Sunday, June 29, 2008


I was very lucky to get to the airport on time. I just happen to wake up at 1030am, which was the time I was supposed to be getting into a taxi....I jumped in the shower, grabbed my bag and was out the door in 15 minutes....with wet hair....and a pounding headache. I had a great time the night before at Van Gogh, but I paid for it the next day. I decided since my while family was going to be together in Ohio this weekend, I HAD TO GO!!! I get so jealous when everyone is having a great time without me.
Ernesto wanted to take Smita out to dinner as a thank you for him staying at her house. We went to Spice Market at the W Hotel in Midtown. Delicious, just like the last time. Las Venezolanas Lenia and Livini came to join us for a drink.
Saturday was pretty bad because we arrived at the airport for a 2pm flight and actually left at 9pm. UGH! The whole family was waiting for us when we got to the house at MIDNIGHT and we stayed up until 2am laughing! It was great hanging out! The next morning came quickly and after coffee and eggs, I was introduced to CROSS FIT! My oldest brother Tim is Ironman, fitness ass.....and he doesnt let a day go by without a workout of some kind.....hmmm, maybe THAT is why he has 0% body fat........ The whole week while the family was at Seneca Lake, Tim has been leading these Cross Fit workouts for my family (whoever wanted to participate) .....and all my siblings were talking about it....and how sore they were. I was excited to give it a try. When Tim recruited Brrrian to go outside and collect one big rock for each person...I started to get scared! There were 6 of us (plus the little boys) we got dressed, loaded up on water ....(check out Brrrrians outfit) Esta Loco!and headed to the park near my parents house. There was a family there playing at the kids playground...they must have thought "what the hell are they doing.....?" This workout was 2 different intervals 20 seconds of lunging and raising the rock over your head, 10 seconds rest and then 20 seconds of pull ups...check out that form!
The workout was only 10 minutes long, but you wouldnt believe how good it felt. Our heart rates were up and we were all sweating our asses off.
Later that day we went to my Uncle Bills for a cookout. All the usual things at an American picnic: Swimming pool & Tossicle game (in background), homemade wine drinkingFishing....yes, that is the ShaffNer with a real live fish! Cherry picking? Yes Barbie decided she was going to pick a few pounds of cherries to take home and make something! Those better not go to waste Barb!! We all posed on the porch, its been a long time since we have all been together in a photo. (Kelli and michelle are missing)Since we were all going to Cedar Point the next day. We packed up and the whole family stayed in Wooster at "the compound" (Jenny and Bills house are right beside each other) On the way from my parents house in Canton to Wooster we drove by the house that I grew up in on LOVERS LANE.....yes, that is really the name. Needless to say, the street sign never lasted. My house was straight ahead, two houses before the horse farm at the dead end. Corn fields and country roads, I was a country girl!! yee-hah! We always complained that we lived "so far away" from anything. (15 minutes to closest store) But really, it was so beautiful and I feel really lucky that I grew up there.
More to come from Cedar Point....if Jenny would just send me that GDF walmart pictures link...COME ON FRED!!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Van Gogh

Its hard to believe that I have only known Eduardo for one month. He is such a sweet guy and we have really become good friends. He has been a volunteer for the last 6 months in San Jose and now he is leaving for a one month backpaking trip through Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatamala and Belize. Lucky ass! His last day at the office was Friday, so Thursday night he invited all of his friends to a club called Van Gogh. The deal was pretty rediculous....reminded me of college. 3000 Colones ($6USD) for all you can drink?? The music got better as the night went on....started with dance music then finally ended up with reggaeton and some latin. Before I knew was 3am! Here the Habitat Crew poses Eduardo, me, Marco and Diana.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mi Escritorio...

So yesterday, I finally got my own permanent cubicle. It looks pretty basic......... but one whole wall is a window, and check out the UGLY view. I dont know how im going to deal with this everyday....?!
Ok, I do have to say it's not totally perfect.....if I look down there are a lot of ugly beat up cars at a body Ill just keep my eyes straight ahead........on the Bavaria, a great Costa Rican cerveza!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The other night "the Francaises and the Brasileiro" wanted to make dinner. Maxi, Sebastian and Eduardo picked a dish that is French and served in Brasil too. It is called Cacule (Ka-su-le)Basically a white bean stew with chorizo, chicken, beef, and smoked ham. It was DE-LISH!!! Here the chefs discuss the recipe. Sebastian (in the background) was making a french desert called ??? in French, but it means "floating Islands". It had merangue "islands" floating in a white cream suace serve over warm pineapple slices. mmmmMax had 2 friends who had just arrived in Costa Rica. One from England the other from Norway. They were studying in Minnesota and are now traveling throughout Central America. We had a great time laughing, telling stories around the dinner table. I love an international mix and I really love all the different accents.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Punta Leona

Mi amiga, Maria (that I worked with at Delta a few years ago) is from Costa Rica. She now works for CNN in Atlanta and her parents have a house on the beach en Punta Leona. She flew in Friday night and is staying for a week, so she invited me (or did I invite myself?) to come for the weekend. When she showed me a picture of her parents casa, I thought "this is WAY TOO UGLY, I dont know if I can stay in that shack!"Punta Leona es un resort on the coast 2 hours west of San Jose. There are a lot of houses build around this resort and it is surrounded by mountains and selva (forest)..absolutely beautiful!!
Maria flew in on the Delta flight friday night arriving at 830pm. I took a taxi to the airport to meet her. Senor Calvo was already there and I recognized him right away. (the last time I saw him was 4 years ago) It was perfect because we sat outside waiting for her just chatting Spanish of course. I told him that I didnt want to speak English at all this weekend and he was happy to hear that. He wants Maria to speak more Spanish with her daughter, Bianca anyway. As a matter of fact, he reminded us every time he heard us say somthing in English:) The whole family was great in helping me out if I was stuck on a word, or if my grammer was wrong (A LOT of that) The drive from the airport was about and hour and 45 min.....WINDING up through the mountains. I must say though that Maria's dad is a great driver. About half way there we stopped at a little restaurant and picked up a few coffees to go. Did I mention that the coffee is unbelievable here? The place was too authentic to NOT take a picture....I was amazed at how slow time goes here. I have never experienced anything like it. We woke up at 530am Saturday morning and went walking/hiking for 2 1/2 hours. It was awesome! Senor Calvo is really into the hiking and brought 2 sets of binoculars for us to search out all the birds. There are lapas here (scarlet macaws) and I did see them flying by, but not up close. Also toucans, which we heard, but did not spot.

I tried believe know I love birdies.Along one of the trails there was a butterfly farm. It was so cool. Hundreds of beautiful ones. Maria waited for us outside the tent. She is scared of them!? Yes, Butterflies...and yes, I teased her! She freaks out with any "creepy-crawly" as she calls them.I think the most amazing butterfly is the Morpho. I remember seeing this butterfly in the rainforest and it was as big as my hand. It is very muted on the outside (here eating a banana)

Its not a great pic, but you get the idea....a little dull. When the Morpho is flying though, you see this brilliant, vibrant blue color. They were fluttering way to fast for my camera, so here is a picture just to show you the color.

After our hike we realaxed with our coffee and enjoyed the view out of the huge windows....we had the most delicious Tico breakfast prepared my maria's madre: ripe papaya and pinapple, fresh squeezed orange juice, gallo pinto (black beans and rice), eggs, fried cheese (oh my god!) ham, cheese, and toast. Afterwards, we were satisfied and set to head down to the pool for the rest of the day. My goal this year is to NOT GET SUNBURNT!! Somethin' different with the sun down here! I loaded up with 25 spf and low and behold, IT WORKED!! I got a great tan! The pool was huge and surrounded by mountains and greenery. Bianca called us "lazy bums" all day....because we were!! We laid in out lounge chairs talking and listening to our ipods.
The rains starts a little bit later here, which I was happy about. We took showers and sat out on the balcony with binoculars and coffee to see more birds. I wanted to see those darn toucans!!My mom is going to love it here! She was the one who got me interested in birds a LONG time ago. When I was growing up, we always had a ton of bird feeders in the yard and we would sit at the bay window observing them. We will have to do a birding tour!

The Calvos wanted to make sure that I saw an amazing sunset, so at 5pm we drove up the mountain to Hotel Villa Caletas. I had read about this place in my Lonely Planet guidebook. They said it was a "must see" if for nothing more than to have a drink at the restaurant or open air amphitheatre facing out to the water. That is exactly what we did. Even though it was cloudy, we were able to see the sunset and enjoy a spectacular view.
There was a wedding going on in the amphitheatre at sunset, how romantic! We went down later to check it out! You cant see too good in this photo, but the couple stood down at the columns and all the guests sat in the rows going up which face out to the ocean. Perfecto!We got someone to take a family picture. They really did make me feel like part of the family.Dinner was at Marisqueria Juanita, a quaint open air restaurant on the beach in Herradura. Maria's padres really like this place and after eating there, I understood why. We started with the fried plantains! oh yes! damn tasty! I had a great dish called Arroz Juanita, it was the house special, rice with shrimp and chicken. Of course it came with the traditional black beans and a salad. (I have eaten beans every day since I arrived!) It poured down rain, lightning too! Im learning to love the rain (more so when im inside watching it)

Sunday we started all over again....up at 530am going on a hike, back for breakfast and this time we went to the beach. Playa Blanca. I did get sand, but I have been wondering how I will continue with my collection. I am going to be visiting so many beaches, I really can't have 20 bottles of sand from Costa Rica. I will have to pick a few favorites. For example, I went to a black sand beach a long time ago here, Ill have to get that one for sure! Sure enough, it started to rain around 2 or 3pm so we went back to shower and more relaxing. Marias padre made us a cocktail with Guaro, the national liquor of Costa Rica. Its clear, and he mixed it with sprite and fresh lime juice. Buenisimo! It reminded me of a vodka tonic, very refreshing! Chin chinWhile we were at the beach that day, Marias padres went and bought my bus ticket for me in Jaco-so sweet!! It picked me up right in front of the Punta Leona entrance at 530pm, and I arrived home at 730. It was a wonderful trip and so easy. My roomies were having dinner when I walked in so I grabbed a plate!! Pura Vida!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Week Two: Apartment Hunting

Well, I have to say Im not SUPER motivated to find an apartment. Im living with 2 great people and we are having a lot of fun together. Plus, it is so convenient to get to and from work. I could walk in 10 minutes, but usually we are leaving a little late in the morning so Kate drives us. Plus EVERY night when we are leaving work it is raining. If it wasn't sunny every morning , I think this weather would be a bit depressing. I have to say though, all of the rain makes it so beautiful and green. To top all of this off, Kate is only charging me $100 for the month (God love her!) and this includes the maid service 2x a week. No more laundry/cleaning? Yes, have some! But...I do want to find my own place.......Enter Rigo! He is a great guy that kate introduced me to. He is a taxi driver here and does a lot of work for Habitat. Everyone in the office know his and uses his services daily. He drove Kate around when she was looking for an apartment and she said it was a huge help. So, at 10am I stepped out in front of the habitat office building and Rigo arrived shortly after to take me hunting!I have a good idea of the area I want to be. It is called Sabana Norte, its really close to a grocery store, the huge park in the middle of the city (la sabana) and most importantly, it is only a 10-15 minute bus ride to work. There are some really nice areas that I was considering, but I would have to take 2 buses and I dont want to spend and hour commuting everymorning. Plus, being close to the park would be great! We didn't have a plan...just drove around the neighborhood, and Rigo was awesome just stopping and asking random people if they knew of anything available. Here is one complex we drove by.....I have to look at the inside yet, but here are a couple where I took down the numbers to call. Just to give you an idea...... They look pretty safe, right? Rigo has a really good eye and spotted this sign in the window.
I looked up and down the street and I really liked it, big houses mixed in with a few apts, all well maintained. We rang the doorbell and the property manager came out. He said there were 2 apts available. I loved the outside. The white stucco and the red tile roof. Wood framed windows that open IN instead of UP ....yes, Ok, looks good........
We walked into this great courtyard with lush plants....this is so cute!!!Then he opened the door ..........

I love the furniture....yellow is one of my favorite colors this year....UGH! but that green carpet just ruined it! YUCK! Am I being too picky? Maybe, but tipically the places here have all tile or wood floors. If not for the carpet I would have taken it right away. The bedroom had one full wall of wooden cabinets and plenty of storage (not that we have anything) and it felt so fresco with the windows....DAMN that green carpet! I even love the tile in the bathroom and the chocolate brown toilet and sink...really I do, it just screams Latin America, it has character!
The kitchen: big, bright, and functional, plus a little patio off of it for sunny mornings.
But that damn green carpet! You know me, I can get creative and decorate....I dont want to have the same kind of place I would have in Atlanta (and I never would with that bathroom! ha)actually my mind has been thinking "how could I make that carpte work for me?" I think I will look at a few more before jumping. I have time, no pressure here in Costa Rica....pura vida as they say.....Im going to fit in just fine here!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What to do this weekend???

What to do??  Go to a beach? Go hiking? Stay in San Jose?   Kate and I were debating what we should do until 1130pm Friday night.....after 5 different plans came and went, we planned on not having a plan this weekend!!  It was great, saturday morning we went to the farmers market that goes on every Saturday morning in Pavas.  I know this is going to be a weekly thing for Ernesto and me.  We bought a glass of fresh carrot-orange juice for 2 cents and then made our way down the strip, filling our bags with crazy cheap (and beautiful) produce.   Fresh herbs, pineapple, papaya, tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and big-ass mangos!! mmmmm Kate introduced me to this delicious vegetable called PejibayeThey are shaped like little chile peppers (see them hanging? this is how they grown on trees) they are really starchy almost like a sweet potato and they have a seed in the middle.  They roast them, split it in half and put a dollup of mayonaise on it. The guy gave me one to try...DEEEE-LISH!!  We bought some to take home.  We also bought 2 different bouquets of tropical flowers and lush greenery and it was $2.50......I vow to not go without fresh flowers all year!!  (at that price, why would you?) Kate also bought 5 different fresh herbs plants to put in some pots at her place.
We made plans with Diana from the office to go out that night.  I wanted salsa dancing OF COURSE! They wanted to check out a place they hadn't been before called Utopia.  When we got there they had a snobby red carpet line to get in AND they were playing Ricky Martin Techno.  Ahhhhh, No thanks! We had a couple beers at a bar next to it called Tequila Joes and ended up at Castros, a reliable Salsa and Reggaeton club that Diana and Kate know well.It was really fun and I got my salsa dancing...the only bad part was that Kates little purse was stolen with her cell phone, drivers license and credit card when she was dancing....she called at 4am to cancel it. Pobre cita..... I think that is a lesson for me...I will not take a bag from now on when I go out dancing.   Unfortunately, staying out til 4am meant that I slept until 11am.....and didn't feel that good even then, we went to a pool at the Hotel Irazu around the corner and I was just about to does off when it started to must have been about 1pm.  I told you, EVERYDAY like clockwork!!  It was perfect weather for us to take our laptops to a cafe though.  Im sure my readers were DYING to know what I did this weekend.  I don't want to disappoint!


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