An Unexpected Adventure

Oh yes, that is me. On the back of a tow truck. Here's how it all started: 

We (five girls on a beach trip) were driving back from the Pacific Coast to San José. Everything was going smoothly. I dared to think, ''We're making great time!'' Little did I know, the trip had other adventures for us yet.

 The rain clouds started to roll in... Nothing too unusual. 

Then Melissa (driving her car) says, ''Guys, the gas pedal isn't working!'' We're heading up a steep mountain. I say, ''Pull over!'' She did. Cars and semis sped by us at unnecessary velocities. Melissa tried to call a friend to see what he thought we should do when a tow truck conveniently also pulled over in front of us. Before we knew what was happening, we had been mounted on the back of the tow truck (we = the car plus all of us girls, lol). Melissa and Cara went up front to direct the truck driver, while Kalli, Kim, and I stayed in the car.

It felt very strange to be moving in a car without a driver! 

A view through the windshield.

Whew! We made it home! Good story for later :) 


Beach Trip!

While the purpose of my Costa Rica trip is mostly to catch up with friends and adopted families from my time living here, I also had one destination I wanted to go to... the BEACH! 

On the way to the Pacific Ocean, you can stop at a certain bridge to see the crocodiles that wait for tourist treats, haha. I counted about 30 (crocodiles, that is, not tourist snacks :))! Thankfully, there's no fear of being eaten because we are on top of the bridge and the crocodiles are all under. 

The view of the crocodile river.

And the ''gringo beach,'' according to several ticos. The official name is Manual Antonio.

Pictures just do not do this beach justice. I just wanted to soak in all the mental pictures that I could.

Sojourn Reunion

L to R Mariana B., Gabriel (behind), Camila, Michelle, Miss Siscoe, Melissa, Mariana G. 

It's hard to believe my 4th graders from the 2009-2010 school year are so grown up and in 7th grade! They have excellent memories and immediately reminded me of all my teaching quirks, haha. 


Trish and Albin

How awesome to see my Trish again! I realized it had been since Trish and Al's wedding in December 2011 that we had not seen each other, although we had made several failed efforts. Trish is doing well, teaching at Desarollando Mentes as a learning specialist, teaching online with Open English, and writing for the Bright Hub website. 
Us at Parque Chino, resting after our delicious meal at our favorite restaurant, A La Leña. 

 Trish and Al bought a house with a fabulous view. Here's the backyard...

...and here's the view of San José from their side windows. On a sunny day or clear evening, the view of downtown is breathtaking. But when the rain clouds roll in, there's no seeing beyond the back wall of the yard! 

So honored to have my artwork hanging in their house :). 


Familia Rodriguez Villafuerte

Well, the big interview happened! Three days with my boyfriend Marlon's family (while Marlon is in the U.S.) I think qualifies as the ultimate interview. For both myself and for the rest of the family. All in all, it was a great experience, so I think we all passed the interview.
 Santiago celebrated his 7th birthday on Saturday. We played Monopoly and did an exercise routine that Tío Marlon had given me to try.
 L to R: Marlon's mom, myself, Marlon's aunt
 This is a great summary of the three days. Lots of conversation, lots of laughter, and lots of people!
And a posed photo. It only took us about 20 tries, lol.


Top Ten Flashbacks

So I'm on the airplane from Panama City, Panama, to San José, Costa Rica, and I've worked myself almost into a panic about my current level of United States Spanglish... ''What if I forgot tico Spanish?'' ''What if I forget to kiss the air and touch cheeks instead of shaking hands when I meet someone?'' ''What if I say the wrong thing?''... etc. etc. etc.

Then I get off the plane in San José, and the flashbacks have been constant. I mean, I lived here for three years afterall, so there are bound to be flashbacks. And even more than flashbacks, Costa Rica now feels like a second home. I have comfort foods here, people I love here, and a sense of direction here (despite no street signs, haha!)

So here's a peek at the flashbacks (Top Ten style, in no particular order): 

 10. Studying geography from the plane window.

 9. Studying cloud formations from the plane window.
 8. Delicious mango right off the tree.
 7. My favorite ice cream brand!!! (Top comfort food, no matter what country I'm in, lol)
6. Cheap manicures. Marlon's sister, Daniela, has a mini-manicure business. I wanted something with the Costa Rican flag (red, white, and blue), and she did a great job! 
5. Heavy coins that aren't worth very much.

 4. Oh yes. I ate a whole container of Chocobon ice cream in 3 days. Amazing.
 3. The irony of the shower head being called the ''widow maker.'' I mean, the electric tape says it all.
2. Gallo pinto for breakfast! I can't get enough! (Hello again, rice belly. Lol.)

1. Speaking the good ol' tico Spanish. ¡Vieras como el español me fluye! 


Ready or Not... Here I Go Again!!!

It  it truly amazing to think that two years have flown by since I was last in Costa Rica! So much has happened too -- surviving two Chicago winters; teaching two years in public schools; graduating with my masters degree in bilingual education; moving not once, not twice, not even three times... moving FOUR times (lol... that's a long story); paying off all undergrad and graduate loans; and now (finally!) a reunion trip to Costa Rica.


This time will be a little different though. Five years ago (seriously, time has sped by), I left for Costa Rica without knowing a single soul (besides my wonderful new boss, Tia Reilly), but this time, I will be visiting the many friends and families that have become part of my international support system.

Just to walk you through a few familiar faces:

Trish!! Can't forget her :). I think half of my blog is about Trish and my adventures. She is now married to a tico (as Costa Ricans proudly call themselves), Albin.

Familia Cabezas Ramos -- Such a wonderful family that adopted me for about 11 months during my first year of teaching.

Sojourn ladies -- Mimi, Elsa, Mau, Karol, and Maria Marta are amazing teachers at Sojourn. Seriously, these ladies have worked so hard and have faced so much change as new North American teachers come and go every year. I am excited to saw hello!

Melissa -- Okay, so this is embarassing, but I'm realizing that I don't have a blog post about Melissa! We became good friends during my last six months in Costa Rica, and she continues to live in San José and works as a missionary with EFCA ReachGlobal. We're planning a beach trip during my stay :)

Aydee -- I will never forget Aydee's generosity and her patience with my Spanish as she taught me Peruvian words and phrases. I nearly bought out her artesan's stand twice and I plan to buy it out again :).

Familia Marin Garcia -- Santiago holds a special place in my heart. He had just turned two when I moved back to the States... Now he'll be four! We'll see if he remembers me.

Familia Mejia Simpson -- Another family that I do not have a blog post about, but there are plenty of photos on Facebook! I had their daughter Ruth in my 5th grade class at Lighthouse and their daughter Dani also works at Lighthouse as a teacher's assistant. I am excited to catch up with this generous family!

Familia Rodriguez Villafuerte -- This is the only family I will be meeting for the first time on this trip. Why would I want to meet them, you ask? Well... :) For those that do not know (or haven't figured out from my Facebook), I am dating a tico, Marlon, and we figured it was time for me to meet his family. Wish me luck!

This trip gets even better!! After two weeks in Costa Rica, I will head further south to Argentina, where I will stay with the Diem family for 10 days.

In other words, this is going to be an awesome summer vacation :). Stay tuned for updates throughout my new Costa Rica (and Argentina) adventures!