Thursday, January 6, 2011

So... Where am I again ?

The reason for my absence.... I can still use pura vida.... right...¿.... is due to a discombobulated series of events which include:
- an absolutely thrilling field trip to botanical gardens which included 1.25 hours in a ´quaint´ seed bank which allowd us to stand on each other and discuss the pros and cons of two sealable bag types
- arrival of my real family during finals week (studying consisted of bartering with vendors at the souvenir market in San José, chatting with ISEPers for 4 hours in the Library, translating between two families over a ridiculously fantastic meal prepared by mamatica, ziplining in Monteverde, and being robbed... by monkeys ! in Manuel Antonio)
- departure of my real family after thanksgiving
- departure from my host family the same day
- departure of the majority of ISEPers the following day
- sleeping on a beach next to an egg laying olive ridley sea turtle
- 6 day vaca (since life in Costa Rica was real tough) to the Osa Peninsula, my favorite spot in the country
- 2 day trip to Manuel Antonio to eat the bast valued breakfast in Costa Rica - gallo pinto + eggs + panqueques + fruit = a breakfast you can eat while smiling, enjoy some quality 80's music, and consume copious amounts of coffee
- 3.5 day trip to Tortuguero to unwind, do some night hikes, jam, and consume 40 fried plantains (platanos maduros will change your life)
- experience Christmas with the Chacones (my host family, which is synonomous with chévere, pichudísimo, and tuanis)
- say goodbye to my gracious host and his very understanding girlfriend (Oli & Lau) and escape the concrete confines of San José for Jaco
- Phill also appeared somewhere in the mix to sleep on the beach, roast green bananas, and wrestle sharks

as the list has made clear, the final months were very ´productive´.

Jumping back a bit in the timeline to the arrival of my parents. The last week of the ´Official ISEP Study Abroad Program´ was that of Thanksgiving and on that Sunday Nikki and I found our parents and her friends patiently awaiting at the airport in Alajuela. 

To kick off the Costa Rica experience the brady bunch hopped into a taxi with a squirrely looking driver and were off !!!
- only to quickly find out that the beast of a mobile which we were riding in was unable to shift into top gear, thus we rode along at a trot with the engine screaming in protest... on the busiest highway entering San José. The two vehicles which nearly sideswiped us as well as the barbed/electric wire on every building and home we passed provided a welcoming environment ! 

When we safely? arrived at the hostel we took note of the scrupulously maintained conditions

befriended the hostel dog

and enjoyed the soothing sounds of nearby gunshots throughout the night.

Next on the agenda was a trip to a Chocolate plantation to see cacao trees and taste the seeds at numerous stages of preparation - the tour is awesome. Count Chocula actually leads a portion. However, due to some heavy rains (apparently rain isn't just there to give forest company) the road was washed away and a 5.5 hour detour was the only option. Soo at 6am at the carribean terminal we decided to go for a city tour !

Buildings, graffiti, souvenirs, sweet t-shirt shop, and a pit-stop at a bakery killed some time before my 4pm Evolution final.

We then headed to my University 
Building for all of the scheduling, 
our counselor, Laura, became quickly acquainted thanks to an interesting class registration process...

The view outside of the biology department

The jungle within the biology department

Spiral staircase leading to the Village of the Smurfs

Jungle within the natural sciences department

distracting flower

My favorite path

Campo de Futból

The grassy knoll at the center of campus (Lee Harvey Oswald not included)

And finally, the view from outside of the library

After the tour we headed into the library where I studied evolución, Ann studied facebook, Mom chit chatted, and Dad studied the architectural layout of the inside of his eyelids
nice !

After 20 minutes or so we were joined by my ISEP friends. Strangely enough it seemed everyone in the program trickled in to the same part of the library and had the same desire to put studying as far back into our minds as possible. I couldn't have agreed more with their mindset and pleasantly spent the hours before my exam chatting.

Quick note. Finals week in Costa Rica doesn't involve 24 hour stress sessions in which the majority of time is spent consuming coffee and doubting your ability to memorize/apply chemistry equations or frantically trying to memorize the photosynthetic pathway. Costa Rica instead keeps a laid back attitude (my professor joked and chatted with us for 10 minutes before the evolución final) but retains legimitate final exams. Hooray for you Costa Rica! 

After the exam we headed to my home in San Pablo de Heredia where Ana whipped up a supper which was close to ridiculous for my standards (remember, my typical supper packed 3 days worth of calories... before dessert).

Squash bisque, picadillo, beef, chicken, salad, rice, beans, fresh juice, and of course: Platanos Maduros

I can't quite tell you how cool it was too see the mixing of my two families, though I can tell you about the mad mix of spanish/english flying around the dinner table. Ana knows no english and my parents know no spanish. So Ashli & I had fun translating to and fro. Thankfully Ashli filled the translational gap when I began subconsciously speaking spanish to my parents... sorry guys... haha.

After Ana was assured of the fact that we were all sufficiently stuffed, we chatted exchanged gifts, and said our thank yous, goodbyes, and for me.. hasta luego. We took the bus back to San José for another restful night at the hostel (complete with the previous nights soothing street music). 

day #3 of the brady bunch vacation: ziplining in Monteverde

I shall continue ! sooner than later... or sometime... eh, pura vida !