Day 18: Clothes and Shopping

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****WARNING**** The below post is semi-girly!

I’m sure most girls out there, and some guys, can relate to me when I say I have missed my clothes and shopping for clothes. I’ll be honest, I don’t really shop a lot. But I still like fashion and dressing up, so the past year has been a little bit tough.

I only brought enough clothes that fit into 2 medium sized suitcases. That’s shoes, accessories and ALL! I know, you’re impressed, aren’t you?

I have to say what has gotten to me the most over this past year has been really just getting bored with wearing the same thing over and over. When I was working as a teacher I felt like I had about 2-2 1/2 weeks of outfits that I would rotate, which after the first 5 months became really frustrating.

I have to admit, when I went back to the States for a friend’s wedding, I did go buy a pair of white jeans from Ross (love that place! And T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, etc..) and I bought a light sweater and a couple of accessories here in CR. The thing about shopping in CR is that they do NOT accept returns!! I went to the mall here with my friend Megan to return a pair of shorts and the lady at the cash register said that Megan had to contact their lawyer in order to discuss a return! It’s crazy!

It was difficult going back in the summer and seeing all of the super cute trends and refraining myself from just grabbing my wallet and keys and jetting off to the mall! One of my favorite things was the gold watch trend. I think they are super cute. I love gold! (I totally just re-read that last part in an Austin Powers’ Goldmember voice….Anyone remember that? Anyone?)

Overall, I think I have spent around $55 the past year on clothes shopping.

Anyway, now that the seasons are changing in the states, and with the ‘help’ of Pinterest, all I can think about is getting home and getting cute sweaters and boots!! I have this super weak spot for winter clothing. Now, ask me why I have lived all my life in either the South, a desert, or near the equator….? I think it’s because I love dressing for cold weather, but not necessarily the cold weather itself. I found that little fact out during my first January trip to Missouri. Brrrrrrr!

Something else I have thought about is how new all my clothes will seem when I get home! I have so many, it will be sort of fun going home and remembering what all I own…lol. This brings me to another realization. I want to treat my wardrobe from now on with a “Less is more” attitude. I want to know myself and my style well enough and be able to shop well enough to have nice, key pieces in my closet and not just a TON of “cute” clothes. I definitely want to go through my closet when I get home and get rid of a lot of items. I know it will be hard, but I just need to remind myself that after I finish cleaning out a lot I can get a few new pieces!! I think I need to write this project down as a possible blog post when I get home.

The last issues I had with my clothes here are moths, bleach, and jeans that are too big! First off, there are these tiny holes in some of my shirts and sweaters in my closet.

Shirt of mine. The moths must LOVE this one. There are 4 holes in it!

Shirt of mine. The moths must LOVE this one. There are 4 holes in it!

Sweater

Sweater

Second, I somehow got this huge bleach stain on the back pocket of one of my pairs of jeans. They weren’t even that old, either.

I would post a picture, but I sent that pair of jeans home with my mom when she was visiting since I wasn’t wearing them.

Last, most of my pants are too big on me now! Thanks to our healthier eating habits, I lost some weight. Enough so that my jeans are too big! Another reason to go shopping?? I think YES!

One awesome thing that happened while I was here: I brought this pair of North Face pants that Peter bought for me in early 2009 that were too small for me. I mean, I couldn’t even button them without the snap popping open again. I was so sad that these pricey pants had not been very worn, but I couldn’t use them because they were too small! I guess I packed them because they are traveling type pants, and we were traveling for a long time! I am so glad I did because after losing the weight they now fit like a glove! You have no idea how happy I was to be able to wear those pants around. Great feeling!

What else is in style these day? I need to get caught up!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

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Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 17: Close to Other Countries

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One of the great things about being in Central America is how close you are to other countries.

In order to maintain a legal tourism status, non-residents must leave Costa Rica every 90 days for at least 72 consecutive hours. We spent two out of the country trips returning to the U.S. to visit our families, and for weddings and what not. Surprisingly, we never made it back to our actual home in Vegas. Instead, we opted to spend our time in the States with our families in Missouri and Texas, which we are happy about!

The other two times that we had to leave the country, we chose to visit the two countries that border CR, and that’s Nicaragua to the north, and Panama to the south.

Nicaragua was our first trip we took in February. Peter had been here since Dec. 1, so we had to leave before the end of February to be safe. There are two places that are popular to travel to in Nicaragua from CR. One is San Juan del Sur, which is a beach town. The other is Granada, which is more inland and near a very large lake. We chose Granada and were not disappointed!

First off, we got a really nice bus from San Jose to Granada for      $           which took us across the border and all the way through to Granada. It is quite a long bus ride. Around 9-9 1/2 hours!

Next, we only spent about $25 a day for both Peter and I to eat and drink, including alcoholic beverages!

pizza and beer, yum.

pizza and beer, yum. Tona is the best beer, btw.

Third, the place we stayed was really cute and the guys who run it are extremely helpful and friendly and speak English really well. It was called La Islita Boutique Hotel.

La Islita

La Islita breakfast area

Last, there are a lot of fun things to do there. Everything from tour volcanoes and bat caves to just taking a stroll through the city to view the Spanish architecture.

Nicaragua 115

Nicaragua 102

Nicaragua 096

Nicaragua 045

Nicaragua 060

Nicaragua 085

 

We did all of the above. We had an AMAZING night tour of Masaya Volcano. Actually, I guess it was more of a sunset tour because the sun was setting while we were touring the volcano.

The crater was HUGE! And sulfur smoke was rising from the deepest part of the crater.

The crater was HUGE! And sulfur smoke was rising from the deepest part of the crater.

Sun setting...gorgeous coloring! This was when Peter was bald! :-)

Sun setting…gorgeous coloring! This was when Peter was bald! 🙂

View of the crater from up on a hill nearby.

View of the crater from up on a hill nearby.

After it was dark, we got our flashlights and helmets and toured a bat cave and underground, dormant lava tube!

Ready for the bat cave!

Ready for the bat cave!

Trekking through the lava tunnel!

Trekking through the lava tunnel!

All in all, you could tell how Nicaraguans are struggling so much more than Costa Ricans. There was even a man that came up to our table at dinner (we were eating outside on the restaurant patio area) and asked to take our food that we had not eaten after we were done. It was just a few chips and some salsa. Definitely a humbling moment that made us appreciate all that we have….

 

The other place we went in order to stay in CR legally was Bocas del Toro, Panama! We had an amazing time with two of our amazing new friends, and you can read all about that trip in the following links

Bocas del Toro: Part 1

Bocas del Toro: Part 2

Bocas del Toro: Part 3

It was such a great trip, it took 3 posts to cover!

We have loved traveling to other countries while here. Each time was a different experience from CR. The U.S. is so big and only borders Canada and Mexico. You know though, I’ve never been to Canada….maybe we should try there next. Then I can at least say that I’ve been to the two countries bordering my own home country!

Guess you’ll just have to continue following to see what the future brings!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Monteverde, Costa Rica

Hello friends!

Peter and I just got back last night from Monteverde, Costa Rica and we had a BLAST!

I must admit though, it did not start off that way. See, we bought a voucher off of Travelzoo.com for both of us to spend 2 nights at the Ficus Sunset Suites in Monteverde plus a canopy tour (zip-lining) for around $300.

We stayed on the bottom floor, and this was our awesome view!

We stayed on the bottom floor, and this was our awesome view!

Unfortunately, this was the only sunset shot I got before the clouds moved in. The hotel claims it has "the best sunset in town" so it was a shame we didn't get to see a good one. You can, however, see the gulf from the Pacific Ocean from here. It's the bright orange sliver.

Unfortunately, this was the only sunset shot I got before the clouds moved in. The hotel claims it has “the best sunset in town” so it was a shame we didn’t get to see a good one. You can, however, see the gulf from the Pacific Ocean from here. It’s the bright orange sliver.

We bought the voucher in September and decided not to use it until December so that we could have one last trip before returning to the states on the 18th. Plus, the voucher expired by December 15. We didn’t call to make the reservations through TravelbyJen (they were the ones offering the voucher on Travelzoo.com) until about two weeks before we left. We are sort of last minute planners. But it didn’t say anywhere on the voucher that we needed to make them within a certain time frame or anything. It actually said something like, “Buy the voucher now, and choose when you want to go later!” which is what we did.

When we did call to make the reservations, TravelbyJen’s super rude reservation/customer service guy told us that the voucher had expired. He said we had to reserve within 30 days of buying the voucher. Long story short, we argued with him for awhile, got attitudes back and forth, he seemed to think it was Travelzoo’s fault that it didn’t say that….anyway, it all worked out after about a week of going back and forth via e-mail with ‘Matt’ from TravelbyJen (never use them if you have the choice!).

We were just glad we got our reservations, the hotel was super nice and included a hot breakfast both mornings. Oh! And a yummy, complimentary pinacolada upon arrival!! I should also mention that to get there, we took the public bus (they are like coach buses) for $5 per person each way. It took about 5 hours to get there, and the last 2 hours was on a bumpy dirt road climbing uphill that was uncomfortably close to the edge of a pretty steep drop off… Our bus home was super nice though with air conditioning and a cup holder! What?!

Fancy drink holder.

Fancy drink holder.

Ready for take off!

Ready for take off!

Alright, on to the fun times.

We took the 2:30 p.m. bus from San Jose (the only other option was the 6:30 a.m. bus. Need I say more?) so we didn’t get in to Monteverde until 7:30 and we walked up this SUPER steep hill to get to our hotel that was close by. Let me just say that we walked a lot on this trip, and most of it was up and down hills. Actually, pretty much all of it was 🙂 Yay for natural exercise!

We drank our pinacoladas, settled in to our room for a bit and then headed off to eat dinner at a yummy restaurant called Morpho’s. Our food was delicious and we got a coffee ice cream ting for desert! We never get desert when we go out, so this was special.

Morpho's Restaurant

Morpho’s Restaurant

The next day we woke up, ate breakfast, and were off for our canopy zip-line tour  that was included in our package through Selvatura company. Peter and I had been zip-lining when we were in Arenal in January 2012 and were not really impressed by it, so we weren’t expecting much. We were wrong. Zip-lining here was amazing! The scenery was beautiful and they even have a zip-line that is 1km long! Peter and I had to go together because they said if one person goes alone then they will not make it to the end because they are too light! It was also actually fun riding down with Peter. On all the other zip-lines we rode individually. Great experience to share!

Peter!

Peter!

Me!

Me!

I should have mentioned that it was about a 20 minute, uphill, rocky ride up to Selvatura Park where they offer a lot of different activities, and once you are up there the shuttles only return during certain times to give you a ride back down the mountainside to your hotel. After zip-lining we still had a little less than 2 hours until the next shuttles came back, and we were wanting to go walk on the hanging bridges through the cloud forest anyway, so we decided to go for it.

One of the only pictures of us together. One of the drawbacks of traveling by ourselves.

One of the only pictures of us together. One of the drawbacks of traveling by ourselves.

This is what most of the walkways in between bridges looked like.

This is what most of the walkways in between bridges looked like.

The longest bridge!

The longest bridge!

SO much dense forest!

SO much dense forest!

Me, out on Bridge 4, the longest one!

Me, out on Bridge 4, the longest one!

Peter, just hangin' out! lol

Peter, just hangin’ out! lol

Can you see the person on the zip-line? This was the same one we did!

Can you see the person on the zip-line? This was the same one we did!

FYI, Peter and I both decided by the end of this trip that Monteverde is basically a tourist trap. If you go, it’s so far out of the way that you have no other options other than what’s available to you, and they know that, so they jack up the prices. Zip-lining was included in our package, so I don’t remember how much they posted it was to do that, but the walking bridges was an extra $25 per person! And that was with a $5 discount each! Don’t get me wrong. It was all absolutely beautiful, but if you visit just be prepared to spend a few bucks 🙂

After our zip-lining and walking the hanging bridges we were starving! So after the shuttle dropped us off at the hotel we headed off on foot in search of food. We came across this Tree House Restaurant that was very unique and the food was actually really good, too! I feel like normally when you find a restaurant that’s really unique, they are trying to compensate to terribly food. This was not the case here. Another win in the food category for our trip!

So much food! But sooo good!

So much food! But sooo good!

This is the same tree spilling over off of the patio.

This is the same tree spilling over off of the patio.

He was posing with the tree in the restaurant.

He was posing with the tree in the restaurant.

Peter gave the food two thumbs up!

Peter gave the food two thumbs up!

On our stroll back to the hotel for a little food coma nap, we passed by this place called Extremo that offered different activities, one happenning to be bungee jumping. We talked about it with each other because Peter has been trying to get me to do this for years, but I’ve always been too scared.  Peter mentioned how high it was and that it would probably be really expensive because it seemed like such a good jump. When we went in to get more information on it, they said it was only $60 per person!

Peter’s thinking: “That’s a steal!”  (because it cost him twice that much to do a similar height jump in New Zealand)

I’m thinking: “Do I really want my first time bungee jumping to be a bargain buy?” I mean, you get what you pay for, right?

We walked away, talked about it some more. I have actually been thinking about trying ti lately, I just never thought I would actually get the guts up to do it! I think the last-minuteness of it was what helped us to decide……………..to do it!!! That was our special surprise to all of my fb friends visiting. Sorry for the suspense 🙂  !!

I was freaked. They were picking us up at 7:30 the next morning and my hands were already getting clammy! They actually still are just thinking about the anticipation. lol

I tried not to think too much about it. I knew I was going to do it. I’m not the type to back out once I’ve paid for something. 🙂 So Peter and I didn’t talk much more about it until we were up on the mountain and getting our gear on!

I also have to admit that we rode up the mountain in a car with about 6 or 7 other people, to which I thought, “Great! I can watch some of these other people go first and feel more at ease!”  It turned out that Extremo also offers canopy zip-lining tours and ALL of the people in our van did that. So it was just Peter and I for the bungee….back in to the nervous state I went…

Us getting our harnesses on! Also, our 'guide', Danny, was trying to get this hummingbird to fly again that just flew into the window and looked a little loopy. that's what's in his hands! Poor thing!

Us getting our harnesses on! Also, our ‘guide’, Danny, was trying to get this hummingbird to fly again that just flew into the window and looked a little loopy. that’s what’s in his hands! Poor thing!

Next, Danny and Andres got all of our necessary ropes and carabiners and we set off on the suspended cable car. Oh man, was this part freaky. It was really windy that day, so the car would sway a little. Also, if the two guide were on one side of the car, then there was a really bad tilt. I think it freaked Peter out more than me, though, because he is SUPER afraid of heights!!! Lol, go figure. I should also mention this was his FIFTH time bungee jumping!

Definitely do NOT look down before you jump....look out at the beautiful mountains instead!

Definitely do NOT look down before you jump….look out at the beautiful mountains instead! This is the ledge we jumped off….

Another taken after we had bungeed.

Another taken after we had bungeed.

These are actually pictures taken after we had bungeed. Don't we look so happy?! lol

These are actually pictures taken after we had bungeed. Don’t we look so happy?! lol

This jump is the highest in Latin America, and the 4th highest in the world at 143 meters!

Below we have video from our helmet cameras for you to enjoy our fear 🙂

Peter’s jump!

My bungee jump!

I like Peter’s video more because you get a better view. Mine, you just get to see my terrified face the entire time. Sorry!

Also, another thought I wanted to add: I couldn’t help but think about something my friend, Veronica, mentioned to me once, and that is that once you have kids you don’t feel right about doing things like bungee jumping or sky diving. It seems so selfish. I want to thank her for that, because I’m not sure if Peter and I will ever have kids, but I do think she is right, and I was definitely thinking about that during the whole ‘getting ready’ process. We get more conservative the older we get and a lot of that is due to things like having children. It would seem very tragic if you happen to leave them alone in this world because of a leisure activity…

I’m really glad we did it, but I can’t say if I’ll ever do it again. Once was enough for me! It also helps that it was such a beautiful place, and such a high jump! No need to go again anywhere. lol.

Here is a youtube video of an Extremo Bungee jump.

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 16: Things for the Home I do NOT Want

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I know, this seems like a strange title for a post, but when I’ve had to live with certain household items around here, it makes me do two things:

1) Makes me thankful for the things I have in my home.

2) Makes me realize that just because something looks cool and fancy, doesn’t mean it functions very cool or fancy…

What sort of “things” am I talking about? Well, let’s just get started. And I think I’ll stick with the numbering for this post.

1 – The stove.  Our stove back home is gas (which I LOOOVE!) with normal grates (I think that’s what those metal things are called on each burner..). Here, we use an electric stove with a fancy, flush look. Like this:

'flush' look.

‘flush’ look.

Top of the stove.

Top of the stove.

It looks really nice, but what I end up doing is using it as a counter since there is not a whole lot of counter space to begin with. This is bad because there have been multiple times I have used a burner, turned it off, and the red spiral that lights up when it is on disappears so I forget it’s hot and set things down on it…..like rubber lids. Then I get the joy of cleaning melted rubber off the stove and also smelling it for a few days after, just as a reminder! The ‘flush’ flat surface may look sleek and modern, but it’s just a bad idea. At least it’s a bad idea for people like me..

2 – Goblet-style cups. For some reason the owner of this apartment decided to furnish it with these cups that are sort of like goblets and don’t hold very much liquid. The biggest drawback, in our opinion, is that when you go to rinse them out, if you aren’t careful and turn the water on too fast, then it ricochets in and out of the cup and all over the front of your shirt! Or on the floor. It’s so annoying. It also sucks not being able to get a big glass of water. You have to refill a small glass multiple times. Looks fancy, but not efficient!

The goblet.

The goblet.

Just to give you an idea of the size, this is my small, girly hand.

Just to give you an idea of the size, this is my small, girly hand.

3 – Glass sinks. We have this really luxurious looking sink in our second bathroom that is glass. It goes with the decor and looks very nice….until you use it. It’s glass, people. It shows every watermark and smudge! I want to show you a picture, but no matter how much we clean it, there are still things that just won’t come out. So, just use your imagination for that one. 🙂

4 – Tile floors. They show everything! I have to sweep every other day and wipe my feet off before going to bed at night. It honestly just makes me scared for what’s hiding in my carpet back home. YIKES! Dust bunnies try and thrive around here…I will say that we leave the patio door open here all day and into the night, so I’m sure there is a lot of extra dust and things blowing in, whereas back home the doors stay shut pretty much all of the time. All homes are tile here, and I’m sure with good reason once the rainy season hits! I swear, moisture gets EVERYWHERE that time of year, and I don’t think moisture and carpets mix.

Our tile.

Our tile.

Other things I am exited to get home to include a bigger kitchen sink, more counter space, and our comfy couch!

What are some things that you have loved or disliked about your living spaces in the past? Let me know so I don’t make the mistake of putting it in my home!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Day 15: Healthier Lifestyle

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One of the best things that has come from living in Costa Rica for a year is our health!

Before I even made it down here to join Peter (he was here for three weeks before I came) he had already dropped quite a few pounds. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really notice that he had put that much weight before we moved here, so you can understand how surprised I was when I looked over at my screensaver (you know, the one that scrolls through all of your pictures?) and saw a picture of Peter hiking in Utah in November before he left for CR, and he looked so…..puffy. The picture below shows that photo (left) and a photo of Peter when we went to Arenal Volcano in January!

Left- November 2011Right- January 2012

Left- November 2011
Right- January 2012

He had lost so much weight! Mainly fat. We ate out a lot in Vegas, and although I think we thought we were eating healthy I think we splurged more that we should have. Plus, when you eat out there are many extra  ingredients you don’t always realize are in your meal and can add calories.

Here, fresh fruits and vegetables are all easily available. Now, I say that, but did you know that most restaurants (including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell) have a delivery service!? You would think that would make crappy fast food more easily attainable, but in reality, since we do not speak Spanish very well and it is more difficult to understand over the phone, we never tried the delivery service for any restaurant. Why would we want to go through the extra trouble and effort for something that’s bad for us?

I can’t remember how to merge photos together like I did for Peter’s picture, but here are my before and after pictures below!

This was me at Jaco beach on Christmas Day 2011.

This was me at Jaco beach on Christmas Day 2011.         

And this was taken some time in the spring. I honestly can't remember the exact date, but I had been living here for a few months at this point.

And this was taken some time in the spring. 

 

I lost around 10-12 lbs (I’m 5’4) and Peter lost around 20 (he’s 5’11/6’0)!

I’m sure it helped that when I was working as a teacher, I was walking around 2 miles 5 days a week on my way to and from work. Like I said, having such easy access to fruits and veggies meant we were eating more raw foods, and we get our meat from a local butcher. There is a fruit stand on the same corner as the closest bus stop to us, and the feria (street market) sets up in downtown Santa Ana every Sunday from 5 a.m. – 12 p.m. The foods here even taste so much better than the foods from the grocery store back home. Carrots and cucumbers are sweeter, and the chicken here tastes SO good! I didn’t even realize you could taste the difference between the hormone-injected chicken in the U.S. and the more naturally-grown chicken here.

We also have a gym here that we try and put to use (Peter does more often than me 🙂  ) and there are hills EVERYWHERE, so going for a ‘walk’ turns into a pretty nice workout. You can’t help but want to go outside and enjoy all of the beautiful weather here anyway. The weight came off so effortlessly here. I just hope we are able to stay on track when we get home.

Stay tuned for updates on that in the future!

I would love to hear what you do to stay in shape in the States. Have any good recipes or workout ideas? Let me know! I LOVE trying a new, delicious and healthy recipe!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Day 14: Earthquakes

Check out the other days you’ve missed, HERE!

Earthquakes are a new concept to us. Peter nor I had ever been in one until we moved to Costa Rica.

I have to say the first one we both experienced was one of the biggest in Costa Rica’s history, clocking in at a 7.6 on the Richter scale in early September 2012. Luckily, there was only one fatality, and I believe it was a person who had a heart attack. Although, there was a lot of structural damage to some areas along the pacific coast. I have also heard that Costa Rica has very high building standards when it comes to earthquake sustainability. That helps me sleep at night. 🙂

I was at school and had to keep calm with a class full of 9 year olds. The only thing I could think to do in the moment was tell them to “get under their desks”! After about a minute of that, when the shaking stopped, we went outside to an open area with the rest of the school. The feeling of land moving beneath your feet is one that feels so unnatural. I think that’s what scared me so much the first time around.

Peter’s experience was quite different, but just as frightening, in my opinion. He was sleeping still (this was about 9 a.m.) and was woken up by the bed shaking out of control, jumps out of bed and runs outside. Talk about a wake up call…lol.

There have also been several smaller ones since then, and every time it’s the same feels, just at different levels depending on how strong or long the earthquake is. You are so surprised and fearful in the moment, and then it’s over!

I really love the way my sister-in-law, Joanna, describes it:

“I loathe earthquakes. There you are one moment, minding your own business, then you suddenly spend the next few seconds in the beginning stages of heart failure and wondering if your picture will be on tv along with all the other victims of this disaster in progress. Then it stops before you die, everything is completely normal again (mostly) and you feel silly and overly dramatic.”

Well put.

I guess I won’t really miss having a random earthquake every now and then, but I think I might every once in a while. Or, maybe it will just be my own, special Costa Rican experience. 🙂

If you come to CR, chances are you won’t experience one, but you never know! Stay safe!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 13: Friends We’ve Made Along the Way

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If you are visiting Ticavida for the first time, Welcome!

We have been so lucky to make such good friends since we’ve been here, and today I want to talk about how happy we are to have met each one!

The first people we met when coming here was Kristin and Nicki, who work with Poker Refugees (FB link here). They are the people who moved Peter and I here in the beginning. They helped out with finding an apartment, setting up a bank account and so much more with the whole process of setting up shop here. Also, they are just cool chicks to hang out with!

Next, I got a job teaching fourth grade at an American International school. The first day was far beyond hectic for me and I had no clue what I was doing since I have never taught before, and I do not have a teaching degree. Luckily, I got some amazing guidance from the third grade teacher, Betsy! Unfortunately, she was only around for another two or three weeks after I started, but I know it was better for her that way. Peter and I also watched her adorable little pup for a few days!

I also met another really cool couple from the Northeast, Mike and Natalee. My first impression of them was a little weird-ed out because they are not married, but they have the same last name. I couldn’t decide if it was by chance they happened to have the same last name, or if she was just the ‘crazy’ girl that changed her last name to match her boyfriend’s before they were engaged or married or anything! lol. Poor thing. I think she gets that a lot. They both helped with advice for traveling to Manuel Antonio and to Bocas del Toro, Panama (which turned out to be the best vacation EVER). It’s too bad we didn’t get to hang out with them a little bit more before they went back to the States, but I have a really good time getting to know them while they were here!

After Betsy left, a new third grade teacher came, and I felt like I should pay it forward and offer any help to this new teacher as was possible. As it turned out, is a super awesome person and her name is Megan! We connected first on where we are both from….TEXAS! Then I asked her where she was living and she said Santa Ana, which is where we live! It just felt right from day one. She is just so sweet and she introduced us to her boyfriend, Jorge, who is Tico and just as sweet as can be. We have spent many weekends hanging out together, they have celebrated both of our birthdays with us, and really just been there for us for anything we’ve needed. They are such a great couple and just really great people all around. Our experience here would NOT have been the same without them. Thank you, Megan and Jorge!

Birthday fun with Megan and Jorge!

My 26th birthday fun with Megan and Jorge!

Last, we have met some really cool friends through the wonderful world of poker! I’ll start with Clint. He invited us white water rafting with him and another poker player and we had a blast!! White water rafting is probably the most fun thing I have ever done, and I have Clint to thank for that! He also has a really sweet girlfriend he lives with in California near LA. They are an adorable couple and just send off good vibes all around. Hoping we get to see more of them in the future, for sure.

From Left to Right it's Clint, Peter, random guy on the raft traveling alone, Ryan (another poker player), and me!

From Left to Right it’s Clint, Peter, random guy on the raft traveling alone, Ryan (another poker player), and me!

The other really great ‘poker’ couple we have met is Emily and Josh. They are newlyweds from South Dakota who are just perfect together and boy do they know how to have a good time! We have spent many nights (sometimes into the morning…lol) just having great conversation, occasionally watching Youtube videos, and just having an overall great time. They are such an upbeat couple with similar views as us on traveling styles, which led us to go on a completely FANTASTIC vacation to Bocas del Toro, Panama with them. You never know what it’s going to be like traveling with others, and seeing as we had only known them a short time, we were a juuust a little bit nervous at first. As it turns out, there was no need to be nervous at all! We loved being around them so much that we tagged along with them to Manuel Antonio for a couple nights not too long ago. They may never get rid of us now! So thanks Josh and Emily for making traveling around this country with friends such a great experience. We are looking forward to more once we are all State side. 🙂

This picture cracks me up, but snorkeling in Panama was so much fun!

This picture cracks me up, but snorkeling in Panama was so much fun!

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio

Finding good friends while you are traveling is really important in my opinion. It has a great effect on your experience in one place. I feel so grateful for all of the friends we have made over the past year. Our time spent here couldn’t have been spent much better!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 12: Tipper

Click HERE to read about all of the other things we’ve experienced while living in Costa Rica!!

Today’s post is a bit of a sad one.

Once we decided to move here for a year, we brought our cat with us!

This is one of my favorites of Tipper!

This is one of my favorites of Tipper!

 

We first got her in the spring of 2009 and she was already 8 years old at the time. Her owner was diagnosed with a form of cancer and wanted to know that her cat was going to be in a good home after she passed away.

Peter and I still always talk about how crazy she was when we first got her. She stayed under the bed for the first week we had her, and when she eventually came out, she would jump out of her skin at the slightest sneeze or cough…

She came such a long way since then. We dragged her to three different apartments, she stayed at my mom’s house for a summer (we were travelling a lot), she rode in the car with us when we bought our first home and moved from TX to NV, and last, we’ve flown her to another country! I am so glad we did, too. She was a blast to have here and always put a smile on our face.

Now, I say “was a blast” because something sad happened. The apartment complex we live in sends guys to keep up our yard every two weeks or so. Their arrival is never consistent because the rainy season has unpredictable weather.

Peter and I had blocked off all of the openings where Tipper has attempted an escape before, and one of those is a small side gate around the side of our building. We also squeezed outdoor chair cushions in the open slots on the gate, so she couldn’t slip through there. We just wanted her to be able to roam around our yard, but not escape!

This is our side gate.

This is our side gate.

Well, the guys came to weed eat our yard and when they left, they left the side gate open. I was in the States at the time, so Peter was here by himself.  When he got up the next morning he opened the patio door and let Tipper out into the yard not knowing the side gate was wide open. After a few hours of playing poker, he took a break and went to look for Tipper….he couldn’t find her. He looked all over the house, and even all over the complex and asked the security guards if they’d seen her. Unfortunately, we never saw her again.  😦

I really just felt bad that Peter was here alone after Tipper ran away, and I was all the way in the U.S.  He Skyped to tell me she had gone missing and I was so sad she was gone. I still get sad remembering her and all he quirks and funny manor-isms. I tell myself that someone found her and she is in a good home. It’s better than thinking she got eaten by some animal in the rain forest of Costa Rica!

Here are some of the photos we have of her!

This was in our new home in Las Vegas...she was POOPED from all the moving in.

This was in our new home in Las Vegas…she was POOPED from all the moving in.

This was during the 21 hour drove from Arlington, TX to Las Vegas, NV.

This was during the 21 hour drove from Arlington, TX to Las Vegas, NV. Looks comfortable.

She LOVED being in showers or bath tubs...of course not with any water in them.

She LOVED being in showers or bath tubs…of course not with any water in them. She would sit here and watch me while I got ready in the mornings.

She liked high places. Watching everyone with those creepy eyes!

She liked high places. Watching everyone with those creepy eyes!

This was last New Years! Here in Costa Rica.

This was New Years 2011/2012! Here in Costa Rica.

Sunbathing in the first apartment Peter and I lived in together. She could juuuust barely squeeze into that sunlight..lol.

Sunbathing in the first apartment Peter and I lived in together. She could juuuust barely squeeze into that sliver of sunlight..lol.

She napped often on our red couch here in CR. We laid a towel on the couch to keep hair from getting everywhere.

She napped often on our red couch here in CR. We laid a towel on the couch to keep hair from getting everywhere.

She really enjoyed the grass outside here in CR. She was always an indoor cat before, so I think that didn't help in her finding her way home.

Tipper really enjoyed the grass outside here in CR. She was always an indoor cat before, so I think that didn’t help in her finding her way home here. 😦

You never know when your pets could be gone! Go give them a big hug right now!

We will have to look into getting another kitty when we get home…maybe!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Day 11: Beautiful Weather

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It seems a little bit silly to me to be posting about the weather. I mean, that’s what you talk about when there is nothing else to talk about, right?

Well, it may sound silly, but it turned out to be a really big deal to me and Peter. It really is truly amazing waking up every morning and opening up the sliding glass door on our porch to bright sunshine and a temperature around 70-75 F. No matter how bad of a morning I was having or how stressed out I was before heading to school at 7 A.M., once I stepped outside, took a breath of fresh air and felt the warm sun on my skin and a cool breeze through my hair, it’s like all of the bad disappeared.

This was taken in January 2012, not long after arriving to CR for the first time! This is our apartment patio :-)

This was taken in January 2012, not long after arriving to CR for the first time! This is our apartment patio 🙂

We live in a part of Costa Rica known as The Valley. It’s near San Jose is, and it is MUCH cooler weather than the beach. It is actually really amazing how much the weather changes between here and the hour and half drive to the Pacific coast. The coasts are all hot and humid with salt in the air. I love visiting places like that for a few days, but I am so glad that we chose to live in the Valley rather than the beach.

We almost never had to turn on our air conditioning. We just leave a few windows and the patio door open!

Mid December-March is what is called the ‘dry’ season here. I am not exaggerating when I say it did not rain ONCE during those months! I think I even got a little spoiled, because those were my first few months experiencing CR and I remember thinking, “Wow! This is awesome!” and also, “Man, I kind of miss clouds and rain…” There were hardly ever any clouds, either!

I think the highest the temperature got during those months was a few days it hit lower 90’s, and everyone was complaining about how hot it was?!?! lol. Moving from Las Vegas to here…Costa Ricans don’t know what ‘hot’ is!  🙂 Those were some of the days we chose to close the door and turn on the a/c for a few minutes. A ‘too hot’ poker player in the house is NO fun to be around…trust me.

The rainy season hits around April and lasts through November/early December. The worst month of the rainy season is October. During April-September it would be bright and sunny in the mornings, and anywhere between 1-4 p.m. it would get cloudy and eventually rain. I mean, we are talking like clockwork here. You could never judge the weather for the day based on the morning sky outside your window because there was a 98% chance it would rain. Then again, the nice part of that is that it was always predictable. It would almost always rain that afternoon! October was different. You would wake up in the morning and there would be clouds. Even rain some mornings! It was just so different than what I was use to for so long. It also gets really chilly in the evenings on rainy days, like in the 50’s!

I brought a rain jacket with me, but one of my student’s parents ended up giving me and Peter a huge umbrella! It was so nice of them, and came in handy for me many times walking to and from school.

This is an example of a rainy afternoon Taken from our patio in October 2012

This is an example of a rainy afternoon Taken from our patio in October 2012

Another benefit to good weather is mood. Bright and sunny days tend to coincide with better moods and better overall emotions.

As long as I’ve known this sweet and loving man of mine (which is around seven years now) he has dealt with an ongoing battle of depression. It doesn’t occur all the time, but we call them ‘sad days’. In the past, he would be fine and happy for a while, and then for no apparent reason, no trigger that we could think of, he would become really depressed. There was no predictor an episode was about to occur, and I really don’t know that there was anything we could do to bring him out of the depression. I just had to be there for him and we would wait it out together, until he felt better.

Overtime, we did notice that the episodes were occurring less and less (I like to think that was a result of me being in his life… lol, just kidding!), but they were still more often than we liked. We looked into different medications, but neither of us really like the idea of being medicated for emotions, so we moved on to a more natural solution: Vitamins!

Currently, Peter takes vitamins such as Niacin and 5-HTP, which are mood enhancers and help control serotonin levels. We have also both noticed that since moving here, to Costa Rica, having the sun shining almost everyday has affected Peter’s mood in a really positive way. I think in the last year he has only had one, maybe two, episodes. I think they call it Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when the weather affects your mood.

The difficult thing for us now is to leave here knowing how good things have been for him. I know he is worried that more episodes will flare up when we return home, but I’m confident that he is on a good path. Plus, luckily for us, Las Vegas is a pretty sunny city most of the year! The challenge will be to get him out of the Casino and into the sun.

We have spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks just standing outside, trying to soak in the beautiful weather, and not take it for granted while we have it so nice! I love to go outside in the evenings once the moon is out and just look up and the bright stars and the moon and just be in the moment. We never took much time to do that back home. We were always too busy with other things.

Make sure you take the time to be present and aware in the moment, wherever you are and in whatever you do. Life will really amaze you.

**Sidenote: Always wear sunscreen! We wear spf 70 on our faces daily, and at least spf 30 if we are going to be out in the sun. No skin cancer for us!** 🙂

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 10: Cheap Movies

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How much are movies costing these days? The last movie Peter and I went to in the U.S. was in Las Vegas, and if I remember correctly, they cost $9.50 a piece!

The effect of expensive movies is us not going to the movies very often. Oh, and this big guy in our living room…

December 2010, while moving into our first home!

Yea, he loves that T.V…………. I’ll be honest, I love that T.V. too 🙂

Anyway, back to movies here in CR.

For one adult ticket it costs 3,200 colones (~$6.50). Wow, that sounds great compares to $9.50!! But wait, there’s more.

On Wednesdays, there is a promo they run that’s 2 for 1! That’s right, it only cost Peter and myself $6.50 for BOTH of our movie tickets on Wednesdays!!! Also note that this is a Cinemark movie theater located in the Multiplaza, which is the biggest mall in Central America, so it’s a really nice theater. The theaters are also smaller than U.S. theaters, so there’s not a bad seat in the house!

Oh, and speaking of seats, there is this really great thing they do here before you purchase your ticket and that is that they ask you to choose a seat from a screen of assigned seats. GENIUS! WHY do they not do that in the U.S.?!?! I literally get upset thinking about it. You don’t have to show up to the movies super early to get a good seat. Most people buy their tickets, and then just go walk around the mall until the movie is about to start. It just such a great system. Seems like if it works in a 3rd world country then it should be able to work in the States.

The last thing that I love about the movies here that I am really going to miss is the sweet popcorn!! Think about those popcorn tubs your mom use to get around Christmas time that had regular, cheddar, and caramel popcorn. This popcorn at the movies is like the caramel flavor, but better! It’s warm and forms this crunchy outer shell as it cools….mmmm my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Peter and I use to get the ‘mixed’ popcorn with salty and sweet popcorn all in one bag, but we both admitted to secretly trying to pick out the sweet kernels only, so now we just get sweet!!! So good. Just can’t tell you enough.

We actually went to the movies yesterday to take advantage of 2 for 1 Wednesdays and we saw Twilight. I’ll be honest, I’m glad that’s all we spent on that movie..

Me with our sweet popcorn at Breaking Dawn 🙂

There are always two options for the movies here. One, is to watch it dubbed over in Spanish. Two, is to watch it in English with Spanish subtitles.

We have tried to take advantage of the cheap movies here. It’s been a great experience!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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