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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Official Volunteer

That's right folks, I have finally found a volunteer position.  I knew that there had to have been plenty of places dying to find someone to work for free, and I finally managed to find them.  I will be working 3 days a week in the slums where I will be teaching English/Science to children.  I'm a little nervous about working there, for obvious safety reasons, but also because of the kids.  I really have no idea how to teach children.  I'm a high-school teacher.  I don't even know if these kids can read or not.  Though a majority of my high-schoolers couldn't read either... but that's another story.

Luckily, the school system I used to work for in the States has an excellent teacher assistance website.  It's full of resources, ideas, curriculum, worksheets, projects, everything.  The best part is they have yet to block me out of the system.  YES.  I win!  So I first looked up "language arts and literature" for K-5.  Everything seemed kind of over the top for kids who don't speak the language.  Then I had a great idea.  I checked out the "beginner Spanish" for K-5 and got a lot of great info.  Granted it's for teaching kids Spanish, but I'll just change it to teaching kids English!

I'm supposed to go in on Friday afternoon to start.  I'll send them over an email today making sure I know exactly what it is I'm supposed to do over there.  Then I'll let the creative juices flow.  It's great to have something purposeful to look forward to and prepare for.  I truly hope I like working there and it works out that I can stay for a couple months.  We'll see how I do with the children... I don't even like children!!!

And a quick video here.  Oscar sent this video to me to help me learn "Costa Rican".  In this country there is an insane amount of slang and it seems that even if you are fluent in Spanish, you can get lost when 2 ticos start jabbing away.  So, for your viewing pleasure:


Monday, August 29, 2011

Some Random Thoughts

So none of these thoughts are developed enough to create full posts.  So here they are all combined.

Clothes
In my persuit to appear more tica (yeah right tall, blonde girl) I have went to buy some new "tica" clothes.  Ticas here usually wear tight pants, low-cut shirts and high heels.  Imagine a lady matching her bra straps to her earrings.  That's a tica.  Though you might think otherwise, I am a bit too modest to imitate a tica.  But still, I've been looking.  The great thing is in Costa Rica it is quite easy to find jeans meant to fit big booties.  Not saying that I have a giant one, but let's just say sometimes all the junk will not fit into the American Eagle jeans trunk.  What I have found extraordinarily painful is trying to find shoes.  Most places only carry up to a size 9 shoe.  The only place I saw that even carried 11s was in PayLess, where you will pay 3xs what you would pay in the USA.  I found it easier to find size 9 shoes that "run large" than find a 10.  Luckily I did finally get a pair of tica shoes.  One "step" closer!



Ants
Ants in Costa Rica are TERRIBLE!  They are everywhere and anywhere.  There's nothing you can do about it.  Luckily they're super tiny and easy to wipe away.  Just the other day I wiped up a bunch of ants and then couldn't figure out how to get their tiny ant corpses out of the sponge!  Having so many ants means having to wash stuff immediately, which I'm bad at since I hate doing the dishes.  Here is a picture of ants heading to eat bread out of the sink just 1 hour after neglecting to do the dishes.


Mi Familia!
On Friday Oscar and I went to go visit my host family from when I lived here 3 years ago.  Everyone was so excited to see us and my mama made me a delicious meal.  Here's my host sister, her husband, and their kid, Juli.  Juli was nothing more than a baby last time I saw him!  Now he's got hair!


Gallo Pinto
Pronounced: guy-yo pin-to.  This is the typical Costa Rican breakfast.  It's rice and beans cooked with cilantro, onion, garlic, and pepper, and served with eggs, bread, and fried plantains.  Oscar makes a fantastic gallo pinto.  You should eat the gallo pinto with natilla, which is a loved condiment similar (but not quite the same) to sour cream.  When asking for gallo pinto you can ask for it in the tico slang like this: "Un pintico con guevito patiado".




Perlita
She makes me laugh!  Hehehe!  We gave her a bath on Sunday and man was that a two-person job.  Now she's all soft and nice smelling.  Finally got that animal-shelter stink/slim/mess off her.  She loves this rug.  She always goes and sits on it or sleeps on it.  Right now she's tearing it to pieces.  Why do you destroy what you love most, Perlita??


The Feria
I had to go alone to the feria last Saturday because Oscar was working.  I got a whole bunch of yummy fresh vegetables and fruits for under $10.  Good deal right?  Also, Mission: Smoothies was a success.  Last week I cut up and froze 8 different types of fruit.  They're now super accessible to dump into a blender and make a delicious snack.


Scenery
For those who have never been to the CR.  Here's some pictures I took on our way to Santa Ana.  I am in love with the mountains of Costa Rica.  Unfortunately, the view is almost always blocked by barbed wire and electricity poles.  Here's the best I could snap in a moving car.  (lame, I know.  I'll get better pictures soon!)



Remember-- You can click on any of the pictures in my posts to see the larger versions in a different window!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The great thing about Costa Rica

...is you get to park where ever the F you want.


In other news, I am still looking for a job or volunteer position.  I've applied to two more places, and got in contact with the Costa Rican organization IMAS.  It's basically a service organization.  The lady in charge is very excited to have me and has already called and said she found a place for me to work.  I would work in Pavas with the Salvation Army.  But, Oscar says that the area is pretty dangerous and I would need my own Salvation Army just to go there. (ha ha)  So I will continue to look... more...

This weekend I have some things planned, but nothing really truly exciting.  Tonight I'm going to eat at my mama's house.  We went two weeks ago, but their water was out.  So tonight hopefully I'll get to taste my mama's food again!  Saturday I'm going downtown to shop with a girl I met at a couchsurfing meeting a week ago.  Then that night Oscar has decided to take me on a romantic date with his 2 friends to Hooters so we (they) can watch the MMA fight.  *swoon*  Sunday we'll probably hang out and go to his mom's house for coffee.  Then Monday will come and I'll still be looking for a job.

Well it's 12:30pm, which means there is 30 minutes until it starts to rain.  So I'll run to the pharmacy before it starts to pour.  Until later!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And the search continues

The other day Kris from 2sporks1cup blog was nice enough to send me a link with a possible volunteer opportunity in Costa Rica.  I of course attacked it.  The organization is called EVOLC, and it places volunteer English teachers with a group of students.  You work with the students for anywhere between 3 months to a year.  Turns out it is one of those "pay to volunteer" organizations that I try to stay away from.  I mean if I'm not getting paid to work, why should I have to PAY to work?  But it looked like most of the cost went to providing the volunteer with a host family and 3 meals a day.  Because I need neither of those things, I was sure that the price would have to drop drastically.

I filled out the lengthy application, tweaked my CV and sent it in.  Just an hour later I got a sad reply.  The program I was hoping to be a part of in Heredia needs certified English teachers.  I'm certified in science so they couldn't place me there.  The other option that was given to me was to work with INA, the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje.  With this program you help a certified English teacher teach to a group of students 15+ who would otherwise not be able to afford classes.  Sounds great right?  Well there's two problems, 1- the $1250 I would have to pay, and 2- not in San Jose or anywhere close.  The lady from EVOLC actually suggested I sub-let my apartment for 3 months to do this instead.

So... the search continues...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tranquilo



So I must admit I had a bit of a meltdown the other day.  As I was walking around the apartment cleaning and doing the dishes, I realized what my life had turned in to.  I am a house wife.  The thought of that just killed me.  Where doing the laundry was once something I had to find time to do, it is now what I do.  Period.  And that's only fair because Oscar is at work all day and it'd just be lazy to not clean up a bit.  Especially since he did the exact thing for me while I was working in the USA.  But he is more of a homebody and I'm more restless.  So even though this arrangement sat quite well with him in the States, it is slowly driving me mad here.  And I've only been here for 2 weeks!

Because the apartment is small, it doesn't take long to clean up.  So I find myself spending hours and hours just bumming around on the internet.  Looking for blogs to read or forums to be rude on.  I'm certainly not sitting around and saying "woe is me", I am actively trying to find things for myself to do.  I applied to two more jobs just the other day, and continue to look for classes, courses, anything.  The problem I am encountering is that most classes are in the evening, since people my age have jobs during the day.  It is also proving difficult to find a job that will sponsor me for a work visa.  Finally, websites in Costa Rica are not up to the standards of the USA.  If there even are websites, they are mostly outdated or with incorrect information.  In order to find out about something you need to know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy.  I'm really hoping that the school where I originally applied to teach, will have something open up in January for me.  But only time will tell.

So my meltdown lasted a few hours where I felt like I was getting nothing accomplished.  But today I've been feeling better.  Taking Perlita on walks in the morning is something I really enjoy.  I say hello to my Cuban neighbors, then wave to the security guard across the street.  Next, the gardener down the street will pet Perlita and dance with her while talking very quickly.  Once we make it to the park, I'll let Perlita off the leash and she'll chase some birds through the high grass that is only seldom cut.  We run on the way back, just to tire her out a little more.  Then I settle down with my computer and put off washing the dishes from the night before.  I alternate cleaning, interneting and napping throughout the day until Oscar comes home.

I think I might be accepting that this is how my life is for right now.  And you know what?  Even though it's different, slow and taking some getting-used-to, it's muy tranquilo.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fruit-atarian

I grew up in a very vegetarian household.  We rarely had meat, and when we did it was a huge surprise.  It wasn't so much that my parents are ethical, more so that my mom hates meat and my dad didn't mind not eating it.  So meat is something that has never been a large part of my diet.  What I did love growing up, and still do, is fruit.  I would eat fruit every day all day if I could.  Summer was for blueberries and we would pick POUNDS of them.  My dad would cut up a cantaloupe, and I would eat the entire thing.  An entire box of strawberries would last 15 minutes, and a whole bunch of bananas would be consumed in one day.  So I was then dubbed a "fruit-atarian".


One of my favorite things to do is to make fruit smoothies.  In the USA I would buy 5 or 6 bags of frozen fruit and grind them up for my breakfast.  There is no frozen fruit in Costa Rica.  So would I let this deter me and let the fruitatarian go hungry?  Of course not!  This past Saturday at the feria, Oscar and I bought tons of fresh fruit. And just today I cut it all up, put them in labeled baggies, and through them in the freezer.

This time around is an experiment to see which fruits freeze the best.  We have peaches, papaya, strawberries, mandarin oranges, bananas, pineapples and mangoes.  I found that I am going to need a lot more practice peeling and cutting papaya and mangoes.  They are two fruits I never buy in the States and I certainly had a hard time with them.

Here's some pictures of the bounty.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Special Delivery

Last Saturday Oscar and I went to the weekly feria which is basically like a farmer's market.  It's the best place to get fresh fruits and veggies, though you'll buy fresh produce in just about any store here.  I mean think about when you go to the grocery store in the USA, all you see is "product of *insert tropical country here*". Well I happen to be in said tropical country.

Anyways, right next to the feria was a mattress shop.  I have been pleading with Oscar to get a new mattress, the one we've been sleeping on is who knows how old, and stinky.  I have terrible allergies, and sleeping on someone else's filth is probably not the best for me.  So we bought ourselves a new, queen sized mattress and box-spring.  They were out of queens and said it would be delivered Thursday.  Yesterday was Thursday.

Oscar told me he would be in around noon to get the mattress in the apartment.  He calls me up right around noon, very excited, saying to get my camera ready, I'm gonna want a picture of this!  So I got my camera.  And here's what I saw.




What I didn't take a picture of is how they then got it into the apartment.  Which was an adventure of it's own.  But I'm happy to say it's here and I'm sitting on it now extremely content.  (Oh and we did have to pay a delivery fee for some guy to just toss the mattress on top of his car, no ropes or anything.  It was 2000 colones which is equal to $4.00.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting Into the Swim of Things

I've now been living in Costa Rica for 1 week and 1 day.  All days leading up to this day were full of running around trying to get things together before Oscar goes back to work.  Well today is the day Oscar went back to work.  We both wanted me to have something to do during the day, but haven't found anything yet.  I'm still looking for an activity, part time job, something to do during the day.  I know good and well if I don't find something to do, I'll become bored.  And feeling bored leads to feeling miserable.  And feeling miserable will make me want to go back home.  Since I don't want to take that route, I'm going to continue the search!

I have found something to do in the evening which combines my mediocre swimming skills with my terrible hand-eye coordination-- water polo!  I've played a loose version of water polo with all my swim teams in which goals are two lawn chairs laid on their side, rules are: win at any cost, and teams are usually boys v girls.  So when the coach asked if I've ever played before, I told him "no".  In fact, I don't even know the actual rules to water polo!

The first practice was a great workout.  This could very well be because I haven't done any sort of physical activity for just about 2 years, or maybe it was just a great workout.  We did mostly  treading water and the likes, so about 15 minutes in, the insides of my knees were killing me.  Any swimmer out there knows what I'm talking about.  Too much breaststroke kicking when you're not used to it leads to some achy knees!  I think today I'll have to look up some youtube videos on water polo, the rules, and how to swim with that damn ball!  It's called dribbling and I'm just flat out terrible at it.



That's all for now.  I've got to go clean up and the likes.  Maybe take a nap with my Perlita.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Un Zaguate

Because Oscar loves me and wants me to be happy, he has allowed me to get a dog.  It had to be a small, female adult that doesn't make too much noise.  After about a week of searching, I think we hit the jackpot today.

He drove me up the mountain to San Rafael de Heredia where a kennel is located.  We walked around the different doggies until we found one we both liked.  She was lying down, instead of barking and crazy, and was a cutie pie.  We asked if she was an adult and the man looked at her teeth and said "probably".  Oscar then asked if she was neutered, the guy lifts her up to look at her belly and says "no, but we'll do that right now".  So the man takes her into the back, and Oscar and I sit and wait.

During the time we were waiting for our new doggy, I saw what I consider to be some pretty funny things.  Maybe because I'm used to top notch vets where it miraculously doesn't smell like dog, and everything is clean.  In contrast, this shit hole smelled just like that, shit.  As we waited we watched the owner of the place walk around trailed by about 8 small, brown dogs.  They must have been hers as they followed her everywhere she went.  She even once used a hose to spray them away when she needed to attend to another dog.  After a while, two newly fixed dogs were brought out in a wheelbarrow.  Their heads were floppy and their tongues were out.  I don't think I've ever laughed so hard.  Not sure if it was because of the absurdity of transporting dogs in a wheelbarrow, or the fact that they were so dopey.

The duena followed by 2 of the many little, brown dogs

After a little over an hour our little doggy was brought out sleepy as ever.  Of course this is when the sky opened up and started to down pour.  We rushed her to the pet store which was right next door and bought all the necessities for our new little pet.  Everything was amazingly cheap compared to USA prices.  For the adoption, spaying, a harness, a leash, 2 dog bowls, shampoo, dog food, 2 types of pills and frontline flea medicine was a whopping $60.

We settled in our new little doggy and I put the frontline medicine on her.  Almost immediately I saw 5 enormous fleas jump off.  Yuck.  She's now resting some more.  She's a very sweet doggy and is very quiet (for now).  I think she'll be a good running dog for Oscar once she's healed up.

Introducing the new zaguate (street dog) PERLITA (meaning "little pearl")




I'll have to take some better pictures later.  I didn't want to bother her too much while she was so tired.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Destino Final: Costa Rica

I boarded my plane that was leaving the USA in Washington DC.  It seems only right that my last stop on the way out was in our nation's capitol.  In the terminal I saw that I was the only blonde, and more than likely the only gringa, waiting for the plane.  As they called out instructions first in Spanish, and then English I made my way to board.  As I got on I heard the TACA staff greeting everyone "Bienvenidos, bienvenidos, buenos dias..." and of course as this blonde turned the corner I got a throaty "Hello".  The plane ride to Costa Rica was long and I was kept awake by a screaming 2-year old next to me, but I made it in one piece and so did all my luggage.  Oscar was waiting for me at the airport and everything was so strangely familiar to me.  The taxistas yelling "TAXI?!" as you walk out of the airport, the cloudy weather, the occasional gringo backpacker looking hopelessly lost, it all adds up to San Jose, Costa Rica.


Leaving early in the morning from RDU.  Got my Durham shirt to prove it.

Since arriving on August 9 it seems that we've done a lot, though we still have so much more to do.  Day one Oscar took me to our apartment where I took a nap, then headed to his mom's house to have a delicious dinner.  Day two was spent mostly unpacking and napping (as I had slept horribly the night before) followed by a few cervezas with Oscar's best friend, Ricardo.  Day three was full of errands.  We got some new pillows, towels, and some great kitchen stuff we bought off a posting from Craig's List (yes there's a Craig's List in Costa Rica).  Oscar also helped me in getting a cell phone, which was extremely easy and cheap.  His sister gave me an old phone to use and then we headed to a place to buy a little prepaid sim card.  The prepaid plan starts at 2,500 colones (equal to about $5) which gives you about 830 minutes.  We ended the day with our first homemade dinner in our new apartment, accompanied by some txakoli that Jay gave us and I hauled through customs.

First dinner in new apartment!

Today we still have a lot to do.  We will be heading into San Jose to do some shopping and attempt to find me some Italian classes to take and a swim team to work out with.  Tonight we're going to have dinner with my host family from when I was living here 3 years ago, and then possibly heading out to go dancing.

Life here is good, though I still miss home at times.  Hoping to meet some friends of my own soon, so I'll have someone to call on my new phone!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day Before Departure

So I find myself in the day that would never arrive-- August 8.  The day before I pick up my over-stuffed (but under 50 pound) bags and head to Costa Rica for an undetermined amount of time.  I'm very excited about my trip but I'm also reveling in my last moments in my home country.  Tonight my mom, her boyfriend and I will celebrate the best I know how-- with stinky cheese, crispy crackers, sweet and spicy chutney, expensive wine, and hot pink fingernail polish.  (My mom's boyfriend will not take part in the later of that list.)

My flight leaves tomorrow at 6am, and I should arrive in San Jose by 4pm (6pm Eastern time, get the blog title now?  2 time zones away? heh.)  Once I arrive I'll drop my stuff off at the apartment Oscar found, and then head to his house to be interrogated by aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins alike.  Not something I look forward to on any day, but particularly not after 12 full hours of traveling.  But that's how things work out sometimes.

Oh perhaps I should inform you of the apartment hunt.  In Costa Rica apartments are on the market for a full week before they're rented out.  So work must be done quickly.  Oscar started looking around as soon as he got back home (about a week ago).  I had some fairly impossible criteria that I wanted him to fulfill.  I wanted a 2 bedroom, with big windows, a yard and a porch.  Well what we ended up with was a 2 bedroom.  Good enough, right?

The reason this apartment was chosen was because it came with furniture.  I'm not sure how the rest of the world works, but in the USA when you rent an apartment "unfurnished" that means there's no furniture.  But it does come with a refrigerator, an oven, a stove, cabinets, etc.  In Costa Rica, "unfurnished" means there isn't anything.  A room with a sink and possibly a counter top = kitchen.  We are still a starting couple so it is probably good (and economical) for us to find a place that not only supplies tables and chairs, but also a fridge, oven and stove.  The lease is only for 6 months, so we can look into moving into something a little more "our own" later on.

Might try to lie down here for a little nap.  Though I seriously doubt I'll get any sleep.

On my mind...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pancake Sunday

Sunday has always been my favorite day of the week.  There was lots of fun things to do on a Sunday when I was little.  Being raised in a non-religious family meant taking advantage of the time when most people are in church to get other things done.  And because we live in the bible belt, most people are in church.

Early Sunday mornings my dad would go to the grocery store.  I would always accompany him there and our little trips to the store were one of my favorite things to do.  Sometimes I'd be allowed to take just one stuffed animal with me and if I was really lucky I could bring it inside with me!  On other days we would head out to eat breakfast at one of our favorite spots, Briggs.  We would always do our best to get in before "the church people" came.  But most Sundays, and the best Sundays, were Pancake Sundays.

Ever since I can remember my dad has been making us breakfast on Sunday mornings.  He makes the batter from scratch and would use a pan that cooks four pancakes at a time.  Of course being 3 of us (my brother, sister and I) it was always a fight to see who got the fourth pancake.  We would be playing around somewhere in the house when we would here the magic words "Kiii-iiids!  Chip time!"  We would all come running.  My dad would have a little bowl of chocolate chips waiting for us.  We would select our own pancake, personalize it with as many or as few chocolate chips as we wanted, and then wait for our delicious creation to turn golden brown.  Before he served them up on warm plates he heated in the oven, he would make sure which pancake belonged to which child "Who had the top right?  It's ready!"

Butter would melt over our warm pancakes as we poured on real maple syrup from Up State New York.  I have always loved applesauce and some days, when a jar was in the fridge, I would put a huge glob right on top.  My siblings and I would eat until we couldn't move.  Sometimes if we were lucky enough, there would be leftovers for our lunch the next day!

Throughout the years Pancake Sunday changed occasionally to Waffle Sunday, once my dad acquired a waffle iron.  The toppings became more varied including fresh cut fruits, powdered sugar, and, on special occasions, even whipped cream.  Pancake Sunday has been around through my entire life.  Even once my parents got divorced, all 3 kids went to college, and my sister moved out of state, Pancake Sunday survived.

Today was my most recent Pancake Sunday (though I requested waffles, seeing as though waffles aren't as available in Costa Rica.)  The usual spread was out-- warm plates from the oven, butter ready to melt, real maple syrup heated to perfection, freshly cut peaches, powdered sugar, and for me, applesauce.  But had I asked for pancakes, on this, my favorite day of the week, I would have sat down and waited for the two glorious words... "chip time".

Pouring home made batter into the waffle iron.

Keeping the waffles and plates warm in the oven.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Whodathunkit

I would have never guessed that my shit weighs so damn much.  I know I have a lot of it.  But geeze!  I have one duffle bag packed until it's bursting and it weighs about 40lbs.  I also packed a giant roller bag not even half full and it's already 60lbs.  Ugh.  The heaviest thing by far is my blender that I'm not ready to leave here quite yet.  I think the problem with the roller bag is the bag itself weighs a lot.  I'm going to see if I can get a nice sized duffle bag off my mom and throw things in there instead.  I've made my decisions on what I want to bring.  Now comes the time to fit it all in!

Oscar went apartment hunting yesterday and came back extremely pleased.  He found an apartment in front of a big park (perfect for a perrito he says!), with tall ceilings, a washer/dryer room, and cable/internet included all for $500 a month.  He says it is close to everything including bus stops, his job, where I would like to work, a gym, and a dance studio.  Unfortunately that is all the information I have.  I told him to bring a camera, but he forgot to.  And today his internet is broken (he told me by sending me a quick email at his cousin's house) so I don't have a chance to talk with him and get more details.

In the work category, I sent the school I want to work for an email today asking about substitute teacher positions.  The headmaster wrote me saying there were none available *awwww*.  It's a bummer, but not the end of the world.  The best part is is that he said, and I quote "Hi Signe, I remember you very well."  Sweet!  He says he'll keep me posted on any openings.  So that means I'm trying to gather together all the documents I would need just in case a work visa opportunity arises.

I feel like every passing day I spend so much time trying to get stuff done.  And every day I realize that I have more to do.  Uugghh...  I guess this is what it's like moving to a different country.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

B+

I've already lived in Costa Rica.  For a short time (about 11 months total).  But that means I sort of know what I'm getting myself into.  Which is a good thing.  But it also means I know all the things I'm going to miss about the USA before I even leave it.  Here's a list:

1. Websites that only work in the USA (ie: hulu, pandora)
2. Wearing my jewelry without worrying about getting robbed
3. Seasons
4. Traffic laws
5. Blending in

Fall always takes my breath away

But I should be optimistic.  So, here's a longer list of things I'm excited to be around again in Costa Rica.

1. The mountains.  Everywhere.
2. Easy and affordable public transportation
3. Mangoes
4. Gallo pinto
5. Spanish
6. Dance clubs where people actually dance
7. Suicide showers
8. Chivalry (even though the motive is still to get into your pants)
9. Hibiscus flowers on sidewalks
10. Monkeys (even though the ticos hate them)

Some gringa friends from my first stint in CR

Mountains surround you in San Jose

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Keeping myself busy

Oscar arrived in San Jose today and gave me a call to let me know he was there, well, and already partying.  That means I have one week until I'm in San Jose, doing well, and already partying.


Today I had to run around and get a lot of errands done.  I had a final doctor's appointment to squeeze in, bills to pay, and bank accounts to take care of.  I still need to make my mom an administrator to my accounts just in case something needs to be done while I'm away.  One bank suggested I give her power of attorney, which I was all about, until I realized it was a huge process that I just don't feel like getting into.

My to-do list is still long and daunting.  I also am trying to fit in a few more visits from friends before I head off.  Plus to make myself stand out even more in Costa Rica, I'm heading to the salon tomorrow to get some more blonde highlights.  Hola machita!

In other news I'm feeling anxious about moving.  Oscar will have a full time job and I will have nothing.  I need something to do or I will be bored and miserable.  So I spent a lot of time today scouring the internet attempting to find information on social groups in San Jose.  It was frustrating and didn't yield many useful results.  I mostly found tourist info (Gold Museum) or general info I already know (visas, where to live, etc).  I have joined a Costa Rica forum and will let you know the outcome of the site.  Some forums are extremely helpful, others have old members who can't stand new members, and some sites are visited so infrequently you'll never get a response.  We'll see how this one turns out.

I would love to find a swim team to join and Italian classes.  Yes, my Spanish could use more work, but I think the best way to improve it now is just start using it daily.  And I would really like to land a part-time job.  I think I'm going to have to wait to show up and find out what's popping.  That's just how it goes sometimes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Slacker

My goodness.  What kind of travel blogger am I if I can't even blog while traveling?

Well I just got back from the epic road trip up north.  Oscar, my friend Paula, and I spent 4 days in DC, 6 days in NYC, 1 day in Cortland, 2 days camping in central NY, and 4 days in Orchard Park.  What a trip.

Oscar and Lady Liberty.

In the Intrepid (we scored free tickets!)

At Braai, a South African restaurant in NYC

With a drag queen

At a free concert in Brooklyn


It would obviously take up too much time to blog about the entire trip but I do have one story that I really would like to tell.  After we spent the night at my Uncle Eugene's house in Cortland, the whole gang (me, Oscar, Paula, my mom, her boyfriend, Jay and doggy Baby Boy) all packed up and headed to Stony Brook state park on Kueca lake (one of the 11 finger lakes in New York).

We got our spot and parked the camper and got the tent set up for Jay and Baby Boy.  After some good beer drinking it began to rain, so we huddled under the easy-up tarp that we brought.  In a few more minutes it began dumping rain, so I told Jay "You should go zip up the windows".  In he went to batten down the hatches.  Then the rain turned into a monsoon and we all rushed into the camper for some protection.  We were tired and decided to turn in for the night. 

Oscar and I were to sleep in what he dubbed "the coffin" which is the bed that overhangs the front cab of the camper.  I began to clear out the coffin when I realized that the ceiling was leaking.  Not only was there a huge wet puddle in the middle of the mattress, all the blankets being stored in the coffin were also soaked.  I decided to go out and sleep in the tent with Jay, Baby Boy and Paula.  I run through the rain and hop into the tent to find a HUGE puddle in the middle of the tent.  "What in the world happened?" I asked.  Turns out Jay had only zipped up one window and had left the other wide open during the rain storm.  He later told me he was wondering why I said "windows" since there was only one...

Paula takes one for the team and sleeps in the puddle, shielded only by a towel and a water-proof sleeping pad.  I take the blow up mattress with Jay and Baby Boy.  When the tent begins to drip onto me.  Yes, it had rained so much that the tent was now leaking through the walls.  But, we finally managed to get to sleep after Jay jabbered on for about an hour or so about how he was missing his 600 thread count sheets and whether we would be able to find orange zest for french toast the next morning.

When the morning did finally come, Oscar stumbled out of the camper looking like he had spent the night in a puddle.  Well he had, the ceiling had continued to leak on him all night.  We had to strip the tent, the mattress and take out the blankets to attempt to dry everything off.  And by "we" I mean "me", since everyone else was busy sipping coffee.  Oscar did fix the roof for us though!

Oscar fixing the roof, lots of stuff up to dry.

Baby boy checking out the wreckage.


Oscar is leaving for Costa Rica tomorrow, and I'm leaving next week.  We're currently trying to fit all of his (mostly my) stuff into as few bags as possible so we (he) doesn't get hit too hard with fines from the airline.  I won't start packing til this weekend.  I'm excited for Costa Rica!!!

In front of Niagara Falls