Saturday, April 17, 2010

Next year

Big news: I'm picking up one section of regular Precalculus next year! Yeaaaah! That's definitely going to keep me busy on top of the regular and honors Geometry sections I was already planning to teach. But, the upside is that it'll continue to expand the breadth of curricula I have taught at the high-school level, so I'm very excited. :)

Another piece of SUPER EXCITING NEWS on the teaching front is that we're going to have another American teacher added to the math department next year! :) I hope he turns out to be cool, because I miss having other teachers in the math department who are around my age.

Anyway, Geoff and I are heading out tonight to try out an Italian restaurant we had heard brilliant things about. I can't wait!! :) :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Costa Rica!

After much anticipation / some anxiety, I arrived in Costa Rica on the Tuesday of Holy Week, only to find out that the guy I was supposed to be meeting from the Chinese embassy had just left town and would not be around until Thursday evening! I was pretty upset, considering that I had only arrived in San Jose 1.5 days early to take care of this errand stuff before Geoff would arrive, and now it looked like it was still going to trample our vacation plans anyway. Alas, it is Central America, so you have to be tranquilo and to just play it by ear.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, I walked around San Jose (which is a bit of a dump during the day) and checked out their famous Museo del Oro (Museum of Gold). I also made some progress in my reading book and went on a crocodile safari tour. As it turned out, I got to see everything on the tour (monkeys, frogs, sloths, lizards, snakes...) EXCEPT for crocodiles. Ironic, but like I said, it's Central America. Apparently, some tour operators in a different part of Costa Rica would habitually throw chickens into the water to lure the crocs out of their lazy afternoon naps. Next time, mark my words, I will be bringing my own chicken. :) Anyway, the tour itself was kind of slow, but the people on the tour were really fun, so it made the time fly by!

Geoff arrived on Wednesday night. (He got to San Jose later than me, since he works for himself and therefore didn't want to take off quite so many days to go on this trip.) We met up, as originally planned, at the hostel. Our hostel is a beautiful place, by the way -- the Costa Rican Backpackers, located on the western tip of the capital city. I would highly recommend staying there if you had to pass through San Jose at some point. They have a pool and a lovely restaurant with good Jamaican food(!!) and lovely Belgian ales. After some catching up, Geoff and I and his dormmate Cody ended up heading down to Casino Del Ray (sp), which is a bit of a shady spot by reputation. It was the first brothel I had ever seen!! All around the bar are old men and young, boobilicious women. It was really interesting, except for the fact that the servers and bartenders were pretty rude to our group of 3, since it was pretty obvious that we were mostly sight-seeing. Eventually, we went across the street to a much quieter casino (no shady goings-on here, at least that we could see), and played a few rounds of blackjack. All in all, it was a fun and very educational night. :)

The next day, Cody, Geoff, and I took a bus and then a cab to La Paz Waterfall. I wish we had more time there, because there was a series of butterfly and bird conservatory places that we could check out, but by the time we had finally made our way there and had hung out a bit by the water, it was getting pretty late in the day, and we needed to start heading back to San Jose. (My priority for the day was to meet up with the embassy folks to get my Chinese tourist visa, so I needed to be back in San Jose by around 5:30pm.) Thankfully, the visa app went off without a hitch in the evening, and Geoff and I took -- wait for this -- a $200 cab ride from San Jose to La Fortuna late in the night, to arrive at our hotel in La Fortuna!!! Damn embassy people -- this is what happens when they flake out on you repeatedly and cause disruptions to your previously tight travel plans. At that hour of the night (it was about 8pm when we finally set out for La Fortuna, after taking care of the visa paperwork), we didn't really have many options left in terms of renting a car OR taking a bus.

Anyway, our next couple of days in La Fortuna made all of the hectic traveling worth it, however. We took our friends' advice and rented an SUV and drove up to Rio Celeste, which is a stunningly beautiful blue river that is created naturally as a result of chemical precipitation. We also took another friend's advice and did a day of whitewater-rafting down one of the many beautiful rivers of Costa Rica. And to top it all off, Geoff and I booked an evening of amazing getaway at the most famous of La Fortuna hotsprings -- Tabacon. For $70, you get a very delicious dinner buffet, plus you get to explore the extensive labyrinth of amazing hot springs at this extremely luxurious spa / resort. Ahhh. Neither Geoff nor I had ever seen anything like it before. The $70, which seemed like a lot of money when we first made our reservation, turned out to be worth every penny.

I loved Costa Rica. Most of all, I loved the rainforest and the plethora of wildlife. I hope that we get to go back at some point to explore more of the beautiful country!