Week 7: Homeworkin’ Up to a Beach Weekend

Hello there, hope all is well with you wherever you’re reading this from. This past week for me was a bit slower, and there aren’t as many photos in this blog entry as in past ones. But this is how some weeks pass in the reality of my time in Costa Rica as it is—not as a sensationalistic tale I’ve made up (though there’s no lack of sensational things that happen here). Anyhow, here’s how week seven went:

Monday after morning Spanish class and a much-needed lunch, I began homework for the day…and that is essentially the only thing I did all afternoon and evening. I had a final exam to study for, a presentation to create, and a paper to write (all in Spanish)…my mind was extremely ready or bedtime that night.

After class Tuesday, we got to visit a Miraflores School Kindergarten class to do a meditation/relaxation activity with the children there. We also got to act out our favorite animals, talk about what they’re called in English and Spanish, and do some coloring! It was a very fun and energy-filled group! After that, we visited a host family home to learn new meditation techniques and discuss why self-controlled focusing is important. I left early—to go and get my first Costa Rican haircut. I like the new look; it’s definitely much cooler with less hair. Though, I’m not sure I’ve fully re-accustomed to the idea of regular haircuts after the long blonde locks of last year, haha. Next it was off the university to work with my group on our final project…

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our guys at the dance class (photo credit: Angelina Delgado)
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the women–and guy–who taught us traditional folkloric dance (photo credit: Avonelle Davis)

…which we presented Wednesday morning in class. An informative yet sufficiently spooky dramatization about the sanatorium we visited last week. It went well, and there was quite a smorgasbord of other impressive final presentations. It was kind of sad to be leaving a class with a professor as wonderful as Lettie, but any down-ness quickly faded as our SOL mates gathered for a picnic lunch. We discussed where our clothing and other products are made, what work conditions sometimes exist that make such cheap items available to us, and how to be a more conscientious consumer—very thought-provoking. Next it was off the Heredia Centro for a traditional Folkloric-style dance class; like square-dancing…except in a circle…and with actually very little in common with square-dancing. That evening I spent close to three hours completing our take-home midterm exam for my communications class—¡muy duro!

Thursday morning we had no Spanish class—fantastic to have the time for sleeping in! After a leisurely breakfast, I set about trying to decide which of my 600-something photos I wanted to enter in a Missouri-wide study abroad student contest. With council from Karla, Pranav, and Josué, I was able to narrow it down and send in two that I’m hoping will do well for themselves. I went to aerobic dance class like normal at 11…but unlike normal, there were only three students. This meant 1) more space for movements, and 2) the instructor decided it was the day for the workout of our lives. Some acro-yoga at the end was a nice cool down though. In history of cinema class, we watched Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; by far the movie I’ve had the hardest time following. Communication class was short that evening on account of our professor having almost no voice. We read a short article in groups, gave silent presentations of communication concepts, and turned in our exams. With all that extra time I then had on my hands, I decided to go out to a dance club called Tipico Latino with four other SOL students. While waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, I met and danced with some German study away students. Later, as the place began to fill up, there were some very impressive Ticos out on the floor busting all the moves. We managed to watch and learn some, and mostly just have a good time trying to step-touch on beat, haha. I did get to dance with a few Ticas—which was a fantastic learning experience. Bachata, Salsa, Merengue—gotta dance ‘em all!

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Tamarindo beach–emptier than I expected

What better way to begin a Friday than catching a bus at 5:00 a.m.? It was another early, early weekend day. A group of seven of us had decided to check out a hostel and the beach in Tamarindo in the province of Guanacaste. (Also exciting, this trip marked me visiting all seven of the Costa Rican provinces!—can’t say I’ve done that with the 50 states) We rode a 4.5 hour bus to the city of Liberia, then boarded a smaller—much bumpier—bus for another 2 hours to finally arrive in Tamarindo (there’s a lovely video floating around Instagram of me sleeping bobble-headed during the long ride). We checked into our hostel, and immediately hit the beach. A lovely beach, and much less crowded than I had imagined it might be. I ended up taking very few photos this weekend—mostly just enjoyed the time. We had dinner together at a barbeque restaurant next to our hostel–some terrific pulled-pork! I called it a day around 11 p.m. and spent the night under the stars in a bamboo hammock.

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it was neat to see the mountains from the beach…but those rocks in the water made surfing a bit scary

Saturday morning, after breakfast from the local farmers market, we headed to the beach. I rented a surfboard from the hostel and was determined to try my feet at it. On a scale from one-to-longboarding, surfing is essentially a 13. It was difficult to read the incoming waves, harder to paddle fast enough to catch one, and even tougher to stand for more than a few seconds. I did meet a New Yorker named Russ who had some helpful pointers for me, and I got up a couple of times. I tried twice more throughout the day intermingled with snacking and reapplication of the ‘ole sunblock. The thing about surfing though; it’s basically just sun-bathing where you catch a wave every-now-and-then. I left Saturday with some nice color…that color is red. Good thing aloe vera gel is plentiful here. We decided to cook our own dinner that evening, and I got to spearhead the efforts. We had buttered farfalle noodles with sautéed bell peppers, parsley, and fried fish and shrimp. It was nice to just spend time together preparing a meal to share. That night we went out to explore ‘Tama-gringo’ (the amount of U.S. tourism there is just unreal, Spanish proficiency very optional). We found a roof-top casino where we got to enjoy a few games of pool and the breeze of a costal evening. Slept in the hammock again that evening, because, why not?

Sunday morning, we had to check out by 11, but were allowed to stick around the hostel until our bus arrived. Unfortunately, the bus schedule for Tamarindo is kinda loose on the weekdays, and Sundays it’s essentially abstract. We did find one back to Liberia, and hung out there before catching the last bus of the night back to San José. 12:30 a.m. found us rolling into a chilly San José ready for a very late dinner and bed. As you can imagine, the blog wasn’t happening that night, and yesterday, a 3.5 hour nap took priority. Overall, it was a fantastic weekend full of adventures and good times with friends.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the week that marks my half-way point (crazy, right?) here in this beautiful part of the world. Thanks for taking time to read and share in these stories with me. Until next week, stay your awesome self. ¡Chao!

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