Category: Travel

Pura Vida: Living in Costa Rica Pros and Cons

I have been living in this wonderful country for two years now. I have come to understand the culture and way of life on a deep level. The way of life here is very PURA VIDA! Which is kind of like Hakuna Matata. It means no worries. Really… no worries.

These are some off the most friendly and grateful people I have ever met. If anything goes wrong, someone is there to help out, whether it is a flat tire or giving directions. The beaches are beautiful and a stunning sight to see, so everyone is happy. This is the beginning of the PURA VIDA lifestyle.

There are pros and cons to living in Costa Rica that I have figured out along the way.

Cons of Living in Costa Rica:

Little or no prevention.

People don’t fix things until after something happens. Every year during the rainy season, the dirt roads get washed away in some areas causing huge dips between the asphalt of the main road and the dirt road. If you have a low car, the bottom of your car hits the asphalt as you go over causing damage.

They are constantly dealing with flooding during storms. Instead of trying to solve the issues of flooding and PREVENT it from happening the best they can, they do nothing. We have deep trenches next to the roads that aren’t enough especially during the month of October. (in certain cases, there is no way to prevent flooding)

There are so many stray dogs in Costa Rica because people don’t castrate their dogs. They roam the streets and get pregnant. Near Heredia, there is a dog shelter with many acres and over a thousand dogs. I see puppies for adoption almost every day on Facebook. Rescue centers need donations because they don’t have the funds to pay for the treatments of the abandoned and hurt dogs. All could be prevented with the castration of their dogs. Nina and her brother were the results of one of those cases.

The Pura Vida lifestyle is a relaxed one so they don’t worry about the future and what could happen. They focus on the present and what’s important now. So, they put off what they could do today, for tomorrow.

Not always the most sufficient way of doing things.

When I got my work visa, they asked for a bunch of information that I thought was all. After 90 days of waiting, I got the news they needed more information. I could have been done my work visa in 90 days if they had given me all the information in the first place.

It was very similar to the motorcycle being taken away. They didn’t have the motorcycle in the system so we couldn’t schedule an appointment to pick it up.

They make certain situations harder than they should be.

People run late often.

If someone tells you they will be there in 15 minutes, it can equal 45 minutes. This can be because people just run late from taking their time getting ready. Other times it is because they are at the bank or another place similar that has a wait time of 1-3 hours. (seriously, I have waited at the bank for 2 hours before.) This comes with the PURA VIDA lifestyle, I will get there when I get their mindset.

Now, this doesn’t apply to everywhere. If you are going on tour, they tend to run on time as they know tourist doesn’t want to be late. They can lose customers and money by being late, so it doesn’t happen as often in the tourist industry.  

They always say YES even if they don’t mean it.

They will say “Let’s go jetskiing tomorrow. Meet me in Brasilito.” Tomorrow comes and no one shows up. It either happens because something else comes up or they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They are very people pleasing here which can be a good thing in certain situations and a bad thing in others.

Pros of Living in Costa Rica:

Calm, relaxed, and positive.

It really is one of the most relaxed places I have ever been too. People aren’t rushed to get places (hence being late often). People don’t get bothered by life as much. They will happily wait in line at the bank for two hours without getting upset. They close most of the government down for A WEEK at Christmas and Easter. The culture allows for plenty of time to be with family and relax.  

This calm and relaxed way of life allows them always to be smiling. And they always say “Hello, how are you?” (Hola, Como estas?) They talk like they have known you for years. You feel right at home, immediately.

They find different ways to do things.

The bus is not always reliable and the taxies are expensive. So, they created colectivos for people to get around easier in my town. These are unofficial (illegal) taxies. (There is one official taxi in Brasilito) The cost for me to get to work is 500 colones (less than a dollar) one way. They are on the corner or driving by and run pretty much all the time during the day. They are more reliable than the bus and cheaper than a taxi. The drivers have a WhatsApp group they use to communicate when and where the police are present so no one gets in trouble.

This allows for two things to happen. The drivers make money to support their families and the people get to work quicker and more efficient than the buses.

I have seen how they create an easier way of doing things if they don’t have the money to fix something. Sometimes it is not necessarily safe… but they do what they need. I once saw a lady driving around with her gas in a plastic milk carton on the top of her car with a tube going directly to the engine.

They enjoy nature.

Pura Vida is derived from (what I think) nature. Most people are the happiest when they are outside enjoying a nice bike ride, a walk in the park, or the beach. I think this is due to the amount of Vitamin D they get. And here in Costa Rica, they get A LOT of it.

People and kids are rarely inside. On the weekends, they pack a massive pot of food, a blowup mattress, and head to the beach. They will stay on the beach all day long. During the week, you always see kids playing at the local playground or town square.

There is always time for everything.

They tend not to be as materialistic here. So they have more time to do the things they enjoy. (This isn’t always the case.) The Ticos don’t want to have the next iPhone or the next new video game. They are content with playing soccer, going to the beach, and spending time with family. Family is a huge thing here so they will do what they can to support the family.

They will always help you out, even if it means being late to an appointment. Back when people could drive on Brasilito Beach, people used to get stuck in the river. EVERY TIME, a handful or more of people would be there to help get the car unstuck. It was always a community effort to make it happen.

Finding the Hidden

Finding the Hidden

This week has been full of many adventures. My life is incredible.

This girl from my TEFL school was looking for hours to complete her practicum hours. I invited her to my school to observe or tutor a few of my students. She spent Monday and Tuesday at school with me learning the ropes.

I had off school Wednesday so we decided to go on an hike to a spectacular waterfall with some of my other friends.

We rented a Toyota Yaris that got upgraded to an SUV for free since the Yaris wasn’t available. (due to an accident). I am so glad this happened because we needed it to get to the waterfall.

This waterfall is about 30 minutes away from Liberia. Other than that, I can’t tell you how to get there. My friend’s boyfriend was our guide. There is no way I could find my way back to the waterfall.

We hiked about 10 minutes to the first swimming hole. The water was a little blue due to the sulfur in the water. We striped down to our bathing suits and jumped into the water! It was incredible. Cold, but refreshing. Nina was with us and she almost jumped off the ledge after me.

We swam for about 15 minutes before continuing on the hike. The hike got a bit more treacherous after that. We had to climb our way through caves that had bats. We trekked through different small rivers. I don’t have the words to describe the hike was. At certain points, we had to pass Nina across a river or up a huge boulder. At one point, she ran up a huge boulder alone and couldn’t get down.

We saw monkeys, a racoon looking animal, bats, and these beautiful blue dragonflies.

There was another place to jump into the pool of water about halfway between the waterfall and the beginning of the hike. It was a higher jump and a bit more scary for me. I made it though. Once in the water, it was refreshing, risp, and a sight to see. We were below these huge rocks. The only way out was to climb down, around, and up again. I had to crawl through a tight space.

We hiked some more, finally reaching the entrance to the waterfall. The pool of water leading to the waterfall was a celeste blue color. It was surrounded by rocks. The current was coming towards us so my friend’s boyfriend swam ahead and used a rope to pull us through the current. All I could do was stand in awe once I enter the cave where the waterfall was. It was loud and perfect for swimming.

Nina was not very happy. She doesn’t like to be in water if she can’t touch the bottom. She scratched my back up really bad. She was trying to swim the other direction which made it very hard to get anything done. When we were pulled by the rope she stood on my back.

The hike back was quicker as we didn’t stop to take photos as often.

After the hike, we headed home. I got to my house and there was a wild fire about 100 feet from my house. We called the fire department and they showed up right away. They contained the fire by cutting down brush and creating more fire close to my house. After that burned, they used water and a leaf blower to keep the fire from reaching my house.

It was a bit stressful. I had seen wildfires in the area many times. It has never been this close to my house. Pretty surreal.

If you ever travel to another country, make friends with locals. Go see the secluded spots and test your strength. Do what scares you, and make the most of life. Seeing places like this are a once in a lifetime opportunity that can change your life. Go and find the hidden, within yourself by pushing yourself to do new things.

How to Get a Work Visa In Costa Rica

It was a little difficult to navigate how to get a work visa. A few people have told me that I needed a lawyer to do it, which costs about $1,200. That’s way too much. I decided to do it on my own and pay less. I paid about $600 that is including airfare back to the states for some papers that expired.

I have had a few people ask me how I did it. To make it easy, I want to share with you the process. I went to the office in Liberia. I am not sure if it is the same in San Jose. I would assume so.

There is a bunch of paperwork you need before going to the office. Three or four (if you are married) are from your home country that does expire after 3 months. The paperwork must be filed before the 3 months or you will need to get the paperwork again.

  1. Birth Certificate: This needs to be a recently ordered birth certificate. I ordered mine online from the State of Maryland, where I was born. They sent it to my house. This needs to be APOSTILLED by the state department of the state you were born. **
  2. Background Check: This can be from either your home state or the FBI. The FBI takes a minimum of three months to be processed and needs to be APOSTILLED by the State Department in Washington DC (It can be mailed. Just adds more time). If you get one from your state you can take it or send it to the State Department for APOSTILLE, you take your Birth Certificate to. **
  3. Comprobante de inscripcon ante consulado: This is printed from the internet (doesn’t expire). You need to go to the STEP website (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) and register your self. You want to print the page that looks like the photo below. It took me many calls to different people trying to figure out what they wanted. **
  4. IF YOU ARE MARRIED, you need an APOSTILLED and LEGAL marriage certificate.

** These will all need to be officially translated into Spanish. I use a lady in Liberia. If you are in San Jose you will need to find someone else. (Ana Sayagues Delcore- anasayagues@gmail.com)

The next set of papers are done in Costa Rica.

From your place of work:

  1. Declaracion jurada de parte del profesor indicando que se estara haciendo cargo de la manutencion de la persona dependiente en donde se especifique los rubros cubiertos. (your school or place of business will know what this is. Mine was in Spanish so I really can’t say what it is.)
  2. Your signed contract with your school or company

From you:

  1. 4 passport sized photos
  2. Photocopy of every page in your passport
  3. A letter of why and where you will be for your work. (carta de solicitud de permanencia legal indicando las calidades del interesado, su intencion, direccion fisica de domicilio actual, la cual debera venir autenticada por un abogado) I never had it authenticated by a lawyer. It needs to be in Spanish. I had the office lady at my school rewrite it in Spanish for me. (see below for example)
  4. Fingerprints from the Ministerio de Segurida Publica: When I had this done you could go at any time Monday thru Friday. Now, they only accept a certain amount a day, starting at 8 am (I believe). I would get there early because once the quota is filled they will send you away.
  5. You need to pay Ministerio de Hacienda (#242480-0, BCR) $200, with your name. You need the receipt.
  6. You need to pay them again but 500 colones (same number as above) with your name. You need the receipt.

Example of letter:

Name: _____ Birth date: _____ Nationality:________ Marital Status:________ Occupation: _____ Costa Rican Address: _____

To whom this may concern:

My name is ____________. I would like to obtain a work visa to work legally in Costa Rica. I would like to be an English teacher so that I could help children learn English here in Costa Rica. I taught in the United States and would like to have the opportunity to experience a different culture. I want to immerse myself into the Costa Rica culture to learn Spanish as well as other important ways of life here. I plan to stay in Costa Rica for a year or longer if possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration in accepting me for a work visa.

Sincerely,

_____________________

You will take all these papers to the office. They will give you a paper back with your photo and information on it. At this point, you do not need to leave the country every 90 days, unless you need to drive a car while here. Your driver’s licence from the states expires after the 90 days. Once you get the official work visa, you can apply for a CR driver’s license.

If everything is in order, you will have an email notice for the next steps in about 90 days.

You will need two things:

  1. Pay $98 to BCR #242480-0 with the reciept
  2. Proof that you have been paying in to the CAJA. To get this, you go to the CAJA in Santa Cruz and ask for a paper with your payments on it. Your school should have set this up for you and has the number to give the CAJA.

You take those to the office in Liberia, they will take your photo and give you information on getting the work visa card. I took the paper they gave me to the local post office in Tamarindo (the closest to me), paid like 4,000 colones, waited 2 weeks, and picked up my card from the post office. That was it. If you live near Liberia, you can pick up your card there.

Next, you can get your CR driver’s license. See here for information

Life in Costa Rica

Life in Costa Rica

Easter is a huge deal here in Costa Rica. So much so most of the government shuts down for a week. As a teacher, I had off for two weeks. It was a great two weeks. I got a lot of stuff done for the website, went on a mini vacation with friends, and got my CR driver’s license. It was two weeks full of adventure and growth.

Getting a CR License

Getting my driver’s license was probably the easiest thing I have done with the Costa Rican government. (getting things done here is hard, keep reading). Since I had my US driver’s license, I didn’t need to take any tests. I simply went to the office with my paperwork and got my new license. It was easy for the most part.

First, I had my US driver’s license translated into English with the local official translator. I did this ahead of time so all I had to do was pick it up and pay for it. ($20)

Second, I had to get a medical health check done. I did this directly across the street from the Cosevi (driver’s license building). As soon as they opened, I walked in. She asked me for all my personal information and any health issues current and past. The doctor gave me a quick eye exam, a reflex test (you know the one where they hit your knee with the little hammer), listened to my breathing and asked me a few mental questions. This was the most interesting part. The doctor asked me to repeat 3 words: casa, manzana, and gato. Then I needed to spell the word “Mundo” backward. Lastly, I needed to repeat the same 3 words again: casa, manzana, and gato. I almost forgot the words!! I paid around 27.000 colones for the exam.

Lastly, I took the medical report, translated driver’s license, my Costa Rican credula work permit card, and my original driver’s license to Cosevi. They looked over all my stuff, put it in the system, and took my photo. I walked out of the building with my CR license in hand.

No craziness, no returning, and no issues. Simple, straightforward, and done!

Motorcycle Impound

Before I met Jonathan, he lost the plate to his motorcycle. We tried to get a new one a few months back, and they told us he needed a paper from a lawyer. Since we were in Liberia (an hour away by motorcycle), we tried to get a lawyer there to do the document for us. All the lawyers in Liberia wanted over $50. The lawyer in Brasilito close to our house wanted $25. We decided to wait. Since I was getting my driver’s license in Liberia, we got the paper from the lawyer so we could get it all done and over with. That ended up a nightmare.

We got my License and were headed to get the new plate for his motorcycle when the traffic police stopped us. Jonathan had the paper from the lawyer and a sticker on the back with the correct plate number. His plates were up to date, he just didn’t have the plate. The police took the motorcycle and gave us a ticket. He pleaded with them to let us keep it. They didn’t care. We got the new plates, got on the bus and headed home.

We tried to pay the ticket three days later. The system wouldn’t allow us to do it because it was a Saturday. Monday morning Jonathan went to Liberia to pay the fine and get the motorcycle. They told him since it was Semana Santa they couldn’t release the bike as there was no one there to do it, but allowed him to pay the fine. They also told him that they are charging him 4.000 colones (about $7) a day for the bike being in storage.

Fast forward to this past a week later, he goes back to Liberia and they tell him they don’t know where the bike is and he needs to make an appointment online.

We thought “okay cool, let’s make the appointment, pay the storage fee, and listo.”

NOPE!!

I was UNABLE to make the appointment because the motorcycle ISN’T IN THE SYSTEM. I tried for three days and kept getting the same error.

We called our lawyer to see if they could help. They could for $20, but Jonathan wanted to go in person one last time.

He goes this morning and FINALLY, he was ABLE to get the motorcycle. But before paying 70.000 colones which is $116.

SO a word of advice…. Don’t get your car or motorcycle taken away by the police in Costa Rica. It is a pain to get out of impound.

Mini Vacation

I wanted to go to Limon, on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It was too expensive for my budget to do it alone so I asked a friend and her three friends. Since most of the inexpensive places were unavailable or didn’t allow pets, we decided to go to the Osa Peninsula, which is south near the Panama border.

I found this amazing little hostel in the jungle. It was $11 a night. We rented a little Toyota Corolla from Alamo for $37 a person (we split the total cost 5 ways) and off we went. It is about an 8-hour drive including stops for food and gas from Liberia. We had no plans or expectations, other than to have a good time.

Nina came with us which was such an amazing experience. She was overwhelmed a little bit since it was all new for her. Nina had never been in a car for that long and never experienced the jungle as we did.

After the long drive, we arrived at our hostel. It was pretty much a camping experience. The toilet was a bucket with a manmade wooden box around it to sit on. After we went to the bathroom we had to put sawdust on it to keep the smell down.

The rooms had bunk beds in them with a nice mosquito net around them. The “walls” were made of green see-through material (see photos). The only place with light and electricity was the kitchen so we had to use flashlights once it got dark. We had banana trees and other green and beautiful plants all around us. Just past the bathrooms, was a river that was great for swimming in.

Nina had plenty of room to explore and run. She was in heaven. Since there was no fence she free access to the whole place. At night, I put a headlamp around her neck so I could find her easily.

The first day we went grocery, found dinner, reserved a tour for the next day and relaxed in the kitchen playing cards. We didn’t have much time to do anything else as we arrived there mid-afternoon and it gets dark around 5:30 pm.

We wanted to go into Corcovado National Park to an amazing waterfall I read about online. We found out four things. One we need a guide to enter the park and since it was Semana Santa we couldn’t do so. Second, a guide was around $75- $90 a person. Third, the waterfall I wanted to go to was closed to the public as it was used for drug purposes a while back. And lastly, Nina can’t enter the National Parks here in Costa Rica. Which means she would be in her cage for most of the day. (Not good for her)

Since Corcovado Park was not going to happen, we decided to do a kayak tour to see bioluminescence in the evening and hike the river by our hostel in the morning. The kayak tour was $35 a person for 3 hours and the river hike was free.

The river hike was a sight to see. We simply directly walked the river. Nina was able to come with us. She absolutely LOVED IT! The hike led to a small waterfall off to the side. Not huge and you couldn’t swim at the bottom, but it was worth it to see. Once you walked a little past the waterfall there were pools of water perfect for relaxing and swimming.

Nina was such a protector because every person we passed, she barked. We met some gold miners as that river has some gold. She didn’t go far and she came back every time I called her name. We did this for most of the morning and afternoon. By the time, we needed to leave for the kayak tour, Nina was knocked out. She slept the entire time we were gone.

The kayak tour was worth it. We weren’t sure if we would see the bioluminescence because of the full moon. When the moon is full, it’s too bright to see the lights in the water. Bioluminescence is plankton in the water that glows when moved. We got lucky that the thunderstorm had such dark clouds that covered the moonlight. They were like stars in the ocean. It is a must see!

On our last full day, we went to a beach called, Playa Pan Dulce and another waterfall. That was an adventure for sure, we got lost. The man said the waterfall was to the right after the second bridge. We walked over the bridge and kept walking looking for the right to turn. We walked this HUGE MOUNTAIN!! I was so slow and Nina was right by my side the entire time, barking at anyone that passed.

Finally, we decided we had enough and asked a taxi that was driving by. We passed the turn a long time ago. We turned around and spent some time on the beach first. Nina and I were exhausted so we skipped the waterfall for a nap in the car. The others went to the waterfall.

I was able to hang out with some amazing woman. Nina got exercise and showed me how perfect of a dog she is for me. We all got to see a beautiful, lush, and tranquil place.

Website Work and Taxes

I had my first coaching call with Evan. He is such an amazing coach. In one session, I learned so many new things. I learned my post to the Death Row inmate is at the top of the second page on google. I know how to look at my website privately without messing with the stats. We got a game plan for the theme. Did some small changes to help my google legitimacy better.

I am working on two different items to sell on the blog. I am super excited to share them with you when they are ready! I have been putting good energy into making them happen!

Since I am still technically a resident of Maryland and I am still a citizen of the US, I need to pay taxes if I make over $12,000. I made $12,220 last year. SOOOO…. I paid $21 to the US government and a whopping $552 to the state of Maryland!!!! It is ridiculous. And there is no way out of it until I become a permanent resident of Costa Rica. Then I will qualify to an exception.

There are only 4 ways to become a permanent resident of Costa Rica .

  1. Marry a Tico or someone with a residency here
  2. Have a baby
  3. Own a business
  4. Buy land or a house that is worth over $150k

None of those options work for me so I will be paying taxes to the US government every year.

Life in Costa Rica is fascinating, ever-changing, and beautiful. It is stressful and crazy, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I am in love. Would you want to live in a place like Costa Rica?

Nicaragua Trip Part 2

Even though I had surgery and was sick, I had a lot of fun too. We went to Ometepe Island for the first 2 days. Jonathan’s friend was getting married there.

We took an hour long ferry to the island. Which was a beautiful ride. The water is kind of nasty looking. The view was amazing. The island has two volcanos and some small lakes. It has a tiny airport you can see from the ferry too. We rented a motorcycle while we were there. It made getting around much easier. It was only $30 for the two days.

The first day we visited his friend for an hour or so. It was nice to meet the bride and their children. They cooked us a nice steak lunch and showed us their house. After, we went to a swimming hole. The water was freezing yet it was so much fun. There was a Tarzan swing we used to get into the water. The cold water was nice to keep my fever down. We did some swimming and relaxing before heading to see a local beach.

The beach was not really a beach because the tide was so high. We just drove by and saw the town. I was hungry and tired so we went back to the hotel for the rest of the evening. We had tacos, which are more like taquitos, for dinner. They are one of my favorite Nicaraguan foods. I fell asleep in the hammock the hotel had around 4:30pm. I was so exhausted I slept through the night.

The next morning we went to Charco Verde. Charco Verde is a nature reserve with a lake on the island. We went pretty early in the morning. It was beautiful. They had a butterfly exhibit. They had a beach, which we couldn’t swim in due to the tide being so high. They had some beautiful trails we walked through. It reminded me of the fall time in the US. They had leaves falling off the trees with a cool breeze. A light jacket would have been perfect. Leaves were covering the trail as we walked. I started to get a fever and body aches so we headed home. We rode the motorcycle through the runway of the airport which gave us a beautiful view of the volcano.

Once at the hotel, Jonathan ordered soup for lunch and made a trip to the pharmacy for medicine. I took a nap that lasted from 11 am to 4:30pm. I knew at this point I had the flu and needed rest before making it to the wedding at 6pm.

After spending two days in Ometepe, we headed to Acoyapa, Jonathan’s hometown. It took us 6 hours to get there from Ometepe. Two buses and two cab rides.

The town of Acoyapa, has one hotel. To me, is in the heart of Nicaragua. I was the ONLY non-Nicaraguan there. People would look at me as though I was a foreign object that didn’t belong. I didn’t quite feel safe there for this reason. Anytime we left the hotel, Jonathan was at my side. Most of his family lives here. I was able to meet many aunts, uncles, cousins, one of his children and his grandmother. They were all inviting and nice. I enjoyed my time with them as well as their cooking. They made me feel right at home. They understood I was sick and in pain for most of the trip. They made me feel right at home.

For most of the time there, we spent time at his aunt’s house. I took many naps because I knew my body needed it. It was also too painful to do much walking. We attended a rodeo on Christmas day. It was not like the rodeos in Costa Rica. There were too many people that it was too overwhelming for me. We stayed for an hour and a half.

Later in the evening, Jonathan told me he had a gift for me. We were sitting in the living room watching a rodeo in Costa Rica. He and his cousin were looking for his jacket because the gift was inside. After a good 5 minutes of looking, he comes over puts his knee down and asks “will you marry me?” I was in shock for three reasons. One was because he said it in English. I thought if he ever asked it would be in Spanish. Second, his aunt and grandmother were there. Third, the ring was gorgeous and not what I expected.

The Friday after Christmas, we took the bus to Juigalpa to do some shopping. I got new shoes, a dress, and a pair of earrings. Jonathan got new work shoes. The town of Juigalpa has many markets that line the streets. You can find anything you need there. Shoes, pants, beds, sunglasses, diet pills and all kinds of other things.  

I stayed at the hotel all day New Year’s Eve. I had a lot to take in from the engagement, surgery, and difference in culture. I needed some time alone. He brought me food for lunch and dinner. I just spent the day relaxing and watching Netflix. He spent the day making a doll for them to burn for the New Year with his friends. It’s a tradition they do every New Years. It signifies the start of a new time by burning away the old. There was a ton of fireworks. It sounded like a war was going on outside the hotel. I could see the night sky lit up from the hotel window. It was a nice calming feeling being with myself in this new country.

We went home a few days later. I was so happy to be back in Costa Rica. I missed the hot showers and the safety of the familiar. The night after we got back someone posted on Facebook that they needed a place for two puppies. Jonathan mentioned getting a puppy this year. I responded to the post, within 15 minutes, I had two puppies. They were super cute and adorable. A boy and a girl.

The next day, we took them to the vet to get medicine for the worms I was sure they had. I got the correct food for them as well as flea and tick soap. The boy puppy found a home before we even left the vets office. Jonathan and I just had the girl. We named her Nina.

It has been a great experience with her. She is learning so many things quickly. She spent one night in the vet’s office for dehydration. Other than that, she is recovering well. She hasn’t pooped in the house in 3 days. She is learning to like the crate. She is absolutely the perfect puppy for us. We are happy to have Nina as part of our family.

The 3 weeks I had off of work was full of adventure, pain, and growth. I am happy to start the New Year off with a new puppy and a great man. I am excited to see what more this year will bring!

Nicaragua Trip Part 1

waiting to see the doctor

It has been an adventure filled few weeks. During the holiday’s I went to Nicaragua with my Jonathan. It was one hell of a trip. I woke up in the morning with a sore throat. That turned into the flu the next day. I had the flu for about 5 days. That’s not even the worst of it.

Getting through the border was easy. Getting to the border was interesting. We took the bus really early in the morning. There were quite a bit of people on the bus so we had to sit in the open area where the wheelchairs go on the first bus. The second bus we sat on the stairs by the back door. Since there were a lot of trucks waiting to get checked at the border, there was a line of trucks. The bus was unable to pass. We would have waited for hours and hours, so we decided to walk. It was about 4 miles to the border from where we were. We walked about 2 miles before a colectivo picked up.

The buses in Nicaragua are a whole new experience. They pack the buses full. They will put as many people on these buses as possible. Most of the buses we rode on while in Nica we had to stand for a minimum of 30 minutes if we didn’t get on the bus first. The longest we had to stand was an hour and a half. You pay for the bus after you get on the bus so the man you pay is trying to walk between the crowd of people to get everyone’s money. The one good thing about the bus is people will sell you things at the stops or on the bus. We were on one of the buses in Nica for 3 hours. We bought corn on the cob, cooked beef with salad, and cough drops during the 3-hour trip. We either yelled out the window or the person was on the bus asking us if we wanted any.

On the second day of the trip, my Bartholin gland became infected which caused some pain. I have had them before and antibiotics would take it away within two days. That did not happen this time. I tried sitting in a hot bucket of water 3 times a day as well. Nothing worked.

By the time Christmas came along I was just sleeping all day because the flu and the pain were unbearable. I wanted to wait to see my doctor in Costa Rica. I couldn’t make the trip back even if I tried. We went to a local gynecologist in Jonathan’s hometown. We explained to the doctor what was the issue was and how many times I have had the cyst in the last year. None of the doctors spoke English. We decided the best course of action was to have surgery the next day. I told Jonathan there was no way I could make the trip to the hospital (2 hours away) on the bus. I was crying all the time because the pain was horrible. Jonathan arranged everything for me. He hired a driver to take us to and from the hospital. He made sure I had all the medicine I needed. The local bank would only accept Visa and my card was a Mastercard, so we had to borrow some money from his aunt to help pay for the doctor. He took care of everything.

the hospital

I didn’t sleep well the night before the surgery. No matter how I laid, I couldn’t stop the pain. I was not allowed to drink or eat anything so medicine was out of the question. We woke up early to make it to the hospital in time for the surgery. The hospital was an open-air hospital. In the middle of the hospital, there was an open area with trees and flowers. There was no air conditioning in the main part of the hospital so this open-air allowed for it to stay cool. We sat in this little room with another doctor as she took all my medical information. They did blood tests and gave me an IV of fluids. I sat in this room with Jonathan for a good two hours. At one point, I killed a spider or two while we waited. The wait was one of the worst waits I have ever experienced. I am thankful I brought the pillow from the hotel to sit on because they didn’t offer me a pillow, a bed, nothing to make the waiting better, even after I kept crying. Jonathan was having a hard time as well because there was nothing he could do to make the pain go away. The lady had put the tape on my IV a little too tight so the fluids weren’t actually entering my body. We told the nurse. Her response was it is a very slow flow. Jonathan and I tried to explain to her that the tape was hurting my arm and the fluids were not going in my body at all. She didn’t seem to listen so we just waited. While we waited I went to use the bathroom. Since there is not a good water system in Nicaragua, using the bathroom was interesting. They have a huge container of water sitting in the middle of the bathroom with a bucket inside. After you use the bathroom, you take the bucket full of water and dump it into the toilet. This allows the toilet to flush.

The inside of the hospital. We sat in the room at the end of the hallway.

After two hours another lady came to get me. She walked with me to the operating area. At this point, Jonathan was not allowed with me. We stood for a few minutes in a hallway linking the main hospital to the operating area. It was cold and much cleaning than the other part of the hospital. The lady noticed I was in pain and got me a bed to lay on. As I laid on the bed she fixed my IV so that it wasn’t so tight and the fluids were entering my body. I do have to say I am proud of myself for being able to communicate and somewhat understand the nurses and doctors. I was in the hallway for about 15 minutes. The doctor wheeled me into the operating room that was really clean, cold, and half-updated. They had new lights and equipment. The table was a more outdated one yet it functioned and was clean. They used cloth for everything instead of the disposable linens they use in the US. I got situated in the stirrups.

Next thing I know, I am feeling and seeing crazy objects I can’t make out what they are. I was thinking where am I, what is happening. Then I remembered I had been put to sleep. I didn’t feel like I was in my body. It was like my body is laying on the table and my consciousness was someplace else. It was like I was in a kaleidoscope of reality and something else. I could tell the cyst was gone and I had no more pain. I am not sure how long I was in this state of disconnect. I kept trying to look around the room and see where I was. What I thought at the moment was that I was in the scene of interstellar when Cooper was in the black hole or alternative universe. He’s in what seems to be a library that he moves around in until he finds his daughter and the house. He sees his daughter and is yelling and screaming for her. She can’t hear him. That’s how I felt. I was floating in this space that I didn’t understand until I could slightly see the people in the room. I wanted to ask them questions. I wanted to open my mouth and ask where Jonathan was. I just wanted Jonathan. No matter how hard I thought they couldn’t hear me. There were 3 nurses and a man that had surgery as well. None of them could hear my cries in my head. Not only was I crying in my head, but my body was also crying too. I have never felt anything like this in my life. I started to feel really drunk as I started to reconnect to my body. The nurse took my IV out and rolled me to the hallway where Jonathan met me. He told me it was time to go.

I could start to speak what I thought at this point. I told him I couldn’t get dressed on my own. I felt so drunk that I had no control of my body. I couldn’t hold my head up without help. He got me dressed and we slowly walked out of the hospital. I was laughing because I felt completely crazy by the drunkenness. He put me in the cab, got the prescriptions, and headed home. It was hard to sleep because I didn’t feel right. I felt tired and awake at the same time. The experience of drunkenness lasted until much later in the evening. It gradually decreased as time went on.

The next day, I felt normal. I was still tired from the surgery, yet I was happy I wasn’t in any pain. The surgery I had was a marsupialization. It is where they drain the cyst and use stitches to hold the skin open. This allows for the gland to still drain. I needed to use warm water and antibacterial soap to clean it 2 times a day. Since there was no hot water, Jonathan borrowed a coffee maker from his aunt for me to sponge bath myself.

The whole experience was intense. I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous I wouldn’t wake up from surgery. I was afraid the doctor would mess up and cause more damage. I had a ton of fears going into the hospital. I have only had surgery under general anesthesia once before in the US. Having it done in a country where I speak the language very little was terrifying. No translator. Except google translate which doesn’t always translate correctly. Jonathan can translate certain things into a more simpler form of Spanish for me. Yet it’s not as clear as it would be if it was in English.

I am happy that I was able to go through this there. I felt safe having Jonathan and his aunt with me. She is a nurse so she was able to help us find the doctor and answer some questions we had.

The day we got back to Costa Rica, I had my gynecologist look at the area to make sure it was healing well. It is doing well. He said it looks just like it should. They would have done the same thing.

I am still healing two weeks later. I have another appointment with my doctor next week to check it out again. I am happy with the results.

I Live A Crazy Life.

You guessed it, I am on a plane again. I am headed to NYC for an IHP weekend. Something about flying alone gets me thinking about life. It gets me connected with myself.

It has been about a week since I got back from Chile. I am still dealing with credit card and passport situations that are a result of my bag being stolen. I was told that I will be on a list going through customs now due to my passport being stolen. This whole thing makes me laugh. my life is crazy and I absolutely love it.

I have run into issues getting my create cards replaced. I had the credit card company mail the new card to my dad’s house. It was a windy day and the mailman just put in on the porch. It blew away. My dad couldn’t find it so we canceled it and had a new one IMG_1370sent to NYC. On the way to the gym, my dad found the mail under a car down the street.

I have run into more questions and more security checks when traveling internationally now. In the past, i would be freaking out and angry. Something has changed within me because I just laugh now.  Nothing can mess with my peace and happiness.

Last week when I got back I had a breakdown. I got scared and fearful. I didn’t want to leave my house. I realized in that breakdown that this was exactly what my spirit needed to transform. To become something new. I let these emotions move through me and what I was left with was amazing peace.

I am happy. I am in peace. I have never in my life been so happy with my life and myself. I am in awe of the life I have. I have this new peace. Things keep happening to break me down. It hasn’t even affected me. I just think “okay, cool what’s next?”

I had a boyfriend for the last month. He was really nice. He seemed happy. Something didn’t seem right though so I just watch myself around him. Little by little things didn’t add up. I felt like there was something he wasn’t telling me. I asked him what was going on in his life because I felt like he was hiding something from me. He told me he wasn’t hiding anything. I have this power to tell when people lie to me. The bell in my head went off real loud… He is lying. I had a friend of mine do some digging. Let’s just say everything he told me about his life was a lie. When I confronted him, he just had more lies. I had more questions than answers. I am not about that so I told him not to contact me again.

In the past, I would be so upset and angry about this. How could someone lie to me? For some reason, i just let it go and moved on. I didn’t let the lies affect me and my peace.

Then I spoke to my ex-fiance. He told me all about what’s happening in his life. He has a new girlfriend and she is a doozie. When he told me what was happening in his life, it made me think “oh boy, you are headed in the wrong direction. This is not the man I know. what’s happening” I never once thought it was my fault he is where he is. One could say that I didn’t leave him in the best way.

In the past, I would make it my fault. I would feel horrible. This time, I am good. I know what I did and I am confident I did what was right. I am at peace with myself. I cannot change him. I can’t make him see something he is not ready to see. All I can do is grow myself.

We all have a choice. You can choose to evolve or stay the same. I chose to evolve even if it’s painful. I chose love, forgiveness, peace, and freedom. I don’t have time for anger or resentment. I don’t have time for blaming. I am responsible for my actions and my actions only.

I could be angry at the man that stole my bag. I could be angry that my boyfriend lied to me about his whole life. I could be angry at my ex-fiance for moving in with his girlfriend because that’s what I wanted from him. I have many reasons to be angry right now. I chose love and laughter because the only person that anger hurts is me. Any does nobody any good so why chose to be angry?

Choosing happiness and laughter in a time of madness is the most liberating feeling. I feel unstoppable. I have more power now than I ever did holding on to anger, blame, and resentment. This is my life and I will live it with integrity, love, and pave. I will laugh my way through life.

It’s funny because I see how being happy and laughing my way through the craziness changes the people around me. My first flight today, I talked to a man and a group of ladies about living in Costa Rica. I told them about my passport and all the situations I have been in. I did it all with laughter. This made them smile. They all knew the situations weren’t the best. I know that because I told them with a laugh and peace I left an impression on them. I know this because the man told someone else my story (after we had gone our separate ways), who ran into me. The girl asked me if I had sat with a man with a long ponytail. I told her yes. She told me that he was just telling her about my passport issue and everything. Imagine if I had anger and told them the stories? If I had been angry and resentful that’s what they would feel. I know that I left them changed in some way because of how I was. I am changing the world one laughable, painful story at a time.

My stories and situations are inspiring others. Its showing people that in times of pain and suffering, peace and laughing are possible. My strength and love are changing the world.

What you do have a ripple effect. One small action can have a larger effect on society than you could ever imagine. Would you rather “ripple” love and laughter or anger and resentment? It’s your choice.

Oh, and I got bit by a mosquito in my sleep, on my lip. IMG_1381

Chile… A Whirlwind Trip

Hey Everyone,

What a whirlwind of a trip I just had. I recently went to Chile for the reading of a will for someone who passed away recently. It was a monumental trip for everyone who attends IHP. There were about 23 peoples from the New York IHP there as well as others from around the world.

I knew before I went on the trip something was going to happen. I had a feeling in my soul that I was going to learn and grow from something. I prepared for it the best I could for 4 days before I flew out. A bunch of little things happened before I left that tested my patience. I was able to keep calm during those. What happened when I got to Chile was something I never thought about.

I got to Chile, Friday morning at 4 a.m.. I went from the airport to the AirBnB, me and 4 other women were staying in. I took a nap for a few hours until a few other women arrived. I needed to get my cell phone working because I was unable to use my Costa Rican number in Chile. It was the same for another friend. Together, we went out to get a prepaid Chile number, some Chilean Pesos, and lunch. While we were at lunch the craziest thing happened. Not thinking, I put my backpack on the back of my chair, sat down, and had lunch. While my friend and I were talking, a man came and sat at the table behind me. At some point, he took my bag from the back of the chair and walked out of the restaurant. Right in front of our faces. She and I never got up from the table, not even for a second. I noticed it was gone as I turn to put a tissue in the side pocket. I looked at my friend and said: “my bag is gone.” She didn’t believe me. I told her I had put it on the back of the chair. We notified the restaurant staff, who looked around the restaurant for it. It was gone. I knew the second I turned around it had been stolen. I knew this was what was supposed to happen. This was what I had been preparing for. I have no idea how I did it, yet I stayed calm. I didn’t let it affect me. I cried. I laughed. I stayed silent. I went through a few emotions as I stayed calm. It was unbelievable. I felt peace. I felt love. I felt calm. I was good.

The restaurant was very helpful. They let us watch the cameras. We were able to see him walking out with my bag. He was a professional. The way he walked out with my bag in front of a waitress was crazy. We got the video and went straight to the police station. It took about 2 hours to get a police report. Since it was Friday after 5 pm, the US embassy was closed until Monday. I had to wait until Monday to get a new passport.

Since my flight was supposed to leave at 4 pm on Monday, I had to change my flight. I called the airline and they wanted $900 to change the flight. I do not have this kind of money. I do have travel insurance for the trip. I have never used travel insurance so I didn’t feel comfortable spending the money. I didn’t want to get stuck with having to pay any of the money for the flight change. I took some time to think of other options. I decided to call the airline again. This time, we found a loophole for changing my flight for free. Last week, the airline company changed the flight number. Since the airline had made the change, I was allowed to change my flight for free. What a blessing this was. The universe was looking out for me.

I am amazed at how far I have come. I was able to stay calm. I didn’t overreact. I didn’t fall apart. I held it together. I was able to attend the meetings and be present with the people I was with. I took it one step at a time. I did what I could when I could do it. I knew that I was in the best possible place for this to happen. I had over 300 people who would be there for me in any way they could. I had a community of people that supported me in ways I could never have imagined. Not only did I have the people with me, but I also had myself. Over the last 7 months, I have been working on myself. I had been overcoming things within myself that do not bring me peace and love. I was able to keep my peace, my love, and my freedom.

The crazy thing is…. I did this all with being sick. I had a headache, a stuffy nose, and cough. Physically I felt like crap. All the while, I was able to keep myself. I am still in awe of what I accomplished with the whole situation. I have a lot to process and figure out from this. I have emotions and feelings I need to work through. This trip was full of mental and spiritual growth. It is exactly what my spirit needs to grow. What I am supposed to take from this, I need to find out. What I am supposed to do with this experience, I need to find out. I know that I am able to accomplish anything because I have the power and tools to do so.

I conquered a fear! — Surfing!

Today I conquered a fear of mine. I have never ever, ever wanted to go surfing in my life. Everyone who knows me knows that I will not go surfing. I am afraid of the waves and a rip current I purposely do not go to beach with waves over a certain height because it scares me.

It was a friend’s birthday today. She wanted to go fishing originally. We couldn’t find ba887035-82b9-4cf1-a450-232af934e5d9enough people to go and it would have cost too much. She decided on surfing. At first, I was like I will go and watch. After, some intense thinking I decided that I was going to do. I was going to conquer this fear and do it. I have been overcoming so much recently that I felt powerful enough to do this.

We have 20 minutes of practice on the sand. We practiced jumping from laying to standing. We practiced paddling to standing. I was like OMG I can’t do this. My ankle was not liking the squat position. I pushed through and we walked to the water. I just so happened to be the first one to go. I got on and I followed his directions. I MADE IT 1e0e335f-8bf5-48db-ab5b-a345a9049207HAPPEN!! I SURFED!! The first try I was standing up and surfed for a good bit of time. I was so proud of myself. I was standing on the wave in awe that I was actually doing it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It is really hard on my ankle because of the surgery I had a while ago. Yet, it was incredible.

I absolutely needed to do that. I gave me strength that I can handle anything that comes my way. No one can stop me. I am living my life the way I need to live it. I am doing the things I need to truly live. I am taking fear and punching it in the face. I am conquering many fears and do many things I never thought possibly.

Do something that makes you proud. Overcome something because it will give you a power that no one can take away. Doing something so amazing like staring fear in the face is courageous and rewarding. Go out and do things that put you outside your box. Whether it is surfing, or leaving someone not good for you, or taking that test you need to get a head in your job. Whatever it is just do it. And do it with love.

Tropical Storm Nate: Costa Rica

Hey Everyone,

The last few days have been a hectic few days. As some of you know Costa Rica got hit with a tropical depression turned tropical storm. We got a ton of rain in a short amount of time. It caused all sorts of damage.

On Wednesday, my neighbor and I left the house as usual to go to work. It was raining just like it had rained the morning before so we didn’t think anything out of the ordinary. We get to school and do our normal routine of printing and preparing for the day. It was darker than normal so they turned the lights on in the covered common area. The children show up and we do our morning anthem singing. After the anthem, we go about our day and start teaching. The rain continues which it sometimes does, so again I think nothing different. Around 10:30am, a parent comes in and tells me she is taking her child home and said she won’t be back the next day due to the rain. She said that river before her house is almost unpassable. I saw that other teachers were busy outside which wasn’t normal. I went to ask what was going on. They said we were closing school early due to the flooding and rain. I was unaware of how much rain we actually got so I just told my neighbor to contact our driver to come get us early. I helped my students get their things ready to go home.

All but one of my students left before 11:30. The last students mom was at another school picking up her daughter. She would be here as soon as possible. My neighbor and I got a message saying that our driver cannot pick us up. So we talked with another teacher who goes past our house. She said she could take us home. The problem was that she couldn’t get her car out of the parking lot. Something I didn’t understand until we got to the main gate headed for the main road. When I got to the main gate of school I saw the side road. It was a huge river!! I mean massive. No cars could use the road. (see videos below) We walked down the school parking lot and come to another “river” that we had to pass in order to get to the person picking us up. Five of us linked arms and crossed the river (see video below). We got to the car and headed for our house. The roads were flooded and scary. As soon as I got home I filled buckets with water and got my flash lights ready. I knew the power would be going out soon.

I had a friend coming to visit as well. He was on a bus from San Jose. The power went off about 30 minutes after I got home. Since the power went out here, I had no internet and my Costa Rican cell service wasn’t working. I had to turn my US phone off airplane mode so I could get service to contact him and see where he was. He got stuck about an hour from here because of the water on a bridge. They had to reroute. He made it here about 2 hours later. Since he didn’t have cell service he couldn’t contact me to come outside. He had to use a picture I sent him the day before in the pitch black to find the gate to my apartment. He finally found it which was great! The rain hasn’t stopped. It has slowed tremendously though. The town closest to me, Brasilito, didn’t have much damage. The power came back on for us yesterday evening.

Today I went to Tamarindo just for a few hours to get a bite to eat and show my friend the area. They didn’t have power and trees were still falling. The water level had gone down a lot. Yet some places still have water that isn’t draining.IMG_6638

On the way back from Tamarindo a tree had fallen in the road. We couldn’t pass by car. So, we got out, walked around it, and got another ride on the other side. It has been a bit crazy. So many people are with out power and some are stranded. They are doing rescue missions by boat for people. It is a mess. I am going to try to link up with my church to go help people in any way I can.

On the plus side, I was able to get some plants for my apartment on the way back from Tamarindo! Please, send Costa Rica and all that are being hit by the tropical storm love and energy for a quick recovery. Most people here have a lot of loss and damage.