Welcome 2016

Where should I even begin? Obviously I’ve been slacking in writing. I’ve been slacking in giving myself enough me time. But it’s a new year, and I plan on changing some things. Starting a new year makes me reflect on my past year and think about my continuing future goals.

I’m going to start with where I left off. I finished my third semester of school, began an internship at Piñon Hills Community Church with the marketing director working on graphics, improved immensely on all my graphic design skills and website creation, and of course stayed on top of workouts, having a boyfriend, and doing various projects (mostly cooking related).

I like to tell my story through pictures, so here’s yet another gallery.

As you can see I had quite a full semester. Will do a separate post about my graphics work and school, as well as what I plan on doing this year. I have made it a goal to blog once a week this year (or a minimum of twice per month). I really enjoy sharing parts of my life with you and writing. I hope that you are inspired to do more and to enjoy life. I need to take my own advice and slow down enough to stop and write every once in a while. 🙂

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Pumpkin Spice Season

Fall, my favorite season is here and it definitely feels like it. I find it funny that pumpkin spice has been such a huge thing this year. Sometimes it’s fun to obsess over random things. I have to say I like pumpkin spice (haven’t ever tried a pumpkin spice latte), but I pretty much like everything about fall.

It has been such a wet summer and fall is expected to be the same. Summer was fun and exhausting. I certainly stayed busy. School, work, dating, and working out seem to take up all my free time. As always, I find it easier to say what I’m up to with pictures.

About mid July I went to Montana to visit my aunt and uncle who I haven’t seen a couple of years. As soon as I got picked up to the airport I was told we were going to have dinner…and guess where that was? Olive Garden. We got a nice employee discount on our party of 17. Sometimes it’s nicer to be served, than to serve…actually more often than not it’s more fun to be served. It was a really nice evening to reconnect with my cousins.

Spent far too much in planes and cars on this Montana trip. We drove to Glacier National Park which is no where near Big Timber. It was a great vacation to get away from everything at home. I was able to rest and do whatever I wanted.

The rest of this summer has been filled with cooking, projects, work, school, and so on.

Not Always a Walk in the Park

Unfortunately, I was brought up speaking only one language. While you can find an array of English speakers around the world, there are still billions of people who don’t speak English at all. Chances are if you find yourself in another country where English isn’t the primary language, you will have to find some way to communicate. I’ve had my fair share of dealing with language barriers.

The more I travel, the more I learn about how important communication is and how that can connect you to people and culture. The world is becoming more globalized. There is more of a market then just in our own country. Smartling is a translation software program that helps companies bridge language barriers. It does the work of translating content. Technology is a certainly a useful tool to help you overcome language barriers, so don’t be afraid so speak.

It was my second to last day in China. I had been traveling for over two weeks with a family and sometimes on my own. For a majority of the trip, I was with someone who spoke Chinese. I was more confident about traveling and communicating in Chinese, although I had not had much practice. I was on the search for a place called Zhujiajiao. Wanting to save a bit of money, I decided not to take the tour bus from my hostel and instead go on my own. I had read a bit online about where the bus station was, so I took the train to closest to the bus stop. I walked around People’s Park looking for a sign that could possibly indicate where I wanted to go. Dictionary in hand, I proceeded to ask people where the bus stop was for Zhujiajiao. Even if I could get my point across, I could hardly understand the response I was given.

I then happened to ask a young woman where I could find the bus stop. She immediately began trying to help me. She pointed to a place in the city with a similar name. I had to tell her that it wasn’t in the city. I showed her the pinyin hoping she might read Zhujiajiao and recognize it. She had never heard of the place before. However, she continued asking people and eventually we were walking in the right direction. I followed along blindly, wishing I could read and understand a bit more Chinese. She had very limited English, probably about as much Chinese as I knew. Using her iPhone as a translator in combination with both of our limited vocabulary in each other’s languages we were able to communicate. (This was much faster than me looking up words in my dictionary.) She told me it was her day off and that she could come with me if I wanted.

We eventually found the bus stop. It was really nice that she could repeatedly ask questions for me as it would have taken me twice as long to find the place. And then we were off. She immediately pulled out her wallet and paid for both of our tickets. The bus ride was about an hour-long. We exchanged names, ages (she happened to be the same age as me, 19), and what we were doing. I listened to some of her music. She showed me some games and let me play them. I gave her my email address and told her she could visit me in the US anytime.

We spent a few hours in Zhujiajiao, which is called “China’s Venice” because you can tour the city via boats. This was my second time in a water town. It was a very different experience. I tried a few new snacks which I would never have known about. We took a boat tour, which she helped bargain for and she snapped a couple of pictures of us together. She helped me to buy souvenirs for my friends and family back home.

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I made sure to have my money out and pay for the bus ride back into town. We then got back to the train station. I was heading back to meet up with the family I was traveling with and she was meeting up with her friends to go shopping. Somewhere out there in the world are a couple of pictures of this girl and me. I regret not taking a single picture of her. I can’t even remember her name.

Who’s Who?

Nov 11
Wow I’ve been at this farm for a month now. I’m already a third through this trip in Costa Rica. In just four weeks and a few days, I’ve met seven volunteers, each with their own story. I thought it would be fun to tell you about the volunteers I’ve met.

Jasmin. Jasmin is 20 and lives in Germany. She’s my roommate. She has studied Spanish for three years and English for ten. She is staying at this farm for almost three months and taking a couple of weeks to tour through Costa Rica. She goes back home next month. This coming year she is traveling to several countries (Jamaica, Spain, and others) before she studies at a university.

Eric. Eric was at this farm for three weeks. He has graduated college. He is traveling a full year through Central and South America doing workaway and woofing (organic farming) jobs. He’s from Argentina and had been living in Argentina for the past few months, but his family is in the midwest now. Lucky for him he’s fluent in English and Spanish. Now he’s somewhere in South America.

Kevin and Carly. A couple from Washington state who have both graduated college. They studied Spanish for a couple of years. They are farming, touring, traveling, vacationing for six months. They started in Costa Rica and will work their way up through Central America, ending in Mexico.

Alex and Alexia. A couple from Beligium. They both have graduated college and are spending a month in six different countries in Central and South America. They hadn’t studied any Spanish prior to this trip. They spent a month in Mexico. They spent two weeks at the farm and will spend two weeks touring Costa Rica. Their remaining countries are Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.

Dalil. Dalil is 36 and works in railway construction or something of the sort in the South of France. With his savings, he is traveling for ten months through Central and South America and countries in the Pacific Ocean, like Australia, New Zealand, and others. He happened to stop by the farm on the recommendation of Alex and Alexia.

Costa Rica: Day 4

I hope Sunday’s can be my day to write, since we are able to sleep in a little more. I didn’t get the best night of sleep last night. The barking dogs woke me up at 11:30pm and the chickens at 5am. I don’t think I’ll need to use my alarm clock. The river runs steadly beside the room I am in. I woke up this morning feeling cold. I think this is caused by the combination between sweat and humidity.

After a breakfast of rice and black beans with scrambled egg and fried plantains, work begins. I gather eggs from the Chinchilla’s four hundred chickens. Then clean the eggs, sort through black beans, and cut up peppers for lunch, wash dishes, and then gather eggs again. At noon, I feed the chickens and clean out their water, and gather more eggs. Lunch was arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), a banana salad, and the black beans I helped to clean earlier. Then I take a much needed shower. The afternoon is mine.

After writing for an hour or so I take a walk and end up running into Jasmin. We walk down by the river and talk in Spanglish. We take some photos. Then head back to the house. About two mintues later the rain starts to poor. It’s been raining for almost five hours nonstop. I spent the afternoon talking in Spanish and English to Jasmin, Erik, Luz, and Mimo (Guillermo). It is a very laid back afternoon. Spanish is coming to me relatively quickly. It’s amazing how much I can understand and speak.

 

 

Costa Rica: Day 3

I’m living in the clouds, literally. This is the most beautiful countryside I have ever experienced in my life. 5:30am, the sun is up and the Valverde-Abarca family is up and about. We go to the school in La Concepcion for a special Columbus Day activity because Nury works at the school. The children perform dances, sing songs, and read poems out loud. Food is prepared for everyone. I have a couple soft shell tacos, one filled with squash, the other with pork. I also have agua dulce, which is water sweetened with sugar cane. For a country with so much plant life I am missing my vegetables.

We go back to Nury’s house and make lunch. I help a little. It’s quite convenient to have a lime tree in the back yard for the guacamole. For lunch it’s rice, black beans, fried plantains, eggs, and guacamole.

Then Nury, Nelly, Nicki (Nury’s son), and I drive to the next town, San Juan Bosco, which is on the next mountain. They drop me off at Holga’s house (the sister of Luz Chinchilla). I feel quite strange. I already miss them. This entire time Nelly has been apprehensive of the Chinchilla’s because they did not come to get me at the bus stop in Perez Zeledon. She says they have no hospitality, which is uncommon for Costa Ricans. In La Concepcion she asked several people if they knew the Chinchillas. Her brother-in-law said he knew them. I don’t think that really eased her nerves. I really appreciate her care and concern, but I feel relatively safe going to Finca Chinchilla (the farm of the Chinchilla’s). However, the circumstances were odd. Here was this very nice family dropping me off with some people who were still not Guillermo and Luz. I still was not on the farm.

This house was a combination of a little store and Holga’s house. The house is only one room with about four beds in it. I could immediately tell they were much poorer than the Abarca’s. I feel uncomfortable, because I’m not sure this was the relative of Luz Chinchilla. But after asking a few more questions I assure myself it is her. I meet Holga’s four kids. After a few minutes, I loosen up and relax. I am able to talk with all these people and understand most of what they said. I begin hanging out with Laura and Adriana. We go to a cemetery to do some landscaping. Laura weeds and Ardiana, Felix, and I put some sticks around some new plants. I suppose this was to protect them. At that point, Guillermo and Eric come to pick me up. And once again I feel ripped away from some people who I really am starting to like. I even teach Adriana and Laura how to say hello in Chinese. Adriana proceeds to repeat Ni Hao over and over again. I am quite entertained.

Before arriving at the farm, we stop and pick up bunches of bananas. Finally, I am at Finca Chinchilla, after two days of travel. I am welcomed and introduced to at least ten more people. Then we have dinner. Guess what, more rice and beans, and some chicken soup with yuca, squash, and potatoes.

I am now sleeping in a dorm-like room, which reminds me of a room at a campsite. I am sharing a bunk bed with this girl named Jasmine from Germany. She speaks Spanish with a Germany accent as well as some English. We speak in Spanglish, which is quite fun. Already, I have discovered many similarities.

Creede, you’re so cool!

So as you can see I’ve had to add yet another menu item to my weblog. I thought by this point I would have a category for everything I want to write about, but obviously not. Anyway, I hope to use this section a lot because I love to travel.

Last weekend was such a nice break from the monotony of work and of this summer. My mom and I drove to Creede, CO, which is about three and half hours from where we live. Creede is a tiny town that is famous for its Repertory Theater. Instead of having some long expository of our trip, I will just post some pictures with captions to relay the trip. For a frame of reference just imagine going to a downtown of some cute little touristy town and going into the shops and galleries. That’s basically what we did. We just had the added bonus of seeing some fantastic plays that were very well done. We also had dinner with a couple of the actors. What a treat! They were so passionate about their work.

Okay now to the photo journey.

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And here is what we came for, the Creede Repertory Theater. We began by touring both of their theaters. I love behind the scenes kind of stuff so that was definitely fun for me and they were free. In total we saw three plays: William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead, The Taming of the Shrew, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I could write a post about each of these plays, but for now I will just say that all of them were very well done.

The first was rather strange and I can’t decide if I like it or not. It was about William Shakespeare and zombies. Those two things certainly sound odd together, but somehow they managed to pull it off. The coolest part about watching that play was that we were in a small theater that was three-quarters of the round (meaning we surrounded the play on three sides). The Taming of the Shrew was in a western setting and was excellent. It is much better to watch Shakespeare’s works being performed than just reading the text. I actually understood what was going on and followed the plot line. It was also rather funny. The last play was a musical and was absolutely a delight. It was the funniest of them all. In fact there was a point in the play where it seemed like the actors were about to lose it. You could see they were trying their hardest not to laugh. All the actors were so excited. After a show they would stand outside the doors of the theater so you could greet them. They were all very excited, you could just feel the energy. I definitely want to come back and see what else they are up to.