When was the last time I updated you all on my adventures here? After consulting my sources, I see that it was Nicaragua, back in February. Wow! Time flies for sure. Now it is April, and I just finished my last class of sophomore year, and soon I’ll be with my parents for a fun-filled week traveling Costa Rica…
I love sharing what new crazy thing I have attempted because I get to live it all over again, and have it recorded while it’s still fresh in my memory for the years to come. Without further ado, a picture-filled update.
After Nicaragua, we started our third module, which for me was Literature with Literarturo (his name is Arturo, but “Literarturo” is so much more fun). Also, let’s keep him in our prayers, because he will be a dad in May. Que emocion! During this time, we went on a coffee tour to learn about the way that such high quality coffee is produced here in Costa Rica, and it was a very good time. The people leading the tour were fun, interactive, and knowledgeable. The coffee was super expensive though!
We were also offered the opportunity to go to an animal rescue ranch, which had toucans, parrots, and sloths, but I was not feeling up to it, so while it would have been really special, I made the wise decision to stay back and take care of myself. There I go, already applying the lessons I have been learning to take good care of myself.
The second week of this module, my good friends since 1st grade (I think it was kinder, but Jessica always corrects me) came to visit me for their spring break!! Thank you Jessica and Phillip for coming down here! It was a pleasure to meet Robert, and I so thoroughly enjoyed being able to show you around this place where I have been living. Thank you for being impressed at my Spanish skills and for appreciating my same silly Erin-ness that so defines me.
Jess, Phillip and Robert went to travel for the week while I finished up my third module, and then when they boarded their flight home, I was in a tour bus on my way to where they’d just spent spring break: Volcan Arenal! While there, my group and I swam in La Fortuna waterfall, stayed at a resort hotel, enjoyed the natural hot springs, and went ziplining.
Shandi y yo en la mirador antes de descender unos millones de escaleras para llegar a la catarata Shandi and I at the overlook before descending a whole bunch of stars to get to the waterfall
Encontre un arbol grandisimo. Por eso, tome una foto entre las raices // I found a giant tree! So I stood in its roots
La Iglesia en el pueblo de La Fortuna
Hotel Los Lagos, con Volcan Arenal
Una de las piscinas
El cuarto de Amanda y yo
La Iglesia Catolica en el pueblo de La Fortuna
Kelsey and I went exploring one day
ziplining, coming in from the last ride. (the other lines were sitting up! This one was lying down because it was so long!)
Slowing myself down…
Toboganes en la piscina
Muchachas de CUA antes de irnos al tour de canopy // The CUA girls before going on the zipline tour
Kelsey y yo intentamos a acercarnos a la catarata, pero para nada! Era demasiado fuerte Kelsey and I tried to get close to the waterfall, but to no avail. It was super strong!
Yo. La Fortuna. Sonrisas. Me. The waterfall. Smiles.
Arenal flowed directly into Semana Santa, for which I was home, mostly alone with my host family for the week. (Besides when Marr and I went to send postcards — props to you Marr!) Semana Santa was, for me, a lot of time in my room reading, resting, and thinking. It also brought a strong wave of homesickness that, in some way or another, has carried me through to the end of the semester. Weird, right? That missing home could somehow help me get through these last five weeks? But so it was: realizing how much I love everyone from home and simultaneously trying to enjoy my last few weeks here has been a joyful burden to bear. How blessed am I to be able to say that I have such an incredible support system, both here and at home. Blessed beyond understanding, for sure.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations were ongoing throughout the week, with lots of low key processions and Holy Hours for the first few days, and on Holy Thursday, I went to Holy Thursday Mass, with the Washing of the Feet. The symbolism was especially beautiful because they selected young people from the parish community to have their feet washed. Oh, by the way: I went to a Saturday vigil Mass for Palm Sunday, which actually did not include the blessings of the palms at the beginning, but the Church was beautiful, we celebrated the Holy Eucharist, and they did all the normal readings (of course), with the different people reading the different parts. The laity did not seem to have the Gospel with them, so I was the only one (that I could hear) who responded with the crowd part, calling out “Crucificalo, crucificalo!”
Holy Thursday Mass was beautiful, and afterwards, the priest walked the Eucharist around the perimeter of the Church to bring Him to the Altar of Repose, where they have Eucharistic Adoration available every day before Mass. I was at first unsure of where they were going, but then I realized that they had decorated the side chapel as the Garden of Gethsemane (which I will be going to this summer *squeals*). Here are some pictures of Holy Thursday:
My lovely Iglesia de Los Angeles…this has been my home base all semester, and I am so grateful for the community here. I am always at home in God’s Church, no matter where I am in the world or what I am facing.
The crowd around the Altar of Repose, underneath the image of Divine Mercy. Jesus, en Ti confio!
The Angel guarding the Altar of Repose
Garden of Gethsemane style Altar of Repose. Two more angels inside, holding Christ.
Year of Mercy poster on the right; Good Samarian caring for the robbed man on the left, Christ in the center.
¡Oh Jesús de mi alma, encanto único de mi corazón!, heme aquí postrado a tus plantas, arrepentido y confuso, como llegó el hijo pródigo a la casa de su padre. Cansado de todo, sólo a Ti quiero, sólo a Ti busco, sólo en Ti hallo mi bien. Tú, que fuiste en busca de la Samaritana; Tú, que me llamaste cuando huía de Ti, no me arrojarás de tu presencia ahora que te busco. O Dearest Jesus, only love of my heart! Here I am, prostrate at your feet, repentant and confused, like the prodigal son to his Father’s house arrived. Tired of all, I want only You, I search for only You, in You I find my strength. You, who went in search of the Samaritan woman; You who call me when I flee from You, not will cast me from your presence that I now look for.
With the Good Samaritan
Then, on Good Friday, I went with my Mamá tica to the procession at 9am, with the statue of Christ carrying His Cross. My host family has the tradition of doing a family lunch on Good Friday, so she left for that around 11:30. She felt bad for leaving me at the procession alone, but I was glad to have the time to be alone, go my own pace, and enter into the day without having to worry about what she wanted to do.
The processions were a very special thing to be a part of. I can’t really explain it, because it was a time that I share with God, and a whole bunch of strangers, and I can’t explain what it was like to see the community celebrating the day with such reverence and devotion. I feel honored to have been a part of it.
Jesus the Nazarene on takes up His Cross on the road to Calvary
One set of the men walking in the procession. Their silent and solemn presence added to the procession because it was a reminder of how we must walk with Christ.
The Twelve Apostles walked at the front of the procession. Mama Tica said that since the same men participate in the procession every year, they usually leave their barbas (beards) long all year.
Pontious Pilate and his wife, marching ahead of the Roman Legion.
Jesus meets His Mother
Jesus meets His Mother. This was especially powerful for me! By this time, Mama Tica had gone to be with her family, and I was reminded of the part in “The Passion” where Jesus tells His Mother, “See, Mother? I make all things new.” Mary, Our Lady of Sorrow and of Solitude, PRAY FOR US! We so need to turn to our Mother in love and hope…Mary’s love for us is beyond comprehension, and she leads us always to her Son…Thank You, God, for such a holy example as our constant spiritual guide!
The priest said some words at this time, speaking of the encounter between Mary and Christ, reminding us that we were present that day for the same reasons s Mary: an encounter with Christ.
Christ walks the street of Heredia…Christ, come into us, walk the streets of our lonely souls, and bring Your salvation and love where we thought no good could ever touch us.
Christ passes in front of the historic Fortin de Heredia.
Preparing Christ for His Crucifixion
Christ upon the Cross…
The young girls in orange each held a banner with one of the “7 Last Words”
Christ Crucified. After a few words from the Bishop, the crowd was invited to the Burial and the Solemn Service later that afternoon. The Procession ended at 1 pm, and the Solemn Service that I celebrated at was at 3pm, so I had time to stay, pray a Stations of the Cross at La Imaculada Parish Church, and get over to the other church for the solemn service.
Altar of Repose in La Imaculada “The Love of the Lord has no end, nor will His mercies run dry.”
Symbol of the Year of Mercy recreated out of sand…Cordero de Dios, ten piedad de nosotros! (Lamb of God, have mercy on us!)
Altar of Repose: “This is the Door of the Lord, through which we enter to obtain mercy and pardon.”
The Good Samaritan again, in Garden of Gethsemane Altar of Repose at la Iglesia de Los Angeles
Saturday came, a day of recollection and quiet. Being here, having nothing to do, was strange, because during Holy Week, it didn’t feel right to sleep in and pamper myself, and it didn’t feel right to be idle. That left me with a lot of thinking to do, and a lot of getting stuck in my own head. But once I decided to pass my time at the Church, thinking and praying with God, He helped me to get me out of myself and to think about all those things in the context of His plan for me in the context of salvation history. No, I didn’t come to any big revelations, but in focusing my heart and my head back on Him, I was brought a step further into His Ocean of Mercy.
I went to the Easter Vigil with my host mom and sister, and it was beautiful, of course! Then my host mom and I went to Easter Mass at a convent up in the mountains above Heredia.
Before the Easter Vigil
Our Easter candles, not yet lit by the New Fire blessed of the joy of the Resurrection!
Blessing of the New Fire, with a smiling priest and a sweet crowd of ticos, all together to celebrate the fact that Jesus resucito!
Sister praying after Easter Mass
Fairly common combination here: Sacred Heart, Cross, Holy Spirit
The grave is empty, the Lamb has Overcome!
All decorated with white flowers for Easter!!
La Iglesia de los Angeles all dressed up for Easter Octave 🙂 My beautiful home!
Cue Easter celebrations, and the start of the FINAL module here! Time really flew for me, regardless of how much I wish I could have shared the time with my loved ones from home. We went as a program (read: 35+ people) to a futbol game, Costa Rica vs. Jamaica! It was super fun, and Costa Rica ganó, 3-0!
Gotta love these two. Big brother Isaac and always smiling Shannon
I brought a fanny pack, my boots were filled with coins, and I brought a jersey and a scarf. Successful futbol game. Ole ole ole ole Ticos, Ticos! Viva la sele!!
Blurry picture with a clearly wonderful group of girls
FULL stadium. So so so fun.
The churros were delicious: photo creds to food-loving Morri
My crazy and not so crazy soccer aficionados
Before the final goal. GOOOOOOL COSTA RICA
All of us, a group who are forever part of my life story.
More blurry love, and me in the back not looking 🙂
Abbie and I attended enough of our acondicimiento fisico classes to not have to take the final test, so we went to Monte de la Cruz together instead. Monte de la Cruz: a lovely, super fun adventure which I am glad to have shared with a lovely, super girl. We got lost in the woods (sorry, Mom) which was a little worrisome (to me, not to Abbie who is super brave and was totally in her element). We spent a few hours in nature, took a lot of pictures of nice flowers and us together, and got some exercise, and generally just enjoyed the time together. Abbie has been one of the most special friends that I have made here. Buddy, you are always welcome in DC or Arizona, whichever you can visit first!
It is like a whole other world up there, on the mountain. Cool, fresh air, the greenest of green pastures, and tall, thick trees. The first time I went, with Shannon, Lou, Tristan, and two ticos, we were all pretty blown away by the green and the beauty which is distinctly different than any volcano or beach. There is so much biodiversity here! Although the first time I left semi-convinced that the bus had gone through some sort of space time continuum to bring us to Ireland, when I came back with Abbie, I could see a bit more how this area is just another beautiful part of this stunning country.
Personality pic!!! Loving Jesus and laughing all the time!
Abbie climbed a tree.
Abbie found a pinecone! It was a very big surprise, and one that made us both yearn for home a bit more, and also thank God for bringing us a habitat that we’re both more familiar with.
I spotted a gringa…oh, it’s me.
Abbie climbs something; I take a picture of her, but actually of the flower because I-love-all-the-flowers-here
Found a little swing, took a little picture 🙂
Climbed a lot of playgrounds this day…
More flowers. How can I resist recording all this beauty? I took about 20 more pictures of flowers, but they don’t all fit here.
Abbie climbed a rock!
Found a campo de futbol
Can you find the most beautiful flower of them all? (Hint: rainbow headband)
The most beautiful flower agreed to take a picture with me!
She was a lot happier about this swing than she appears to be, I promise!
In almost every picture Abbie took of me, I am pointing. So there’s that. What can I say, I got it from my Momma!
The Cross has been so light here, with Christ carrying my burdens and His joy leading me to deeper love.
Found an Heredia…^
Look, babe, I did a handstand!
Look, everyone else, I fell out of a handstand! (A lot more than I held it)
Playground chillin, yall.
“I left with God. If I don’t come back, I went with Him.” You can find this in a lot of the buses and public transportation: sometimes with the quote, sometimes not, sometimes with a different one altogether, but almost always an image of Christ Crucified. Beautiful reminder to keep Him always before us.
Wow, Manuel Antonio…this was my second of three times in Manuel Antonio. The first was for waterfall rappelling, and the last will be with my parents. This time, though, I hiked the National Park with Tim and Kelsey, and I went parasailing. That was beautiful. About three seconds of “que estoy haciendo??” and then a lot of joy and amazement and “I am so glad I did that!” All in all, a beautiful weekend!
Again, above the world parasailing.
What kept us afloat, besides God’s mercy and constant protection. Thanks, Guardian Angel, for flying with me!
The beautiful Catholic Church in Quepos, where I helped a family celebrate a Baptism (I was there praying when it began, and then I felt it would have been ruder to leave once it had already started. Plus, I got a picture of the whole family, and they now have an Arizonan praying for their little boy, too! God bless you, Francisco!) The Mass that night was perhaps one of the most solemn, respectful Masses I have been to here in Costa Rica. For this, I was incredibly grateful.
Early morning run/walk
Stare that twig down. Do it.
Teva tan lines and dirt trails
Found a crab. Named him Malcom. Thanks Kelsey, for that fun time!
It looks ready to attack Tim. Luckily, it did not!
Scary how this monkey did not actually run from us.
On the moooove in the juuungle
Found a little guy
Manuel Antonio National Park!! Certainly a good day, thanks guys!
From up high on a trail with Tim. Met a guy named (dang, I forgot) from Washington, DC. He was super sweet!!
This is the same island with cliffs that Kelsey and I flew by while parasailing!
All that wilderness! Thank you Jesus!
With Kelsey and Tim!
Sendero Oso Peresozo Sloth Trail 🙂
Right at this oficial tourist info center
Above the cliffs (thanks Kelsey for taking pictures up there!)
All we could hear was the hum of the boat, and our voices nice and clear. Immediately inspired in me the desire to pray songs of praise! If you went too, you wouldn’t be able to resist thanking God for this great big world He made so specifically for us
Waaaay up there, above that beautiful blue ocean
Jumping for joy (and the camera)
With Kels, above the water
Poas was our last excursion together, and it was definitely a good one. About this time, we started actually talking about how quickly this time has gone for us, and how none of us could have imagined the group being any different. It is crazy to think about how much these people have become a, what, second? third? fourth? family to me. Without further ado…Volcan Poas!
All my semester-long SOLmate companions. (I’m laughing in this because Tino said something sassy to me right before they took the picture. Look how proud he looks! Also, I’m glad I’m laughing in this, because that joy is something I’ve encountered in a big way here.)
In case of volcanic activity………………oh.
There it is folks, Volcan Poas! We were blessed to have gotten there with so much blue sky, because under an hour later, we were immersed in clouds!
Above the steaming pit with Kelsey.
Max 20 minutes? Well, we did not actually obey that one.
With sweet Kaleigh
Anna brought her Polaroid (thanks for sharing this little treasure with me!) Also, beyond those clouds is the volcano, believe it or not! Taken in almost the same spot.
It’s been grand, Costa Rica!
Nature’s wedding boquet
More natural wedding boquets
Marr! You’re a good woman, I hope you know that!
Lia and my eyes closed. But she looks fab!
Sierra. Thank you for sharing your sweet smile with me!
Cool spiny plant
What a lovely group! These are my SOLmates.
My favorite flowers here (so far)
Me with Poas
Clouds quickly approaching!
I went to a feria agricola (agricultural fair) one weekend with Jenny, Catherine, and Hannah, and I loved seeing all the fresh fruits and vegetables. This was a good way to spend my second-to-last Saturday, for sure. I love the produce here! It’s so fresh; a lot (if not all) of the vendors probably brought their crops from home the day before to sell Friday night and all day Saturday.
Giant pastry and bags full of fruit! Yay!!
For the last weekend, I went into San Jose with Kelsey, Meagan, Tino, and Abbie for some souvenir shopping, and then on Saturday I mostly hung out around Heredia. On Sunday, though, I had the most special day! My mama, papa, y hermana ticos took me to Orosi Valley, to Cartago, to a pool in Cachi, and just generally on the most special sort of day. I felt like I was really part of the family, and doing something where I was the only white girl certainly solidified how happy I am that I chose to live with a host family. This family has been one of the grandest blessings. I haven’t downloaded pictures from that day yet, so you’ll have to wait until I am back in the USA for those!
Y ya! Hablamos cuando regreso a los EEUU. Ya vienen mis padres!
(That’s that! We’ll talk when I get back to the States! My parents will be here super soon!)