A Travellerspoint blog


This weekend I had the opportunity to travel to La Fortuna, the city where Arenal Volcano is located. I was disappointed when I found out you couldn't hike nearby because it is still active, but I still got the chance to see a volcano for the first time! You have to travel by van, boat, and then another van. Everyone calls the trip "Jeep-Boat-Jeep" but I haven't figured out why, because I was definitely not in a jeep at any time during my travels here. Oh well. It's about a 3 1/2 hour journey, with about 1 hour on the boat.

The Burger KIng sign cracks me up. This was only second fast food restaurant I've seen since I've been here.

The lake is huge!


We stayed at an awesome hotel (for free, somehow. Somebody knows somebody who works there, I think.) called Arenal Lodge. It had a beautiful infinity pool but unfortunately, it was cold and rainy the whole time, so I had to settle for the jacuzzi in the room.


I also got a chance to visit the hot springs that are all around because of the volcano. The pictures are bad quality because of the steam, but you can make out a little bit of the river-type setup of the pools. There were about six pools in each section, connected together. Each time you climbed over the waterfall in between each section cold water was shot into the pool below so the temperature of the water decreased slightly each time. It was the coolest thing! I would give anything to have hot springs in my backyard :]


And finally, of course, I had to go on a hike! The entire trail by the hotel was paved with bricks and it was a very nice place to walk.


Posted by graceeppley 08:22 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (3)

Canyoning! (Waterfall rappelling)

Yesterday, I got to experience one of the scariest things I've ever tried. I went canyoning, which is where you rappel down waterfalls. We rappelled down 5 waterfalls, the biggest being about 40 feet. It was hard to get the hang of at first because the rocks were really slippery, and sometimes the pools of water you landed in were up to your waist! Here are some pics from the trip :]


The last few photos are from the 40 foot waterfall. The rope ran out about four feet from the bottom so you had to jump into the pool below. It really freaked me out because I didn't know the rope ran out and all of a sudden I was falling! The water was above my waist, though so I landed just fine. It was pretty difficult, but I would suggest it to anyone as a great experience.

Posted by graceeppley 04:07 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (4)

A Quick Cultural Insight . . .

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and thankfully (no pun intended), I got to spend it with my friends at the CEC, with turkey and too many side dishes to name. Viewing all the statuses on facebook about things that people are thankful for was so awesome! Thankful people = happy people :]
One thing I have noticed that was really brought to light last night is the difference in consumer culture here is Costa Rica as compared to the United States. I feel like Americans are known for having and desiring excessive amounts of things just to have them. I am absolutely no stranger to this idea. Before I came to Costa Rica, I shopped fairly often. I don't think I spent large amounts of money on things, but I definitely had more than I need. I still have a closet full of more clothes than I could ever need back in Kentucky.

Seeing all of the Black Friday posts yesterday and today made me consider how a "holiday" such as this looks to a foreigner. Sure, if you have earned your money you have every right to spend it on whatever you like. But have you ever stopped to consider if you really need the five things in your shopping bag at Victoria's Secret or Macy's? I have asked myself that question before, and many times I have ignored it and gotten the items anyway. Down here in Monteverde, people view possessions very differently. Though there are not the amount of clothing stores here as compared to Florence, KY, either, people don't just go shopping for clothes out of boredom. They don't buy excessive amounts of anything, even food. It's not something people go with their friends and do on weekends because they are bored. Obviously people here go shopping for clothes. You do need things to wear. But clothes here are a necessity, not a source of happiness.

Why are clothes, household decorations, accessories, etc. so wanted? If I have a television that works, why do I need a bigger one? Why do we need thirty pairs of shoes? I feel a bit embarrassed that I probably have that many pairs of shoes in my closet at home. My big question is, "Why do we need THINGS?" After living out of one suitcase for a month and a half and only bringing two long-sleeved shirts and three pairs of pants, I have felt a shortage of clothing options. Trust me, it wasn't an easy adjustment. If I were at home, I would not repeat outfits very often at all. Down here, I have been wearing the same outfits for weeks, and you know what? I still feel as happy as I've always been wearing the same shirts and pants. No one makes comments like, "Oh, you wore those pants three days ago." I almost feel liberated in a way. Image doesn't feel as important, and it feels nice to just pick out clothes and not wonder how they look.

It's kind of ironic that Black Friday follows a great holiday such as Thanksgiving. We spend a day discussing and remembering things we have and are grateful for. We spend time cooking, talking, and being with our families and friends. Then, we go out the next day, even the same night in some cases, and buy more things that we probably don't need. If we were truly grateful for all we have, would we go out and buy all of these things? I have only been to one Black Friday, and I do remember buying a pair of shoes. I don't even remember what pair they were because I obviously didn't need them. I might say, "Oh, but they were SO on sale, I had to get them!" But just because they were cheap, does that make them any more necessary? I'd argue no, but other people might have different opinions.

All I'm saying is, if Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday where we get two or more days off of school or work, let's celebrate the way it was meant to be celebrated.

Posted by graceeppley 08:38 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (2)

Settled In

At this point, I finally feel like I accustomed to the culture and I feel like a part of the community. It's a nice feeling :]
I'm a little sad that I will Thanksgiving with my family this week, but the school is having a Thanksgiving-type lunch on Thursday and we get half of the day off which is great.
Over the past week I've gone hiking a few times and have gotten to see many different views of the mountains and the Gulf of Nicoya. It's so absolutely beautiful here! If I lived here, I don't think I'd ever get tired of it.


I've also seen more interesting animals, like this butterfly. I couldn't get a good picture of it's wings, they were bright blue on the inside.

Also, I saw a group of Coati's on one of the trails. There were at least 30 of them, it was wild! Apparently the mothers travel in packs with the babies.

Tree climbing is fun too, though it's no comparison to rock climbing!

Finally, this picture shows a plant called King Grace Grass. Obviously, I had to get a picture with it!

Posted by graceeppley 07:14 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (4)

One Month in Costa Rica

In honor of my first month here, I thought I would make a list of the vast things that I have learned. The good, the bad, and all of the in-between.

1. "Ticos" are a super friendly people. I walked past one of my students' houses last weekend and when her family saw me, they invited me in for coffee. It's an awesome community.
2. Walking as a main mode of transportation is surprisingly enjoyable. It's great exercise and it is refreshing to be walking in such a beautiful place. I have also found that I prioritize my trips much more than when I had a car available. The downside is when I do want to go places other than during the day, I have to make sure I'm not alone or have a vehicle to take me home.
3. Starbucks ain't got nothing on Costa Rican coffee. It is 10X better, easily. It is richer, stronger, and the flavor is simply better. From someone who only drinks Starbucks coffee with lots of honey and skim milk, when I say that I can drink this coffee black, that's really saying something.
4. Traveling to a foreign country on your own with limited access to any form of electronic communication is scary, but I'm living, learning, and doing my best to experience everything that I can.
5. I'm really going to be sad when I have to return to below- freezing temperatures in the states. Even though it's pretty rainy here, it never dips below the upper 50's, and that is a very, very cold day here in Monteverde.
6. There are so many dishes you can make with rice and beans. I never thought such a basic food staple could be so versatile.
7. I am so grateful for all the things I have been given in my life.
8. Paved roads are a blessing and we should be grateful for them. The resulting headaches from two hours of driving on a dirt/gravel road made me realize this.
9. I have learned many new ESL techniques for future use with students.
10. If fruit were the same prices here as in the United States, I would make smoothies everyday. I bought a lemon the other day, guess how much it cost? Six cents, seriously. Plus you can pick fruit from trees lining the roads here as well.

And, there are many more things, but I won't bore you with the rest :] One more month left, and I hope to gain as many new experiences as I have during the first!

Posted by graceeppley 14:08 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (6)

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