Friday, August 15, 2008

My Last Day in Cost Rica

First of all I need to make a comment about my last post. My birthday post. At that time I was feeling really down and very home sick. I was done and ready to go home. But my friends sprung into action and took me out to dinner. I got to pick the restaurant and chose a place called Morpho´s Cafe. They had traditional Costa Rican food. It was great. It wasn´t anything spectacular, but the gesture turned my day around and I went to bed feeling much better about being me. Thank goodness. It would have made the last few days of my trip torture.

We are now in a town on the Costa Rican coast called Quepos. It is idillic. We stayed in a beach front hotel and I spent the day relaxing on the beach. It was beautiful. We are going home tomorrow so I will be able to post some pictures of my trip. It´s been a fun experience, but I am looking forward to going home.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yep. Today is the day. This day 30 some odd years ago I made my way into this world. And unfortunately, I´m not all that excited about it being my birthday. I´m in Costa Rica. This should be an awesome birthday. But we spent the morning traveling from Arenal (an ACTIVE volcano) to Monteverde (the cloud forest). But this was no ordinary travel. We all piled into this minivan type of vehicle and drove down the mountain on a dirt road full off rocks and pot holes. To try and avoid the pot holes, our driver was all over the dirt road. It felt like a roller coaster, but not the good kind. After about a half hour of a bone jaring ride, we got to the ferry where we had to drag our luggage down the side of a hill... in the pouring rain!!! The 45 minute ferry ride was the most enjoyable part of our trip. Once we got to the other side it was another 2 HOURS of bone jaring turbulence through the hills. Oh, did I forget to tell you that Costa Rica doesn´t believe in paved roads? COME ON!!! Almost 2 hours of this. I almost went batty. Happy Birthday to me.

So here I am in Saint Elena, Costa Rica. It´s wet, foggy and humid outside. I´m sore and tired and all I really want to do for my birthday is veg and watch a good movie. But alas, our hotel room doesn´t even have a TV. It´s that kind of weather where all you want to do is curl up on the couch in front of a toasty fire with a cup of hot chocolate and either watch TV or read a book. Oh, but with the horid humidity I´d probably scrap the fire and hot chocolate and trade it for air conditioning and smoothy. OK. I should stop lementing. It could be worse. It could always be worse.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A House is Almost Built

We just finished our project with Habitat for Humanity. We didn´t get to finish the house, but we did make a big dent and were definately a huge help to the construction team. It was hard manual labor, but I´m so glad I did it.

OK. I have to vent for a moment. One thing that drives me CRAZY is the staring and the talking about me in Spanish as if I don´t know they are talking about me. It happens ALL THE TIME!!! For those of us in the group that don´t speak Spanish, it is driving us NUTS not knowing what they´re saying about us. It´s so obvious they are talking about us because when we look at them, they are staring at us and quickly look away as if they weren´t. It´s starting to get on my nerves. But... what do you do? Do I really want to know what they are saying? Probably not. But I swear if I am ever in the situation where I´m the native with foreigners about, I will not talk about them. It´s flat out rude!

Yesterday we went to this extremely poverty stricken neighborhood. It was heart wrenching. Our driver has his hand in all these local humanitarian efforts. One of them is this partnership with a friend of his from the States who send him $500 a month. He takes this money to buy food to feed the kids of this neighborhood every day. It´s this long dirt road of 1 room shacks made out of scraps of wood. Most of the shacks are maybe 5 feet by 5 feet. Some might be a little bigger, but not by much. The Peace Corp volunteer in the area said that it´s hard because they try to help these families escape the poverty, but a lot of them just end up taking what is given them (clothes, land, homes) and selling them for money and remaining in the same conditions the volunteers were trying to get them out of. It´s what is familiar. It´s sad.

Today while we were working it started to pour down rain. But what was a little rain when we were already drenched with sweat. But I have to point out that the 7 women in our group were out in the rain shoveling dirt and gravel and moving it in the wheelbarrel while our token male was hiding in the alley way under the awning trying to stay dry. SERIOUSLY!?!? Hats off to all the women (myself included) who weren´t afraid of getting dirty and getting the job done.

I´ll have pictures to post when I get home. But for now I should sign off because the guys in this Internet Cafe are having a field day at our expense. We are off for our last day in Honduras tomorrow - river rafting and swimming under the waterfalls.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Truly Humbling Experience

How many people do you know that will take time off work, go to a foreign country, pay to build a house and then sweat from every pore to build that house without the use of modern tools? If you said ZERO, well you can now say ONE. Me. I don´t say this with an arogant heart, but a "Wow, this is a really cool thing I´ve chosen to do" heart. I didn´t really think about it much before I came. I was just thinking how cool it would be to go to Honduras and "Oh by the way, I"ll build a house for Habitat for Humanity while I´m at it." I can´t begin to describe what it´s like. We are building a 36x36 foot house for a family of four. It will have a living room, a bathroom, a kitchen and 2 small bedrooms. One of the bedrooms may fit a bed, but not much else. These people have just the bare essentials and they are so grateful for our help. I wish I could explain it. I will post some pictures when I get home, but I just want to say that if any of you love to travel and wouldn´t mind manual labor, this is probably one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.

PS. I´m still in Honduras using a computer at an Internet cafe that has a Spanish keyboard (and yes, they are different than an English keyboard) so if you notice any spelling mistakes... ignore them. The spell check won´t work.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I'm leavin' on a jet plane...

Well, this is it. Only 30 minutes left until I leave. I'v been so stressed trying to get ready that I really haven't had time to get excited about it. Hopefully I will have a good time and once I leave I can leave my regular life behind and have a nice vacation.

So tonight at the wee hour of 1:35am I board a flight to Honduras. With a layover in San Salvador and a 2-3 hour bus ride once we arrive, we should get to our final destination of La Cieba, Honduras sometime tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully I will be able to find an internet cafe somewhere so I can post some of our adventures. If not, I'll definately fill you all in when I get back.

See ya'll later.