Costa Rica part 2: The Rain Forest

Costa Rica in March is hot, especially on the beach. By the second week we were ready for some relief, so we headed to the highlands. Our friend offered us a place to stay in Tilarán, in the eastern region of the Guanacaste province, and just south of Lake Arenál. From there we took day trips to the lake and the volcano of the same name.

The town of Tilarán is small, so it was easy walking distance to everything we needed, like grocery stores and restaurants. On our first night in town we ate our first American food since leaving NYC. The small soda on the corner sold us a hamburger that turned out to be something very like falafel and a “hoagie” that turned out to be white bread with kraft singles and cabbage. They also proceeded to charge us roughly twice the cost of the average meal. On our way out the door we noticed the second menu in Spanish, apparently for locals only. Needless to say, we didn’t order “ethnic” food again during our stay.

The vegetable markets in Tilarán were much better than we’d seen on the coast. On a walk around the town we found several, each with bins overflowing with ripe mangoes, melons, avocados, and plenty of fruits, vegetables, and peppers we didn’t recognize. We had fun trying new things, as well as making a few foods that “taste like home.”

We had a Qi Gong lesson, on a vast porch surrounded by verdant landscape. There was a breeze blowing and lake views, very picturesque! We really enjoyed our private lesson, and came out feeling connection to the jungle.

Down the road we found our first CR microbrew at Volcano Brewing Company. We tasted the lot and discovered that the stout was to our liking (as expected!). From there we walked across the highway to the windsurfing beach, where we enjoyed the view and watched an otter play.

Our day trip to the volcano was one of the most exciting of the trip. We started out hitching a ride with a Canadian ex-pat turned fishing guide who shared stories and advice, and even drove us a couple of miles past his turn off to drop us off in the town of New Arenal. (Old Arenal is under the man-made lake.) There we had lunch and did a bit of shopping, before hitching a ride to the dam, full of locals going to the beach. From there a road led up the side of the mountain to the Arenal Observatory, a loooong walk with excellent views, and even better from the top. From here we walked the trail to the hanging bridges, with exceptional views of the volcano and canopy, tons of birds singing, and an incredible experience that felt straight out of Indiana Jones. We lingered awhile and got the bridge to ourselves for a good 20 minutes. We also saw several lines of ants marching with(relatively) giant pieces of leaves, all in a line, just like the cartoons!

Back at the observatory we had a tasty lunch, before hiking back down to the road. While waiting to catch a ride, we noticed we were standing next to a tree full of howler monkeys, so B struck up a conversation. Shortly we caught a ride, only moments before a tropical downpour hit! They weren’t traveling far, but the storm was brief as well, so we had a nice chat with the guy from Georgia and his local wife. They dropped us off at a Swedish chalet, where we had a look around, before catching another ride with a French couple on holiday. By the time we got home it was time for dinner and packing, and we headed to the airport the next day.

We spent our last night in Costa Rica back in the hostel where we spent our first, in Alajuela. They hardly recognized us since B had shaved his beard. We returned their bus schedule (worth a mint for tourists) and filled them in on our trip. The town was much busier this time, and through conversations with taxi drivers we learned we came back on the eve of Dia de Juan Santamaria, Costa Rica’s independence day celebration. This day commemorates the ousting of the American invaders, so whether through coincidence or serendipity, our departure was timely.

Our month in Costa Rica was gorgeous, relaxing, and full of firsts for me. I look forward to returning someday to explore some more.

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Costa Rica part 1: The Beach

Leaving for Costa Rica was so exciting. New country to add to my list, a first time visit, so I was extra pumped. Based on flights, we left a day after we planned, which gave us time to see another sight or two in NYC, as well as to plan a little bit more, and feel a little more relaxed before traveling. We flew out of La Guardia airport in the wee hours.

Our layover in Atlanta was a little more stressful. From our lonely planet guide book (which I highly recommend) we discovered that an exit ticket is needed to be allowed into the country, technically. However they rarely check if you enter via airport. We bought one-way tickets Continue reading

Going in a new direction

After careful (albeit rapid) consideration, I decided to leave school at the European School of Osteopathy. It was a decision that took much thought and weighing of options. While I had considered pros and cons as they presented throughout my months there, a last minute unexpected development catalyzed the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t have any regrets about joining the course. The school offers a quality education with some top notch faculty in a lovely environment. I can’t think of a better place to study than Boxley! The opportunity to be a student again was challenging, motivating, and exciting. But at the end of the day, the feeling in my gut was that the ESO was setting me up to be a top-notch spinal manipulator, with limited experience in cranial and visceral techniques, the very reasons for my choice to go. While the course is 4 years, the first 2 are spent solely at the academic site, practicing with classmates, learning such skills as anatomy, physiology, and spine-centric manipulation. Only in the 3rd and 4th years are students presented with classes of non-musculo-skeletal focus, and this during the clinic and thesis years. The amount of hours spent in this focus, especially in comparison to the musculo-skeletal, doesn’t add up to meeting my goals in a cost-effective and efficient course. I also got a very mixed feeling from the faculty, some encouraging, some dismissing these ideas I cherish. The tipping point, though, is definitely the fact that the license doesn’t transfer back to the USA, which would severely limit my future as a body-worker if/when I return home. If spine-centric manipulation is what I desire, American chiropractic schools provide more than adequate skill and licensure to meet that.

These thoughts were stewing and brewing for several weeks, but the clincher came when my partner was denied access to the country for a question mark on a customs form. Quite a blow for me, as I was sitting on the other side of the wall, waiting for 8 hours while he was held and questioned, then returned to the US without so much as line of sight. I went home dejected, demoralized, and questioning everything. I spent most of the next 72 hours in consideration, and finally determined that all things considered, I would be happier and more stable moving on, and sooner than later. I suppose both fortunately and unfortunately for me, my student aid money was on a schedule to be dispersed in quarterly increments, rather than the typical European 2, so I saved money and time by leaving mid-year.

In a whirlwind I packed up and moved on, thanks to prior experience in the area and tons of help from my friends. Furniture found new owners, excess clothing found storage closets, and a few belonging traveled with me back to NYC where my sweetie was waiting for me. We’ve since traveled on to Costa Rica, where we are feeling warm and inspired, brainstorming and plotting our next adventure. More details on my travels and plans to come in future posts. 

My goal is still to pursue Osteopathy. I have heard good things about a couple of other European courses, but as I’m solely fluent in English, those are less than attainable for me at this point. The biggest obstacle to practicing right now is obtaining a license to practice hands-on. The fastest option is a massage license, which I am investigating. Programs, requirements, and licensure vary by state, and as I have no plan to return home immediately, this presents a conundrum that is as-yet unanswered. Beyond that, there are licensure programs in naturopathy, chiropractic, and physical therapy (and many more!) that offer more flexibility with greater investment. Time will tell which option I choose. Ultimately I still intend to focus my practice in low-velocity, less invasive treatment methods, upon returning home, or traveling for courses.

While the decision was a tough one, I am excited by the opportunity to re-create my vision, this time in tandem with my partner. I feel like the opportunities for me to achieve what I set out to do are still numerous and varied, and my biggest challenge is setting a course for myself. My intention remains unchanged, to develop hands-on skills that I can use to help the people around me, and to continue learning all my days.