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Kiki's adventures in Costa Rica

a travel blog by Kristin Kyllo

Hello everyone,
This blog will have stories and pictures from my trip to and adventures in Costa Rica for the summer of 2007. I hope you check out what I'm doing while I'm down here and I promise to try keep it as up to date as possible. I'll have access to my email as well so keep in touch!!

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Holy trip.....

Panama, Panama

Well hopefully that plane ride is not an indication of how my trip is going to go....let me fill you in:

We left MPS right on time and got to Atlanta with no problem. It was the flight from Atlanta to San Jose, Costa Rica that caused some problems. We arrived after the 3 and a half hour flight to find a thunderstorm over the San Jose airport. The captian decided

that we should just go into a holding pattern to try and wait it out. Well, we did that for the next two hours.....until we were about to run out of gas. Then we had to go to Lyberia, Costa Rica to refuel, which also took us two hours. After refueling it was 12:45 a.m.....4 hours after we were supposed to land. Then it was decided that we should try again because it had cleared up. By the time we flew back to San Jose, the storm was back. We went into a holding pattern again.....for another two hours. Yup, we even tried to land once but the captain had zero visibility so that was a no go. It ended up that we had to go to Panama and stay over there until the next afternoon. By the time we got to the hotel, it was 5:30 in the morning and I had been up for 24 hours. NOT FUN.

Alas, I made it here and am trying to get settled into this crazy life. The Spanish is a little hard to get used to hearing 100% of the time, but I think that will pass. I really like the family I am with and the other students here are great. I will write more later when I have more time and sleep.........

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on May 27, 2007 from Panama, Panama
from the travel blog: Kiki's adventures in Costa Rica
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and the adventure continutes........

Tres Rios, Costa Rica

So my first full day here was yesterday.....and what a day it was!
I didn´t have to work because of the problems getting here so I was home alone. Before Emilia left for her class, she told me to NOT let the dog out because it would run away....or so I thought---more on that later!

Holly (who is in the same program as me at Hamline) and I went for a walking tour with her host mom. It was really fun, even though I don´t understand what is going on half of the time. We went to some stores and picked up things that I needed. When we got back to Flor´s house (Holly´s host mom) for lunch, my legs and arms started swelling up with huge bite marks....I´m talking enormous. Flor was very nervous so she decided we should go to the hospital, which is in San Jose--the capital of Costa Rica.

So Holly and I came back to my house to get my insurance info and walked into a mess. Apparently I was NOT supposed to leave the dog in the house because she would get into the trash and go to the bathroom in the house. WHOOPS! Also, this was the first time I met Erick, Emilia´s youngest son. He was VERY angry and wasn´t the nicest. He had just gotten home from working to 2 days so I understood why he was annoyed, but I was a little scared. Back to the hospital story...we got all the way to the hospital and my bites had gone back down. Flor still insisted that I be seen so we went. It was pretty funny because I just sat there and had Holly and Flor do all the talking. I got some pill and some cream to put on it in case it happens again. Last night, Erick apologized and told me that he was just tired so I don´t feel so awful anymore!
It was an eventful day.

Today was my first day of work. It takes 30 minutes to walk there and by the time we arrived, I had rubbed all the skin off the back of my heels. It was terrible. Everything else at school was wonderful--I work with all the third graders at the school....around 90 students.

They were all so cute and excited for me to be there. They all wanted to know about the snow and what it felt like. They couldn´t believe that it snows so much in Minnesota....I told them to come visit :-) So after school I decided to take the bus by myself. I was worried a little, but it went off without a hitch....until I got off the bus. I thought I knew where my house was from the stop, but to no surprise, I didn´t. It was raining, my heels were bleeding like crazy, and I was lost. I finally just walked up to a lady and told her I was lost. I asked her if she knew Emilia and she did (everyone knows each other in this area and many people throughout the country...it´s very small). She got me to where I knew where I was and I finally made it home. Now we are having afternoon drinks (smoothies, coffee, tea, etc.) and a little something to eat so I should go. I´m realy getting used to the Spanish and will definitely be using it a lot at school. I can´t wait. I miss you all and can check my email a lot, so please write and keep me update with what is going on at home!!! Hasta luego!

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on May 29, 2007 from Tres Rios, Costa Rica
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beers in the movie theater?!?!

Tres Rios, Costa Rica

Today was a good day. I went to school and got my schedule---I´m loving it. I don´t work Thursdays at all and the most I work on the other days is 5 hours. It is very nice and the teachers I work with are wonderful. For those of you who care here is the detailed schedule:
Thursday--NO WORK!!
I can´t complain....

I took the bus alone again after work. It turns out that it doesn´t always stop at the same stops, so I missed mine and had to walk twice as far home from the bus stop. Oh and did I mention that it was a HUGE thunderstorm? By the time I got home, I was drenched and laughing very hard. All the people were staring at me from the little shops and from their house windows like I was crazy to be walking in the pouring rain. I´ll just chalk up another point for myself.....

Tonight we went to Pirates of the Carribean 3. It was in English with Spanish subtitles. The theater was great...we went to the most expensive one ($4 tonight because it was student night) which has large reclining seats (with foot rests!) and waiters that serve you anything.....popcorn, food, even beer! So needless to say I had a beer and watch a movie that I have not seen the two pervious ones, but it was fun all and all.

The weather here is very rainy because it is their winter (which they call their rainy season). It rains almost everyday in the afternoon and sometimes continues through the night. It is only one more month until it starts getting nice....I can´t wait!

Thanks for the emails and updates....it helps me feel in the loop!

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on May 30, 2007 from Tres Rios, Costa Rica
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Feliz Cumpelanos a Emilia!

San Jose, Costa Rica

My first weekend in Costa Rica was pretty relaxing. Friday night, Holly, Steve and I went out for drink to test out the waters here. It was very fun, but I realized just how happy I am to have Holly here because her Spanish is excellent....makes me a little less nervous! It was pretty standard but fun to scope out places since we are just beginning our trip. We already found some good wings so I am pretty set (although there is no ranch!).

On Saturday, we woke up early (which happens every here, 7:30 a.m. is late) and went with Emilia to the farmer´s market. It was very interesting to go and compare it to the ones at home. It was much bigger and they had all sorts of interesting things.

Last night, Emilia´s children threw a huge surprise birthday party for her (about 90 people)--she turns 55 on Monday. It was seriously like a wedding--at a hotel, there was a band, photographer...it was amazing. We had no idea what was going on half of the

time because they speak in Spanish so fast but we danced and had a BLAST! Of course they were playing some silly games and Emily, Heather, and I had to tie pantyhose around all three of us with a lime in one of the legs, and use that to knock a coke can on it´s side and roll it all the way across the dance floor through Emilia´s legs. Yes, it was very weird but hilarious and very fun. We won of course so that was even funnier. It was a late night, but very fun to get to meet all of the important people in Emilia´s life and more of her family. They are so fun and I am glad to be with her family.

Today is my Dad´s birthday (Feliz Cumpleanos Dad!) so I am sad that I will miss out on a BBQ and time in the boat. It will probably just be a relaxing day today, going to Hiper Más (like Wal Mart) to get some stuff because we are cooking supper on Monday so Emilia doesn´t have to cook on her birthday. It should be very interesting, as I am not even sure what we are going to make and if we can find the stuff to make anything we know how to....aw well, another adventure. Also, we are going to start figuring out where we are going next weekend, as traveling to the beach every weekend will start then. Emily and Heather, who have been here for 2 months, have been giving us advice on places to go and things to see so at least we have that to go from!

I hope everyone had a great weekend, especially Sadie and Ryan, who got married yesterday...sad I couldn´t be there! Well back to work tomorrow, but I am very excited and looking forward to spending more time with my kids and my cooperating teachers.

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on June 3, 2007 from San Jose, Costa Rica
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Good news all around!!

Tres Rios, Costa Rica

So I have recieved very exciting news--I passed all of my licensing tests and when I get home I will be a real live teacher!! YAY! I was very excited to hear that I passed and will not have to take them over again...that´d be such a pain! I even am being recognized for how well I did on one of them--a certificate of excellence and everything. I was very excited about that and what make it even better for me is that it is the one where they gave me case studies and I had to use everything I have learned and say what I would do in the situation...practical use and I did well! YAY for me!

In other happy news, I talked to Barb (the coordinator from the U.S, who is here right now observing some of the other students) and she said that since I don´t work on Thursdays, I can visit other schools to see how they differ from the school I am working in. I am excited for the experience but that is not the only thing I am excited about--it also means that I will be home a week early (August 11th)! I figured that if I am here I might as well be efficent with my time, instead of wasting my Thursdays, and get done a bit early! How that for some excitement!

School is going well and the living situation is wonderful still. Heather and Emily are leaving at the end of this week/beginning of next week so I may be moving into one of their rooms because they are on the main floor...which would put me closer to everyone in the house and would just make things easier. Other than that, not too much to report. Today we are having coffee with Barb at the mall near here to just talk and relax. It will be nice to speak English for an extended period of time. :-) Holly and I are also going to figure out where we will be traveling this weekend...which I am looking forward to very much--our first cross country bus experience while we are here.

Hope all is well at home! Keep the comments and emails coming. More pictures when I get a block of time on the computer (they take FOREVER to upload here)!

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on June 5, 2007 from Tres Rios, Costa Rica
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15 minutes of fame....

Cartago, Costa Rica

Today we went to a school out in the country to just experience some more schools. It was AMAZING. There were a total of 55 students in the whole school and 3 classrooms, with multipule grade students in them. The entire school pretty much didn't have class because we were there and we played games and they got to ask us questions. We taught them how to play Red Light, Green Light and they taught us how to play some games as well. (p.s. don't ever try to play 'telephone' in Spanish!)

After we hung out with the kids, we got to eat lunch at the school. After eating, we learned how to make homemade tortillas and actually made some. It was very interesting and they were really good. Oh, and we also spent probably an hour signing autographs because these kids thought we were famous or something....seriously. It was cute, but also a little strange.

So on Thursdays for the next 3 weeks I will be going to different schools for the experience of seeing how different all the schools here can be. I am very excited and could only hope that it will be as fun as today.

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on June 7, 2007 from Cartago, Costa Rica
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YAY, we survived!

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

So this weekend was our first attempt at traveling around this crazy country AND it was just that! We had to leave Saturday morning (due to schedule issues) but we thought it'd be a good idea to go out for drinks on Friday anyway. Well, turns out, that was a BAD idea. I slept through my alarm (that was set for 4:45 a.m.) and didn't wake up until 5:41. Steve and I were supposed to meet Holly at the corner to catch the bus to San Jose at 5:15 a.m. so we were a bit behind. Our bus was leaving San Jose at 6:30 so we hopped into a taxi in hopes we'd make it.....who knew we'd get the only slow cab driver in the whole country?!?! Yeah, so we got to the bus station with 3 minutes to spare so we ran in to get our tickets, only to find out that the stupid bus left at 6 a.m. BOOOOO! So, being the resourceful people that we are, we took out our travel guides and found and alterate route to take to get our butts to the beach! We got there only about a half hour later than we had planned so we were very happy!

Puerto Viejo is a EXTREMELY laid back rasta-carribean town. People there seemed not to have a care in the world (and definitely not a demanding schedule!). There were a lot of Americans there and pretty much everyone spoke English...which was nice but definitely not a help to practicing my Spanish skills! We pretty much just hung out on the beach all day--walked up and down checking out the beach and the little shops and stands. For dinner, we went to one of the restrurant right on the beach and watched the beginning of the Costa Rica vs. Haiti soccer game. It was fun but we were so tired that we decided to skip the bars and just get some sleep. (Although it was almost impossible for me because I have some weird rash on my arms and legs, and have for days now, that kept me awake. Oh yeah, and last night was my first night sleeping under a misquito net....it was funny but also a bit bothersome. This morning we woke up, had a fabulous breakfast, and just hung out at the beach again until we had to catch the bus back. It was a shorter trip than I would have liked to have taken there but we had a really good time. The beach was beautiful, the sun was shining and I had nothing to worry about.......sounds perfect to me!

Tomorrow is back to work though....sometimes I forget I am here to be working! I am going to start teaching more this week so that will hopefully make the day go by faster....it's hard for me to just sit and watch someone else teach so this should keep me busy. Not sure where next weekend will take us but I'm very excited for it! Hope you all had great weekends as well!!

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on June 10, 2007 from Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
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Heaven on Earth

Quepos, Costa Rica

I think I have now found the closest thing to heaven on Earth....Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. This weekend was amazing, but of course not without some mania along the way!

We got into San Jose to get tickets for the bus to Manuel Antonio at 6 but when we got there the ticket window was closed. I guess that they can just close whenever they feel like it, and unluckily for us it was before we got there. So we found the bus and tried to figure out what to do next. The way it´s done I guess is that you wait until everyone gets on the bus and then they see if they have room. So we waited, freaked out because it was the last bus of the day. Well we got on BUT we had to stand the entire way.....4 hours. Yes, that's right....we stood in the aisle of a bus speeding through the mountains, in the dark for 4 hours. Ahhh, nothing is ever easy but it seems to all work out in the end. And am I glad that it did.......

We had a bit of trouble finding a place to stay, as we got there after 10 pm so most everything was closed. We finally found a hotel (with A.C.!!) which was a little more expensive than we wanted but it did the job. On Friday we went out with some people we had met on the bus. We went to two bars that were the closest to our hotel, which ended up being pretty fun. The first one was pretty chill and the second one was a dance place. The night was a lot of fun.

On Saturday we woke up at about 8:30 am and went to have breakfast. After eating we went to Manuel Antonio National Park (at which Holly had to take a minute and puke at the enterance). The park was BEAUTIFUL. There were multipule beaches in the park, as well as monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and spectacular views. After spending time hiking and hanging at the beach we decided that we needed to head back to make sure we had tickets for the bus the next day. We grabbed snow cones and shopped our way back to our hotel. After getting our tickets, we took the opportunity to take naps to prepare for the evening. Holly still wasn't feeling well so I headed out with Steve and Carson. We went to the first bar we went to on Friday because we made friends with the bartender (Layne) and the waitress (Alexa). We asked where we should go and they took it upon themselves to take us to a house party after they got off work. I was a little nervous going in but once I entered, it was like I was in the U.S....it was all the Americans that have moved here. We only stayed for a beer but it was interesting seening all of these people I could actually communiate with having a good old time. After we went to one of the bars, had some drinks, danced a bit, and went home......at 4 am. yeah, the next morning was very interesting getting to the beach.

We spent the whole morning before we left laying on the beach and playing in the water. It was wonerful, but I now look a little pink OR as my kids called me today 'cara

rosada'...pink face. yeah, they thought it was pretty funny. aw well, I think I will survive!
The weekend was perfect and was exactly what I expected Costa Rica to be like--beautiful in every way and super fun.
It's hard to believe I have been here for a little over three weeks. It feels like I just got here, but also so long ago that Justin dropped me off at the airport. Which also reminds me, I only have the rest of the week and next before my two week vacation--and that means Justin, Mom and Dad! Should be interesting trying to adventure our way around a country I don't know too much about but I guess that is part of the adventure! Hope things are as well at home as they are here! Hasta luego!

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on June 18, 2007 from Quepos, Costa Rica
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Interesting facts about Costa Rica

Tres Rios, Costa Rica

Here are some things that I have not included yet that I think you might find quite interesting:

·In Costa Rica, they do not have addresses. They give directions such as the following to get to places: Go straight until you see the big mango tree, then take a left. Go 50 meters and turn left at the green house (even though the green house was painted two years ago to a completely different color). Yeah, it is always fun, especially in Español. Also when they are taking about a place that is farther away, they will use a landmark and say St. Clare School, 50 meters west of HyperMás(which is their WalMart). A little difficult.

·When you use a bathroom in Costa Rica, you cannot flush the toilet paper down the

toilet....their systems cannot take the paper. Where do you put the use toilet paper you may ask? Well, you put it in the garbage in the bathroom silly! Yes, that is correct....you put USED toilet paper in the garbage in the bathroom and it just sit there until it get full enough to empty.

·They do not use clothes dryers (or an actual washing machine at my house--all done by hand). So all of the clothes we buy that are used to getting shrunk back into shape in the dryer are just kinda loose and not fitting so well at this point.

·To cut the lawn, you may think a lawn mower woudl be a quick fix, but in Costa Rica they get down on all fours and chop the grass with a machete. Their lawns are definitely small enough to do this but it is just a curious site to see someone chopping grass with a huge knife, then picking it up and putting it into a garbage bag.

That is all I can think of for now. I know there are more, but those are the major ones. More to come though I am sure......

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on June 20, 2007 from Tres Rios, Costa Rica
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Weekend around home

Tres Rios, Costa Rica

This weekend was really fun. We just stuck around home and explored. Friday we went out to Pepe's (one of our usual places) and had some drinks. Not too much to report from that but on Saturday morning Holly and I went with my teacher Ericka and her husband José to Irazú Volcano and Sanciario Nacional. It was awesome. The volcano was a bit anticlimatic though, seeing as it looks like a little puddle at the bottom of a Crater with bubbling green water. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was pretty sweet to be standing at the top of a volcano looking at the place where lava come spewing out of the Earth, but it was a little less exciting than I expected. That really didn't matter though because we had so much fun. It was nice to be with people who live here and know what is going on--also to be in a car was heaven. We stopped at the Sanciario Nacional on the way home, which was also very cool. It is the oldest church in Costa Rica, I believe. It was really cool on the inside as well--we just walked around and Ericka and José explained about everything that was there. Then Saturday night we went out with Sylivia (a Tica), Amanda, Holly, Steve, and myself. We went down by the University of Costa Rica, so that was definitely a little different than I am used too....completely packed, drunk Ticos, and dancing. We did not dance and pretty much just stayed to ourselves, but it was interesting to people watch, that's for sure. Sunday brought adventures as well. Holly and I decided to go walk around and find a place to go to lunch. We were successful in that, and also found a new place to go! We got there and ordered food and realized that the US vs. Mexico game was on (soccer), the championship for the Gold Cup. We decided to stay, have a few beers, and cheer on our team. We had a lot of fun and so did the Ticos...they were cheering for the US as well, but only because they didn't want Mexico to win :-) After there was a bit of shopping and then relaxing was in order. Not too exciting (in comparision to our traveling weekends) but it was really nice to have a little calm before the storm....the next two weeks I have off and Justin is coming the first week in July, my parents the second. Let the adventures continue.....!

If any of you are interested, here is the website of the school I have been working at:

permalink written by  Kristin Kyllo on June 25, 2007 from Tres Rios, Costa Rica
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