Tuesday, September 24, 2013


September is sea turtle season. I live 5 hours from the most important nesting site of the endangered green sea turtle in the Western Hemisphere (second to only Australia in the world): Tortuguero, Costa Rica. So last weekend, we decided to go check it out.

It was a short trip, but we accomplished a lot! Saturday morning we got up bright and early at 5:30AM to head to San Jose to catch the first bus out of town. We took a bus from San Jose to Cariari, then another to La Pavona, and finally we had to take a boat taxi through the Tortuguero canals to reach the island.

There are no cars in Tortuguero so it was immediately a nice change of pace. Even with only one main dirt pathway through the town, Ashley and I immediately knew that this was somewhere that we would want to visit again. We quickly found our hotel for the night (with the help of our tour guide friend that we met along the way!), Miss Junnie's Lodge, and double checked that we had a reservation for a turtle tour that night. 

We spent the afternoon exploring the island and the beach. Just by chance, we stumbled upon the BIGGEST IGUANA THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN. You may not be able to tell in these pictures but I was blown away! 

This iguana was probably the size of a small dog, no joke. 

The ocean water was such a gorgeous ice blue. 

When we were walking along the shore, I was just in awe of how the water was so many different colors of blue all at one time. 

Finally, it was Saturday night- the reason we came to Tortuguero-- to go out on the beach and watch the sea turtles!  

It is a weird feeling to me that I don't have pictures of the very best part of the trip. But in order to respect the turtles, they're not allowed! We left our hotel at 9PM, dressed in all black. We felt like spies sneaking through the forest, waiting for our chance to go out to the beach. 

After they're born, sea turtles head out into the Carribean to find their feeding grounds. Once they are of age, they return to the exact same beach where they were born to lay their own eggs. 

"In the open ocean, sea turtles encounter strong currents; they have only modest vision, they can only raise their heads several inches out of the water, and there are often no visible landmarks. Even with these limitations, sea turtles regularly navigate long distances to find the same tiny stretch of nesting beach where they were born. How they do it is one of the greatest mysteries in the animal kingdom.." 
[-Torgtuguero Sea Turtle Conservancy]

When we got out to the beach, we immediately saw two large sea turtles heading back into the ocean. Already, I was captivated by their beauty and grandiosity.  Next, we were told to head down the beach where we found a large mama sea turtle digging her nest and laying her eggs. It was stunning. After laying at least 100 eggs, she began the exhausting work of flinging sand and covering her nest. After we watched her head back into the ocean, we had to head back off of the beach. 

I cannot wait to go back another time to hopefully see some eggs hatch!

The next morning, we took a beautiful canoe canal tour from 6-9. Here are a few of the sites we saw!

We got out of the canoe to find a poisonous blue-jean dart frog-- of course I had to hold him!
A golden orb spider-- much like the one living in our backyard back in Santa Ana...
A cayman that we spotted on our tour! 
Waving good-bye to our tour guide!

Finally, after a boat ride, 4 buses, and a taxi, we made it home Sunday night. It was a quick stay-- 
but such a beautiful one!

"You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you." 
[Nehemiah 9:6]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Celebrating the "Indepencia de Costa Rica"!

Costa Rica's Independence Day is September 15, so many celebratory activities are held in the few days leading up to the day! Last Friday, the whole school came together for a night of fun and celebration of Costa Rica's culture.

Parents brought typical Costa Rican foods of all kinds to share!

We had a presentation put on by the students that included a skit (by my class) about how the Independence was won, typical dances, typical humor, and even a "cooking show" explaining how many of the typical Costa Rican dishes are prepared. I had a blast! Costa Rica has such fun and lively traditions. 

My class, taking a bow after their skit!

Videos of the cutest little dancers ever!

At the end, the school hosted a traditional "Desfile de Faroles" (or Parade of Lanterns). All of the students created their lanterns out of recycled materials and showed them off in the parade that night. Here are some of my favorites!

These are the winners of the lantern making competition
At the end of the celebration, we also found out who won the classroom decorating competition. My kiddos were very pleased to find out that we had won! We got to enjoy a special lunch and dessert this week as our reward.

My gracious students :)
My attempt at a group picture...
And last, but not least, here I am- in my typical Costa Rican dress!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Costa Rican Independence Day Decor

I've been a little absent lately because we've been having a lot of fun happening around the school! A few weeks ago, we had the annual "La Feria de Mandarin" (The Mandarin Fair)-- but (even though it was AWESOME) I'll get to that later.

Next up on the agenda was Costa Rica's Independence Day- September 15th. It was each teacher's duty to decorate their classroom with recycled materials based on the Costa Rican theme (national flower, national bird, the flag, etc) that they were given. I was lucky enough to receive the "Himno Nacional"- or in other words, The National Anthem. I truly love this song so I was excited to get started! 

Today our classrooms were judged and we will find out who wins the competition tonight at the big celebration. In the mean time, while you're anxiously awaiting the results, I'm going to share with you what I came up with.

["Noble homeland your beautiful flag
It gives us expression of your life"]

["Under the clear blue of your sky"]
My attempt creating a blue sky! (egg cartons + paper towel roll + twine + spray paint)
["White and pure rests peace"]
White dove paper garland, donated by one of my students mom's = perfect! 
Loving this magazine paper flag banner! 
["When anyone tries to besmirch your glory
You'll see your nation brave and virile
The rustic tool transform into a weapon"]
["Hail Oh homeland your prodigal soilGives us sweet shelter and sustenance"]
(tin cans + newspaper + sharpie + magazine paper + sticks + hot glue)
Guess what-- their colors are red, white, and blue so I might reuse some of these ideas next July! 
The lyrics were all written on old magazines & newspapers.

*UPDATE: We won the classroom decorating contest! My students have never been more thankful for my hard work than when they found out that we would be getting a special lunch on Monday (cake included)! I guess that's one way to win 'em over...

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Go Overseas

A few months back I stumbled upon an awesome website called Go Overseas. Obviously, I'm interested in seeing a few sides of the world in my lifetime so the articles caught my attention!

Before I knew it, I was applying to be a part of the Writing Corps. So here it is- my first contribution- a San Jose, Costa Rica city guide! It is my desire that it will help encourage aspiring teachers with a hunger to reach the world.

(Look to the left section of the page, titled, "About Teaching In San Jose" so see info from yours truly!)

P.s. I have been playing Ben Rector's new album, "The Walking in Between", on repeat for the past 2 weeks. Enjoy one of my favs from the new album while reading my article! ;)