Working it…

I woke up at 6:00AM this morning (Saturday morning) because I felt something wet. Unfortunately someone had wet the bed. It wasn’t me, so it was either this guy:

or this guy:

Now that is a guilty face.

So needless to say, I was up bright and early (and doing laundry). After two hours of laundry (which is pretty much how long it takes to do a load here) Ross and I hung it up to dry and ran to the gym.

While there I did one of my new favorites, the inverted row:

and then a little back:

Ross did some really heavy stuff, that makes him make funny faces like this:


After the workout we went for some smoothies at a place I’ve been wanting to try in Fortuna. Everything looks great except for the um, Period Smoothie? What is that all about?

I went with the Mariposa Naranja (Orange Butterfly) it was delicious, and tasted just like a creamcicle. Ross chose the manly protein smoothie:

Before coming home we stopped in the pet store and bought some new toys for the monster who peed all over our bed this morning. What can I say, Mango definitely has us wrapped around his little paw!!!


I get by with a little help from my friends…

Don’t worry, I didn’t get a Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band tattoo. That would be ridiculous

I am just so overwhelmed by how much love and support I’ve gotten from my last blog post. It touched me that not only so many wonderful lovely people read my blog, but that they go out of their way to send wonderful comments, emails, facebook messages, Skype calls, tweets, etc.

I really couldn’t do this alone, and all of your words of encouragement, advice and love really make me feel like I have an army supporting me over here. So thank you, thank you, muchas gracias todos!!!

I try to keep the blog as positive as possible, but also gotta keep it real. I feel so much better after writing the last post, blogging can be great therapy (and you can all be great therapists!) I know everything happens for a reason, and I think one big reason about this apartment thing might be this guy:

No not Ross, Mango (the little furry guy on Ross’s face). Our apartment didn’t allow pets, we now have a dog. That is certainly a conflict of interests. Hopefully we will find something even better AND dog friendly.

I want to give a shout out to my INCREDIBLE little sister who received her first big job offer today!!! Alaina graduated this spring, with high honors, while working part time and raising a new little baby. I seriously couldn’t be more proud of her:

LOVE these girls

Sad News

I have some sad news to share, it’s not totally new news because I’ve known about it for awhile, but I wasn’t totally ready to talk/blog about it. I guess because that makes it seem more real.

A few months ago we received a Facebook message from the person subletting our apartment in Boston, letting us know he had broke the lease and was moving out. An apartment might seem like no big deal to some people, but for us, it was the only link we had left to home in Boston. Ross and I left our jobs, our friends, families, everything BUT there was ONE thing we had, or at least thought we had, a home to come back to in January. We were wrong.

This, among other things, has left me feeling very sad and anxious the past few months. I also feel a lot of anger, which I probably shouldn’t. One of the worst things is, when we moved out we left our last month’s rent (of over $1,000) in goodwill. This person moved out and paid his last month’s rent, resulting in us losing all the money that we could have gotten back last December (and trust me, we REALLY could have used that money here). We’ve been trying to deal with the situation as best we can from here (which is nearly impossible) and so far have the promise that we will get half the money back. Still, even if we get half back after months of struggling over it, we will be losing out on over $500 dollars and be out a awesome North End apartment. Which, when you are volunteering your time abroad and not getting paid for a year really hurts. No, more than hurts, it kills.

In order to get a new apartment in Boston means having a lot more money than we planned for, and a lot more than we will have at the end of this year (Realtor fees, first and last months, Security Deposits, etc) , so I’m going to have to face the fact that for the first time in 10 years, I will not be able to live in Boston. At least not in January like I thought. After being away from home for a year, it is terrible to know that I won’t be able to go right back.

I know that doing something like this takes sacrifice, and trust me I am okay with that for the most part. I miss so many people and so many things everyday, I eat pretty much only rice and beans and I take cold showers… but I really do love working with children here and getting to know a completely different part of the world. I hate that this apartment situation (or lack there of) is in a way taking away from me being able to be present and enjoy my time here. I’m trying so hard to keep positive and keep reminding myself about the bigger picture, the reason I am here. I just wish I could stop feeling so sad 😦

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

3 Consecutive Days of Rain

T’is the season. Rainy season that is. It’s been a rainy week here in Fortuna, and although rain and a break from the heat has been needed, I wish we didn’t get it when Jess and Emily were here for their site visit! We still had a great time with them (it’s impossible to not have a great time when Baldi hot springs is included).

We did a lot of our favorite things that I mentioned in the other post. Some new favorites included:

The Arenal backpackers Hostel:

It’s a self-proclaimed “5 start hostel”, it may be a little pricier than other hostels but so worth it for the pool, the ambiance and the AC!!!! We spent a cloudy day here making bracelets by the pool, yeah that happened. We are hoping that if we make enough bracelets we will get really good and be able to sell them to unsuspecting tourists for money. Just kidding, but the bracelet business probably pays more than we are making now…

Ancho’io Italian Restaurant

This is the perfect restaurant if you are in the mood for the OPPOSITE of typical Tico fare. I felt like we had somehow transported ourselves right out of the country. Brick ovens??? Ricotta Cheese?? $3 glasses of red wine?? Que. Rico.

Despite the weather, we had a great time, a ton of laughs and even managed to survive a few classes 🙂 It wasn’t all hot tubs and pizza, oh no. These girls came on Monday to observe all of our classes for the day. There are definitely issues at our school, but I was proud to get to show them our students (definitely the best part). It’s our turn next.. we’ll be heading to Manuel Antonio very soon to experience the bilingual school there!

Speaking of kids being great, I am missing the greatest little sobrinita of all time… Halle! I can’t believe she is going to be one in EXACTLY two short months. Wow, time really flys!

I can’t wait to see her in December. She tried to trick us into thinking it’s December already by wearing those Santa Claus PJ’s, I almost (intentionally) fell for it and bought a ticket home!

Camino con Mango

My walks with Mango around our neighborhood give me a chance to see where most of my students live. Our house is in a really nice part of town, right across from the school and next door to the Pulperia and a Tilapia restaurant. Our street is paved, our lawn is groomed and life is good. Walking 5 minutes around the corner though brings you right into the heart of Zeta Trece, which is the reality for the majority of our students: Poverty. There are broken down cars left on the side of the road, stray mean dogs who chase me and an Mango and bark at us, babies wandering around dirty and barefoot without clothes or supervision.

This is of course true living anywhere, there are nicer parts of town and more run down and/or dangerous areas. At home I try to avoid the latter as much as possible, but here I don’t because to really understand my students I need to see where they are coming from:

It’s pretty tough stuff, but I feel that it’s necessary for me as a teacher, and a dog owner because if I didn’t walk through the bad parts of town it would limit me and Mango to 5 minute walks and he has waaay to much energy for that.

Loco Perrito

Some pictures from out walk today:

He found a stick! Sticks are his favorite:

Tired after a hot walk:

Time for post-walk treats:

ice cubes

belly rubs


Seriously, how cute is this guy?

Friday night in Fortuna

This is not just any Friday night here, it’s a very special Friday night because our companeras in Manuel Antonio are coming to visit for the weekend and observe our classes at school on Monday! Ross, Mango and I are definitely excited to have some friends here to show off our home.

Jess and Emily did a great job hosting us in Manuel Antonio a few weeks back, we had an incredible time on their beach, watching the sunsets and drinking unlimited guaro sours 🙂

Chicas en la playa!

Their ETA is 8pm, so we will probably start with dinner and drinks at a restaurant downtown and discuss the weekend plans. Ross and I don’t go out around Fortuna too often since we are always gallivanting around other areas of Costa Rica. This will be a good excuse to go out and experience some new Fortuna hotspots instead of our usual trips to the photocopy store, the coffee shop and the vet.

Here are some of our “go to” spots in Fortuna so far:

Don Rufino: Great cocktails and Burgers (I’m sure the other food is great too, but out of our price range!)

Baldi Hot Springs:

The lounge at Hotel Fortuna: Where EVERY hour is happy hour, 2X1 drinks

Arenal Observatory Lodge:

Hopefully I’ll have some more recommendations after this weekend!

Workout Rut Management: Better, Smarter, More fun workouts.

Lately I have been feeling great after every workout. Really, really great (thank you endorphins :)) This great feeling is the main reason I work out, although the looking great part is a huge incentive too, don’t get me wrong.

There have definitely periods of time when workouts seem to fail me, and don’t make me feel great (or even help with that looking great stuff). When I look back at these times, I realize I was not enjoying myself during the actual workouts; I was bored and going through the motions. A large part of working out is mental, and mentally if your not there you just can’t expect to reap the physical benefits- it’s all connected.

Was it really the workouts failing me, or was it me failing the workouts? By simply going through the motions in the weight room, or forcing yourself to go on a 5 mile run you are just dreading, you are not doing your workouts, or yourself, any favors. After a brief period of this, I usually find myself taking a break from exercise all together.

Workout ruts, we all get them. Is a fitness break the solution? Sometimes, I think so. Especially if you have an injury or have overexerted yourself. Often times though, we just need to find a way to better manage our ruts before they get the best of us. A lengthy break from working out can make it difficult to get back in your routine (and in any fitness routine consistency is utterly important!) Here are some things that have worked for me in recent workout ruts:

1.) Work out better. You heard me. Don’t go into the weight room everyday and do 20 reps with 5LB weights and expect to see any changes. I’m bored just typing about it. Really test yourself, work with a trainer at first if possible, a fitness saavy friend or coworker, or take group fitness classes to learn proper form so you don’t injure yourself. You have to pick up that poundage to lose it!!! Same goes for running, bored with that 9 min mile 5 mile run 3 times a week? Swap it out for a sprint workout, or incorporate intervals with your strength training. You will be amazed at how strong, healthy and energized you will feel after really pushing yourself.

2.) Workout (or don’t) smarter. Take an off-day before you NEED it. If you routinely wait until you’re too sore to move or absolutely exhausted you are not enjoying yourself and will not be looking forward to you next workout. Take days off of working out every week on days you are feeling great, and use that extra-time to plan a killer workout for the next day I like the workouts at Women’s Health If you can’t stay away from the gym, try something gentle like a Hatha Yoga class or indulge in a steam bath.

3.) We already discussed making it challenging, but also make it fun! Find something you LOVE to do and incorporate that into your daily or weekly routine. Try something new, shake it up: Zumba, yoga, walking with your dog or bootcamp with a friend.

Better, smarter, more fun workouts have been working for me. What’s your workout rut solution???

To Dunk or Not to Dunk?

Happy Friday! It’s that wonderful time of week again 🙂 The rain has gone this morning, and it is HOT and sunny again. It feels more like June, or like mid-day in the Sahara Desert with no water, but I digress.

I was inspired by a post written today by my wonderful friend and fellow bloggista Rachel Ski, aka “The Healthy Chick” I definitely recommend checking out her blog (which I read daily) at

In her post she discussed arts and crafts for grown-ups, and I realized I too have been very crafty lately (probably thanks to working in an Elementary School). Just yesterday I started a workout notebook project. You see, I have a million old magazines lying around: Health, Self, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, etc. Many of these magazines include great workout circuits, sprints and other routines and advice. I tend to read them once, think “OMG that is a great workout, I’ll do that at the gym next time” but when the time comes I forget it, and even forget which magazine I read it in!

For my workout notebook project, I am going through all the magazines and cutting out workouts I really like. I am then going to post them all in a notebook, and also include my own workout tips, or jot down other tips and advice I read in blogs and online or really anything that motivates me. This way, I can just flip through the notebook when I need a little motivation, much easier than going through 50 old magazines!

A work in progress:

While doing this project, I also started cutting out happy things, just things I liked, pictures, words, slogans that I am referring to as my “happy project”. I plan on making a notebook with these too, just to have for me 🙂

I know it may seem hard to fit arts and crafts into an adult life filled with responsibilities, but it’s certainly doable. Maybe invite friends over to make something together, or do it while watching your favorite TV show. It helps me clear my head while I’m drawing, painting, making up silly projects and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I’ve finished, either by making something in life more simple (the workout notebook) or more beautiful (the friendship bracelets!) or better yet, both!!

Now I have an important question. In Costa Rica bread, cookies, or some sort of treat are included with every cafecito (coffee break) and I have become addicted to dunking these little treats in my coffee. I know one of our most favorite and well-known coffee shops in Boston is Dunkin Donuts, but people rarely even get donuts there, never mind actually dunk them. Is dunking rude, or totally acceptable behavior?


A few weeks ago I got inked in San Jose. How bad ass does that sound???

Yeah, I’m pretty much a huge wimp and I never thought I would even want a tattoo, never mind be able to live through the actual process involving needles and big scary bald guys and skulls with cross bones.

“before” pic

Scary bald guys and needles aside, tattoos have been around forever and exist nearly everywhere (for a quick history check out this site: <a href=";. I guess I was just inspired by something, and I've had it in my head for awhile. It's small and in a not obvious spot, but it's something I can see and after all, this is something I got for ME.

The word "imagine" comes from the John Lennon song. My Mom loves The Beatles (though Paul is her favorite- but "Hey Jude" just didn't have the same effect) so it reminds me of her; I also just love the meaning of the song. Maybe it's a little corny, but it felt right doing it here. I feel like it really represents the life I am living right now, giving up possessions (as a poor volunteer I don't really have an option :)), sharing the world, living life in peace (I even walked in a peace march today! Vive la paz), etc. 🙂

I know I won't live this lifestyle forever in Costa Rica, but I certainly want to keep a part of it with me forever, hence the tattoo.

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

It's really difficult to try to take a picture of your own wrist, so here's a few of me trying not to look too awkward!

Mango might be a tico…

but with his love for Boston beer, he’ll fit in just fine next winter: