Monday, February 9, 2009

Still Alive and Well

Hi everyone, I apologize for the huge break in posting. One of my new year’s resolutions is to be more consistent – at least once a week.

To summarize the last 6 weeks, I spent a lot of great time with my family in Wisconsin, chatting, playing speed scrabble, and eating lots of foods I missed during the past 3 months. I also went to Massachusetts to visit Jon and I got to visit Heather and her family in New Hampshire and spend a day with Justine in downtown Boston.

Then on Jan 13 I came back to Costa Rica with my mom and our friend Heidi. We went to two very neat places in the country, Arenal Volcano, and Manuel Antonio National Park. It was so exciting for me because although I’ve been here for months I haven’t explored the biggest natural wonders that all of the tourists come to see. The Arenal Volcano area was beautiful but unfortunately we didn’t get to see the crater or lava because of rain and clouds the days we were there. We did go…. Ziplining! (my mom was a professional according to our guides), and we went on an amazing hanging bridges tour through the different forest levels. Our tour guide howled at the howler monkeys and they howled back at her! We also saw a tarantula, leaf-cutter ants, white-faced monkeys, a snake, a herd of raccoon-like creatures, and a lot of interesting trees and flowers.

Here is a picture of mom and me at our hotel in Arenal:

In Manuel Antonio we went snorkeling (Heidi is a big snorkeler and enjoys underwater photography). I was surprised that all you have to do is stick your face in the water to see beautiful bright fish and coral – nobody would ever know it was there just walking along the beach. We also went on hikes through the park and were surrounded by a whole family of white-faced monkeys passing through. Some of them were as close as a meter away from us. We also did a challenging hike down a very high steep bank to “playa escondida” the hidden beach. It was an adventure getting back up the bank at the end of the day, and most people had already left the park. Suddenly we heard howler monkeys right above us and we all jumped. Once we had recovered from the shock we tried to howl at them as our tour guide had done in Arenal. It worked! They howled right back at us! Heidi even took a video to prove it.

After our time of tourism we returned to the project so my mom could get to know my life and my environment here. We cooked meals for three different families – my host family (chicken in the oven!), Brian’s host family (classic north-American chili), and Steve and Georgiana (chicken casserole and raspberry oatmeal bars). The ticos were blown away by these fascinating flavors, and Steve and Georgiana invited mom and Heidi to stay permanently. During their visit we also spent some time with my students and stayed about an hour after church on Sunday to chat and meet all of the wonderful people in my life here.

Warning, I’m about to brag: My mom is a language genius. She learned Spanish so fast! She didn’t know more than 3 words coming into the country but by the end she could understand my mama tica and more or less communicate with her. She explained about her work, how she’s going to buy a condo, and how Mark is studying at Wisconsin. She used a dictionary a bit but she did it all without my help! For me, this is very promising. It means that my mom can move here WITH me someday! Horay!

Ok well I’m going to stop the update for now because half an update is better than none at all. Next post will include my trip to Panama for a women’s retreat and my weekend helping out at a “campamento” or Christian youth camp.

Thanks for reading, of there are any of you faithful people left!


Parker said...

Of course there are faithful people, silly. Or, at least one :) You can take my email address off the automatic email list, though, 'cause I found a better way to stay up-to-date with you.

I must have missed the part where you are moving to Costa Rica, though. You know this is a decision that affects people like me who want to see you every now and then, right?

We should chat sometime,

P.S. Woot for speed Scrabble!

Jonathan said...

Parker, you are a show off and a tech-whiz! You'll see Julie in May around graduation time. I still owe you an email from three weeks ago. Hope all is well and your schedule is a bit more accommodating.

And since this is actually Julie's blog, I'm excited to come in March and tan my triceps doing construction. I may have to sneak away from the project one or two days to try something awesome like mountain biking with monkeys and hiking a la Bear Grylls. I bet iguana tastes like chicken.


PS. Parker, awesome use of the word 'Woot'!

Laura Ann. said...

Julie!!! I love you! I can't wait to tell you all about my trip to the Galapagos Islands!

I've missed reading about your life, but my mom keeps me up to date on the important stuff.

I just love you and wanted to say hi.

Julie Ann said...

There are people who still love me! To respond to Jon: One of the guys in the church was telling me he used to go hunting for Iguana when he was a kid in the mountains and that it DOES taste like chicken!

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie! Sounds like you had a nice visit home...and a great time with your mom and Heidi in Costa Rica! It is SO cool that she got to come and see what you are doing and where you are living. And it doesn't surprise me at all that she learned Spanish so quickly! She's an amazing woman! I've always hoped I could be as great a mom as she is! :)

God's blessings as you continue to do His work in Costa Rica!! Love, Amy Kutz
P.S. Kayla made it to the finalist level for National Merit...but still is unsure about where to go!! Pray for her...and me! :)

schrola85 said...

Yay! Awesome adventures. Raspberry oatmeal bars?! Sound delicious!!

Anonymous said...

It was great to visit Julie and meet the wonderful people she is living and working with. Don't expect me to speak much Spanish here, but I did enough to get by in Costa Rica. I know how to ask for coffee with milk and say thank you! But it was amazing how you can communicate with a few select words and hand gestures. I can see why she loves it there and I'm very proud of the work she is doing. If Julie decides to stay there I could move there and work for a zip-lining company!

Janet said...

Julie! I'm so glad to read everything is going well in Costa Rica...your picture with your mom looks like an advertisement in a travel picturesque! I love you and miss you! Keep up the good work, chica!

Sommer. said...

Hey Goo,
I'm glad I caught your latest message finally, I've got a button on my internet that puts me right at your blog, so I usually check it pretty regularly. I think everything you're doing it totally amazing, and I'm a little jealous! :) Kansas is good, grad school is tough, and I'm tired a lot (no surprise, since I'm such a good sleeper...) Anyway, I just wanted to say hello. Love ya!
~ Hans