Hi people. I did not post again as quickly as I was planning to. I had a lot of work this week, which I’ll tell you about here in case you’re planning to study here at some point. If you’re not, or are already studying here and have no need for a description of what it’s like, feel free to skip right to the pictures. My classes have been going pretty well and there is one thing that I was told before I came here that has really been true for me. People told me that the classes I was taking as direct enrollment (I have two) would be light in terms of workload for the first part fo the semester, whereas the study abroad program courses would have a more traditional United States university feel, with more work throughout the semester. This has definitely been the case. In my two study abroad program courses I frequently have assignments such as small papers and 15-20 minute presentations. In my two direct enrollment courses there is a lot of reading to do but the professor does not usually check if we’ve done the reading. In one course I’ve had a couple of small essays and in another I just had a big mid-term type take home exam. Those have been the only assignments to turn in for those classes so far. I guess the point of this is that if you are planning to study here and direct enroll in some or all of you classes, keep in mind that you’ve got to try to be disciplined to keep up with readings at the beginning of the semester and be prepared for a borderline overwhelming amount of work at the end. By the way, in case I haven’t mentioned this at any point, all of my classes are in Spanish. So this only applies for people taking courses in Spanish here. I have no idea what the English language courses are like. Probably wonderful.
Another daily life note is that my friends and I speak too much English together. We have been trying to switch over to using more Spanish but it’s hard to get everyone on board and it’s just really frustrating speaking in a language in which you cannot express yourself the way you’d like to. We have to stick with it though and be a bit more disciplined. I think we’ll improve much faster if we’re able to stick to Spanish.
Alright, now for the pictures. We went on a trip as a program to Tirimbina, a really cool biological reserve where we learned about the process of making chocolate, got to touch a bat, and went white water tubing. Not rafting but tubing. Like a lazy river thing except at times the river wasn’t lazy. You’ll see in a second.
This is the inside of a cocoa plant. We got to taste one of the seeds. It tastes better than it looks.
They gave a demonstration of the process of making chocolate. Here Mara is lending a hand.
There are more than two steps to making chocolate and I swear that I paid attention during the presentation. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of any step besides the last one. Where you drink homemade hot cocoa. I was good at that part of the process. One of the best I would say.
This is a suspension bridge. In the rainforest. With a river below it. Walking on these bridges was a unique experience. Also terrifying when people started jumping up and down.
Another bridge. I put this picture in because the bridge basically just disappears into the forest. Also, it was equally cool at night. A few of us went back out there in the pitch black. It was quiet and we sat on a bridge hanging above a river in the middle of a rainforest, stargazing. It was probably one of my favorite moments of my trip so far.
It’s hard to gauge the depth here but I took this picture just over the side of one of the bridges following that tree down towards the ground. We were pretty high up.
Here’s the river I was talking about. Cool, but not quite as powerful as the river we visited the next day.
Here’s the team prior to beginning our white-water tubing. We’ve got our tubes, our life jackets, and an utter lack of understanding of the intricacies of tubing. We also went through a very thorough instructional session with the guides in which they gave us a whole bunch of signals to watch for. It was a nice gesture, but as it turned out, they basically just signaled randomly while we were tubing. And we paddled with our arms, so we had little to no effect on what was occurring. Also, it’s clear by our smiles that we had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into.
It wasn’t long before it started to become clear that we were just along for the ride. Lauren and Sarah are about to collide and I’m not even facing down the river.
Here I am in a slightly more tranquil situation.
Now, as you can see, I’m building confidence. Frolicking in the waves, grinning like an idiot, and even under the illusion that my paddling is having an effect. I know what you’re thinking. This arrogance must have consequences. Shut up.
And here’s where all hell broke loose. Behind me there is a giant rock. You can’t see it because of all the water rushing over it in a mini waterfall. I was the first tuber for most of the time, so this was just the beginning. They gave us one of their arbitrary signals, which apparently meant “paddle like a maniac away from the giant rock”. That’s not what I took away from the gesture and as a result I went semi-over the small waterfall and collided with a guide. He handled the situation with aplomb. I seriously thought I wrecked him. We hit pretty hard and he sort of disappeared in the water and then all of a sudden his kayak went totally vertical. Turns out he’s very good at kayaking though and had the whole situation under control. And as you’re about to see, I was one of the lucky ones.
First we’ve got Lauren. Her expression says: “Oh dear. I appear to have struck a size-able obstacle. This may be the end of the line for me.” Which was actually one of the most composed reactions. Because after Lauren we have…
Chaos. Chaos is what we have.
And the aftermath. . Miki is holding on for dear life to her overturned tube. Absolutely one of my favorite pictures from the tubing experience
Jessica is like “screw this man! I’m swimming the rest of the way.”
And then there’s Krista. I don’t even understand how this happened.
And one more of the Krista situation. In her defense I guess once you get to the tipping point there’s nothing you can do anymore. You’re going to be upside down.
No worries though. Here’s the majority of the team, still alive and with tubes, floating down an easier part of the river. There was one more thing though. At the end i floated past the stopping point for the tour, lost my raft, and went through a stretch of rapids sans boat. I really got in touch with nature. In that I ran into like 20 rocks. Unfortunately nobody got any pictures. Truly a shame.
That’s all from Tirimbina. Also, the first day, we worked at a school, playing with the kids and painting a classroom. It was a fantastic experience and I know there are pictures out there but I don’t have any of them. It was truly wonderful though and if I can get my hands on some of the photos I’ll include them in my next post. By the way, if you visit Costa Rica and like nature stuff I would absolutely recommend Tirimbina. The place is awesome.