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Puerto Viejo

.:{Jah Bless}:.

As if I haven’t been lucky enough to be in Costa Rica, have gone to the beach for the week during Semana Santa, travel for a week with my mom, and have a weekend back in the states, I also spent a week (a few weeks ago) in Puerto Viejo with Ray, Jen, and Jen’s two friends from college.

We had been planning this trip for what seemed like forever, actually before I even left for Costa Rica. In fact, Puerto Viejo was the only vacation I intended on taking while here, which just makes it even more awesome that I had the opportunity to go on the other trips.

What is so awesome about having these different trips is that I have been able to experience so much of Costa Rica (who knows when I’m going to be here next, so I might as well see as much as I can right?). Because the country is small (the size of New Hampshire and Vermont put together), you would think that by visiting one part of the country you would have a good understanding of most of CR, but that is not the case at all. Every part of Costa Rica is so different from the next, and I have loved been able to experience the extreme differences.

Most different from them all is Puerto Viejo. From what I have seen, Puerto Viejo is nothing like anything else I have encountered in Costa Rica—and I am absolutely in love with it. When I think about my other trips, the things that really stand out to me are the events: the snorkeling, the hikes, the waterfalls, just the activities in general. But, when I think of Puerto Viejo, the thing that stands out is the feel of the Caribbean. The vibe of Puerto Viejo is very relaxing, earth friendly, bohemian, quirky, and laid-back. I could absolutely live there.

Our trip to Puerto Viejo started out with some bad luck. A passport was missing, I was recovering from my sickness and such from the States, and the day before everyone was suppose to come to Costa Rica the road to get to Puerto Viejo was closed because of flooding. I mean, it is the rainy season here, but Puerto Viejo is supposed to be dryer than the rest of the country. A flood? Really?

Luckily, everything worked out, everyone made it to Costa Rica, AND we got to the road just in time before it was going to close again. Seriously, Costa Rica is magical. On top of it all, our shuttle driver was amazing and so nice (although we all believe he definitely got lost trying to find our place in Puerto Viejo as the drive there took waay longer than the drive back with other people). After a nice ride with him, a stop for some local food, driving up to the wrong place, and reversing, we had made it. We, thanks to Ray’s research, found an awesome and cheap place to stay for the week right outside the main town of Puerto Viejo on Playa Negra. Although the lady that we were renting it from was really nice, she definitely needs to work on her welcome speeches.

“Hey Everyone! Welcome! So, what can I tell you? Well, theft is rampant here. It can be dangerous, which is why we put the new bars on the windows…”

Umm what?

I mean my host family had told me to be careful at night in Puerto Viejo, not walk alone, especially if you’re a girl, to lock the doors, ya know basically just use common sense. But this lady was making it seem like we were living right next to an unsecured prison. However, everything turned out all right and we didn’t have any problems, so no worries there. In fact, that night we even walked into town (about a 10 min walk that we first made on a sidewalk-less street, dodging cars, and from then on out, walked to and from town on the beach—much safer and prettier) to get some essentials, ie: Imperial beer and snacks, and returned back home to celebrate our first night in Puerto Viejo.

[I am realizing that this blog is becoming absurdly long, so from here on out, I will do my best to summarize the week.]

The next day was absolutely beautiful, nice and sunny (which could explain why everyone woke up freakishly early for a vacation, ie: 5am) and we spent that day lounging on the beach, busting out the Kan Jam game Ray somehow managed to stuff into his suitcase (if you’ve never heard of Kan Jam, you’re missing out), and exploring around town. That night we went to our first of the many excellent restaurants for some Costa Rican food with a Caribbean flare. It was absolutely delicious. At that restaurant we saw a perfect example of the kind of hospitality and attitude people have in Costa Rica. We were the only people at the restaurant and after taking our orders the owner made a special trip out on her bike to pick up ingredients for our food and the type of beers we ordered (instead of just saying they were out). Gotta love Costa Rica.

Oh geez, I feel like I have so much to say about Puerto Viejo, but this is going to take forever. So… basically

Every single restaurant that we went to in Puerto Viejo was amazing. Everyone seemed to have their favorites too. Whether it was Pan Pay with the good atmosphere and delicious Tortilla Espanola, Ali Baba’s for some A-MAZ-ING tasting falafel, pita’s and Mediterranean food, Bread and Chocolate for some all natural, homemade (including the bread and jams) food, delicious french press coffee, and veggie friendly breakfast, or Salsa Brava for great Tapa’s, drinks, and sitting right next to the ocean, we were all happily satisfied with the Puerto Viejo’s food.

The group at Ali Baba's

Delicious french press coffee at "Bread and Chocolate"

AWESOME cinnamon and oatmeal pancakes in the shape of a sun at Bread and Chocolate- yum

The amazing tapas at Salsa Brava restaurant


We were also able to go on two awesome tours while we were in Puerto Viejo. The first was a combination tour of an animal sanctuary, indigenous chocolate making, and a waterfall hike and the second one was a fantastic zip-lining tour. I think pictures explain better than words for these so, please note the photos below.

At the animal sanctuary : Here's lookin' at you monkey

Ray with one of the monkeys at the animal sanctuary - cute!

Baby sloth!

The cutest two-toed baby sloth ever

Baby three-toed sloth...how can you not love that face?!

At the animal sanctuary with the littlest of the monkeys : Brad Pitt

The girls at the indigenous chocolate-making tour with "lipstick" put on directly from a berry

Beautiful waterfall that we hiked to and swam under after the animal reserve and chocolate tour

On the way to the ziplining, our transportation broke down and we were told to walk to "the zipline place right up the road." Well, about 30 min later and one never-ending incline climb, we made it.

The girls and our ziplining gear

The beautiful view of the rainforest

We did it!


Along with the tours, another moment that stood out specifically for me was one night when we were walking home from town. Not only was it already beautiful because, I mean, our entire walk home is along the beach, but this night was especially beautiful. As I was walking with Ray, we looked up to notice that the stars were exceptionally bright. EXCEPTIONALLY bright. I have never seen anything like it before. I felt like I was in a movie or like Jen said, on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at DisneyLand where there are fake stars above you. The stars were not only remarkably bright but actually twinkling. TWINKLING. Every single one. We all stopped just to stare up at the stars. It was something so simple, but it’s the simple moments that matter the most.

And really I think that is what I loved the most about Puerto Viejo. The simplicity. Life is relaxed. Life is good. Quality is more important than quantity. The priorities are all that they need to be: good food, good company, happiness, awareness of the world that we live in, love, peace… it sounds very hippy-ish, but hey maybe the flower children had it right.

There is so much more that happened in Puerto Viejo, but I’m not going to bore you all with it. Basically to sum it up. Puerto Viejo = Happiness. I was so so so happy to see my friends and see Ray (but that definitely is making these last few weeks without them very difficult). I was so happy to be on the beach. I was so happy that I was lucky enough to be in Costa Rica, I was so happy with the food. I was so happy with people. I was so happy with the activities. I was, simply, so happy. And am still so happy.

Big thanks to everyone that helped me or encouraged me to come out to Costa Rica. Seriously. It’s thanks to you that I am surrounded by such happiness.

Muchas Gracias
Pura Vida

[continue on to see more photos!]

Our fantastic place next to the Playa Negra beach in Puerto Viejo

Our beautiful view walking every day

I just loved this house in Puerto Viejo

Love Puerto Viejo

Typical Puerto Viejo

Please note the third line down

Attempting to make local food for breakfast

Beautiful sunrise on Playa Negra


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June 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

Semana Santa

.:{Week in Guanacaste (4/27-5/3)}:.

In attempting to catch everyone up on what I have been doing for the last two months, here is an overdue post about my week at the beaches in Guanacaste with my host sister and friends. Since the trip is really better explained in pictures, here was my week in the Guanacaste province at Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, Playa Panama and Playa Ocotal.

Sunset at Playa Hermosa

Day at the pool outside our place in Playas Del Coco

Me and Grace with the French guy we named "Chiverre." Chiverre is actually a fruit in Costa Rica that is twice the size of a watermelon, it's enormous, and the insides are used, especially during Semana Santa, to make honey stuffing for empanadas and such. Well, he was graced with the name "Chiverre" because his stomach was so huge just like the fruit. We felt the need to get a picture with his loveliness 🙂

The aftermath of a full day at the pool with a gigantic supply of beer

Beautiful beach shot at Playa Panama (my favorite beach that we went to)

My lovely view from the beach at Playa Panama

Group shot at Playa Panama (missing Grace)

Absolutely gorgeous sunset at Playa Panama

Me posing for some silhouette action in front of the sunset at Playa Panama

May 27, 2010 at 9:29 pm 1 comment

An Overdue Update

.:{So, in the last two months…}:.

Okay, so here’s the deal, I realize that it has been about 2 months since my last blog post. This is unacceptable. I know. And actually to me, it really only felt like it had been a month, so I guess that means that things are coming along speedily- which is a good, or bad thing depending on how you look at it.

So, here are my updates over the last 2 months (each update definitely deserves more attention than I’m giving it, but I realize that no one really wants to read THAT much about anything).

  1. I never found a swim suit in Costa Rica. However, when my mom came to visit she kindly brought 3 swim suits for me to pick and choose from. Now I have 2 lovely swim suits 🙂 Thanks mom!
  2. Speaking of which, my mom came to visit in April!!! We had an absolutely amazing week split between La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano and Manuel Antonio. We kept saying how dream-like this week was and thinking about it now it really does seem like a dream. I will write a separate little blog entry on this to fill everyone in.
  3. A couple weeks before my mom came I was lucky enough to spend Semana Santa (the week before Easter, which here is like everyone’s Spring Break) with my host sister, her husband, and two others at the beach in Guanacaste (1 of Costa Rica’s 7 provinces). Spending an entire week, not to mention the hottest week of the year, in Costa Rica, at the beach made me feel as sunny inside as I was feeling outside. The week was so relaxing and I just couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be able to spend an entire week a la playa while I was here in Costa Rica. Not-to-mention it was a great booster for my Spanish because I was with people all day speaking Spanish. Now, you’re probably thinking, wait isn’t that your life in Costa Rica? And yes, it is. But my daily life is spent with 3 year olds, so my vocabulary is very limited with them- and I realized just how much more I would learn if I was around adults all day. Again, like the trip with my mom, I will try to write up a little blurb about this one, or at least post some beautiful pictures for everyone to see.
  4. I am still working at Casa Luz, and boy has that been an interesting experience. From feeling frustrated at first, to happy, to confused, to excited, I am constantly learning more about myself and the world around me during my volunteering. Although it has not been anything like I imagined, it has been life-changing. That’s for sure.
  5. I was back in the states for long weekend as a surprise visit for Ray’s Graduation. A blog is in order for this 🙂
  6. And, as if I wasn’t lucky enough to spend a week at the beach for Semana Santa and a week with my mom in La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio, this last week I was in Puerto Viejo with Ray, Jen, Chayla and Tyler. Like the others, I will be posting a separate blog on this INCREDIBLE experience.

So, there is a little update for you. I am attempting to write as much as possible in my final 3 weeks here (I can’t believe that’s all I have left). Until next time, I hope that everyone is doing well and I am sending a little bit of Costa Rican happiness to all of you!

May 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

Drink What the Locals Drink

.:{¡Cuidado! con Cacique}:.


Here in Costa Rica there is a popular cane alcohol called “Guaro.” It’s similar to vodka but with a milder taste. Guaro is great for mixed drinks but ¡Cuidado! because it’s stronger than you realize. I experienced this last night (yes, a wednesday) when I met up with the other volunteer here. We were intending on having a quick drink together after work, as we are realizing is necessary when you work with little screaming kids all day, but our quick drink turned into a night out with her neighbor and his friends. We ended up going to a local bar and drinking demasiado Cacique—“too much Cacique” (Cacique is the most popular brand of guaro here). Needless to say, this morning was not my best morning here in Costa Rica. However, I discovered that a good breakfast consisting of a yummy tamale, sweet bread, coffee, mucho agua, and melon followed by a walk with my host mom is one spectacular cure for too much guaro.

Our crazy bartender—I'm pretty sure he was on drugs

Me and the other volunteer Emma with the crazy bartender

March 4, 2010 at 11:01 am 5 comments

My Second Week in Costa Rica

.:{Solo Bueno}:.

My second week in Costa Rica is officially complete.

Me with one of my spanish teachers-Carlos-after I finished my classes I received a nice little certificate.

I am now finished with my language classes—which I must admit, I am going to miss. I have heard about other people not liking the classes because they are a little intense and last for 4 hours/day, but I loved them. Not only did I get to learn Spanish, but I also had the opportunity to learn about life in Costa Rica from the locals. Everyday I had the chance to ask about a subject whether it was how to get around La Guacima or the relationships between CR men and women. All of the language teachers are super nice and I think that anyone doing this same program should definitely consider taking the classes.

In addition to loving the classes, this week was particularly fun because there was another group of students at El Rancho Espanol taking classes. Everyone in the group was from Wisconsin and was probably around their mid-40‘s and above. One lady from the group was living with my same family for the week and she was spectacular. So fun and friendly, and even though she didn’t know a whole lot of Spanish (but she did learn a lot in her short time here), she always made an effort to speak with the family. Since, she didn’t speak too much Spanish I got to plan the role of interpreter between her and the family which was really fun and made me realize that I have already learned quite a bit of Spanish in my short time here.

Making Pineapple Empanadas with the teacher and the group from Wisconsin

Everyone else in the group was super nice as well (I am definitely going to miss them). We all took salsa dancing lessons together, and a cooking class as well where we made Pineapple Empanadas. I absolutely LOVED the salsa dancing lessons, and am definitely going out dancing with either my family here or some of the instructors from El Rancho.

Since the other group was here, I was also able to tag along with them to eat at two of the main restaurants here in Guacima: Anthony’s and a Pizzeria. Anthony’s has typical CR food and the Pizzeria may be the best Pizza that I have had in a while. Who would have thought I would find excellent italian food in Costa Rica?

I also spent a full week volunteering at Casa Luz, and a full Saturday as well (my first full day there as I was only doing half days before because of my classes). I have mixed feelings about my work at Casa Luz, so that blog post is soon to come. But I absolutely love the little kids there (they are beyond cute) and although I haven’t had much interaction with the mothers, I can tell that they are some pretty strong and amazing girls.

Hope that everyone is doing well!  I will be writing a post soon about my trip alone to San Jose as well, so stay on the look out for that. As always, keep me posted on your adventures!

Saludos!

Kelsey

March 2, 2010 at 10:43 am 2 comments

THE ANTICIPATION

.:{Less than 2 months!}:.

I cannot believe how fast this trip is approaching! After writing out all of my letters to family and friends asking for donations for my trip it really hit me. I am going to Costa Rica, in less than two months, wow. I cannot wait until I am actually there so that I can update all of you on my new exciting adventures. Thanks for visiting the site! Tune in Feb 1st when I leave for my journey! To make seeing new posts easier, you can also go here to have new blog posts sent directly to your email!

December 11, 2009 at 8:47 pm 1 comment


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