Posted in Travel

Costa Rica – Part Two (Vacation)

Costa Rica wasn’t just a study trip, it was also a vacation with the family.

We went to Playa Grande for a week and stayed with a woman at a B & B with a beautiful infinity pool, looking to the ocean to one side and the rain forest on the other.

We also went around the rest of Costa Rica as well, where we had one of the most amazing and delicious Caesar salads in the world, and it’s never been re-created since. It was in the rain forest of Monteverde where we tried to go zip-lining, but didn’t because of the conditions with heavy rain. Instead we explored around and had this amazing salad.

We made our way up to Arenal National Park, where the largest volcano is located in Costa Rica and spent time hiking in around the volcano and ended up zip-lining at the park. It was the most terrifying first moment when we get clipped into the harness onto the line and are shown which is the brake hand (your dominant hand) and which hand remains on the harness so you can stay straight. There is a beat of fear, exhilaration, excitement, and a whole lot of screaming (for joy and terror become one). The moment you open your eyes, after the initial push from the guide, is BREATH-TAKING. Nothing is as beautiful as what you’re seeing, a lush green rainforest that goes for miles and miles, until it touches the sky. There are parts taller than you and there are parts that are so far below- you can’t stop your stomach from lurching.

On one particularly long line, I was instructed to put both hands on the harness because I was so light, I wouldn’t make it all the way down without getting stuck. Of course, I got stuck, but the guide hooked up and came out to help me while I pulled myself in with his assistance.

We ended up going on two long trail rides, one along the beach which was amazing, I was on a bay (brown fur and black mane) gelding and my mom and dad were on chestnut (copper brown fur and brown mane) geldings, while my brother was on a grey gelding and my aunt was on a white horse. The guide, maybe he was 16, would race with me and my brother, Michael, while my parents and aunt plodded after us. It was amazing to have more freedom than what you get in the states, and also it was fun to have a guide who just let us roam around.

The other trail ride was when we were visiting the National Park, and it was raining. It was a little more harrowing and dangerous (because of the conditions with cliffs) but still one hell of a time. We had to wear ponchos, but the horses weren’t fazed by the rustling plastic and such. Our guide let us gallop in an open field, before we proceeded to go down a valley with slippery rocks, but we all came out alive and in one piece.

By the end of our trip, we had stayed in two very luxurious resorts, one was in the beginning of our trip with a beautiful view of the Olympic sized pool complete with a wet bar, a sweeping view of the coastal line and a beach to match. We also stayed in a little B&B which was close to another resort where we went to the hot springs pool, enjoyed the wet bar, ate fine food and had gay company. Our last lodging accommodations was at a Marriott, which was located on an old plantation farm out in the country. It was a beautiful property, with lots of space, open corridors, arches a plenty and very comfortable accommodations.  A wonderful ending to a beautiful vacation, it was bittersweet to leave to come back to the US.

Costa Rica holds a place near and dear in my heart. I’ll be going back just as soon as I can!!

h&k

N

Posted in Travel

Costa Rica – Part One (Sea Turtles)

During the winter break of my 7th grade, our family went to Costa Rica for 3 weeks to work with the endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles with my dad’s colleague who worked at Drexel University (my eventual university). This wasn’t my first time to Central America, but it was my first time to Costa Rica.

We flew into San Jose before we made our way to Santo Domingo where we stayed for a few days exploring the city and getting used to the area. We ended up at Playa Grande where Drexel had set up its base location for studying, researching, and observing the process for female Leatherbacks to laying their eggs.

I learned a lot about the different ranges for where the eggs get laid, what happens to most of the eggs and how one out of about 110 (the average number of eggs laid by a female, called a clutch) will make it to adulthood and mature to the age of reproduction, the way nature works for the babies, how temperature effects the sex of the turtles, and more.

There are three areas for laying the eggs, the tide line, the mid-line, and high-line (not technical terms). The eggs laid at the tide line were dug up again by research students and taken to the incubation area located at the high-line where they would incubate until they hatch. The mid-line eggs would be judged and if they were too close to the tide-line, would be dug up and moved to higher grounds because if they were too close to the water they would drown before they could dig themselves out.

We worked at night, in two shifts, an 11 pm to 3 am shift and then a 3 am to 7 am shift, patrolling the beach for when turtles come up to lay their eggs.

As assistants to the research students, we learned about the tagging process, how to dig up the eggs, how to identify how old a turtle was, and more. It was really quite an experience to touch an ancient and prehistoric creature that’s survived in the world today. They are sleek, and bumpy at the same time, because their skin is leathery, but they have shells which seems like a contradiction, but it’s a wondrous creature to study.

Part Two coming next….

h&k

N

Posted in Travel

Hawai’i

Five years old, and I had been to one of the furthest states in the USA, Hawai’i.

What a beautiful state, the white sand beaches (only downside was the thorns in the sand), the volcanoes, the crystal clear blue water, the warm sun hitting your back, the quaint little palm-tree huts spread out along the beach, coconuts fresh from trees.

I remember my mom telling me the story of why thorns were in the sand.

It was because the religious men of America wanted to teach the native to wear shoes, so the thorns would stick into their feet when barefoot. Unfortunately they were still around and we had to wear shoes along the beach, quite silly if you ask me.

We climbed up Haleakala, an inactive volcano and there is a myth behind taking volcano rock, that bad luck will come to the person who takes the rock.

We hiked down into some old historical volcano and camped in the valley. We travelled by bus and van. We met quite a variety of people. We stayed at a luxury hotel at the end of our stay and in the gardens there were white oleanders, which smelled like heaven as I imagine it. I used to put them in my hair and prance around the hotel with them claiming to be a princess!

A lot of Hawai’i seems to escape my memory, but I know I was really tan, we camped a lot, we hiked a lot, we explored and we had a ball.

 

h&k

N

Posted in Travel

Spain

One of my first trips out of the country was to Spain. We went when I was in first grade; to Madrid, Seville and 3 other cities. I was 6 at the time and don’t remember that much, but I do remember:

1. All the churches in Spain that we saw….it was too many for a 6 year old.

2. The little red cart pulled by a donkey by the art museum in Madrid. I went on that countless times, I think it’s the root of my love for horses.

3. The amazingly beautiful art museum in Madrid. The painting that I’ve never forgotten was the little princess with her ladies-in-waiting with her parents looking in. This was the root of me thinking I’m a princess.

4. The subway ride in which we lost of prints because of our haste to get off with all of us intact.

5. The pedestrian street dad drove down with me and my brother in the back seat laughing until we cried.

6. The little hotel we stayed at in an old monastery (or so I think…) and the oil crayons that mom bought.

My love for travel was put in my veins before I ever realised it, I travelled halfway around the world before I was even a year old, it was fate to have parents who loved to travel just as much and had a driving passion to explore the world and to broaden my brother and mine’s perspectives of the world because it’s so vast and diverse.

h&k

N

Posted in Travel

What I’ve Learned From Others

There’s a lot that people seem to overlook when they travel somewhere new. People don’t seem to realise that they are in another country, where culture, food, people, ideas of fun and recreation are different than what we are familiar to. I was lucky as a child to experience a lot of different cultures from a young age and have respect and a curiosity for that which is just out of my comfort zone.

I’ve learned a lot from others, both from my travels and from when I return.  I’ve learned patience. I’ve learned that more often than not talking about your travels sounds like bragging. I’ve learned that many people don’t have any interest in your stories, but people will try to fake it. I’ve learned that you learn so much more than you could ever imagine when you’re out of your element. I’ve learned you meet people in the most uncanny circumstances and make friends for life. I’ve learned that even when you meet someone just once when travelling, you don’t forget them because they are embedded in your memories.

I think the best lesson I’ve learned from others is this: Life is always going to go on, so just grab a hat and enjoy the ride. Make a splash, do stupid things, make friends, don’t be afraid to live life because those memories are something to cherish forever. Be crazy. Be young. Learn. Listen. Speak. Life has a ton to offer each and every one of us, we should remember that.

 

h&k

N