Sunday, March 16, 2008

Big Announcement....BIG!!

Well, I officially can blog it now. I have accepted a one year volunteer position with Habitat for Humanity at ther Latin American Headquarters in San Jose Costa Rica starting this June. I had been waiting for approval from Delta, and now that is done. I had no idea it would happen so quickly. I only sent my application to them in January, just before the closing on our house. I had two interviews and was offered the position a few days later. I am so excited! Living in a Spanish speaking country is something that I have wanted to do for 10 YEARS...I know Ernesto must have been so tired of me talking about it. Finally I had to take charge!
After participating in the Habitat build in India, I had the idea of volunteering. When I looked at the website I found quite a few jobs. This job seemed perfect for me. It will be to develop the Global Village Sending Program in Latin America and the Caribbean. (this program is already going on in the US and Europe, so there is a model already in place) It is an office job.....and darn it, I might have to travel around Latin America and the Caribbean to do it. Ok, Twist my arm.
Costa Rica is a small country in Central America. Nicaragua is to the north and Panama is to the south. You can see on the map below that San Jose is smack dab in the middle of the country. No its not right on the beach, but you will still want to come visit, because it is only a few hours drive to either coast. Not to mention there are over 200 volcanoes (5 active), lots of waterfalls, national parks, rainforests and beautiful beaches. There are over 800 species of birds, which I cant wait to explore. (if anyone wants to buy me binoculars for a going away present, that would be so thoughtful!) I have been there 2x. Once, I rented a car in Costa Rica over 10 years ago with a couple friends and we explored the country for 10 days, its really not that big. Come on! Delta has 2 daily flights !!
We also fly to Liberia, in the northwest. There is a great place to stay called Hacienda Pinilla, which was my second time visiting. I rode horses on the beach and rented bikes, it was awesome! A family from Atlanta owns it.

Yes, of course...Costa Rica, it is meant to be. You know Ernesto and I were going on our honeymoon to Costa Rica....until we stayed in the business lounge too long and missed the flight.(we ended up walking down concourse E in ATL looking for the next plane leaving for a cool destination.....Puerto Vallarta was really nice.) Fortunately we didn't have anything booked, so no big deal! No plans for your honeymoon, you ask? Welcome to the world of the Espinozas.

Anyway excited about moving, we decided we better take a trip to San Jose and actually check out the city to see what neighborhoods we like and might want to live. Smita said she would like to go too. The flight left Friday night at 7pm so we left work right at 5. While we were sitting there waiting for our names to be cleared for the flight, we thought we better book a hotel, right? I was looking at defferenct hotels all day online, but couldnt decide which one. I pulled out my Lonely Planet and took the "Authors Pick" for a top end hotel. We called the Hotel Grano de Oro and they had a room with double bed and cot for $130. It was a risk, I wasnt even sure where it was located. It was dark when our taxi pulled up to the hotel. It was so inviting with the soft lighting and fountains. A very good first impression.We all said ooooohhh ahhhhh. It's a 100-year-old mansion whose rooms are filled with antiques and contemporary furniture. Once we saw it in the morning, we were even happier with our random selection of hotel.Colorful plants and flowers everywhere. Actually the whole city was colorful. Never ending warm weather and tropical plants? Ill take it!!The lobby was so chic and I loved the wall of bamboo hanging from the ceiling.We had windows that open out to the patio. With the 2 hours time difference, we woke up early. Smita and I rolled out of bed (you can tell by looking at my hair) and went straight to the patio for caffine. It was a perfect setting with all the tropical plants, stained glass and a fountain.
We were out the door by 10am and didnt know exactly where we were going. While walking down the street the "freshly squeezed orange juice man" was waiting for us. I love it! Im going to get to know him well over the next year.We had the names of a few neighborhoods to check out and a map. One is called Sabana Sur and it is right on the edge of a HUGE park. We walked through it and loved all the activity....bikers, runners, baseball, tennis. There is a small lake and tons of trees. Smita snapped this shot of us walking.
Then I stopped to practice my bellydancing stance (just started a class...more to come on that)
We had a rest as Ernesto looked at the map. There were grande eucalyptus trees all over the park. The bark was peeling and revealed beautiful green and orange trunks. I took this picture especially for my bosses who tease me sometimes that I am a "tree hugger"? WHAT?I dont know why? I DON'T dress like a hippy. Just because I am liberal and have an open mind and im leaving my job to volunteer does NOT make me a tree hugger! Today I was though ......but just for a minute!
Besides just getting to know the layout of San Jose, we also wanted had to see if we were going to be ok with the grocery store selection. We love to cook (and eat) a variety of foods. Were we going to have to bring our whole spice collection with us? If you have ever followed a new recipe and had to buy several spices, you know that this is what drives up the cost, but once you have a spice collection, it is very cheap to cook. Anyhoo, I am happy to say that Auto Mercado has everything that we could want. Here, a pic of the spice isle...they even have turmeric and curry powder! We are going to be just fine!

Saturday night we went out to a place called El Pueblo. It is like the old buckhead here in Atlanta. A bunch of restaurants and bars/dance clubs all in one area so you can walk in between. We ate at a wonderful seafood place called......?? We ordered several different ceviches (I still think ernestos is the best) and such. Problem was, we were there way too early as it doesnt get hopping til midnight. We checked everything out but it wasnt too exciting yet, so we left.

On Sunday morning we only had a few hours to explore since our fligth left at 1pm. We decided to get a taxi to drive us around. Sebastian was really cool and help ernesto by showing him where we were on the map. The neighborhood we wanted to see is called Escazu, it was recommended to me be a few people and after seeing it, I know why. It is an upscale suburb (but really only 10 minutes from the center-so I dont really consider that a suburb) with gorgeous streets and it sits higher up on the mountains, so the views are unbelievable. I would like to live in this white high rise here........The higher we climbed, the better it got, here Ernesto looks out over all of San Jose.
I had to take a piture of this agave plant that was as tall as me.
At the end of the road there was a stream with really clear water coming from the top of the mountain. Sebastian told us it is a 3 hour hike to the top (see the cross?) It was Semana Santa (holy week) and while driving around we ran into this parade on the street heading to a church. There were drums going and lots of good people watching so we parked and got out to watch.
Although a quick trip, I think we got a good "taste" of the city. Only pleasent surprises for me, its exactly as I expected....pure Latin America....just what I've always wanted!

1 comment:

  1. OMG! So cool! We have to get together before you guys leave! It looks so awesome. Lucky!


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