I got home from my trip at 2 am this morning. After 10 days away from home and family, everything’s a little bit strange, both familiar and different, and already there’s a lot I miss about Costa Rica and its friendly, relaxed people. Before I get into reflections about my trip, I wanted to update everyone about what my trip was like. During the trip, it was a little hard to blog because the wifi connection was unstable at times, but I did write a brief overview of each day in my journal.
Day 1: Impressions and expectations. 7/14/17
“The blanket of cotton-candy clouds that has smiled upon us from the morning is replaced now with a dense blue-gray. The earth below, speckled with red-roofed homes, waits in anticipation for the sweet July rain. Petrichor, teasing.” -Sights from the airplane.
Not much done today; arrived at SJO airport (in Alajuela) around 2 pm and got to know my roomie Juliet a little (SoCal buds!). We then ate some super rico casado tipico at Bosco’s with group leader Rachel, and 5 of us travelers hung out while waiting for the group flight to arrive. At Hotel Pacande, we had fun eating pizza (cut into meters, which was surprising) and playing “psychiatrist” with country director Esteban.
Day 2: 7/15/17
After a light, healthy breakfast at the hotel, the whole group piled into a bus and our driver Ricardo drove us to RPT. During the 5.5 hour drive, we chatted with new friends, ate mamones chinos (similar to lychees), looked at sunbathing crocodiles, and enjoyed gorgeous views and heavy rain. Once at the Reserva, we saw capuchin monkeys and walked through a jungle to the nearby Playa Tortuga, which was absolutely breathtaking and so peaceful. Untouched and unparalleled. Pura vida!
Day 3: 7/16/17
Pretty relaxing day at the Reserva. Oscar gave us a brief run-down about the work researchers do, and we visited the hatchery (where sea turtle eggs are) and went to the beach to receive instructions about sea turtle monitoring, which we’d do each night. Later, researcher Adrian talked to us about birds and sharks. Finally, from 7-9, I went on a beach walk to search for turtles with a group of 4 and our guide Deivi.
Day 4: 7/17/17
Morning croc monitoring on the Terraba River, where we spotted 11 crocs and even got to measure some tracks they left behind on a small mudbank. Later, I went with Adrian to collect data from a small shark sample (baby hammerheads). I learned that it is important to collect data about all animals, even dead ones like the sharks, because the data shows the status of the population (size, sex, etc), which affects other wildlife in the ecosystem. During free time, we went to Playa Tortuga to play a competitive game of soccer during a heavy downpour (score: 3-2). Finally, I accompanied Jorge and a small group to another turtle walk from 9-11.
Day 5: 7/18/17
Today we visited the local store and I bought helado y yucachitas, so good. I went on a short mammal walk with Adrian in the afternoon, then a longer reptile walk with Oscar at night. We saw more capuchin monkeys, a small snake, frogs, and agoutis. I also went on the latest turtle walk from 12:30-3:30 with guide Bryan. It was the most beautiful starry night and we took pictures of the Milky Way, saw bioluminscent plankton, and learned Costa Rican slang like mae and tuanis.
Day 6: 7/19/17
In the morning, the group learned about RPT’s Blue Flag environmental education initiative, then participated in a beach clean up. It was a pretty free day since it was our last at the Reserva, and everyone played ping pong and card games (there was a particularly intense game of Sabotage). At night, we had a fiesta de despedidas (goodbye party) with a lot of food, music, and dancing. Although reluctant to join at first, I ended up having a lot of fun. At 10 pm, the party abruptly ended when we heard that Javier, one of the guides, had found an olive ridley sea turtle on the beach! Everyone, still in their pretty party dresses and clothes, ran to the beach through a chest-deep river (high tide) and saw the turtle and her 109 eggs. I stayed until 1 am on my last turtle walk with Bryan and a couple others.
Day 7: 7/20/17
Bittersweet day. Breakfast, last minute clean up, and goodbyes with some of the most dedicated and informed people I met at the Reserva. Throughout spontaneous dance lessons, interviews for my documentation project, and cooking with Gaby, Landy, and Em in the kitchen, I was able to quickly adjust to the Reserva, which became a very special home to me. So much to miss. After our drive down to La Cusinga Eco lodge, we swam in the waterhole and played mafia as the thunder rolled over the Pacific coast.
Day 8: 7/21/17
Busy day on the beach. We hiked to the reef at 5 am, learned how to surf (more like attempted to) with Uvita 360 (at Marino Ballena National Park), and swam at a small secret beach. Beautiful all around. Missing my friends over at RPT.
Day 9: 7/22/17
During our drive back to Alajuela, we stopped at a soda to eat lunch and went souvenir shopping at El Jardin. Back at Hotel Pacande, we went grocery shopping and shoe shopping, then had a delicious dinner of quesadilla especial at Bosco’s. Late at night, a couple of us got together to talk and reflect on our experiences, share snacks, and watch movies. I went to sleep around midnight, full of thoughts.
Day 10: 7/23/17
3 am wake up for the airport. I couldn’t help but cry as I said goodbye to Rachel and some of the new friends I’d made. It’s been such a wild ride. More updates to come. read more →
As of 2017, same sex marriage is not recognized under Costa Rica law. Over dozens of countries recognize this unity so the question is when will Costa Rica? There are many opinions on this issue, with mostly those in favor of a bill passing to legalize gay marriage. Back in 2013 a piece of legislation was passed to give benefits to couples of the same sex. This is a step in the right direction but there are still many outcries in the media for change.
I found an article titled “This same-sex couple in Costa Rica were able to marry thanks to a clerical error” that caught my attention. According to the article, two women were able to wed due to the fact that one of the woman is noted as a male on her birth certificate. This article was written in support of the union of the couple most likely due to the fact the author was from Madrid and same sex marriage is legal in Spain. If the article had been written within a nation where same sex marriage is frowned upon the article might have looked differently.
Another article on the same issue is called “Costa Rica Accidentally Approves Same Sex Unions.” The article quotes directly from Costa Rican lawmakers commenting on the event where legislation “accidentally” passed a bill recognizing same sex unions. The words the the lawmakers had to say on the event were all negative. The article was written to criticize the union of two people of the same gender.
These two articles are proof of the wide opinions presented in media and the titles are what catches the attention of the reader to immediately interpret what the article will entail. Personally I feel that same sex marriage will one day be legal everywhere once the world can realize that all deserve the same rights. Costa Rica seems to be getting closer to that ideal but just needs to hop on the bandwagon already.
Other interesting articles:
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” ― Anita Desai
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ― Gustave Flaubert
Only about 12 hours until my flight at 5 am…! It’s been a crazy journey already. The pre-departure work has been more challenging than I expected when I walked into this, but I’ve also learned more than I thought I would. These past couple of weeks have been some of the busiest of this year for me, and not just because of this trip. Between a move, a Girls State conference, summer homework, and my awaiting college apps, I so want to relax.
But something I need to keep in mind as I prepare myself now is that this trip is not just a vacation. Sure, I will be tasting new food, making friends, learning how to surf, and exploring the idyllic beaches and forests of beautiful Costa Rica…but I will also be challenged physically and mentally as I work through my documentation project and adjust to a new place. I am expectant, worried, alert, exhilarated…a true mezcla de emociones.
Thus far, my day has been fairly normal, which is just fine with me. Did some work on the house, ate some homemade Korean food with my family, packed, volunteered at the local food pantry. As I enter a new and unfamiliar country, I will be taking with me my pocket of this world and the beauty of my home, in hopes that when I return, my concept of home will again be stretched. Hasta la vista, Connecticut.
So approximately 28 hours before take off and I am hiding behind the stress of the semi overbearing blog and twitter responsibilities to escape from the true over excitement of the realities that I am about to embark on an amazing journey never even seemingly possible prior to my acceptance. I am so ready yet also terrified. In my community, it seems to be a habit to simply give up or not try to be great when things get tough. And tough things are a constant. I have pushed for many years running from that stigma of self degradation. Yet I find myself before Senior year afraid of becoming more than is expected, going on a trip many have only dreamed of and I am procrasinating on packing. This truly will help me out of the web fear holding down many individuals in my community and life, while directly showing the possibilites of what can come from pushing through the fear. I am nervous to take this step but….I truly am ready!! Thank you Wandering Scholar for alloting me my first step to greatness.
Now that I am packed, all I have to do now is play the ‘Waiting Game’. I can’t wait to step on that plane headed for Costa Rica, and see and feel, what Costa Rica can offer to me. This is my first trip that I am going on by myself without my parents…am I scared…..NOOO! More like excited, thrilled. I feel like this trip is just the beginning to many new adventures, I will take in the future. Most kids dream of traveling/studying abroad in college or later in life, but why wait? I am worried about my Spanish since it’s not exactly the best…more like helpless, that two years of Spanish class did nothing to prove! But, I am hopeful that I can learn (some) through experience rather than being in a classroom setting. Before I leave, I plan to meet up with some of my friends to go out and eat and spend some time with my parents to convince them not to worry. I still can’t believe I’m getting the honor to going to Costa Rica through Wandering Scholar, it’s like a dream that I don’t want wake up from. The best part is I don’t have to worry about waking up since it’s very real! Well, I do need to worry about waking up since I need to ….catch the plane!!!
“No matter how many pictures we could have taken, no matter how high the resolution, no camera could have accurately captured the breathtaking, luminous elegance of the beach sunset. This journey has stripped me of my predictable, surface humanitarian tendencies and aroused my inner global citizen. Now…how’s THAT for culture shock?”— Precious Ekeanyanwu, Costa Rica