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Cafe Santa Maria de Dota

March 12th, 2006

My group and I had an obligatory history field trip to a coffee plantation yesterday. We went to a plantation owned by a Cooperative called Coopedota. We took a tour on which we saw all the major stages related to coffee cultivation and production: growing the beans, harvesting the beans, separating the beans into different qualities, drying the beans, and toasting the beans.
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Back to Manuel Antonio

March 12th, 2006

I finally went back to Manuel Antonio to visit Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. It was beautiful!

The entrance fee for extrañeros, or foreigners, is $7 for the day. This gives you access to multiple beautiful costal trails and three pristine white-sand beaches. My friend and I opted to take the Sendero Punta Catedral, which is a beautiful trail through forest and along rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean. There were plenty of look-out points, and all of them were gorgeous.

We stayed in Albergue Costa Linda, which is a youth hostel set behind the public beach Playa Espadilla. The rooms were nice enough, and we got a free spaghetti dinner on Saturday night. I think I want to go to the Caribbean next.

Vúlcan Poas

February 27th, 2006

A friend and I made the day trip from Heredia to Vúlcan Poas (Poas Volcano) this weekend. The bus ride was pretty short, maybe an hour at most including the obligatory reststop at the choosen roadside stand. (I wonder how they choose those stops… friends of friends, relatives?)

We actually didn´t see anything at all of note because a giant cloud had descended on the top, rendering our trip completely pointless. The trails were less than exciting, consisting of short paved loops through forest that left even my young knees in pain. We covered the whole park in about an hour, leaving us with with two more hours to kill until the bus left again. So yeah, that was about it. If you go, check the weather first and figure out a way to get there earlier than the 8:30 bus, that way you can see something besides thick fog.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

February 22nd, 2006

Upon review of my blog entries, I realized that I’ve been sounding pretty negative lately. Lest that mislead anyone, I’m actually having a really great time. This is especially evident any time I have a few drinks in me, as I’m prone to loudly declaring how much I love this country over a plate of pinto at 1 in the morning. (Where else can you buy a huge plate of pinto and eggs for $1.50 at 1 in the morning?)

Case in point, I spent the weekend relaxing on the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen!
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What´d you say mai?

February 17th, 2006

As my second week of classes is coming to an end, I feel as though it’s time to reflect. Before classes had started, I had been feeling confident about my Spanish and wasn´t at all worried about understanding my professors. Well, apparently my confidence had been falsely built up by a supportive family and professors who are accustomed to dealing with non-native students, because understanding the Spanish spoken in my classes is a struggle.
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Death to Rice!

February 9th, 2006

Usually I try to look at the good side of things, but there comes a time when even my high-level of tolerance is breeched. Every day, my family makes me breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At first, this seemed like a premium arrangement, as I never have to do any cooking or cleaning. As it turns out, it´s awful. I would rather cook and clean for 5 people 3 times a day than eat rice one more time.
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Dominical, Costa Rica

February 7th, 2006

This weekend 21 of the 29 people from my program decided to take an independent trip to Dominical. It was really obvious that the trip was planned by gringos who don´t fully understand the bus schedules, because we took an unnecessarily long bus ride (6 and a half hours!).
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San José, Costa Rica

February 5th, 2006

The other day I took a field trip with my compañeros to the capital San José to experience the big city. Although it was generally dirty and dangerous as most cities are, it certainly had some redeeming qualities.

Hands down, the best part about San José is its little mercados, or markets. The first market we visited was Mercado Central, and it was teeming with Tico farmers and bustling buyers. Everywhere you looked, you could find exotic little fruits and strange looking vegetables. A big hit with my group were these little citrus fruits called granadillas. They look like ovular orangish-green oranges on the outside, but are filled with grayish purple seed sacks. You eat the sacks and the seeds together which is a very messy, and therefore fun, affair.
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Saved by a Knight in Shining Armor

February 1st, 2006

On my second to last day in Monteverde, we took a horseback ride through the country to a coffee plantation in San Luis. Everything was absolutely beautiful! It was so beautiful, in fact, that I got lost while my head was in the clouds.
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Monteverde, Costa Rica

January 26th, 2006

My program has arranged for our group to spend a week of our orientation in Monteverde which is much more rural than Heredia. It took about 4 hours to get here by bus, mostly because the roads are rough and driving is slow going. But, it was worth every bumpy minute, because it is spectacular here!

We’re attending classes at the Monteverde Institute, and living with a new family for the week that we’re here. The closest town is Cerro Plano, which is a very small rural town. The town really consists of one street, along which there are a few hotels and restaurants. It’s about a 20 minute walk from Santa Elena, which is a small town that is only slightly bigger than Cerro Plano.

I love it here! The town is nestled amoung beautiful rich rolling hills, and has some of the most spectular sunsets I’ve ever seen. Everything has a small town feel, and all the pepople here know each other by name. The Ticos here are especially nice, and life runs at a much slower pace than in Heredia. Many of the other students in my group prefer Heredia, because there is more to do. I, however, am a country person at heart and fit in really well here.

There is a pretty booming (relatively) tourist industry here, and there are almost as many Gringos as Ticos. There is plenty to do in the way of nature walks, but not much of a night life.

Yesterday we went on a skywalk, which consists of walking through rainforests on suspended bridges. It was very beautiful, and we had a guide who was very friendly and knowledgable about the flora and fauna. We took a guided tour through a cloud forest today, which was also a lot of fun. The tour through the cloud forest reserve was much longer, and I would only recommend it for those who can walk uphill for more than 2 hours. I thought the latter tour was more interesting than the first, mostly because it was longer and we saw more of the forest. We spotted a lot of birds, including the endangered Queztals (sp?) and various different types of wrens and hummingbirds.

If you’re thinking about coming to Monteverde, I would certianly encourage you to do so, and I have three tips:

1. Bring a raincoat! There are only two seasons here, rainy and windy. It’s the windy season right now, and it still rains at least once a day.

2. Because of the above mentioned rain, bring more than one pair of shoes, and be sure to include at least one pair of hiking boots.

3. Be sure to take the time to stop and talk to the locals here. They are very knowledegable about the area, and love to talk about their culture. Many of them speak English if you need it (especially those who are younger), and if you are trying to improve your Spanish they will take the time to slow down their Spanish and help you with the words you need.

We are going back to Heredia on Monday, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a link for pictures of both Heredia and Monteverde then. Until then Pura Vida!

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