Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Apply to be a volunteer for change...teach English in Costa Rica with my program!

EVOLC is looking for volunteers to start this summer as teachers' assistants with the Costa Rican program INA. This is a great way to gain teaching experience and help make a change in a beautiful country! Check out the website for more details.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Visa Run, or an excellent excuse to visit Panamá...

 Isla Perro, San Blas, Panamá

February flew by before I had even gotten used to the fact that it was 2011, and suddenly I was looking at my calendar and realized that I was almost in the middle of March. Dios mio! It was almost time to do a visa run...and the calendar was filling up FAST.

My girlfriend Terri left on March 4th and another set of friends arrived about a week later. Laura and Eric have been my friends for years and they came for an almost two week vaca in Santa Teresa. It was great to see them, and they stayed on a really nice, secluded part of the beach close to the Hermosa side of town. We did a few meals together and some beach time as well as some sunset cocktails, and on one of their last nights here they got engaged on the beach under a full moon! Congratulations you guys!!! 

Laura and Eric at Koji's Sushi in Playa Hermosa

While they were here I realized that my time was running out to do a visa run. I needed to leave the country before my 90 days ran out on March 30th, but I also had plans to hang out with another friend and my four awesome cousins who were all arriving before the end of March. So after throwing around a few ideas with my new man who luckily also needed to go on a visa run trip, we decided to take a cheap flight to Panama City, Panamá, and from there make a sidetrek to the San Blas islands which we had both heard was unbelievably beautiful. I've always wanted to see both the city and the islands, and we both have friend who live in the city who we planned to visit. 
Concrete Jungle

About four days later, we were off. SJO to PTY. Quick one hour flight. We got a hotel in the city and spent the first weekend there, saw our friends and did some marathon shopping. Compared to the prices in Costa Rica which are tourist/US prices, everything is way cheaper in Panama. Asaf (that's my boyfriend, he's Israeli but he lives in CR) needed to get stock for the surf shop he runs with his brother back here in Santa, and I just wanted to shop for some cheap clothes and a dress for a wedding. It was fun to be in the big city for a weekend - after living on the beach for so long it came as a welcome change of pace. And it's a tropical kind of city, where the juxtaposition of palm trees and skyscrapers keeps you feeling just a little bit beachy. 
My girl Amanda who teaches English in Panama City

On Monday morning, we made the trek from the city to the islands. San Blas is an archipelago of tiny islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama, and I would NOT recommend getting there by car/boat. We tried to fly, but our last minute timing didn't work out so well, so we got a taxi to Miramar where we waited for the boat. An hour later we realized we were supposed to board a tiny fishing boat, and ride across the choppiest seas I've ever seen in my life for an hour and a half. There was no other we took the WORST BOAT RIDE ever. No joke. At first I thought it was funny, how the biggest waves I've ever seen were rocking our little boat and not breaking overhead like it seemed they were going to...but after about 10 minutes of slamming over waves and hitting my ass on the hard wooden seat, I realized this ride was going to be hell. We were all freaking out. One girl puked. I fell off the seat into the row behind me at one point. We thought we would never get there...

The island where we stayed in San Blas...EPIC!

But finally we arrived at our little island in paradise. It was a small island near El Porvenir (that's the bigger island where the airport is). It only had about 5 or 6 straw huts on it, one of which would be ours for the next few days. 

Our little shack in San Blas

The lodging was muy rustico, sand floor and palm leaf walls and roof...but on the most beautiful secluded island surrounded by the most blue and green crystal clear waters I've ever seen in my life. Everywhere we turned looked like a postcard...I couldn't stop taking pictures. Food was provided by the local kuna people and it wasn't bad - fresh fish and potatoes, salads, fruits and the occasional lobster. On the second day we did a tour to some of the other islands nearby - including Isla Perro, or dog island, which is famous for it's shipwreck snorkeling spot. 


Luckily we were able to get a flight back out to Panama City, and we spent the last day relaxing in the air conditioning and eating good city food. Flew back to Costa Rica with our bellies full and our hearts content. Visa run success! :)

More to come soon...pura vida!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just another midsummer daydream...

This town is funny. It's sort of a melting pot of a lot of different cultures. Because of the world class surfing and tranquilo beach lifestyle that Santa Teresa has to offer, people from all over the place have landed here and set up shop. Obviously there is still a predominant Tico population, but there are also tons of Gringos, Canadians, Argentinians ("tinas"), and Israelis ("izzys"), as well as a smattering of people from various other countries worldwide. And now there are certain areas of town that are sort of the designated areas for these cultures. Last year when I first came here, I was shocked to see such a Gringo-esque shopping center at the crossroads in Playa Carmen (the entrance to town). I had seen stuff like this in places like Tamarindo, but the Mal Pais/Santa Teresa area is a little bit smaller/less developed, so it was kind of a surprise to hang out in a commercial center with outdoor seating and lounge areas that reminded me of being in California. Nice to have around though for those days that you crave American food and air conditioning...we fittingly deemed it "Gringo Plaza." Not that all the businesses are owned by Gringos, but that is definitely the place where you can find the most Gringos hanging out.

So now we've come up with names for all the culture heavy areas in town. There's "Little Tel Aviv" at the other fancy shopping center at the start of Santa Teresa, where most of the businesses are run by Israelis and you can be sure to hear Hebrew being spoken. There's "Tina Town" down by the Brunella's Hostel complex where the Argentinians abound with their funny accents (where "Y" and "LL" is pronounced with a "J" or almost "J-SH" sound) and weird "Is that a mullet?" haircuts. And then there's the always good for a laugh "Tico Town" down by the Pizza Tomate in Santa Teresa, where you can almost always find the local boys hanging out in or outside the restaurant on the street, or in the gutter by the Supermarket, probably drinking guaro and smoking puros. And finally there's us, living somehow in the middle of all these places, making friends with everyone, and trying to remain we call ourselves "Little Suiza" (Switzerland) AKA "Maya Town" since we are right by the big and fabulous Super Maya (which we have also deemed our "pantry" since we never have to buy lots of groceries in advance because the supermarket is just steps away from our gate...the lazy cook's dream).

Life has been pretty fun lately, living with my two fabulous roommates from New York. We are loving our little home, our morning surf sessions, and our ladies nights. We cook a lot of yummy meals together and make poor man's Sangria with Chilean boxed wine and OJ from the super. We laugh a lot. And we have nicknames for everyone.

Surfing is interesting. It's a lot of fun, and I've definitely been getting better, making progress on my pop up, balancing, paddling, and riding skills, but getting out past the break here in Santa is freaking hard. When I lived in Samara and when I visited Tamarindo it was way easier to get out. The waves were smaller and there weren't so many waves in a set to fight past in order to get on the outside. But here it's big. The waves are way more powerful. It's a work out just trying to get past a few of them. So I've been taking it slow and most days I just practice on the white wash. But at least I have a good time and I get a good workout just getting out there. I finally got out with a little help and motivation from a friend the other day, but then I got really scared as I saw big waves rolling in and crashing in front of me. How was I supposed to get back in? I kinda freaked out and didn't want to try any of the big waves that were coming by, so I paddled towards the shore during a lull and finally rode a wave back in on my knees. But this is how you learn, poco a poco, little by little, so I'm not trying to push things. I need to be super comfortable with my technique before I start trying to catch the big waves. And I love surfing the white wash because I can easily get like 10 good rides in a session!

My English classes have been going well. Most of my groups usually have around 8-10 students in attendance, with anywhere from 10-15 registered for the class. It's tough to get students to come every week, and a lot of them will skip a week or two here and there without thinking twice about it. But it's fine, I just do a good bit of review each class from the previous lesson, and try to keep everyone updated on the homework. I've done at least 2 songs in each group so far this semester, which are always a big hit, and we've played some new Q&A games as well as board games and team races at the board. I've been drilling the intermediate students on the irregular verbs in the past tense for the past month (it's pretty much all memorization with the irregulars), and the advanced group is working on past participles and conditionals. It's funny when I forget the correct English, like last night with the verb SWIM. Simple past = SWAM. Past participle = SWUM. That just sounds weird to me. I have never swum in the ocean? But apparently that's the way it is. So I have to be careful...but it's good for my English and even better for my Spanish, when my students are translating everything into Spanish out loud as they write down the English. "I would if I could, but I can't so I won't." = "Lo haria si podria, pero no puedo entonces no lo haré." Impressive, no?

In other news my girlfriend Terri from ATL came to visit last week and we had a BLAST. She loved it here and fit right wish she could've stayed longer! Here are a few gorgeous pictures from our day trip to was the most perfect sunshiny day for the trip and a visit to the waterfalls! Que suerte!

This next month and a half or so will be the month of visitors. I have four more friends coming (two just arrived last night and are staying down at the end of Santa Teresa on a secluded beach, and one will be here in 2 weeks and is getting married on the beach in Mal Pais), and four of my cousins are also coming together at the very end of the March for a cousins reunion trip! It's bound to be an epic month. So stoked. I love summer.

Bueno chicos...nos hablamos. Happy Spring back home in the States, hope you are finally getting some warmer weather! Love from Costa...xx

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Big Bang Theory

Hola from 2011! Back in paradise and things are going well. After a somewhat messy break-up with my tico boyfriend followed by a perfectly timed mini-vacation adventure with one of my best gringa girlfriends, I am finally getting back into my groove in Santa Teresa. Just finished my first week of English classes and had about 60 students in attendance. Hoping that number may go up a little during the second week, but feeling good about the size and energy of most of my groups. Decided to cancel my class in Montezuma after considering opening a new group there, but due to lack of interest and no desire to travel so far by myself once a week, I just let it go. The good news is I am now officially a Spanish teacher as well, currently working with two Swedish boys who have recently moved to town, and looking for a few new recruits. Beginner lessons only, but I have to say I'm pretty proud of my Spanish after a year and a half here. In addition to that I've got a few private lesson English students, so that should make for a decent monthly income. I've also got a great new house with my bestie from NYC. We are loving it...a nice big kitchen, living room with an actual couch, a hot water shower, 3 bedrooms, and a nice big front porch. It's pretty sweet for Ticolandia.

So as I said the year started off with a few big bangs...

Bang! Too much fighting with the boyfriend finally led to the end of us. Sad face. But we are both better off without each other...and it feels good to be single again. Getting back in touch with my soul, and studying "Women who run with the Wolves" to awaken my wild nature;)

Bang! I moved into a new house.

Bang! My long time girlfriend Krista AKA Kritta K came to visit and we went on a whirlwind adventure to the southern zone of Costa Rica to the Osa Peninsula. I finally made it to Corcovado National Park, one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet, where we spotted tons of wildlife and enjoyed la naturaleza. A few pics below. Kritter also got to come see my new house and check out the area where I live for a few was so great to share it all with her! Then we made it down to Dominical for two days on the way to the Osa, where we just chilled and surfed and danced a little salsa;) So glad KK came down...and if anyone else reading this is thinking about making the trip, DO IT!!! So worth it...and you get to see ME!

Bang! I got a surfboard! Meet the lovely "Reina" 6'11" funboard! We are still getting to know eachother, but I'm feeling really good about the future of our relationship. She's just big enough that I can get up on her, but small enough that I can become a better surfer. I am still in a very beginner mode, but owning my own tabla should help me learn a lot faster. Love her.

Final Bang! Today I got a bike! Don't have a photo yet but she is a pretty in pink beach cruiser with a jumbo basket on the front...I am calling her "Rosalinda." Now I have a whole little family of friends...Rubi the red quad, Reina the royal tabla de surf, and Rosalinda the rosada bicicleta.

Love from Costa Rica XOXO

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December Wrap-Up

2010. What an amazing year it's been...I found my dream job teaching English in a beach town in Costa Rica. I perfected my Spanish skills to the point where I can now instruct others on how to speak the beautiful latin language. I fell in love with an amazingly sweet tico man and we created a great life together. I worked on my cooking skills, made beach art, discovered new ways of thinking and expressing myself, saw uncountable gorgeous sunsets, and traveled making visa runs to Nicaragua and back to the U.S. I enjoyed a lot of free time and I also put in a lot of time and energy into creating the English program in Santa Teresa and Montezuma. I made new friends and reunited with old ones, and I also saw tons of family that I hadn't seen in years at my cousin's wedding to which I was blessed to make it. I met my long lost half brother that I never knew I had, which in itself was an incredible experience. And finally, to top it all of, I got to spend Christmas relaxing and celebrating with my familia here in Atlanta. For all of this and more, I am grateful. My life is filled with love and joy and prosperity on many levels, and although things aren't always perfect, I am so thankful for all that I have and I truly believe the best way to be is optimistic so I'm counting my blessings!

The turn of the new year is a good time for reflection as well as setting new goals, and sometimes we are too busy to take the time to meditate on what it is we've learned, where it is we've been, and where we're headed. This year I'm making a point to do just that. It's been a year of self exploration in many ways for me, a new country, new job, new language, so many new experiences...and I have learned so much. My only regret is that I didn't journal more about all of my feelings and thoughts. I was doing pretty well with the blog at first, but that too ended up fading into the background at the end of the year. So, one of my goals for the new year is to keep up with my journal and maybe keep this blog going too...or maybe start another, more personal blog to post more inspirational ideas. But one step at a time!

To summarize some of my personal reflections...a few things I've been thinking about and plan to continue working on in 2011: practicing good health, conscious awareness of destructive patterns in order to transform them into positive habits, and allotment of time for personal space for meditation/creativity, allowing my inner femme fatal her self expression;) My health is generally very good but it's always important to keep it in the forefront. Maintain the vibrant life force with good nutrition and proper exercise. Oh, and lots of sunshine! Gotta love that free vitamin D! I've always been a slacker when it comes to exercise and I know this...but it's becoming more important to kick my ass into gear, so yes, like so many other people out there, I'm setting workout goals for the new year. Secondly I've been trying to work on bringing my awareness to any negative behavioral patterns or unhealthy reactions that come up in my daily life, recognize the tendencies I have and recognize it when they happen, and then to try to shift my mind state into a more positive space. The key here I believe is to be brutally honest but also be super gentle with yourself, and with those who are closest to you and act as mirrors of your behavior. Springing from the basic practice of turning of negative thoughts into positive affirmations...and taking that same adjustment work to other energetic and mental tendencies. And the last thing I mentioned, which is perhaps the most important, is the setting aside of personal time to reflect and express, to nurture my spirit and rejoice in my connection with the divine, and to just be...breathing, happy, whole. This is such an important simple yet so easy to forget in the mix of everyday life. And even when you're living a tranquilo life at the's funny how your day gets filled with basic tasks and work and friends and food and suddenly a week has gone by without 15 minutes of breath and silence! So, there are some achievable goals, fit for the soul, for the ever-evolving me in 2011.

On a lighter semester of English classes came to an end just about a week and a half ago with final exams and I am so proud of all of my students! They have truly improved their skills with the language and I feel so good about the impact I have made. But I'm also really stoked to be able to stay and work with them again in 2011, because I have got to get them speaking more. If there is one thing that they still need to get over their fear about, it's speaking, and I finally figured out some new techniques of translation practice with simple conversation that seems to be working quite well. I plan to keep it up in the new year and hopefully get everybody's confidence up to speak more fluidly. Teaching is great, a lot of fun, challenging and creative at the same time, and I'm constantly learning new things. I'm considering continuing teaching English or possibly Spanish in the future when I return to the states. It's a wonderful profession.

Right now I'm in Atlanta for a few more days of vacation and then I will return to Costa Rica just in time for New Years Eve (YAY Fiesta!!!) Unfortunately, my boyfriend and I are moving AGAIN when I get back, but hopefully this will be the last time! The last time I blogged we were living in a sweet vacation house that a friend was care-taking, but that was only for the rainy season, and in the beginning of November we relocated to a small but sweet apartment more in the center of town. It's been a great little spot, close to everything, it came with a lovely cat (who I think actually belongs to a neighbor a few doors down but she spends a lot of time on our patio), and we've met a lot of neighbors who have become good friends there. We are on the same side street as the big SuperMercado, which is convenient, and right across the street from one of the most beautiful beach spots in Santa. Check out the view from under the palms above ^^^

But like I said, we are moving again, which is due to a sanitary issue I'd prefer not to discuss here (let's just say the bathroom stinks more often than it should), but we are so lucky that we have found a perfect place to move into and it's just a few houses up the same side street on the same block. Good thing, because I sold the car so we don't have an easy way to move everything at once. The new place is bigger and has a nice front porch and we are super excited because we will be sharing the place with my favorite little NYC transplant Trinity ;) She was living in Montezuma and Santa Teresa earlier this year and we became the best of friends. Then she left for the rainy season, but she's coming back for at least the next 6 months. What a treat it will be to have my girlie here again to kick it with! And get this: just a day before we were leaving ST for the holidays, we weren't sure what we were going to do about our living situation, because the house we were looking at was occupied until the 7th and our current landlord wasn't happy with our moving plans...but it just so happens that the current inhabitants are some rad friends of ours who offered to let us move in a week early to help us get out of our current leasing agreement (gotta give up the whole month of January), how nice is that! So it all feels kind of like a miracle, everything is coming together beautifully as it always does here. Ah, sweet Costa always seems to fall perfectly into place in your luscious lands <3

Hasta Pronto! Espero que todos pasaron un Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

...and then the Earth trembled!

Wow...what a week! In the past week I've experienced many new, interesting, exciting, and scary things. There was a skunk in my kitchen that made me scream, a family of raccoons visiting our trash bin (mind you now that I've made friends with one I kinda like seeing these guys around), a ginormous four inch cockroach crawling by outside (these guys on the other hand are not welcome), bright green frogs having sex on a leaf in the yard, and frog eggs from said frogs hanging on said leaf in a gelatenas clear substance the next morning (cool). But nothing was quite as amazing as the tremors I felt on Thursday and Friday.

It was my first time to experience an earthquake (tremor, really, but to me it was pretty significant). The entire house shook. I just so happened to be getting dressed (it was around 9:30 in the morning) and had to run outside to a safer spot topless...good thing we don't have any close neighbors. The house we live in is built on the side of a mountain, and there is a fault line running through Cobano and a seismogenic plate that lies beneath most of the Nicoya Peninsula. This area is basically where two tectonic plates meet under the surface of the Earth: the Coco Plate and the Caribbean Plate. Apparently the shifting of these two plates is what causes the earthquakes and tremors, and sometime in the future a very large earthquake could destroy the entire peninsula. I'm not so sure what it all means, but that's what they say. It seems to me the whole area is sort of in a constant flux, especially the tip of the penninsula where I live (Montezuma, Cobano, Cabuya, Mal Pais, and Santa Teresa). The mountains drop at a steep angle down to the coastal areas, the terrain is rough, and at any time landslides and topographic changes are possible. I guess that explains why the roads are so bad, because paving them never seems to last that long. As the land changes, so do the pothole prone roads.

The tremor was Thursday morning and it reached 5.3 on the Richter scale. There were apparently more than 6 more aftershocks, only one of which I felt. Then came the flashes in the sky. Thursday night as we were going to bed we started noticing some lightening in the sky, but there was no thunder. Heat lightening I suppose. We went to bed but kept seeing these flashes of light outside the window, so we got up to watch the storm. But it wasn't raining and there was still no thunder, just continuous flashes of light with the occasional bolt of lightening going sideways across the sky. I have never seen so much atmospheric activity - the flashes continued with less than 5 seconds between them for at least a couple of hours. It was truly unbelievable, kind of beautiful, and a little bit frightening. We are living in the beginning of the end of days, after all. Who knows what could happen, or what's normal anymore.

Again on Friday morning there was another big one, 5 point something, and then again this morning around 3 am, 4 point something. During both of these I was sleeping and I didn't feel anything. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I guess I'm a good sleeper like my dad. :)

So...aside from mother nature showing me her wild side this week, life has been pretty normal. It's midterm exam time for my students, so now we will really see who's got the dedication to pass the test and finish out the semester. I think most of them are going to do just fine, and I'm making an extra effort to do a whole review class so they are well prepared for the exam. The weather has been surprisingly really beautiful lately, with several full days of sunshine this week which means I got in a little beach time. Last weekend we spent in San Jose again, this time because I had to take the car in to pass her technical inspection, which after spending hundreds of dollars in repairs and borrowing a tire from a similar car at the local mechanic's, she passed by the skin of her teeth (now there's an interesting idiom to use in my classes...any ideas where that one came from?). Now that Geovanna passed inspection and we are getting close to finishing the rainy season, I'm considering selling her and keeping the quad come November. I've been planning to sell Rubi (the ATV), but in reality she is much more fit for getting around on these roads as long as it's not raining: she's newer, has fewer problems, and she's built for off-roading (or on-roading in Costa Rica). Plus she can go a lot faster, and she's a lot more fun to ride! She's perfect for the dry season, and since I'm thinking I probably won't stick around for the entire year next year, she's probably my best option. Yes, that's right, I'm currently considering wrapping things up here in May or June of 2011. But no promises. There are still a lot of things that could happen between now and then...

And there you have it. Hasta la proxima, pura vida!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

La Vida Tranquila

Livin la vida tranquila. That is the truth these days. With the rains coming more frequently things are slowing down even more around here. I can hear the waves crashing down more clearly. The monkeys are howling louder. The winds are blowing harder. I feel like my senses are being heightened from the silence surrounding me. Tourism has almost reached it's yearly low and only the locals remain. It's kinda cool to be a part of it, experiencing the vacation spot without the slew of invading vacationers. I can truly say I know this town, from both sides now.

Don't get me wrong, it's not rainy everyday (or at least not yet). August was actually really nice, a good balanced month, and lately the mornings have typically been rain free, with the clouds rolling in in the afternoon. The locals are still doing their thing. The motorcycles and quads are still bumping along the pothole-filled roads, and the hardcore surfers are still making their way to the breaks on the daily. Life goes on, but it's clear that this town was built for tourism. A lot of businesses will close for at least one month sometime during September and October, and many locals will take their yearly vacation back home to where ever home may be (San Jose, Nicaragua, Europe, the U.S., and Israel are common destinations). It's a good time to escape, and I'm hoping that my two week trip home is well planned, smack dab in the middle of October, the rainiest month of the year, when my wonderful cousin Dan just happened to be getting married in Pennsylvania. The perfect excuse.

In the mean time I plan to continue with my teaching, which has definitely become one of my passions. My students are truly a joy to work with (for the most part). I've also found myself igniting and reigniting some of my other passions: clothing design, for example. Simple cut and tie projects with big guys t-shirts that I'm turning into dresses and halter tops. The next step is to try some at-home DIY screenprinting. We'll see how that works out. Not a major project yet, but I'm testing the waters. It could be a great little business to start once the tourist season starts back up. My boyfriend Javier makes macrame jewelry to sell at the beach and so I've been toying with the idea of joining him with some homemade beachwear. Other ideas include shell and driftwood creations like mobiles and little paintings. The rainy season is definitely a good time to get creative, and I'm grateful to have a nice space in my home to do some work. Fun work, that is.

Last weekend some gringo friends of ours, Maryann and Paul, invited Javier and I to go to San Jose with them. They have recently relocated here from Cape Cod, and they are buying a jungle lodge in Mal Pais. They sort of needed help since they didn't know their way around the San Jose and they don't speak much Spanish, so Javi played tour guide and I played translator.

They covered the hotel which was basically a nice Tica lady's home, and she cooked all our meals for us. We helped them find their lawyer, do paperwork for a visa application, get fingerprints done, and go shopping around the city. We also picked up their 16 year old daughter Carly, who had just flown in from the States. She'll be living here for the next three months or maybe longer, doing an online home schooling program with a local advisor.

We had a lot of fun tooling around the city and it was nice to get out and do something different. The beach is beautiful, but I do crave a little taste of city life from time to time. We are planning to go back again in the next few weeks to visit Javier's mom and daughter, and we hope to go to the Parque de Diversiones (amusement park) as long as the rain holds off.

Yesterday we had planned to do a BBQ on the beach in the afternoon, but as you come to expect around here, we got rained out. So the BBQ turned into a dinner party. We made ceviche and fish sticks from fresh caught "dayboat" Jack and hung out at Pachamama, the lodge in Mal Pais that our friends are purchasing. Pachamama means mother earth; there's a translation that I love. We drank Chilean wine out of a box and made friends with a raccoon. At first I thought they were crazy for feeding it, but then I realized how cute he really was, and I joined the action by feeding him some tostadas myself. His little paws were super soft, and he was very gentle and careful around us. I still can't quite get used to the idea, but they are actually trying to encourage the natural wildlife to be around their lodge. No dogs allowed, but raccoons, monkeys, and other small mammals are more than welcome.

Other highlights from the past month included a visit from my girlfriend Meredith, who came for a second time after her first trip back in March. She brought a friend with her which was great since I had to teach some evenings while she was here, and they were having the best trip. They literally came during the best week in August, weather wise. During their two day trip to La Fortuna to visit Volcan Arenal, they were blessed with a completely clear night, and actually saw hot lava flows around the volcano. I've been twice and never been that lucky. Then they arrived at the beach and we had three days of sunshine. It was amazing.

We went surfing at the most beautiful beach nearby, Playa Hermosa, which has become my new favorite. It's a lot easier to surf there for beginners, plus it's less crowded and wider and cleaner than the beaches in Santa Teresa.

We also visited the Montezuma waterfalls and hit up reggae night over in Montezuma, which is about the only big party that's still happening around here. It was a blast, and the girls were already talking about coming back...again!

The other night I accidentally left my keys in my car when I went into the super to buy some groceries. I locked the car up good like I always do, bought my groceries and reached for my keys...but they weren't there. Of course, I was checking my messages on my phone before I got out of the car and somehow just forgot to grab the keys on my way out. But that's no problem because I made a spare door-only key and I keep it in my must still be there, right? Wrong. I have no idea where the extra key went, but it wasn't in my wallet, so there I was without a key and without a locksmith. Of course there isn't a locksmith here! So I called around to a few different friends and a taxi driver who is my student, but no one had any grand ideas. One friend jokingly told me that the only "locksmiths" around here were the thieves. I stood there feeling a bit defeated, when suddenly out of nowhere one of my students pulls up, jumps out of the car and when I explained my problem announces "I'm a mechanic, I can do it, just let me find a hanger." He runs behind the supermarket and comes back with a wire and a metal rod. He slides it into the door and within about 2 minutes he works his magic and voila, my door opens. It was truly a miracle that he showed up, and things just seemed to work out, as they always seem to around here, just people helping people. Pura Vida.

I'll leave you with a few more photos of the house. Saludos a todos mis amigos, I miss you all much and please come visit! November through April/May will be beautiful here ;)