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.
IMG_1471
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:

Advertisements

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:

You Get What You Paid For.

I hate customs. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. But then… I like it too (to a different, smaller extent).

And yes; in speaking of customs, I finally commenced my travelling yesterday morning, and it really was nothing short of an adventure.

So, what’s the first stop of many to come in the near future?
HOTLANTA – formally known as Atlanta, Georgia in ‘the land of the free’, USA. I have never been to Atlanta before (or much of America, for that matter), and this trip holds the purpose of a vacation and exploration; so after non-stop working for the past two years, I figured this is a much needed stop.

A few glimpses of the first arrival..

A few glimpses of the first arrival..

The title of this post is “You Get What You Paid For,” and yesterday’s mobile fiasco was the result of just exactly what we we paid for. It’s not just about where you’re heading, but how you get there, and my family and I chose the cheapest possible way.

Now, often times, cheap can be good. For me, the motto is “Cheap IS Good.” But that motto was very much incorrect this time around.

We decided to take a Coach bus across the boarder and then fly out to Atlanta, which seemed simple enough. I was dreading the long and early bus ride initially, but found it to be quite convenient as I slept most of the way.

The downside to that was that I (being the meticulous, over-worrier that I am) packed a crap load of food in my knapsack to eat on the bus ride before the plane.

Never happened.

And this is where customs comes in. All went well when we were stopped and checked at the border; once we arrived at the airport, however, I knew that trouble was coming. Ever since the feathers of law enforcement officers and airport officials have been ruffled with by terror attacks and mischievous criminals, everything is a danger hazard.

I know they are doing it for my and everyone else’s safety, but when a girl can’t even bring her MinuteMaid cranberry juice bottle into the waiting lobby, it’s like the sun ain’t shinin’ no more.

Okay, so that may be a tad bit over-exaggerated, but the fact of the matter is that things have gotten so tight, my somewhat angelic mindset feels like I’m already a criminal even before I’ve been questioned.

Yet the craziness continued as we got onto our plane. The airline we took as part of our cheapest-way-possible scheme was probably the worst I have ever taken. No. It is the worst I have ever taken and will never take again (after I take their plane back home on our return flight; wish me luck).

The pilot was just outrageous (and possibly intoxicated) and I actually had a few moments where my life flashed before my eyes during flight (yes, I said a few; not one, but a few). When the plane landed, the aircraft slammed against the pavement and was literally still flying WHILE on ground.

If this implies anything at all, no one clapped when the plane finally came to a halt.

Still, I am very grateful to have made it out alive and to be here, in the wonderful state of Georgia, appreciating the gifts life has to offer. The vacation has just begun, but the adventure continues…

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

Every End of an Ending is the Beginning of a Beginning..

I’ve never really been good at goodbyes. Then again, I’ve never really been good at hellos.

I have been looking forward to the opportunity to travel for too long a time now; after completing five straight semesters of post-secondary education whilst working at a typical minimum wage paying job, and dealing with the oh-so-unsurprising social dramas of the young adult life, there was nothing else I wanted more than to put my current life on pause and live a new, different, other-worldly one.

The happenings of today, however, burst that perfectly round, happy, internationally-inclined bubble of mine: after working my last shift before my departure at my more recent job, it was time to say goodbye to everyone until four months. And at first, walking into my shift this morning, I thought, “Four months is no big deal, so today is no big deal.”

But…I might have miscalculated on that one.

I was on the brink of tears while driving out of the parking lot of my workplace as I realized that time (which seems to be a very significant asset in every event in life) allows so much to happen, even in the shortest of lengths, so no matter how long or short my absence might be, things are certain to change – without me – and I don’t know if I’m quite ready for that.

What hit me even harder was realizing that, though I’ve only known these people for such a short period, they’ve become like family to me.

So, when I left out the back door tonight, I made a promise to myself to cherish the moments with those I call family now, and those that I will soon meet abroad that I know I will call family soon; because after all, we are one world, and one people.

Still, I will not let my confused emotions or doubting thoughts deter me from my plans. The only difference between the future and the present is that one is being written and one is being read, and there is nothing else I can do but read on…

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music for the Moment: