Friday, September 30, 2005

Central American Music

Just wanted to remind you that Adam has posted some of his music that he has been recording online. The stuff he's recording is pretty good. He's also letting me do back up vocals. Maybe I'll be famous one day like Tori Amos who sang back up for NIN. Except I have a bad voice that, thankfully, is easily covered by effects. I'm learning that effects = magic for recording music. With certain software anything can sound good.

Here's his music link.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Flooding on the Pacific Coast: Nosara to Quepos

Pobrecita Shar! Shar has one week off from school(not sure why something like a spring break). Shar's boyfriend Chris came down for a visit and they flew to Nosara for the week for some sol y mar. They were hoping to do a little surfing and relaxing.

Well I'm sure that they are having none of that. There has been major flooding on the pacific coastal towns of Costa Rica. Lots of people have died, lots of homes destroyed, bridges are down and roads are out. Costa Rica isn't a big country so this is devastating to the people effected and the surrounding communities. I hope they are all right, as can be...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Costa Rican Independence Day Sept. 15

September 15th was Costa Rica's Independence day, celebrating 184 years of indepence. The day of freedom is celebrated by having school children march in rigid formations, or at least make the attempt. Each class, or school sends the children off to march, or dance. Each class has their own drummers, all of which compete at a different pace.

Costa Rica doesn't have a military but all of the school children know how to march. They do this march every year. I wonder if this is a subconcious cultural act. There were a number of different marches but there was one popular march that was illustrated by stepping with your right foot and dragging your left foot forward until it reach the right foot. Nope, it didn't go past the right foot, but sort of made a half step. The kids liked to drag it forward with painful sarcasm. None of them seemed to happy to be there, with mother's tagging along the parade bribing them with sugary drinks. Currently the debate is about how long the girls skirts should be. The president has signed a new decree that all school skirts should be past the knee in length. So far nobody has heeded the creed. This is the typical Tico way, ignore the law if you want. Nobody is going to do anything to punish you.

Online Gambling?

It was funny today. Somebody on the Yahoo Costa Rica Living List accidentally inferred that we make our money by working for the online gambling community. If you didn't know this already Costa Rica has a large number of gambling companies that do the majority of their work online. These people make a lot of money and are probably associated with the underground current here in Central America. We are most definately not associated with these people.

You can usually tell who these people are. If you ask what they do they come up with some vague internet job, but if you ask them details like "Oh, what industry?" or "What company?". They will give you some vague answers or change the subject completely. They usually drive really fancy cars and have a lot of expensive stuff. It's illegal for any American to engage in this sort of work, no matter what country they currently reside in.

On a different, yet similiar subject...I was talking to this one American guy who has been in Costa Rica for five years, whose starting up his own language academy. We were talking about all of the large malls in the San Jose area, how empty they are (except on the weekends), and the fact that everything in them is really expense. We are not sure how Ticos can afford the goods for sale in the stores. He was told that the large malls are just a money laundering endeavor for drug money. I don't know if this is true, but just telling you what I heard. Interesting yes, true? Maybe...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Poas Volcano and a Big Waterfall Close by

So a few weekends ago we took a day trip to the Poas Volcano. Luckily we got there two minutes before it clouded over. It stunk really bad and looked like the moon, or what I think the moon looks like

Well not much else to say, it was a volcano, steaming, but no lava.

Here's a few more pictures

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Grahm-Crackers

So I just went to visit my grandma in Aztec New Mexico. She's getting pretty old so I volunteered to help her move in with my Uncle Andy and Aunt Dina. They live in Chama which is about three hours from Aztec. All of this is about 14 miles south of the Colorado border, literally in the middle of Indian reservations and National Forests. Beautiful area but very isolated.

Day 1
After carpooling with my cousin Jessica from Albaquerque we arrive at the High Country Tavern where my aunt and uncle are playing old-timey country with another really good guitarist. It was quite a little happening place. Full of honky-tonks and hunters. It was nice walking into some crazy cowboy bar in the middle of nowhere and having my mom, stepdad, grandma, aunt, uncle, the band, and cousins to greet you. It was fun, there was a guy there who dances with my grandma when she comes to the show, later danced with my mom, and than danced with me. It was a bunch of twirls to almost no rythm. Very similar to meregue or salsa but without a rythm. Later, I was hit on by this guy in full hunting gear. I was sitting right next to my grandma, holding her hand actually. He told me I looked like the executive producer for some good morning program that did a show on them, guys who do elk hunting with bows. I guess that's better than looking like his second cousin he had a crush on once. Very manly men who kept requesting Patsy Cline tunes. There are some good pictures.

Day 2
We go out to my aunt and uncle's new modular home. It was huge. Luckily it was in the middle of nowhere, but next to a national park so I got to go on a morning trail run and listen to the coyotes howl, we could see them with the binoculars. It was beautiful. That afternoon my great uncle Tuffy and great aunt Jenny came over with a medium size cooler full of vodka and seagrams 7/7 and proceeded to kick off the bbq with a vodka and coke bang! Now I know where I get it. We had a bbq with enough steak and chicken potato salad and coleslaw "to feed an army". We also had a jam session. My great aunt jenny was singing back-up. She was so terribly drunk and out of tune uncle Tuffy would periodically stop playing in the middle of the song and proceed to tell aunt Jenny he doesn't need any help singing. That was a nice way of saying don't sing, you sound horrible. I recorded this jam session and as soon as I get it edited we'll post it.

Day 3
We travel to Aztec New Mexico where my grandma's house is. Not much to it. It's the same house that my mom grew up in so it's kind of fun to go there and check it out. My uncle Andy who is a welder has his junk out everywhere. He recently accidentally started a brief brush fire so everything looks burnt, rusty and terrible.

The next couple of days was spent sorting through very old stuff. My grandmother gave me two of my great grandmother's purses and aprons. They're not anything fancy, but it's nice having something old from your relatives.

My drive back to Albequerque was beautiful. More pictures of visit.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Rio Celeste, Costa Rica

The Rio Celeste trip was organized by the teachers at the Blue Valley Private School. Shar is a teacher there and since no kids signed up the trip was taken over by adventurous school teachers. I was invited by Shar to come. So for 15,000 colones (aprox. $32) I got to go on a local adventure.

It didn't turn out to be local at all. It was a five hour bus trip to the lodge where we were staying, half of it over very bumpy dirt roads. For some strange reason, luckily, I can now withstand long bus trips over bumpy roads and can sleep through them. Even when Adam was driving the 4x4 through hellishly bumpy roads I just tipped back and fell asleep.

At the lodge there were four people to a room and the rooms contained bunk beds and lots of spiders. We were getting settled in and the next door neighbor ladies started having a screaming contest in spanglish: Muerte! Kill it! Cockroaches and spiders that were huge and fuzzy. I have two spider bites on my inner thigh. Not itchy, just kind of painful, with the knowledge that a spider was there. How did it get there? I slept with sweat pants on??

The next morning we get up and head to the national park. Since we were in a group of mostly ticos and school teachers with visas, we got in for the Tico price 500 colones ($1) instead of the gringo price $7.

I was told that it would be a three hour hike in and a three hour hike out. On the bus ride to the lodge I was looking around and there didn't seem to be that many 'in shape' people. Shar and I concurred; it wasn't going to be as rigorous as we thought. We looked like gear heads with our camelbacks on, but they are so handy.

Andele Arriba!

We thought that there were going to be hot springs but when we got there it was stinking so bad of sulphur, the water was this weird murky bluish grey color, and there were signs everywhere saying that they weren't sure how safe it was to swim. So the group decided not to go in. I kind of agreed. Recently I've been trying to improve on my inclination for being accident prone. You couldn't see very far into the water, and remember we are five hours from anywhere in the jungle. No need to push it. It was hot and humid enough, no need to step into mysteriously bubbling pool of water.

So we kept going until it was time to loop around. The loop around is crossing the stream. Not a big deal but the pictures are fun. Make sure you zoom in on the Abby crossing. Abby is Shar's roommate who doesn't particularly like the outdoors, was complaining incessantly about the gross factor, and requested that somebody sleep with her to protect her from spiders. Huh? And “Hell no” from Shar, Ryan and I. We could not figure out why she came on the trip. She's from the New York City area and cried when she saw cockroaches in their new apartment in Escazu. Come on now, NYC has cockroaches too.

Anyhoo, everybody made the crossings. I was so happy to be hanging out with Ticos. They were so happy. There was one family that came and the dad brought his two daughters and his mother. They were all just having a grand time. When we stopped for lunch he made them refried beans and tuna fish sandwiches, uummm yummm! I stuck with my trail mix though.

We stopped for lunch at the waterfall. The waterfall was amazing, especially the pool. It was this amazing blue color. It made for a very photogenic waterfall.

We made it back to the lodge. Everybody was wet, tired, and happy (except Abby of course). We had dinner than took the bus down into the pueblo and watched a futball game. It was Costa Rica vs. Panama. Panama looked really tight, but only managed to sink one goal. The Costa Ricans looked like the sloppy players but managed to sink three goals. I'm starting to like futball (soccer). It's really only a two hour commitment. They don't turn off the clock for anything unlike American football or basketball where the games can last longer than a four hour hangover in a crappy airport.

The next day Shar, Ryan and I took off for a power hike up to an old volcano that has turned into a swampy crater lake. The hike was like climbing a latter of roots and rooks. I was sweating gallons and I was happy to have a camelback it was quite a hike. We came back down and than powered through the hanging bridges hike that was more even and well maintained trail. We stopped long enough to howl at the howler monkeys and duck the flying shit. The trailheads for the two trails started at the lodge. Ironically enough this easy trail was where I took a major spill, but I protected Adam's camera that happened to be in my hands like a newborn baby. Hope you like the pictures.

Rio Celest Pictures

Monday, September 05, 2005

Magical Mystery Fruit Tour of Costa Rica

I had a request a while back to document the different fruits that are available here that we don’t have in the states. That includes a majority of what is available in the markets here. There are spiky red things and small green things. There are bunches of fruit that look like huge clumps of grapes. There are papayas that range is size from about the size of an eggplant up to something that requires two hands to carry. The list goes on.

We went to the large ferria(market) south of downtown San Jose with the sole intent of buying fruit that we had no idea what it was. I think that cruising around and buying the fruit was as much fun as sampling it all. In the picture there are obviously some pinapples, bananas, and a papaya. Those are our main meals down here a majority of the time.

Click on the link to check out the pictures and the write-up of our mystery fruit sampling:

Fruity Link