30 October 2006

From one trip to another...

Hello friends. I'm back from my Fall Break, resting a bit and reflecting. It was a wonderful break and a wonderful change of pace.

On Thursday, we headed out to "Volcán Arenal," translated "Sandy Volcano". There, we saw the volcano at night with some cool orange lava rock action, then we went to some hot springs, which ranged from 93 - 156 degrees (F). It was an amazing experience.

On Friday, we began making our way to Monteverde, a rustic, green, and beautiful area of Costa Rica. Once there, we found our hotel, a lovely, out of the way hotel run by a German couple. We hung out for a while and then headed to supper, finding a great Pizza place in town.

On Saturday morning, we were picked up by a van and we headed out to do a Canopy tour. A canopy tour is a system of cables and platforms above the cloud forest (a forest that naturally has loads of clouds at the top). We went on 15 ziplines, 19 platforms, and a tarzan swing (I'm sure you can imagine what that entails). It was an amazing experience, and we felt like we were flying over the top of the forest!

After the canopy tour, we explored a suspended bridge system in the same park. That afernoon we hung out for a while and then found supper in town.

On Sunday morning, I decided to go horseback riding. After hearing that it was an option, I decided I would go, even if no one else went. So, I did, and it ended up being a tour with just me and my guide. I went on a 2 and a half hour horseback ride!

Afterwards, we ate at the "Treehouse Café" and then headed back to San José.

Tomorrow, we leave for Panama, including an 18-hour bus trip! So, next time you hear, you'll get to see Panama pictures and hear more. To see my Fall Break pictures, check it out here

So, until next weekend when I return from Panama, enjoy some picture viewing!

24 October 2006

Change of Pace

Sweet Bliss.

Last night I didn't have any homework. I don't have any tonight either. On Thursday afternoon, I'm leaving until Sunday night, having a fall break. On Monday, I don't have anything except laundry, unpacking, and re-packing. On Tuesday, I leave for 11 days for Panama!

It's a change of pace. Yesterday morning I turned in an 8 1/2 page paper entitled "Misioneros en Una Época Nueva" (Missionaries in a New Era). Today, I worked 3 hours on a group project, and tomorrow we present our 15 minute project plus 10 minutes for questions. It feels like a "it's all down here from here" feeling.

This afternoon we're going to see a movie, solely for the reason that we can and we don't have anything else hanging over our heads. Wonderful.

This weekend I'm going to Volcan Arenal, the most well-known Volcano in Costa Rica. Then we're going to the region of Monteverde, which has Canopy Tours, Botannical Gardens, Hanging Bridges, Horse Riding, and all kinds of wonderful stuff. I can't wait!

I hope you're all doing well. As always, I'd love to hear from you, I check my e-mail once to twice a week, depending on how the week is going. Blessings for you all.

Jehovah Jaira

20 October 2006

Papers, Readings, and Better Things to Do

I forgot what it's like to have a paper due and want to do everything else but that.

I have a 7-10 page paper due at 8am on Monday morning. Also a two-page non-related paper due at that time. Also some readings due at that time. By 5pm that day, I have to have a revised thesis and outline for a group presentation. By Wednesday at 8am, we have to have our group presentation ready to go.

It's been a busy few days. I spend 4 hours on and off yesterday trying to tackle my paper. It's currently at 5 1/2 pages and I need to write some more. Oh, and did I mention that all of this is in Spanish?

I find myself wanting to go places with people, wanting to buy things, wanting to go to the internet, wanting to hang out with my family, spend time with classmates...anything to not do my paper. It doesn't matter what country you're in, you still want to do everything but...!

In other news, my shirt is soaked. I lost the art of umbrella dodging and got soaked!

Tomorrow I get to go to a wedding with my family. I'm excited about that and will be interested to see how it is and what it's like. Apparently it will include crazy dancing. This I like.

Side note, the people on either side of me at the internet café are looking at wedding information and wedding dresses...

17 October 2006


Home. It’s amazing how a place can feel like home once you’ve been away from it. On the bus ride back to Costa Rica, we all marveled at the fact that we felt like we were coming home – we’d been gone for two weeks and all we wanted was to see our family, sleep in our own beds, and feel at home.

I’ve been gone now for over six weeks, and it’s amazing to me how the time has flown by. At the beginning I was dubious when the staff told us to savor each moment because it was going to be gone before we knew it. I was doubtful all of September. But now I’ve done a month of language school and a two-week trip to Nicaragua and lived here, really lived here, and feel at home. And I recognize now that the rest of the semester is going to literally fly by.

For the next two weeks, I have scattered classes and work on papers and presentations. Next weekend I’ll be going to a wedding with my family, which will be wonderful experience, and then the week after that we have Fall Break. Immediately following Fall Break, I leave for Panama for two weeks. A week after my return from Panama, I’ll be spending the weekend in Nicaragua to see my mom (my real mom!). After that, it’s two more weeks in Costa Rica followed by a two week trip to Guatemala. Straight from Guatemala we’ll fly to Miami for 3 days of debrief and then I’ll be home. It’s a lot going on in a short two months that we have left.

Now that I’ve looked forward, I might as well look back a little bit. My trip to Nicaragua was wonderful. Not everything went perfectly, but now I know I wouldn’t have wanted it that way. Although I got a cold, ended up dehydrated, hurt my foot, and lost a contact, better things outweigh the bad: Nicaragua is a beautiful, beautiful country, with amazing and loving people, I got to cross over to Honduras (without a passport!), I saw Ciudad Antigua (a city Captain Morgan pirated), I got to know more of the LASP students better, and I got to see the diverse reality of Nicaragua, the 2nd poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

So, check out my pictures here. The album is kind of scattered between pre-home stay and home stay periods, but i didn't really have time to do more than that. Good luck deciphering... The titles of the pictures might help a bit (side note: finca = farm).

As always, I hope you’re doing well. Forgive me if this blog was a bit long – it’s bee a long time since I’ve put my thoughts together to put together a blog, and I tried to be as short as possible. Hopefully the pictures say plenty.

11 October 2006


Well, here I am again...writing to you this time from Granada, Nicaragua.

My host stay is over and we're hanging out in a Hostel until tomorrow. It seems that everyone had good stays in their town. Mine was pretty mediocre, but I'm trying to be positive about the experience. I had a wonderful host grandma who had nothing but love to give, along with a few home remedies (who knows what she gave me?!)

Tomorrow we have a debrief on our stay, a trip to managua, and our last meal. Friday morning bright and early, we drive back to Costa Rica.

More pictures later. This is all I can make myself write right now.

05 October 2006

Call me a Liar

No one told us there might be internet cafés in this country too. Okay, so I guess that's not rocket science, but here I am.

I'm in the northern region of Nicaragua in a small town called Condega. Tomorrow I'll be picked up with three other girls by a church leader and taken to a small town a little more north called Ocotal, where I'll be staying with a family by myself for 5 days. Then, on Wednesday, I'll be traveling to Granada for the day, on Thursday we'll go to Managua, and then on Friday we go back to Costa Rica.

It's really a whirlwind of a trip when I think about it, and this trip has made me realize that Costa Rica has started to become home for me while I'm gone for the semester. I think about going "home" to see my family, who even said they would miss me while I was gone. Nicole, Michelle, or whatever they want to call me, I felt loved.

It's been a good, eye-opening trip so far. So much has happened in the four short days since I've been out of Costa Rica, I wouldn't even know where to begin. The best way is to probably wait until I get back, post some pictures online with captions, and let the pictures be worth a thousand words, as they say.

It's hot in Nicaragua, if you didn't know. Sticky and hot and humid, I haven't sweat so much since it was hot at camp this summer. I know I'll appreciate Costa Rica weather even more.

Healthy stomach so far. More on how that turns out later. I think I mean it this time when I say that I won't post again until I get back, but who knows?

Please be doing well. For those of you at Dordt, enjoy tri-state!