Hola from Costa Rica!

Our arrival to the beautiful land of Costa Rica went without a hitch–well, discounting David M’s extended conversation with the immigration agent and Nathan S’s brief detour at customs. We were whisked from the airport to CPI Heredia, our Spanish language school. ¬†We had a typical “Tico” lunch of chicken with rice, beans, plantains, and salad and took a placement test for the classes we’ll be taking each weekday morning while we’re here. From there, the school bus deposited our weary bodies in front of the house of our “family tica.” (“Tico” means “Costa Rican.”) As we waited for the bus at 7:45 this morning, we had fun sharing stories from our first night with our families. The consensus: los Ticos are unbelievably nice people!

More as a full itinerary and fickle Internet gods allow!

 

India

“Nine keys to enjoying India” and, as Trish said, “many other countries as well.”

From the book “Enjoying India – The Essential Guide.” I distilled down the main ideas..

1. Relax. Take it easy. The pace of life in India is more relaxed than in other countries.”

2. Be respectful. Respectful of the people, the culture, the Indian way of doing things, and the religions. Your behavior and attitude will greatly influence how the people you meet perceive your country and its people, as well as how they treat you as an individual.

3. Be patient. Things happen more slowly. Things are often more complicated because you don’t know the language or understand the system.

4. Pay attention. Be alert whenever you are moving around and make a point of noticing what is happening around you. Pay attention to your environment, your body and your mind.

5. Be flexible. You will encounter the unexpected. You can hardly spend a day in India without encountering something you have never seen or imagined in your life, which can be a great delight.

6. Keep your sense of humor. Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake, but try to avoid laughing at other people. You will make more friends that way. Just remember that almost everything is funny once time has passed.

7. Keep your perspective. You will inevitably be seen as a wealthy person in comparison to the majority of Indians, who struggle to live on less than $2 a day. The government actively promotes the idea that foreigners should pay more for everything. Don’t take it personally.

8. Open your mind. You will be greatly rewarded. Don’t be judgmental. Leave any cultural biases or prejudices back home.

9. Open your heart. The best of India is only available to those with open hearts, open minds and a respectful attitude.

France Dorman

Greece day 10

Last day here in the land of mythology. We all woke up fairly early in Athens to go tour the Acropolis museum which holds the supposed mask of Agamemnon, a very powerful leader who once successfully ruled the Mycenae people. There were also many other artifacts that consisted of much gold and bronze detailed handy work. There was also an Egyptian Section to the museum along with much other fascinating historical civilizations and also the first computer. After this museum we headed off to a delicious restaurant where I had an incredible smoked salmon caesar salad smothered in mustard sauce. Mick also enjoyed a fabulous pizza with 5 different cheeses. The 2nd museum was the Acropolis Museum, which was actually built on top of an excavation site of the Mycenaean people. The majority of the floor was glass, which was quite a thrill, because it had the illusion that you were almost floating above the site. The majority of this museum was about the Parthenon and they had multiple artifacts from it. After this adventure a short rest at the hotel followed. Then we all traveled over to a great dinner at a small place that a actually was under the city streets. We all deeply enjoyed that. Next we had about an hour and a half or so to explore, shop, and eat gelato which seems to have become our little tradition after lunch and dinner. Now it’s off to bed to gain some rest for our 4:20 wake up time tomorrow morning. This has been nothing less than an amazing, fun-filled adventure with Mr. Assaf, Mr. Anthony, and Ms. Peterson. We could not of asked for anything better and we all deeply appreciate the time and effort you have put into organizing this outstanding trip. We all thank you again and hope you have a ball on your next one!

-Mark H. and Mick A.

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While everyone was taking a nap at the hotel, Ms. Peterson, Chris, Michael, and I all went to the subway to find a Greek sandal maker. The shop was full of hand-made leather goods. Ms. Peterson and I both got handmade sandals that the shop owner fit specifically to our feet. I also bought a really cool handmade backpack. It was a really cool excursion and I’m really glad I went.
~Tory

Greece day 9

We woke up on Crete and, after breakfast, we headed to an ancient monastery hike. Our first stop on the trail was a huge cave that had been worshipped in for a very long time. In the cave was a rock that had supposedly once been a bear, but because it was chasing a saint, God turned it into a stone. There was also a shrine to the Virgin Mary there. Farther down the trail was an ancient monastery that had been built into the mountain. One of the rooms still had windows and a door so you could still see the paintings on the wall. The other rooms were not so well preserved but we did find one room with a full grown tree growing through the middle of it and a dead goat-ewwwwww. At the site was also a really old bell (that I rung :P) and a water well. On the way back up the mountain found a shrine in a cave off to the side. It seems like whenever someone finds a big enough space they put a shrine there-it makes everywhere seem a little nicer. We thought going down the twisting trail was hard enough( it was covered in slippery, uneven rocks) but going up it was even worse. It was like a stair master 5,000,000! But once we got to the top the monastery down the road was full of cooler air.
This monastery was so beautiful. The outside was amazing- covered in flowers and other plants but the inside was spectacular. The entire sanctuary was covered in gold, silver, colored glass, carved wood, and hand painted paintings. We had such a great time.
Next we drove to the airport and checked in. After grabbing lunch we boarded the plane, and after being in the air for twenty-five minutes and eating some amazing airplane food( I’m not being sarcastic) we landed in Athens and drove to our hotel.
We slept for a little but then went to see the Parthenon. It was so amazing to see the giant structure still standing. They’re currently restoring it so it had scaffolding all around it. I can’t wait to see it once it’s restored. We also saw the Theatre of Dionysus and an amazing view of the city.
For dinner we went to a really pretty restaurant with amazing food (I had the Moussaka) Quin and Mia went into an ice cream shop to get dessert but we had to go so they had to cancel their order. Let’s just say the owner wasn’t too happy about that…. Then went to the site of the first modern Olympics. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for gelato and hung out outside for a little. When we returned to the hotel we all went to our rooms and crashed after a very long day.
~written by Tory D. and Quin

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