Monday, April 27, 2009

Hammocks and Rip Tides

So I was with my 2 favorite people and we were in tourist mode. The night before we were up all night, and I think there was a meteor shower going on that night because I saw a ton of shooting stars, which was awesome, and I´m pretty much set for wishes for the next decade. As a side note, you can see the constellations of both the southern and northern hemispheres here, and there´s not a lot of light pollution and just trillions of stars, so just picture that. So we rode the ferry and the bus to Playa Carmen, which is one of the many great places to surf in Costa Rica. There was a ton of tan, blonde people (I could almost be one of them at this point since I haven´t been able to dye my hair in so long and my roots are as blonde as can be) from all over the world there. There are not a whole lot of specific stories to write about the week since each day was pretty much the same. I´ll just sum it up. In the mornings, the surfers would wake up at 5:30 to go surf and we´d sleep for hours and hours after that and then leisurely wake up and go swimming in the ocean for a few hours. Then we´d eat at a soda for lunch. The afternoons had more variety. Sometimes we´d lay in a hammock for a while and then go swimming, and sometimes we´d go swimming and then lay in a hammock. Sometimes it was tough to decide so we´d have to discuss it from the hammocks. Each evening, a bunch of people from the hostel would all head down to the beach together to watch the sunset, and then the evening we filled with sitting around and talking and laughing and playing cards. It´s like we´re living in a Jack Johnson song. The panty-rippers (coconut rum and pineapple juice) were prevalent during each stage of the day, along with smoking carrots and other social fun. There is definitely something to be said for that lifestyle. The last night was one of the guys´ birthdays, and Laura (being an avid baker and much nicer person than I would ever be) made him a "cake" of pancakes with mango sauce in between (there was no oven) and there was an extra-fun evening around that. That night was also some sort of jungle crab migration because there were these orange and purple crabs EVERYWHERE and little crabby, claw-scratchy sounds everywhere once the lights were out. Ugh.

The next day, we had to head back to San Jose for Laura to fly out (which was actually good because although the surfer kids were cool the whole time we were there and it was really great while it lasted, Laura had gotten pretty upset with these meatheads that were abusing the crabs and it was just time to go.)
Traveling day came, and I was feeling sick, and it only got worse from there. I was sick as a dog for 3 days, and I'm not talking one of the well-fed American dogs with a warm nose. I'm talking a mangey, flea-bitten, bag-of-bones, Nicaraguan street dog kind of sick, and it hurt to move, so I mostly didn't. We stayed at Galileo, our favorite place in San Jose, after dropping off Laura to fly back home.

When I was up for moving again on Sunday, we headed for the Carribean side of Costa Rica (which as you may know, is so exotic that the rice and beans has coconut milk in it) to Puerto Viejo. The first day we mostly just hung out and tried to go swimming toward the end of the day but every beach we saw had coral reefs in it, so we sat in this little tidepool area and watched the sunset.

The next day, we almost died. We had rented bikes and were having a lovely little ride through a mangrove forest next to the beach. We decided we'd just stop at the first place the beach didn't have coral, and when we did, it was beautiful. Unfortunately, we stopped about 200 meters short and, not having come from the road but from a path, we missed all the signs that warned about rip tides. We hadn't even started to fully panic yet, since we didn't fully realize what was happening. The lifeguard, however, did, so he rescued us, and it's a very good thing, because we were really getting nowhere closer to shore before he showed up. So that was an experience. The last morning in Puerto Viejo, we went snorkeling at the coral reef, and it was pretty cool, but not as bright or colorful as the ones on TV. We also kept being pulled hard out ot sea by the current and after yesterday were pretty freaked out by that, so we stopped after only an hour or so.

The best part about Puerto Viejo, aside from the general vibe of the place, was that there was this guy at the hotel that did chiropractic adjustments and massages for really cheap. I'd apparently done quite a bit of damage, both emotional and physical with that bungee jump (I knew it!), so I got that all worked out. Then on the bus I met a guy that is helping locals sell their handicrafts to raise money for their villages, for bridges or other stuff, so we're keeping in touch because that will apply to my rural economic development. So that's good!

Alas, this is my last night in Central America, and after a wonderful and adventurous sojourn, I guess I'm going to have to say goodbye. The tentative plan is now a couple weeks in Ohio, a few days in Virginia, and a few days in Atlanta before the Peace Corps! My phone will work in May, so call me and see me before I go...seriously! I'll probably be coming back a whole different person so get a load of the me I am now while you can!

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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.