CRCosta Rica

Costa Rica

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Costa RicaCosta Rica

Costa Rican Christmas

I had some anxiety about spending my holidays away from my family this year. It's the first time I've not had Christmas with all my sisters, nieces and nephews, etc. I worried about the separation, and I also worried about the gift situation here.   Do I buy presents for ... read more

Valarie Harger

Costa RicaCosta Rica

My Brain: The Potted Plant

“Don't worry about it; everybody in Costa Rica speaks English.” This is what I'd been told, and believed, before coming to Costa Rica. And most of the people I interact with do speak English-- because they are American. Bait and switch!   When I got here, my Spanish level was ... read more

Valarie Harger

Costa RicaCosta Rica

PanamaPanama

Weekend trip to Panama

In order to stay in Costa Rica for more than 90 days (which I am doing), you need to leave the country every once in a while for 72 hours to renew your visa. My friend, Lena, and I, were both in need of a new visa. Her friend Josh ... read more

Valarie Harger

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Dirty Minds Think Alike

I'm a funny person.   Before coming down here, I would have said “I think I'm a funny person,” but no. It's hit-or-miss, but usually, I can make people laugh. Occasionally, I make them guffaw.   So when I came to Costa Rica, and learned that I don't always get ... read more

Valarie Harger

Costa RicaCosta Rica

The Land of the Sloth

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for- the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary! First, a little background on my sloth obsession. I first saw Aviarios a few years ago in a Vimeo video that was making its was around the web and melting hearts one little two-toed beauty at a ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Cahuita: days on the beach, nights in mosquito netting

This weekend, five volunteers and I went to the quiet Caribbean town of Cahuita- home of quiet beaches, the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary, and not much else. But don't let this description fool you into thinking it was a dull weekend, the weather was beautiful and sunny both days, and I ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Almost Deported (At least, I thought so at the time...)

When the police boarded the bus, I was nervous but not freaking out. When they said it was a passport check, I had this nagging sensation that I was missing something. I took a deep breath, and opened my bag to the spot I always keep my copy of my ... read more

Valarie Harger

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Back to the Big Blue

  This weekend I took the long-awaited trip to Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast. Many Tico travel agents (and roadside touts) will tell you that it's difficult to get there on your own, and try to sell you a package for a three-day tour with transportation.  I'm sure these tours ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Coatis and Monkeys and Sloths, oh my!

As a study abroad student through ISA, I was treated to three excursions. The first was Tamarindo, the second was Arenal, and the third was Manuel Antonio. Manuel Antonio was by far my favorite. The hotel was awesome. There were three pools, and there were really neat decorations made out ... read more

Valarie Harger

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Too far afield (trip)

Today I got to take a day off from work to go on a field trip with some of the students from the English class where I sometimes help out. Most of the students are around my age, and they love to have native English speakers to chat with. Sometimes ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Monkey business (and the dealings of sloths)

If I may refute a popular saying, sometimes it is not about the journey, it's all about the destination. Getting there may be harrying, hellish and all-around disheartening, but once you make it to that dreamed-of place, it's all worth it. This weekend's destination was Manuel Antonio, on Costa Rica's ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Danzamble!

Sorry about the delay, folks. Glimpse was down for a few days, and then I was gone.  So, back to our regularly scheduled program.     The man who sold me the tickets to Danzamble spoke very slowly. I appreciated it. I am not yet fluent in Spanish (nowhere near), ... read more

Valarie Harger

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Wet Paint

Another volunteer came to join me at Llevando Luz this week, so I was finally able to paint the mural Dona Karen had requested when I started my placement. It only took me two days, which is a good thing since the kids couldn't play outside while I was painting, ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

The Green Mountain

  We had to cancel our plans to go to Manual Antonio last weekend, since some of the roads were all but impassable due to flooding from storms. We decided to go to Monteverde instead, which is just a boat ride away from La Fortuna.    We took a bus ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

The First Shower

I was torn between my comfort and my pride when mi mama tica knocked on the bathroom door and asked me if I needed help. I mean, I was pretty sure I DID need help; the shower was uncomfortably cold. But I didn't have enough Spanish to understand any directions ... read more

Valarie Harger

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Crafts and cacao

As much as I love my job taking care  of the kids at Llevando Luz, it wasn't actually my first choice for placement with CCS. I was drawn to the program in San Carlos when I saw that they had a women's empowerment program called Amureci, which centers around an ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Puerto Viejo

This weekend I went to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast. The journey took almost 10 hours, thanks to a one-hour traffic delay on a windy mountain road, a little rain and one very animated cab driver. By the time we arrived I was ready to roll into my hammock ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Cakes and Snakes

Thursdays are usually field trip days, but this week I was lucky enough to have two field trips, both involving some crazy wildlife. Tuesday, a few of us took a bus to TEC, the Costa Rican technical college, with some of the friends we met in the conversational English class. ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

Little Earthquake

We had an earthquake here in Costa Rica yesterday. The epicenter was in Puntarenas, which is about 250km from where I am, but one of the volunteers who works outside our town said she could feel the ground shake. I didn't feel anything, but with all the kids running around ... read more

Tricia Smith

Costa RicaCosta Rica

google.co.cr

One extra little tidbit of information: Costa Rica, like many countries, has it's own version of Google. Today there was a special Independence Day masthead with a purple orchid, the national flower of Costa Rica. Made me smile, so I thought I would share :) read more

Tricia Smith

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Books

Lonely Planet

Michelle Saltis

30 Nov 2009

Costa Rica

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Michelle Saltis

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I planned an entire backpacking trip for nine weeks through South and Central America with Lonely Planet. I definitely recommend them for any trip, because they were nearly always accurate about prices, and broadened my opportunities to find great little eateries and places to go.

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Getting Around

Budgeting in Costa Rica

Sara Greenfest

11 Feb 2010

Costa Rica

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Sara Greenfest

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This may have been obvious to some, but it's something I had not expected: Costa Rica is NOT CHEAP! But don't fret, after being there for three weeks, I have come up with a few quick tips on saving cash in Costa. 1. Eat local: The country is pretty overrun with overpriced restaurants aimed at tourists. When you first get to a town, head for the local soda, small diners with great food and great service. 2. Ask for a discount: No matter what type of hostel you are staying at, many won't mind lowering the price if you pay for a few nights at once, or if you just ask. 3. Don't pay for surf lessons: Lessons are available all over but your best bet is to rent a board for $10, take it to the beach and make some friends.

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Etiquette

Careful with your compliments in Costa Rica

Jessica Goldkind

19 Nov 2009

Costa Rica

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Jessica Goldkind

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Invading the lives of our (not well-off) host families, my friends and I were overflowing with gratitude and friendliness. Trying to be nice, I complimented my host mom's shoes, and she asked me which color I wanted them in. "I don't want them for myself," I stammered in Spanish, "I just think they look nice on you." "Do you like them in blue better or white?" she pressed on. "Same thing happened with us!" my friends reported when I told them the story. "We complimented our host cousin's necklace and she took it off right then and there and gave it to us. We felt so bad." Only then did our program leader explain that when you compliment something in Costa Rica, the person feels obligated to give it to you. So find other ways to be nice!

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Food

Bring your own spices

Michelle Saltis

12 Dec 2009

Costa Rica

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Michelle Saltis

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Perhaps the most important thing I learned while backpacking was to bring my own spices along with me. I had never heard of this before, and quickly regretted not thinking of this idea myself, when I realized how useful some spices from home would be while cooking abroad. Most of the time, we could only afford to cook very simple meals with rice, beans, and potatoes in our hostels or over campfires, and a little pepper or garlic or curry could have gone a long way in adding more variety and flavor to our dishes! I was always jealous of the prepared backpacker who had thought to bring his own array of spices.

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Health

How to get healthcare when your country doesn't provide it for you

Matthew Amaral

30 Sep 2009

Costa Rica

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Matthew Amaral

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After living our entire lives in a country that doesn't provide adequate healthcare for all citizens, and where the healthcare system is devised to profit by rejecting sick people, my wife and I are moving to a country that provides great healthcare to ALL of its people. We're Americans moving to Costa Rica. We bought travel insurance, for around 500 bucks, which covers many accidents and the cost of travel back home (up to $500,000). We also bought the cheapest Blue Shield we could for about $100 a month total (nine months) for the two of us. Between these two measures, we are hoping to have some peace of mind for $1400 -- if something terrible happens, we know we won't go bankrupt when we return home.

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