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Sometimes, the grass is greener on the other side

San José was so much more productive and adventurous than I expected it to be!

Yesterday, I had made plans to immediately head out to Turrialba, a smaller pueblo than San José where I previously lived and worked as a river guide on the fierce, yet breathtakingly beautiful Rio de Pacuare. However, I discovered a bilingual school relatively near to where I was currently staying and decided to change the plans.

Game plan
Game plan

I researched the location online and discovered the school was about 7 miles away if I were to walk the route Google Maps had suggested. Instead, I browsed Google Earth and realized the only thing separating me from a 3 mile trek was a river and a bit of jungle. “Well that’s simple enough”, I thought to myself, “I am a river guide after all.” So I put on compression shorts and a bathing suit top under my clothes. Then, I packed a towel, a brush and new shirt to make me presentable again. Finally, I wrapped all that “macha” blonde hair under a head scarf and headed for the road less traveled.

After getting off the bus in a town not as…furnished…where I had been staying, I proceeded to travel down various roads that would take me to the river. Any local I asked said I couldn’t cross, that is was dirty or I needed to take a bus. In my naive and optimistic ways, I dismissed each naysayer and proceeded down the next calle to find my entrance.

All the while, a boy rode his bicycle up and down many of the same streets I ventured. He asked me what I was looking for and I told him of my quest. He informed me he was looking for a house to rent in the nearby area. Geraldo also recommended I take the bus to the other side. Again, I persisted. As we traveled together making choppy conversation and jokes about my light skin, we discovered each dead end road was either highly fenced, housed or blocked off. Mi nuevo amigo, peddling slowly beside me, again suggested I take a bus. And after the 7th or 8th street, I slowly started to realize that todos los locales were probably right this entire time. Defeated but still determined to get to the school, I made my way to the bus thinking I could still find a route home though the river after my meeting.

I finally made it to the general area of the town I hoped to visit. It only took me a little while to completely retrace my steps, take a bus in the total opposite direction and grab a final bus to the town of Ezcazú. Amazingly, someone knew of the private school in the corner of the town I was talking about and gave me very quick directions before crossing the street and running away. I began to head to the area of which they pointed and hoped someone else would recognize the name of the school by the river that I consistently asked about. All the while, the afternoon storm slowly crept over the mountain.

What seemed like another 3 or 4 miles of walking in light to moderate rain, I finally reached my destination just as the skies began to fully boast about what the “rainy season” of Costa Rica really means. I was then immediately introduced to the principal of the elementary school. She showed me a view of the school from a window in another room. It was a fantastically open and amazing campus.

After a delightful conversation for about 45 minutes, she seems more than willing to have her school participate in CCConnect. Once we exchanged information, we said our goodbyes in hopes to meet again to show me around the school’s campus. On my gleeful walk back to el centre de Ezcazú, I was hailed by a taxi. Being a common occurrence, I motioned to the taxi that it wasn’t needed until I saw two American girls sitting in the back about my age. They explained to me they were elementary teachers at the school and offered me a ride to the middle of town. I graciously accepted, decreased my travel time significantly and met some delightful people!

During the decent, I peered out of the taxi and viewed my “impassable” river. Well, the locals were right. Just in the area where I made multiple attempts to cross was about a 60ft cliff. Maybe that’s why no one goes across…

A clear view of the wet cliffs from the other side
A clear view of the wet cliffs from the other side

When I finally made it home, I purchased and consumed an entire celebratory mango to commemorate my very first cross cultural connection. It was the sweetest fruit I ever tasted.

That day I was only called machita twice! (Blondie)
That day I was only called machita twice! (Blondie)

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Hollywood and Saying Buenas Dias a Costa Rica!

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As the Floridian journey ends, the Costa Rican adventure begins!

I must say that one of the more exciting events that occurred this past weekend in Florida was the introduction to my friend’s entire Venezuelan family. Well, it was a lot of them anyways. From the sounds of it, I don’t think they would have all fit inside the house without a noise ordinance. Regardless, their laughter and loudness was simply contagious. It was absolutely delightful to ease my way back into speaking Spanish with hilarious word games using only a whiteboard.  Not only that, but I feel as if this family alone has made CCConnect practically double in size. Whats even greater is that it was all done over a meal of overwhelmingly delicious paella (a dish from Spain including rice, chicken and everything out of the sea). I even got to stick my feet in the warm Florida waters at the John U. Lloyd state park while keeping a keen out for lizards, blue herons, crabs, massive spiders, and crocodiles. No luck finding crocs, but we happened upon more massive spiders than we hoped for.

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“Massive for Florida”‘ spiders that sat above your head as you walked the sandy trail to the beach
Sunset at John U. Lloyd state park
Sunset at John U. Lloyd state park

Florida was so much more than I expected it to be. The time I spent with my Floridian host family was priceless.  I know that it’s going be quite a while before we meet again, but I know when we do, we’ll pick up exactly where we left.

Now that I’ve finally made it here to San Jose, I’ve had the opportunity to make my way though the bus systems, stumble upon a developing riot outside of the US Embassy protesting the war in Syria, and enjoyed a delightful lunch catching up with an old friend. I’d stick around to tell you more, but it’s time to go rock climbing at my most favorite gym in the entire country. Mundo Aventura.

3…2…1…We Have Lift-Off

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After a 7 mile trek from Ft. Lauderdale’s International Airport, I find myself sitting in a McDonalds in Hollywood, Florida. Sat down for the free water, free Wi-Fi and free air conditioning. Well, I’m going to buy a coffee now because I feel bad. This certainly was wasn’t the first hike I had intended on accomplishing, but never the less, it is still all a part of the journey.

Over the past few weeks, I have said my goodbyes to everyone dear to me back in Pennsylvania. But no matter how hard the goodbye, I am certain the welcome back will be just as full of heart and even more so exciting. I am completely ecstatic about the road ahead of me and I am even more so overwhelmingly flattered that you have decided to follow along with me on my adventure. Now it’s off to my very first meeting regarding Cross Cultural Connect!

Keep in touch, amigos. I love you all.