As much as I hate to admit it, I am a full-fledged worry wart. I worry about not making deadlines, I worry about not making every result perfect, I worry about disappointing authority figures; heck, I have even caught myself staring up at the ceiling at night fretting about fretting itself. And while the neurotic musings that bounce and tumble about in my brain never do quite make it out of my cranium and into reality, they do not present themselves without purpose. Rather it seems as if my habitual nervousness is the fuel that I thrive off of, the energy from which I derive pro-activity. Being nervous motivates me to DO, because only once I make things happen and happen well does this worry leave me; it is a moral compass of sorts, and I am grateful for my nerves in this way. So, when familiar Worry came knocking at the doors of my consciousness today– as my trip to Costa Rica is just three days away– I immediately knew two things with utmost certainty:
It was time to start packing, and
I needed to listen to Frank and Dino right away
Okay, so that second realization may have been slightly unexpected, but please do allow me to elaborate.
Besides reading really great books and walking my lovely dog, Lucky, one of my absolute favorite things to do is to parade around the house performing ear-shattering renditions of songs by my two most beloved artists, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. I simply adore them; their undeniable charisma, charming senses of humor and boundless talent have become so familiar to me now through watching and listening to their performances over and over that they bring me a strong sense of comfort, no matter how unsettled I may feel.
Once when my mother was out of town and I missed her terribly, one medley by Frank and Dean came to mind and comforted me right away:
“Love is just around the corner, every cozy little corner, love is just around the corner when I’m around you…”
The lighthearted lyrics and playful banter which I have memorized by heart seem to dissolve the impending gravity of most any situation; like a teddy bear, they are familiar and hold sentiments of contentment for me.
I have never traveled outside of the country, let alone all by myself, so there is no doubt that comfort is the very thing I will need as I embark on July 6. Therefore, along with the t-shirts, sandals, sunscreen, and toiletries that comprise the most basic traveling selection, I will also be packing with me the Youtube videos of Frank and Dean’s medleys that I cherish so dearly in times of worry (Since internet connection is not so guaranteed during my trip, I can thankfully still access the clips offline through Youtube Red).
Knowing that I have this source of comfort joining me on my travels encourages me to leave behind any fears of loneliness or uncertainty. I know that I will be surrounded by kind, wonderful, caring people during my trip, and I am so thankful for that.
So, yes, I am a worry wart, and I realize that for me to expect myself to leave that fact behind during these ten amazing days ahead of me is very unrealistic. I will probably worry from time to time, but efficiently so–in the way that I always do that propels me toward my goals. I leave for Costa Rica in just 3 days, and with the dependable comforts of Frank and Dino with me, I am positively ecstatic. read more →
Politics affect everything in our daily lives. They are the driving force in how society, economy, and everything flows. Considering that I am going to visit this gorgeous, breathtaking country, I was curious about any ongoing political events in the BEAUTIFUL Costa Rica.
After looking through some ongoing events, the article about Costa Rica providing aid for African migrants caught my attention.
Back in about April , Costa Rica prevented hundreds of undocumented migrants from entering the country. They finally granted authorization for migrants to enter and be accepted into shelters. These migrants, majority being African and some coming from Dominican Republic, demanded permission to leave Costa Rica’s south border town. They had been repressed in continuing their journey through Mexico and Central America. As the article, Blocked African migrants finally move to C. Rica, states, “More than 600 irregular migrants…agreed to be peacefully transported to Campo Ferial in Paso Canoas”. Migrants were taken to the shelters and were interviewed and medically checked up before they were transferred to the southern towns of Rio Cio and Buenos Aries. After about 3,000 Cuban migrants attempted to cross, both Costa Rica and Nicaragua obstructed entry of migrants without visas to prevent the number of Cubans traveling to the U.S.
Although the title of this article highlights African migrants, the article’s major fixate on the Cuban migrants.
Similar to the focus of this article, CNN presented a more particular article, Bound for U.S., Cuban migrants are stuck in Central America, on the Cuban migrants. The article opens with the introduction of Pavel Fernandez, a Cuban migrant hoping to migrate to the U.S. Cuban migrants were stuck at Panama’s Northern border with Costa Rica where some of them were able to take a flight to Mexico. The article continues on how the number of Cuban migrants double up every year. This article’s essential focus was on the process of Cubans settling into the shelters and their struggles migrating to their destination.
Another article, 600 US-bound Africans Stranded in Costa Rica After Officials Block Route focused on the African migrants. More than 600 Africans weren’t being permitted to enter Costa Rica to continue their journey to U.S. There was a build up of migrants in the border town Paso Canoas. Legally, Costa Rica can only hold migrants for 30 days where the government would either deport or release them. Similar to the previous articles, this article ends with details of 3,000 Cubans also not being accepted for entrance.
The last article U.S. Pays to Feed and Shelter Cuban Migrants Stranded in Costa Rica, discuss how the U.S spend 1 million dollars to help feed migrants in the shelters. The article focused on Cubans attempting to migrate. The Costa Rican government was forced to open 29 shelters in schools, fire stations and other locations to provided safety for Cubans. Costa Rica’s former minister stated that they have spent 3 million dollars housing the Cuban migrants. This crisis had been using up Costa Rica’s resources. Many of the shelters were shut down as Cuban migrants carried on with their journey. Similar to the previous articles, this mentioned about the Cuban migrants. This article differs from the previous two because the essential point was about the expenses of the shelters and how the U.S. was involved in helping with the migrate crisis.
I was really fascinated on how much aid Costa Rica provided for the migrants. What caught most of my attention was how much media publicized the Cuban migrants but not much for the African or Dominican and other migrants. Every article that I looked at always mentioned or ended with the mentioning of Cuban migrants.
Costa Rica is known for its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and magnificent array of wildlife species. As one of the people fortunate enough to be able to travel to this gorgeous Central American country this coming July, it is important for me to know the context of my visit, for without the well-rounded perspective that comes from context one cannot fully understand nor appreciate their circumstance.
Therefore, when I visit the incredible Manuel Antonio National Park with my fellow travelers, awed by the pure majesty of the monkeys, geckos, sloths, frogs, and parrots all living together in harmony, I will know that this breathtaking display of peaceful coexistence did not come by chance, but by the efforts of the Costa Rican people to conserve.
In December of 2012, Costa Rica became the first nation in Latin America to take a stand for animal conservation when their Congress voted unanimously in favor of a law banning hunting as a sport. A grassroots initiative collected 177,000 signatures calling for this ban on hunting, proposing it to Congress back in 2010.
Under the law, hunters face up to four months in prison or fines of up to $3,000, and penalties are also included for those caught trapping wild animals such as jaguars or parrots to sell as exotic pets on the black market.
Many people have responded in support of the ban, taking to Twitter to applaud Costa Rica with words such as, “Bravo, Costa Rica!” and “I hope the rest of the world will follow suit…” These people see the law as a necessary move to preserve the nature that man seems to constantly overpower, one woman’s comment on Facebook saying, “The animals were here first.”
Not all, however, have been so glad to see this ban. Ricardo Guardia, president of the Costa Rican Hunters Association and an attorney who wrote the national gun law, argues that “hunting is a reasonable use of natural resources that doesn’t harm the general public”.
The law does allow hunting in two special circumstances—subsistence hunting by indigenous groups and culls to control overpopulation. But Guardia says that “people will not respect [the law]”. Another Facebook user commented in agreement to Guardia’s claims, saying, “…just like prohibition, making something illegal will not stop poachers and criminals”.
Unfortunately, these men are not entirely incorrect. In June of 2013, photos taken near Santa Rosa National Park circulated the internet, showing a slain jaguar’s limp body held up by two of its hunters as they beamed in pride. Again in October of 2013, animal conservationists were appalled when pictures of a dead doe and fawn near Carara National Park went viral. Despite the fact that the law cannot prevent all tragedies such as these, Alonso Villalobos, a political scientist at the University of Costa Rica, says even if the hunting ban is not implemented perfectly, the law is symbolically important. Costa Ricans think of themselves as “people who are in a very good relation with the environment,” says Villalobos. “And in that way, we have made a lot of progress. We have a stronger environmental consciousness.”
Context. I can never truly know all of it before I go to Costa Rica, but to know of something that is so important to them now–a passion for conservation that seems to help define Costa Rica’s patriotism– helps me to be able to visit them more respectfully.
Socrates once said, “The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.” And the more fantastic things I learn about Costa Rica, the more I feel completely ignorant–yet, in the best way possible, for this marks the opportunity for new growth and wisdom. It is as if my hands are outreached, ready to pick the delectable fruit of experience from the tree of new beginnings. I am going to Costa Rica in exactly two weeks from today, and I am not even close to knowing everything about that faraway land. And I could not be more thrilled.
Its nearing a month since Ive come back from Costa Rica, but I don’t think there has been a day where I haven’t thought about the people of San Salvador or my group members; I miss everyone dearly. During my stay in the host village,I always admired the simplicity. The village was small for the most part and it was as if everyone was family. In the village there was only one small store where my group members and I would often hang out at after a long days of work, just talking and sipping on sodas. Ive come to find myself wishing I could experience it all again, at least for a day.
I miss the 15 minute walk to my friend Katie’s house that I made almost everyday. I miss laughing with her younger host sister, as I myself didn’t have any. I miss playing soccer with all the other kids and never failing to be impressed with their skills.I miss the early mornings and early nights (I didn’t quite mind being in bed at 8 almost everyday!). After being with the same people for three weeks you develop a routine and sense of familiarity and its odd to be thrown back into a seemingly different world. During my stay I gained a new family and 8 new best friends, and I can’t help but be sad at the fact that it will be a while before we reunite, if ever. But with the sadness, comes great happiness that it happened.
It feels nice to have an experience that Ill never forget and can always look back on with a smile. Whenever I hear the song Upgrade U or Rich Girl, I’ll remember the long car rides and even longer workdays spent with my group; and whenever I hear the song El taxi I’ll think back to all the kids in the village whom I adore. Although, there were a couple challenges I faced while there, the main one being the language barrier, it was all so minuscule in comparison to what I have gained.
I’m not religious, but while staying in the village I decided to attend church with my host mother. I figured that I might as well try to participate in the culture as much as possible. In Herradura de Rivas, they have a formal mass twice a month. I hadn’t yet arrived in Costa Rica during the first mass, and the second of that month would not take place until after my group’s departure, so it was a simple Thursday evening service that we were attending. Our trip leader, Rashad, had told us that the service would likely not be heavily attended, but he still encouraged us to go. I was the only student who chose to attend, which made me feel nervous but also more resolute.
After long hours of working at the construction site, I hiked back home to shower and change. I had been under the impression that the community of Herradura de Rivas was very conservative, so I wore a long skirt and blouse in an effort to make sure that no one was offended by my church attire. I needn’t have worried. My host mother and two other ladies from the village sat chatting, comfortable in their jeans and sweatshirts. One of them held a guitar in her lap. My host mother Zobeida explained that they would sing as their form of prayer. She handed me a book of prayers and songs. It was in Spanish, of course, but thankfully I could understand most of it. They had fun explaining to me the meaning of the word “alabar” (praise) in the song “Alabaré A Mi Señor”.
When six o’clock arrived, Zobeida and one of the women began to sing of appreciation and celebration in voices filled with passion and happiness. The other woman joined them, their voices accompanied by the joyous strumming of her guitar. I followed along as best I could, but as I lost my place among the many pages of the songbook I realized that they knew all the words by heart and were singing directly from memory. One of the women was very helpful and would point out the place in my book that they were referencing when they switched to a new song. Even though the words of the songs were in Spanish, the emotion in their voices would be understood in any language.
Towards the end of the service, they asked me to read a passage from one of the books, and they complimented me on my Spanish. Then we all held each other’s hands and I listened to their sincere prayers of thankfulness for their families, their lives, and everything that they have. It reminded me of how much we all have to be grateful for. Zobeida thanked me for joining her at the church that evening. Despite the fact that I was a newcomer and unfamiliar with their traditions, they had accepted me without hesitation welcomed me fully into their community.
Afterwards, we stopped by the local pulpería (it was similar to a corner store or small grocery store) and were greeted by some of the other women from the village. They created a boisterous atmosphere by laughing, joking and generally having a good time. The rest of the group was sitting there as well, talking and relaxing after a game of soccer with some of the local children.
My host mother asked me what I would like to eat and what foods she should buy for dinner. I’m not too choosy and I don’t like being a burden, but she insisted, so I mentioned foods that I knew were accessible and not too inconvenient: fruits and vegetables, beans, plantain, and cilantro. She laughed because she knows how much I love cilantro. On our way back it started to rain hard, and then it began to pour. My host mother put her arm around me and we shared her umbrella while we talked about small things. We had a long walk ahead of us, and a short hike to end it. She was patient with me even though I was unaccustomed to the rough terrain. When we returned home, there were lots of ripe, juicy grapes and mangoes to eat from the store. For dinner she made rice, beans, sweet plantain, and a fresh salad with plenty of cilantro for flavoring. It was delicious!
It is a great thing to make someone who is new to your community feel completely comfortable, welcome, and appreciated. And that is what they did for me.
“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