Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Begin with the End in Mind"

So this is my friend, Suzanne. She's an intern from Holland at our school and she'll be here until June. We both speak English. So of course, we became friends right away.

I've discovered that in Europe, people regularly do interesting things like...stay in hostels. So, it was naturally her duty to introduce me to my first hostel experience the first weekend that we met! So Friday morning, we got up at  4AM, jumped on a bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo, and suffered leg cramps and neck pains for four hours in the Tico sized bus seats.

Before this trip, my idea of a hostel was not very optimistic. My thoughts were uncomfortable beds, dirty, bland gray rooms, and a little bit sketchy.

Well as it turns out, that's not how they do it in Costa Rica. (Ok maybe it was a little dirty)

See for yourself....

We stayed at Rocking J's.

Where we slept. We paid $7 a night for this hammock luxury.

So, we spent the weekend relaxing at the beach, trying not to get swept away by the red flag waves.
Suzanne tried to teach me how to surf. Unfortunately, I can't really say with a guilt free conscious that I actually surfed...I only made it past my knees a time or two. Maybe next time.

In the evenings, we had the pleasure of meeting a smattering of people from around the globe. I talked to people from Holland (no not just Suzanne!), Sweden, Germany, Canada, Uruguay, and a few a little bit closer to home- Montana & New York. 

The hostel had a kitchen so we gathered a large group of us together and all pitched in for a cheap dinner. Suzanne, our German friend, and I worked together to cook the "best meal" these traveling guys said they had "had in months". I'm glad the we were able to help satisfy a few bellies!

One thing that I discovered through many conversations that weekend was the amount of people who were "trying to find themselves" through traveling and seeing "where life took them". Some of these people had been on the road for months or just at the hostel "chilling" (and drinking...and smoking...) for weeks. I was burdened by the stories of people who were trying to escape disappointment or dissatisfaction with their lives at home. 

Don't get me wrong, I love to travel. That's why I'm in Costa Rica. But I was reminded of the value of having a purpose and vision for your life. It made me reevaluate my life and where I'm headed.

Our school is centered around Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Happy Kids (I'll talk about this more later). But- one of the habits that we've been teaching our kids at school is "begin with the end in mind". As 7 & 8 year olds, my class understood more about setting a purpose and planning ahead than most of those adults did. It is my desire that if those kids decide that they want to be something or go somewhere, they will commit to it and not end up 10-15 years down the road saying to themselves, "how did I end up here?"

Sunday, February 3, 2013

That weird feeling like I'm starting college again.

I arrived in Costa Rica just a little less than 2 weeks ago. My parents were kind enough to travel down here with me to help me get set up. [Or maybe they were just smart enough to take advantage of a free place to stay in this popular tropical vacation spot! :)]

In a sense, it took me back to that first day of my freshman year of college... all the way from moving in to my new place [except a little bigger than my dorm room] to hitting the stores to find some needed supplies. We also had a chance to explore the new town and try the get our bearings. 

These were some of our findings:

On the bucket list: Before I leave Costa Rica, I will go see a show here.

My collage of the coffee life cycle!

Unfortunately this was the best picture we got. Overcast would be an understatement. Maybe next time we'll see something worth bragging about..

One of those times that you're glad your mom embarrassed you: 

Lets flashback to the airport really quickly. I was standing in the Immigration line with my parents in San Jose, waiting to be officially let into the country. We weren't sure if we had properly filled out our forms so my mom boldly asks the man in front of us to explain the whole process. He responds cordially and gives me his business card in case I need any help while in the country. I stow it away and promptly forget about it.

Just a few days later: Our tour bus takes us up to the La Paz Waterfall and Gardens for the day. When my dad sees the sign, he says "I recognize that name- could it be from that man's business card?" When we return home, I pull out the card only to find that we had met the OWNER of the in the airport line. I need to start making more friends along the way!

La Feria de Santa Ana

Where I will be getting my groceries. 
We realized that our 1-100 Spanish number education doesn't help very much when the lowest bill in Costa Rica is 1 Mil (or 1,000 colones). Perhaps I'll be able to negotiate better deals once I know my numbers in Spanish better!

Our produce from the day.

Drinking refreshing coconut water from an Agua de Pipa!

A beautiful way to end the week with mis padres.

And as their week here ended, my new life here was just beginning. 

I remember that when I started college at UGA, Athens, GA felt like such a big town. It felt impossible to get my mind around where things were in relation to one another. Isn't it crazy how fast a town can shrink? I can't wait to discover the ins and outs of Santa Ana and watch it shrink before my eyes. 

Most of all, more than anything, I remember how hard that first month of college was. Searching for my place in that town made time crawl like molasses. But once that month was under my belt, college disappeared in a blink of an eye. Something gives me the feeling that this experience is going to be quite similar. Two weeks has felt twice as long. I feel like home is a lifetime away. But I have to be careful and not wish this away. Pretty soon I'll wake up and it'll be December- it always seems to happen that way.