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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

End of year stuff

I have successfully completed my first year teaching in Costa Rica!

Well sort of.  We have to work until Friday (I'm leaving Thursday for the USA).  We're giving out notes this week.  Basically the parents come in, we give the final notes and tell them whatever they need to know about their kid.  It's a lot of sitting around, which is what I'm doing right now.  Since the appointments have long breaks between them.

Last week was the last three days of classes.  On Wednesday I came to school with a whole bunch of games ready to play with the kids all day.  While outside playing a game we saw a dog get run over by a car, flip around in its throes of death and then die.  It was extremely disturbing and I made sure to get all the kids up to the classroom while the men of the school disposed of the body.  Because that's a man's job.  I was then off my game for the rest of the day because I was so sad about seeing that doggy die.  But I made it through the day and the kids had a pretty good little party.

The next day, on Thursday, was the recital.  We arrived around 1pm and the thing lasted until about 4:30pm!  Soooo long!  The kids did a good job, but there is just no reason to make a recital that long.  The first part was a ballet which was nice.  Then there were solo instruments, then choirs, then group instruments... it just went on and on!  Luckily, it took place at a theater right on my bus route so when it was over I just jumped on the bus and went home.



Friday was the Sixth Grade Graduation.  Here in CR obligatory school only goes up to 6th grade so there's this huge party for when the kids graduate.  They had a really nice little party for the kids.  I liked it because everyone was dancing, even the parents and teachers!  With only a few hours left the party organizers came in with a bunch of party stuff- hats, whistles, blinking necklaces, and of course- maracas.  It was a great for the kids.  They also gave out little socks to all the girls to change into instead of wearing high heels.  I thought that was especially awesome because of my bad feet!


Me in the red gettin it with the profes

Then on Saturday I realized that the papers I was so excited about finally getting have my passport number wrong.  So I have to request them all over again!  I went to ask the lady in the office about them and when they would be done, her answer "the guy is going to take a while because it's the holidays"  Yeah right, he's going to take a while because he's a lazy jerk.  *sigh*  Whatever.

But I'm going home on Thursday morning!  Will be home for about 5 days.  Plan on eating a lot of cheese that's not available in Costa Rica and drinking lots of Prosecco!  Yum!

Friday, November 30, 2012

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Okay I shouldn't get too excited, but I have just completed another step in my residency process.

I FINALLY HAVE THE FREAKING PAPERS THE SCHOOL WAS SUPPOSED TO GET ME MONTHS AGO!

WOOOOOO!

WOOOOOO!

I have been asking the lady at the office since last Wednesday for the papers.  This entire week she has assured me "they're done, we just need to pick them up"  Well every day it was another excuse as to why they couldn't get the papers.  Today I asked in the morning "Oh I'll send Johnny".  I asked for them in the afternoon "Oh, let Johnny finish lunch then he'll go".  I asked at the end of the day "Oh, is it possible for you to go get them?"  (then goes on to tell me what a hassle it has been for her to get these documents.  Preaching to the freaking choir my friend.)

Umm, hell yeah!  I just want the freaking papers, I'll do a back flip over a pit of flaming knives if that's what I need to do to get them.

So I got my very first tico directions and went to get these freaking documents.

I'll admit it, I'm spoiled.  Oscar is tico so he knows his way around.  And he's awesome and drives me just about anywhere I need to go.  Or gives me absurdly detailed directions of how to get somewhere.  So this is the first time I've ever had to drive somewhere by myself when I had only a rough directions of "200m past the bus stop, take a right, 200m on the left".

I got lost, but eventually found the place.  It was hidden under a big "CLINICA DENTAL" sign.  I thought the whole building was the dentist, but just the top part was.  Anyways...

I HAVE MY PAPERS!!! YESSSSSSSSSSSS

So now I need to make about 3 copies of each paper before I turn them in.  Also, I need to make a $50 deposit.  My director told me a month ago or so that she was going to do it that day, but when I emailed her about it she never wrote back.  I'm going to safely assume she didn't do it.  So I'll make the deposit tomorrow.  Then on Monday, after an appointment with the Embassy, I'll waste my entire day waiting around in migracion.  I'm hoping that getting there by 9am or so isn't too late and they'll be able to see me that day.

Cross your fingers for me!  Hopefully this is the last hoop I have to jump through.  Then it'll just be waiting for migracion to get their act together and approve me.

*crosses fingers*

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bear Awesome!

The end of the school year (and actual year) is upon us!  Since I have a homeroom of 5th grade I thought I should get little presents for them.  Cause that's what you do with little kids, right?

I was thinking over a few things, but all seemed to labor intensive.  I mean I don't like the kids that much.  Then I considered a piñata because Oscar mentioned that's pretty normal to have at the end of the year.  But I couldn't quite figure out a way to avoid the slaughter the kids would partake in in order to get the candy.  So I finally figured it out!

POP UP CARDS

They are totally my thing.  My mom used to make them for us when we were growing up.  They're super easy to make and everyone thinks you're some sort of genius because you made a card that talks.  Perfect.

Until I started making them.

The first half I made with snowman saying "Have a great brrrrr-eak"  (Later Oscar told me I should have put "cool break" DUH!  How did I miss that pun?  Sheesh)  Anyways, they were pretty cool but for whatever reason I wanted some variety.



I figured the second half of the cards I would make with reindeer heads.  Well as it turns out I'm awful at drawing reindeer.  They sort of ended up like bear dogs.



After two of those failures, I thought "what is really easy to draw and has a mouth?"  A SNAKE!  To make it like Christmas I'll just put a Santa Hat on him!  Those looked like sperm.



By now I was dying laughing at myself because I was so bad at making these pop up cards.  I tried to think of another animal that I was good at drawing and also had some sort of pun.  That's when I thought of a "My Name Is Earl" episode where there was some Bear Festival in town.  They kept seeing commercials for it and they would say "It's Bear-tastic!"  "It's Bear-aful!" and the one which I thought was the most funny was: "It's Bear-awesome!"  I added a Christmas tree so it would be more holiday-y.  So that was my last two cards.


I had a real good thing going with those snowmen!  Don't know why I made life difficult for myself.

So the kids are getting some wacky cards.  I'm not remaking them.  They'll just be happy candy is attached.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Update

And not quite as angry as the last one.

This time it's residency nonsense.  Just to recap:

In January 2012 I completed all the papers needed to apply for residency.  In the first week of February I gave those papers to my director who gave them to the worthless lawyer (WL).  The WL stalled for months and ended up turning in my papers to migracion in April (after I had to make an emergency border run since my visa ran out).  In July I had not heard anything so I contacted the WL who thinks that my director decided not to use him anymore.  When in fact that was not true.  The WL and my director speak a bit and after a few weeks of constant phone calls he makes his way to migracion to check on my case.  It turns out I'm missing 3 documents and a $50 deposit into migracion's bank account.  I asked for those three documents from the school about two months ago.

Which brings us to today.  I have had it.  I have spoken to the director multiple times and three weeks ago she assured me she would be giving all the documents to the lawyer.  Well, that never happened.  And these documents are not like anything they have to write.  All they have to do is make some copies.  That's it.  It would take maybe five total minutes to do this.

So today I go to talk to the lady in the office.  I hand her a paper which lists all the documents I need.  I tell her "I requested these almost two months ago, please please give them to me.  I will take them to the lawyer.  I will make the $50 deposit.  I want to finish this."  She was very nice and assured me I would have my documents by TODAY.

So I'm expecting them Friday at the earliest.  Maybe next Friday.  But I need to get them to the lawyer so that I can then call his lazy ass every day and pressure him into going to migracion.  Which will probably take a month.  So maybe residency by February 2013?

*sigh*  What a fucking hassle this has been.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pissed and need to let it out

It all started when I was literally walking out of the door and another teacher ran up to me and says "you can't go, we have a meeting today"


Have I ever mentioned Mondays are the only day I get to leave early?  I'm sure I must have at some point...

Anyways, I wasn't sweating it too much.  I have one more exam to write.  I'm just getting started when a teacher comes in to tell me all 7 of my exams that I had written can't be used.  Why?  Because I'm testing old information (like from the whole year).

Now, this is a final exam.  I would assume the final exam would test all information.   I made up the exams so that half would be old information, and half of it would be the new information.  I think that's pretty goddam fair.

So just a few minutes ago I was feeling so good about myself.  I had finished 7 of my 8 exams.  I had already sent out topics to the parents.  I was ahead of schedule!  Dopey me was ahead!

And then I find out I have to re-write all my freaking exams.  Because a parent complained.  It pisses me off to NO END.  The parent says that her kid has not kept the exams and how can he study old information?  I don't know.. with his NOTEBOOK or TEXTBOOK or ANY OF THE OTHER WORK WE HAVE DONE ALL FREAKING YEAR.

I told the teacher that for the ENTIRE YEAR I have spent class time going over exams questions to make sure they had the right answers.  I told them every single time that they need to hold on to their exams because the final exam will have questions from previous exams on it.  And now... I'm not allowed to do it.

I'm so sick of this school telling me I can't do shit.  I should be allowed to put on my test whatever the hell I want.  For the first two exams I was combining biology and physics because the kids only have me once a week and we never covered enough information to make a full test.  Well then I'm told I can't do that.  Then we get all these stupid ass rules about how to write a test (in multiple choice, the longest answer goes at the bottom, so it looks pretty I guess??!!)  Now I can't make a FINAL exam cover all the topics covered.  And I even gave them a list of the specific things to be tested.

So I'm pissed.  I have to send out an email "correcting" my exam topics and I will.  Tonight.  When Oscar can help me write a really fucking passive aggressive email saying stuff like "even though I've told the kids throughout the ENTIRE year to hold onto their tests, and even though your kid SHOULD REMEMBER all the information, and even though school is about LEARNING, and even though we have only had SIX CLASSES since the last exam and therefore the exam will now be very short, I have been forced to take away the old topics"  (and for biology and physics which I only have once a week, we will have had THREE classes.  How the FUCK am I supposed to make a fair exam off THREE classes of work???!!!)

So my exams will now be half the length.  Good luck kids.  You can say thanks to that ass hole parent whose child is stupid and irresponsible.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Birthday Bash and School Stuff

On Saturday was Oscar's mom's 50th birthday party.  And boy was it a party!

A mariachi came and played some songs.  Everyone knew all the words except for me, so I just drunkenly swayed back and forth and shouted every once in a while.  I think I fit in pretty well.

I love parties in Costa Rica because everyone always ends up dancing.  And I'm not talking a two step with a bounce.  I'm talking full on salsa, merengue, bachata, cumbia, bolero, everything.  If I haven't mentioned it before, Oscar is an excellent dancer.  I do an okay job of keeping up, but I'm nowhere near his level.  I told him I was embarrassed to dance in front of his family.  Because they actually know what dancing looks like.  When I'm home in the USA and just dancing in front of my rhythm-less, white family I look like a freaking star.  But not in front of Latinos.

In the end I think I did okay.  And everyone in Oscar's family is too nice to say other wise.

Mariachi!

And today I finally got around to making ribbons for the Science Fair winners.  I bought some sparkly blue ribbon and doubled it over so it was a little more opaque.  On the back I glued in a yellow card where I wrote "Science Fair, 2012" with the grade level and the kid's name.  On the front I put a glitter number 1.  I also am giving out a rubber snake with each ribbon because I have a ton left over from Halloween (I was Medusa).

So far I have only given out to fourth grade, but they totally loved it.  They were especially happy with the rubber snake.

I think they turned out pretty nice!

Well just this week left for teaching!  Next week is review week (although I'll probably continue teaching because I feel like we've had no time to cover anything).  Then the last week in November is Exam Week.  And then December 13 I fly home for a few days!!!!  So excited!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A new normal

Having been in Costa Rica for 15 months now, things that once seemed strange are now my new normal.  Here's a few I thought of.

Earthquakes-  This is what really sparked my thought on this topic.  Recently we have had lots of little earthquakes.  There was the big one a few months back that left some damage in Samara.  Then a little jiggle a few weeks ago (7.something, but very deep so no damage done).  Then just a few days ago there were two very strong and very short earthquakes only one minute apart.  I was sitting in bed, watching TV when it happened and the quake came with a very loud ''BOOM'' noise.  At first I thought someone hit the house with a car.  Then I thought maybe something fell on the roof.  I went outside to check when I heard another loud ''BOOM'' and a strong, but quick, shake.  I still had no idea what it was until I came back inside and one of my friends on facebook wrote ''yes it earthquaked, but it was quick''.  Ohhhh... right.  I'm in earthquake land.  When am I going to start realizing that the ground shaking means earthquake?  Who knows.  (FYI- these two little earthquakes were only a 2.3 but originated in Escazú which is the town right next to wear we live.  So they felt much stronger than any other quake I've felt.)

Ants-  They're everywhere.  You can check out a post I made in the very first months I moved here about the ant colony I found in the bathroom sink.  But they're not just in the bathroom sink.  I've heard (and seen) that ants have built nests in books, speakers, even computers.  They're everywhere, all the time.  In the USA if I saw ants in my kitchen I would run out to buy ant poison to get rid of them immediately.  Here, cleaning up the ants is just part of the kitchen routine.  We have a constant stream of ants going from outside, through a cracked window, across the wall, behind the sink and onto any dirty dishes that have yet to be washed.  We can now only feed Perlita once a day at night because sometimes she won't eat in the morning.  Of course by the time I get home from work her bowl of food is swarming with ants and I have to throw away the food.  All of our dried food, snacks, chips, cookies, etc are not only closed by a clothes pin, we also put them inside a sealed ziplock bag.  Because those ants get everywhere.  We learned after the infamous Ants-In-Grits incident back in February '12.  Lost four good containers of grits that day.  A sad, sad day.

Phone ringing- Sometimes it's the little things that make you miss home.  Here when you dial a phone number you get a long beeeeeeeeeep, beeeeeeeeeeep as a ringtone.  In the USA you have the riiiiiiiiiiing, riiiiiiiing tone, like a bell.  I am completely used to the beep noise, but everytime I call a USA phone number I just can't help but love the 'ring' instead of the 'beep'.

No hot water in sinks- I guess I don't really know why people need it.  I suppose to wash dishes correctly you have to use hot water.  But there are no sinks with hot water here.  Well, perhaps if you're fancy.  The thing is most homes (in the Central Valley) have what the gringos like to call ''suicide showers''.  Suicide showers have the heating unit right above the shower head.  I don't think anyone has actually been electrecuted by the suicide showers before, but it is a fun name for gringos to use.  So this means there is no hot water for sinks.  Which isn't something I even notice anymore.  If fact, I never assume a hotel/hostel will have hot water at all.  It's always something I look up first.  But then I'll go to some fancy pants country and get all excited because I can wash my hands in warm water.  I was thinking about this the other day because in school one of my homeroom kids got her nose bashed.  She was gushing blood and there were no gloves for me to use to help her stop the bleeding.  I was super uncomfortable dealing with so much blood and not having gloves.  I immediately went to wash my hands and was like ''oh yeah, no hot water!''  So I just washed them twice for about two minutes each time with lots and lots of soap.  Hope that did the trick.


Suicide showers usually don't look quite this dangerous, but you can see what I'm talking about.

Also, I just bought  a spontaneous trip back home to NC in December!  I'll be there for a couple days just to hang out.  Can't wait!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Only Mostly Dead



And my Miracle Max is my mug of wine.

The science fair was today and it was a very long day.  I spent the ENTIRE time going around to see presentations from the kids.  Because I have 6 different grade levels I had to go through 6 full classes of presentations.  And boy was I disappointed.

I sort of knew I would be.  But it was ridiculous.  I had kids in 3rd grade and kids in 8th grade doing the same project.  I had at least 3 groups do the egg in vinegar deal, 3 groups do the lemon juice and fire ''invisible ink'', and 2 groups with bones in different solutions.  One group in SIXTH GRADE did baking soda and vinegar to blow up a balloon.  Seriously?  One kid must have not understood the word EXPERIMENT and instead did a research project on tectonic plates.  ''My hypothesis is that tectonic plates rubbing against each other creates earthquakes''  That's not YOUR hypothesis.  That was Alfred Wegener's hypothesis.  In 1915.

I hated how awful the projects were because I feel like it reflects on me as a science teacher.  I obviously suck at teaching the difference between science and stupid.

I even had a group do mentos in coke.  Mentos.  In.  Coke.

Is that even an experiment?  When you know what's going to happen?

And then I ask them 'hard' questions like ''why does it happen?'' and they can't give me an answer.  So you just put mentos in coke and took pictures and that's it.  You had over a month and this is what you came up with.

sigh.

The day was super long and I didn't even get to all the classes.  For whatever reason all the kids started leaving after lunch at 1pm when school doesn't end until 3pm.  So when I finally got to the 4th grade class, no one was even there.  I'm going to make them bring in the projects on Friday and present then.

Luckily I got a ride home with a neighbor so at least I didn't have to take the bus.

I'm exhausted but my Miracle Max sure is working a miracle.

Here's some pictures from the lame projects--

Actually, forget it.  They're taking too long to load and they're not that interesting.  Let's just leave it at that.

Monday, October 29, 2012

School Stuffs

I'm tired of the science fair project.  These kids have had a full month to do their science fair project.  I'm not surprised they're doing it at the last minute, but I am surprised they're telling me that they're doing it at the last minute.  If you're going to BS your project, cool, but do it so I can't tell.  Idiots.

Today a kid came up and asked if she could do ''self inflate a balloon'' with vinegar and baking soda.  She's in 5th grade.  I told her she had a FULL MONTH to come up with a good experiment, and if she decides to turn in a vinegar and baking soda project, she'll get a vinegar and baking soda grade.  I mean seriously...

I'm also upset because I told all the kids they had to dress up for the science fair.  I think it's important that they learn to look presentable for certain occasions.  Well just today I get an email from the principal saying no, I'm not allowed to ask them to dress up and they have to come with their regular uniforms.  Whatever.  I don't know how I'm going to be able to tell all the kids two days before the science fair they have to wear their uniform after I just spent the last 5 weeks beating into their brains that they have to dress up.  So, I'm not putting in an effort to tell them.  If they come dressed up, great, if not, great.

Also, if you haven't noticed, I'm a lazy ass hole.  And for whatever reason I thought it would be a good idea to make myself in charge of organizing a project with a marine life protection organization.  I mean I love sea turtles and sharks, I just love not working more.  Anyways, I'm going to try to get some people from this organization to come talk to the whole school about their projects.  Maybe get a fund raiser together to adopt a turtle or two.  And also try to get a group of students to go on a volunteer trip sometime next year.  Mostly just because I want to go.

I just have senioritis real bad.  I had it last year I taught, too.  We have about a month and a half of school left and I am so ready for it to be over.  I'm having trouble coming up with fun ideas.  I don't have the same enthusiasm about teaching as I normally do.  Plus my computer has been in the shop for almost two weeks which means I have no access to any of the science stuff I have saved there.  I'm trying to cram in labs because I need to re-excite myself with science.  I'm going to do a pH lab and static electricity lab this week, and hopefully get stuff together for a DNA extraction lab for the older kids next week.

This Saturday Oscar and I are going to the Lady Gaga concert!  That will be fun!  I wanted to dress up as Lady Gaga (you know, just the wig and probably the beer cans) but a wig costs $50!  That's almost as much as the tickets!  Forget that!

It'll be just as fun without the wig!

Also, best wishes to all of you in Sandy's path.  These pictures are making me remember Hurricane Fran back in 1990-whatever.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Funny Chicken Story

This blog post comes from my mom's husband. (that is a link, click it)  Reading it makes me miss home and all the locuras that happen there.  I wonder if it will be funny to everyone, or only to people who happen to know my mom and her husband.  Well, either way, I thought it was damn funny.

Chicken Eggs

Me and a chicken about a year ago


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Something I won't miss

I'll miss a lot of things when Oscar and I decide to move back to the USA.  But I'm sure of one thing I won't- the abundance of street dogs.


Here, there is no animal protection or any other societies.  There are very very few places for street dogs to be held until they are adopted.  So they stay on the street.  And make more street dogs.  I've read that there's just as many street dogs in the USA as there are in CR.  The difference is they are collected in the USA, and, unfortunately, usually euthanized when they are not adopted.  I don't know how true that statement is, but I guess in this instance ignorance is bliss.  I don't think there's any good answer for what to do with the street dogs.

I'm thinking about this a lot today because coming home from my walk with Perlita, a street dog came up to us.  From far away he looked fine, healthy even, and really pretty.  He was blonde and light brown with green eyes.  A beautiful dog.  And he was covered in some sort of skin disease.  He looked so sad like all he wanted was a pat or two.  I didn't want him to get near Perlita just in case whatever he had was contaigous.  I gave him the normal ''tsh!'' which usually scares dogs away here.  But he didn't do anything.  I happened to be carrying a stick because Perlita found it and wanted to take it home.  So I took the stick and gave him a little thump and pushed him away.  He didn't do anything.  He just stood and looked at me.  I walked quickly away with Perlita and he stayed where he stood.

After I got home I felt so awful about knocking him with the stick.  I thought I should go get him and take him to the vet to see what he has and get him medicine.  I thought I should take care of him until we can find him a good home.

But I have no money.  I have no idea if he would try to bite me if I went to get him.  And we certainly don't have enough space in the apartment for two dogs.  

I tell myself these things because I try to make myself feel better.  I adopted one street dog.  I gave her a good home.  I can't save every dog in Costa Rica, can I?

I thought I'd maybe get used to all the street dogs.  You see them every day.  But I haven't.  I still hate seeing the starving, disease ridden dogs running across the street in the rain.  I hate the Nicaragua border with the filthy dogs who follow you around waiting for food to drop.  And I hate that there's problems worse than that in this country.

So yeah.  That's something I won't miss.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Resourceful!

For the past week I have been wanting to make chia pets with my fourth grade class (we're studying germination).  Last Monday I asked them to bring in stockings, an integral part.  Last weekend I was feeling sick so I didn't make it out to buy soil and seeds.  Tuesday, everything was closed by the time Oscar and I tried to go.  So today, right after work, I went to buy dirt and seeds.

After being assured that I could get both dirt and seeds at WalMart, I found out they had neither.  They have fertilizer and mulch, but no dirt.  They have flower and veggie seeds, but no grass.  I bought two packets of cilantro seeds just in case the vivero (plant store) didn't have any seeds, but I really thought they would.

Well they didn't.  I didn't feel like going back to WalMart so I decided I would just split up the cilantro seeds and hope they grow fast.  I told the guy working at the vivero that I wanted the cheapest bag of dirt they have.  I don't know if I misunderstood something, but I somehow ended up with a 50kg bag of dirt.  *face palm*  At least it was only $5.

I get home and think about how Oscar said to me earlier "I doubt anywhere sells grass seeds.  I mean grass grows everywhere!"  Then it hit me-- duh!  I can get grass seeds from.... GRASS!  So I went out to the patio and just spent about 10 minutes gathering two types of grass seeds.  I don't know if my timing was just lucky but it seems like everything is putting out seeds right now!  Hoorah!

So, we'll make the chia pets tomorrow and they will take them home during "winter" break next week.  Then bring them in the week after so I can give them a grade based on how well they took care of their pets.  It'll be fun.  I'll bring my camera and take some pictures tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

German Unity Day

(I was originally just going to make this a facebook status update, but couldn't figure out how to write it short enough so here we go...)


Today is German Unity Day.  Because we are a German school the school decided to take almost half of the day to commemorate.  Of course, being the "pura vida" school we are I had no idea what the activities were until all my guia (homeroom) class came into my room asking where the paper was.  Huh?  I eventually found out that each guia class was going to get paper to paint a graffiti from the Berlin Wall.  So we spent over two hours deciding what each group should paint and finishing the painting.

Boxes were then piled up and the graffiti paintings were taped on.  It actually looked pretty cool.  The kids did a lot of the famous ones--




Unfortunately I don'y have any pictures since I didn't bring my camera.
After the wall was constructed a few kids spoke in German, and then two of our German teachers spoke.  And by German teachers I mean teachers from Germany.  The first one lived in the West and told a strange story.  Maybe I didn't understand perfectly, but he said he was very proud because the Berlin Wall came down without "one drop of blood".  Yeah except for all those people killed?  Anyways, next a lady who lived in the East spoke.  And all that wasted time of doing the stupid graffiti became worth it.  She had an awesome story.

She talked about how her house was given away to soldiers, how they had no food, how they weren't allowed to talk in groups larger than 2 at a time.  She said her and her sister were lucky and got sent to live in an aunt's house in the West after a few years, but her brother wasn't.  He was arrested and put in jail for over a year for trying to escape.  She told me how tanks used to pass in front of her house and they would play hide and seek with them.  She expressed how she doesn't understand why people still believe communism is a good thing.  She says "I lived Communism.  And I prefer democracy."


The kids were then allowed to rip apart the wall.  Everyone ran at the same time and tore everything apart.  All that work for nuttin.  Of course later a teacher comes to tell me one of my 5th graders ran over a 4th grader.  Well duh.  They all ran over there at the same time!  Someone was bound to fall.

But anyways.  Even after wasting 3 hours of class time, I was happy I got to hear this one woman's story.  The rest of it was pointless, but the story made it all worth it!  Sort of...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Independence Day and Bodies

September 15 was Independence Day.  So on Friday the kids wore traditional clothing and brought in faroles (lanterns).  It was very nice.  Friday night, Pavas puts on the whole show of running in the torch (see last year's post), but it rained so Oscar and I were like SCREW THAT and took a nap instead.  We're old people.  I was given Monday off which was great.

Here's some pictures from school:






Today the fifth through eighth graders went to see the Bodies exhibit in Multiplaza.  I printed out an extensive worksheet for them to fill out while inside.  I went through with my group, fifth grade, and explained a lot of the bodies and organs and such.  They did really well, I was surprised.  Although perhaps not that surprised, I gave all the students a pretty heavy lecture before we went in about being respectful and mature.  I warned them that the bodies are naked (*gasp*) and to my pleasure I didn't see a single kid pointing at penises and giggling.  Even at the penis box!  They all just sort of nodded while I pointed out the male urinary system (one kid said it looked like a flamingo! jaja!).  I only caught one kid sort of mocking the position of one body and I called him out immediately and he looked embarrassed afterwards.  Good.  (I'm such a bitch.  muahaha)

I love that these young kids think I'm some all-knowing being because I'm able to identify major organs in the human body.  I guess not everyone can do that, but everyone should be able to do it.

So yes, great field trip.  Great Independence Day.  Residency is still being difficult but I'm hoping in another few weeks everything will be solved.  *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11, 2001

For about a week I have been conflicted on what to do about the mark of 11 years since September 11.  This was because of a couple things:

1.  I teach science class.  That has nothing to do with September 11.
2.  September 15 is Costa Rica Independence Day.  I didn't want to impose.
3.  Most of the kids at this school were not even alive in 2001.  And of those who were, all of them are too young to even remember it.

After mulling over everything I decided that this was too important to just let pass.  But I'll remember in a more silent way.  I'm not going to mention the towers, the Pentagon, the plane crashes, the lives lost, the horror or the pain.  I'm going to write a poem about heroes on the board.  For the youngest kids I'm going to have them copy it down, and draw a picture to go with it.  For the older kids I'm going to have them read it and then write their own poem on a hero in their life.  That way, it sort of ties in to both the heroism of September 11, and the heroism of September 15.

Because even though I don't know anyone who lost anyone in the attacks, it is still a very sobering day for me.

Here's some pictures I got from my third graders:

"I am a hero and my dog too"

Left side is her parents being heroes by donating blood.  Right side is her being a hero by helping her brother who hit his head.

Police officer.

"My father and my mother are heroes"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Earthquake!!!

Today at 8:43AM an earthquake struck.  Official reports are saying 7.6 on the Richter scale.  I think they are reporting one death of a woman from a heart attack, some serious building damage near the epicenter and the Guanacaste area (where the epicenter was) is without power.  Here in San Jose there was very minimal damage, but it was still a scary one.  Not my first one, but definitely the strongest.

My very first earthquake was the infamous Cinchona in 2009.  It was a 5.6 (correction- 6.1, thanks Randall!), epicenter in Poas, much closer to San Jose.  I remember sitting on my bed in my host family's house.  Everything started shaking and the mirror on the wall was slamming back and forth.  I was so confused.  What was going on?  My mama tica was shouting for me "Signe! Signe!"  I walked out of my room and she beckoned me into the doorway.  "Esta temblando!"  When I looked outside what I saw turned my whole world up-side down.  If I knew nothing else before that day, I knew the freaking ground didn't move.  But turns out it does.  I remember seeing the ground move like a wave.  My mama tica rented out the space in her front yard to the company next door to park and I saw the cars rolling back and forth over these ground waves.  It was very freaky.

Cinchona caused a lot of damage and a month later I went with a group called Un Techo Para Mi Pais to build emergency homes for those affected.  The image that struck me the most was seeing an empty house that looked completely normal from the front, and the back half was gone.  Slid down the hill.  Off a cliff.  Just gone.

My second earthquake was a little one.  I was on the computer in my university and the lights started shaking.  None of the ticos even blinked twice.  I still got up and left the building.

Which brings me to my third, and strongest, earthquake.  The one from today.  I was sitting in class and I felt the building shake.  I assumed it was a heavy truck going by as they shake the building sometimes.  As the shaking continued I thought "this is an earthquake".  I looked up at a student and we said at the same time "esta temblando!"  Nothing was falling off shelves, but this one was scary because it lasted for so long!  That and being on the second floor was a whole other ballgame I'd never experienced before.  It's been a long time since I last felt an earthquake but being on the second floor was definitely more of a roller coaster.  We got all the kids out of the building safely.

For the next hour or so, I felt sort of dizzy and off.  Like my equilibrium got messed up.  I don't remember that happening with Cinchona.  The director of the school decided to send everyone home, so I spent a long time passing around my phone for the kids to call home.  Luckily, I had switched to Movistar after coming home from Germany and I had signal.  ICE phones had none.

Once most of the kids had left, I went ahead and drove home.  The apartment is fine, the puppy is fine, Oscar says a lot of stuff fell over in his job, but that everyone is okay.  There were a few things toppled over here in the apartment, but nothing serious.  So I took a nap and went on a walk.  Life goes on after an earthquake...

Here's a video on facebook.  I can't just post it because blogger won't allow me.

Epicenter

Landslides are always one of the biggest problems after an earthquake.

Playa Ostinal

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tico time and kid's day

Just some updates about my residency stuff--

Three weeks ago I sent an email to the worthless lawyer (henceforth known as WL) to see what was going on with my stuff.  After he didn't reply, Oscar called him.  Turns out the WL thought that my director had hired someone new and therefore didn't know anything about my case.  What he did know was that immigration was waiting for my divorce papers. *heavy sigh*  (FYI- single, never married)  So I wrote my director asking for the new lawyer's name so I could contact him.  This is when I saw my director upset for the very first time.  She sent the WL an email explaining to him she had already paid him the Costa Rican equivalent of an arm and a leg and she expected him to continue with my case.  I guess he agreed because he sent me an email saying he would go to immigration next week and give me updates.

That "next week" was last week.  On Friday since I still hadn't heard from him, I sent him an email.  Which he of course did not reply to.  So yesterday Oscar called him again and the WL says he will go into immigration today and have news for me this evening.

Well this is where "tico time" comes in.  When I was first told that he would be going in "next week" I assumed he meant within the next three weeks.  And yesterday when he said he would have news "tomorrow" I assumed he meant next week.  So hopefully in another week I'll have an update on my residency!  *fingers crossed for good news*

---

Since I've now been writing this blog in Costa Rica for over a year, I have a feeling some things might be repeated.  But, this Friday is evidently "El Día de los Niños", Kid's Day.  Eating lunch just now I had a kid ask "What are you going to do for us for kid's day?"  My response: "Nothing."  All the kids stared at me in shock.  They say: "But all the teachers do something on Kid's Day."  Me: "But I don't like kids."  *jaws hit the floor*  I ask them: "When is Teacher's Day?"  Kids: "There is no Teacher's Day."  Me: "Exactly.  When you guys throw me a Teacher's Day party I'll throw you a Kid's Day party."

I mean seriously?  Do I not do freaking enough for these lazy mofos to begin with?

Ugh.

I know Kid's Day is a pretty big freaking deal, so I'm actually kind of glad they told me about it.  Otherwise I'd look like a total ass for not giving those little hellions anything.  In fact, I'd probably get in trouble from the administration and from the parents.

I think I'll buy them number 2 pencils.  The brown ones.  And perhaps some carrots.

Happy Kid's Day you filthy animals.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to vote from abroad

National elections are right around the corner!  Are you registered to vote?  Are you registered for your absentee ballot if you're abroad?

Registering for your absentee ballot is super easy!  Here is the facebook page dedicated to it.  And here is a jolly and informative video on how to:


For North Carolina I simply wrote my county and asked how to do it.  I was able to register to vote in my hometown and request my absentee ballot all online.  My ballot is then sent to me in email as a PDF.  I can print it off, fill it out, scan it and email it back.  In NC, you get your ballot about three weeks before the election day so you have NO EXCUSE to not fill it out and get it back in.  You are then sent every ballot for every election you are eligible to vote in for one year.

REMEMBER- you must re-request you absentee ballots every year to make sure your voice is heard.

So please register to vote!

And get your absentee ballot!  It is so easy!

Make your vote count!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Best stress reliever ever

Non newtonian fluid!

Had a couple bad days at work.  Yesterday was my day to go home early.  The secretary came by my room in the morning to tell me there was a meeting.  I was pissed, but spent almost the whole day trying to be very pura vida about it.  Until 2:10 came and a guy came in my classroom "the meeting has been canceled".  I had waited around for an hour and a half, for nothing.  The worst part- all the other teachers had already been informed.  I, the only one who gets to leave early on Mondays, was the only one left out of the loop.

I was so mad when I was leaving, I was seeing red.

Today I came in and was told I had to fill out these pointless forms about my exams.  We have to list the objectives, and how many points and questions per objective.  I was told I had "too many points" on my exam, and we're only allowed to have 70 points.

Why?  That is just an arbitrary number.  So I had to fill out this form (and I did it in English, not Spanish), send it in to the lady who doesn't have science knowledge and doesn't speak English to be reviewed.  How the hell is this busy work benefiting anyone?  And if they decide I have too many points, what's next?  Make me reduce the points on each question?

WHAT DOES THAT DO???  nothing.  My test will be the same, but each question will be worth less.  It will still be THE SAME THING.

I was so mad filling out that stupid chart I was shaking.

So I made myself some non-newtonian fluid.  And man is it relaxing to play with it.  Liquid.  SOLID.  Liquiddd... SOLID!!!

*deeeeeeep breath*

liquid... SOLID

Monday, August 20, 2012

Because I want to complain

The spaghetti.  It put me over the edge.

Every once in a while I have to buy lunch from work.  Usually Oscar and I make enough dinner to last us over to lunch, but occasionally we won't eat dinner or whatever and we won't have lunch.  Oscar gets his lunch from a tasty soda down the road, I get mine from the worthless lady who cooks for the school.  And for some reason, it's always pasta.

Freaking pasta.

I pay 1800c (about $3.50) for a plate of over cooked spaghetti topped with some watery tomato thing with cilantro.  And man are they stingy with the sauce.  It never covers the pasta, so you mostly eat plain pasta that might be a little wet from the tomato liquid.  *ugh*

Okay I should just bring my lunch every day, I know.  And I try.  But this is my blog and I want to complain goddamit!

Now for the next part.  I've complained before about these stupid "relaxation" things the school was forcing us to do on Mondays after school.  Well Mondays happen to be the only day I get to leave after lunch.  Every teacher has one of these days, and my day is Monday.  I never went, because I didn't want to.  The relaxation classes have thankfully stopped.  So of course, the school has decided to make weekly meetings every day after school on, you guessed it, Mondays.

I'm pissed.  When I read the email I sort of flipped my shit.  It's just not fair.  I'm one of the few teachers who has to stay until 3pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, plus I have a full day Friday.  So Monday was my day.  My day to walk my dog for over an hour.  The day the cleaning lady comes.  The day I can take a quick afternoon nap.  It was my freaking day.

I get it.  Most people work until 5pm.  I get that complaining I can't leave until after 3pm is sort of snobby.  I don't care. I care that for almost an entire year I've been working half days on Mondays and now I will have to sit around an extra 2 hours to sit around another 2 hours in some pointless meeting.

The thing is, I was totally over this.  I had decided to go to this meeting, then talk to the director about it.  Somehow finagle my way out.  Because when I think about it, being angry doesn't change the situation, it just makes me miserable.

But that pasta.  That stupid pasta.  It made me angry.

Being the mature person I am, I plan to be completely passive aggressive.  I'll go to your goddamn meetings.  But I'm not saying a damn thing.  I will not participate.  I won't act interested or like I'm paying attention.  You're taking away my freaking Monday, and I will not pretend to enjoy it.

So you can now leave comments about how I'm being a spoiled brat complaining about having to stay at school until *gasp* 3pm.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Attack of the Worms!

No this is not a movie review of a SciFi original film.  This shit actually happened last night.

So we all know that when it rains, the worms come out of the ground.  Well evidently, not only do they come out of the ground, they also climb up your walls, leak through your open windows and then flip out all over your floor and on your feet.  ICKY!

Yesterday night we got a really good rainy season rain.  It was a downpour for at least 2 or 3 hours.  I was watching TV and Oscar mentioned "there's a lot of worms around there".  I assumed he meant outside on the patio.  Well he didn't.  I walked out into the kitchen to see the floor covered in worms!  Okay, I'll admit that's an exaggeration, but there were at least 5 worms on the floor.  I opened the door so Oscar could put them out, and they were in hoards crawling up the walls!  After I found a few in the bedroom, we closed the windows as tight as we could, and blocked the bottom of the door with a towel.

Perlita was of course delighted to tear apart the tossing and turning worms so that Oscar had to pick up the mangled worm pieces.

We never had this happen in the old apartment, but then again we were on the second floor above a paved carport.  I just hope it doesn't happen again!!  Yuck!!

Here's some pictures.  They're not very impressive since a) they were taken after the vast majority had been removed, and b) they're worms- not very photogenic.

One inside the house.

Crawling up the walls.

Monday, August 13, 2012

One year living in Costa Rica

That's right folks, I made it to one year in Costa Rica.  August 9, 2011 I hopped on a plane to San Jose with the plan of never returning to the USA again!  No not really, but it was intended as a permanent move.

This year has been absolutely fantastic.  The most frustrating part to me was definitely the whole residency issue.  It was expensive, lengthy and really unorganized.  But all my stuff is in immigration, I have my paper saying I'm in tramites and therefore I shouldn't have to make any more border runs.  I guess that paper also means I'm allowed to work, but I'm not sure anyone could answer that question for me, so I'll assume "si".

Life in Costa Rica is different in many ways, but in most ways it's the same.  I still get lots of emails and facebook messages about people asking for tips for moving to Costa Rica.  They say they want to live "the simple life".  I don't get this.  Life in Costa Rica is just as simple or just as complicated as you decide to make it.  Why don't you just live "the simple life" in the USA?  If you think that just because you move to a new country you'll all of a sudden decide you won't need that flat screen TV and gas-guzzling SUV, then you're wrong.  My life in Costa Rica is quite similar to my life in the USA.  Oscar and I share one car.  We both work.  We have a small, one bedroom apartment.  We pay our bills.  Sometimes we go out to eat- sometimes it's a fancy restaurant, sometimes it's take out Chinese.  Sometimes we go to bars (okay- often times we go to bars).  We drink beer.  We buy some fancy US products from the store and try to stretch our colon by buying veggies at the feria.  We save up for big vacations and also go on weekend trips.  I'd consider it a simple life, but it sure isn't much simpler than our US life.

Thinking back, I'm not sure I've learned much (except for that if you want anything done, do it your freaking self!  Although-- really I knew that before.  Suppose I just relearned it.)  I studied abroad in Costa Rica so a lot of the stuff I'd already known.  My Spanish has gotten better and my pachuco has really improved.  I know my way around most of San Jose, and can take a bus anywhere I need to go.

I love living in Costa Rica.  I really like my job.  I like my friends.  I like Oscar's family.  I love the mountains.  I love the beaches.  Oscar and I are pretty sure this will not be our "forever home", but for now, it's been pretty freaking awesome.

Feliz aniversario!!

Oscar and I headed to La Esquina de Buenos Aires, our favorite Argentinian restaurant, to celebrate one year in Costa Rica!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another Day Off- Worst Miracle Ever

So tomorrow I get another day off of work.  Have I mentioned before how I never work?  We had three weeks off in July and came back last week.  Last week we had Wednesday off.  Second week back and we get Thursday off.  We'll also have August 15th off (mother's day), plus a few days in September, a whole week in October...  Anyways, this post is not about that.

It's about TOMORROW- El Dia de la Virgen de los Angeles.  This is when the very religious people of Costa Rica show their faith by walking from all over the country to the Basilica in Cartago.  The last couple kilometers they do on their knees.  Why to this specific location?  Well because this is where the virgin, La Negrita, appeared.  And this is where it makes me laugh.

The virgin had the worst miracle ever.

Here's an actual story I found online, with perhaps a little less sarcasm then how I would tell it: (copy and paste to make it bigger if you want to read it)

"La ciudad de Cartago, como muchas otras en la época colonial, segregaba a los bancos de los indios y mestizos.  A todo el que no fuera blanco puro se le había prohibido el acceso a la ciudad, donde una cruz de piedra señalaba la división y los límites.  Estamos en los alrededores del año de 1635 a 1639, época de la aparición, el perímetro de la ciudad apenas llegaba a unas 400 varas de la plaza.


Aquella pequeña ciudad compuesta de cuadrantes con pocas casas y grandes solares. A unas 700 varas de la plaza, cerca de este punto estaban diseminadas una pocas casas muy humildes y se le llamaba La Puebla de los Pardos, por el color de la piel de sus habitantes.


Juana Pereira, una pobre parda (se desconoce si era, india, mestiza o morena), se ha levantado al amanecer para, como todos los días, buscar la leña que necesitan en su hogar.  Es el 2 de agosto, fiesta de la Virgen de los Ángeles, y la luz del alba que ilumina el sendero entre los árboles, le permite a Juana descubrir una pequeña imagen de la virgen sencillamente tallada, como de una cuarta de grande, (20 centímetros) visiblemente colocada sobre una gran roca en la vereda del camino.  Con alegría, la mujer, recogió aquel tesoro, sin imaginar que otras cinco veces más lo volvería a hallar en el mismo sitios, pues la imagen desaparecía de armarios, cofres. En una ocasión, sorprendida fue en busca del cura de Cartago, a quien con asombro le contó la historia y le entregó la imagen; el sacerdote tomó la figura y la guardó en una caja, con el fin de analizarla con cuidado una vez que tuviera tiempo.


Al día siguiente la imagen ya no estaba dentro de la cajita.  Cuando Juana fue al monte a buscar leña como era su costumbre, nuevamente allí sobre la misma piedra, se encontraba la imagen oscura.  Juana corrió donde el cura y este, acompañado de otras personas, fue hasta el breñal, desde donde condujo a la imagen en procesión hasta la iglesia parroquial depositándola en el sagrario parroquial, para regresar tenazmente a la roca  donde había sido encontrada.


Era la quinta vez que la Virgen se manifestaba de esa manera y comprendieron que allí en ese lugar debería homenajearse a la Virgen construyéndole un templo."


So the story goes like this: some girl finds a statue on a rock.  She likes it and takes it home.  The next day she can't find it.  Turns out it had "miraculously" returned to the rock where she originally found it.  She took it again and again and it kept going back to its original spot.  So obviously this was an apparition of the virgin and they decided to build the Basilica where the rock was.


Does anyone else think that story sucks?


Well anyways, now every August 2 tons of ticos make a pilgrimage to the Basilica.  Some people walk for days, weeks even, to get there.  Some just take the bus and then go on their knees through the church.  When I was studying abroad, my tica mama went to the Basilica and walked on her knees through the church in hopes that her grandson wouldn't have allergies anymore.  I'm not sure how that turned out.


I've never even been to the Basilica, but hey, I've seen lots of churches.  I guess I'll have to see if before I leave, but.. que pereza!


Oscar told me this next part, so if it's wrong blame him!

Up until the current president, Laura Chinchilla, August 2 was not a mandated day off.  But Laura Chinchilla changed it to a mandated day off since she was named the "prodigal daughter of the Virgin" by the Basilica.. committee?  I don't know how that works.  In return, she defends the church and continues to suppress gay rights, abortion, etc.  But hey, we get August 2 off!

So tomorrow, toast to La Negrita!  Thanks for the day off, babe!

(It's a little hard for me to find pictures on the internet, did the best I could!)

Walking on knees through the church

Ticos come out in numbers!

In the church


The Basilica in Cartago

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My First Field Trip

Currently watching USA men stomp Tunisia into the ground in basketball (60-107, 1:30 left in the 4th)

So you might remember way back when, my 5th graders won Noche Bohemia.  First prize was lunch at the mall and a movie.  After attempting to organize this trip a few times, it finally stuck.  Today I herded 14 5th graders around the mall.  What an experience.

This was the plan:  Bus pick us up at 11:30.  Get to movie theater by 11:45, buy movie tickets, eat lunch.  Movie starts at 12:30.  Movie ends at 2:45.  Be back at school by 3:15.

Of course nothing went to plan.

Around 11:15 I went to find the director to get the cash for the trip.  Well turns out she did not take out any cash.  After telling me this, she looks at me and says "did you call the bus?"  No... that was your job.  So luckily the office has some cash and they loaded me up with dough.  Then we wait until noon for the bus, since she had forgotten to call before.

We actually arrived at the mall around 12:15.  We waited in line for about 10 minutes to get tickets.  Then we go to the food court to eat before the movie.  This was the worst part.  The food court has a very small sitting area and it's nearly impossible to find seats.  So while waiting in line with some kids, I was sending others to sit at tables to guard them for us.  "You!  Go to the blue table, NOW!"  Since we had to wait in line so long, I was able to send kids out and get a few tables that were at least near each other.

It took us around 40 minutes to get the food and eat.  So about 1:10pm (remember the movie started at 12:30), I go to gather the kids to go.  Well a few still had some food left.  So I scooped it up and threw it in my purse to sneak into the movies.  The kids sure got a kick out of that and started calling me "Frau Food".

We went to see The Amazing Spider Man, which luckily has been out for a long time, so we had basically the whole theater to ourselves.  Which was good since the girls were giggling and chatting almost the whole time.  We were lucky that the movie had only just started.  We might have missed about 5 minutes.

We enjoyed the movie, and when it seemed like it was coming to an end, I went out to call the bus to come pick us up.  The movie ended and we ran for the door where the bus was waiting.  A few kids threw hissy fits because I did not allow them to go buy snacks.  But if I had let one, then everyone would have wanted to get snacks and then we would be even more late.

In the end, we got back to the school around 3:30, not that bad in my opinion.  And all the kids survived.  It wasn't awful, but all I was thinking was how much easier everything would have been had another person been with me.  Oh well!  We all made it back and that's the important part.

Now for more Olympics!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Beer, Pretzels, Sausage

In my two week trip to southern Germany I met tons of family, all who were super nice to me.  One of my cousins* I met told me she read an article about what people from the USA think about Germany.  We think it's all beer, pretzels, sausage and lederhosen.  Stereotypical, sure, but in my brief time in mostly Bavaria, I found it to be completely true.

Germany was exactly how I always imagine it would be-- alpine houses made with wooden nails, cafes on the side of the street full of people drinking, delicious sausage for breakfast, pretzels sold at every corner, and yes, men in lederhosen.

Writing about my entire trip would be too much for you to read and for me to remember, so let me highlight.

My trip started out in Mainz where I stayed with a friend.  Mainz is a great little city that evidently has some banging parties that, unfortunately, are during another season.

Mainz

Hanging out by the Rhine

After Mainz I took a train to Stuttgart where I wandered around and jammed with a few people to a great band.  This is where I met up with one of my cousins, Christoph.  He and his wife walked me around Stuttgart and we had the pleasure of visiting the Fischmarkt which comes down from Hamburg once a year.  We had a delicious smoked salmon and Humburger beer.  That evening I took a train and a bus (after being told it would take me exactly 33 minutes to get there, and it did!) to Schockingen where I met another part of the family.  We drank and were marry into the night.

Fischmarkt!

Enjoying a beer

The next day cousin Sandra took me to Tubingen.  It's a cozy little town, and we had lunch at a brewery on a river which we later took a gondola tour on.  That night I went to Weissach and celebrated the 65th birthday of one of my grandfather's cousins (*this is how I'm related to all this family- they are my grandfather's cousin's offspring) with lots of food and schnaps.  Yum!

Tubingen

So cute!

At the birthday party

Another cousin took me to Heidelberg the next day.  This is supposed to be a really great city, but honestly, it was way too touristy for me.  Everything had been transformed into a tourist shop.  The castle was pretty from a distance, but once you take the 15 second train (which we paid 8 Euro for!  If you go, avoid this disappointing ride) and enter, you realize that everything has been converted to draw in tourists.  The old wine cellar was turned into a restaurant, and not a classy one.  It was less than what I expected, but beautiful in its own way.

View from the castle

The castle

I was driven to Munich the next day by another cousin.  She was like a walking tour guide.  We strolled through Munich and she showed me all the important spots and included histories, legends and myths.  It was great.  I visited the Deutches Museum while there, and it was totally worth it.  Only 8 Euro to enter and I spent a good 3 hours exploring the place, and I skipped an entire level.  My cousin tells me that if you actually walk through the whole place, you walk 14 km!  We also visited the castle.

In Munich

The Deutsches Museum

The Castle

My next stop was Nuremberg where I met my sister's friend, Stephanie.  For the first time on my trip, I didn't have a translator.  We made the best of it and went on a dungeon tour where a teacher translated everything into English which was nice.  We explored the castle and the cathedrals.  I ate lots of pretzels and on one occasion drank too much.  We also went to both the Nazi Documentation Center and the Nuremberg Trail Memorial.  Both are only 3 Euro to get in (for students, I used my Costa Rican driver's license and it worked just fine...) and are so loaded with information you could easily spend 4 hours in each location.  Both come with free audio guides which give 3-5 minute explanations about every single thing in every room.  We didn't listen to it all, it just got hard to pay attention after a while.  But anyways, both worth seeing, especially if you have a foreign driver's license that can be mistaken for a student ID.

Pretzels, sausage and beer

Hitler's "coliseum" 

The actual benches where the Nazis sat while on trial

With my sister still not in the country, Stephanie and I headed to Regensberg.  There's not a whole bunch to see in this town, but I really enjoyed it.  We would go see "a site" (the Stone Bridge, the cathedral, the basilica, etc) then get beer and food.  It was all very relaxed and on our second to last day there, my sister finally made it to Germany.  More drinking and eating commenced, and even though it might seem strange, we ate take-out Thai food two nights in a row.  It was just freaking delicious.

Breakfast spread

Stormy in Regensberg

Always trying new beers

Prost!

Finally, the three of us headed to the Hauptbahnhof where we all took trains to our own destinations.  I went back to Frankfurt, Stephanie to Nuremberg, and Britta to Munich.  In Frankfurt I had a few hours to look around before heading to Mainz to meet my friend again.  I did a whirlwind tour before realizing how far away from the train station I had walked.  I made it to Mainz a little late, and then drank a few bottles of wine with my friend into the wee hours of the morning.

Quick romp through Frankfurt

Time to head back to the train station!

After very little sleep (because of worrying my alarm wouldn't sound), I managed to thoroughly mess up my easy route to the airport.  I couldn't buy a ticket with the machine, gave up and then got on the wrong train.  I went a few stops past the airport, got off and waited for the right train.  Once in the airport I wandered around lost for at least 30 minutes, needing to ask for directions multiple times.  In the end, I got to my airplane and watched four movies on my 9 hour flight to the USA.  The funniest part was I saw my coworker on my plane!  She also visited Germany and we ended up taking the same flights back to Costa Rica.  What a world, what a world.

Oscar had bought me my favorite flowers and I devoured pizza for dinner.  Perlita was happy to see me too.

(wow, that ended up being pretty long after all!)