Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last morning in Costa Rica

In the last few days in total, we walked nearly 20 miles to look for sea turtles and we never saw one. It was kind of a disappointment-My teacher keeps saying that he is so sorry and that if anyone deserves to see one it is me! But it's okay, I'll probably make a stop at Petco when I get back to Seattle and spend some time with the turtles there. haha! On the brightside (and I think I already mentioned this) I made up a great song in Spanish about turtles and taught it to everyone! Last night at dinner we sang it in the restaurant and it was so fun. Even afterwards people were singing it, which brought me great joy.

To end my blog, I am so happy and blessed that I was a part of this trip in Costa Rica. I was really nervous to come, but I had a beautiful time here. The motto of Costa Rica is Pura Vida (Pure Life) and now at the end of the trip, I finally get what it really means. We actually went around in our group last night talking about our "pura vida" moment. Basically it is just being free, getting out of life what you make it, breathing deep, enjoying nature, and living in the present moment-just to name a few examples. One of my Pura Vida moments was on Thursday when we went to the beach at Manuel Antonia National Park. The ocean was so calm and beautiful; I swam far as far away from the shore as I could and I felt so content and happy. Like I always say, water is my soul food. I just love it!
This whole trip was living a "Pura Vida" for me and I am so grateful for that. Before I came here I was very stressed and on a tight string, so a few of my goals for my time here were to be less uptight and to enjoy every moment. Through a lot of prayer, I was fortunately able to do those things and many others and I feel great about it. I am very at peace and my spirit is light. I just hope that I am able to maintain this as I arrive back in Seattle and back into the swing of my busy busy schedule. That is my new goal!

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who read my blog and sent me emails, notes or comments along the way! I really appreciate it and am so glad that I was able to share a part of my trip with you 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Last few days in Playa Palo Seco

I wanted to start out with a an excerpt from an assignment I had to turn in today for Spanish class:
Yo llegue a Costa Rica hace tres semanas. Yo estoy estudiando sobre los arboles, los parajos, plantas, y cultura de Costa Rica en esta viaje. Me gusta mucha mis nuevo amigos, la playa, y la comida de Costa Rica. Yo estoy triste porque salimos el sabado. Yo voy aqui otra vez algun dia. Esta noche es el final noce a buscamos las tortugas. Yo espero encontramos una!!!

My teacher said that I did great! Here is the rough translation:
I came to Costa Rica 3 weeks ago. I am studying about trees, birds, plants and the culture of Costa Rica on this trip. I very much like my new friends, the beach and the food of Costa Rica. I am sad that we leave on Saturday. I will come here again one day. Tonight is the final night we look for turtles. I hope we find one!!

We are going to the beach in about two and a half hours to look for the turtles. I have been praying that we find one! Last night our search on the beach was so fun. We got to walk with Miss Cecelia, a great American woman who has been working with turtle restoration for 8 years here. She was great.
Also, I have really broken out of my shy shell here and have been having a great time! Last night I even made up a song about turtles in Spanish and some of my friends are the background singers. We are thinking about making a music video--and our guide Marcos loved it! Something great that has happened to me here is that I am now no longer afraid to sing. A group of my friends strongly encouraged me to sing in front of the group last week and although it took me a while to mentally prepare, I did it! They all loved it and I have been getting requests ever since then. Now it is almost nothing for me to just sing. It feels great! Also the other day my friend said that they had never seen someone as great with kids as me--I was touched. What a great compliment! I sure do love kids; and I am so happy to be around all these positive people.

Yesterday we went on a great Mangrove tour which I would definitely suggest to anyone that travels to Costa Rica. I wish I could post a picture of one because they are so cool. They are basically trees that grow in a swamp. Some are tall and some are short but they all have multiple roots that emerge from the water in a sort of twisty fashion and when branches from trees touch, they fuze together to make the tree stronger. They are very pretty. Also during our tour we saw a silky anteater, "Halloween" crabs, Albino crabs and White Faced Capuchin monkeys. The monkeys got so close to us and one of them had a teeny tiny baby on its back! Our guide said that it couldn't have been more than a week old. It was absolutely adorable. I wish I could've held it. Seeing that was a time when I really missed my camera and phone! But it was just great to see either way. We also saw a Mangrove Boa Constrictor that was huge.

Tonight is our second to last night in Costa Rica! I am sad to leave but excited to get home!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Playa Palo Seco

We are at a new place now-La Isla Hotel in Playa Palo Seco! Our teachers warned us how sketchy it would be but I think it is very nice. Plus for my roommates I got all my favorite people on the trip so I am happy about that. Not much has happened so far. At this point in our trip one of the main things we are doing is working with turtles, which are my favorite animals! So I'm very excited. Last night the die hard turtle lovers walked six miles along the beach looking for them and we didn't even see one. It was sad and the walk was rough because of the sand. My ankles are sore today. But once we see one I'm sure it will be worth it!
Today we are going on a mangrove tour on a boat so that should be fun! Also our hotel has a swimming pool again so hopefully we'll have a little time to enjoy it. If we see any turtles I'll be sure to post!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Free Day

I'm not feeling so well today...but at least it's on our one and only free day. I couldn't imagine feeling like this on the hike! I think I'm dehydrated along with some other things. I might have a fever I think. On the bright side I had a dream last night that Sanaa Lathan was my good friend and she came to church with me, it was very nice.
I'm going to spend today drinking lots of water, resting and working on my sketches and journal. Only 5 days left here. I'm excited to come home!

Oh and I forgot to add something to my post from yesterday. As most people know, besides Whitney Houston, my absolute favorite person in the entertainment industry is Mr. Tyler Perry. I love that man. Anyway, I am on his mailing list and get emails from him every once in a while. During our time at the Ranger Station I was able to check my email and got an email from him that gave me some great positive energy and helped to keep me going. I thought I would share it with you all:


Hey Courtney,

At 44, here are 44 things that I have learned and know to be true. Have a great day today my friends.
1. Yes, God is real.
2. Your gift can make room for you.
3. A baby can heal broken hearts.
4. A mother's love is stronger than distance, more powerful than time and can transcend the grave.
5. Take time to smell the roses but be careful of the bees.
6. God will really make your enemy your footstool.
7. A footstool is only needed when you need to get higher. Let your enemy lift you.
8. God will prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies so let them watch you eat.
9. Be careful what you say, life and death truly are in your own words.
10. There will be rough nights but joy really does come in the morning.
11. Fear is a sprit that really can stop you from living.
12. God has not given us a spirit of fear.
13. The joy of The Lord really is strength.
14. Being alone doesn't necessarily mean that you're lonely.
15. True love can come more than once.
17. Life is short but heartache is shorter.
18. Don't share your dreams with everyone and don't be angry with non-dreamers.
19. It takes a while to build a dream.
20. The dream will outlive the dreamer so dream big.
21 If you lie to yourself you will lie to God too.
22. Live where you are so God can meet you at your needs.
23. Never wish to be somebody else.
24. The grass may be greener on the other side but the the water bill is higher.
25. Don't let people change who you are just be who you are with someone else.
26. Heartbreak can make you hard! But don't let it make you bitter.
27. Bitterness is as toxic as stage 4 cancer.
28. While the most dangerous person in the world is a person with nothing to lose, the most powerful person in the world is a person with nothing to prove.
29. Don't try to be seen, God may be hiding you on purpose.
30. Your beginning never dictates your destination.
31. The will to live is as strong as the will to love and be loved.
32. You really will reap what you sew.
33. You can learn something from everything and everybody, especially the elderly.
34. Childrens' laughter is like medicine to sadness.
35. Prayer really can change things.
36. If it had not been for The Lord on my side I don't know where I would be.
37. Who you are at 20 will not be who you are at 40 and if it is, SOMETHING IS WRONG!
38. You give away your power when you don't forgive.
39. Always aim for right and avoid doing wrong at all costs.
40. Never argue with what is.
41. Teach but never try to change people because sometimes they change back.
42. Share wisdom with those who will receive it.
43. Be aware of the darkness but your focus should always be the light.
44. Nothing is impossible for God.
Talk soon,

I just love him! Every email I get from him is so inspiring to me. Hope you enjoyed it too. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Well..I made it!! What a miracle! We are back at our hotel and back in the land of civilization now, which I am very happy about. We walked just about 40 miles over the last four days. We traveled to the Sirena Ranger Station in Corcovado National Park which is 13 miles in the middle of nowhere and then spent three nights there exploring and getting to know other visitors a little bit. A couple of us also swam on two of the days and gave ourselves a spa treatment with some mud that we found, haha!
We saw about six tapirs (which resemble an elephant, just smaller, with small ears and about half a trunk), We also saw lots of birds, anteaters, coati's, crocodiles and monkeys! Since this rainforest was in a less disturbed area than the other ones we have been hiking it was a little different. For one example, the monkeys here were very aggressive towards us because they aren't used to humans, where monkeys other places may not pay us any mind. It was interesting. 
The 13 mile hike in on Thursday did not go well for me. I had so many unfortunate things happen to me between Wednesday night and Thursday morning that I was on the brink of tears even before the hike. It took 7 hours to get to the ranger station and the whole time I was so grumpy and had a horrible attitude so I feel bad. But after the first day I was fine and back to my normal self. On the second day a small group of us decided to hike to a swimming hole to cool off. My friend Bernie was taking a while to get ready so I offered to wait for her while the others headed out but once we finally started going she realized that the shoes she was wearing wouldn't work for the trail so she decided to go back. I really wanted to go so I kept going and just hoped that I would catch up. I could see the group ahead of me for a while but after a huge incline I lost them. So I ended up doing the whole trail on my own and then once I finally got to the river my people weren't even there! I figured that they walked up to where it was shallower but I didn't see them and didn't want to lose the trail so I just decided to go in on my own. The river felt incredible and after a really hard day the day before it was just what I needed. Like I wrote before, water is my spirit food, it really rejuvenates me. It was just me out there in the river, and it was pretty cool. I saw a river otter too that kept walking up a rock and then sliding down it into the river, it was really cute. 
I met two great couples that were staying at the Ranger station too. One couple was Tim and Veronica who are from Australia and Argentina and met in London. They have been together ever since then and have been living in Costa Rica for about a year now. They took the same trail that I took to the river and they ran into an ocelot! That was probably the coolest thing that I heard about anyone seeing. They said that they had a stare down with it and then it ended up running off. Pretty cool. I'm so glad that I didn't run into an ocelot on my way back because I wouldn't have known what to do!
The other couple that I met was Dia and Mike. I was so happy about Dia because she was African American. I hadn't seen another person that looked like me since I've been here so it was great getting to know her. I could tell that my group didn't understand why seeing her made me happy, but they don't realize that our kind stick together! She of course totally understood and we connected right off the bat. She is from Colorado and has been traveling around South America for a few weeks and will continue to do so until she runs out of money. We got a nice picture together and she gave me her facebook info so I can find her on there. I'm always happy to make a new friend:)

We left the station today at 4:30am to get most of the trail done before it got too hot. The hike back seemed so much easier than the hike in! I think somewhere in all of our hiking I pulled a muscle in my behind and it hurrrrts but I will stretch. I was just praying and praying and praying throughout every hike and I am sore and blistered and bruised but I am here...all thanks to Jesus. On the hike in I was the last one to come through and today I was the first one! The swimming, and my prayers and my new friends put a little pep in my step. Now I think any hiking we do will seem like a piece of cake!
Our time in Corcovado was fun but mostly exhausting. I can't wait for the plane rides back because I will finally be able to get some good sleep! Yayyy~ 1 more week left!
I don't normally drink and tonight I had a pina colada to celebrate and I wasn't ready for its force. It's very much time for bed! Tomorrow is a free day for once, so hopefully I will get up and do something relaxing :)

Oh and I forgot to give a special shout out to my good friend Bernie for rubbing my back today, that always makes me feel better. Thank you dahlin! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hike of a Lifetime tomorrow!

This morning at breakfast I prayed that I would have a good day and have a great attitude, and I did! Today was my best and happiest day that I've had over here. This morning we did a monkey study for about 4 hours where we split up into groups to find a troupe of monkeys and study them the whole time. My group found a troupe of Howler Monkeys and they were pretty interesting to watch. At first they didn't like us and they threw twigs and fruit at us! But after a while they got used to us, but definitely kept their eyes down to see what we were doing. We saw about seven adults and four young. Two of the young were baby babies, and just clung on to their mom's back the whole time. It was so cute! I just wish I could've held one. For the most part all they did was eat, sleep and groom each other, but at one point they went from dead quiet to this really scary howling. It was so loud!! We read in our book that Howler Monkeys have a voice box 25x that of other monkeys its size so that's how they can achieve such a loud sound. They did that for about thirty minutes and then napped again. It was interesting to see. We had to sketch a couple of them and mine are terrible but I think I captured the basic scene. I'll have to try and post them later.

Then later we were supposed to go on a big hike to a waterfall, but the instructors cancelled it! I was overjoyed to say the least. My friend Rocio and I went to the beach and it was beautiful. I think water feeds my spirit because I just love it, and in any form. It is very therapeutic for me and brings me great joy. The waves were pretty crazy so Rocio stayed on the shore but of course I went out and rode in on some waves (without a body board); Some of it was pretty rough and rocky but I had a great time. I just love the water. I took a little break and gave myself an exfoliating scrub with the sand and then went in for round two. On the walk back we ran into a bunch of crabs..those things move FAST! It was fun to watch them. Then I went back to shower and had sand in just about every place you could think of. Haha! I think I got rid of most of it though.

We had our Spanish lesson, dinner and two talks and now I am about to go to bed. Tomorrow we leave for the biggest part of this trip: the 4 day, 3 night, 13 mile Corcovado Hike. We have breakfast at 5:30am and then we leave! At first I was really dreading it, but ever since my spirit was lifted today I have been looking at it as more of an adventure that has the potential to be pretty fun and definitely unforgettable either way. So now I am kind of excited. We had to pack our backpacks today though and mine is HEAVY, but I am pretty strong so hopefully I'll make it. We won't get back until Sunday afternoon, so as long as I'm living I'll post then! (I think I will be)

Lastly, I am having really bad luck with technology here. As I wrote before, my camera broke within the first couple days, but then I had my phone. Since then I've taken a ton of photos and videos on it but today something went wrong and all my data besides contacts got erased from my was pretty sad. But luckily it happened today so it didn't bother me too much. I will just have to save everything in my memory, or do a picture potluck with some of my friends on that are here I guess! I'm sure it will all work out :) 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Recap of the last couple days

For the last couple days we have been at home stays! I'm so glad that we had the opportunity to do so because it was such a great experience. We have been staying at hotel after hotel so it was refreshing to be placed with a Costa Rican family and get to know them and some of the culture of Costa Rica. I was SO happy because our house was the only house with kids at it-which is what I was really hoping for! There was four of us that stayed at our house.

Our host mother's name was Dona Marielos and her husband was Don Oliver. Two of their five kids, Cesar and Wendy lived at home with them, and their other daughter Marianella lived about a mile down the road and has the two little ones, Jeremy and Amanda. It was so fun to get to know this family. Some highlights/interesting things about our time: our family (and us) would go to bed on average around 7 or 8pm and wake up at about 5am. Every morning we had breakfast, coffee time and dinner together which I really enjoyed. Coffee time was my favorite, except she gave us lots of pan dulce so I will have to work that off now! Outside of the kitchen window was a little hummingbird nest with two babies in it! We were able to stand on a stool and look right at them, it was very cool. On Sunday we went to mass with our host family and Dona Marielos kept saying how excited she was to show off all of her daughters, we took pictures before and after and for the first time on this trip we looked nice! (haha)

Overall, this trip has been great but very exhausting. We are working really really hard and doing so much stuff (that I'll have to write more on later). I am actually sort of ready to come home even though I am enjoying it here. Some of the people on this trip are starting to get on my last nerve and I am getting pretty nervous because Thursday we leave to go on a 13 mile hike! We have now moved on to the Osa Peninsula which is the hottest and most humid place that we have I don't know if I will make it. I am already tired just thinking about it! Plus we will be spending two nights on the trail so we have to carry around our huge packs with anything we might need in it. Anyway...if I make it, it will surely be a miracle! If not, thank you to all my family and friends. I love you! I am so tired that I'm sure this doesn't even make sense, but I'll try and post again soon. <3

Still can't post pictures--