Back to the Future

William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but use worst,” and that is one of my greatest fears. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about time; how much I have, how much I’ve used, and how much others have in comparison to me. It’s a world-wind of thoughts that involves too much math and not enough positivity; but alas, it is a difficult task to stray the mind from a topic with which it is already determined upon.

Today marks exactly three months since I returned home from the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Sometimes I feel like I literally just came back; other times I feel like I never even went. It’s strange when I look back on the mesmerizing photos from that time and think, “Did I actually do that?” But then, I recall the itchy hives I currently suffer from since coming back, and reassure myself that yes, I did indeed go.

IMG_1767

Even more so, I look back at some of the photos I’ve taken within the three months of being back at home, and I’ve done quite a bit also: volunteered at a renowned international film festival, went to a Tori Kelly concert (she’s the bomb, check her out!), took a boat cruise with friends around the heart of downtown, and performed some songs for the first time in a long while in front of a crowd of students at my university.

And now, as I nervously organize myself for exams the end of this semester, my mind occasionally wanders to the plan of next semester: six months in France.

It’s funny, really; I tell people about my plans and they say, “Wow, look at you. You’re doing it all!” But that’s not how I feel, no. I feel like I’m doing some stuff, yes. But not all. I don’t even feel like I’ve done much. Then I look at other, more successful people my age or younger and think that I definitely have not done anything compared to them.

That’s where the want for time comes into play. I keep wishing that I could rewind the time; do a few things differently, keep a few more the same, and then live life over again using my time more effectively. But reality never likes to change now, does it?

It’s also the thought of what I will be doing once I return which frightens me. A bit more of school then what?

But as my thoughts continue to roll around in my head, I’m starting to realize that I have time – plenty of it. And the more time I can say that I’ve used, the luckier I am. There are quite a few others out there who haven’t even reached my age yet with not much time left. Unfortunately, we tend to be very blind to what we have been blessed with when we are so focused on what we want.

So the future? I don’t really know. But that’s just it: I don’t really know. And that is the beauty of the future I guess, that little element of surprise. I’m sure the Me five years ago would be surprised to see what I’m doing now. I’m still a bit shocked and there’s more in store. But since I don’t yet know what to expect, might as well just enjoy what the present can give me here and now.

As long as the book is still open, time will tell.

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

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Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left…

It’s here.

Finally, my voyage to the Caribbean Sea coast of Costa Rica has come to an end; and I still have a flow of emotions like ever before.

As I read back on my first few blog posts about this adventure, it’s hard to believe how dramatic, yet scared I was.

It’s been quite a long three months, ’tis true, and everyday day had its challenges; but the things that I’ve witnessed during my stay here are incomparable to many things I will come across in the future: baby sea turtle hatchlings, sloths, tropical toucans, caimans, Howler and Capuchin monkeys and so much more. To imagine what it would have been like to cut my trip short (as I was intending) gives me a feeling of disappointment. Sometimes what may seem like the wrong decision may play out to be the best one in the end.

And as I pack my things, and my emotions continue to ride the loops on the roller coaster that is my life, I can’t help but appreciate how much this trip has changed me for the better as a person: I now know how to bake many a things from scratch; I know how to kayak and paddle my way across a canal; I know what it’s like to be passionate about one’s work to the point that even the smallest mistake throws off the rest of my day until it is fixed; and I’ve developed better skills in handling myself in new environments totally away from home and familiar faces.

Walk the line..

It’s strange, you know; sometimes we often have to leave home in order to fully understand and appreciate the feeling of being there, and I most certainly do now.

Life is such a wonder, and even in the lowest of lows in our days, we must not resist the opportunity to look up and see the goodness that lies ahead.

We must not limit ourselves to low standards, low expectations, and short distances. There are endless possibilities if we just allow them to unfold, whether we know exactly what they hold in store. Just float, because you never know where the waves will take you.

And it won’t be my last Costa Rica,
but still,
Pura Vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment:
I wrote this post while I listened to this song as I found it depicted my emotions about this experience perfectly in song. I dedicate it to all my loved ones who supported me along the way – I honestly could NOT have done it without you all. Much love.

On to the next adventure…..

“Move to the back! Nope, nope…keep pushin’ back!”

Shadowing the Group Bus

Shadowing the Group Bus (Photo credit: Mr_Stein)

So this past weekend was another little adventure within the bigger adventure: after surviving in the jungle for two and a half months, my body finally decided to give out for a bit and succumb to a small virus.

Of course I am no doctor, so the only option that would settle my mind and possibly my sickness was a trip to the doctor’s office.

And what a trip it was!

My day started off bright and early, leaving the station at five in the morning to catch a boat that would lead the station manager and I to a bus that would lead us to town.

I can’t say I didn’t prepare for the trip, but I can say I didn’t prepare that well. For some reason I assumed the town we were going to (Cariari) was only a few waves beyond the station – that was incorrect.

I was also not prepared for the doctor to inject some medication in my butt; yes I said it – my butt. The last time I can recall having that done to me was when I was about six years old in Jamaica, crying into my father’s lap, and having him comfort me with the bribe of a nice crisp patty and soda to drink after the doctor was finished.

Then when it was time to leave Cariari and head back to the station, lugging all our freshly-bought groceries and tupperware, the bus was so packed that we had to wait about an hour for another one to arrive. And one thing I learned while waiting in the somewhat bus line is that it doesn’t matter if you place yourself in the somewhat bus line; people will push and move in front of you anyways.

Something else that I learned as I endured the (still) packed bus ride back to the station was that the world, in the grand scheme of things, is just one really large global village. And yes, we can thank technological advancements and such for making that a possibility, but even those with the fewest of resources can still find similarities among each other’s cultures as if the borders separating our nations become, at certain moments in time, invisible.

It is also quite interesting to compare our differences as well. Discovering new cultures is what makes traveling so fascinating and, in my opinion, if the world actually became one global state, I’m not sure that interest to wander would still remain.

So as I sat on my newly bandaged bum wound while squished between a Tico on one side and a foreigner blindly discovering the hillsides of Guapeles on the other, I realized that no matter where you are, whether in Jamaica hanging on by the door handle in the old country bus or in the middle of Costa Rica finding your way via el autobús, it will always be a full ride.

Pura Vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

Pop Goes the Hatchling!

There is a time for work and a time for play; and so far I’ve had quite a bit of fun.

So! – on to the tasks at hand once again.

I finally got myself a (somewhat) new pair of glasses sent down here by my wonderful family, and now that I am once again with proper vision, I’ve been thrown back into the old routine of morning and night patrols along the beach.

A lot happened during the one month I was without glasses and only permitted on morning patrols: I saw my first ever hatchling, a leatherback baby turtle. It was absolutely ADORABLE, and just reminded me why my work here does indeed help. I say that because my coworker and I unknowingly stumbled upon the hatchling as we were checking the state of all the nests in the second part of the beach that we survey. Even more, this little hatchling was attempting to get to the sea from its nest, and was caught in some branches buried in the sand.

If we weren’t out there, and the sun completely rose and exposed its often scorching heat, the poor little hatchling probably would not have survived.

08/07/13: Look at him go!

Jimmy the Leatherback Hatchling –             08/07/13: Look at him go!

Nevertheless, I took it out of the debris, placed it gently in the palm of my hand, and watched as it slowly crawled out of my palm, flopping onto the still warm sand, to finally float and get whisked away into the sea. It was magical.

I also got to see three hatchlings of the rare Hawksbill species dig out of a nest I was excavating. One could even say that I not only saw them, and helped lead them to sea, but I also swam with them (not literally, as my feet were the only things deep in the water, but the hatchlings did swim right by my knees, so it counts as such in my mind!).

Now that I’m back on night patrols, I get to have more close up action with the mothers as they lay their nests, which is always a fascinating sight. Two nights ago, I got to read the tracking tags placed on the turtles’ flippers to monitor their movement between nesting sights for the first time. I also attempted to stop the turtle, but was unsuccessful (this time, at least!).

Ah well, still a work in progress..but isn’t that just life?

Pura Vida,
Moi

Tengo Pollo Loco en Mis Pantalones!

I recently saw a quote by India’s first prime minister, Jawaharial Nehru, that read,

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.

This quote really hit me the past few days ago. I’ve actually given myself the opportunity to explore exactly where I have traveled, at long last.

A look back on my previous posts made me realize that I have been so focused on the work being done here, that I haven’t given myself the slightest of chance to stop – breathe – and look at the different kind of beauty that surrounds me.

I managed to do that this week after a few mishaps put me in that kind of position: nearing the end of last week, I accidentally fell into the canal with my non-waterproof camera strapped around my torso (that was a bit of a scare, but it’s dried out and properly functioning again, phew!); I also lost my glasses two days later in the ocean whilst working a turtle in the dark of night (still haven’t found them, I’m pulling “Velma from Scooby-Doo” everywhere!).

But though I’ve lost quite a bit of sight, I’ve managed to open my eyes to many things I didn’t see before, as Nehru’s quote implies.

Sunrise: Te quiero mucho...

Sunrise: Te quiero mucho…

I finally went to the beach just to relax for the first time. I also finally caught one of the river turtles that swim around by the station’s dock in the canal.

And most importantly, I finally got to breathe and just take it easy, which I oddly hadn’t really done since I got here.

I guess I could say that straight vision often  gives you a straight direction, which, if too focused, can block your view of even the smallest of wonders around you.

Until I get ahold of new frames, being half blind isn’t all too bad. I just need to learn to stop continuously sliding invisible glasses back up my nose.

Pura vida,
Moi

P.S. Thanks Dave for the title idea!

Music for the Moment:

Bienvenidos a la casa de los Ticos!

I absolutely adore Latin people and their culture.

I had this perception from while at home, but I had merely encountered Latin immigrants or those of Latin descent.

Interestingly enough, their culture runs strong through their generations and across borders, because in North America or in Costa Rica, their Latin flavour still runs thick.

This may be a general assumption I am making for a vast array of people, but I’ve met Colombians, Puerta Ricans, Pervuvians, and Spanish alike, and there’s an essence to them that I haven’t quite yet found in any other culture I’ve experienced (which I guess is why there are various cultures around the world that have their own differences and is why I’ll keep travelling to discover them all!).

Yesterday seemed to enhance that opinion when my fellow intern and I made our way over to Doña Blanca’s casa, a woman who lives near the station and who is in need of help learning English.

When we arrived, she welcomed us nicely and we immediately got to work.
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She sat us down in her makeshift hair dresser/craftsman workshop/mani-pedi office/patio and we began talking.

One thing I really admire about the Latin culture, specifically Ticas and Ticos in this context, is that they are very honest and open and will talk you up even if you don’t completely understand everything they’re saying. They are so animated with their words and expressions, and even though I may not be fluent in Spanish, the actions she did while speaking really helped me grasp the main idea.

At a point during our language session, Doña Blanca was comparing the two languages, English and Spanish, as we tried translating a part of a paragraph together. “One word in English,” she said, “can be translated into a whole phrase in Spanish. I guess it’s because Spanish love to just talk and talk, no?” Then she laughed.

What was also refreshing was her intent on learning our language.

She seems to be a woman of the world, dipping her feet in every job she can, and one of them is being a turtle guide, which seems plausible when one grasps the short distance from her house to the Caribbean Sea where the turtles we monitor come to nest.

She knew so much about the turtles and their activities without studying it as a degree in school, which showed me that the Ticas and Ticos that live here are very much in touch with their environment and their home is their livelihood and must be understood and taken care of, which I admire and respect greatly.

Her words became even more animated as she moved onto the art of her pedicures and crafts.

It was a very entertaining visit.

And what made it the sweetest for me was the ending.

As we got up to leave, she offered us some lemonade (“agua con limón en ingles es…?”) and then we talked about culture and why I supposedly have Chinese eyes if I’m not Chinese; and then when we were really ready to leave, she gave us both hugs and kisses and sent us off.

La hospitalidad era demasiado bueno! Comprende?

Gracias Doña Blanca y pura vida,
Moi

P.S. Saw my first leatherback turtle (possibly the last of the season) last night, while the moon was bright, and the night was cool. It was perfectly huge and a sight to see!

Music for the Moment:

An Ode to Mosquitoes..

I just got bitten 12 times by the same mosquito. And so, this is what I have to say:

Nature’s vampires,
The real, the true,
Are the little bitty flies biting me and you.
They feed off our blood
And taunt us still,
Because they are so small
And hard to kill.
One bite is okay;
Two? Fine.
But more than five is NOT alright.
I could walk covered
From head to toe;
But the sun’s so hot that my skin must show.
To feel the breeze,
Yet embrace the bites.
Compromise isn’t always nice.
Hopefully the worst has come to pass,
for I don’t know how much longer I can last.
Still I can breathe, and am alive;
But mosquitoes beware, for you may not survive.

Sincerely,
Where’s the chalomine?

Back to regular broadcasting soon,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

What’s poppin’?

Eggs. Turtle eggs to be exact.

Last night (well, this morning really), I encountered my third turtle as an intern at the Caño Palma station here in Costa Ríca.

However, the last two turtles my team and I worked with were both less hands on than this one.

This one was special for me in many a-ways.

For starters, the last two turtles were Hawksbills, which for some are a rarity to encounter. But I was already bored with them and wanted something new.

Last night, I finally got a green.

This green turtle, though, was not too happy to get us as her observers.

I was assigned as ‘egg counter,’ which meant I was to have probably the closest interaction with her.

Suppenschildkröte

Suppenschildkröte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The experience is indescribable, really.

What we must do is place our hands underneath the tail of the turtle and gently cup and then let fall her eggs as she lays them.

I’ll admit I felt uncomfortable at first; and this does not include the fact that my pants were torn all along the crotch and backside, so my bare bottom was cotched in the air. This also doesn’t include the fact that it was pouring rain and I had to tie my poncho, that could protect me against the cold drops, around my waist to protect my tush.

The intense contractions she had whilst my hand was also cupping her tail, could be felt before every egg slowly drops.

For a first-timer, it was a bit of an introduction.

I kept thinking, soaking from  head to toe, “When will this be over?” But then the night continued into morning, and as my team and I rushed back 2 miles to return to the station before 5 a.m., we managed to watch the sun rise and sing Sister Act’s ‘Oh Happy Day’ to the rhythm of the waves.

It wasn’t until I was dry, warm, and for the most part, rested, when I gave myself the chance to ponder on the happenings of the previous night, and realize what I had actually witnessed: the birth of anew.

Unforgettable.

And so this trip continues to be…

Pura vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

Why You So Obsessed with Me?

Things are looking up.

They always were, actually; there were just a few clouds blurring my vision of my personal and academic goals whilst here that made it seem otherwise.

I’m not saying that everything is now peachy clean – I’m only two weeks in, so that’s too soon to say – but to finally grasp even a portion of the rhythm of a new environment is just such a relief.

After getting over the hump of an introduction, I’ve started to make other observations while busy-bodying around here (which we do quite often).

One very prominent aspect is the blending of cultures.

Caño Palma is a Canadian biological station situated in Costa Ríca and open to volunteers and interns from around the world.

Luckily for me, I get to experience cultural bits and pieces from people all over while staying put in one place.

So far I’ve encountered Germans, met a few close-to-home Canadians (of course), acquainted myself with a Belgian, befriended a Britain, and joked with a few Dutch.

I also can’t forget the Costa Rícan interactions I have been able to grab ahold of with the station’s weekly cook, Cenia. She is absolutely wonderful, and helping my español greatly (gracias Cenia!).

It’s a bit of a shocker to experience so many different accents and customs so quickly, but fascinating nonetheless.

Still, if there is one thing I can say that is consistent throughout all the cultures at this station (and it may be due to the purpose of the station itself) is the persistent characteristics of passion and dedication.

Whether volunteers or interns, the people from these cultures are all very passionate about what they do here. Even more inspiring, they are all genuinely passionate about life, which a young person like me needs to be surrounded by more, I must say.

Their passionate spirits are really pushing me to be in the same mindset.

I can’t honestly say that I am around such passionate people all too much in my daily life; nor can I say that I am just as passionate about something as my fellow comrades.

I want to be.

But it’s a leap becoming so passionate about something that one will do whatever it takes to accomplish it.

Still, you can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.

So I think it’s about time I start flying, soaring, until the only thing I can see is the sky.

And there’s no where else to go but up.

Pura vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

I.M.POSSIBLE.

So I’m finally nearing the end of my first week here at Caño Palma station, and truthfully, I have never been this doubtful in my entire life.

You know you’re not in a good place when you’re counting down the days just to see them go by.

People always say, “Don’t have high standards and you won’t get screwed over.” For me, I was just unaware of what exactly I had to put a standard on.

I came into this trip thinking basically. Like how I started my last post, I really believed I was just here to save turtles.

As the days passed by this week, I was demonstrated as well as participated in the intricate, rigorous workings that the staff here have to do constantly, everyday, non-stop.

My emotions have never been so roller-coasterish, to say frankly. Some moments I am happy and believe I can make it and it’s really not that bad; but other times, like now as I write this post, my confidence is low and my heart yearns for home which I already miss dearly.

A lot of things are easier said than done; and this internship is definitely one of them.

But thankfully ( and I truly mean thankfully) I think I can do this until the end. I think I can clean this until the end of the three month mark.

Last night, I went out in my third night patrol with two other interns, and I have to say they really brought me up again.

Some places leave a mark in your mind because of the place itself; others are unforgettable because of the people you experience things with while there.

I think this place is one of those places.

Costa Rica: a world of its own...

Costa Rica: a world of its own…

In desperate times, all we have is hope; and as long as it’s strong enough, it’s the best you can hold on to.

Purda vida,
Moi

Music of the Moment: