This spring break I’m heading to Nicaragua to work in a integrative natural medicine clinic! I’ll get an opportunity to learn/practice medical Spanish, put my new physical exam skills to good use, integrate my recent coursework in a clinical setting, study global health in a developing country, prep for my upcoming clinical entrance exams, and volunteer my time to an organization that is giving so much to the local community of Ometepe! So much to look forward to, and everyone I’ve talked to who has already been raves about the experience. Home stays, community health, and a new country to visit… I’m so excited!
If you would like to help send me to Nicaragua, please click on the link below. Anything you can give will be greatly appreciated! Thank you for following my medical journey, and for your friendship and support. I’m looking forward to posting all about my trip when I return in April!
After we made it back home to Eugene it was time to reset, regroup, repack. We finally got to put down our luggage, what a relief! After jet-setting with 3 very large bags plus carry-ons, the difference was dramatic. We spent a week doing laundry, sorting, resting, and visiting. Then we packed up small packs and moved out to the coast house. Thanks LL!
The spring weather was cooler than I anticipated, but after the tropics, sitting home with a fire in the wood stove, watching the rain fall with a bowl of popcorn and a book was a good way to go. We got several breaks with crisp, clear weather to walk the short amble to the beach. The photos are from the nearest beach, where the water has carved out large spaces beneath the rocks, and as the tide comes in shoots water into the air. The view was great, and I even saw a seal lion one day!
The rocky beaches always feel like home. Nothing reminds me quite so much of my paternal grandparents. As a kid we spent time with them every summer, and usually at the coast. Lincoln City, Tillamook, Newport. And I’m sure we drove through Yachats more than once. Digging holes to China. Dipping our toes, my sister holding me back and reminding me that waves can sweep you out at any moment. Happy meals in the backseat of their Honda. Golden days.
We spent a good deal of our indoor time browsing used cars online. After a couple of days and narrowing it down to a shortlist, I quickly discovered just how unpleasant banking from across an ocean can be. I spent the next 10 days regularly visiting an ATM and making midnight calls to the UK. Ultimately things got sorted and an addition was made to the family: Varys, a shiny blue 2-door Yaris!
During the week we stayed there was a supermoon. It was also Cinco de Mayo. We decided the best place to be was at the top of Cape Perpetua, looking out over 180° view of coastline, watching ships pass the setting sun, and then the moon rise over the Cascades. It was a stunning view. I only wish I could have captured it clearer to share with you. I hope you saw it from where you were.
We flew into SeaTac, took advantage of their free wifi, and headed off to the nearby hotel-with-shuttle we found. Ugh, bad choice. If I can recommend one thing for your visit to the greater Seattle area, it is to NOT stay at the SeaTac Travelodge. However, we had a nice chat with the shuttle driver, and there was a reasonably good Thai restaurant next door. There was even a Redbox up the road. ;)
The following morning we checked out and headed for Bainbridge. The Link was a fun ride into downtown, followed by a short walk to the ferry. The trip over was grey so we stayed inside, and managed to check into a hotel on the island that I highly recommend, Island Country Inn. When we arrived they offered us fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies! And hands-down the best hotel of our travels.
We walked around town a bit, got a look at the library (outside only as it was closed), shared a meal, and then bussed to the north end of the island, where we met Jeff. He gave us a brief twilit intro to the farm, and then we had a lovely chat inside. Afterward he offered to drive us back to the hotel, which we accepted via a short tour of town and what to check out the next day. My first impression was that it reminds me a bit of Whistler, with the cute little shops, small town feel, but clean and upscale. Cute!
As recommended, we dropped in at a few local shops the next day, including the knitting shop, library, grocery, and a walk along the waterfront. I really fell for the yarn store, and the waterfront has some serious charm, especially the views of the Seattle skyline. Then we managed to find a rideshare, with pick-up at the ferry and drop-off in Eugene, and we finally headed home. :)
We flew from San Juan to Boston, where we spent a couple of days regrouping just north of the city. It was great to be back in the US to do things like laundry without any concern over details. We found a fantastic sandwich shop next door, where the customer service was fantastic, the accents were sublime, and the meat was in abundance. I definitely approve of the East Coast hot pastrami! Then there was a shredded duffle bag to replace (but thanks JetBlue for the $100 gift card!) and a drop-in haircut at the beauty academy while B phone-interviewed for a job in Bainbridge Island.
By the time we were put back together, we had made plans to meet with the folks there, and caught a train north. We landed in Newburyport, MA, where we walked to a sweet little ice cream shop and had an old-timey lunch. Then we walked to a lovely park, which made me reflect on the name “new England.” From there we were picked up and taken to the home of our hosts. We spent the next several days in conversation with them about their space, their needs and ours, and talking plans. In between we had some time to go into the town, had dinner on the patio of a nice place, saw a little bit of the waterfront, and got a general feel of the area.
Unfortunately we arrived at a very busy time for our hosts, so rather than drive up to Vermont to see the property needing stewardship, they were hoping to set us to work on some tasks around their home. At the one week mark we decided we weren’t digging the flow, and decided to move on and continue our interviewing process, and packed up back to Boston.
This time we got a Zipcar and tooled around the city a bit. We found a nice park with squirrels, bridges, and acro-yogis to make us feel at home. The next morning bright and early we flew out, Seattle-bound.
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.
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 →