I can keep up with when I go back to the states.  I love artsy stuff like this.  Not to mention that these parties are incredibly good for my Spanish.  Whenever I leave I find myself thinking in Spanish.  I think Lizzie would agree.  After dinner she got a call on skype which she had to run to answer.  In a hurry to close both the doors to her room she said “Oh un momento, es que necesito cierra la puerta y listarme para hablar. Un momentico.  OH WAIT. You don’t speak Spanish! So sorry! Give me a second!”
Mama tica and I were laughing so hard!!  Were turning into ticas! Haha! When our brains get put into Spanish mode it can be hard to get them out of it.  I guess that means we’ve improved a least little since we’ve been here. Thank goodness.  I still feel like I need more time.  So much to learn, so little time! But at least now I know I just need to flip the Spanish switch in my brain.  When the Spanish mode switch is flipped, puedo decir cualquier cosa en espanol! But when its not turned on, I struggle big time.

Here are two of my favorite Spanish memes:

Oh! Just so you know, I won’t be posting until Sunday because I am heading to Nicaragua tomorrow!! So excited! But I won’t have internet, so there will be no blog posts until later.
Don’t worry, you’ll get all the deets’ when I come home to San Jose. ;)


My Favorite Beach Town

April 6th, 7th, and 8th

Sorry dad, yes I am alive.  Yes I know I’ve been slacking on blog posting.

I didn’t post this weekend because Lizzie and I went back to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast.

We went back for Three Reasons:
1.  So far, it is our favorite town and beach in Costa Rica.
2.  Lizzie was dying to goto the National Park to see some animals.
3.  I left my journal at our hostel the last time we were there.

Yes, my journal.  You see people, I journal.  A whole lot.  Especially when I pray.  Journaling keeps me on track during prayer, and it is good to have it to look back on.  So I freaked out when I got home from Manuel Antonio two weeks ago and realized I didn’t have it.  Like, I almost started crying.  So I called the hostel and found out they had it.  Long story short, it was easier to just go and get it myself.  It was worth it.  I started writing in that specific journal when I got here in Costa Rica, so it has my entire trip in it.
You may be thinking, “But wait a second…isn’t that why you’re writing this blog? So that you can remember your trip?”
You see, my blog talks about the meat of this trip but my journal has the heart of it.  Its important.
SO, gracias a dios, I got my journal back!  I hugged the receptionist when she handed it to me.  I am definitely writing that hostel, Backpackers Manuel Antonio, a good review on tripadvisor.

Stories worth telling from this weekend:

  • Saturday night when we got to our hostel, Vista Serena, I put my stuff under the bunk bed; you know, out of site out of mind.  I feel like people aren’t as likely to steal if its not right in front of their face.  So before we went to bed, when our bunk mates were all sleeping, I pulled out my two bags: my backpack and my red reusable grocery bag which had some snacks in it.  Suddenly my hands hurt and I looked to see that there were ants all over them.  Now, I don’t know what kind of ants those were, but they were biting the crap out of me.  Those little sons of bitches hurt!  So I naturally start freaking out to get them off of me.  Lizzie, who was exhausted, was thinking “What is Melissa freaking out about now?”  She didn’t believe me until I made her grab the bag and she started yell-whispering “Oh! Ow! Ow! Ow!”  So we took it outside and the war began.  It was a swarm of them.  They started crawling up our feet, arms, and legs.  There were so many, and  I wasn’t sure we were gonna make it… but alas, we persevered and all was not lost.  I just ended up throwing away cookies, cheezits, and peanut butter crackers because it just wasn’t worth it.  The cookies and cheezits had been opened previously, but I made sure to close them well before the trip. Guess that wasn’t enough.
    ¡Que raro! I have been in Costa Rica for three and a half months, have visited Manuel Antonio before, and have never had problems with ants like that! Lesson = learned.


  • When we got to the hostel Lizzie saw this guy who looked really familiar.  We just decided he must look like every other surfer dude we see.  But then I saw a girl who looked familiar and could have sworn I saw her at the Poaz volcano on Friday.  Long story short, the surfer dude and the girl were both at Poaz when we were.  We were on the same buses and took a picture for them.  So we ended up hanging out with the pair, Gabrielle and Guillaume who are from Quebec, Canada, most of our time in MA.  They accompanied us to the National Park on Sunday and talked with us for hours about everything.  I loved hearing about Quebec.  Canada, but especially the French part, is such an unknown land to me.  I know very little about the country for it just being directly north.  So it was nice to make new friends (since Lizzie and I don’t have any anymore :’( )


  • When we were in the national park we saw A TON of animals.  Monkeys, sloths, lizzards, iguanas, racoons, and coati.  But let me tell you, national park animals are not afraid of people.  Especially them racoons.  They are vicious!  Lizzie walked away from where our towels were to drain a can of tuna when suddenly three racoons ran over to her.  She ran away from them and back to our spot.  They followed.  And then they tried to grab her whole bag.  Good thing our friend Gabrielle is fearless.  She grabbed my sandle and started swatting at them and yelling.  It was hysterical.  Thank goodness for Gabrielle, otherwise Lizzie definitely would have lost her bag.

Other than those three stories, it was a pretty average travel weekend.  Hanging out at the hostel was fun, we met a bunch of people, ate some delicious casados, got tans, bought pipas and sweated our butts off in the heat of Manuel Antonio.  However, this weekend definitely confirmed that Manuel Antonio is my favorite beach town in CR.


Animals I saw in the National Park.  Top left and bottom left are white faced monkeys.  Top right is a photo I miraculously captured of a squirrel monkey jumping from branch to branch.  Middle right is an iguana and bottom right is some kind of crab on the beach.

animal collage

Shout out to the big CO!

The view from our hostel.  Sadly I didn’t get to see this sunset.  Lizzie took this photo was I was at mass in Quepos (neighboring town).  The only time I could make church on Sunday was during the sunset.  Sunset < Jesus

I Don’t Run On Tico Time

April 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, 2014

I was looking forward to the month of April since I got here just because I knew I wouldn’t have anything to do other than class once a week on Mondays.  I am on summer vacation right now.  No obligations, just taking each day by day and enjoying life.  Lizzie and I have said to one another several times, “Wow, we are living the life.”
And at the same time, we aren’t sure what to do with ourselves.  I haven’t had this much free time since I was 14 years old because it all disappeared when I got a job at age 15.  Silly 15 year old me was all excited to be a lifeguard- little did I know I would never have time to even breathe I would become so busy.
So, what have I been doing to fill all this free time do you ask?  Good question.  The days are starting to blend together.

Haha, okay really though:
On the 2nd Lizzie and I walked downtown, sat at some parks, watched some people, went to a mercado, and met Ronnie.  Who is Ronnie, you may be asking? Funny story.
We bought another random stranger lunch.  Click here to see the first time we bought a stranger lunch this week.  There we were, walkin along, trying to find a mercado (a building with a bunch of family owned kiosks that sell different things) when a 35 year old lookin mae (dude) stopped us and started rambling about being glad we were American’s and that we spoke English.  Turns out he is from California and got robbed that morning.  He lost $140 dollars and his card.  He asked if we would buy him lunch because he hadn’t eaten anything all day.  Especially because of my last experience I jumped with the answer “Of course!”  I just ended up giving him the only $10 I had so he could buy lunch and his bus ticket.  He said he would for sure pay it forward.  That was good enough for me.
Now that we look back on it, we are not sure if he was telling the truth.  First off, he told us he was robbed while trying to buy some weed.  But also he said his family was in Puntarenas, which is an hour from San Jose by bus.  So I was confused as to why he didn’t call his family to come help him.  But you know what, it doesn’t matter.  At the time Lizzie and I believed everything and he seemed very sincere.  So if he was lying it doesn’t even matter, Gods his judge, not me.  After saying goodbye to Ronnie I looked at Lizzie and said, “Is God trying to tell us something?”
After meeting Ronnie, we went and got some patacones, parted ways, and I went to my church to hang out with Jesus and go to daily mass.
Oh! One thing I appreciated: A fruit stand guy asked Lizzie and I if we were gringas to which we responded in unison, “Claro que si” (Clearly) to which he responded, “Ohhh, son gringas pero no son!”  That may have been the best compliment.  He said we are gringas, but we arent gringas.  Its like my blog title is becoming true… Gringa to Tica… never thought I’d get there. Haha.

On the 3rd I started the day super tranquila (chill).  Rolled out of bed at 9:30, ate breakfast, got back in bed, listened to music and drew/colored until noon.  Then Lizzie and I met with Erica to plan our trip to Nicaragua.  It ended up being a pretty frustrating day because there is not sufficient information online about anything in central America.  The meeting got so frustrating for the three of us decided to take a break, go our separate ways, and meet up again after dinner.  I headed to the chapel, mass, and finally went home only to find out that Erica decided she didn’t want to go anymore.  So looks like its just gonna be the two of us (so long as we can still buy bus tickets since they are selling out due to Holy Week).
Lizzie and I planned the rest of the trip that night, made an ice cream run (why didn’t we start making late night ice cream runs sooner!?), and then watched How I Met Your Mother in my room.  The funny thing about that last part is that since we are both on different seasons of the series we each watched it on our own laptops…in the same room.  That says roommate love to me.

Annnnddd today, April 4th, we went to the Poaz volcano.  It was a good yet extremely frustrating day.  And I’ll tell you why: Costa Ricans are the slowest moving people, EVER.  I have talked about how frustrating the lack of signs, maps and explanations there are here, but I am losing my patience for traveling by bus really quick.  We had to take three separate buses to get to Poaz today, and each required a good amount of waiting to arrive, get on, get moving, and to get there.  I probably wouldn’t have been as frustrated if I didn’t have to be somewhere at 5:00 pm.  When we left I went thinking we could be back by 3:00 since we left our house at 6:30 am and it only took an hour to get there once at the bus.  Turns out there wasn’t a direct bus and we had to take a bus to take a bus to take another bus.
They are just so slow moving here sometimes.  Restaurants, walking through downtown, public transportation, the mail; everything is on tico time.  Tico time is at least 15 minutes after the scheduled time.  I got used to it for a while, but today it got me.
Once we got there everything was fine.  We got into the park for $2 (price for ticos) when normally we would have been charged $10 (price for tourists).  How can this be do you ask?  Lizzie and I stayed quiet while Scarlet talked to the ticket salesman.  Since Scarlet is Latina it is easy for her to pass for a tica and therefore, since we were with her, it was easy for us to get the resident price.  Score.
We walked up to the volcano to see: n o t h i n g.  Not again!  (We went to the Arenal Volcano in January only to not see anything due to fog)  Thankfully we hung around for a little while because the clouds moved out for a total of 10 minutes.  It was so impressive.  We could see right into the crater of the volcano, where the smoke was coming out.  It was freakin cool!
Costa Rican Checklist:
See a Volcano: Check

El Volcan Poaz

Lizzie, Me, Scarlet


My Spanish Speakin Grandma

April 1st, 2014

I would like to take a blog entry to appreciate how lucky I am to have been placed in this house for my time in Costa Rica.  God was taking special care of me when he put me under Lidiette’s care.  Tati (the name her grandkids call her by, also what Lizzie and I were invited to call her by) is such a grandma to me.  I refer to her as mama tica, but really she is grandma tica.  Just allow me to list all the ways in which she is my latina grandma:


  • She has the biggest heart with which she loves so fully.  Anything she can do to make us more at home she is more than happy to do.
  • Her words of wisdom are endless.  She always knows what to say and how to approach problems.  From boys, to death, to God, to school projects, this woman has words of wisdom.
  • Her faith is so beautiful and so very evident in her life.  Born and raised Catholic, Tati knows God’s love.
  • Her cooking.  Her cooking is phenomenal.  She doesn’t have a stove or an oven yet this woman works wonders.  She cooks everything on an electric fryer but has made me fall in love with Costa Rica solely because of their food.
  • Its the little things she does.  Example 1:  I could have sworn I was in my grandma’s kitchen back in Colorado when she was teaching us how to make Cas ice cream.  We went to take a taste before freezing it, and when she saw how much we put on our spoon she said “Oh no, you have to put more than that! Take a big spoonful!” I laughed so hard, because I was reminded so much of my own grandma.  Example 2:  She kept suggesting I go to the doctor because I have a cough, but when she realized I wasn’t going to go she took matters into her own hands with a homemade remedy.  A combination of honey and ginger mostly made my cough go away, and made my throat feel so much better.  Every time I cough now she goes “More syrup??” It just makes me smile.
  • I usually forget she is 74 years old because she looks and acts so much younger, but sometimes there are things that remind me she is a grandma.  For example, a lot of the things in her house are very old, yet have been kept in pristine condition and are always kept very clean.  Example 2: She takes a daily two hour nap.  Example 3: She is a little hard of hearing.  At first I thought that my Spanish didn’t make sense, then I realized she just simply couldn’t hear me.


I just love everything about this woman.  She has grown very dear to my heart.  It is interesting that I was put in her house especially because she was introduced into my life just shortly before my grandma passed back home.  It has almost been like a way for my heart to heal from the loss of my grandma.  No one could ever replace my grandma, but I am happy to have a tica grandma now too.  Saying goodbye to her in 25 will be the hardest goodbye ever.  But were not talking about that.

Here she is teaching Lizzie to make empenaditas, I was just the photographer because I had a giant project due the next day and didn’t have time to learn.  But I wanted to put a photo of her.
lizzie and mama tica

The syrup mixture of honey and ginger.  It was spicy but sweet!

The 8 things you would never think to miss

March 31st, 2014

Now that I have been here for over three months I think its safe to say I have figured out things I truly miss from back home and things that I don’t miss.
There are the obvious things like my family, consistently temperatured showers, my friends, having my own transportation, blah blah blah the usual.  But there have been little things that have stood out to me that I realize that I actually miss.  Some of them are a little silly, don’t judge.

Here is that list:

From my first day here in Costa Rica, doesn’t do the terrible sidewalks justice, but it was the only photo I had.  Lizzie and Janis

Sidewalks are a privilege, people! My walk to school involves jumping over six feet deep holes, avoiding protruding pieces of concrete, anticipating sudden drops in the sidewalk/dirt path/street, and tripping once or twice.  It’s a dangerous life I live.  I never knew I would think sidewalks are a luxury.

Singing really loud in my car:
I cant take a picture of the things I can’t do, so here is me with a sad face and my headphones in.

Man I am in need of a good jam session.  I am ready to just blast some music and sing it at the top of my lungs! Lip syncing is only so good for so long.  Truth be told, I find that I sing to myself while I am walking to school or church because it is the only time I can sing out loud without being heard…until I walk by someone and suddenly get quiet.  Never thought I would miss jam sessions in my car.

Soft clothes from the dryer:
laundrey dayTheres nothing quite like waking up to your underwear on display

We don’t have a dryer, so everything air dries.  Which isn’t terrible it just usually leaves my shirts, underware, and jeans feeling a little crunchy.  I miss them dryer sheets.  Oh creepy Snuggle dryer sheets bear, I will never make fun of you again!


no carpet
Well…I don’t think this picture really needs explaining.

How silly is it that I miss carpet?  I guess I just hate walking barefoot on the linoleum here because my feet always end up getting covered in dirt.  I miss my plush, warm, comfy floors.  Never knew you could miss carpet… guess so!

Mass in English:
IMG_3776La Basillica de Nuestra Virgen de Los Angeles

I love going to mass here.  I love experiencing mass in Spanish.  But sometimes I wish I could respond with everyone else and that I could sing along to the songs.  I have learned quite a bit and can join in here and there, but it isn’t the same.  More importantly I miss understanding the homily.  Sometimes the priests mumble and I can’t understand them or I find that I don’t have enough brain energy to both pay attention to the message and try to translate what they’re saying.  I will never take homilies in English for granted again.


Soft Furniture:
living room
This is our sitting room.  Looks comfy, huh?

I am convinced Costa Rica doesn’t know what comfy furniture is.  I haven’t been in one house that had a comfy couch or sitting chair.  I also sleep on the worlds hardest bed.  Lizzie agrees with me: if you sit on that thing for too long your butt hurts/falls asleep.  Lets just say my back hasn’t liked me very much since I got here.  I am so excited to sleep in my bed back home.


Feeling safe being outside after dark:
This is an intersection I have to cross to walk to my church.  The sun was starting to set, so I was walking home from church before it got dark when I took this photo.

This is one of the biggest pains about living in San Jose.  I can’t go anywhere after dark without feeling like I am putting myself in some kind of danger.  Its not safe to walk anywhere (even though I do it anyways) even in groups of three or four.  It makes going out at night to bars/movies/restaurants/to hang out with friends very difficult and expensive since we always have to take taxis.  Never realized how much I value safety.


Pedestrian Traffic Rights:
A picture of the streets during the presidential elections.

Ain’t nobody got time to slow down for pedestrians in Costa Rica.  Along with the missing sidewalks, there are hardly any cross walks so you find yourself jay-running (instead of jaywalking, cause if you walk, you wont make it) frequently, you never have the right of way (unless you find a rare cross walk), and almost no one will stop to let you cross.  I have almost been hit by cars several times even when I am being very careful.  Heck, I had a super close call with a bus yesterday in San Jose while I was on one of the sidewalks!  Crazy Costa Ricans.  I never appreciated my rights as a traveling pedestrian back home, and now that those rights are gone, I wish I had them back.


Yes, I miss that stuff, but I would choose Costa Rica over any of these silly things.

Dryer sheets < Costa Rica.