Week 8: A Bucket-List Weekend

Here is my blog, you are the reader, and this is the very condensed intro, here goes:

Monday morning, we began our third module of Spanish courses. This one’s a civilization and culture class rather than language or grammar intensive. This means two things 1) we have a neat opportunity to expand our knowledge of Latin-American beyond just the language and 2) if I want my language skills to continue growing rapidly, more personally committed grammar time is going to have to happen. Also interesting: the professor’s the one for history of cinema—neat coincidence (and glad he’s such a great instructor). That afternoon, I had planned to write my blog, but a 3.5 hour nap took precedence over that idea.

After our class discussion of the Incas, Mayas, and Aztecs Tuesday, we again visited the Moraflores Kindergarten. This week we made play dough with the kids there—just as messy of a prospect as it sounds. But it was fun to teach the recipe and make fun shapes afterwards. That afternoon, I got around to the blogging.

Wednesday after class, we exchanged our SOL searching group time agenda for a safety review meeting. It was a good reminder of the fact that real-life happens here and that part of recognizing that means being vigilant and clear-headed in addition to having a great time. It also means our directors are looking out for us and our safety—and that’s wonderfully assuring to know. I spent the rest of the day just relaxing a lot. I did a little homework, but mostly just enjoyed a chill afternoon at home.

I gave a class presentation over formal Latin American music Thursday in class before we had our first partial-term exam. There was no Zumba class this week (the teacher had a meeting or something). History of cinema class found us watching Hitchcock’s Rebecca—that is a wild storyline of a film! I was all mentally prepared for Communication class that evening, but when I got there; my classmates and I just found ourselves waiting in the hallway for 45 minutes with no professor. I did get to chat with a new friend and do some yoga with a few SOL mates with the extra time though.

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the massive Arenal Volcano
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a view through the jungle at the Catarata de La Fortuna

Friday morning, we all boarded a bus to drive to La Fortuna in Alajuela. When we were nearly there our directors pointed out the stunning view of the Arenal volcano—visible from quite a ways off! It certainly is an impressive land mark towering over the relatively flat, green countryside. After our 3-hour-ish ride, we made it to the national park of the Catarata de La Fortuna. It’s a long hike down a rather steep trail of stairs to reach the pool at the bottom, but a gorgeous view of the waterfall through the jungle trees reminds you of the goal at the end. And what a destination it was, the frigid, swirling pool was a great place to swim and appreciate the amazing force of the waterfall diving down to join us. We shared a picnic-style lunch at the base of the falls before exploring the river. We found a vibrant green snake, some miniature rapids, and wonderfully photogenic scenery. Right before we hiked back to the top, our director showed some of us how to see “the magic of the waterfall.” By focusing intently on the middle of the falls for about 30 seconds, then shifting your gaze slightly to the side, the rocks adjacent to the falls appear to rise and ripple—a neat trick of the eyes and mind. We got back on the bus to our final destination: Los Lagos hotel, resort, and hot-spring. It’s a neat location situated on the side of the Areneal volcano where the human-made pools are heated naturally by the subterranean warmth of the volcano. We enjoyed the pools and each other’s company before sharing a delicious buffet-style dinner. Then it was back to the pools until after midnight. Particularly neat were the little rain showers off and on throughout the evening—a lovely simplicity to enjoy.

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Los Lagos hotel and resort–just part of the network of warm pools
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one of the neat little frogs

Some of us began Saturday morning early to visit the animal houses on the hotel property. After breakfast, we saw the crocodile enclosure (only one of the crocs, however), then moved on to the butterfly house. The blue morpho butterflies continue to fascinate me with their vibrant blue tops of their wings, but leaf-colored and eye-spotted outsides to camouflage them once landed. From there, it was off the frog house to see the cutest, tiniest little red and blue amphibians. You’d never guess they’re as small as they are from their powerfully loud singing though! We swung by the leafcutter ant house last to see the tireless workers effortlessly bringing leaves many times their size back to the colony—pretty impressive stuff. We spend some time post-checkout in a park in La Fortuna to let a rainstorm pass. This gave us just enough time to enjoy the fresh air and a local ice cream and chocolate shop! From there, it was off to the main event of the day: a zip line tour through the rainforest canopy! We strapped into about 10 pounds of harnesses and equipment and had a short safety and technique meeting before heading to take on our first line. We started off with a short little 50-meter jaunt, but worked our way to some lengthy rides over and through the trees and canyons. We stopped at a Tarzan swing about half-way through to fly out over what felt like the edge of the world! The rest of the lines passed way too quickly, but were definitely full of amazing sights (pictures to be available soon). The final line was a bit different: rather than going sitting in our conventional harnesses, we strapped into full-body get-up to zip over the large main canyon in the Superman pose! I can’t think of a better way to view the majesty of a rain forest river valley. A solid nap on the ride home and hearty dinner rounded out this weekend of bucket-list worthy activities.

Today was a day of rest for sure. Slept in until 10 a.m. (Costa Rica time), forgot about daylight savings, freaked out that I had slept so late, remembered, and had a nice breakfast. Then an MLS board meeting (the first time Skype has worked well since I got here), and writing this blog. Oh, and a 2.5 hour nap, that happened too. Overall, just a very relaxing day and a good way to prep for the school week ahead.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the tales from this week. As always, thank you so much for reading. It means a lot to me and makes it feel very worth-it to write each week knowing there are people reading and appreciating these words. Have yourself a wonderful week this week, and hopefully swing back by next week for more news, stories of adventure, and Pura Vida moments. ¡Hasta luego!

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