Here is some game time footage.
Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler
What better thing to do while in South America then to play futbol (soccer)? Some workers at the resort we were staying at for orientation organized a game. There were fans and little kids holding signs for both los Estados Unidos and Chile. It was a great time and definitely a highlight of the trip so far!
Here is a soccer video. Last one of the day. I have a few more to upload but I have other things I want to get done today.
Edit: So wow I found this floating around in my drafts folder. I thought I posted it. Its from about the middle of the semester.
So right near my dorms there is not much to do. There is a round-about called Izzbit Saud and down Izzbit Saud is this street market. I’m not sure how to describe it. Some parts are dirty, brutish affairs. Some things make you question how everyone in Egypt hasn’t died from salmonella or some other kind of food poisoning. But others are perfectly clean and vaguely trust worthy. They have all kinds of fruits. Most of it seems legitimate. Others make me turn away because of all the flies.
You can buy live rabbits and chickens. But presumably the rabbits are for eating and not for cuddling, which is sad because they all look very cuddly. As we walked down the street one kid held up a headless chicken and says to us “Hey Americans?! You want buy chicken?!” It was funny. There are also pharmacies and sweety/pastry shops and we buy falafel and fool from a little hole in the wall near the top of the market.
I played football/soccer with all the kids from my floor on a regulation size stadium. It was so much fun. Egyptians take football seriously. They would stop the game every 5 or 10 minutes to argue about a foul or something. I was ok with it because I’m out of shape and after some serious running I would need a breather. But it bothered the american kids to stop all the time just for a pickup game. I’m not very good at football but I guess I’m pretty fast because I could keep up with everyone. Robert, one of the IFSA students, and Dean and Morgan, two private students, ended up joining the rugby team. I would love to play but I’d just get wrecked. Rugby is like football without the pads. Dean is built like a tank and he got hurt the first night of practice. But John, another student here, is taking me to this gym he found on Monday and I’m going to get a membership and a trainer. Get all buff and whatnot for when I go to Dahab. (This didn’t really happen. The gym was small and sad even though it was in a nicer club, so we only went a few times. I remained squishy and unbuff for Dahab).
We went out dancing for another Egyptian kid’s birthday. It was kinda funny because we went to this westernized dive bar called the Mermaid and almost nobody drank. They played the strangest imported American music too. At one point they played You Are My Sunshine. The music got a lot better once they stopped trying to play American stuff and started playing dance music. EVERYBODY danced. Even me and I generally avoid dancing (of course I was also the heaviest drinker at an extremely alcoholic 3 beers in 4 hours). It was crazy amounts of fun. I’ve never been to a bar or party in general and had that much fun. What made it even more interesting from a sociological perspective is that there were only 4 girls there and only 2 of them were good looking. So the guys mostly just danced with each other, or formed a circle while one person showed off in the center. I thought it was interesting because I can’t imagine that ever happening in the states. Men are too afraid of being accused of homosexuality to dance with other dudes.
The whole Alex IFSA crew and I went out to this fancy fish restaurant. It was really nice and we thought it was really classy. Then Trevor noticed the cat sitting on the windowsil next to me watching me eat my fish. I had fresh caught sea bass. Everyone else had red snapper. My giant 2 pound fish, my drink, my appetizer of ..deep fried shredded shrimp balls.. and my share of the appetizer spread cost me $14.05. In America that meal would have cost me 50 bucks. Afterwards we walked along the Korniche and found this juice bar. Juice is not the right word for it though. Its more like a smoothie. But it was delicious.
As far as my daily intake is concerned, breakfast is a couple fried eggs, this tough but thin pita pocket, and fool. My fool comes in different consistencies from the careteria depending on .. who knows what. Sometimes its thick like refried beans. Sometimes its thin like chili.
Dinner every night was chicken and rice, or kofta and rice, and some kind of vegetable stew. It was good, but after a while it got old eating the same thing every day.
Right in the midst of all the craziness of tons of Costa Rica study abroad program projects, assignments, and exams, my mom and grandma come to visit- a nice break from it all. What my mom’s main objective was, aside from seeing me, was to go zip-lining. She had heard I had an amazing time when I went in Monteverde, she had seen pictures and made up her mind. So I get up early June 2nd to take a bus to San Jose, then another to the airport in Alajuela. Some of the thoughts passing through my head were…Wow, I’m really going to see them…They are actually coming to visit me while I’m studying in Costa Rica! So after an hour or so of waiting till their flight was due in, I caught myself standing up in front of the glass window with my face pushed up against the glass, hoping to catch a glimpse of them before they caught a glimpse of me! As soon as I saw my mom and grandma walk into the area with the glass window, my heart jumped up, I couldn’t believe it, they were actually HERE!
We decided we would stay in San Jose Tuesday to Thursday, then Friday we would head to Manuel Antonio for the weekend- the land with beautiful beaches, a flourishing national park and zip-lining, the perfect combination. Tuesday after the flight and the drive back to this cute little pension we stayed in, my mom and grandma were pretty much beat. Tuesday, my mom and I wandered around San Jose a bit and ate inside the Mercado Central at the end of the pedestrian boulevard. Wednesday was a very big day, we had planned to walk around San Jose, see a short tour of the University of Costa Rica, see the Evolution Boxing Gym, meet up with my Tico family to have some snacks and coffee and finally, go to the US vs Costa Rica World Cup Qualifier at 8 p.m… So we ended up doing it all and when we went to visit my host family, my host brother was so excited he couldn’t stop running around, he may have been just as excited to see them as I was! That day, he was even cuter than usual, if that’s even possible! We had coffee, empanadas, and tamal asado- all traditional dishes prepared by my host mom’s sister. It was delicious, my grandma, mom and I couldn’t stop eating!
Afterwards, we stopped by the pension to relax and get grandma comfortable because my mom and I were headed to the game! Waves of red and blue everywhere, not for the US of course but I was there, wandering around in my red and white USA jersey. The stadium was absolutely crazy, after walking up and down rows and isles; we finally managed to find seats in the middle of it all, in the sea of red and blue. Although I obviously wasn’t playing, I could feel the energy brought on by the Costa Rican crowd, and I was intimidated! It was so loud I could hardly hear myself think and the stands shook so much that my mom and I couldn’t help but make jokes to deflect our hidden preoccupations about the stands holding up. I found myself saying things like “They have got to have had games that were more rowdy, like when Mexico would play here or something…” As soon as the National Anthem started playing for the US and I thought I would be the only one singing it, I noticed there was a good solid fan base of about 50 people on the other side of the stadium wearing all white for the US, much good that was doing me! The whistle blew and from that moment on, I think I tried to block from my memory to protect myself, one goal after another and it was 3-0 in a flash. Despite the fact that the US put in a PK in extra time, I felt disappointed and embarrassed for the team, lucky for me, I brought a shirt underneath my jersey…Only kidding, its just one loss! So we headed back to find lil ol’ grandma waiting up for us, having watched the game with the owner of the pension!
Thursday we took the official tour of the National Theatre which was absolutely amazing, the amount of detail and time they put into its construction is astonishing. We ate some “casados,” or traditional Costa Rican plates and then relaxed in the pension because the next day we were off to the beach!
Friday morning we got up, got ready, had breakfast and were out in a flash. The tickets to and from the beach were only about $14 total for each of us, to experience a tropical, white sand, clear water beach! After what seemed like a short 3 hours, we were there, so we hopped off the bus and found this neat little trail that lead us to our cute hotel. We had a little room with a little t.v. and a little kitchen and a little balcony, it was just perfect for my grandma, my mom and I, three little ladies! We relaxed and walked around the beach area that was sprinkled with splashes of red, green, orange, blue, yellow and white towels, hats, wraps, hand-made boxes, shirts, souvenirs etc. We found a BBQ place by the beach and got some “casados” with chicken and ribs and spilt them between the three of us. We stayed in and watched soccer and basketball as a nice ending touch to the day.
Saturday morning we woke up really early and got an early start to the Manuel Antonio National Park. As we walked through the jungle trails, it was amazing the wildlife we ran into. We saw a deer trotting alongside us, a toucan amongst the lush trees, bats hidden under shrubs, monkeys, monkeys, monkeys all over. We saw groups of howling monkeys, white-faced monkeys and titi monkeys all over the trails. I kept saying, “I hope I see a sloth, I want to see a sloth, I’m looking for a sloth…” as I scanned the trees while walking. It was nearly impossible to do all the multitasking I wanted to do. I wanted to look up and around as I walked forward and kept an eye on my mom and grandma, but since the road was a little bumpy, I found myself looking up, pausing, checking on my family and then continuing on. Some parts of the trail were more treacherous than others but when we arrived at Playa Manuel Antonio, it was more than worth the walk. It was this amazing little paradise with bright blue waters flushing through this opening in the mountains and jungle. We were literally where the ocean meets the deep jungle and it was absolutely amazing. It was like a scene straight out of Lost; only we weren’t trapped there on an island, although we may have wished we were! As we sat under this beach tree that was neatly shaped almost horizontal to the water like a bench, we noticed that a few people had collected under the tree next to us and were pointing up into the branches at something. It was a sloth- the most beautiful, ugly sloth I had ever seen, actually the only sloth I had ever seen. I saw the sloth I was looking for, it was kind of funny because I just kept pointing out the fact that in the hour and a half we were there, it didn’t move at all! The more and more time I spent here, the more I realized the country’s motto, “Pura Vida,” even the animals lived by the motto!
Sunday morning we woke up and my mom was charged up, nothing could stop her now. The canopy tour was today and we decided to go with “Selvatica” which included transportation to and from the site in nearby Quepos, 2 to 2 and a half hours of zip-lining, lunch and snacks and a finale ending with a dip in the crisp waters at the waterfall near the site! My grandma came along for the ride to hang out in the beautiful forest cabin where lunch would be served. My mom and I suited up and we were off! She was so excited and kept telling me, “I wish I had done this EVERYDAY!” She was smiling from ear to ear, like a kid in a candy shop, the whole time as we zipped from line to line and tree-top to tree-top. Nothing gave me more inner-peace and happiness than to see my mom doing this wildly extreme canopy and loving every minute of it. Each and every day that went by I found myself realizing how quickly time was going by.
Next thing I know it was Monday morning and we were on the bus home. After the trip home and a last day in San Jose with my mom and grandma, it was time for them to go. I could tell that the two of them wanted so badly just to stay here the rest of the semester with me, at least until then! My mom wanted to go backpacking around the country and my grandma wanted to go on a canopy tour. If there is one thing that tells me, not only did they have a great time out here with me, but also that we have to make our way back out here as a trio, as three generations of Johnson-Dixon women, on a Costa Rican adventure!
Where do I begin to explain all of the amazing times I’ve had and wild adventures I’ve embarked on? I’ll tell you about Monteverde, classes, birthdays, soccer (which they call futbol 11), futsal (known as futbol 5) and finally top it off with Puerto Viejo. The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy and have gone by so quickly so I sit here trying not only to conceptualize it all, but futher to reflect on it all.
Wow! Monteverde, it was beautiful and relaxing. The four hour trek up to Monteverde was fun, we got to meet our Spanish professor, a really cool guy, and got to enjoy the view. We arrived at the Institute of Monteverde which is this beautiful little plot of land propped way up into the mountains. Later, we met with our families, and as usual, the most kind and sincere people. My host family had three kids, a 14 year old girl, 11 year old boy and a very enthusiastic and playful 2 year old boy. From the first day I arrived, till the day I left, the 2 year old would say, vamos! vamos!, (meaning lets go!) as he played with cars or crayons or anything. Something amazing happened the second to last night I was there, I sat there as my 11 year old brother played music and I talked to him and to his sister about what I like to listen to, and for about an hour he would show me some songs and I took my ipod and hooked it up to the speakers to show them some songs and at the end of the night, I felt like we all bonded. Also, there is no way in this world that I can neglect to mention the day that I went on the canopy tour…AMAZING! For just about $30 I went on a 3 hour adventure zip-lining through the trees and swinging into the jungle. I have so many unforgettable memories from that week in Monteverde.
I have six classes total- two Introduction to Law courses, two Introduction to Education courses and two IFSA-Butler study abroad Costa Rica program courses. I started off my first day of classes at 7am, woke up around 6, showered, got dressed, ate and I was on the bus headed to class. I must have asked about 5 people where the Law building was but finally managed to find it about 5 minutes past 7. I sat in the classroom feeling so out of place, yet somehow, comfortable. All was well as the professor introduced herself and told us all the expectations of the class, but it came to my surprise that she asked us all to introduce ourselves, one-by-one, stating our hometown, year and why Law interested us. As I saw the people before me stand up and recite their histories, I saw my life flash before me as the realization hit me. I would be speaking publically- in Spanish! All my years of hard work in the US prepared me for moments just like this one, and if I was lucky, I would not be associated with the usual “American accent” when I spoke. As soon as I said my name and my hometown, Los Angeles, all eyes were on me. It went by so quickly and smoothly that it almost felt natural. No sweat! Thankfully, the rest of the day I did not have to introduce myself, but I thought if I did, I would be ready. After my two morning classes, I decided to show up and introduce myself to the women’s soccer coach so with any luck, I could train. I did just that and trained the two hours with the team that afternoon, everyone was so nice and welcoming. The rest of the week went pretty smoothly, when Thursday rolled around and I had my Law class again, it was a little difficult at first to keep up and take notes as the profesor spoke. I felt discouraged by that so I went into the office to talk to one of the staff members, she suggested I borrow a classmate’s notes and photocopy them. What a relief, I thought, I CAN do this! I just finished the 3rd week of classes and have already completed many assignments, spoken in front of the class many times and read tons and tons about all my classes. Look at me now!
March 11th was my little brother’s 5th Birthday! Our family decided to throw a huge Birthday Blowout Bash for him with 60 friends and family members, right here in our very own back yard that weekend. They rented a jumper and bought a pinata for the little ones and my host mom ran around the week before running errands left and right for hours. I helped with decorations, name tags and I packed the goodie bags too! They were full of peanuts, barriletes, gummies, yogurt candies, a toy and crackers, it was so hard not to just dig in and eat the candy! I would have to say that my favorite part was the desert, a delicacy ticos call “granizados” (I call them heaven). They are made up of shaved ice with flavored syrup, powdered milk, cream and sometimes topped off with a scoop of ice cream. Mmmmmm.
Since the first week of classes I have been training with not only the soccer team, but also the futsal team! I’ve been able to practice at least 3 times a week between the two teams. The girls are so friendly and happy to help me with my Spanish or my soccer. The coaches are completely understanding with me training on both teams and deciding which sessions to a attend. It all seems to click here and all though I’ve had my bumps along the way with Spanish words being mixed or misunderstood, I’m getting by very smoothly. I recall that the first Monday of classes and soccer training that two events helped me grasp a new expression. First, I was in the restroom between classes and bumped into a girl and said “perdon” (which is like excuse me). She replied “tranquilo,” and in that moment I realized its another way of saying “its ok.” Later that same day, in training, I bumped into a girl and knocked her over, I said “sorry” (which they also use in spanish). She replied “tranquilo.” Thoughts raced through my head and I was not sure if that meant “its ok” or if it meant “calm down” (which is the main translation of the word). So that evening, in IFSA-Butler Spanish class, we were given an opportunity to ask questions, and in that moment the professor clarified that it was meant to be understood as “its ok,” and not “calm down.” What a relief!
Last weekend, a few of my friends from the program decided to organize a trip to the Caribbean coast, to Puerto Viejo for the weekend. None of the four of us had class on Fridays so we decided to take the bus out on Friday morning that way we could have more time on the beach. We got there in the afternoon and walked around for about 20 minutes until we found the perfect place to stay. Hostel Pagalu, just 5 min walk from the beach, free internet, an open kitchen, a dorm with two bunk beds and hot water in the showers. At only $9 a night, what a steal! Friday night we ate out at this cute little sea side restaurant and went wandering around until we found this nice open air place with live reggae music and delicious appetizers. Saturday was pretty low-key, it sprinkled a bit so we stayed in the hostel most of the day and decided to have some pizza for lunch and cook our own dinner. After lunch we went to the supermarket and bought our dinner for about 3 bucks a person-grilled hotdogs with onions and peppers and homemade guacamole with chips. It was so delicious, I can still taste the guacamole! Sunday morning my friend and I decided to rent snorkeling gear for the day at only about 1.25! We all walked out to the beach, laid down our towels and I went over to the reef to explore. I only had to go into the water about 20 feet before I saw a colorful array of fish and sea creatures near the reef. I even saw a jelly fish!
My family is so amazing, my mom cooks delicious food, my dad loves to watch soccer games and can talk about soccer for days and my little brother is absolutely the cutest and sweetest little boy I’ve known. Everytime I would surprise him with a piece of my candy, he would somehow always have a piece of his candy to treat me with. I remember him telling me to close my eyes and when I opened them I had a sweet gram cracker with four little marshmellows and coconut sprinkled on top in my hand. Since then, I’ve been looking for those crackers in the supermarket because it was just about the perfect combination of coconut, marshmellows and cracker imaginable. All in all, I have had an amazing time since I’ve come to study abroad in Costa Rica here and somehow it all feels so normal and so right. I feel as if I’ve lived here before (although thats definitely not the case!). I feel like I could definitely live here one day, in this beautiful country, with these beautiful people. There is nothing like PURA VIDA!