Monday, November 22, 2010

The following posts brought to you by...

Other people's pictures!

Sometimes, I forget to bring my camera. Sometimes I bring my camera but forget to take pictures. Sometimes I bring my camera and am too busy to take pictures. So here's a little catching up w/photos taken by fellow UPEACE students: Benjamas (Por) Boonyarit, Kendra Bruno, Marion Brastel and Samantha Wapnick.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Musical Afternoon (back when we had time for things like that)

My roommate Por took this picture, which I love! That's Por in the bottom left corner on the computer screen. Deepo is the other guitar player you see. This is from an afternoon months ago when Por and I went over to Kwanghee's house to sing and play. Haru joined us and we all had a blast. Deepo, Por & Kwanghee are all MUCH better guitar players than I am. But at least I was having a good hair day.

Asian Culture Night

Me at Asian Culture Night, sitting next to Diana (from Canada) with Diana (from Uganda) right behind us. We are waiting for the excitement to begin. Once it started we saw: a parade of fashion from some of the 14 Asian countries represented at UPEACE; dances from China, Korea, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and India; & a martial arts display. We also ate a large amount of amazing, spicy food. Kendra Bruno took this picture.

Cartwheel on the Beach

Marion Brastel (or maybe Rose w/Marion's camera?) took this photo on the beach at Santa Teresa. I'm sure Sylvia will say my hands should be further apart. But look how fast my legs are moving!

North American Culture Night (aka Early/Combined Thanksgiving)

Now before anyone gets appalled or offended, this picture is from a scene in the Thanksgiving pageant I wrote, pre-deconstruction (literal and metaphorical) of the racist and misleading stereotypes of the classic Thanksgiving pageant done in elementary schools. I made the 'hats' with help from some of my fellow Peace Ed-ers. I think the bonnets, in particular are adorable. Cast from left to right is: Sara F, Samantha W, Maricelly M, Mackenzie B-R, Haru S & Maham H. Not pictured- Sara G and Carly S. I'm guessing this photo was taken by Samatha's fiancé Arvil. The evening also included music by Sara F, Midori & Haru, a hip hop dance choreographed by Allison M (danced by yours truly, among others) and vats and vats of mashed potatoes, stuffing, mac & cheese (photo courtesy Samantha W), chicken (turkey too expensive) and vegetables. Also 41 pies.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Our 11 year old hero

I know you can't tell from the US news, but we're having quite an exciting time down here in Costa Rica. While everyone has been watching Tomás approach Haiti, wondering if the already beleaguered nation would get hit by more misfortune, we were getting pounded w/rains, courtesy Tomás. Yesterday we were sent home from school early, again because they were worried about landslides blocking the road. People living within 100 meters of the river closest to downtown (the one I cross on the way to school) were evacuated- rumor has it as a precaution in case the dam broke. We had no running water and so started collecting rainwater. Today has been thankfully rain free but sadly much of it was also water and electricity free. Around 7p as Diana and I were sitting in my kitchen around a candle wondering what we would do for the next several hours, we heard a knock on the door. It was Daniel, the 11 year old son of our landlords, come to tell us that there was light upstairs. He was home by himself and had set up the family's battery contraption to run a desk lamp. Once we got upstairs he suddenly said, "Idea!" He knew how to make the battery run the television and DVD player so we could watch a movie. From the selection of kids movies, Diana chose Herbie: Fully Loaded (w/a pre-disaster Lindsay Lohan) and Daniel thoughtfully switched the language to English for us. About halfway through the power came back on. 15 minutes after that, the rest of the family came home. His mom asked us if he'd been scared to be alone in the dark, but I'd swear he was more looking out for us than hoping we'd look out for him.
At the moment we've gotten both electricity and water back. It turns out there was a landslide on the el Rodeo road so we're waiting to hear if we'll be able to get to school on Monday or not. I guess that's the downside of going to a university with such spectacular views.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My new tradition

Bananagrams, girl drinks & good company.

All this for $17/night

Santa Teresa

Over the long weekend between courses I traveled w/a group of fellow students to Playa Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Coast. We rented a house (at a ridiculously low off season price) from a Swedish woman suspected of being a duchess. The house was absolutely gorgeous, with an open first floor- living room, dining area & kitchen- surrounded by tropical foliage, a hammock, a pool and a view of the ocean. Upstairs were 3 big enclosed bedrooms and an outdoor sitting room with a pull down movie screen for watching movies projected through the window of one of the bedrooms. Halfway between the house and the beach was a yoga pavilion. Yes. A yoga pavilion.
The first two days it didn't rain at all and we got to see a beautiful sunset. The next two day it rained on an off but we still managed to get to the beach and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.
We had fabulous group meals, played games and generally relaxed ourselves into puddles. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

La Fortuna

For my first real trip out of Ciudad Colón I traveled with my friend Diana to La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano to relax in some hot springs. We got a super cheap room in a hostel and after being mildly evangelized by the woman who ran it we headed to the Baldi Hot Springs Resort, having gotten a great deal on admission from our hostess. For $21 US dollars we got an all you can eat buffet dinner and all you can lounge access to their huge assortment of hot springs (of varying temperatures) and cold pools. The next day we had wanted to go on a hike to the waterfall but since it was raining we went instead to Los Laurales, a hot springs frequented by locals. Well, locals, and us. That's the wonderful thing about hot springs; it doesn't matter that it's raining if you're sitting up to your shoulders in warm/hot water. Los Laurales is basically an outdoor park with a bunch of different hot springs and at least one cold pool. There are also tons of little picnic pavillions (complete with electrical outlets) so people bring their rice cookers, coffee pots, electric grills and crock pots to keep themselves fed during their day of lounging.
The picture is Diana holding the granddaughter of our hostess on the patio of our hostel. Diana was a fantastic traveling companion. Not only was she just as excited about Bananagrams as I was, she has a similar love of literature, is a font of information and speaks Spanish. It was nice not to be the only person reading a book while sitting in a hot springs pool.

In case you were wondering...

This is the kind of woman I am. The kind who plays Bananagrams while sitting in a pool at a swim up bar heated by hot springs, drinking a piña colada. At a certain point during this particular game I heard giggling coming from somewhere above me, looked up and saw the bartender and two other employees of the resort standing on the bridge leading to the bar in the center of the pool. I don't know if they were laughing at one of my words, or the fact that we were playing Bananagrams in the middle of a hot springs pool. I will let you be the judge. By the way, vanity compels me to say that this was not my finest hour of Bananagrams words. Aside from mew.

This Influx of Posts and Pictures Brought to You By: Surprise Day Off!

Many exciting and wonderful things have happened and gone undocumented because of busy busyness and my disinclination to look at glowing screens after a day of reading. So here's a quick catch up.

I have now finished 2 more courses: Theory and Practice of Peace Education & Change in Education Systems. We just started Research Methodologies and I have to say, I'm much more looking forward to it than I thought I would be. This is the class where we form our ideas and plans for our final research project/thesis. I'm already sensing an affinity for the case study as my project of choice.

I have been on a trip! Twice! My friend and fellow Peace Ed-er Diana and I went to La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano during a 3 day weekend in the midst of our last course. We spent the better part of 2 days soaking in hot springs. Then this past long weekend between courses, I joined 8 ladies from various programs for an excursion to Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Coast. More on both of those trips later.

I have also been taking a hip hop class, studying Spanish, preparing for North American Night (aka Thanksgiving 2 weeks early), started coordinating the annual V-Day performance of Vagina Monologues, lost my just repaired umbrella, played Charades, organized a series of performance/public presentation workshops (the first of which was supposed to be today), planted a tree and written the first draft of a Thanksgiving pageant. Plus study, study, study.

Life is full. And wondrous.


Escazú Landslide Leaves at Least 20 Dead, 10 Missing; C.R. on Red Alert / Daily News / News / Costa Rica Newspaper, The Tico Times

So, this is what's happening where I live today. We lost power last night around 10p and I woke this morning when one of my housemates knocked to say that school had been cancelled for the day because of landslides on the road up to el Rodeo. At that point we still had no electricity and only trickles of water. Fortunately, we have a really amazing landlord family who brought us a little camping stove and some bread after an out of town shopping trip. All of Ciudad Colón was without electricity (hence no bread at the local bakeries) and many were completely without water. Our house group (five students now that Kendra has moved in to Mai's old room) had coffee, ate bread w/butter and honey and discussed water conservation. OK, some of the discussion may have been more like arguing.

The rest of the day I spent reading and then took a nap. By the time I woke up an hour ago, the power was back and I learned through emails and updates that many people in Costa Rica did not have such a pleasant free day. Escazú is two towns away from us, towards San José.

The rain has mostly stopped for now and we believe we'll be back in school tomorrow, provided the roads are clear and the state of emergency is lifted. Now I'm going to try and finish the reading (for class) that was interrupted by napping.