Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Mal Pais, Costa Rica with amazing friends in an amazing home!!!

first semester: check

Yesterday I finished my first semester as a second grade teacher at Lincoln. There is a huge part of me that can't believe it has already been 4 months, but when I think back on everything I have done and seen in the past four months, it seems like it has been longer. Tomorrow I leave to head back to the USA for the holidays, the first time I have returned home since I came down in July. My roommate has already gone home, so it is pretty quiet around my house, and I have had some time to think... about my life here, about going home to see friends and family and my dog, Bentley!! I realized just how fortunate I am. I am so lucky. I have a wonderful life. Last night I celebrated completing the semester with great friends who I have met here. I really did not know who or what I would stumble upon when I moved to Costa Rica, but I have met people who will leave lasting impressions on me, and people who I have, in such a short time, created amazing memories!! Seriously, lucky. And that is not even all, tomorrow I will fly back to Michigan to spend time with my dear family and enjoy celebrating another Christmas together. I will get to see my 4 year old niece rip open her presents from Santa, which will be great, since I haven't seen her in about a year!! Then I will be off to Colorado to reconnect with friends who became family in the past 10 years of living there! I will visit places I used to frequent all the time, see old friends, visit with family, hit up the ski slopes.... I can not wait.

Maybe what I am trying to do here is reflect upon how incredibly fortunate I am! Moving to Costa Rica was a leap, one that many people were unsure of, including myself... but I knew I needed a change. I am so happy I did it. It has changed me. I know when I go back to the states tomorrow, and see the people who I love, it will be like I haven't skipped a beat. Sometimes life is hard. I was stuck... but I can say today that I could not be happier with the decision I made last November.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.~ Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

daily life in chepe

I haven't been doing the best job keeping up with this blog- and honestly, I know it isn't the most exciting read, but I hope to look back one day and remember these moments!

So... Life in Chepe

Never have I felt so busy, well at least not that I can remember. I'm sure I have been. Our schedule here is busy, obviously working the day job as a second grade teacher. Our weekly schedule is very crazy and it changes everyday, so that alone is hard to keep up with sometimes. Luckily, my kids are finally getting a handle on the schedule, so that helps!

Many people keep asking, how is your Spanish coming along? Well... to be completely honest,  it is still       s  l  o  w  l  y  coming along. I have a Spanish class every Monday after school, and I haven't missed one yet! She moves quickly and covers a lot in a short 45 minute time period. It turns out you can't learn Spanish in 45 minutes a week! So recently, I started studying once a week with my friend, Kim, it usually involves food and wine, but we also study! I have found that it helps me to review and try to talk more, but I still have so much to learn. I can understand more than I did when I came here 4 months ago, but don't expect a response (unless I have had a few glasses of wine, then I think I can speak Spanish).
I have also determined it is difficult to practice when most of your friends are gringos and speak English. I know I need to get out there, find some activities to participate in that will help me meet Spanish speaking friends... but then I go back to the issue of being "busy". Oh well, I have plenty of time, right?

The more time I spend here, the closer I get to my new Costa Rican amigos! I have really enjoyed spending time with the people here and still feel so lucky to work with and be friends with a great group of people. It is so nice that the school environment creates an amazing community of people, and that everyone is so welcoming and friendly. I know I will be so sad when I have to say goodbye to those who have fulfilled their 2 year (or more!) commitment this summer... but I also know I have made some wonderful friends along the way and I still have 7 months of time left to enjoy them!

Boy did I luck out, living with a roommate that owns a care has serious perks!!! I have been spoiled and I am the first to admit it. Don't get me wrong, I still rely on walking, taxi's and the teacher bus to get me around, but not nearly as much as I would if I didn't live with Elle!  I take the teacher bus to school most mornings, it comes around 7 and picks us up right outside the apartment. I rarely take the teacher bus home due to after school activities (Spanish, spinning and yoga) but even in those cases, I either ride with Elle or convince someone to take me home! If I can't walk, which is often, there are always taxi's available, and while it isn't expensive, it certainly adds up after awhile. However, it is safer than walking alone at night and that is by far the most important!

Overall, I feel pretty safe here. I feel safe at home, safe walking around during the daytime and even safe out at night if I am with friends. Our apartment is in a nice gated complex, and because Costa Ricans are super paranoid about safety, EVERYWHERE has a guard. So we have a few guards who are always working, which adds a small element of security. As far as being out and about, as long as you are cautious and aware of your surroundings there isn't much to worry about. Which I think you can say about almost anywhere in the world.

I never, ever, in a million years thought I would say it... but it actually gets COLD here! I know, I know.... crazy, right? But it's true!! This is coming from a Michigan girl born and raised, who lived in Colorado and loves snowboarding... but it is a little chilly, people! Obviously, it is not snowing or anything... but I am surprised at the temperatures. We are just finishing up rainy season around here, or so I hear, but for the month of October it rained almost every afternoon and that was pretty miserable. You aren't really leaving the house in the rain because it sucks to walk anywhere and you can't get a cab... so I spent many lazy evenings in. Now the rain has subsided, but the wind has picked up and the temperatures have dropped. I must admit, it feels like fall, and I enjoy being able to wear my fall clothes. I get to wear pants, leggings, boots, lightweight long sleeves, it really is like fall! I have heard it stays this way through January and then our dry beautiful summer begins!

Well, I think that is enough updating for now... not sure you learned much about life in chepe.. but it is a good start. Thanks for reading, if you even made it this far!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Wow, I can't believe it has been so long since I have posted... I guess life gets away from us sometimes. So much has happened since my last post, and it would take forever to write all of it... so how about a quick break down. I have continued to become more and more comfortable here in Costa Rica. I have gotten to know people better, am settling in (and making changes!) at work and continuing to adjust to my new life. While there have been times that I have missed home, friends and family... overall, I am still so happy with the decision I made to come here.

One of the reasons I came: TRAVEL
I have been given so many wonderful opportunities to travel around Costa Rica! Fortunately, it is really easy to get around here and it especially helps when your roommate and friends have cars! A big group of gringos took a trip to Nosara back in September and it was wonderful. It was quiet, relaxing and beautiful!

For another long weekend, a few girls (Elle, Kim, Jessica, Rachel, Vale and I) got out of town for a nice little trip to Tamaridno (or Tamagringo!). Since it is low season, it really wasn't too busy, but it was the perfect busy for a girls weekend away. We got to surf, enjoy nice dinners, dance and have fun all weekend! We did have an interesting experience with a crocodile swimming in the ocean, yes, in the ocean! Luckily, we were warned about the crocodile before it did any damage to us, but there was an out of town surfer there who can not say the same. We read in an article on the way home that weekend that a man was attacked! We can't believe we didn't see it happen since we were on the beach the whole weekend!
Can you see the croc?
Amazing sunset in Tamarindo

Whale watching: Uvita! Asecol (an organization through work) organized a group tour to Uvita to go whale watching. It was a fantastic deal! We had a private tour bus, private tour and a fabulous time watching whales and lounging at the beach! We were taken out on small boats to see the humpback whales... and we got to see them! It was so amazing! They are so big, its unbelievable. It is something I would like to do again while I am here. We also got to jump off the boat and swim out in the middle of the ocean. There were probably about 20 of us swimming in the water. It was very nice.

Humpback whale!
Cahuita was another great escape. I traveled with Kim, Stacy and Jessica for the weekend to the Caribbean coast. We visited Cahuita which is a small, sleepy town that is home to a National Park. It was amazing, and it turns out, not so sleepy after all. We went into the park and saw monkeys, sloths, birds, a sting ray, a million sand dollars and the clearest water I have ever seen in my life. We had an amazing weekend and managed to make our own fun. When there are 4 gringas looking for a fun evening on the town, it turns out its not too hard to find!


So beautiful!!!

I feel so lucky to have been on these vacations. Life is not one big vacation, I do work, but I am so fortunate to be able to spend my weekends exploring Costa Rica. Coming soon, I will write more about Life in San Jose, work, you know... the day to day things!

Friday, September 27, 2013

revenge of the rip tide!

Last Saturday, I went to the beach with 2 friends. It was my first time visiting this beach, Playa Hermosa, it is just south of Jaco. We have been told time and time again about the dangerous rip tide, but we hadn't even taken the time to consider it before a friend went in for a swim. We were only about 10 minutes into our beach day... Elle and I were sitting in our beach chairs and Ruth was swimming. All of the sudden we heard a loud scream, "HELP!!!!" My stomach sank, Elle and I looked at each other and started running as fast as we could to the water. Elle looked to me and said, "Are you a stronger swimmer, I used to be a life guard" Quickly, I replied, "Yes, but maybe you should go." So I stayed about knee-deep and Elle started swimming in.... the waves were big and I was nervous. Elle got about chest deep and turned back to me and gave me a look that can only be described as hopeless and afraid. She told me to yell for help and that's when I knew we were in trouble, serious trouble. I started screaming, screaming as loud as I could, "HELP! HELP! Someone please help us!" I really can't remember, but all I know is I was scared, Elle was trying to work her way back in and I was trying to keep my eyes on Ruth, making sure she had her head above water... the waves were so big I'd lose her... at one point I couldn't see her head... one wave came... then another... still no Ruth. Finally her head popped up... thank goodness!!!! Sometime during all of that a surfer came running toward us and yelled at me to get back to the sand. He headed out into the ocean in full rescue mode. Another guy started swimming out too and helped Elle as she made it back to shore. It felt like forever... Elle and I standing on shore waiting... hoping, both thinking we were watching our friend die. A crowd had built up upon the shore... all hoping that Ruth would be okay. The surfer made his way out to her and luckily she had the energy to keep herself above water and she was okay. He helped her onto the board and swam about 50 yards to the left before bringing her in. There were about 10 other surfers in the water ready to help as needed. We were so lucky. Had we been on that beach alone there's no telling what the outcome may have been. It was by far the scariest experience in my life. We learned a valuable lesson that day... to always always always check the currents. Watch the water and be so cautious while we swim. We were lucky... but I don't ever want to experience that again.

Friday, September 20, 2013


it's Friday... I am exhausted and relieved it is the weekend! I realized I have not written in awhile, so I thought I would take some time today. I looked at the date on the lower right hand corner of the computer and realized that 2 months ago today I was packing up the last of my little home in Denver, saying goodbye to friends and my sweet puppy. A part of me feels like I have been here so much longer than 2 months, but another part of me feels like it is flying by. The good thing is, it feels like home. I am comfortable, I have nice friends and colleagues, and I am finally in a routine. Between Spanish, spinning, yoga and now kickboxing, my Mon-Thurs stay busy! With my weekends, I have been fortunate to have already been to many beautiful beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and seen some beautiful landscape along the way! It really has been an easy adjustment so far...

I am settling in at work as well, it is always tough to start a new job and learn the way things are done. For awhile I was pretty down about things, because I don't really agree 100% with my team about best practices for teaching. With all of the work I have done in the past few years to become the teacher I am, it was difficult for me to let that all go and teach in a way I don't really believe in. So, I have been quiet at meetings and figured out how to incorporate the necessary curriculum while teaching the way I want. Luckily, the curriculum coordinator, Kasey, supports me in that decision. In the past week or two I have started speaking up a little more, asking a few more questions, sharing more ideas (and they are becoming more welcomed) during the team meetings. It turns out, having 7 years of teaching experience, I do know a little bit about teaching! So slowly I am teaching other people about things I love and believe in, such as Daily 5, teaching vocabulary and grammar within context, individualizing instruction to meet the needs of my students and people are slowly opening up to new ideas. With 100% of my students being English Language Learner's, I really get to put my new Master's degree to use! I have to remember that change is hard but as long as I continue with what I believe is right then I am doing the best job I can for my students...

thanks for reading!

Monday, September 2, 2013

puerto viejo!

This past weekend I took my first trip to the Caribbean in Costa Rica! It was beautiful! There was a group of nine and we left immediately after work on Friday to catch the 4 o'clock bus to the beach! It was along trip, but it was worth it! We stayed in little cabinas (Cabinas Selvin, I believe) in Punta Uva... they were rustic, but affordable and had kitchens. I wish you could have seen the size of the insects! I was too afraid of them to take pictures! They were HUGE! Here is a few pictures of the place though...

a bedroom- with a net for the HUGE bugs!
front porch with hammock!

The kitchen!

 We spent Saturday at the beach, it was beautiful! The water was clear and warm and the beer was cold and delicious! We had a delicious lunch (I had fish tacos with Caribbean rice and beans) and then we headed back to the place to shower up and prepare for a night on the town!

Some of the crew

Could this be any more relaxing?

Que lindo!

 We headed into town for dinner and ate at a place called Chile Rojo. I had FRESH Marlin with rice and veggies and it was only about 13bucks! I was pretty pleased with that! It was delicious and affordable! A few of us stayed out to enjoy the night life and I am glad I did. There were many bars with dancing and music and the culture of the Caribbean in Costa Rica is really neat! There was a bar that played all Spanish music and it was fun to watch people salsa dance, other bars played Rasta music and the dance floors were packed! While I have never been to Jamaica, it felt like it could be a similar feel. It was a wonderful night!

It's blurry, but it is the group sin Meghan at dinner! A bunch of lookers, eh? :)

Sunday was another beautiful day at the beach, a delicious meal at a place called Bread and Chocolate and a bus trip home! Needless to say, I was exhausted when I got home... but it was all worth it! Another great weekend in the books! It was pura vida!