Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So Christian and I had just spent all of Sunday doing absolutely nothing except swimming in the ocean and getting things organized in a very half-assed, lazy sort of way. We were walking on the beach after dark and I had just gotten finished telling him about this poster i saw one time of this fisherman on the beach who had just come upon a dead mermaid among all the other dead fish from a red tide. He had this expression like he had just gained and lost everything all at once. So then we decided to swim and in the ocean met a mermaid. Ok, technically she wasn't a real mermaid, since she had legs, but apparently she's gotten hurt years ago and had blogclot issues so that the only place she could be comfortable for any length of time was in the water, specifically the ocean because she's most bouyant there. So she now does sponsored swims for 8 hours a day across countries and oceans, and is an ocean activist for the health of the sea. If that doesn't count as a mermaid then I don't know what. So we had dinner with her (on land). Then we went to this waterfall the next day, different than the ones we saw before, and swam under it like a very intense shower. Also, there was an iguana in our room and I fed it a banana. We have pictures - seriously, right out of my hand. We spent all of Tuesday traveling, heading by bus and ferry to Santa Elenas and Monteverde. This is a beautiful rainforest preserve started by the Quakers and while most of Costa Rica is deforested, so to speak, because there are plants everywhere but not jungle, this place is the real deal. But in order to discourage tourist destroying the sanctity of the preserve, they petitioned to not pave the roads and won, so the trip here was absolutely terrifying. Since you all know me, you probably know that I am not a girl that scares easily, but I happened to be sitting in the very last seat on the right side of the bus, which also seemed to be the wheel that just barely managed to grip some tiny twig or root at the last minute and keep the entire bus from plummeting over the vast abyss of pastoral death that awaited below. This is a huge tourbus, a tiny narrow dirt road, and lots of loose dirt and gravel. I was sitting with my eyes closed chanting, "they do this every day, twice a day, every day, twice a day..." and we made it. Barely. So we got a room for the night and THEN today had the most fun I have had since we've been here, and that's saying a LOT. So we got up and took the shuttle to the Santa Elenas reserve, which is a beautiful hike through dense jungle (on a path maintained by the local high school, which means it was poorly maintained and very muddy in some places). it was amazingly beautiful, and we saw a Quetzal, which is apparently nearly impossible to see and very rare, but it's bright green with a red chest, and a long plume off it's tail. We also saw what we're pretty sure were dozens of sloths all around us in the trees. It's also very difficult to spot a sloth because they don't move and they have moss growing in their fur, so they look like a big pile of moss in the trees. However, this also means that pretty much any pile of moss you see in a tree (and there are lots) you can claim as a sloth and take a picture. SO we did. Then, we had a 1:00 appt for the coolest thing ever which was the Canopy Tour, which means flying over the treetops of the jungle on a wire at about 45km/hr. GOD IT WAS SO COOL!!! There were 13 ziplines and a tarzan swing which involved a freefall of a very terrifying 10 feet before the swing catches you. We were literally high over all the treetops, flying through the clouds in some cases (it's called the Cloud Forest, so there are lots of them), and seeing everything below. It was a big splurge of $35 but worth every penny. Now we are staying in this great little hostel where everyone is super nice and the whole scene is conducive to people being able to talk to lots of other people, so that's what we're doing. We've spent this whole day with these 2 very nice law school girls, Lauren and Rachel, and our roommates are both serious world travelers. Christian was asleep by 8:30 (poor thing- it was a very big day) and I'm about to go socialize. Tomorrow is a hike to a mountain where we can see both the Pacific and Carribean from the top, and then a guided night hike through the children's forest, which was funded completely by kids with cans asking form oney to save the rainforest. Pura Vida.

1 comment:

  1. I totally did that same canopy tour. I almost didn't do it, and then let them strap my business all in and just went with it. I have never been so scared or thrilled in my life. I did, however, sit and watch everyone else do the tarzan swing, and got taunted by all of the boys--Costa Rican and Canadian, they were. I'm daring (or I am in Costa Rica), but I am not crazy. I am so glad you loved it! I. Need. Pictures. Also, I definitely did not see a quetzal--so amazing!

    PS - This is one of the places I had been telling Christian about: outside of La Fortuna, if you make it there. The outdoor restaurant is actually exactly what I imagine heaven to be: fried plantains and a breeze and roosters and hummingbirds and beautiful boys speaking Spanish. And beer and coffee. The place is just lovely, walkable to a butterfly netted gazebo, waterfalls and swimming holes, and a woman and forty parrots selling sliced coconut with a straw.



Chuchi - this is probably my new most popular word. It means snobby or fancy, but is used in the Peace Corps as anything nicer than dirt roads and shacks, or for a person, anyone who showers with hot water. Living in the city, I am super chuchi for here.

Fuerte - literally means strong, but because the culture is based on talking around everything, it´s when a person says anything they want in a direct way - it means asshole

Puede ser and otro dia - literally means "could be" or "another day", but because noone will directly blow someone off, both of them mean "never" and are the answer to a question of when something will happen

Deseas, en tus sueños, Que Arriba Perra/o and Es lo qué es - these are the terrible translations of American sayings that are not used here and don´t really translate, but we say them anyway. Literally they mean "you wish", "in your dreams", "What´s up bitch/dog?" and "it is what it is"

Qué guapa - this means "what a hard worker" and is used by Paraguayans every time I do ANYTHING manual, including carrying a dish to the sink or sweeping out my room. I don´t think they have high expectations for Americans and work.

Saludos - sending saludos by way of a mutual friend is how people tell each other they have a crush on them. The most serious kinds are given with a pinch on the arm and they mean business.

Thumbs up - this is done everywhere here and is a simple answer to pretty much any question. I will probably have carpal tunel in my thumbs when I leave here because I do this so much.

No se como comer esta - this is how one refuses food in Paraguay. Literally, it´s "I don´t know how to eat this" which creates an internal struggle for me each time it´s said because I want to be a smartass and explain that, just like any other food, you put in in your mouth and chew, but I don´t think that´s acceptable here.

No Más and Un poco - this is said after almost every phrase for no real reason other than to make everything sound like it´s not a big deal, even when it really is. Literally, it´s "No More" and "A Little", so the translations are something like "Sit down no more", "Come here a little", and "Do you want dinner no more?"

Cocido - this is a hot drink mixed by carmellizing sugar with a little yerba, adding just enough water to wet it, and then adding more sugar. It´s served by the thermos-full just before bed.

Mosto - this is to sugar what crack is to cocaine. It´s a "tradional" drink capable of putting even the sweetest tooth into a diabetic coma, and is served continuously at fun gatherings like funerals.

Ch-ch-ch-ch - this is the sound Paraguayans make to get each others´attention - like "Psst" . It´s especially used for catcalling, and they have nothing to follow it with - they just want you to look.