الأربعاء، 20 فبراير، 2013

2007-08 SA Exec (plus Sally) in Costa Rica

I originally joined the Peace Corps because my good friend Dave had applied and suggested I do the same. He was placed in Kazakhstan, and when I could've visited, he was still in training and couldn't accept visitors. And then I was placed in Costa Rica-so any vacation I was going to take certainly wasn't going to be the expensive and long trip to Central Asia. But, as I was placed in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, I was constantly hassling him about coming down to visit. He was waiting to go to interviews and then hear about a job-which would then give him the security to spend some money on vacation. Not only did Dave make it happen just in time, he also convinced Greg-my other roommate from my senior year-and third travel buddy on my post graduation Europe trip, as well as Cassie and Sally, two sisters that we were all great friends with at TU. 


So, a few days after Thanksgiving, I met them at the airport in San José. We immediately went to the rental car place, where there were some considerable problems with our reservation and some costs that didn't appear on their website, but there weren't really any other options at that point-so we paid, and hit the road to La Fortuna. Greg was the driver for the week, and he got the worst of it out of him immediately-mountain roads, thick fog, one-lane bridges, and no lights, paint or light reflectors to see the many road curves in the dark foggy night. But, we got to our hostel, and started ordering up some Pilsens and catching up. 

In La Fortuna we took a hike around the national park at the base of the volcano. It was cloudy and misty, so we were unable to take in great views of the volcano, but it was still a great hike. We relaxed big time at EcoTermales, a hot spring resort that was amazing! I took them to get chicharrones-a Costa Rican staple-as well as a typical casado at a cheap local restaurant (I asked the guide for recommendations so we didn't have to overspend at a tourist place). 


We then visited Daryl, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, so they could get a taste of small town life and an example of Peace Corps sites (which are generally not much like tourist sites-although there are always exceptions). We had a great time, one of the ladies in his community he works with had us over for coffee and traditional pastries of the region, it was lots of fun. Daryl and I did lots of translating, as Cassie and Sally did not want to break out their high school Spanish-Dave, though, was not afraid to do his best with his one semester in college and some trips to Latin America. 

After that we headed to the beach in Guanacaste. It was gorgeous, I'd gone my entire service without visiting the famous beaches of Guanacaste-mostly because I lived on the Caribbean side of the country and because I hadn't had visitors to take there. I was quite impressed with the beauty of the beaches and the sunsets. We visited Playa Conchal and Playa Flamingo, which was gorgeous and had wide open swathes of beach and ocean. We snacked on salsa, refried beans, tortilla chips, and a couple six-packs, read some books, chatted about college, and rode the waves into shore. 
(surfer dude at sunset at Playa Flamingo)
Sadly, I had to go into San José and sign some papers, do some interviews, and officially close my Peace Corps Service-but I sent them on the way to Manuel Antonio national park-where they had lots of fun and didn't get too hosed by the touts. We met back up in San José two days later-my solid directions only having one small mistake-but Greg still made it through the city and to the Peace Corps office. They grabbed some coffee to take back as a gift from another volunteer's project, and we took Cassie and Sally out to the airport-they had to be back for work. Greg, Dave, and I enjoyed a delightful day strolling around downtown San José, admiring the gorgeous buildings, gawking at the atrocious ones, not paying to tour the National Theater, and having delicious Chinese at a recommended restaurant-where Dave wowed the waitress with his Chinese (and I managed to not embarrass myself with mine). With an early flight, it didn't make sense to go out-so we hit up San José's newest mall and were joined by my buddy Brian-another volunteer. Needless to say, it was a GREAT visit.

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