“Make glorious, amazing mistakes.”

This is really worth watching.

The Daily Post

In Neil Gaiman’s now famous 2012 commencement speech at the University of the Arts, he offers some excellent advice to free us from perfectionism, imploring us to simply create — to make art — no matter what. What’s wonderful about this advice is that it applies to any creative endeavour, regardless of whether your art form is writing, drawing, painting, sculpting, or découpage:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good…

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This is stupid but necessary.

I just don’t understand how some people do not believe that we are an evolving consciousness. If you think about old music and how far we’ve come, it’s unreal. We have toyed with so many sounds and somehow put together something ever so lovely to listen to. I really don’t have much else to say but that today.

Nearing the big ‘ol 2-4.

Welp, tomorrow is my birthday, which (for me at least) brings up a myriad of emotions. I will be turning 24 tomorrow, and I have managed to put together a small get together with some of my closest friends, who have all actually been able to clear their schedules to come and join me in a celebration of my birth. This is HUGE. I hardly get to see any of my good friends, let alone all together. This is probably the most exciting part of my actual birthDAY. I’m getting all antsy in my pantsy just thinking about it… WOOH! The other part of turning 24, which is where the rest of the myriad comes into play is where I’ve found myself in this stage of my life. I am slowly plugging away at what I think are the most important and valuable things and concepts in this infinitesimal little life of mine. Although I did feel the pull of society upon my graduation last year to return to school, create a career, have children, and toil my whole life away in order to achieve, acquire, gain, have children, and acquire more things for these children all the whilst teaching them to achieve, acquire, and gain, something just didn’t feel right about this at the very time. Since then, I have traveled to Costa Rica, made new friends, let go of old ones, let go of love, learned a lot of Spanish, learned how to make cheesecake, discovered that I like sushi (although I feel guilty about the number of fish I consume in the contrast to the depleting ecosystem of the ocean, YIKES!), and learned a ridiculous amount about what it means to love myself as well as who/what I consider to be family… and that’s just a quick overview. Trust me… I could go on. Although I do have prospective plans for my future self, I am trying to maintain very loose ties to these ideas and goals. I have discovered that you really truly never know where life can take you. If you are so inevitably stuck to one idea, you might truly miss the mark on something that could have really fueled your inner fire and passion and made you truly, truly great.

It’s pretty easy to feel like a huge loser when you’re turning 24, you aren’t enrolled in school, and you’re serving tables for a living… but I am extremely determined to look at my situation with a different perspective. This year, for me, will be about personal growth and discovery of who I am without all the extra ‘stuff’. A good friend of mine recently prompted me to buy a book entitled ‘Everything That Remains’, written by a couple of ex-executives who like to call themselves The Minimalists. I am a huge sucker for any book that has to do with philosophy or psychology, but I think this book came to me at just the right time. These two middle-aged men who used to have everything find happiness in living simply with only the basic essentials. They are just two proponents of Minimalism, a growing philosophy that starkly contrasts consumerism, and the overarching concept of this easy-to-read book. The idea is that the more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you. It makes sense if you think about it. The more stuff you have, the more you have to buy stuff for your stuff, the more you have to put money into fixing and replacing your stuff, the more time you spend organizing your stuff, and the more your true self is buried in all of these little details about your stuff that end up amassing to quite a large bunch of details about your stuff in the end. So with this cumpleaños of mine, I am going to start by getting rid of quite a large bit of my stuff. I will, no doubt, be starting slow as I imagine myself to have quite a bit of attachment issues to certain things. A huge part of this process, too, will be scanning all important documents, getting rid of the file cabinet, scanning photos, looking at buying a kindle to get rid of masses and masses of books, and so on and so forth. As I haven’t started the process yet, I will try to keep my blog updated with little details of my journey here and there (although we’re all aware of what a terrible job I do at keeping things updated). The point of my post is, however, that I do recommend the book. It’s quite an easy read, and it really gets your gears grinding. And to anyone who may be having a birthday soon and is feeling a little uneasy about their situation in life, don’t be. This is yet another year that you get to learn about you, and what could be more wonderful than that? Cheers to 24, yawl!

PS. Hey, would ya look at that?! I made it through an entire post without using the F bomb! My step-dad would be so proud! 😉


Costa Rica and Beyond!

I felt an urge the other day to update my blog again, as returning home has been quite the whirlwind to say the very least. I do realize that to say that my blog is an open book about my thoughts, feelings, revelations, and everything that means absolutely anything to me in the world is quite the understatement. I know facebook diary statuses get annoying, so i figured I would start a blog so that I could express these things to anyone who is interested in whatsoever manner. And if ya don’t like it, well sorry but i probably don’t care all that much. Anywho… I don’t think I realized how much spending three months in Costa Rica impacted me as a person until I had been home for at least a week or so. Even so, I am still learning new ways that I have changed throughout the experience day after day. Although I am aware that I am continuously evolving as an individual every single second, I do think that the actual leap of faith in pursuing that dream of mine impacted me on an extremely ginormous level. To be honest, I’ve always been a bit of a scaredy cat about making big life decisions or really putting the ‘real me’ out in the open. After being sucessful in my travels and having the absolute time of my life, seeing the beauty of an exotic and mind-blowing country, and making some of the best friends I have ever had in my life, something really clicked for me. I think it was the realization that nothing really matters all that much. EXCEPT to respect yourself. I have seen time and time again so many people pussyfooting around this beautiful and amazing planet that we are so lucky to call our home for their ENTIRE LIVES, and although I’m really sad for those particular humans, I actually don’t have to interact with them all that much. I think that when you really take a leap of faith, get outside of your comfort zone, and do something that absolutely petrifies you, that it ignites an obscene amount of self-respect within your soul. All these people are walking around the world whining about how the people in their lives treat them like crap. Well hey dude, how do you treat yourself? Do you like yourself? Do you respect your intentions, dreams, and inner most beliefs? Because if you don’t, how can you expect anyone else to? I know I am so absolutely and entirely so so so far from perfect, but I can honestly say that I love who I am and I think I’m a pretty fucking badass bitch. I am thankful to myself for making a decision in my life that helped me come to that realization because it fucking rocks. And on that note, I truly believe that when you have self respect you are constantly putting out so much good energy into the world, and in return attracting people who are also awesome and also respect themselves. This makes for some pretty badass friendships and relationships. But it all starts with the individual. It’s so fundamental and almost ridiculously obvious to me that I just felt that I needed to write a very passionate rant about it (so sorry for all the dirty words, oopsie). I guess that was the main point of what I wanted to say. But on a general and less passionate side note, I have a new job and I am very happy there. I am working hard to get my savings account back into good shape and thinking about the possibilities of returning to school next fall to start plugging away at a Doctorate degree in Psychology. I think I would really enjoy it, and it makes me super excited! But hey, who knows?! The possibilities are endless. I hope all is well with all you weirdos who care what I have to say on wordpress. Much love and happiness to everyone!!

Gracias a Costa Rica

Posting this a couple days later than was written, my apologies!

As I sit here with an hour left to board my flight back to the U.S. it dawns on me that I am likely the absolute worst blogger in the entire world. This is probably due to my short attention span as well as how hectic my life was while living in San Jose and traveling about the country. For this I apologize, but I figure that I owe at least a short reflection of my last few weeks in Costa Rica (and a quick trip to Panama) to myself, as well as to my friends and family. I am sitting in the airport as I type this blog with puffy and tired eyes from crying last night as well as this morning. It’s funny now that I think about it, because I was absolutely petrified to leave my friends and family. When I arrived in Costa Rica it was with puffy eyes, as well. Now I can’t even imagine what life will be like upon my return. As I quit my job to come to Costa Rica after I had finished with my bachelor’s degree, I literally have no sort of agenda whatsoever to return to. It was very tempting to try to lock down a job in this beautiful little country and just stay here forever, but admittedly sort of an unrealistic and ultimately unexciting way to ‘settle down’ (as I am still so very young). I could not have imagined a better experience with my host family as well as with all the Ticos that I have encountered in day-to-day life or even made lifelong friends with.

The most frustrating part of my stay, honestly, was the company for which I volunteered. I hate to get too negative here, but I will absolutely never volunteer with Maximo Nivel ever again. It was absolutely mind-blowing to me how little it seemed like the volunteers as well as the projects mattered to the actual company. I don’t believe that it was that the staff didn’t care, but it was more of the fact that they were over-worked and didn’t have time to deal with all the responsibilities that were demanded of them by the higher-ups. It also felt extremely corporate, which is frustrating when you have paid good money to come and commit a large chunk of your time to do a humanitarian deed. I found it extremely upsetting to find out that the volunteers who are paying to work for this company are charged $95/week if they want to take Spanish classes (which would significantly boost their ability to be of aid within their volunteer projects), when it would cost a Tico $95/month to take an English course. It was actually the case that most tourist locations would have a foreigner price for entrance fees to certain parks or tours, and a separate fee for Ticos. This makes sense to me considering the average income of a Costa Rican as opposed to the average income of those who are vacationing here, as well as the fact that tourism is driving up prices in general throughout Costa Rica. The situation with Maximo Nivel is completely and totally different than this, however, and for obvious reasons. I could likely go on and on, but the general point here is that I feel the duty to inform my friends and family that I don’t recommend Maximo Nivel to anyone, as my direct experience with the company itself was not the most positive.

On the other hand, my project in Barrio Cuba, a surrounding neighborhood of San Jose, (however disorganized and chaotic) brought me so much joy. The kids that I got to work with were the absolute happiest, most wonderful and joyful little human beings I have met in my entire life. As I said in my last blog when I was switching projects, my friend Jaime and I kind of started this project on our own. She was one of my best friends throughout my time in Costa Rica, and an absolute pleasure to work with. Without much previous teaching experience, we managed to come up with lesson plans every day that the kids found both fun and interesting. It was so awesome to see how much progress all of them made in just five weeks, even considering their sporadic attendance as well as their hyperactive personalities. I was so sad to leave, but I can honestly say that working with these kids was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I will miss them all so very much, and hope that they have so much fun as they continue to flourish in their studies of the English language. As I left my project, I was bombarded with little notes from all of my students telling me how thankful they were and how much they would miss me. These notes will be hanging all over my walls in my room the second I get home. If anything I feel that I should be thankful to them! I believe it’s very likely that I learned more from them than they did from me.

My Spanish, on the other hand, has improved immensely. I am not fluent by any means, but I have such a greater understanding of the language and am so excited to continue to study it. It’s so funny how when learning a language (and I’ve heard this from many other people) that one day you can feel like you are on the cusp of fluency, and the next day you can feel as if you’ve regressed to square one. There are so many factors that influence your ability to be proficient in speaking and understanding, but I’ve learned that patience and persistence are the most important factors in improving. I can’t wait to learn more and to be able to put what I’ve learned into practice. Maybe someday I will continue on to learn a third language! I have met many trilingual friends throughout my journey, and I greatly admire and envy their mastery of language. This is not the end of my studies by any means!

Most of all, I think this trip has changed my viewpoint on life, or maybe it has just given me the boost of knowledge that was necessary to really have the courage to pursue what’s important to me. Before I left, I thought I would come home after Costa Rica, get a job, continue with school, make a good living and settle down. Now, although this option isn’t completely off the table, it’s unlikely that I will pursue it immediately. I think I’ve just really realized how short life is and how important expanding your worldview is. I always want to make sure that what I’m doing next is the most important thing to me in the moment. I think this is the best way I can leave something of value and inspiration behind in this world. Although I don’t yet know the next step, I’m so happy to get home and to be able to spend some time with friends and family for the summer. I am so lucky to have had the opportunities of getting to know so many wonderful people, understanding the culture of Costa Rica, learning patience and consistency through teaching, and exploring the most beautiful country I have ever set foot in. Cheers to the next chapter, and until next time Costa Rica! It’s been really, really real.

I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

So it feels as though it’s been a million years since I’ve posted any sort of update. What a whirlwind the past couple of weeks have been! I have moved in with a different family, as well as changed my project. I have seen friends come, seen friends go, felt happy, sad, stressed, unimportant, high on life…. The list could go on. This trip has revealed to me more exotic scenery than I would have ever imagined existed, but it has been more of a learning experience than a vacation for various reasons. No matter where you go in life, things will never be 100% worry free. I truly believe that anyone who acts as though they don’t experience hardships, loss, miscommunication or adversary is spending an awful lot of time trying to convince you that their lives are perfect, rather than taking life as it comes and experiencing it for what it truly yields. That being said, Costa Rica has taught me so much about getting along with people, letting things go, being true to myself, and always seeing the truth in the beauty as well as the hardships of all aspects of life.

Just when I started to get really comfortable with my living and working situation here in San Jose, everything changed. Although I had developed a sense of security with my role in Maximo Nivel (even though my core group of friends had gone home), this all shifted with an abrupt wake-up call triggered by the realization that a trip I had planned over the weekend would mean I needed to move the very next day instead of the following week. I had known my house mom was going to the states for a month and that this meant I would have to move. Although I was unhappy with it, the realization that the move needed to take place much sooner than I thought was nothing short of jarring. I packed up all of the belongings that I had brought to Costa Rica, said bye to Vicky, and made the move the very next day. I was in my new house for less than 13 hours before I left for a weekend trip to Manuel Antonio.

I believe my last post was all about my project in La Carpio. Since then I have also switched projects. I found out that I would be changing sites the night of the day I had returned from Manuel Antonio, and I didn’t even have a chance to say bye to the kids I had grown so attached to at my old site. I am not even sure that any of what I just said made sense. Trust me, it was that confusing for me too. Basically, Monday night after I returned from Manuel Antonio I found myself in an entirely new environment (with a killer sunburn), trying to swallow the idea that in the morning I would be going to an entirely new project. Back to square one, right? To top it all off, I was sick on Tuesday morning with some of the most intense stomach pains I had ever felt. This is just a somewhat unremarkable example of the seemingly inevitable cycle that right when you get comfortable, the rug will most likely always be pulled out right from underneath your feet.

I think these trying times are some of the most important ones in life, to be honest. The more you are hit right between the eyes with what may seem like the shittiest luck, the more chances you have to practice how you are going to respond to these types of situations. It may sound cheesy, but I believe this from the bottom of my heart. As much as I loved my old project, I felt as though I was hitting a wall. I didn’t feel challenged or fully trusted to take any responsibility independently of the instructor, and I was therefore unable to continue to feel proud of what I was doing. It made me feel as though what I had to offer was invaluable. But I was comfortable. I think this comfortable zone is one that people should practice having a healthy fear of. It is a dangerous trap that leads to complacency.

My new project is in a church as well, but it’s completely new. It’s in a neighborhood called Barrio Cuba, and our job is to teach English to all ages of students. Myself and my good friend Jaime along with two other volunteers are essentially the trailblazers of this project. At first I was petrified. How could I be trusted to create an entire culture of teaching for volunteers yet to come? How could I know what these students needed or even where to start? The truth is, I couldn’t and I can’t. All I can do is try my best to give these students what they need. I think as long as I remain patient, humble, and understanding I will be just fine. After all, I’m only human. Things will not unfold perfectly, I’m sure, but as long as I am consistent in my objectives the next few weeks will be a learning experience for myself as well as my students.

So far I am so excited for what is to come. We have six students at the moment. It is the same as Carpio in the sense that the classes are free and the students come voluntarily. We have varying levels of knowledge of English amongst our students. Five of the students ages range from 12-16. Then there’s Cira. Cira is 56, and she’s about the cutest darn lady I’ve ever met in my life. It is more difficult for older people to learn a second language. I’m no expert on the science of the matter, but it has something to do with the fact that one language has been ingrained in their mind for so many years that a new one just seems absolutely ass-backwards. (How’s that for scientific?)… Anyway the point is that Cira is the bees-knees. How much humility must it take for her to sit in a class where more often than not the younger students are helping us to teach her how to pronounce English words? The other day my teammate Jaime complimented her on her earrings. She seemed surprised and promptly made sure to notify Jaime that they were not real gold. After Jaime reassured her that they were still beautiful, Cira took off her earrings and handed them over to Jaime. I can’t remember whether or not I wrote about the little girl in Carpio, Alison, who gave Jaime her earrings also. Now we joke that Jaime must have some coveting look in her eyes when she gives out compliments pertaining to earrings. But I swear there’s just something about people who don’t have much… they generally just seem more generous, humble, and kind in general.

My homestay, on the other hand, is completely different than the last. The house is smaller, and there are many more people. Instead of just having a house mom, I now live with a family. My Mama Tica’s name is Cindy, and she has two children: Alanzo (12), and Valeria (6). Alanzo is the sweetest little man I may have ever met, and oh so charming. Valeria is definitely one of the sassiest chiciticas in the neighborhood, as well as gorgeous. Her husband, Alonzo mejor is home once a week, because his work is a three hour trip away from San Jose. The entire family lives in one room, while the other two bedrooms are reserved for volunteers. They have two dogs and two birds. The food is different, the house is a bit more of a mess, and the living room is bright green. Cindy is 33 years old, and she speaks perfectly clear Spanish (PRAISE DA LAWD). Whereas I had my own room in my previous house, I now live in a room with three beds and very little storage space. Needless to say, there’s always something going on here. Different? Yes. Luxurious? No. A learning and growing experience for me? Absolutely. Although I was not a happy camper about the move in the beginning–and I am still not fully comfortable in the situation–I really don’t think I’d change a thing about the way anything has unfolded.

My main sense of uneasiness is the due to the fact that I so abruptly left the children in La Carpio with whom I was beginning to build very positive (and what I valued as meaningful) relationships with. I never got a chance to say bye. I know all I can really do is to let this go and just hope for the best. After all, I can only do so much. I only hope that they will grow into the wonderful little humans that I know they truly are.

Although at times my experience in Costa Rica has not been the most comfortable, I don’t think I would change it a bit. Sometimes the things that seem the scariest yield the greatest rewards. And sometimes it’s just time to move forward and let things be. Like now, I suppose. Until next time… Besitos x



Son las cosas pequeñas- It’s the little things.

Hello to the few of you that follow/check my blog! I am so excited to be able to post once again, and feel terribly that it has been so very long! A friend of mine accidentally took my computer charger back to San Francisco with her, and if I have one piece of advice to give today it is to never send a package to Costa Rica through Fed Ex. (Or UPS, so I’ve heard) What a pain! Yesterday was likely the most frustrating day I have experienced throughout this journey. I have been running on little sleep because the mattress that was in my room was likely to be at least 100 years old, and for this I have been spending much of my effort trying to figure out how to sleep comfortably when I feel like ten wires are sticking into my back no matter which way I lie. I wouldn’t have had this issue for such a long while if I wouldn’t have been so petrified to try to explain what was going on to my house mom in Spanish (which I apprehensively yet necissarily did this morning on little to no sleep). On top of these issues I had become increasingly frustrated with Fed Ex, trying to pay them to receive a package but having no luck on account of the fact that the contact information/address for Costa Rica Fed Ex was appearing to be virtually nonexistent (prior to a group effort in a relentless and everlasting internet search). On top of all these things I was lacking a few basic essentials necessary to human comfort such as nail clippers and other miscellaneous items. The previous issue seems like it might be an easy fix, but when you are getting little to no sleep and you are exhausted from crowded bus rides upon crowded bus rides (which are necessary to daily life in San Jose) a trip to the ATM just doesn’t seem worth it, and so you go without.

But that was one of those days and this day is the kind in which everything seems to fall into place. I received my charger, mustered up the courage to say something to my house mom about my mattress (which resulted in a new mattress for yours truly), and was able to make it to the pharmacy to buy nail clippers. I also came across an old letter I wrote in Spanish in which I was able to identify and correct many mistakes I had made, thusly realizing that I have–in fact–been making small but steady strides in learning the language. PHEW! Although life in San Jose is neither glamorous nor easy (especially when you are not fluent in the native language), the chaos permits you to grow as a person if you just take things as they come. A good friend once told me that her favorite quote was just this: “Life begins when you step outside your comfort zone.” I have certainly identified with this idea throughout my time in Costa Rica. It is also a challenge working with Maximo Nivel because volunteers and comrades are constantly coming and going within the program. Thusly, it is unwise to become too attached to any one individual (although it is very difficult on account of most people here are truly wonderful). For this, you are always stepping outside your comfort zone, or expanding it depending on how you look at things. But, such is life, I suppose. People come and they go.

Most people I know from the states are pretty lucky when it comes to having resources and large groups of people who offer them support on a consistent basis. My volunteer project in Costa Rica, however, is hard and fast evidence that these amenities could not be more readily unavailable for many people who exist in this world–and in this case, it’s children. I work in an unfortunate barrio called La Carpio, within a church called la Iglesia de Oracion. La Carpio is essentially a slum that was established when Nicaraguan settlers came to Costa Rica and begun to live off of what they could find in a large pile of trash. The mindset of Nicaraguans when they come to La Carpio (which they still do) is that they are going to live out what is comparable to what many Mexicans envision as the ‘American Dream’. This couldn’t be a more false ideal. People in Carpio struggle every day to find work as well as to feed themselves and their families. This results in crime, gang activity, as well as a starving youth. The people are also struggling daily to defend their homes because they do not rightfully own the land. Although the issue may seem controversial at first glance, these matters are not to be discussed in this essay. One thing is for sure–the circumstances are no fault of the children who are born into La Carpio.  

Every time I tell anyone from Costa Rica where it is that I work, their immediate response is to warn me of how dangerous it is in this neighborhood. They usually tell me I should be careful, and they proceed ask me why I would want to work in Carpio. My job is to teach english to children ages 8-12. They are my reason for wanting to work there. For them I endure an hour and a half commute on two busses (one way) into an abyss of trash, horrid odors, scary people, and an obscene population of heartbreakingly sick and stray dogs. And I couldn’t be happier to do it.

Although I love each child so much, the job is a challenging one to say the least. Because of the age group that I teach, I am trying to teach not only English but how to behave in a manner that is productive and respectful of circumstances as well as people. I am trying to do so against a disintegrating yet challenging language barrier. Although troublesome and exhausting, the effort yields great satisfaction. I am constantly humbled by the happiness of these children despite their horrifying circumstances, as well inspired by their selflessness and generosity despite their lack of wealth. Even though these children put up a fight in class, and never seem to want to study (just like any other 8-12 year old student), they choose to be there. These classes aren’t required. They all realize that the ability to speak english will maximize their potential for a prosperous future, and the realization has come at such a young age!

Sadly enough, when explaining what ‘desayunar’ (the spanish word for ‘to eat breakfast’) translated to in english, the head teacher–and fabulous specimen of a woman–came to the appalling realization that the only meal many of these kids are able to eat is lunch. This meal is provided at school and is government funded. The families cannot always afford to feed their own offspring. Can you imagine trying to go to school on an empty stomach day in and day out? All the while with a smile on your face? I surely cannot. These kids are making strides, however small, every day in hopes of bettering their circumstances–despite the multiple decks of cards that are stacked against them.

The issues in Carpio are overwhelming to say the least. Since the project is new, right now it seems as though the most helpful thing we can offer these children is to make their time in class worthwhile. Myself and my wonderful team want first and foremost for these children to feel loved, important, and purposeful. The prospect of some type of breakfast program is present in our minds, but is something that would need to be constructed consciously and carefully, and also runs into problems when the dilemma of successfully funding such a program is assessed. I could go on and on about the kids, and I’m sure I will dedicate a post solely to the story of a few of these wonderful little humans in the future. Although the work is exhausting physically and mentally, as well as emotionally taxing, it only takes one fleeting thought of any of these children for me to realize that any of the problems I may have had yesterday–and might have in the future–will pass. And although life in San Jose is certainly not the easiest thing I have ever experienced, the struggles and the life experiences I am sowing are so very worth it for the knowledge I will reap.

Taking it with strides…. It’s the little things we all should value. We are lucky. xo


ALSO-I have included one picture of my favorite student, Bryan, and I. (And I just realized it’s humungous) I will take more on my last day, but I want to respect the privacy of these children and also to keep in mind that this is their daily life. It is likely that anyone wouldn’t want to have their picture taken every day. So until then, there will be few. Adios!Image

La Costa Rica–The Rich Coast

Upon arriving to San Jose, which is where I am living, I had no idea that the schools would be closed for an entire week for Easter (aka Semana Santa). Don’t get me wrong, I love my placement teaching english and I wouldn’t trade it to do anything else, but Semana Santa meant an 11 day vacation for me before I even got settled in, which I found out about literally the day before the vacation started. Since I have never really traveled before, I decided to just follow the masses from my volunteer organization on an impromptu venture to a small Carribean beach town that goes by the name of Puerto Viejo de Talemanca. I had no idea that when I spent 12 dollars on a bus ticket to this town I was really buying a ticket to my first tour of an actual rainforest. I knew I would see trees, clouds, wildlife and rain throughout my time in Costa Rica, but I never imagined how majestic the combination of these things would actually be. I mean, seriously. It’s un-fucking-believable. I have to edit my pictures to mirror how beautiful it actually is, because a picture can’t actually convey how utterly mind-blowing this scenery is. The second we left the concrete jungle in the valley of San Jose and started winding up into the mountains into the actual jungle, we were literally in the clouds. There were leaves on the side of the mountains that were, I kid you not, the size of your dinner table. Waterfalls, clouds, canyons, flowers, and green everything was all around me. I mean I don’t know what I expected before but the rainforest is absolutely a million times better than whatever it was I thought that I would be witnessing. ANYWAY! I paid careful attention to everything we drove by, but I think the fact that I fell so in love with the scenery made me feel even more sad when we would pass by a town (mostly the city of Limon, although it’s condition is probably comparable to La Carpio where I work) and it would be absolutely trashed. I saw people whose eyes were completely lifeless, and trash flooded the streets. Houses were maid of tin sheets and dogs with mange were taking over the town. And this was all a transformation that happened within five minutes from the most breathtaking scenery I’ve ever seen. It’s so oxymoronic that we live in such a beautiful world, but wherever there are humans there is destruction. This doesn’t just go for Costa Rica, obviously, but I think the contrast was just so much stronger in my eyes than it has been whenever I have seen such things in my city or surrounding areas in the states. I just wish that in such a beautiful country there wouldn’t be so much struggle, pain, and destruction. I once heard that the state of the world mirrors the state of human consciousness. I guess this is just one such example of this quote in which I so readily believe. Puerto Viejo is an entirely different story. SO MANY DREADLOCKS! It is clear that this town is not perfect, but the vibe is something that I think anyone could benefit from a large dose of. It’s a community that is more accepting than any I think I’ve ever seen. Everyone is happy to see you (for the most part, and i do mean the MOST part… I think I met one rude person in total), and everyone wants to simply enjoy life and be okay with where they’re at and what they have. Literally. The typical wage in Puerto Viejo is $2/hr, and yet there are hippies and young idealists coming from all over the world to live there and net maybe $40-$50/week if they’re lucky. They just love it, and that’s all they need. People will stop you on the street just to say, “Pura Vida, everything is wonderful, this life is great” (and it’s honest-to-god the only reason they stopped you). Until I got used to it I almost started crying every time someone would be so sincerely nice. You just don’t see that in the states. The scenery is absolutely fabulous, but I think it was the people that were the most affecting aspect of the town. I stayed in a hostel where there are maybe 200 hammocks, a decent number of tents, and an even smaller number of rooms to sleep in. I slept on a hammock for what I thought would be one night, with plans to travel elsewhere, but surely enough it turned into a week. There was a spark ignited somewhere within me for sure. I can’t wait to return to do more hiking, beach lounging, stargazing, and speaking broken Spanish to some of the most affecting minds I have ever witnessed. I am so grateful to have had this experience, and I strongly urge you to pass through Puerto Viejo if you ever have the chance. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Abrazos y besitos a todos :). Goodnight world.

La Lingua y Los Gentes

So it’s day 1 and I’ve never been more impressed and disappointed with my Spanish skills all at the same time. It’s the strangest feeling to walk into a home you will be living in for the next ten weeks and realize that the person who is assigned to be in charge of your well being in its entirety will be speaking to you only in a language that you don’t fully comprehend. The wonderful lady who I will be staying with goes by the name of Vicky, but the girls who live here call her their ‘Mama Tica’ (which is absolutely on point). Although there is a language barrier between us, within the first 45 minutes of knowing her I felt a wall come down. She is very patient, and it’s extremely apparent that she wants her girls to learn. I think this is what I need to get over my shyness of speaking Spanish, as well as my irrational fear that if I use the wrong word the entire world might just come crashing down around me. The people of the city are another story. Although every Tico I met today seems very kind, I’m also fully aware that I am being immersed in a culture that I know literally next to nothing about. In these moments I have to remind myself not to make any assumptions, positive or negative. I do, however, get the sense that I need to be very alert of my surroundings. It’s no secret that pickpocketing is an issue here when it comes to unaware foreigners, but this is something that goes without saying for any densely populated city in which a high percentage of the local population struggles to make ends meet. Ultimately, I am glad that most Ticos seem to only speak Spanish–this way I can’t cop out of practicing the language (unless I want to starve, get lost, or be unable to live day to day life, essentially). Well folks, I am somehow managing to type while I am half asleep, most likely due the fact that I maybe got 10 hours of sleep combined in the past 72 hours. But before I log off I should make a PSA that I have wifi at my house! WOOHOOOO! Email me for my Costa Rican phone number if you so desire :). If you have an iPhone, we can iMessage! OH, and today I tried broccoli lasagna! Go figure! Thank god Mama Tica is accommodating to my vegetarian lifestyle… but then again her house is mostly filled with vegetarian volunteers, so I guess she has no choice unless she wants us all to starve. Buenos noches mis amigos 🙂