Champagne Supernova

Now you’re never going to believe this one… I think I actually had better internet access in Costa Rica than I have the last few days back in Boston. Darn you Comcast for not being able to come set us up until Monday!

We have officially been in our new apartment 4 days, and it’s coming along pretty well (despite the whole no internet or TV thing). I was thinking of sharing photos, but I’m going to wait until you can at least see an inch of floor space. What are we going to do with all this STUFF in our tiny North End apartment? Is anyone really handy at installing shelving? I think if we have some put in from floor to ceiling in every room, we might be able to make this work.

Moving is always a bit stressful, but thank goodness I have some great friends to help alleviate that! Just yesterday a friend of mine who works at the new EXHALE spa on the waterfront invited me to come try a free class. Well, I can’t pass up a free anything, especially yoga and ESPECIALLY when the invitation is from Rachel aka THE Healthy Chick herself. I’ve written on here about my experience with EXHALE before (the one downtown) and this time around was just as delightful. It has an Amazing yoga studio, great classes (I did the yoga but I hear the core classes are killer workouts), saunas, bathrobes, fancy bathroom shampoos and lotions and a quiet tea room. If I had to sum it up with one word that would be: Zen.

After this, I had to bring my enlightened-self back down to Earth, which meant going to the least zen-ful place in Boston, The Tam. Two very good friends were visiting from Atlanta, and we were excited to be back in town to see them. When a group of us used to work Downtown on Tremont St. we would go to the Tam all the time, probably because we couldn’t afford anywhere else downtown on our entry level salaries? Anyway, it’s become sort of tradition now to go there when we get together and it’s always a good time.

Speaking of good times, do you have some planned for tomorrow night?? 2011 has been quite an interesting and eventful year, but I feel like I’m ready to move on with some new beginnings.

I decided for this year that instead of a New Year’s Resolution to stop doing something (ie eating chocolate) or lose something (ie weight) I’m going to choose a few positive things I want to start doing, or do more of. For me this will be spending more time on my yoga practice, enjoying good friends and even indulging in chocolate and not feeling bad about it (I’m drinking a Peppermint Mocha as I type this. No internet at home = lots of coffee shops).

Stay positive and remember not to put too much pressure on yourself; small consistent lifestyle changes are going to be a lot more enjoyable and make more of a positive impact than anything else.

If you are off the wagon this year, make sure to stay hydrated and take some Ibuprofen before bed, because a champagne hangover is no way to start a New Year. Cheers!

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Feliz Navidad

Just a quick note today to wish everyone a very happy holiday! I am so happy to be with friends and family I’ve been missing so much, but a small part of my heart is somewhere in a small Central American town (and probably always will be)…

If you are still looking for a gift, or just something fun to do today, may I recommend this holiday scrub I concocted. Cranberries are not only festive, but they also abundant in antioxidants and anti-aging properties, perfect for pre- and post-holiday imbibing celebrations. It’s easy to make for yourself, and if you put them in some cute jars and they are also perfect homemade gifts:

Christmas Cranberry Scrub (for 1, to make more multiply the ingredients):

Ingredients:
1 Cup Fresh Cranberries
1 TBLS Buttermilk
1/4 Cup Corn Meal (sounds weird, but it’s a great exfoliate)
1 TBLS Brown Sugar
2 TSPS Honey
BLEND all together and place in jar/bowl

Directions:

Wet face with warm water
Scrub well with your natural homemade cranberry scrub
Rinse with warm water
Moisturize
*Optional: Enjoy a cranberry champagne cocktail while doing all of the above
Voila, beautiful holiday skin 🙂

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays this year 🙂 XOXOXO

If The Shoe Fits…

New year, new you shoe?

I have been faithful to my Asics running sneakers for about 5 years now. I switched from Nikes after a few minor injuries, and never looked back. Asics have been very good to me, from marathons to half’s and 5Ks. My last pair of Asics got me through my entire year in Costa Rica. They will always hold a special place in my heart BUT I’ve decided to try something new. Maybe it’s a mid-running life crisis?

It all started with a gift certificate my Mom gave me to the New England Running Company store in Beverly, Massachusetts. If you are a runner and live on the North Shore, I highly recommend this place. It reminded me of my favorite Boston running store Marathon Sports: It’s a small place with a smaller selection, but only in the sense that they’ve ruled out all the non-quality options for you and left only the best. Quality above quantity: This can not be said for many of the larger sporting goods stores.

Also, like Marathon Sports, the customer service at the New England Running Company is top-notch. They know what you’re talking about, they take the time to measure, fit, and watch you walk and run. By the time you’re ready to try on shoes, they have narrowed it down to only 2 or 3 options.

For me, it came down to the trusty old Asics and a new pair of Brooks Defyance 5. I ran in both, I liked both. The Asics felt familiar and comfortable, but the Defyance gave a little extra support on my high arch that I really liked.

I debated for awhile, and in the end it all came down to looks. I know you shouldn’t choose a shoe based on looks, but come on:

It looks like the 80’s threw up on these sneakers, in my personal opinion.

Maybe they are going for a fresh new look? Maybe people will really love these sneakers? Maybe I just lost all my fashion sense in Central America?

Too boring?

Regardless, I went with the Brooks. I’m very nervous to try something new after all these years, but it’s also kind of exciting. I attempted my first run with them in Connecticut this morning, and I think they felt okay. My lungs were burning so bad and my face chapping (after only running in tropical weather for the past year) I couldn’t really feel my feet. I’ll keep you posted!

I wish everyone a very happy Christmas Eve… I think I might like this evening better than Christmas itself. There is such a fun exciting anticipation in the air, and the feeling that anything is possible, Christmas miracles included. It’s like how sometimes getting ready to go out with friends and anticipating the night ahead is as much fun (if not more) than the outing itself.

And if you have some last minute shopping to do, a gift certificate to New England Running Company is a great gift for the runners in your life (and it requires minimal wrapping). Thanks again Mom 🙂

Feeling Left Out

So, we’ve spent the last few days in my hometown of Rockport, Massachusetts. It’s been really nice to be home with family and back to everything that was once so familiar, but I’m also feeling kind of out-of-sorts because all of a sudden everything isn’t oh-so-familiar.

It’s hard to explain, but I feel as though I’m looking at everything from an outsider’s point-of-view, and feel as if I don’t really belong, even though this is where I was born and raised. We were both promised and warned this would happen and it has. In one way I have gained a more worldly view, and an appreciation and understanding of living and functioning somewhere else that many people don’t have. I have also been caught up in two totally different worlds, and now realize I don’t feel quite at home in either of them. That is scary, but also slightly empowering.

I’m spending the night drinking wine, making turkey chili, and concocting some delicious holiday desserts. I find a lot of comfort in baking and cooking, and I’m definitely in need of some comfort tonight. If you could use a little extra-Christmas cheer see my easy rum ball recipe below:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas Rum Ball:

1 Package of Vanilla Wafers, crushed (Ziplock bag + Rolling pin= cookie crushed perfection)
1 Cup Condensed Milk
1/4 Cup Baking Cocoa
1 Cup of Shredded Coconut (+ extra for topping)
2 TBLS Spiced Rum (or to taste 🙂 )

1.Stir ingredients in a large bowl

2.Wet hands (the wetness really helps with the sticking) and make small balls with the batter

3. Roll the balls in the extra coconut shreds on a plate

4. Place on cupcake papers and put in freezer to set for a few hours

5. Enjoy (if your’re 21+, of course)!

Baby, it’s Cold Outside…

We’re back!!!!

We’re freezing!!!!!

But we’re very happy 🙂 Friends and family, thank you so much for graciously taking us back, taking care of us and being flexible with us. It’s definitely overwhelming, and we are looking forward to getting re-adjusted and spending time with everyone as soon as we’re settled. Here’s a quick update for now:

Saturday: We had quite a trip home (blog post on this to come, our flight experience deserves a blog of it’s own) but as soon as we landed in Boston we headed to a party to see many Boston friends. If you were there, I’m sorry if I didn’t get a chance to talk to you much, if I spoke to you only in Spanish or if I made you hold my dog all night. At that point we hadn’t slept for 24 hours and I don’t really remember anything about this night except just feeling so happy to be there.


(Thanks again for the cupcake welcome Laura!!!)

We spent our first night in our new North End apartment. Can’t wait to be all moved in next week and get re-acquainted with city living!

Sunday: My Mom, Sister and niece picked us up and we all went to Ross’ house in Connecticut for the evening. Ross’ Mom threw a great dinner party and we sat by the fireplace, drank wine and laughed a lot with our families.

Monday: After a little xmas shopping in Mystic, CT we drove back to Rockport. We’ll be here relaxing, tree-decorating, eating and spending time with the fam. We’ll be here until Friday morning, when we’ll be driving back to Conneticut for the holiday weekend. If you’re on the North Shore this week give us a call!

Next week after Christmas we’ll be moving our stuff from CT and into the new North End apartment. If anyone is interested in helping us move/helping with Mango during the move please let me know! There will be free pizza, beer and Spanish lessons included!!!

Mango had a really tough time getting here as far as flights are concerned (again, blog post about this coming) but he is such a little trooper! He is LOVING it here; the colder weather, the freedom, and the cuddles from his new extended family.

I don’t have my camera cord right now, but our friend Laura caught the moment with our party entrances Saturday night, right after our flight:

Me first, Dunkin Donuts coffee in hand (how did I live without this for a year?!)

Ross was next, look at that smile:

And finally, the moment everyone has been waiting for…. y Mango?

How CUTE is his fleece coat (I’m talking about Mango here, sorry Pete)??

I think 2012 is going to be a very good year ❤ Now if only we could maintain these tans…

#1 Dad

Ross is off in San Jose today being the greatest dog-daddy ever. We found out very last minute yesterday that our vet, while able to fill out all Mango’s health forms, isn’t qualified to authorize them. Without authorization, the form is basically null and void, and Mango isn’t able to travel anywhere 😦

Needless to say, I panicked. Ross as usual, stayed cool and calm and got right to researching how to get the form authorized. The only way? Go right to the damn ministry yourself. In San Jose. Another 10 hour bus ride to and from San Jose. They also said it could take up to 2 days for the authorization to be cleared, so we had to do this like yesterday.

Ross left at 5AM this morning and should be home soon, authorization in hand. This is some stuff I’m not going to miss. At home in the States I feel like there would be some other/better way; a scan or fax, electronic signature, a heads-up at least.

I stayed back to get some packing done, and I’ve made a little progress. Mango must have heard all the commotion going on with his immigration papers and gotten worried he’s going to get left behind, because he refuses to get out of my suitcase as I pack:

Hmmmmm, maybe Mango’s on to something here….

But seriously, thank you Ross! We (Mango and I) LOVE you ❤

Don’t Rain On My (Productivity) Parade

After spending 8 days basking in the glorious sunshine on tropical beaches, we arrived back in La Fortuna yesterday to cold, wet, muddy, rainforest.

I don’t mind too much, 8 days in the sun was a lot and my skin could use a break. It’s just so darn difficult to be motivated in cold rain! Since we left the beach at 5AM yesterday and didn’t get back home until around 2pm, I decided to take an easy day and put everything off until today. It seemed like a great idea at the time, until I woke up this morning un-showered (I just couldn’t face the cold water yesterday. You need to build up to that stuff) and surrounded by dirty clothes, a dirty room, dirty dog, and a million things on my to-do list.

Now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed this morning by having to get out of bed and go face the dirty room, and chores that need to be done outside in the pouring rain. Yet I’m determined, and where there’s a will there’s a way, right? Plus if I let cold rain keep me down, what will happen to me in Boston snowstorms? Staying in bed until May isn’t a possibility.

So, here goes nothing:

1. Walk to the Super (in the rain) and buy dog food. Poor Mango had to survive on rice and beans last night like the rest of us.

2. Figure out my dirty laundry issue. And it really is an issue. You see, nearly all of our clothes are dirty right now and 1. The washing machine here is broken which would require us to hand-wash everything (which would probably take more than the 3 days we have left here) and 2. It is pouring rain and there are no driers in this country, we dry all our clothes outside. Again, this won’t happen in 3 days, in this weather our clothes might dry by February. So, do we attempt to wash? Travel home with only dirty clothes? Wet, half-dirty clothes? Leave the clothes? This is TBD.

3. Bring Mango to the Vet and get all his paperwork done for the flight. We have all his vaccines and he’s pretty much up-to=date, but Delta requires the paperwork not be officially filled out until within 10 days prior to flying. Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly with this. This flight business has been really stressful, and my recommendation would be to never fly internationally with your pet unless it’s an absolute necessity.

4. Start packing things we will bring back and getting rid of everything else that’s just in the way/taking up space.

I think that should do it for this morning at least! Things are a bit crazy here now, but I would never take back the time we got to spend on the beaches of Guanacaste wtih Mango:

Running like crazy:

Chasing Coconuts:

Making new friends:

Sleeping in the sand:

Enjoying ice cold Imperials

Lots of quality family time 🙂

FAQ: How To Obtain Your Costa Rican Drivers License and NOT Lose Your Mind

I successfully obtained my Costa Rican license last week! A big part of me being able to do this so quickly was thanks to the many helpful blogs I read on the topic. Since the Costa Rican rules are always changing and they don’t tend to make this vital information available to the public, other peoples’ blogs were the only information I could find online. I will now share the process I went through in hopes to help someone else who is in need of getting a Costa Rican drivers license ASAP.

* You do not need a CR license if you are just visiting the country, driving with a valid license from your home country/state is just fine (as long as you haven’t over-stayed your 3 months here). If you are here on a resident Visa like me, you will need to get a CR license.

** The process is much easier if you have a valid license from your home country. If it expires or you just don’t have one to begin with, you are required to do all the steps below PLUS take a driving and written exam. In Spanish.

WHAT TO BRING: Valid drivers license, passport, cash. You will also need 3 copies of your drivers license (front and back) 3 copies of the front page of your passport, 3 copies of your most recent entry stamp and 3 copies of your visa (if you have one). Medical form and proof of blood type (if possible: see below)

STEP 1: You need to get to the COSEVI in La Uruca, just North West of San Jose. Get there EARLY to dodge long lines. It opens at 8AM, get there 1/2 an hour before and get your medical exam over with at a clinic next door before the place even opens.

Step 2: Yep, you read that right, you need a medical exam. You have to go to a sketchy medical clinic and pay $40 to have a “doctor” fill out a form stating you are in good medical condition. I’m pretty sure these fake doctors are the only people who have the exact form you need, and the definitely make a lot of money for doing nothing (I was not exam-ed at all, he just filled out the form and let me go).

STEP 3: If you do not have medical proof of your blood type, they will make you do a blood test in their lab there. I felt totally uncomfortable with this as the place didn’t seem all that clean and no one seemed like a professional medical worker. I would DEFINITELY recommend bringing proof from elsewhere. I unfortunately didn’t do this and had to do it there, after which I immediately felt like throwing up/passing out. I’m not good with blood anyway, and having to do this there was a worst case scenario for me.

*** Why do you need blood type? Good question! My host brother said it was so if I died in a car accident here they would clone me. In that case, would my clone be an American or Costa Rican citizen?

STEP 4: GET IN LINE once you are finished throwing up/passing out 🙂 If you don’t have all the copies you need from above, you can pay to make copies at a place in the compound.

STEP 5: Bring all your copies, license and passport to the foreign license department. You will wait in line, they will bring you upstairs and stamp all your copies (without even looking at them). They will send you downstairs and someone will give you a bill.

STEP 6: You have to walk to the BCR (Banco de Costa Rica) in the compound wait in line and give them the bill and pay there (it cost me $4,000 CRC- bring cash just in case)

STEP 7: After paying, bring your receipt back to the department where you got the bill (wear comfortable shoes, it’s all in one compound but it’s a lot of walking). They will ask you a few questions (CR address, height, weight, etc.) Snap an awkward photo of you (they say “don’t smile!” right before they take the picture. If I had known this was a rule I would have practiced my Zoolander face.

After the picture they print your license out in 2 seconds, and you are done and ready to take off on a tour of the Guanacaste beaches (at least that’s what I’m doing)

Tenga Buena Suerte!!!!!!

Mango y La Playa

Ross, Eric, Mango and I are currently beach hopping in Guanacaste, soaking up the last of our Costa Rican sunshine. I’ll be back to blogging soon!

Ready to hit the road! (Eric looks like he’s ready to hit something/somebody)

1st Stop: German Bakery!

Playa Hermosa- We camped on the beach!

Playa Ocatal

We didn’t know this guy, but Mango loved him

Playa Flamingo- Our favorite so far

Tomorrow Conchal… so many beaches so little time!!!

When Tico Time Does NOT Work To Your Advantage

Tico time does not work to your advantage whenever you need to get anything done, period.

Tico time can be great. It gives you an excuse to be late to everything (or even not show up at all) it allows you to linger over lunch breaks and spend more time in a day drinking coffee than working.

The problem? It’s not very efficient, at all. You know how in the States places like banks, government buildings and hospitals may have lines? It’s so much worse here. For example:

-The bus we often have to take to La Fortuna advises getting there to buy your ticket 30 min in advance. We get to the ticket booth each time 30 min in advance (or more), only to find the booth closed for the next 30 minutes.
-I’ve waited an hour 1/2 in line to use an ATM only to find out that it has broken down/run out of money. I don’t remember if this is true or not in the States, but Ticos have a habit of answering their cellphones and holding a conversation at the most inopportune times, like while standing at the ATM with a huge line behind them.
-Lord help you if someone is in line in front of you in a store or restaurant and their credit card isn’t working for any reason. The cashiers just keep trying and trying and swiping and swiping for an hour or more. I actually had to ask the person in front of me in line once if they had another card. Luckily they did, or I would have offered to just pay for their lunch in cash.

Why am I venting about this now? I’m just preparing myself. You see, Ross and I have decided to rent a car for the next week so we can bring Mango to the beach with us (he deserves one tropical beach trip before we torture him with the cold New England weather). We just realized though, that while visitors to the country are able to drive with a valid license from their home countries, residents can not. Since we are residents this year and not visitors we need an official Costa Rican license to drive.

So, early Monday morning I’ll be going for my Costa Rican driver’s license and dealing with long lines and Tico times. Wish me luck that I don’t freak out at anyone and make a huge scene pass.

Since we’re only in the country for a few more days, I have no idea what I’ll do with this license… is anyone at home hoping for an authentic Tico license as a souvenir? Let me know!