Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Corcovado; Costa Rica's True Wilderness Area

I believe I mentioned in my last blog that after we finished the basketball camp 3 fellow Peace Corps volunteers and myself decided to take an adventure into the wild…

The adventure was composed of Daniel Buffington (a volunteer from Seattle Washington who despite studying at U Dub is has become a great friend of mine down here) Kyle Grieffe (A tall lengthy volunteer who hails from Denver Colorado) and Angelo Concocalis (who is from North Carolina) and myself. Dan, Kyle and myself lived in the same training community in San Jose for three months with another female volunteer and became very close throughout training only to be Separated as far as possible by the PeaceCorps with our assignments. Lope (Penelope Kim) lives on the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste, Kyle lives almost in Nicaragua in San Carlos, Daniel lives on the Bri-Bri indigenous reserve in Talamaca on the Carribiean side, and of coarse I live here in San Luis of Perez Zeledon in the Southwest part of Costa Rica. Despite being from the Peace Corps group a year after us Angelo fit in good with us on our trip.

This backpack trip had been talked about since training almost 2 years ago, for those who don’t know Corcovado National Park is Costa Rica’s most remote and biologically rich region. It’s the largest remaining patch of virgin lowland rainforest in Central America, and takes up most of the Osa Penisula. Jaguars, Crocodiles, Scarlet Macaws, Tapirs, Wild Bores and all 4 of Costa Rica’s Monkeys call this place home. I’ve even heard that is could be the most biologically diverse place in the world. So needless to say it was on my to do list.

The difficult thing about Corcovado is its remoteness. It’s only accessible by feet, boat, or plane. Wanting to get the most out of the experience and doing on a PeaceCorps budget we had decided that hiking would be the only way to fully see all that it has to offer; and that was a great choice.

After staying with Morgan and Jerred Clouse a married couple of volunteers who put on the Basketball camp in San Isidro on Saturday January 22 we took a 5 hour bus ride to La Palma a town just outside Puerto Jimenez and that is where the journey began. A volunteer named Laura Trinkle lives in La Palma and although never having done the journey she was a great help with putting us in contact with a hostel and driver that we would need the next morning. Sunday morning we started off at 4:30am in the back of a 4x4 truck we needed to get to Los Patos ranger station. After an hour and half and a dozen river crossings with the truck we made it to the ranger station to check in and start our 20-kilometer hike to La Sirena Ranger Station.

Being somewhat concerned about the heat of the lowland jungle, we had been hydrating ourselves since the night before and on the way to the ranger station in the truck. The ranger station was the last place to fill up water until we reach La Sirena. I filled up my 32 ounce Nalinge bottle I had already drank that morning and still had a 42 ounce bottle of water I bought at a grocery store the previous day (by the time I reached La Sirena both would be drunk).

The rangers informed us that we should stay on the trail because they would be very reluctant to come rescue lost tourists and warned us about a recent Jaguar sighting and snakes we should watch out for. The hike started off exactly how we were told a mile and half of steep uphill hiking but with the added distraction of mud. It had rained hard a day and a half before and being a thick jungle the sun doesn’t enter to dry the land out, within an hour we were covered in mud, slip sliding all over the place. One nice thing about this hike was that the sun didn’t hit us directly, which made Kyle’s super duty sunscreen irrelevant but kept the temperature tolerable. As we walked through the jungle we took in the beauty and the size of native hardwood trees, Scarlet Macaws, spider, white-faced and howler monkeys were also seen. At numerous spots we saw tracks in the mud of varies animals including the wild bores. At one point I saw something fall from the trees and next thing I know some monkey shit lands two feet away from me… I guess white-faced monkeys have a habit of throwing feces at people and one almost got me. The hike was great but our packs were heavy and we were very happy when we finally got to our destination after 8 hours of hiking.

La Sirena is a Ranger Station/research facility and was a lot nicer than we imagined. After hiking 20K in the shade we finally saw sunlight and freshly mowed grass. The station came to view and as we looked down to the right there was a long strip of grass that leads to the beach and doubles as a landing strip. I had just gotten my pack off to enjoy the view when Angelo says “lawn match” and tries to tackle me. Quickly he regreted this decision saying he forgot that I wrestled and that I was really sweaty and smelly (which was very true). There were a probably 25 people at the station most lounging around reading or hiking the trails looking for wildlife. Most were European, a few Canadians and a handful of Americans and Ticos. We realized we were by far the least equipped and youngest group being one of the only groups without a guide or the nicest equipment REI can buy. (We all hiked in shitty tennis shoes)

After re-hydrating and checking in with the park rangers we decided to go check out the beach. Miles of untouched beaches surround the park and at sunset the view was worthwhile. We got back to the station where there was a deck with a roof that people can camp on. Knowing that in advance I choose to hike in my Peace Corps issued mosquito net instead of a heavier tent. We set up the nets and then enjoyed our dinner of cold bean and corn burritos with fresh avocado and salsa I packed in. The food hit the spot and we ended the night with a game of hearts accompanied by my travel size friend of Ron Cortez (cheap Panamanian Rum).

We woke up the next day to howler monkeys in the neighboring trees and spent the day checking out the abundant hiking trails around Sirena. Tortillas with bananas and peanut butter made for a nice change from our cold burrito diet. In the afternoon we checked out a local river at high tide and got a glimpse of bull sharks feeding on fish at the mouth of the river. It was somewhat an unsettling thought knowing that the next morning we would have to cross the same river… Dan and I headed back early and got lucky to walk upon a Tapir resting in the grass. It was another checkmark to add to the wildlife seen.

In order to get to La Leona Ranger station there is a river crossing about a half hour after leaving Sirena. After checking the tide chart we thought it would be wise to get there at 8am in order to successfully cross the river without danger of sharks or getting swept out to sea. We got there a little early and I volunteered to check the depth, I took off my pack and walked into the river at the mouth of the ocean. Immediately I was swimming over my head, getting drug out to sea. We then thought it would be smart to wait for the tide to go out a little more. After waiting and trying numerous times more, we started to get frustrated. Dan who is very accustomed to crossing rivers on the indigenous reserve made it across the river swimming and would have been difficult with his pack. After over an hour of waiting and watching the water slowly drop, Angelo who had the smallest pack got tired of waiting and went for it. He made it across mildly getting his bag wet. I double bagged my camera and followed suit. Shortly later Dan and Kyle were across as well and we could continue our journey.

The hike from La Sirena to La Leona/Carate is quite different from the hike in from Los Patos. This part was longer at 24-kilometers and despite being hotter it was actually an easier hike. Instead of the lush rainforest that we hiked in on, the hike out when along the peninsula and for the most part hugged the beach, so it was much flatter. Its difficult for me to say which part I enjoyed the best, they were up there with a couple of the hikes I have done in the Grand Canyon with beauty or even better. The views were spectacular. At one point we were hiking on a sandy trail just inland from the beach and I saw a paw print. I pointed it out to my friends and we all were in agreement that it looked like a big cat print. Sure enough about a half-hour later we caught up to a guide with to hikers asking us if we saw the 2 pumas on the trail. This grayish cat is almost impossible to catch a sighting. A male and female puma crossed their path and the male one even stopped, stretched, and starred at the hikers. They said their excitement turned to fear quickly and were happy when he decided to leave on his own. I asked the guide how long it had been since he had seen a puma in the forest. He said over 2 years. These two hikers from New York City were very lucky; unfortunately we were not. We were able to see 3 types of monkeys, dozens of types of birds, wild pigs, Tapirs, Pizotes, ant-eaters, wild central American turkeys, and even fins of bull sharks; It was by far the most wild animals I have ever seen in my life on one trip.

We hike for 7 hours to get to Carate where we got lucky and a garbage truck was leaving for Puerto Jimenez. We were hiking in the same dirty smelly clothes that we had hiked in with, so the garbage truck seemed perfect instead of waiting two hours for a slower collection truck. The ride took an hour off of the time to get to Puerto where we immediately caught a bus back to the Palma. Now it was afternoon everybody had just gotten off work and the bus was hot, and crowded; we were the only gringos and from the reactions around us, I think we smelled pretty bad. The first thing we did back in La Palma was get a couple of cold victory beers and then went back to the hostel to shower. It was a good end to a great trip that I will not soon forget.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Basketball Camp Perez Zeledon, January 2011

One of the reasons why I don’t update my Blog more often is for the fact that I haven’t been as busy as I would like to be, so I guess I should explain what that means and why that is. I live in a town with some really nice, caring people and I am very happy I was placed here and I wouldn’t change the experience that I have had for anything. During training we were asked what sort of town we would like to be placed in. I said the most rural town possible, that I didn’t mind being alone and far from other volunteers. I also mentioned that working with children especially teaching was a goal of mine. So in a sense PeaceCorps placed me exactly in a town I described. By far I live in the smallest town that of the 150 volunteers in Costa Rica (My friend Dan lives in a town with more people but far more cut off having to cross a river without a bridge to leave his town on the Bri-Bri indigenous reserve) within the three communities I work with there is probably less than 150 people within a 10-mile radius. In other words it is very spread out over the most mountainous terrain in Costa Rica. It’s some of the most beautiful country I have seen not only in Costa Rica but also of the world that I have seen. This is another reason why there are so few people; a majority of my town has sold to “gringos” and moved to other parts of the country where is easier and cheaper to farm. My town was formed 50 years ago by farmers who couldn’t afford land anywhere else; now their land is worth much more than the places they left from. This makes getting support for development projects a little slow because very few families see themselves staying for the long haul. For those reasons I wont be advising PeaceCorps to send a volunteer to replace me (teaching English is the main desire for my town so I am planning to contact World Teach for the possibility of one of their volunteers). At my closing of service conference in February I have to start getting my paperwork in line to come home and that is when we would recommend a volunteer but for the lack of community groups/individuals to work with, unfortunately I wont be recommending my town. I just feel that other communities could take a better advantage of having a Peace Corps Volunteer.

With that said I just had one of my most rewarding weeks in country last week with a basketball camp. A few Youth and Family Development volunteers that live near the center of San Isidro planned a weeklong free basketball camp for all kids interested. The majority of kids that came were from the volunteers’ town and most of them are “at risk” youth. We had about 150 come to learn how to play basketball and around 15 volunteers came from all parts of Costa Rica to help out. I, being such a good basketball player volunteered to help with the youngest kids from 5-8 years old. For such a young group the little ones did very well, but we had to be creative because unlike the older kids, the 5-8 year olds don’t want to practice basketball all day long. So we ended up taking them to a park with a playground and doing lots of group activities as well. I even got to show my art skills and do face and hand paintings on the kids. Most the girls just wanted stars, flowers or rainbows; which I perfected quite well. One boy came up and told me he wanted a semi truck painted on his hand. I thought it was a very unique and different than the girls’ paintings so I gladly puff painted a sparkly 18-wheeler on his hand.

It was an awesome fun filled positive week for children that don’t have opportunities to get out much. I was kinda sadden that no kids from my towns came in but I live in the “campo” and its coffee picking season and the children have to pick coffee so in their parents eyes an educational basketball camp was out of the question. I posted signs and told all the parents about it (even saying I would accompany them on the bus) but wasn’t surprised when nobody came. I stayed at the facilities with the other volunteers the days that I didn’t have night English class back in my town. Its always fun when we get a bunch of volunteers together to go out and have dinner or a beer or two. After the camp some of the more athletic volunteers played a game against the Perez Zeledon Division 1 basketball team and actually won. Most the volunteers who played are exceptional athletes 3 of them played college sports and one pitched minor league for the Yankees (he ended up rolling his ankle on a rebound and after a trip back to San Jose and an x-ray found out it was broken) That being the only downer to the week.

After the camp finished three of my buddies and I took a remarkable backpacking trip into the heart of Corcovado National Park (supposedly being the most biodiverse place in the world) and that trip belongs in a blog of itself, with lots of pictures so it should be up soon. If you want a preview to it you can read my buddy's blog at he talks about our trip and a visit he took to my town and the are some good pics...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Made it to Costa Rica, again...

Hello my family, friends, and few random people that read strangers’ blogs no offense intended.

So I’m writing this in the middle of August 2010. I came back to Cost Rica about couple of weeks ago and finally settled back into the way of life here, which as I have probably mentioned is way different than my life back in Portland. By the way, my trip home went better than expected, whenever I go home or talk to my family and friends I realize how much I have to look forward to when I come home for good. The only problem is that it makes it even harder to leave that comfort for support. And for an unexplainably reason it was even harder to leave this time. As somebody put it, its “bittersweet”, but that’s life and I am excited to finish what I have come to Costa Rica to do. It’s also crazy to think that I could be home as early as 8 months from now.

So all this made me think, shit I still got a lot to do and I know from other volunteers’ experiences it goes by quick. My remodel on the school is done, but where is the Internet and public phones? This was one of my main goals when I arrived here and time is now a concern. I did receive a positive email after my 10th letter I have written on the subject to different government institutions that basically said that my school was a priority due to the fact that my community doesn’t have a house lines, a public phone or cell service worth a damn. But still waiting, things take way too long; I now understand why Peace Corps is a 2-year commitment. I know the town will receive the satellite dish and phones, it would just be nice to see them implemented while I am still here.

My English classes are going good, before I was teaching 2 classes, twice a week for the School in Ceibo but only one class (all grades 1-6) in San Luis twice a week as well. I have now separated the youngest in both schools so that the older kids can learn more which is especially important for the handful that will go to high school and the few that might make it further to a University.

Waiting, waiting, it seems like I’m always waiting... So I guess its a good thing I teach English because now we are waiting on a couple of engineers to come and inspect a bridge that’s in bad condition and also another creek where a bridge is super necessary. We cant cross the creek when it rains, which isn’t so much a problem for me, but for others that live on the other side it could be a very big danger during an emergency. Oh, also waiting on an engineer to inspect our water tank to see if a filtration system is necessary.

So if you know me, or have listen to me ramble I don’t like to wait and do nothing. So while I am waiting on those projects that may or may not bloom in the next half year or so. I decided to write a proposal to try and build a playground for one of the schools I work with. It would be nice for those who don’t like to play soccer. I’m writing this proposal to the same institution that give us 6,700,000 colones or over 13 thousand dollars for proposal I wrote last year for their cemetery. I would feel pretty good about helping kids get a playground in their community so wish me luck.

Oh, one last thing... I scored a goal to help my town beat our biggest town rival in a soccer game last Sunday. As much as I dislike soccer it does feel good to score goals...

Ok, well that’s all I have time for now, I will put some pics together of my remodel and post them next week, I just got a call from Peace Corps to come to San Jose next Friday for a training session for some new volunteers, so I will have internet for a whole night, lol. Ok take care,

oh, and I met the President of Costa Rica today, that was unexpected. She showed up at a meeting I went to in the City...


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Finnally an update...

School Garden-

One cool thing about Costa Rica is it’s awesome climate for growing foods. I personally have next to nothing experience with gardening, but I quickly realized that growing vegetables in Costa Rica is a breeze. This probably has to do with the tropical climate, nutrient packed and relatively new volcanic soil, and also an abundance of cow and chicken shit to use as fertilizer. The photo above I took from a green house I started with the school kids in my town it’s a couple months old (now the whole green house is full). The actual structure of the green house was already there but needed a few reparations because it had been abandoned five years ago when the ex-teacher retired and moved away. Unfortunately, the new teacher didn’t want to keep the garden in the curriculum for the kids. However, he was open to the idea if I worked with them. People my age from the town remember taking care of the garden being their best memories from their school days, and my goal is to bring that back.

We have planted tomatoes, lettuce, celery, green beans, radishes, carrots, beets, chilies, cucumbers, cilantro, and papaya trees outside of the green house. The kids love it so far, especially because now they eat the same vegtables they planted everyday during lunch. It’s a cool learning process for the kids (and me) and can stick with them for the rest of their lives. It’s also healthy; sadly the majority of the locals don’t grow much of their own veggies for consumption, especially ones with good nutritional value. Resulting, in the majority of meals being heavily rice and beans with sometimes eggs or meat but no veggies because they’re expensive to buy. This garden should change that problem at least in the school. The school’s cook likes the changes and is working with me as well; my hope is that she can keep it going when I leave to be something sustainable for the kids.

MOPT materials

If you have been keeping up with my blog, you might have heard me talk about some materials that MOPT (ministerio de obras publico y transporte) Ministry of public works and transportation) donated after I wrote a solicitation. Below are a couple pictures of the kids from the school in my town (one of two schools I teach English in). The first two pics are taken inside the old school room. You can notice cement (55 bags), wood, paint, a toilet, plywood and hardboard, and square metal bars for security on the windows. We’re in the process of remolding the school and kitchen. Community members that don’t have a salary-paying job (they only make money during the months of picking coffee) are doing the work and getting paid with a program I solicited from the Ministerio de trabajo (Ministry of work). So the project is pretty cool because its bringing a little extra money to families that could use it and when that’s complete, my goal is to get internet, some public phones and turn it into a computer center/library. But it’s a slow process, so I’m taking it one step at a time.

The next photo is of the same school kids after I gave a class on brushing their teeth. The supplies that they are holding were donated by Ashley Carl and the dentist office where she works, thanks again Ash, you’re awesome! In general, Costa Ricans consume copious amounts of sugar. With every meal instead of water they drink refesco, which is nothing more than sugar water. Costa Rica is also known for great coffee; unfortunately the locals will never be ably to taste the difference because they make their coffee extremely weak and very sugary. Needless to say most adults have lost their teeth and have dentures. Since I have given the lecture on teeth hygine the students in both schools now brush their teeth after lunch.

The other pics are of my buddy´s dog Rabito and of coffee I toasted.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I´´m a horrible blogger

Hello everybody and welcome back to my blog, sorry I have slacked off a bit and haven’t updated it in a while, I’ve just been enjoying my time here and haven’t really had time to write. SO, here I go, my town is finally starting to remodel the school with materials I solicited from a government institution; Ministry of Public Works. We´ve had the materials for a few months now but been waiting on the money for wages that I solicited from the Ministry of Work. I can happily report that we received the money and community members are starting the construction on Monday. If all goes well in a couple months the school will be prepared for the internet access and public telephones that I solicited about 6 months ago. Needless to say it’s a slow process, and when that happens I will start soliciting computers for a computer center, that’s my goal anyway. I also just got done writing a solicitation to the environmental government agency to get barrels to start recycling. I am sick and tired of watching everybody burn everything including things that don´t burn and just pollute. Costa Rica has to be one of the more developed countries PeaceCorps is in, So its projects like starting to recycle that could have a lasting effect on the community. And of coarse I´m still working away teaching English.

OK that is what´s going on in my professional life, I have also done some really cool things lately, including scoring my first goal in a soccer game (in my life I think, lol), went on a all day hiking adventure to two remote waterfalls and collected honey from a wild bee hive, it was intense, like harder than hiking out of the Grand Canyon. I also took a trip to Cajuita an awesome Caribbean beach in Talamaca, the culture there is way different and it was a really cool trip I took with 5 other volunteers. I have pics of the waterfall and some other cool stuff but still haven´t transferred them to my computer so expect another update with more photos soon.

Below should be a link to a cool blog a guy is writing that visited my town. There´s a couple pics of me and my buddy Deiner.

Pura vida,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Spending the Holidays Tico style
If you´re reading this you probably know that my family and some awesome friends made the journey down to Costa Rica in December to visit me. In order to save a little money the vacation ended a few days before Christmas. So I headed back to my town exhausted and ready for the slow pace of ¨campo¨ life. It was hard for me to think that it was Christmas, being in sunny and in the 80 and 90s. This Christmas and New years was very different than I had ever spent, but in the end, both holidays passed and I enjoyed them very much, but of coarse Oregon was on my mind.
Holidays in the boonies of Costa Rica involve a lot of killing… Don´t get scared nobody died, just a lot of animals, and boy did they taste good! It all started the 23rd when we killed a few chickens for the tamales that were really good. Here they grind up corn to make the filling, then put some rice, sweet pepper, and green beans in with a piece of Chicken. It’s then all wrapped up in a banana leaf and tied with vines and put in boiling water. They taste delicious and it’s cool that everything comes from the community, they grow or raise everything.
Christmas Eve was interesting I left my house at 5 in the morning to round up a cow that we were going to kill. I even felt bad a little; this cow was the tamest cow I have been around. I walked right up to it, put a rope around its horns and walked it to the creek where we shot it behind the head with the good old 38 special, Lol. I was holding a hind leg while we bleed it out in a bucket for its blood when it gave one last kick, luckily it got me in the shoulder and not the face or I would be missing a few teeth, lol. And of coarse, we never slaughter a cow without the proper toasting material; Guaro (alcohol) We had a shot after we killed it and a few more one we got it back to the barn to part it out. We cut the whole damn thing up into little pieces for the Christmas barbeque. The hooves, spine, intestines and other parts will be saved for soup.
The Christmas party was at my host dads parent´s house, about 50 people came and we barbequed, drank and let off fireworks, (some mortars, and quarter sticks of dynamite) it was pretty cool actually. The meat taste good, some better than others, I’m sure the more tender pieces were the better parts of the cow, but it was all mixed together so who knows what part I was eating. Oh, and the bbq is a little different, the put a couple blocks of cement down build a fire in-between and lay the back to an old refrigerator for the grill (the radiator part) Surprisingly it worked. One thing is for sure, they are resourceful.
New Years Eve was nice too. I few less people, another bbq, but this time with a pig, they killed a pig the day before so this time it was bbq pork, that I think I liked better than the cow, either way it was good. And some ceviche (fish cured in limon) and of coarse some more guaro and even some beers, which is a must for New Years. And there was even some karaoke going on inside, but I stayed outside in my comfort zone, I hate karaoke, in English let alone Spanish lol. In the end, my holidays went by very nicely.
Ok, well that was a quick version of my holidays in the Campo of Costa Rica. Hope all yours went by nicely!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Today is a bittersweet day…

It’s only a few days before Christmas, and I just got done spending just over a week with the best family and friends I could ask for. It’s exactly for that reason why it’s a bittersweet day.

I had been looking forward to this visit since that cold March Monday morning when I left a perfectly good life to live in the boonies, without any of the comfort and material things that we all get so used to in the States for a very different but equally satisfying life as a Peace Corps Volunteer. In the weeks maybe even months before I left I had many “going away get togethers” and tried to at least meet up with all my friends before I was to leave and put my life on hold for 27 months. I don’t think it really hit me until the Friday before I left when I went snowboarding for the last time, although I was 100 percent sure on my decision; to call last run on the mountain when you know you wont be back for 2 seasons is a hard one.

A couple days later I told my family and friends that I wanted pizza for my last meal with everybody. That Sunday about 20 or 30 great people met me for one last beer and a slice at Old Chicago. It was there that I realized; I had to say goodbye. It had been easy for me to say for over a year, “well, I want to go in the Peace Corps, but I don’t know if I’ll get accepted” and then it changed to, “well its still months away”, and day by day months changed to weeks and weeks changed to days. Finally there was no hiding the fact that I was leaving, while it wasn’t the hardest thing I have ever had to do, it was very difficult to leave a perfect family and great friends that have always been there for me for a life of the unknown.

That was 9 months ago, and now the unknown is here and it’s a little town called San Luís in Costa Rica. I can now say that I didn’t put my life on hold but rather opened a new chapter like college but way more satisfying and clearer minded. I made Peace Corps friends during training and our bond will last for all of our service and the few times we see each other during the year always makes for a good time. And my friends and family in my town are very important to me, in fact my job here would be very hard or not worth it if I hadn’t forged great friendships. But nobody can replace those of you from home, and that is why I had been waiting for this vacation since the day I left Oregon.

My family and friends arrived in Costa Rica and I was waiting for them outside the airport with a couple of Peace Corps buddies that wanted to meet them. It was a surprise for my mom and sister that brought a few tears out. Immediately we fell right back in place. We all told many stories that I had missed out on and I let them in on my life here that doesn’t always get put in my blog. They came to my town for a soccer tournament; John was a hit, who played for my team scoring one goal and 2 assists, and all the chicas thought he was hot. After the game they came to my house and met more of my family and tried to communicate with them. The lady that I live with made Arroz con leche, miel de chiotte, tamal, and coconut cookies. And her husband prepared moonshine sweetened with a bunch of stuff but still real strong (ask Steve about it). We also picked a couple of oranges form a tree behind my house and surprisingly in the end almost everybody told me that seeing where I live was the highlight of their trip. My family here was equally happy to meet my real family and it was a great day.

A few days later Dieter, Steph, John and I rented quads and rode them back to my town. Dieter and Steph weren´t in CR yet when we previously went my town, not to mention I had to pick up Janet, my lady friend. It was about an hour quad ride from our awesome house in Dominical to my town in the mountains. She was real surprised by the house but so was I, (dad you picked a great house) and she went with us to two national parks, Manual Antonio and Corcovado which we took a boat ride to get to and walked around a forest for a bit, which was cool but we can see the same wildlife in my town so that wasn’t that big of a deal and I didn’t know there was a waterfall and area to swim in, which we would have all rather have done, since it was real hot. However the boat ride through a Mangrove, and then into the ocean was cool for all of us, especially Janet who had never been on any boat in her life. When she left, she told me it was her favorite vacation ever.

Throughout the week we did a lot of stuff, enough that it was nice sometimes to get back and relax at the house. I was not used to staying up till the wee hours of the mourning or drinking like we did, so needless to say I was exhausted and although I didn’t want to leave everybody, I needed life to slow down again. I hadn’t even thought about how it was going to be hard to say goodbye once again until the last night that I was with them. They continued their trip for another day and a half but I had an end of the year party and graduation to attend in my town. That night we did a Christmas gift exchange and watched a lightning storm that was pretty cool. But I soon realized that I had that same feeling that I did 9 months before in Portland, knowing that the next morning, I’d have to say goodbye again. And once again it sucked, to say the least. Coincidently, in another 9 months I will be coming home for Gatto and Heather´s wedding, and once again I am already excited to see my family and friends that I just said goodbye to, and of coarse all of you that I wasn´t able to see.

Dad thanks for finding such a cool house, you made it a great trip, and I appreciate all the work you put in, and all the emails you sent. To the rest of you, I love you guys and had a blast with all of you. And don´t worry Hill your big brother will be home in 9 months to give you more crap!

Take care, Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all!

Oh and sorry for the lack of photos, everybody else took pics this vacation and Im sure they will send the to me and I can get them up...
Pura Vida,