Archive for the ‘Samara Beach’ Category

Days 9 & 10 – 3 May – A new week

May 4, 2010 12am in 2010 trip,Costa Rica,Samara Beach,San Jose,Travel | Comments (0)

I took the bus back to Samara yesterday, I had been dropped off at the wrong bus stop, I was actually supposed to be at the bus stop up the road, but people seem to be quite easygoing here and the bus driver put on the brakes in the middle of the road and I ran up and got on, and the bus driver tried to tell me something which I’m pretty sure was along the lines of “err, this isn’t the right bus stop”. Never mind! Someone was in my seat, but he knew it and was starting to move before I even said anything. Quite a few people were standing for the first few hours of the trip but after a while people got off and the standing people could sit down.

Today has been another day of the internet being up and down, kind of irritating when I’m trying to get blog updates done but hey, nothing that can be done!

Seems that everyone heard about the creature I encountered in the bathroom and everyone wants to see pictures of it. Perhaps the story has been blown out of proportion :)

Not a lot happened today, we started classes with a new teacher who is a lot more relaxed than our teacher from last week. There are much fewer students this week than last, I think it’s getting into low season. There was only me and one other person in the class. There was supposed to be a third person but she got an eye infection. I also bought another t-shirt and some bright red togs. Soon we’re going to Arriba (a bar) for drinks with the new students.

I took some photos on my phone because my camera run out of batteries but then like an idiot I forgot to bring the phone cable, so that will be a job for tomorrow.

Days 7 & 8 – 1 May – Made a new friend in the shower

May 4, 2010 12am in 2010 trip,Costa Rica,Samara Beach,San Jose,Travel | Comments (1)

Ok, so this morning I got up at 1am to use the baño, and saw a massive tail sticking out the door of the bathroom. Once I got the courage to look again, I saw something massive sitting right in the doorway:

All I can say is thank god there are two bathrooms in the house. And also thank god that I got up at 1am, because when I got up again at 7am, it had hidden itself right in the corner of the shower under the shower curtain – if I had’ve not got up at 1am I would have used the shower at 7 and stood right on it.

The first graduation at the school was this week, it was for those students who had just completed their last week. They all had to give a speech in Spanish in front of everyone, I’m not looking forward to that. At least it could be written down on paper. There was a large group of high school students graduating and their speeches were given in horrificly American accents, it was hilarious. I mean, I’m no expert, but I’ve been told my accent isn’t as strong as others, so I can say it!

Yesterday I’d talked to Leah, an old friend who I used to work with in New Zealand when I was doing KFC delivery – ooh that was some time ago now! She said she’d like me to come and see her which I liked the idea of a lot. It meant though that I had to navigate the buses for a five hour ride from Sámara to San José. No problem I thought. Oh wait – the only direct bus leaves at 4.30 on Saturday morning, not my idea of fun. So I asked the receptionist at the school, Paola, if I could catch a bus to Nicoya and then a bus from there to San José. “It’s risky”, she said, “because there´s only one afternoon bus from Nicoya to San José and you may be standing for 4 hours”. No problem I thought, I live in London and have to stand on trains all the time, how bad could it be.

So first I had to get from Samara to Nicoya. My information booklet said the bus left at 3:00. The woman at the bus terminal told me 2:00 and the sign at the bus stop said 2:30. It turned up at 2:50. It was actually less of a rickity old bus than I expected, and it only cost 800 colones (£1.20). An american tourist and I were the only two white people on the bus, everyone else was a local. Every time the bus stopped, the locals that got on shook hands with all the other locals, everybody clearly knew each other! It played some cheesy latino music for the whole trip which made the whole experience very authentic.

At Nicoya we pulled up to a very chaotic scene with people everywhere waiting for all kinds of buses, luckily I had an hour to spare which gave me plenty of time to find where to buy a ticket from to San José. It cost 3315 colones (£5). Sure enough, the cashier told me “no hay asientos” (standing room only) and everyone piled on the bus at 5:00. There were five of us standing, and I overheard one of the women say something like “este es el campo del pie!” (this is the camp of the standing) as we were all huddled by the emergency exit. But once the bus started we noticed there were exactly five empty seats, so we all sat down. The bus stopped somewhere and picked up another person, so somebody had to move, but it wasn’t me! (There was assigned seating.)

Halfway to San José the bus driver stopped the bus without announcing anything and turned off the engine, and everyone piled off the bus except me and a woman who had a sleeping kid. I tried to ask the bus driver if we were staying here but didn’t understand the response. I worked out though that everyone’s bags were still on the bus so they can’t be going far. Still it was a bit nerve racking though!

San José was interesting, I haven’t seen Leah in such a long time and I met her husband Carlos and her baby Adam and her dog. They have a nice house in an area surrounded by a massive fence with barbed wire above it and security guards at the entrances. I can kind of see why they need it because we drove around San José a bit and quite frankly a lot of it looks a bit scary. The bus station in particular looked particularly bad. I’m real glad to have some local knowledge. Carlos bought my return ticket for me and made it so that I can be picked up from somewhere other than the bus station!

We saw the Irazu Volcano which was really nice despite being clouded over near the crater. As a foreigner I had to pay a $10US entry fee as opposed to the locals who can pay $2US. There were lots of people selling fruits, vegetables and cheeses on the side of the road and there were some horses which we think had gotten loose and were running down the road, they seemed a bit frightened because they seemed to be charging the car.

We had lunch at a place called Cartago which is where Carlos is from. I picked something called Rice with Chicken and Curry, not very Spanish I know but I knew it would have a Spanish taste to it. It turned out to be rice with chicken that had been marinated in curry powder but was still really great and was really large for about £5. Then we went to a mall, there were exactly the same shops as any mall in London, with Nike, Billabong, Quiksilver etc. on the menu. Instead I went to a general department store and bought two t-shirts for about £7.50.

We got home about 5.30pm, we’re about to have dinner!


Day 6 – 29 April – Bike Ride

May 3, 2010 11pm in 2010 trip,Costa Rica,Samara Beach,Travel | Comments (2)

Last night I thought it wasn’t going to rain but sure enough, about 9:30 I was doing homework in my room and then bang, crash, lightning over and over again and the usual pounding of the rain on the roof. At least this time it had the decency to wait until I had finished all my stuff for the day. It was nice to be dry for once!

It feels weird doing homework again. We have alternating morning/afternoon classes so that means when we have a morning class, we get a lot more homework because we have all that day and all the next morning to complete it. Sometimes I almost forget it.

I hate to think what our teacher would say if we didn’t do the homework, as she’s very strict. She corrects every single mistake we make no matter how small, but that’s actually a good thing, because how else do you know if you’re doing something wrong! She’s very energetic. Yesterday I was going to be a minute late for her class and I pedalled my heart out on the bike to ensure I was there on time, and just as i was pulling into the bike stands the bell started ringing so I was just on time, but rather than risk being 30 seconds late to class I decided to forego filling my water bottle.

My homestay is quite a nice place. There’s Norma, her husband and her 16 year old daughter. She also has 3 sons living in San Jose (the capital). I had quite a bit of trouble understanding her at first, but Norma and I had quite a nice talk last night about families and food and a couple of other things, and it went really well. I can’t understand a thing the husband says but there’s another student of the school from America living here and she is the same – can’t understand much.

For some reason I expected all the locals on the street to say hi every time you pass them, but it’s not true, and whereever we go as a group of students, nobody ever talks to the locals. I wonder if that’s because we’re too nervous because our spanish is so bad (that’s the case with me) or whether the locals have a genuine dislike for the foreigners. I think it’s not the latter because the few locals I’ve seen talk to me every time I see them. I’ve only been in the town 5 days and you keep seeing the same people everywhere every day. Being in such a small town is weird, but nice!

I feel I’ve been a bit negative in my last few posts, but I think it was the rain and adjusting to the new place! Everything is going well. I love the classes, and when it’s not raining, the beach is beautiful, and there is not much better than having a drink for £1 right on the beach. My homestay is getting better as my confidence in speaking spanish improves and the time goes really fast every day, I thought I would have lots of spare time, but I don’t – it’s all taken up with activities, lessons, and socialising. Yesterday I saw someone I know having a drink at a bar on the beach (that in itself was awesome enough) but it doesn’t take long for other people to stop and say hi and end up having a drink as well. It’s this sort of reason that I chose a small town for learning Spanish in, and I think I made the right choice.

Although I still think that when I go to Mexico and Peru that I’ll study spanish in a city. I want to see both sides!

I managed to go into a shop yesterday and ask the checkout girl where the bug spray was, and I succeeded. And then I understood the other guy there when he asked me if I wanted a bag. Woohoo! Also, I got an icecream and little milk drink for 550 colones, which is about 75p, although they were very small. I went to a restaurant with the girls from my class and you could buy a massive drink of real fruit juice mixed with milk for about £1.70, it was the best drink ever, kind of like mango lassi but with real mango (also papaya and other juices too). They have so many tropical fruits and they’re all real cheap – my homestay mum has massive plastic bags filled with all sorts of fruits.

Today we went on a bike ride, we were going to go to Carrillo but people had already been there so we set off for Buena Vista instead. The name sounded good (“good view” in english) but unfortunately we couldn’t make it there because the roads were impassable because of all the rain. I was told before I came here that some of the roads on the west coast are impassable in the rainy season and now I see why.


Days 3-5 – 28 April – It’s never going to stop raining, is it

April 29, 2010 1am in 2010 trip,Costa Rica,Samara Beach,Travel | Comments (2)

Each day anywhere between 2-4pm it rains, and it’s not just a little bit of rain, it’s RAIN – there’s lightning every 10 or 20 seconds and it turns the roads to mud in no time flat – except for the main road, the roads are not paved here! I’ve only been here 3 days but every piece of clothing I own is absolutely saturated, if not from the rain, then from the 24-hour-a-day sweating because of the 200% humidity. And the rain doesn’t stop until the early hours of the morning, betwen the rain banging on the roof and the really loud fan, sometimes I don’t get a lot of sleep.

I tried to buy some more clothes today but there aren’t that many places in this small town to buy clothes and what is there is real touristy. Although I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for, the few things that I did find were the wrong size. I can’t try anything on because just spending 2 minutes in a shop without air-conditioning makes me break out in a massive sweat.

The internet here is patchy at best, it worked fine for the first two days but today it has been cutting in and out. Generally it’s not too bad though.

The class itself has been good, I look forward to our lessons each day. The teacher is quite strict, pointing out every mistake but that’s good really I think.

There’s lots of cockroaches here, they’re different to NZ cockroaches, they’re smaller but really fat and still pretty gross. Someone said they had a scorpion land on their back which fortunately hasn’t happened to me yet! Okay, I’ve just been corrected by someone at the school, they’re not cockroaches, they’re “abejones”. Here’s a picture of one that I found on the internet somewhere:

I hope one doesn’t land on me while I sleep.

One of the cooler things I see around is iguanas. Here’s my spanish class looking out the window at an iguana they saw in the tree:

Spanish class looking at the iguana

Yes, my spanish class is comprised of four other girls and a female teacher! Anyway… here’s what we were looking at:

My new iguana friend I My new iguana friend II

My new iguana friend III My new iguana friend IV

It was very cool! Here’s another one I saw:

Iguana II

Day 2 – 25 April – Dallas, Texas to Samara, Costa Rica

April 26, 2010 9pm in 2010 trip,Costa Rica,Samara Beach,Travel | Comments (3)

I’m not planning to write up one of these every day… but it’s currently raining so hard that there’s not a lot else to do!

I was very nervous when I left Dallas, I was almost hoping the plane would have to turn back for some reason! Texas is a lot greener than I thought – I think I mentioned that in my last post.

Dallas Texas I Dallas Texas II

Eventually I arrived at Liberia Airport, which to me was kind of what it would be like to fly into Te Kuiti Airport.

Liberia Airport I Liberia Airport II

That building there is pretty much the entire airport. Stepping off the plane the heat really hits you, it must have been 5 degrees in London when I left and now it feels like 500.

Once outside the airport, there was chaos – many locals trying to sell taxis to the gringos. I had to try and find my pre-booked taxi amongst the crowds of people trying to sell their taxi services.

I was picked up by a couple of guys in a real beat-up old car that I wish I had’ve taken a photo of, but it looked like a mid 80′s Datsun. We stopped on the way to buy some beer (drinking and driving didn’t seem to be a problem here, although it was only one) and I got accosted by some one asking something about one dollar. My drivers told me he was a crazy person and to ignore him.

I did take some photos from the car.

Drive from Liberia to Samara I Drive from Liberia to Samara II

They took me to my host family’s house, and straight away there was a problem because I’d already paid for the taxi, but the taxi driver said he hadn’t been paid. So I said in my broken spanish that I’d paid the school, so they got the school on the phone and we sorted it out in English luckily.

My room is nice, it’s small, but it’s got a fan thank God, and my own little bathroom.

I rested for a couple of hours, but because it was so hot I didn’t get much resting done. After half an hour all the power inexplicably went out (apparently it happens a lot here), which meant that the fan stopped working, and that I literally started melting.

At 6pm I went to the school where I’ll be studying spanish for 4 weeks. They were going to give us a tour of the town but because the power was out and there was torrential rain we couldn’t do much. So, after sitting around chatting for a while, I went back to the host family’s house. It was pitch black, pouring with rain, and I had to cycle home a mile or so through a new town that doesn’t speak English. And I’d seen first-hand how the locals drive. It was scary but all part of the adventure!

The photos aren’t particularly interesting, because once I got to my host family’s house I did a lot of sleeping and there was no power, and it’s been raining almost since I got here.

So far it’s all gone pretty much like I expected, I can get the gist of what my host family says to me but often can’t reply, but I’m looking forward to starting school tomorrow.

And no matter how long I’m here, I’m not going to get used to putting used toilet paper into the rubbish bin instead of into the toilet.

Costa Rica for 5 weeks

March 28, 2010 4pm in 2010 trip,Costa Rica,Samara Beach,Travel | Comments (3)

I’m spending 5 weeks in Costa Rica, in a beach town called Samara in the Guanacaste province.

Google Maps Link
The Samara Beach website

Samara was essentially a place I picked at random out of a bunch of places in Costa Rica with Spanish schools. It’s apparently got about 1,000 people. I chose Costa Rica because my Spanish isn’t very good, and I hear there’s a lot of American tourists there – it will nice to be around other people that speak some English at first! It’s very warm (30-35 degrees at the moment).

I’m enrolled on a Spanish course which is 20 hours a week for each of the five weeks, and I’m staying in a homestay. Here’s what I know about my host family:

Norma lives with her husband and her daughter (born in 1994) and is an enthusiastic, talkative person who greatly enjoys her contact with foreigners. Her large, comfortable house has two student rooms, each with double beds, one with private bath, one shared. She has two dogs outside, one cat, and offers bikes for rent to those interested– she lives a little under a mile from the school.

It was exciting when I first booked it, but I’m getting nervous as it approaches because it’s going to put me way out of my comfort zone, mainly because I speak very little Spanish! But hey, I’ve thought about doing it for the last 18 months or so, and if I don’t do it I think I’d spend the next few years wondering what it would have been like.

I wonder if they don’t have street addresses in Costa Rica – the address of the school is listed as:

Del Banco Nacional de Costa Rica 50 mts oeste y 150 sur, frente al mar. Edificio de 2 plantas color amarillo – translated that means something like The National Bank of Costa Rica 50 meters west and 150 south, in front of the sea. A two-storey yellow building.

and the address of my homestay is given as:

De Pablitos Bar 500 metros al oeste en el Barrio Cantarrana, segunda entrada primera casa a la derecha. – roughly translated as Pablito’s Bar 500 meters to the west in the Cantarrana neighbourhood, second entrance first house on the right.

I hope I’ll be able to find them!

After five weeks in Costa Rica I’m going to Peru, and maybe Mexico.

I think that 10 weeks away from London means that I need to change the name of my blog! It was “My life, 11,473 miles from home – The life of me, living in London far away from my family and friends in New Zealand”, now I’m going to think of something else.

I quit my job at UBS to go travelling

March 7, 2010 10pm in 2010 trip,Costa Rica,Samara Beach,Travel | Comments (0)

Well, I’ve been planning this for a year or so, but wanted to wait until unemployment figures were better and my pay review was over – I’ve quit my programming job at UBS.  If you’re interested in knowing exactly why I ended up quitting, send me an email :)

But I don’t even have another job lined up, instead I have booked plane tickets to Las Vegas in April, Costa Rica in May and Peru in June.  I’m also going to be doing the Inca Trail in Peru at the end of June with a couple of friends, and I can’t wait.

In Costa Rica I’ll be learning spanish for four weeks in a school located beside the beach.  That sounds great, but I better practice what spanish I do know so that I’m not completely hopeless when I get there.  Here’s where I’m going: Samara Beach.

When I get back in July I’m hoping to get back into contracting – because when I was a contractor in 2006 I got paid a lot more than when I was a full-time employee.  Hopefully it will be easy to get a contracting job since I spent four years in the investment bank at UBS and have some decent experience now.