"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "
Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Semana Santa

(Written on April 1)

I was thinking my life was pretty uneventful when I realized I wasn’t going on any trips for Semana Santa (Holy Week), which could also be considered a Spring Break.  Then one day as I was sitting on the beach in Montezuma, I realized that although I didn’t “go” anywhere, I am spending Spring Break in Costa Rica!  Doesn’t get any cooler than that! 

Although school started back today, I’m sitting on the ferry heading back to Montezuma as I write this.  My mom came to Costa Rica for Semana Santa and got to see my new home and explore some of the sights.  Aside from the fact that she brought me two BIG jars of peanut butter, and my favorite jelly beans, I am sooo glad she came.

I live in this wonderful, beautiful place, but because I am working, I don’t have an infinite amount of time to just run around in the jungle.  But this week off gave me the opportunity to do just that.

Mom arrived Monday night, so I had to wait allll weekend and all day Monday for her to get here.  I picked her a welcome bouquet of flowers from my yard (so many beautiful plants!) and cooked her a welcome dinner of chicken tacos, beans, and a salad of avocado, tomato, onion and lime dressing. (We actually ate the welcome dinner on Tuesday night, but that's a different story; it was planned for Monday)

On Tuesday morning we went to Cóbano in the morning to get some groceries.  It’s always so hard doing grocery shopping because I can only buy as much as I can carry with my own two hands back on the bus, so it was really nice to have an extra pair of arms and legs!  I think Mom got her fill of public transportation while she was here.  
my new bus-buddy
riding in style!

With it being Semana Santa, about a million ticos come down to the beaches and camp out.  The buses were soooo crowded, it was insane.  Wall to wall people.  I have NEVER seen so many people on a bus, and it made me a little nervous when we were heading up the big hill in Montezuma.  With all the weight on the bus, it is a miracle we made it!  The bus was completely full when it left Cóbano that we were standing, and then halfway to Montezuma it stopped and I counted 12 more people who wanted to get on.  I don’t think they all fit.  Trying to get off was a hassle.  I couldn’t see where we were going.  I usually just stand up and walk my way to the front of the bus and the driver stops, but this time I had to yell “PARADA!” for him to stop.  The aisle of the bus was so packed that a few people had to get off the bus to make way for us to get off.  I’m glad the bus is not always that crowded!

This picture doesn't really do the situation justice, but I COULD NOT MOVE to get a better shot!

Tuesday afternoon I took Mom to Piedra Colorada, which means colored rock.  It is a beach with beautiful rocks instead of sand.  At this spot, the river meets the ocean and forms a nice swimming hole.  This is where people go to get “facials.”  You can scrape of parts of a certain rock, wet it with river water, and then apply it to your face.  Let it dry, wash it off and your skin is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.  I’ve done it before, so I had to have my mom try it as well.  Nothing like a free facial!

At the top of the hill where I live...taking a break before walking down
This view gets me every time!
Montezuma Beach...on our walk to Piedra Colorada
Finally arrived at Reserva Absoluta Piedra Colorada!
rocks, instead of sand!

Mom liked these "tall" rocks...

...and I liked these TALL rocks!
using bus money to scrape off the special rock
Mom, applying her mud with river water

waiting for our mud masks to dry...

On Wednesday morning we ended up back in Cóbano.  We went to my school so Mom could see my classroom, and of course I ended up doing a few things while I was there.  We then walked into town and ate a brunch at this yummy French bakery.  After that we walked into the Catholic Church in Cóbano, since it was open for Holy Week.  I’ve been inside a handful of times, but Mom had only seen it from the outside until that point.  

in my classroom!

outside of the office/ lunchroom
at the French bakery! (Catholic church in the background) 
Later on Wednesday we walked down to Montezuma beach.  It was soooo windy, that I feel like I am just now getting all of the sand off of me.  There was a group of boys who set up a soccer game in the sand, and lots of ticos were camping.  More and more people arrived as the day went on.

soccer on the beach:  check out the two sticks for the "goal"

Wednesday was also a full moon.  Somehow we were still down in Montezuma after the sun had set so we got to see the full moon out over the water.  Incredible.  Then as we were walking up to my house, my mom and I spotted something glowing down on the road.  I thought it was a piece of metal catching a strange reflection.  We got closer and it turned out to be this amazing bug with green headlights!  I have never seen such a thing, but it is definitely my new favorite bug!  His lights were sooo bright.  They didn’t blink like a firefly, but just produced a steady glow.  We researched this later and found it is called a Glowing Click Beetle and are common in the jungle.  I sure hope I find one again, because I need a pet!
a little hazy, but check out the detail on the moon!

love the reflection on the ocean

the "glowing click beetle" with my flash, so you can see its detail

the "glowing click beetle" without flash!  How cute, with his headlights!!!

On Thursday morning, we went to one of my favorite spots:  Tortuga Island!  We had reservations to go last year when my mom, dad, and aunt visited, but the trip got cancelled because the water was too rough that day.  Thankfully it was a go this time!  It was great!  It is a forty-five minute boat ride from Montezuma to get to the island, but it is beautiful along the way.  I love the rocks in the ocean where the waves just crash up against them.  We pass this one rock called “Rainbow Rock.”  It’s shaped like a rainbow, and the boat captain says during rainy season flowers of different colors bloom on this rock giving it its name, but I googled it and couldn’t find any such pictures.  It makes a nice story though!

me in front of the map of my town
leaving Montezuma for Tortuga Island

on the boat with my momma

Rainbow Rock

Before landing on the island, the boat took us to two different locations for snorkeling.  The first spot was so-so because red tide made the water murky.  The second spot was as incredible as the first time I went snorkeling at Isla Tortuga when I studied abroad in 2011.  There were fish of sooo many different colors.  There were beautiful yellow ones with blue stripes, larger solid navy blue fish, small thin fish that were iridescent, ahh just so beautiful!
gearing up to go!

noticed that we both wore our polka-dot bikinis.  Unplanned.  We are mother and daughter for sure!

first spot we snorkeled at

second spot we snorkeled at

so relaxed: she loved to be petted
After an hour and a half of snorkeling, the boat took us to the island for our lunch that had been prepared while we were snorkeling.  There is a wild boar (I had mentioned her in my blog last December when I went to Isla Tortuga) and she hung out around our picnic tables the entire time.  She loved to be petted, and was sticking her big piggy nose all over the place wanting food.  I couldn’t say no!  The people who cooked set a plate of white rice on the sand for her to eat, as if she hadn’t already gotten enough to eat from everyone who was hand feeding her.

oink. oink.

After lunch we had a few hours to look at birds, swim, or just relax on the beach before we headed back to Montezuma.  On the way back we saw dolphins in the ocean!

On Friday Mom and I slept in a little bit after our long day in the sun on Thursday.  With the time difference we were able to stream the Good Friday service from Northland not too long after we got up.  Although I am so far away from home, the live online worship is such a blessing because it allows me to feel connected like I am right there in Longwood.

fake waterfalls! (the mural at my house)
taking a break at the top of the hill
After the noon service at 10 am Costa Rica time, we headed out for another adventure.  A bit rosy from the day before, we lathered up with the sunscreen.  Today we would hike the Montezuma waterfall!  We attempted to do so last August, but with some people being afraid of heights, we didn’t quite get there, so time to try again.  On the way walking down to Montezuma, the bus passed us.  We were debating getting on it instead of walking down the hill, so we just stood there.  It stopped and my new friend Amy ended up getting off.  She was just returning from a trip to Nicaragua, but we invited her along.  I had told Amy she and I would need to explore the waterfall one weekend, so it couldn’t have been more perfect timing to run into her that day!

It turns out the waterfall was the party spot of the day!  Holy moly there were so many people there!  It’s usually a pretty relaxed spot to go, but all the rocks had people over them, people were playing music, hammocks were tied into the trees, and the party was going!

FIESTA at the waterfall!
the Ticos climb the rocks like cats. No big deal!

Amy and I getting pounded by the waterfall!
the water was freezing!
I toughed it up and did something I never thought I would do…jumped off the rocks into the pool below!  Let’s clarify, I didn’t jump from the high spot where the ticos were jumping from.  They climbed up there like cats, I promise you.  The spot I jumped from didn’t look too high when I was below, but once I was up there, oh my!  I considered climbing back down, but everyone was watching me and the pressure was on.  I finally jumped and I’m not kidding you, I screamed the entire way down.  But it was so exhilarating! 

To be continued…
As this blog entry is already quite lengthy, yet I have not finished writing about the weekend yet, I do not want to keep waiting to post it.  Check back soon to see what Mom and I did for the rest of the weekend while she was here!

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