Archive for March, 2010

I Just Want A @#%#$! Swimsuit!

.:{Perhaps I Will Go Naked}:.

I am in Costa Rica. There are many beaches here. People need swimsuits for the beach. And people need to go to stores to buy these suits. So, why is it so hard for me to find a @#%^$ swimsuit in Costa Rica?!?!?!

As I am volunteering, and trying to save money, I am looking for a relatively cheap suit. Nothing fancy. Just something that covers the places that need to be covered—aka no hoochiness— is of decent quality, and isn’t going to gobble up my monthly allowance. Well, apparently that is too much to ask for. For the last week I have been on a quest to find a swim suit.

I first went with the other volunteer to a cheap bargain store that her host dad raved about, only to find a selection of 5 swimsuits all of which would make a great wardrobe for a Playboy Bunny. So, off we went to another store, where even the largest size didn’t leave much to the imagination—apparently Costa Ricans have a thing for small bikinis—I on the other hand do not. Then I went to a local mall where there were only 2 stores selling swimsuits… let me rephrase, there were only 2 stores hoping to sell their insanely expensive swimsuits. Not only were the prices a bit much, but the fact that the lady working at the store had to look over my shoulder at everything I was perusing didn’t make for the most appealing situation. Next!

So, off to another “better” mall with my host sisters, who were also on a quest to find a swimsuit. Now, this actually is a really good mall (and I stupidly teared up a little in it because it was the first time I had experienced something that truly reminded me of the US… oh the emotions of shopping). The first store we went into only sold either insanely expensive, or insanely tiny swimsuits. STRIKE ONE. The next store actually had great suits that were cheap, but they wouldn’t let me try on the bottoms (“even with underwear on?” I asked) which really is the main factor for me in deciding on a suit… so… STRIKE TWO. Then we found this great store that had tons of swimsuits, they were a little expensive but not completely out-of-reach. Best of all, there was a section of separates, and I really only need a “top” as I already have a bottom that I can use (which is better because it makes things cheaper). So, here I am, ecstatic to have found two bikini tops, and happily waiting by the dressing rooms to try on my two finds. Well, the lady working tells me that I can’t just by a top. “What? I can’t buy just a top? But the tops and bottoms are sold separately.” I say. To which she says, “No, sorry. You have to buy a bottom if you want to buy a top.” Ugh STRIKE THREE.

Hopefully, I will have more luck next time around. Note to self: shopping in the US is much easier than in Costa Rica. Be grateful for this convenience in the future.

March 28, 2010 at 7:22 pm 4 comments

Writing for La Vida Idealist

.:{Published}:.

I’ve always had this life goal of having my writings published, and writing for La Vida Idealist is just one step closer to the “real thing.” Check out my latest post from today!

March 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

Casa Luz : Volunteering

.:{Embracing Little Victories}:.

After about a month, I am finally writing a blog post about my volunteer work at Casa Luz. Why did I wait so long? In the beginning, I had mixed feelings about my work with the young girls and their kids, and wanted to feel out the place before I shared my experience with others. I didn’t want to say one thing, only to realize that I really meant another. That being said, here has been my experience thus far.

In the beginning, I was pretty disappointed with my volunteer placement. From AIDE’s website, my work at Casa Luz sounded more… valuable, than what I was experiencing. My first day, I showed up in the kids daycare where I basically just ran around after the kids, attempting to keep them under control in my wobbly-worded spanish, not knowing what the rules/expectations were of the kids or of myself. Besides my initial interview with the director, I had no real orientation or introduction to Casa Luz, the staff, or the habits of the house. I definitely felt like I had been thrown into the water, with no idea how to swim. But as I am here for 4 months, the reality of the situation was, Sink or Swim, and I was not ready to sink—I had to keep myself afloat—so I came to work each day telling myself that if I wanted my volunteer work to be worthwhile, I had to try. Every accomplishment starts first with the decision to try. And now a month later, I am feeling the little victories of my efforts.

  • The moms who were initially reserved about talking with me, probably because I was new, shy, and the fact that we didn’t understand one another, are now asking me and the other volunteer questions like, “How do you say “muchacho guapo” in English?” Which is now why we often hear the girls referring to themselves or others as “hotties.”
  • I actually know how to talk to the kids now, and can understand most of their toddler spanish jibberish.
  • Me and the other volunteer finally have a set schedule that is reasonable and makes sense. When I first started my hours were a little random, and I felt like I was either not needed because I was working at the same time as many others, I was being taken advantage of, or I was unsure of my schedule. Now, after the lovely cook talked with us and the volunteer coordinators, one of us volunteers works in the mornings to early afternoon and the other from the early afternoon to late afternoon.
  • Although he had to leave Casa Luz last Friday, my daily “animal noise”/”keep him occupied and distracted” time with one of the kids in the house was finally paying off as he started out only knowing how to sound like a horse, cow and dog, and afterwards knew how to “talk” like a dog, horse, cow, cat, pig, elephant, rooster and duck.
  • And although I still feel like I am doing more “babysitting” than anything else… and that am doing work that is much different from what I expected/originally wanted, I am happy with my placement. With every learned animal noise, laugh from a kid, smile from one of the moms, moment cleaning dishes, jumping dance in the daycare, and spoonful of food eaten (who knew toddlers would hate eating so much-oh how their world will change), I know that in my own small way I am making a difference in the world and that’s all that really matters.

March 22, 2010 at 9:39 pm 2 comments

Playa Dominical Part 2

.:{Buses, Burns, Beauty, Bliss}:.

A bus, a taxi, another bus, a night in San Isidro (to meet up with my friend who also went to with me) and another bus later I had arrived in Dominical: a beach town located in the Puntarenas province, a little south of Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Instead of writing a full out blog, I decided to break this post down to the main “lessons” I learned during my weekend in Dominical. Enjoy 🙂

Lessons learned on the bus (San Jose to San Isidro):

1) I am directionally challenged
2) The online schedule and the actual schedule do not match.
3) You have to pay to use the bathrooms in the bus station, and when you don’t realize this will look like an idiotic foreigner.
4) There are assigned seats. If you don’t realize this you will end up changing seats multiple times and again looking like an idiotic foreigner.
5) Don’t sit in the front of a bus in Costa Rica, unless you enjoy seeing your life flash before your eyes… several times.
6) Talk to the people sitting next to you. They may end up showing you a song that reminds them of you (old man-creepy) or they may help you find your way to your destination (could have been sketchy, but was a nice guy, and definitely necessary for my directionally challenged self).

Lessons learned in Dominical:

1) Clouds are deceiving. Just because there are clouds, don’t think you can sit in the sun longer. You will burn, badly. And end up burning the back of your legs so bad that your skin is feels like it got a face-lift, so much so that you can’t straighten your legs so you have to walk around like you’re constipated.
2) Aloe vera gel serves multiple purposes: it helps sunburns, it can act as hair gel, you can use it for shaving, for after shaving, all other burns, to prolong a tan, or to remove make-up (as it says on the back of the bottle I had to buy in Dominical for my terrible burn).
3) Go to the Maracatu restaurant for great organic, local/sustainable/vegetarian food, but not for the nightlife
4) Prepare yourself when you order a casado dish (local mixed-plate dish) with chicken as it may actually turn out to be fish-chicken/some other unidentifiable animal.
5) Stay at the Tortilla Flats hostel. It’s right on the beach, close to everything. Great simple rooms. Nice restaurant outside. Cheap.
6) I absolutely love beach towns, and could definitely be a beach bum at some point in my life. I love love love love loved Dominical. Just the feel of the place was great. More built up than Guacima, but definitely not super touristy. There is a charm to Dominical. There are lots of local surfer/hippie types there, and the beach was beautiful.
7) Go to Dominical

The many towels, sarongs, and tapestries being sold between the trees in Dominical

My view laying on the beach 🙂

Dominical Beach, one of the many surfers there

Dominical=Beautiful


March 16, 2010 at 11:52 am 6 comments

Playa Dominical

.:{A Much Needed Break}:.

Well, on Sunday I will have officially been in Costa Rica for a month…so, it’s only fitting that I finally venture out of little Guacima to see the beach-life of Costa Rica. And that is exactly what I am doing. This weekend I’m going to Dominical (on the south-west coast of Costa Rica) with a girl I met here. YES!  She’s near Dominical, so I just have to figure out how/where to take a bus/buses from Guacima to where she is. Which will be quite the adventure for my directionally-challenged self. Wish me luck!

Pura Vida

March 12, 2010 at 8:31 am 4 comments

Chorreadas

.:{My Inner Fat Kid Rejoices}:.


This morning I experienced chorreadas. I am in love. They are delicious. Chorreadas are simply pancakes/tortillas made out of fresh corn, a little milk and an egg, and topped with fresh cheese. I ate one and it was just so good that I had to eat another, so I did. And then I felt like my stomach was going to explode. But I was happy. MMMM

Pura Vida

March 9, 2010 at 7:08 pm 1 comment

Cartago

.:{Un Lugar Misterioso}:.

A view from our car of the fog in Cartago

Yesterday, I went with Nubia (one of my host sisters) to the city of Cartago. It’s about an hour+ drive from Guacima, so along the way I was able to see much more of Costa Rica, with Nubia as my wonderful tour guide.

Cartago used to be the capital of Costa Rica, and is one of Costa Rica’s oldest Spanish settlements. It is a very mysterious/eerie place because there is always fog (bruma) and I dunno, the place just has this kind of old/ghostly vibe about it. Although many of the old buildings were destroyed in past earthquakes and a terrible volcanic eruption in 1723, there are still some old creepy buildings that remain which I loved! (see below)

After sight-seeing, we went to a little cafe called “Ti ama” for some coffee and a snack. I LOVED this little place. It was very quaint, with pictures of Bob Marley, the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, etc. on the walls—and I had the best cappuccino ever. I also ate a delicious chocolate brownie, which was much needed as I have been on a chocolate kick for days and had yet to enjoy its deliciousness. Needless to say, I am definitely going back to Ti Ama before I leave.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Ciao,

Kelsey

Basilica: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels: known for sheltering the stone statue of the famous “La Negrita,” Costa Rica’s patron saint. People also come here for the water outside which many collect in bottles for its supposed “healing” powers. This place is very interesting- I would definitely suggest reading more about it 🙂

Gifts that people bring during a yearly pilgrimage to the Cathedral, as a tribute to “La Negrita.” (seriously read more about this, it’s a pretty interesting story- and a very famous place).

Las Ruinas: the remains of the paroquia (parish church) built in 1575 and damaged many times before its final destruction in the earthquake of 1910.

A sign inside Las Ruinas- yes, this place definitely feels like there are ghosts that wander about at night.




March 7, 2010 at 8:33 am 2 comments

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