Archive for June, 2012

June 29, 2012

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Reflections on Nicaragua

This is a journal entry I wrote the day Leah, Monica, and I arrived in Nicaragua.

After a day’s worth of travel, Leah, Monica and I have arrived in Nicaragua. We decided to leave Montezuma for the weekend and escape to some peace and quiet.

A lot of people tried to psych us out before we left, and many others told us that San Juan del Sur was a lot like Montezuma. A small little surf town that was far less expensive than Costa Rica. Nicaragua may have been similar in some ways (there is a beach, people surf) but to me, it was not like Costa Rica.

The poverty is far more obvious and definitely in plain view. It actually made me feel like a bit of an asshole because here I am taking a “weekend jaunt” so easily across the border from CR to Nicaragua, and I am sure that many people wish to do the same, but for better reasons than just “fun.” The physical beauty of the country- the ocean, the mountains (like fluffy green pillows)- is amazing, and is a very interesting backdrop for the tons of corrugated metal roof homes that dot the hills and spaces a long the road.

The brief moments we spent downtown by the beach gave me a glimpse into a beach town that may not be wild like Cancun, but is still not as sleepy as Montezuma. People are more aggressive. They are nice, but in your face offering taxis, souvenirs, and inviting you into restaurants to eat.

We spent our weekend at El Jardin, an inexpensive, but beautiful hotel in the hilll’s overlooking the best view of San Juan del Sur . The half moon of ocean beneath us, the bright colors of the adobe hotel, and the calm swimming pool made for peas and quiet like I have not heard in forever.

 

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In Montezuma, you can certainly find relaxation, but sometimes it can be harder. For a small town, there can sometimes be a lot of noise. Loud voices in our hotel talking well into the night (including mine), dirt bikes and ATVs running all over the place, the dull thumping of music. Here in San Juan del Sur, I fell asleep to crickets at 8:30 at night after trying to stuff myself with as much Beef Bourguinon as I could handle (bad idea, considering I still have a stomach bug, but I was starving and tired of not eating what I wanted).

I think of all the stress of crossing into a new country. The immigration process can be long and hectic, and after 6 hours on buses and ferrys, and then even more time in Taxis. I couldn’t imagine having to do this every three months in order to stay in Costa Rica. Still, I am so happy we came. Nicaragua is beautiful, and very raw. Tomorrow we go back to Montezuma, fully recharged.

June 29, 2012

I’m Coming Home

Written yesterday, while waiting for my flight home.

 

My plan was to spend 2 months living and loving life in Costa Rica. Touching down that first day, I looked around at the hills and mountains, the way the clouds skimmed the top, and the way the sun exposed everything, and I couldn’t have envisioned leaving a moment sooner than July 21st.

Yet here I am, a month later, sitting in SJO waiting for my flight home.

Some people who know me well may say, “I knew she wouldn’t want to be away for so long,”  while others are no doubting saying, “is she crazy?! I’d never come back.” I think that until I was here in Costa Rica, living what was once my dream, I wasn’t sure how I would feel. I knew for sure that I wanted to experience living elsewhere for a short time. I wanted to improve my Spanish and develop a yoga practice. I wanted the time to think clearly about what I would want to accomplish when I got home. Did I want to work full time again? Did I still want to be a graphic designer when the field is so narrow? I want to get married and have kids, but when? I couldn’t sort through many of those things prior to my trip, due to a lot of cloudiness. I felt like after a few years in a very unhappy place professionally, I needed to turn that attention towards my personal life. I have a great partner in William, but how can I improve myself and ultimately both of our lives together?

I think alone time is highly underestimated. For someone who talks an awful lot, I spend a lot of time a lone in my head with my own thoughts. It it is easy for us to fall into day to day patterns, ignoring the small cries that are trying to tell us to slow down and take our time thinking things through. Have you ever spent some time not doing anything, just thinking about things, or spent a whole day with yourself saying, “I’m going to do whatever I feel like doing today?” I finally got to do that, a whole bunch of times, and I really liked spending time with myself. The lifestyle in Montezuma is one where you have plenty of time to do those sorts of things. I wrote a lot, spent a lot of time meeting and talking to new people, getting wicked cases of sunburn, and speaking terrible spanish. I spent some time working on my warrior poses, and even more time listening to crickets, howler monkeys, and reggae music. I love Costa Rica. I love Montezuma dearly. I will never forget what the sand, sun, and ocean feels like (warm, comforting), the amazing people who live there ( just as warm as the sun, too), and every experience I hope never to take for granted. Monica and I had the best time ever, and I know for sure, she and I will definitely travel together in the future to other warm, sunny locales.

Still, after one month, I think I accomplished what I came to do. I didn’t want my trip to turn into a 2 month long party, and I could see it heading in that direction. I’m not an undergrad, and I had no desire to feel that way again. I began to feel very homesick, especially after seeing my family gathered together on Father’s Day via Google Video. After the screen went dark, I cried and cried, for what is surely my real source of happiness was so far away. No adventure could ever bring the kind of joy (or stress for that matter lol) that my family brings me. Even Talia and Louis in front of the screen made me pine for my warm bed and cute little dogs laying at my feet. That feeling, combined with what would turn out to be a week dealing with a stomach bug made me long to be home. I remembered that at almost 29 years old, at this current place in my life, I can do whatever the hell I feel like doing. For some people, that means seeing the world with no return date in site. For me, it means I am completely content being the type of person who takes a few vacations a year. I once thought that such thinking would make me boring and out of touch. Now? I don’t really care. I am smart enough and resourceful enough to never get bored for the rest of my life. I am also strong enough and wise enough to know when its time to focus on something else.

I am happy I will always have this experience, and I feel blessed that I could afford the opportunity. I am even more lucky that I fully appreciate what it means to go home and truly love the life I have made for myself there. I am blessed to have figured out that there is no better place for me than with my family and friends, and that I could be anywhere and be home as long as they are there.

 

Loved My Life In Montezuma

PS- One of you will inevitably ask if I regret quitting my job to travel ONLY for one month, so let me just say, before you get it twisted, the following official statement.

HELL NO I DON’T REGRET IT. Not one bit.

June 17, 2012

What I’ve Learned

If there is one reason why people quit their jobs and travel, it is to create a learning experience for themselves. Here in Costa Rica, outside of my comfort zone, I’ve learned so much. I’m only two weeks into my 7 week trip, and I’m happy that I have already started accumulating some tidbits and lessons about myself and how I deal with new experiences.

I’ve learned that I have to slow down and just wait.

Being in DC is obviously different than being here in Montezuma. There are two roads in the main town of Montezuma. I don’t even know if they have names. Its a little mix of Sodas (small Costa Rican restaurants with typical Tico food), eateries, beach shops, and one bar, named Chico’s. No one ever seems to be in a rush to move from one place to the next, and life is pretty informal. People have jobs, things to do, and people to see, but the pace at which they move to get it done is different. Coming from a place like the DMV, its like someone pulled the emergency break while you were going high speed. I thought my nature would cause me to get annoyed, but I’ve actually enjoyed this. I like that while I have commitments, I am not being guarded by some huge stop watch. Its a relief.  I didn’t even know that taking my time to eat dinner could be so nice. You have to develop some patience, which is good for everyone.

I have to listen to my body.

It is REALLY hot here. It is consistently above 80 degrees and humid. The sun is blaring from the moment it comes up, until late in the afternoon. I sweat through all my clothes pretty consistently, and I spend a great deal of time being totally uncomfortable. I have to listen to my body, in order to figure out what I need to give it. If I have a headache consistently for 2 days, its because I am dehydrated. If I am hungry but I am sluggish, then I need to eat, but eat lightly. If I am in yoga and I’m completely unbalanced, its because I didn’t do enough of the former two things, or I am sleeping like shit. I have to make adjustments accordingly, or I’m going to feel sick ALL the time. I just don’t have that kind of time.

 

Good People are in Unexpected Places

I didn’t think that Monica and I would arrive here in Costa Rica and be able to bond with people but we did. When you are far from home and you naturally gravitate towards people who are in the same boat. People you may not necessarily have bonded with at home are your friends here, and it makes you more open to learning about people who are different because they can ADD to your experiences. I can’t even stress enough how much you should enjoy the company of people quite different than yourself.

 

June 8, 2012

5 days Later

I have given up on proper footwear, makeup, and caring what I look like in shorts. I ate the street food (best fucking hamburger ever), drank the tap water, and pet at least 4 stray dogs this week, plus one cat.

When in Montezuma, do as.

This town, full of Rastafarians and hippies in a former life, is growing on me. I still miss my family and friends back home like crazy. You never realize how important these people are in your daily life until you move far from them. Luckily, I know they will all love me when I return. Thank God!

Here are a few highlights of my week.

Montezuma Water Falls

A few of the girls, getting ready to hike to the falls.

Treacherous fucking hike to the waterfalls, but worth it when you dip into this extremely cool water. Deep and powerful, people jumped off the cliffs into the water. I refrained.

Monica and friends getting her swim on.

grubbing on an orange while sweating like a fucking pig, loving my life.

Poi, or fire dancing. These people are amazing.

June 4, 2012

Montezuma, Costa Rica: My First Full Day

After months of planning, several mental breakdowns, and a lot of support, Monica and I finally arrived in Montezuma, Costa Rica.

The town lies on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula

It only took two planes, a 2 hour van ride, a 1 hour ferry, another 1.5 hour van ride, and a bit of lost luggage, but we made it! I can completely understand why people go to the ends of the earth to experience this place. Simply put, it is beautiful. The people are incredibly nice for the most part, and very very helpful.

We left San Jose at 8 a.m. yesterday morning and arrived in Montezuma at 1:30. The ride was was so bumpy, but the scenery was amazing. The mountains surround you on all sides like a protective walls, standing high and very very green. It seemed like out of no where the mountains open up to the ocean and BOOM- there you are in Montezuma.

This small town has 2 main roads filled with a few street vendors selling their craft, and dozens of shops, bars, and restaurants. Everything is almost right on the beach. I can’t even describe how lucky we felt to walk up to this beach in 5 minutes.

Montezuma Beach

I still haven’t adjusted to the itty bitty time change, so I woke up at 5 am and read in my room. When I finally got it together and forced Monica to get up too, we found a cafe to eat breakfast. We have been eating some amazing, fresh, and unprocessed food here. It is a whole other post full of details and pictures to come. Anyways, we found one of the girls in our program, Katherine, shared coffee and a few laughs with her, and then started our first full day.

2 hours of Spanish, a big break in between spent sunning and swimming at the beach, and now we are ready for spanish lab- which means we walk around town together and socialize with people speaking only spanish. After that, an hour and a half of yoga 🙂

The Spanish class is very much like that in the States, but our instructor, Wendy, is certainly nicer than any teacher I had. Unfortunately, I may not stay in her class long. Since I have some proficiency already, I will likely move up to Spanish 3.

So far, I am really loving Montezuma. So far, I really miss my family (YES, ALREADY!). I had to keep myself from crying like a wimp while google video chatting with William last night. These past two nights away have been sleepless, but I hope I will sleep better as time goes on. Still, I intend to stick to my purpose- explore and enjoy, and I’m happy I can share it with him virtually.

Is that a nap calling my name? zzzzzzzzz……