just what you wanted... more photos!

more photos from the trip!!! enjoy :) I apologize, I think they are in backwards order. Oh well, enjoy the captions :)

At the San Jose airport, we had 4 hours to waste, so Jaclyn was sick of me taking her pictures. Her expression says it all.

And again, her "stop taking pictures!" expression :)

Finally on the plane!!! We're all smiles now!

Can you see the lava? We had to go at 4am to see the bright red lava flowing down the volcano's sides.

Costa Rica sunrise!

Vulcan Arenal and the sunrise.

Taking Jaclyn's picture when she least expects it :).

And again, capturing her hands on film.

We ate lunch at this sit-down place for less than $2. That fit nicely into our budget!

The waiter and waitresses at the restaurant. They were teaching us Spanish!

Beautiful leaves.

The outside of the hostel we stayed in. $15.00 a night for the two of us was definitely affordable!

The inside of our room.

Matias helped us set up the activities in La Fortuna. Here we are at his restaurant.

Vulcan Arenal is hiding in the clouds.

We could see Laguna Arenal from the place where we hiked on the volcano.

For some reason, our driver insisted on hiking the volcano trail with us. He is from Romania and speaks Romanian and Spanish -- no English. Interesting communication, that's for sure. We thought maybe he just didn't want to drive back on the really rough road to Fortuna so he joined us. It kind of felt like we had a bodyguard that wouldn't leave us alone.

There's a black squirrel in the grass. Can you see it? We were hoping to see monkeys, but we had to settle for this little guy.


We're back in the States!

So after a 1 hour cab ride, a 1.5 hour bus ride, 4 hours at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, 3.5 hours on a plane to Houston, only 30 minutes to transfer planes, 3 more hours on a plane to Chicago, and a wait for a ride from the airport, we are back in Illinois. Somehow that adds up to a 21 hour day, once we include the lava viewing before the cab ride and a food run as soon as we were back in Elgin. Whew! I'm tired! But it was all well worth the long travel hours.

Here's some photos of our time in La Fortuna. I think we had too much fun. What do you think?

A view from Parque Central in Fortuna. You can see Vulcan Arenal in the background!

A better view of Arenal

Monday, we hiked to a waterfall. This bridge was the easy part of the hike!

Most of the hike was on rocky paths like this.

Here's the waterfall! Ha, just kidding. This was a tiny one on the way.

We could hear the waterfall during the whole hike, like a loud roaring sound. Here's a glimpse through the trees.

We made it! I love this photo.

Compare the size of the waterfall to the people! It's huge!

One of my favorite photos from the day.

A gigantic tree during the hike.

Monday night, we swam at a hot springs. It was gorgeous and definitely much more relaxed than hiking.

Tuesday, we hiked closer to Vulcan Arenal. Here it is hiding in the clouds.

Jaclyn looks so tiny!

Jaclyn and I chose dangerous things to do apparently. I guess hiking waterfalls and volcanoes is dangerous, huh?


quick update

Jaclyn and I are in La Fortuna, spending a couple nights in a small cabin. I am using the Internet at a coffee shop, so I don't have the cable I need to put photos on here, but trust me, we are having fun! We have a Romanian driver/bodyguard/photographer/Spanish teacher (mostly driver) who has driven us to all of our activities. We hiked to a waterfall, spent 3 hours in a hot spring, and hiked to a viewing point for Volcano Arenal. Tonight we will go and see the lava!

We take a cab at 5am to the bus depot in Ciudad Quesada to then ride for 2.5 hours to the airport. We fly out at 12ish and arrive in Houston. I think we have a long layover because we finally arrive in Chicago at 9:45pm.

See you all in the States soon!


...did you know?

alright, a few fun facts about San Jose for you...

1. There are many earthquakes each day. (Don't worry, Mom, they're tiny ones!) I actually felt one today while sitting on the couch!

2. There are no addresses beyond the downtown area. To give directions, landmarks are used -- and landmarks include current and past buildings. Like the Burger King that is nonexistent today is still used as a landmark when giving directions.

3. Costa Ricans are called "ticos". Anyone else is called a "gringo". It's not derogatory at all to be called a "gringo".

4. A public bus only costs about 25 cents to ride (150 colones). $1.00 equals 500 colones.


Today Jaclyn and I explored downtown San Jose. Quite the experience. Not only were we concentrating on navigation, we are also attempting Spanish and interpreting the many signs. We did not see many other gringos, so as you can well imagine, we turned many heads.

We visited Mercado Central and La Casona (markets), Pops (an ice cream place like Baskin Robbins), Teatro Nacional (the theatre), several clothing and shoe stores (scouting out the quality and the prices... not the best), and Quizno's for lunch. This was Jaclyn's first time eating at a Quizno's ever!
I have an addiction to buying earrings. I won't tell you how many pairs I bought today. :)

I wanted so badly to take my camera with me today, but I didn't dare since it is so expensive. I didn't want to risk it being stolen! Someday when I am more confident in my Spanish and my navigation of the city, I will take it with me and capture the beautiful markets and parks.

Here's a photo from last night. We hung out with these teachers from Sojourn, and actually, both will be leaving this summer. (Left to right) Jaclyn, Tori, Ericka, me. Tori teaches 5th grade currently, and Ericka teaches 4th. Our photographer was Marlan, Tori's tico boyfriend, and I'm not sure why we are off-centered :). No big deal. Oh, and this is in the apartment where I might possibly live! More details on that to come...


Hola Sojourn Academy!

Jaclyn and I have spent our first three days in Costa Rica at Sojourn Academy, where I will be teaching beginning August 27th. We spent time in each grade and talked with teachers and students about the school and it's unique purpose.

Many parents attend the Instituta de Language Espanol and the students attend Sojourn for about a year. Families then move to other Latin American countries to work or minister with the people there. Students identify themselves by where they are from and where they are going. They might introduce themselves with something like: "Hi, my name is Isaiah, and I'm from North Carolina, and my family is moving to Venezuela." (This is a first grader I met.)

I met many of the students that I will have in 4th grade (It's official! 4th grade is mine!). I had the opportunity to teach a 3rd grade math lesson to the students that will be in my class -- I've become acquainted with their personalities and academic needs already!

Now that I am looking through my photos to post on here, I realize I didn't get many pictures of the students. Bummer!!! I actually didn't want to distract the students in class any more than I already was, so I hesitated taking pictures. I do have quite a few of the school grounds, though. Here's a few to satisfy your curiousity (and my excitement! :)) --

down the central "hallway" of the school.

The green buildings are part of the Institute.

Orange buildings = Sojourn.

Tiny blue building at the far back = the gym.

and don't forget the beautiful mountains.

closer to the orange buildings of Sojourn

a hallway of the school. Actually this is the middle school building.

and then here's some fun photos, of course :)...

an interesting flower that caught my eye... not sure what it's called.

We were getting photo-happy in the pouring rain.

doesn't she look like she should teach in Costa Rica? :)


we made it!

Jaclyn and I have arrived safely here in San Jose. Wow, it's been a long day of travel, but we definitely made the most of it. Here's a few photos that I've already captured:

Photo shoot at the Houston airport.

We sat next to this man, Tet, during the flight from Houston to San Jose.

He is from Peru by birth but currently lives 6 months in San Francisco and 6 months on the Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica. He filled us in on all the places to visit and places to avoid. His nephew is an architect, and Jaclyn is searching for an architecture internship (hopefully here in San Jose :)), so he gave us his nephew's contact information. We are also welcome to visit Asiento del Suenos, Tet's home on the beach.

Oh, a funny story: During our flight from Chicago to Houston, Jaclyn and I sat by an outgoing 5 year-old redhead boy named Leam. We talked all about Pokemon cards and kindergarten. Leam had informed me of his girlfriend Sophie who was also in his kindergarten class. His parents were sitting across the aisle and their attempts to quiet him throughout the flight were not successful (I really didn't mind talking with Leam!). By the end of the trip, Leam had declared "I love you girls!" and so Leam's exasperated dad says, "Leam, your girlfriend at home would not like you telling these ladies that you love them. Let's save that phrase for your girlfriend." Leam says, "Dad, Sophie can't hear what I say right now, so it's alright. Don't worry about it." Oh kids.

My best photo today. Priscilla and Ale picked us up at the San Jose airport and drove us to the San Francisco district, where Jaclyn and I will be staying for the next 4 or 5 nights. I met these two when I travelled to Costa Rica with the Judson mission project 2 years ago. By email, Priscilla had requested Burt's Bees "lipstick" from the States, so I brought several tubes in exchange for the ride to San Francisco. She was so excited about the chapstick!

Tomorrow we will be at Sojourn Academy!

more stories to come...


good morning, sunshine!

Tiff and I in Costa Rica, looking wide awake
March 2006

why in the world would i want to do this?!?

well, allow me to fill you in.

this isn't an impulsive decision, i promise. this has been a dream growing in my heart for at least two years, and it has been a growing reality while searching for teaching jobs.

why would i dream of such a thing? many of you know i have travelled with mission projects over the last four spring breaks while a student at Judson University. each destination has increased my desire to travel and to be a learner of another culture for a time.

also, applying for teaching jobs in the states with no experience earns the same answer over and over: "well, we can't hire you without experience." so, in an effort to gain coveted experience, i am going somewhere that truly needs teachers.

plus, working in a hispanic culture will give me numerous opportunities to learn spanish -- probably more opportunities that i want, at first! my desire to understand and communicate in spanish has been growing ever since becoming good friends with my best friend Rosena in high school.

it gets even better! i will be teaching at Sojourn Academy in Costa Rica, the elementary school that is part of the Instituto de Lengua EspaƱola. entire families move in to the school -- the parents go to the Institute to learn spanish, and the children come to the Academy. at the Academy, i will be teaching either 3rd or 4th grade (not sure yet -- those details to come!). i will teach the usual subjects, just like in the states, and my students will have a daily spanish class with another teacher as well as the specials (art, pe, music) being taught in spanish. i am so glad to be surrounded by this many spanish speaking opportunities!

so reasons i want to do this... adventure, travel, gain valuable experience, learn spanish. a great combination. is this a permanent move to Costa Rica? no. in the longterm plans, i would like to return to a diverse area of the U.S. and teach in a bilingual environment. but long term plans usually change, so i'm staying flexible.

so now what? i mean, school starts in August, so what is between now and then?

Jaclyn and i will be travelling to Costa Rica May 20th. we will visit Sojourn, as well as explore San Jose and be the best tourists we can be. we return May 28th, and then i will be heading to Elgin again to nanny for the Kovanda family for the summer. i'll be moving to Costa Rica sometime in mid-August.

details to follow.