Hola a todos! Still can't figure out how to do the upside down exclamation point on these keyboards.
Friday afternoon all the ISA students (pronounced EE-sah here) climbed on a giant green Mercedes bus to go to Monteverde, a cloud forest. For about 5 hours we bumped along (the last hour and a half was REALLY BUMPING ALONG with no paved roads) with a very odorous bathroom smell and watched movies and the mountains out the windows. Garrett later told me he saw 5 monkeys on the way - I should have payed more attention. We stopped at 2 rest stops for less smelly bathroom breaks and some got ice cream, etc. I had bought a snickers earlier which I thoroughly enjoyed. When we finally rolled into Monteverde in a cold misty rain we stopped at the supermercado where Paulo told us we could but "soda" for cheaper than it would be at the hotel, so everyone stocked up for the weekend. 30 Minutes later we were at Villa Verde, our adorable hotel which had a main building with a dining room and office and then a bunch of bedrooms surrounding an interior grassy courtyard featuring an open-air room with ping pong and some benches. It was FREEZING. PTL for long johns. We braved the cold for a little while socializing and playing around the world with music courtesy of Calvin-the-party-saver's ipod speakers, and then went to bed.
6:30 am brought a VERY cold shower (I don't think I stayed in it long enough to really call it a shower) and a delicious breakfast con muchas frutas. First on the docket was a Canopy Tour: a series of ziplines where you go whizzing through the treetops and over valleys putting all your trust on a reinforced gardening glove as a brake. The end of the tour was The Tarzan Swing. I consider myself pretty gutsy on ropes courses and such but my heart literally almost stopped as I free-fell and waited to hit the bottom of the rope and start swinging. I think that's what bungee jumping is like. Don't worry, I took some videos which I will have to figure out how to post - Elena from Boston let out a good scream. After the canopy tour we headed back to the hotel and by this time it was beautiful, hot, and sunny. Garrett from Oregon, Kniccoa my housemate, and I decided to follow the signs for a waterfall and took a little hike (about 4 miles?) down a very steep hill (not sweet on the way back) to a lookout point which was gorgeous and in the distance we could see a waterfall - oops. Worth it either way, I took lots of pictures. Back at the hotel a bunch of students were laying out on the grass enjoying some sun and relaxation, which we promptly joined. It was nice to finally have some down time to just chat and get to know each other. At 5:00 a smaller group of us met up to go on a night walk, where our guide pointed out lots of cool plants, some monkey-like animals, a TARANTULA (I'll post a picture, don't you worry), a snake, and a giant ant hill. I mean giant. Like 3 or 4 meters high, it looked like an actual dirt hill with a bunch of little holes and if you listened carefully you could hear thousands of little ants scurrying around in there. The bummer of the trip was that my favorite blue bandana fell off my head somewhere in the night. Oh well. Dinner was more fruit and rice and beans and chicken and sausage and vegetables and mashed potatoes..... and don't forget the fruit smoothies. So many smoothies. I made friends with Melvi the smoothie guy because I asked for so many banana ones. That night a few of the Ticos who worked at the hotel brought out a real sterio and pumped the reggaton and we had a serious dance party, practicing our moves from last week's dance classes! We were all sore the next morning and I don't think it was all from the hike. En la manana we hiked around a bilogical reserve in the Cloud Forest which was SUPER green and pretty. I walked with Stacia from Tennessee and we took lots of artsy pictures and tried to speak only in Spanish. I've been attempting that but it's hard because people here are of so many different speaking levels, most people talk a lot in English. The bus ride home was long but good, we all needed some rest. Traveling to see another place was really cool, but the best part of the weekend was getting to know more people and learn more names - our group is over 50 people so it's a lot of new faces!
Today is the first day of classes for the Tico students. School is crowded and I'm a little intimidated. This Thursday we have a "Crash Party" for the whole school which they say is a great place to make Tico friends - let's hope!
Thanks for reading, and keep me updated what you're all up to! You can also "comment" on my posts, I think the button is below.