A Travellerspoint blog

At the Spanish School

Here I am, staying with an amazing, lovely Costa Rican lady called Felicia, and her funny little dog, Jack and 2 cats, Pepe and Luca. I can say with complete honesty that this is by far the craziest thing I have ever done in my whole life. I never ever thought it would be possible for me to do something like this.

The first night I got here, Felicia had all her family come over. They are lovely people, and I felt quite frustrated that I couldn't communicate with them through language only with smiles and gestures. Her daughter works at the mini golf, so we all went to play mini golf. That was a wonderful way of communicating without language. Bit nerve wracking at first because I was so nervous I was taking 7 and 8 shots to pot the ball, but my mini golf skills improved and i even got a huyo in uno! They are such a loving family and welcome me so whole heartedly, it is quite amazing, to witness. Especially for my reserved British self. There was no winner or loser in the mini golf too, I was interested to note, something which I think sums something up about the Costa Rican people and their attitude to the world.

I'm only getting odd little snatches on computers at the minute, as things are so busy and it's quite hard to get to computers as I don't want to be rude to Felicia, and not really to keen to go out in the dark by myself in San Jose. Have absolutely no bearings at all yet. Although I did get to the school alone on the bus this morning so that feels like another small achievement.

The Spanish school is really well organised, they are very patient and kind, and constantly making sure we are fine and have no problems. The entire class is in Spanish and I learnt so much on the first day, they have pitched it at the perfect level for me. I'm quite plesed because I am a little bit higher than the very first level so my spanish classes must have paid off! Met some really nice people here too, so nice to have interesting chats, although they are in english! My class consists of me and a really fun Norweigan man called Peter who likes sailing and has been to Newcastle lots of times on the ferry! Oh there's the bell for the start of class the bells are funny, like being back at school! Better go, I'll try and write more later, still so much to tell you all......

Posted by kael 07:36 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Bus ride was fine....

all that worrying for nothing it´s the story of my life

Just a really quick one to say I made it to San JOse. The bus ride was fine, amazing views and passed all these brilliant little places with people selling hammocks and dried fruit, and other things that I´ve never seen before. The Coca Cola bus terminal is supposed to be the dodgiest part of San Jose, but it looked like nothing compared to LA! So now I´m just waiting for Leonel to pick me up to take me to Felicia´s house, my ama de casa. I have a few phrases ready, about my barrio and my likes and dislikes...but will probably get nervous and say all the wrong words! oh well, at least I´ve done the thing I was most worried about and that was the bus journey. Can´t believe I found an internet cafe just round the corner from the Spanish School! So I´m sure it´s going to be hand gestures and facial expressions a plenty for the next 3 weeks!

Posted by kael 12:30 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (1)

Walking through the forest canopy

and preparing for the buses.....

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Yesterday I went on a guided walk on these suspension bridges through the forest canopy. It's a completely different ecosystem up there to the ground and so is really interesting. I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed by it actually. I had to go to the back to hide my emotion, it was all a bit much for me. So amazing to be up there just like the birds and all the sloths and other creatures. The guide was brilliant, he was from the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and told us lots of lovely stories about the plants and their uses. The forest is just full of medicines and foods and amazing uses. So the photo is of the tallest fern in the world (very likely anyway). The ferns here are massive trees, I didn't even know that ferns grow so high.
Last night I couldn't sleep thinking there was a hurricane. Huge gusts of wind all around. But it was okay, just a bit windy and me being paranoid.....
So taking it easy today, no guided walks today. I need to have a rest and learn some spanish because i go to San Jose on the bus tomorrow, to start the Spanish school. Really nervous about the journey and experiencing Central American buslife....I've bought my ticket though so don't have to worry about that part. Then have to make a phonecall in Spanish today to Spanish school driver and that is also making me very nervous. So in general today I'm feeling nervous and tired and have a stomach in knots. But still feeling good, and enjoying the challenges and wondering what tomorrow will bring. You never quite know here.

Posted by kael 10:32 Comments (0)

My dramatic walk through the rainforest at night

and a big insect possibility.....

I went on the most amazing guided walk last night. Monteverde is not a cloud forest for nothing, the rain can be torrential and it is every day at least once, normally more than that. So I went through the forest in the dark, with a guide called Sergio, he has lived in MOnteverde all his life and seemed to know every little nook and cranny of the forest and made it all seem perfectly safe. Even when he was joking to the man from LA in our group that the jaguars always eat the last person in the line! So the rain was pounding all around us, but I was okay because I had my waterproof poncho and my hiking boots. There was lightning striking all around us it was so dramatic! There was a wonderful moment when he made us all turn off our torches and we stood there for ages in the dark listening to the sounds and he said "this is how it is being an animal in the forest". So we saw nectar eating bats, a hole made by a tarantuala (he said it was there last night but must have been eaten), walking sticks (big green stick insects), loads of crickets. Then the most exciting part.....a snake eating a lizard!!!!! my first ever view of a snake in the wild! in the costa rican rainforest at night eating a lizard! how exciting is that???!! this is what i came all this way for! and it was particularly exciting because these snakes live in trees and rarely come to the ground so we were very lucky to see it. We stood for ages watching this snake eating a lizard. No photos, I didn't even bother trying in the dark and with all the rain.
Looks like the bird project has folded....my big reason for coming to Costa Rica! maybe just the catalyst though....all the emails are bouncing back and the website has gone down. So I was wondering about that...then today, i visited a wonderful butterfly garden. I chatted to these two english girls who are volunteering, they leave next week and said that they are looking for volunteers! so it is free and they provide all food and lodging. I stayed there about 5 hours chatting with them and met the biologist, Zac, a really nice man from Utah and he said they'd love to have me there! So you give guided walks and look after the plants and he is an insect specialist so imagine how much i will learn about insects from him. There are two tica girls too so i'll get to speak spanish too! so that all feels like a very exciting possibility. I have the email and he said they will expect me in 3 weeks after my spanish school otherwise contact him to let him know I can't do it. So maybe I shouldn't feel so bad about the birds.....after birds my big love is butterflies, so maybe it happened like that for a reason? well let's see what happens.....

Posted by kael 18:15 Comments (1)

Costa Rica is unimaginably beautiful!!!!!!!!!

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I made it to Costa Rica!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!here i am, like a dream in the cloud forest, Monteverde!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have had the most amazing journey since I last wrote. LA was so wonderful and I felt so sad to leave Andrew and Lenny and the Californian fun and sunshine. I had such butterflies in my stomach, getting on the plane. I went through Dallas and American airlines hate vegetarians but at least I´d stocked up on vegan delights in LA, I didn´t need their food anyway..... and Dallas just made me think of that horrible programme from my childhood and the way it tried to implant the capitalist mentality into me....(and I probably shouldn´t talk about that on here, because i guess that´s how I´ve got to Costa Rica?)
anyway, i´m diverting......
I suppose what I´m trying to say is that when I got on the plane I felt like I was going to another planet almost. My first view of the Costa Rican people was one of complete warmth. I had such a good feeling as soon as I got on that plane at Dallas. I sat next to a lovely warm hearted Costa Rican lady and we smiled at each other lots and both probably looked quite nervous to the outside world.
So I arrived in San Jose, expecting a complete scary hustle and bustle of taxi drivers grabbing my bag. Instead I had very polite men welcoming me to their country and asking if I´d like a taxi....I´d booked this shuttle which never turned up and one man did get quite persistant, although in a quite unthreatening way, but his taxi was in the parking lot (and I wasn´t walking across a parking lot with anyone), so in the end I just took a red one that looked official to get away from him. So arrived at Casa Hilda, where the owner, Luis made me feel very welcome. My room was a little bit like a windowless cell, but in the morning I had a lovely (much welcome) breakfast of tropical fruits and toast, and had nice chats with 2 couples, Spanish and German. They all seemed impressed I was alone and gave me lots of support and good wishes.
Then the best part.... I got this touristy shuttle I´d booked online to Monteverde. The photo above is of the driver, Pedro. There was just the two of us so we had the most amazing drive and chatted all the way. I apologised (in Spanish) for my Spanish and he was so laid back just saying "we practise". His English was about on the same level as my Spanish (very basic) so we had this most amazing 6 hour drive where he showed me all the sites, and taught me lots of words and phrases and made me feel so welcome and so much more confident about speaking Spanish. I showed him my postcards of North Shields, he thought it looked beautiful! Haha wonder what he´d think if he got the metro......unfortunately I didn´t have the vocabulary to explain so I just agreed that yes it was beautiful.
He took me round all the sites of Monteverde and kept getting out to pick fruit off the trees for us to eat in the car, and stopping to show me howler monkeys in the trees and to look at all the best views. He gave me a Costa Rican flag because he has two, la bandera. Everyone seems to have flags on their car windows, the people seem very proud of their country and it is so so beautiful I can see why. It seems different to the Union Jacks in North Shields. So when I took his photo he had his flag in his hand, and he picked a lovely flower for me to hold and took my photo (but i look awful in it so you probably won´t see that one!) Then when we got to Monteverde, the hotel I reserved forgot about me so Pedro helped me find another room. He gave me his guide book to Central America and said I must contact him if I have any problems in Costa Rica. He was so kind, and wouldn´t take a tip just wanted a coca cola but then a massive storm started and it all went a bit crazy with a torrential downpour and thunder and lightning and he accepted money instead of a coca cola...
Sorry this is really long, I won´t be offended if you are asleep now.
I´ll just say quick about where I´m staying. A lovely cabina with a really nice costa rican family. The man is called Eddy and he is so kind too. and I have my own bathroom and they have a kitchen so I went to the supermarket and cooked myself a lovely meal, so don´t have to worry about the chicken stock and lard for now. Eddy can book me tours so I have big plans for my time in Monteverde, I´m going to see so much crazy wildlife. I already have. Thousands of butterflies flying all round the car with Pedro and vultures flying overhead. I have seen the famous blue morpho butterfly already (blue similar to a kingfisher)and I´ve only been here one day!
So just to let you all know, Costa Rica is 100 times more beautiful than I imagined, I can tell already. I feel completely safe (although obviously totally watching my back and being careful still). The people are amazing and I feel so so unbelievably lucky and honoured to be here.......

Posted by kael 19:25 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (1)

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