Monday, 26 July 2010

Cheese and Jelly in Costa Rica

Wow, ok, it's been a while, I've just read my last blog and realised I haven't written since my walk with my host family, which, frankly is a life time ago, a lot has happened!

Well my walk with my host family was fun, we went to the local park which wasn't your average park surrounded by the ocean and jungle, it really was beautiful. The Americans have been fun to be with, we have been on quite a few adventures together for the short time i have known them. Including a trip to the doctors... now that tested my vocabulary! Last wednesday was my last day at home before I headed off to pick up mum from San Jose, I felt a little twinge of sadness having to leave my new life so soon but it was ok as I will be living with them all again in a couple of weeks. I went on an adventure on my last day, we hiked up some serious hills, in some even more serious heat. I think it is safe to say I have never in my life been so hot and I have one word for this blog, it´s cheese. I feel like cheese most of the time and this day was definitely a very cheesey day, not the smell, or the need to eat cheese I might add. I just feel like cheese must feel when it melts. We walked to a deserted beach, it was beautiful, hidden amongst private land, we crept down the hillside, sheer drop to our right we were very careful to make sure we didn't slip. When we arrived the sea was sooo inviting. We swam and relaxed, two pelicans came along to fish for lunch, they were so close. They would hover about 15 metres up before diving down, grabbing a fish and the throwing their heads back and eating the lot. The fish were probably having a very enjoyable day until the pelicans showed up. It was impressive to watch though and i felt very privilaged to be so close to them. We stayed for a couple of hours but the sun was so strong and with no where to hide from it we headed back for Quepos. I organised my bag, sat with my host family for a while, Teo seemingly knocking up a dinner suit, without a pattern on his sewing machine, it was very impressive. Edith gave me snacks for the journey and a really big hug, I suddenly felt really sad to be leaving them behind, and it suddenly dawned on me that when i come to leave for good in September I am going to be useless at saying good bye to them. The Americans were still at school so I wrote them a note and headed for my bus, true to backpacking style I hadn't even got on the bus before my travel party of one had become four. The four of us (one girl who was also studying International relations and SPanish but in New York (I was extremely excited by this)) chatted away on the bus, lucky that it was practically empty we were able to sit together. I arrived to hostal Pangea in San Jose and noticed that Costa Rica is most deifnitely not hot everywhere, stood in my shorts and bikini top, strappy top covering it I rolled off the bus into a dimly lit Coca Cola bus station immediately swamped by taxi drivers, two of the girls disappeared, I never saw them again. The other girl and I tackled the drivers together, failing specatularly to bargain with them, we realised we weren't exactly in the most ideal of situations, late at night in the very bus station people say to avoid in the day let alone at night, two girls on their own. We took the nearest taxi and headed for the hostel.

The next morning mum rolled in from New York, I managed more successfully to get a cheap taxi and we headed back to the hostel for a day of doing nothing. After relaxing we were up early and bumping through San Jose and the mountains on a bus bound for the waterways of Tortuguero national Park. It took a long time to get there but we finally arrived to our boat, which i have to say was extremely posh. None of this handing us a half cut water bottle to bail water so we wouldn't sink like in Bolivia, nope. This boat even had a roof to hide from the sun, it even had life jackets!! Not entirely sure how useful they would have been from the crocs but hey ho. (Sorry this blog it utter crap, I am writing so badly but I have no time and need to get this down before I need to catch my bus, stay with me, i promise i won't feed you this rubbish all the time! I'll go back over it when i get home to Quepos and sort it out).

Tortuguero was sooooo hot, it took the heat of Quepos to a whole new level, cheese was the word, Emma an English girl and her boyfriend were utterly confused when i told them I felt like cheese all the time but they soon understood! We spent the afternoon melting under the fan and exploring Tortuguero, the beach and hearing about its history, me feeling very pirates of the caribbean on the caribbean beach. After dinner we headed off to find turtles. Stood under a sky of shooting stars, a full moon and distant lightening it was utterly breath taking. So that we didn't scare the turtles we had to hide back in the jungle, the guide casually dropping into the conversation that jaguars loved to come down at night and eat them, especially on a clear and quiet night. All feeling a little nervous we were glad when the first turtle showed its face and we were allowed out of the jungle onto the beach. We watched her mammoth effort as she heaved herself up the beach, dug an impressively huge hole, laid her eggs and set about burying them. Every now and again stopping to let out a huge breath of air and rest her head, I am sure she was telling me to stop watching and stop being so lazy and help dig. It was an awesome experience and once we'd said goodbye and wished her baby eggs good luck we headed for bed. The next morning we were up and heading off down stream again searching for creatures, we saw an awful lot (photos on facebook) and ended up in Parismina for lunch. Interested to see where I had so nearly ended up living for my summer we ate yummy food and started the long journey back to San Jose. It really was an awesome couple of days and far more interesting than I have made it sound on here.

Yesterday I did a bungee jump. I am insane. End of. The guy in the hostel has told me I now know what it looks like to commit suicide, its scary. Who the hell jumps of a fricking great bridge, I am just reliving the moment and its making me shiver. It was a unique experience and i really do believe everyone needs to do it at some point in their lives, but once is enough. Once I had jumped and was half way down I realised I was going to die, I knew it. There and then, in the beautiful jungle valley setting I was going to die. All I could do was wait to hit the ground and in the meantime I could squeek a little. No, wait, a lot. I met three really nice girls, two of who were jumping as well, I made sure I was careful not to tell them I thought I was going to die when i got back to the bridge, this is probably not what you want to hear just before you're about to jump off a bridge, is it. Anyway the rope thankfully saved my life. I only had a waist harness, for those of you who know anything about climbing the top harness didn't seem to feature... this scared me. When he put my waist harness on I asked him to tighten it, he laughed and said I needed to breath, I chuckled away before wondering off to secretly tighten it a lot more, I really did believe, given the curcirmstances that I would be able to breath with less space. Once I had stopped bouncing I had to attach myself to the rope so I could be pulled back up, I couldn't do this fast enough, even though the rope had my weight, I still felt like the slightest movement would cause the whole lot to give way (bearing in mind I really do love high ropes, high adrenaline stuff, this bungee didn't feel safe. I guess because it was elastic, so instead of feeling solid and as if it had my weight it gave way everytime I moved. Maybe at this point I should add jelly to the cheese. I reached the bridge and the dude pulled me back into the platform, the sheer amount of adrenline serging through my body, mixed with a hell of a lot of upside down bouncing had made my body uncontrollably wobbly. And I found it really funny, probably because I was so grateful to be alive. They handed me my certificate and DVD and I was able to go and enjoy watching all the other insane people throw themselves off the bridge on a nice sunny Sunday morning. I do believe I am insane though, this last 24hrs has just confirmed it.

I have just relaised I need to go catch my bus, I'm going home today and I am really excited about seeing my family, friends and the beach. So I must love you and leave you and I need to go to Quepos but I promise I will actually write something half decent on here sooon. IT'S MY BIRTHDAY ON FRIDAYYYY, EEEEEEE, EXCITMENT! I have the most awesome adventure planned so I will write to you about that.

Muchos love from Costa Rica, Hasta Luego amigos xxxxx

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Interpreting Extraordinaire!

Holaaaa, that title is probably completely mis-spelt but I hope you get the idea! Just thought I would drop by and fill you in on my last 24hrs where I seem to have found a new role in my house. Yesterday afternoon, while stood in the shower I listened as two American accents laughed at my pet rabbits, Edith (my host) said there were four rabbits (in spanish) the american mother said to her daughter "ahh, the rabbit is four years old" (in english) I could tell then and there this evening was going to be different to those I had spent with my host family up until now. When I emerged from my shower Edith explained that a couple of americans had rocked up to stay, only thing was their Spanish was non existant. Dinner began and it was interesting listening as Edith and the americans tried to talk but couldn{t, neither could speak to the other without first turning to me. This was exciting. Quietly sat in the corner talking to the dog minding my own business they all turned to me for help. So for the next 2 hours I had to interpret between them, I had no idea my spanish was any good. Until yesterday i considered myself someone who didn{t understand or speak Spanish... however, it appears I may be a little better than I think. My brain is tired all the time with trying to live in Spanish but then when I was suddenly expected to translate for them I got extremely tired very quickly. I was suddenly very grateful for last years speaking exam, the one that I had dreaded from the first day of second year right up until the very last day of second year when i burst out of that exam room grinning the biggest grin i skipped off down the hallway. Little did I know, taking with me a new skill, the ability to interpret at least the basic meaning for two people who can{t speak each others language. And yesterday, I put this skill to good use, for the biggest range of conversation topics. I{m excited.

This morning I got up, the Americans had already headed out for the day, my host family seem to have a new level of respect for me, instead of turning to the TV and leaving me to eat on my own we all sat at the table to eat together, asking me questions and talking to me. They completmented my Spanish skills and said I was getting a lot better. Yey, progress :-). We then started searching for salsa music. This was very amusing, the three of us, old CD player dusted off, me with towel in hand cleaning the CDs that were so scratched I{m amazed any of them worked at all. Few of them did work, but some jumped into life and a loud Spanish voice came blairing through the speakers, Teo immediately leaping up and singing along and dancing around the room, Edith tapping. Together we laughed and sang, the workers outside probably wondering why on earth at 7.30 on a Saturday morning we appeared to be having a fiesta of our very own. We didn{t find any Salsa. Every type of Spanish music except the one we needed, and then Eye of the Tiger and I was able to take over the singing. Breakfast was quite an occasion today, and a lot of fun. I am now off across town to see if I can find some salsa. The reason being if i can find a salsa CD i can have my first salsa lesson today. This is very exciting and I really want to start learning so I have to find this CD. Anyway today is looking good, my host family seeming to know me a little better, my Spanish skills improving all the time, Salsa lessons on the horizon AND my host family have even offered to take me out this afternoon. I have no idea where, I can{t remember the name of the place, all I could understand is "it{s a very beautiful place" and "we will leave at 3pm if it doesn{t rain" The rain has been nonstop in the last couple of days and so I am hoping that it doesn{t stop this trip because I think it will be an important trip. The sun is shining at the moment so fingers crossed its here to stay! Where ever this trip maybe.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Mi Segunda Semana en Costa Ricaaa

Hola amigoss! Wellll I am trying to think of something to write because I know I should be writing something... it's peeing it down outside, being the devoted beach bum that I am I still went to the beach this morning for my Spanish lesson only for the skies to open on us as soon as we sat down. I didn{t give up hope though and went to lie down on the beach after my lesson, this 'sunbathing' lasted about 45mins before I decided that it really was raining hard enough to put my rain coat on and head back to the bus. Only trouble is everyone else had the same idea, the first bus was crammed, the second bus I joinded the locals in crossing to the otherside of the road to catch it on its way up the road, because no doubt by the time it had turned around and come back again it would be crammed... I was right, but being savvy to these things I had a seat next to a lady who had been walking up and down the beach selling EmpaƱadas. A really cheery lady, we sat and laughed at everything. "Ahhh, that tall black man, look... he is a giant, he will be from the Dominican, he is so huge and so very very black". She wasn{t wrong, he was absolutely massive, I have never in my life seen anyone so huge, but I certainly didn{t think laughing openly at him, given his size was the most sound approach, sure enough the majority of that bus spoke little if no Spanish but I wasn{t going to be relying on his lack of language skills! After the tall guy it was the rain, "aaahhh, it rains, it always rains here, it is so dangerous, ha ha haaaa" She chuckled away, me pointing out that even if we weren{t so keen on the rain I am sure the trees were to which she said "and the taxis, they will be sooo expensive today, there will be so many customers, ha ha haaaaa" more laughter. While I sat and waited for the laughter to die down I pondered on this and thought, while its rubbish for her business of selling food to the beach bums of Manuel Antonio others will make lots, some lose, others gain. I guess thats how it is. As our heaving bus bounced back into Quepos station I said goodbye and watched her disappear of, empaƱadas under arm chuckling away at nothing inparticular. I decided she was a very happy lady. So here I am back in Quepos, banana cake in hand needing to write something... but what, hmmm.

Well Sunday was the day i cooked roast for my Tico family, having asked mid week last week what was my favourite food I proudly said Sunday roast, not having a clue what this was they asked if I could make it for them... on Sunday... for the final of the World cup. Yes you heard right, the World Cup. I had come half way round the world, relieved that I would be far enough away not to even have to think about it but instead I found myself providing the meal for the match. I did need to laugh at this. I hate football though. Edith, my host proudly showed me her 'oven'. It was the size of a microwave (but not a microwave) with a glass front that didn{t quite cover the edges and the temperature gauge missing, so handing me a pair of pliers to set the temperature (to what temperature I had no idea, it would just be total guess work) and a pyrex dish, bigger than the 'oven' itself to roast the chicken in I decided right then and there this was going to be a miracle if this worked. Asking if she had a pair of scales, she said no, asking if she had some fairy cake tins she disappeared off into the street only to reappear about 20mins later holding an even bigger pyrex dish. Something had been lost in the translation, that was certain. The Yorkshire puddings were doomed. I never even attempted them. I had plenty enough to occupy myself with in the 30degree tropical heat of the kitchen and to add to the To Do list was to somehow make this very impractical dish she had just produced from the house of a local friend look very useful to me, the vital part in someway to the finished meal. I decided I would place the finished roast in the dish and use it to present the thing. To add to the fun no food could be left on the side for even the shortest legnth of time because it would be swarmed by a gang of ormigas (ants). I have to say I think i deserve a michallen star because two hours later, surprised not to have melted into a puddle on the floor myself I produced a perfectly cooked chicken, cauliflower cheese, the best roast potatoes ever, broccoli, carrots and gravy. I literally have no idea how I pulled it off, especially considering the handful of times previous to this that I had offered to cook roast at home Mum had always had to dive in last minute and rescue everything. Mum was most definitely on the other side of the world in the Middle East and definitely not able to pick up the pieces if i went wrong, maybe this helped me to focus my mind. Even still for an oven that didn{t show the temperature the meal was incredible. My host family suggested when i finish university I head back to live in Quepos and open a restaurant. Kind as their complements were that is definitely one thing I will not be doing with my life. Quepos maybe, but chef, no.

In the two weeks I have been here I seem to have managed to get to know a few of the regular faces at the beach. The lifeguard always greating me with a big smile and "¡Holaaaaa Chicaa! ¿Comos estaaasss? Pura vidaaa", today greatly amused by my rain coat I missed my bus to stop and chat as he chuckled away at my hood and said how handsome i looked in such a fabulous coat. The surf dudes have given up trying to sell me surf lessons and instead stop to ask me random questions as I wonder down the beach, calling "Pura Vida" after me when I wonder on to my lie under my tree.

However yesterday, having spent the last two weeks on the same beach and having talked about wanting to swim Tony, my Spanish teacher offered to show me another beach. We wondered down Manuel Anontio beach, which is a fricking long beach, I will say that right now. Tucked away right at the other end was a little jungle path leading straight up a very steep hill. It took us about half an hour to walk to Playa Baisenz, and I don{t think I have ever been so hot in my life. The air was completely still, the hot steamy jungle refusing to offer any breeze I think it is safe to say we nearly melted like a cheese toasty. Once we got to the top of the hill we were greeted with the most incredible views ever, I couldn{t believe what a beautiful place I am living in and how lucky I am to be here. I have worked so hard to be here and I think that just makes me appreciate it even more. At the top we were also met by a gentle breeze, thankful for the air we started down the hill towards the beach. No roads anywhere near meant few tourists knew about this little gem. We wondered down through the dense jungle, the sound of small waves gently lapping the shores I figured we must be nearby, both of us saying we coupldn{t wait to jump in the sea. Suddenly the hill leveled out and the jungle fell away to reveal the most incredible little beach i think i have ever seen. I was frozen to the spot, completely struck by its beauty I know i don{t have the words to recreate that little haven of peace. The deep blue water, with tiny waves lapping the shore, soo inviting I took about 30seconds to get my bikini on. From the sea I looked out to the distant huge mountains densely covered in think broccoli jungle bursting out from the flat horizon skywards, their tips met by the almost purple clouds looming high above. The colours were magical and the quiet sounds so calming, I don{t think I have ever felt that calm or peaceful, I stood for ages. We swam for a while and relaxed in the atmosphere of Playa Beisanz before the sea decided to take back it's beauty and in came the tide. We sat back under the cover of the trees eating avacado and cheese sandwiches (yep... they were interesting, ha ha!) silent and calm mesmorised by the beauty. 4pm was fast approaching and apparently the nearest bus would leave at four, so we gathered our things and wondered back up the hill. While we were down on the beach the most impressive, slightly intimidately noise had sounded out over the beach, Tony explained they were howler monkeys and for their size, made an impressive noise. I asked if we could see them and he explained it was very unlikely, hateing people they tended to hide high in the trees and stay away. However as we quietly walked back up the path to the road Tony spotted them, about6 of them playing in the tree tops, it was awesome to see them and I just couldn{t believe what a day I had had. To me this is paradise, wildlife all around, happy people, the beauty of the jungle. We got to where the bus was meant to go from and waited, and waited... and waited. A local worker wondered by on the deserted road and inquisative as to why we were both randomly stood at the road side, clearly waiting for something he explained there was no bus anymore so we started the very long, very steep climb to the top of the hill. It was so much fun, I loved feeling so hot, climbing out of breath, every now and again turning around to see the beauty of Costa Rica and catch my breath. We eventually found the main road and waited for the Quepos-Manuel Antonio bus. Hot, hair covered in sea salt we sat on the bus, our tired legs happy to be resting, watching the beauty of sunset through the windows as the bus carried us back to Quepos. It really was a beautiful day and definitely a beach i will be visiting again, I loved being able to just wonder and explore, nowhere to be, nothing to be doing, all the time in the world, no work pressure, university pressure, nothing, just pure happiness. ¡Pura Vida Costa Rica!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A moment of meaningful thought on life...

I{ve spent the last couple of days trying to figure out why being in such a place, so far away from everything familiar makes me so happy. Logically I should be spending some of my time in these first weeks home sick and adjusting, but instead I seem to have slipped into my new life no trouble at all. There was a moment when I felt far away and alone but that lasted an hour. When I first saw the beach thats when I had really arrived and since then have been completely content with just being. This jungle beach is so different, yet I pass day after day feeling entirely happy, snoozing and studying, animals all around, waves crashing, birds singing, monkeys calling, sloth sleeping. I am content here with just being, my English life a distant and insignificant reality, where I spend my entire life on a mission, I am 'becoming', something. I am preparing, studying, climbing the educational ladder, never entirely happy or satisfied.

I grew up in a remote (to some) country house. Cities were a long drive. My childhood days were filled with catching newts in the river, trying to figure out why only some had orange bellies. A childhood of making dens in the hedgrows and catching sheep when they escaped, always with muddy knees and a pair of wellies, I was a child surrounded by nature and a truely content child. I never had a need or desire to experiement with cigarettes or drugs, the other kids, the town kids did, sort of outkasting me. This didn't bother me, I had no need to win the affection of a load of confused and troubled, drug obsessed teenagers. they're lifes were screwed up. I was one of the fortunate ones, one of the few lucky people in England who was given the freedom of the countryside, free of the screwed up expectations and desires that filled the void and surrounded those who lived in town. It's hardly surprising these kids were lost, led astray in they're own desperate search for peace and true happiness (something they may find by fitting into the trend of drugs), how could they ever achieve this when they never even had the opportunity to hear silence, always a car rushing by or a police siren in the distance. Geographically they had grown up not far from me but the world in which we'd been surrounded by could not have been more far removed, coming together at school I was the one who was content, just being, I knew myself and had no desire in becoming, like they were, their world of constant searching was desperate and seemed, deep down, under all the talk very painful. Me, I was just me.

As childhood passed and life crept in, we moved, now in England we in the centre of town, I now live in the same territory as these kids grew up in. I am a young adult who is constantly becoming, I am studying, for what i don'tyet know. In a year I will be expected, by life to know what the next stage will be - so I can start the next stage in my life of becoming - but what? and why? So i can sit, old and wronkled, looking back at a life of constant searching never of complete satisfaction, so I can say i was manager of this, head of that, i have a big car, house, pay cheque. I am sorry but this is the part where I am going to say this life is a screwed up life - flawed from the very beginning. For anyone who is reading this and has such a life it's not that I don{t respect hugely your achievements (I actually have double respect for you and am currently marvelling at how you{ve achieved said life without going insane - you have my respect) I simply have absolutely no desire what so ever to follow in thise footsteps. Which is exactly what we{re doing in England, following and mimicing, achieving the desires of a previous generation, but why? to satisfy who?

We in England and the western world have surrounded ourselves with the cold and harsh realities of becoming. We have lost touch with our true meaning and satisfaction, our roots in nature, we spend our lives in one big whirlwind rush, running to catch trains, working through the night to meet a deadline or target. Well screw the train, there{ll be another, walk, look around and try to just be. Easier said than done, especially when in town, surrounded by man made structures and concrete, devoid of trees and nature.
If theres one thing I{ve learnt this week while lying under my tree, by English terms, doing not a lot (but that depends from what angle you look at my sun bathing and studying) I have realised that i am intouch with my childhood days. Reconnected with nature, i am surrounded by life, the magnificant colours of the trees, the way the light reflects from the water and sand, the local people, their warmth and happiness. We Brits are a nation of people who are becoming while the Ticos, they are being. they{re living today for today, they will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. They, unlike the British say hello to one another, go off track, miss their bus so they can see how their friend is today, they have their priorities in the correct order. they are surrounded not only by a jungle that is the lungs to our planet but the life to their world and these people feel so much more alive for existing in such a place. They don{t care for a macho businessman status, for how many cars they drive or houses they own. They are happy and living, and while I am here, so am I. Why would anyone want any different.When you slow down and tune into this place you realise how much people in England are missing in their quest for material status and to become something that will only ever be something as long as the social structures that surround their status remain intact.

Personally I don{t like the life of becoming, I like being, living every moment, feeling every feeling. having a level of clarity and freedom that allows me to notice the awesomeness of my surroundings. All I say is I really hope I never truely get sucked along in the stream of british people striving to be something. Because I am happy, just the way I am.

Now I know some of you will be reading this and thinking "Shit. What's happened to buzz?!" Others will be cross, frustrated that I have just completely demoted everything they{re searching for. However, yes, this is buzz and the very reason i love to travel, because it affords me the freedom, space and time to figure out the flaws in life.

I look back to my last job. It served only one purpose - to fund my next adventure, but those people (except the few I worked alongside in menswear)never understood me. I made a point of never letting the managers know me. The guys and girls of menswear were a team I was a part of and together we giggled but everyone else would never be allowed to know me. I did not want that place to consume me like it did to so many of them (not all of them, but many of them). The shop was their work life, social life, their girl friends and boy friends but take the shop away from them and they become a shadow of the person they were. They had formed their lives around an entirely material world of targets, false light and expectations. That place was the height of screwed up for me and I felt strangled the second I walked through that backdoor, how could I ever really be my true self, how could anyone? i see truely good people in there who i just want to shake and say "why the hell are you doing this to yourself, letting your life pass you by in here?" theres so much out there, so many possibilities, yet they{ve chosen this harsh, backstabbing environment and let it consume them.

It takes a lot of courage to break the mould and sometime breaking it is a really foolish move (in material terms) that will only screw things up further (materialistically) but if you have the courage in the first place you{ve got all you need. Plan A may not work but you have adventure and life as your drug and as long as you can always see the positives in every situation you will never go far wrong.

So this may be a little deep and meaningful, especially for me, but I think it{s important that we, everyone, figures out what they want from life and then for goodness sake, find the courage to follow it. For me, I see a few years of working hard in somewhere like london, earning as much money as possible so i can then invest in the life I want (whatever and wherever that may be). Now there reality kicking in, you{ve got to except you need enough of the material stuff (money) to kick start a free life - just don{t get swept along in something you don{t want, when you have enough, bail out and head for your dreams!!

That{s the wise words of buzz for this decade, thank you very much, good afternoon, I{m going to leave you with the genius words of Pink Floyd that i read in a book yesterday and head off to cook Sunday roast dinner for my Tico family and lie on the beach. ¡Hasta luego amigos - Pura Vida!

Breathe, breathe in the air!
Don't be afraid to care
Leave,but don't leave me
Look around, choose your own ground
For long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be.

Friday, 9 July 2010

I want to put the date, but I really have absolutely no idea, but I can stretch to July 2010 - The Day I met a Sloth!!! Yes people a sloth :-D

Holaaaa, Nothing much to report on since my last post except for the fact I HAVE SEEN A SLOTHHHHH!!!!! I have been lying on the beach getting darker... my host family have taken to calling me a black person and say I look the same colour as their dog (who is also black). Every day "Your skin is dark... you are a black person, like my dog, she is black too" I never really know what to say in response to this, so just smile politely and comment on the rain or how hot it is, well I guess I can{t help being British... weather conversations are the answer to every awkward situation, ha ha!

The beach has been an experience this week, I have discovered that, as a girl on my own (apparently with amazing eyes... I personally disagree) I attract a fair amount of attention, from both iguanas and men... as much as I love the iguanas quietly starring inquisitively at me while I snooze the men insisting I wake up and chat to them does get a bit tiring. I really do love to just sleep in peace, but I guess as one of my friends put it, at least it{s good spanish practice. Tuesdays attention is just simply inappropriate for here and Wednesday was not a lot better, so I am still not repeating the conversation and today I had origami roses made out of coconut leaves made for my and sprinkled on my beach towel, I looked not too disimilar to a tropical florist by the end... complete with sloth!!

Thankfully Tony, my Spanish teacher came along so I was able to chill out with him for a while, however I am beginning to think I need to find ways of making my eyes dark brown and my hair black just so I can sleep in peace... maybe a wig is in order.

However my new friend the sloth was incredible. I almost exploded with excitment, I was an over excited child barely able to stop myself squeeking a lot and skipping off down the beach singing. I showed Tony and he explained that they are very rare down on the beach, they are hardly ever there, so maybe he knew i wanted so desperately to see him so came to sleep at the beach under my tree especially for me... I like to think so at least. The beach is extremely long and there are a lot of trees so for him to have chosen to sleep under my tree he must have been coming to visit me. He was gorgeous!!

Anyway I am still very sandy and damp from swimming so need to head home for a shower and some tea (am starving aswell!) and this aircon is making me freeeeeezing sooo, I think its time to go. I hope everyones got a good Firday night in store, we have dancing tonight :-D and then off to a special beach tomorrow... with no waves, so I can practice my swimming, Steve, if your reading, 250 lengths no problem... ha ha!

Hasta Luego amigos y tiene un buen fin de semana

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Lazy People of the Equator

I am fast learning for myself what Jose Caballero, my very wise lecturer from El Salvador meant last year when he said ´the closer people and places are to the equator, the lazier they become´. I have returned from yet another day spent lazing on Manuel Antonio beach. Half a week in and I seem to have already created quite a little routine for myself, which doesn{t yet feature any sort of volunteering or work except studying spanish and the way the hermet crabs crawl by me along the beach when i can be bothered enough to open my eyes and watch them.

I spent a long and awkward 3 1/2 hour bus nourney from San Jose (the capital) to Quepos (my new village). The scenery was incredible and as the bus tacked jungle mountain after jungle mountain I couldn{t believe my eyes at the beautiful scenes passing the bus. I even saw quite a few beasty crocs lazing at the side of rivers as we passed. I had for company a completely social inept (spelling??) old man who insisted he sat next to me no matter how many times I moved seat, everytime leaning towards me greatly invading my personal space he spent most of the time asking really annoying questions and when i tried to politely ignore him by looknig the other way out of the window he would wait about 5 - 10 seconds and poke me, to ask yet another question. Needless to say, despite the scenery I was qlad to see Quepos. I got off the bus and a wall of tropical heat hit me, there was so much to take in I was kind of dazed, I fetched my bags from the bus, heaved my far too heavy bag onto my back, wishing I hadn{t brought so much stuff I looked around to try and take in my new home. Huge tropical mountains rising around the edge of the village with low small buildings all around the central bus station was a hive of activity. People bustling everywhere, I tried to figure out where I had been asked to wait, a bar called 'Quepoa', I really couldn{t see it anywhere. Feeling very hot and sticky already, only about 2 mins after I was off the bus I was all of a sudden been spoken to by a complete stranger. Panicing slightly and wondering why on earth a local would be asking a girl who was obviously a gringo and had no idea, I suddenly figured he was speaking English. Releaved slightly that I was at least understanding what he was saying he then asked if I was Lucy. Noticing he was wearing a green T-shirt and remembering an email the day before from the contact my cousin had given me I figured this must be Tony. It was and I was releaved to see him, he was meant to be working but had kindly delayed his next lesson so that he could take me to my host family.

I must admit the host family were imtimidating at first and I felt very concerned when the first member of my new house greeted me at the front gate... an American pit bull, or something along those lines, short, stubby and stocky the thing has already attacked me once, his owner thinking its funny and that biting me is a 'game' I told thing thing in English it wouldn{t do so well next time. The man, Teo, met me, short, with grey hair, an unbuttoned shirt on revealing a scar running the length of his body i must admit I was intimidated slightly and wondering if I could leave him and his dog and head back to San Jose. He showed me to my room, a seperate building behind their house, it was bigger than their own house, a kitchen area, bedroom and bathroom I was definitely seperate from the rest of the family. I said goodbye to tony and arranged to meet him later and went to have a shower and try to relax a little. I must admit I didn{t do very well so opted for listening to Jack Johnson and a little crazy singing and dancing wishing Dorothy was there with me so we could laugh. The lady, I think called Edith knocked on my door about an hour later and welcomed me to her home and said dinner would be ready soon. My first encounter of Costa Rican food, I thought I wasn{t a fussy person. Chilli was the only thing that I really struggled to put in my mouth chew and swallow without gagging, everything else is ok, somethings better than others but generally I can cope. I thought wrong. Every meal since I have arrived has been a mission and every meal, whatever it is (dodgy stuff!) is always accompanied with these things called plantinitas, oversized, badly tasting, boiled bananas (i've never been a banana fan, they're a friut I'll eat when I'm in the mood but not especially crazy about them). They make me want to gag, and the other morning I woke up and was presented with fried slices covered in this white gooey stuff, literally took everything I had not to be sick. All I can say is I will hopefully (and better damn well) have a beautifully trim figure by the time this experience is finished!

Dinner over Tony collected me about 8pm and we headed for a sports bar (Sarah is you{re reading this Tony pointed the exact spot where you sat - crazy to think my cousin was there just a year before me!) He is a very patient person, and sat listening to my slow, bad Spanish, but at least talking about something we wanted to be talking about rather than making the conversation up to fit my vocabulary. I must admit it did help that he spoke English!! He then introduced me to the Costa Rican drink which was interesting and headed for this very cool outdoor bar for salsa. I immediately admitted I was crap at dancing and salsa there was little, if any hope of me dancing salsa. I wish Luena was there because I was prooved wrong, we danced salsa, which was so much fun with a live band, I felt like I had really arrived to costa Rica!

The next day i started my new life routine. This consists of waking up at 4am (because my body clock is screwed)it getting light at 5am, getting up at 6.30am for a shower and preparing stomach and mind for whatever i may be about to face at 7.30 breakfast. Once I've survived breakfast I head for the beach and stay there until it's time to go back home for tea, unless I am distracted by something else. The first day I met another gringo (yes, sorry, failed massivley with the avoid English people!! Well technically she was American, but she spoke English) anyway we arranged to meet for dinner, with two other ladies from Florida who i had met the day before on the bus. It was a really fun day, but me with my screwed body clock and one of the Florida girls ill from some dodgy food we decided to miss the dancing and head home. The next day I woke to no water. Yep, it's fricking hot here, it's sweaty, I'm smelly and I have no water. They also have all electricity to the town cut from 10am to about 4pm - people we have got to stop this global warming thing, these tropical countries need their fans in the mid day heat!! Anywho, I starred open mouthed stightly in shock at my host family when they announced there would be no water until early afternoon and then promtly headed for the nearest shop where I boughts a 6litre bottle of water, fished my bowl out of my backpack and had the funniest shower for my life (not for anyone else who finds themselves in this situation, make sure you have enough water to get the soap off!! Because once its gone, its gone!!) Never so greatful to be clean I headed for the beach and my first Spanish lesson (yep I now have my spanish lessons on the most beautiful beach ever - soo lucky! Complete with jungle, fresh juice and monkeys! After my lesson I had to go and lie on the beach for the rest of the day to get over using my brain for an entire hour. My host family are positively shocked at my skin, they were sat at breakfast this morning saying none of the students have ever gone as brown as me in months let alone in a few days and keep giving me advice like stay out of the sun 11am-3pm, lots of sun cream etc. (you know, all the obvious stuff) but yes, I am fairly brown.

I always start the day with good intentions, i wake up saying today will be the day that I stay on the bus past the beach stop and go to the National Park to organise my volunteering, but when this day does finally arrive I might jsut arrange it for when i get back from my three weeks travelling with mum because I really feel like taking a three week holiday on manuel Antonio beach... just because I can! I met this english guy yesterday, at the beach. He had invented the timing system that turns lights off when nothings moving in the room to save hotels money. This was the guy that had meant my spanish class had, for the last two years had to dance around waving at the sensor everytime we had sat there for so long the lights had gone off. here he was, beer in hand living his days out on the most incredible beach. Apparently with a large property, he rented out apartments to holiday people and while the gringos made him money, he sat on the beach drinking beer watching the girls go by. Clever guy, and I have to say i kind of want his life.

Today i lay there on the sand, under the shade of the jungle trees, waves crashing up, monkeys eating above me and coconuts rolling around in the tide I sleepily agreed with Jose's point... it's impossible to be anything other than very lazy this close to the equator.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Ha llegar en Costa Ricaaaaa!

Hola everyone, I have finally arrived and I can tell you all now it is a lonnnngggg way to Costa Rica! Definitely was a very sound idea to stay with Luena the night before I left on my flight, it was really good to see her before I went away for the summer and her for the year. She is definitely a lovely friend and an amazing cook, fajou for tea was possible the most exciting thing ever!! ¡Gracias Luena! We got up at 5.30 or something like that and i headed off for the plane, I have got to admit it was funny watching the people in the flight trying to fit into their seats... New York was interesting and customs definitely make you feel like a criminal, he thought it was very suspicious behaviour that I was heading for Costa Rica and paying a family to have me, rather than them paying me so i tried explaining it´s like paying rent for food and accommodation... he still didn´t get it but I got the customs stamp and got through :-)

After five hours waiting, New York was finished with and I headed for my second flight where I sat with two of the coolest people ever, we giggled and laughed and chatted so much, my flight went by so fast. One lady was from Holland who lived in America she had travelled an awful lot and with blue eyes and blonde hair we could sympathise with one another over the endless attention for having such features (not that I even consider my hair blonde, it seems many people do!!) The second guy was a Costa Rican also living in America, he was a very sound guy and I have a lot of respect for him! We chatted for ages, and it was hugely refreshing to be able to talk honestly about life and laugh at it, he lived a long way from his family and so did I and his family values were far better than those of many people in England. We chatted about some of the things that were tricky with living so far away from the important people for the other benefits in life but it was a positive thing, not negative, I jsut couldn´t help but feel this sort of conversation would not be possible in England... people would see the topic as a bad one, one to be avoid, an awkward conversation but we laughed so much. The three of us shared stories and tips (mainly the other two giving me the tips for Costa Rica!) and the five hours was gone in a flash. The Costa Rican guy took me to meet his family who helped me ring the hostel and find a way to get there, gave me their contact details and said to ring and let them know how I was getting on, this sort of kindness just left me feeling so happy. When does anyone in England help one another like this, just help a stranger because they want to help. It was very refreshing to meet some people who saw the world in the same way as me, we got on so so well and what was so lovely was that all the social barriers of normal life were immediately forgotten, what does it matter they´re 10 or 15 years older than me, business people or from a different country or culture we can still laugh, joke and still care about the things in life that actually matter.

As you´ve probably guessed I enjoyed my plane flight with the fun people and turned up to an awesome hostel and funnily enough a woman who had been on the same flight as me and lived in Bristol, this is loco (crazy)! So we talked about commuting, her explaining her boss used to live in Taunton and drive up, my friends at uni dont even know where Taunton is, so to be standing in Costa Rica having a conversation about these places felt strange. Anyway I am up, dressed... I can smell English breakfast cooking, this is reminding me of the mission Dorothy, Beth and I went on for full English breakfst in Cusco. Funny to think we were craving such a thing when we never ate it at home but it was good and this Costa Rican English breakfast is smelling mighty fine... probably because i haven´t eaten for a very long time now soooo I think this is time to go and eat!!! Just to let you know, after eating i´ll be heading to Quepos and my family, fingers crossed its all ok!

Sorry for the spellings Im not wasting time proof reading, breakfast is more tempting!! Until next time hope lifes peachy in Inglaterra.

Hasta luego amigos xxxxx