Again, to clarify, yes I am currently back in Canada but in blogosphere world I am just about to depart from the beautiful, breathtaking, country of Costa Rica!
Ya me despido. Many goodbyes are set in order before I depart. As Chris Brown would say “There’s Never a Right Time to Say Goodbye”, but unfortunately with the clock ticking I have to give it my best go! Let’s see how well I did…
1) Goodbye to Carpio
Even though it is my last day in Costa Rica this does not mean that my 6am wake-up call is not in order. I have to make my final visit to Carpio to say goodbye to the kiddos and deliver one final lesson. I, again, worked through question words with them and tried desperately to engrave as much as I could into their very large, promising, brains. One huge mistake I made, which I won’t necessarily refer to as a regret, was not previously mentioning to the kids that Friday would be my last day. Here’s why…when I got there on Friday my face absolutely dropped when there were only about 5 kids who showed up for class. As I have previously mentioned, the setting a the Carpio church is very informal and the kids are welcome to come and go based on their own schedules. My reasons for having not previously mentioning my departure was that I didn’t want any distractions from completing my lesson plans and I wanted to delay the emotions with the younger munchkins of dealing with yet another person saying hasta luego. 😦 To conclude, pretty much I didn’t get to say bye to a lot of the kids I taught, and many of the younger kids I had had the opportunity to hold the jump rope for. Luckily, they all have their silly bands close by to remember me by… that’s of course if they haven’t decided to accidentally use them as a rubber band to seal their chips bag. P.S. In case you’re wondering why I’m wearing two different outfits in the photos below, no I did not make a quick change in Carpio. The pics are actually from Dustin’s last day (one day before mine), and my last day!
After saying goodbye to my students that had showed up on the Friday, and saying farewell to one of the beloved owners of the church, I took one final look at Carpio. Honestly, Carpio through my eyes is pure beauty. I’m not talking about the kind of beauty you designate to a model or forest green trees, but rather the kind you use to refer to people with the kindest hearts and most uplifting personalities. I can’t say others would agree with my perception…but then again you haven’t experienced it like I have. So with a few final tears, and a demonstration of waving recklessly to a few of the kids from the bus as I rode away, there you have it, likely my final look ever at the city of Carpio, Costa Rica.
2) Goodbye to Fruits
Of course, along with saying goodbye to Carpio comes the devastating goodbye to the vibrant, juicy, mouth-watering ‘fruitas’ of the country and city. What am I going to miss the most? Probably discovering all those sketchy new types of fruit off the streets such as Guabas and Mamones and obviously our ritual 10:30 am fruit breaks in Carpio! That being said, I have discovered a new lifelong hobby…TASTE-TESTING NEW FRUIT IN EVERY COUNTRY!
3) Goodbye to Cacchios + Costa Rican Nightlife
Cacchios deserves to have it’s own goodbye section in this post. I’m seriously not exaggerating when I say we went to this place almost every night! The staff knew my order every night (Bottle of Imperial Light), and knew us all by first name basis. I will never forget the staggered conversations we had in Spanglish and the beautiful bartenders/waiters with dreadlocks (yes one in particular has a close place in my heart 😉 ). I wish Toronto the best of luck attempting to create a place that matches the warm and welcoming environment this place has to offer.
I’ll also miss the rest of the nightlife Costa Rica has to offer. That’s inclusive of all the beautiful mello reggae bars and the more cray bars like this one titled “Xcapa”. Either way, always great people to dance and drink the night away with, never a disappointment…never.
4) Goodbye to Roomies
Here we go…now we’re getting into tougher territory. My sister was the only hembra (female) in her household other than her single host mother. As a result, she quickly formed an undeniable bond with Adela, her host mother, and saying goodbye did not come easy. Their 4 minute hug on the morning of our departure only came to an end because of my annoying screams about being late for our flight. Either way, I’m sure my sister will never forget the beautiful and lovely Adela and the rest of her kind familia.
Now onto my roomies. Let’s start with Adam. He is literally one of the most mello, chilled-out, carefree young men you’ll ever meet. He’s of course also super nice, but he’s also Canadian so that’s a given. Why did I love Adam? Well frankly he had no problem calling me out on worrying wayyyyy too much! He was super reckless, and I was a little bit more tame, but Adam I think opposites attract, don’t you? The one lesson I learned from Adam is to follow his lead and work through more of my worries on the inside! Love you long time Adam!
Next up, we have Jess. The lovely lady that slept next to me for 1 week. I never got to tell Jess how fortunate I was that she wasn’t a snorer haha! Jess and I were majorly alike in the way that we were both boys’ girls. We got along with all the boys and understood even their strangest behaviours. I love Jess for being up for coming out every night and being chills enough to hear me have 24/7 freakouts over bugs, bugs, and some more bugs! I wish you the best of luck moving state to state and will miss you very, very much!
On to Grant… goofy ol’ Grant! No words can describe the bond that Grant and I had. Grant is around 5 years my senior but I’m pretty sure that we’ll both agree our roles were reversed. I was his source for advice and guidance when times got rough, and he was the one that was foxy enough to bring a smile to my face every morning at 6am. Grant was probably the easiest person to wake up ever. I would walk into his and Adam’s room at 6 am and find them both fully knocked out. As soon as I’d tap Grant, he would jump out of bed and be ready for breakfast. Adam, on the other hand, would roll around and provide a dialogue about how there was no way he was getting up for beans and rice (LOL!). I’ll never forget lecturing Grant about not placing his clothes in his luggage correctly resulting in an entirely wrinkled wardrobe, learning how to tie and tie, learning not to cut himself while shaving, and recognizing the signs of when a woman wants to marry him! You will forever, and i mean FOREVER, be in my heart Grant!
Unfortunately my roomies weren’t there on the Friday to spend my final night with me because they had embarked on their journey to Baldi Hot Springs/ Arenal Volcano. However, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have 230129381 other amazing conversations and moments that I will never forget. These three people are truly some of the most amazing individuals I have ever met. Please consider that I am confidently saying this having only been with Adam and Grant for 2 weeks, and Jess for only 1 week! Te Amo ❤
5) Goodbye to House + Cedros
On the morning of my departure, I woke up still having to pack 75% of my luggage (typical me), so I ended up waking up Jess in the process. We decided to take one final stroll around the neighbourhood before the taxi came to pick me up. Cedros is seriously one of those super -friendly, colourful, neighbourhoods that everyone wants to live in. It’s easy to think otherwise when you witness all the gates surrounding each house making the city’s streets appear like stylish jail cells. Lily’s house (our homestay) was actually the only house on the street sans gate! We somehow still felt safe 95% of the time 🙂
On our walk, we also discovered an amazing smoothie shop that we had never seen before. I suppose that’s a good thing considering there would have been a significant dent in my pocket had I known about a fresh smoothie store across the street from home! Jess and I were desperate to try this strange fruit called Guanabanana but unfortunately the man was all out so I settled for an Orange slush smoothie instead.
Upon rushing back at home, I noticed that the taxi had already arrived. I scurried to say my final goodbyes and thank you’s to my host family that went a lot along the lines of “mucho, mucho, mucho, mucho, mucho gracis por everything!” I then, obviously, barged into Adam and Grant’s room to wake them up and say my final farewells only to be entirely shocked with what I was seeing. Adam was sitting on his bed oh so beautifully, but there was no Grant in sight. So there you have it, I said an emotional, tear-jerking goodbye to my boy Adam, but no goodbye to Grant because being the silly, goofy goober that he is, he had forgotten that I was leaving that morning and had went to the bank to workout some issues with his visa/debit. Regardless, I knew he would miss me so I wasn’t concerned.
Although I was terribly sad and emotional to say my final farewells to Costa Rica, that didn’t stop me from having endless fun at the airport. After 28123120 security checks in a ridiculous order that was highly counter-productive, we entered the terminal where we discovered the souvenir store was giving out free samples of coffee and chocolate from a hugely expensive, local Costa Rican brand. Usually a bag of the brand’s chocolate the size of what can be seen below in the photo is 10$! So there’s no denying the importance of formulating strategic plans to consume as much free chocolate as possible. Typically, you step forward pick one flavour to try and walk away. My sister and I, took turns chatting up the worker in green as a form of distraction, while the other grabbed as many flavours as possible. We also made really loud statements about how delish the chocolate was to attract a crowd and then once it got busy it was super easy to dine and dash! Very successful plan, highly recommended! We also took some pics with tees printed with our favorite Costa Rican sayings/words, “Mae (the word for friend that the locals at the hostel in Manuel Antonio taught us)” and “Pura Vida (the Costa Rican mantra to life)”!
If I had to make a summary, TOP 10 report of my Costa Rica Volunteer Trip and select my favorite moments here’s how it would look:
10) Discovering my love for dreadlocks. You may just be seeing some magically appear on my head in the near future.
9) Being centimeters away from Monkeys!
8) Surfing, or at least attempting to surf!
7) Ability to behave in a moderately sane manner around insects of all forms. I’ll actually miss the multitude of bugs very very much. But I’ll let you know if I still feel that way the next time I wake up sleeping next to a cockroach.
6) Having beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner + indulging in all the rest of the country’s food delights such as plantains, fruitas, and smoothies!
5) Being fortunate enough to listen to one of the most carefree, relaxing, enjoyable music forms in the world: REGGAE 🙂
4) Witnessing the beauty of the Baldi Hot Springs / Arenal Volcano duo that for sure makes my top 10 list of ‘things Neda’s seen”!
3) Expanding the knowledge of, and leaving an impact on the beautiful kids of Carpio.
2) Meeting the some of the most amazing human-beings that were fellow volunteers (especially my roomies + coworkers).
1) Making discoveries about myself while wandering aimlessly around the country having “me-time” = Priceless
If I can leave any travelers planning to volunteer overseas with one piece of advice, it would be to not go into the experience expecting the worst. Dive head first into the experience with the biggest smile on your face, even when you see your first cockroach, and I promise people will smile back. These are my last words to you.
So where does that leave us now? Well to provide you with a visual, I could be found mourning in my bed for the entire week following my return. It’s really hard to just forget all the amazing experiences you had and the amazing people you met and move on with life. The adjustment process is just way too much. However, getting daily emails from my roommates and scrolling through photo albums from the trip instantly brings back memories. So I taught myself to suck it up, lay off the chocolate mug cakes, and get the heck outta my front door. So what have I decided to do? None other than explore around Toronto some more. I have come to realize there’s so many beautiful places here that I’ve never come to appreciate or explore so I suppose there’s no better time than now to get on that.
As for what’s next…you’ll have to stay tuned for my next blog post! Let’s just say another part of the world is about to get a dose of me very very very soon! Any guesses where I’m headed next?
All you beautiful Costa Ricans and other wonderful people I have met throughout my journey, Call Me Maybe? 😉
Be Healthy, Be Happy, Be Chic.
xx Neda xx