February 14, 2017
I knew from the beginning that blogging would become more and more difficult as my weeks become busier. Some weeks are spent relaxing and laying outside on our ‘quad,’ while others are spent actually writing papers for art class (who knew I’d have to write papers in ART… ugh).
Last weekend, I got to experience life in another country. We went to Bocas del Torro in Panama, which is just South of Costa Rica and only takes four hours to drive to. It was pretty amazing how easy it was to see another place and culture, only a bus ride away. We got to experience the night life in the little beach town, along with snorkeling and beachin’ it during the day. Panama had its similarities to Costa Rica, but also its differences. The culture remained pretty similar, with the relaxed lifestyle. Panama definitely had more poverty than Costa Rica in the rural areas, with several houses seeming to be made of nothing but boards.
Bocas del Torro was basically a melting pot of many different cultures. It was awesome to see people from so many different places come together and socialize. I met people from Sweden, Finland, the U.S., and even Venezuela. Everyone was super friendly, which does not surprise me at this point. To get to our hostel we had to take a four hour bus ride to the border, cross the border and go through customs, take a 45-minute taxi ride to a dock, and then finally take a boat 45-minutes across the ocean (not a trip for those who get incredibly motion sick).
Although it rained here and there on Sunday, overall, the trip was worth it. I got to watch the super bowl from Panama and I now have 90 more days in Costa Rica if I want em.’ 😉
The week back from Panama went oddly quick. Some friends and I went on a four-mile hike in Acosta Wednesday, and almost got stranded in the middle of nowhere because we couldn’t find an Uber back to San José (embrace the fact that you people have data wherever you go, life is hard without it!!). We left early Friday morning for Puerto Viejo, which was a trip full of experiences.
Puerto Viejo is a little beach town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, and is a total hippie town. I mean, people with dreads EVERYWHERE and the pure definition of people who are living the simple life (for some, a smelly life… lol). Friday night we slept in hammocks in a hostel on the beach, and Saturday night we upgraded to sleeping in a tent (yes, a tent was an upgrade).
I thought I’d be really good at living this lifestyle until a rat ate through my entire grocery bag full of food, through my tupperware, and through three of my five peanut butter sandwiches that I brought to save money on lunches. When I woke up to that crime scene on Saturday morning, I honestly did not know how I was going to last another night… but I did!
Saturday during the day, we were biking through the town when my last two sandwiches flew out of Erica’s bike basket and got run over by a car. Apparently I wasn’t meant to eat food this past weekend. Biking through Puerto Viejo was incredible because everything was completely green and blue, and we were so close to the ocean. You could see the water through the trees- a view I hope I will always remember.
I had the chance to solely hangout on the beach all weekend, which provided me with a nice dose of sunshine. I had to completely let go of the idea of a nice shower, putting on make up, and having a fully charged phone with constant Internet access. It was an amazing experience because of the fact that I got to fully separate myself from the rest of the world. All that mattered was talking to the people I was with and being in the present moment. There was a full moon on Saturday, and sitting on the beach with the waves crashing at my feet while looking at the reflection of the moon on the water was a beautiful, beautiful sight.
It was refreshing to be in a town that wasn’t so touristy because we were definitely fully immersed in the culture of this little beach town. Puerto Viejo was special in its own way, although I probably wouldn’t last there for a whole week. I wholeheartedly admit that eventually, yo girl needs a hot shower and cozy bed (Sunday night came just in time…:)).
Today I had my first day of volunteering at a local daycare in town. The kids were so flippin’ cute, and I have a feeling they are going to bring me so much joy over these next seven weeks. I am already learning a lot from them, from speaking Spanish to being patient. I will be volunteering every Tuesday and Thursday morning for a few hours. This weekend I will be head to La Selva National Park for a field trip in my land vertebrates class, so we will see what that brings.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Photos from Puerto Viejo:
Photos from Panama: