Tuesday, April 7, 2009

University of National Champions

Whether one is in Chapel Hill or one is in Costa Rica, A TARHEEL IS ALWAYS A TARHEEL! #1. So I made my family and other friends watch the game with me via internet streaming! While my brother liked to cheer for "GREEN" just be annoying, I had a great time screaming at the computer for the "celestes!" And now everyone knows that Carolina del Norte is the best basketball team en toda la nacion. 

And my family was great and I told them we had to build a fire to jump over it afterwards, so this is the only time I have condoned TRASH BURNING. Go Tarheels! 

It's no Franklin Street, but hey! I'm spreading the Tarheel love all the way down here in Costa Rica! I can't wait to show them the Franklin Street videos. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dancing Baby

I know that I write a lot about my nephew Axel. And I know that everyone thinks their baby is the greatest. But seriously, I hope my baby is like this baby because this baby is HILARIOUS.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hiking Volcanoe Poas

So my friend Moriah says to me, "Do you want to go on a caminata with me and some other girls?" A Caminata is like what we would consider one of those "Walk for the Cure" type walks. Moriah told me that it was only 12 km and it would be a fun easy walk and we would all have a great time walking. I had walked the Romeria which was a 20km walk to a beautiful Catholic Cathedral, so I joyfully agreed to go!

I and four other Peace Corps Volunteers traveled to Moriah's sight and we happily ate fried chicken and joked around on Saturday night. We awoke early on Sunday morning ready for a fun a walk!
As we arrived at the sign-in we noticed that most of these Costa Ricans looked pretty serious about this walk. Costa Ricans in athletic gear is REALLY uncommon, but these people looked pretty seasoned. We began to ask around and comes to find out that these were SERIOUS Costa Rican athletes. Some of them do "Caminatas" EVERY WEEK-END and a fair number were doing this caminata to train for HIKING Chirripo the highest mountain in COSTA RICA!

We knew we were in for a rough walk when we were asking when is the first rest stop and they answered "in about an hour!" WHAT?!?!?!? Even the easy part was pretty steep and we were sweating and tired. We got to the first rest stop and they told us something like one and a half hours more to the half way point.... WHAT?!?!?!?!?

We eventually entered the mountain and were hiking up a less than marked trail and there came a point when I just had to convince myself to think "Step. Step. Step. Step." It was ridiculous. The only thing that made it a little bit better is that EVERYONE thought it was hard. Even those in-shape Costa Ricans who knew what they were signed up for were taking it pretty slow with many breaks.
There are NO pictures of the HARD parts because at those parts, we didn't have enough energy to THINK about taking pictures!

There came a point when the muscles in your legs that apparently help you take upwards steps hurt with every step, but there wasn't must we could do, but keep walking. We were in the mountains...there was no way out, but up. At one point, one of our friends started crying. We all wondered why we thought this would be a good idea. And I'm not sure any of us thought it was worth it.
One Costa Rican woman kept telling me, "But look! Isn't it beautiful?" I was pretty honest. I told her "It's not THAT beautiful."

Finally, when we thought we were dead, we came to what was called the REPENTANCE HILL. At this point, it literally got so steep that it was like walking up a never ending staircase....for 3 kms. WHAT THE HECK. Seriously, we thought it would never end and we were all in a lot of pain. At this point, we also realized, that this hike was WAY LONGER than 12 km, it was definitly closer to 15-16kms!!
Finally, we reached this grassy area and there was a Red Cross Worker chilling out. We asked how much longer REPENTANCE HILL was and he told us there was still an hour left. And we were like, there is NO WAY I am going to walk another hour up this hill. SO...HE GAVE US AN AMBULANCE RIDE. Hahahahaha. Funny thing is that he was lying to us and he literally drove us around the corner. But whatever. We got to ride in an ambulance and it was just the pick-me-up we all needed.

It became a running joke, that although this was NOT fun and we were miserable, ATLEAST we got a FREE t-shirt! Hahahahahah....

Becuase, even though we had finally reached the road, there was still like 4 kms left. And we thought we would NEVER EVER EVER EVER get there. But we did. And then we laid down in the grass. And didn't walk again ever. Hahahahahaha.
Word to the wise: Don't hike volcanoes.

International Friends

Being in the Peace Corps is hard work. So sometimes, we have to take vacation...and that's what I did! One of my favorite "freshmen" who is now out in the work world took off a week of "real work" to come to sunny Costa Rica! Obviously, we headed to the beach.

Emily Bucci got off the plane (she hates planes!) a little outside San Jose, Costa Rica and after a little soft serve ice cream from the airport Subway, we got straight on a Costa Rican bus and headed for San Jose Center!

Then we walked to the Nicoya Bus Station in the part of Costa Rica called the Coca-Cola, which is a kind of dangerous part of the city (Luckily, Emily didn't know that until later.) It was here that Emily had her first enconter with Costa Rican bus station bathrooms...and we'll just leave it at that.

We got to our first hotel in Nicoya with no problems, we slept soundly and woke up early (but not too early if you know me!) to head to PLAYA SAMARA! Playa Samara happens to be one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica and we went there. Using my trusty Lonely Planet Guidebook, we sat on the beach and began to call hotels to see if there were any vacancies. Unfortuneatly, everything was full! We thought we were going to have to sleep on the beach...just kidding. :) After a short walk around we found a place that fufilled most of our requirements: comfortable beds, air-conditioning, close to the beach, and hot water. :)

However, after we got settled there and went to explore the beach, we found a MUCH better hotel RIGHT on the beach with ALL of our requirements PLUS cable tv, PLUS it was actually ON the beach and a little farther from the center of Samara so a little more tranquilo. We headed there the next night.

We spent our days catching up (there's a lot to catch up on when you haven't seen someone for a year!), tanning, swimming, reading, laying in the hammocks and every night we checked out the night life. It was definitly my MOST relaxing vacation since coming to Costa Rica and I obviously did NOT want to leave the beach when the time came!

But thanks to Emily Bucci's plane tickets, we eventually had to leave. We spent one night in San Jose. We had to walk through the center of San Jose with Emily's rolling suitcase (which she loved! sorry emily!), but then she really did love the cute hotel. We freshened up and Emily was a great friend and humored my vacation self-interest because I REALLY wanted to go to the movies! So we went and she even saw a movie twice because I REALLY wanted to see it! And then we ate a far too expensive authentic Costa Rican restaurant!

The next morning we ate McDonald's pancakes (because nothing else was opened, but we didn't mind becase I never eat McDonald's EVER and Emily loves McDonald's pancakes even if she is Costa Rica!) and we toured San Jose center. Emily was a great tourist and bought a few Costa Rican souvenirs.

Finally...we had to head to the airport, but it was my most relaxing vacation EVER just what I needed. When Peace Corps gets hard, go to the beach!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recycling Collection Center

One of my big projects was to build a Recycling Collection Center at the school. They already had a recycling project going on, but they had no where to store the material until it could be collected. But now they do....

We are collecting paper, plastic, aluminum and cardboard. We do not collect glass because that is dangerous for the school and the majority of glass bottles are returned to the stores anyways.

Now that we have it built and organized it, we have to make sure that the school can handle it on it's own. The school was thinking I was going to be in charge of it...HA! We had to organize the kids, the janitors, the guards, and the teachers to all work together in keeping the Recycling Center organized and running well.

The community is suppose to bring their recycling to the center on Thursdays! We had a community meeting to inform everyone about the Recycling Center, but as is normal, very few people attended the meeting. For that reason, we plan to have the High School Students complete their required Service Hours for Graduation doing a Recycling Compaign.

Here are pictures of getting the recycling center ready, painting the recycling bins and having the comunity meeting!

Swim Camp

I hardly leave my site and when I do, I usually have a great reason...

One of my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers had a swim camp and being the amazing swimmer that I am..I went to help. It was so much fun to help another volunteer and for once not be in charge or organizing, facilitating, leading. motivating, etc. It was great just to HELP out.


So one of our Peace Corps Goals is HEALTHY LIVING and that consists in being all athletic, which is not exactly my strength, but I have always loved Aerobics. Aerobics is MUCH more like dancing than like being athletic and so I have always had amazing Aerobics DVDs . I obviously brought them to Costa Rica for RAINY season when its too wet to go for walks and play outside. Then my oldest sister started doing Aerobics DVDs with me to joke around. Then we had a fabulous idea to start Aerobics classes! Now we have women from all over the community to go to aerobics classes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and it's been going strong for about six months now!