Nannie and Grandpa's Visit

February 27, 2016 - Monteverde, Costa Rica

Nannie and Grandpa arrived safely at about 11 a.m. on Saturday the 20th, after braving the horrible road up to Monteverde. YAY!!!! :D I took them to my house, where we left their suitcases since their car is very small. We also unpacked a care package from my parents! Then we went to the same vegetarian restaurant that I went to with George and Mary. We shared a delicious and gorgeous mango, carrot, walnuts, and lettuce salad with passion fruit dressing, then I had the burritos I had last time, Nannie had a traditional casado, and Grandpa an enormous mushroom burger. Dessert was banana cake with chocolate sauce and honey. :)

Our favorite restaurant while they were here was Stella's Bakery, very conveniently located in the “center” of Monteverde. We enjoyed endless omelets, quiches, pastas, and toast with their amazing homemade jam. They also have a garden at the back where lots of beautiful birds come to eat the fruit they put out.

It was so much fun to show Nannie and Grandpa around Monteverde, and it was a week full of all the tourist activities I had missed out on. Nannie and Grandpa did a tour of the cheese factory and one on coffee, chocolate, and sugarcane while I was at work, but we did everything else together. We went to the Monteverde Butterfly Garden, which was really nice. There was a show-and-tell with a tarantula, beetles, cockroaches, stick insects, leaf insects, a headlight clickbeetle (has very bright "headlights" and violently flips itself over with an audible click when scared), leaf-cutter ants, and even those creepy spider things that make an appearance in Defense Against the Dark Arts in the 4th Harry Potter! Then we went into four different enclosure environments, and the butterflies were lovely, from the brightly-colored monarchs to transparent glass butterflies.

Another day, we went to the Frog House for an evening tour. It was fantastic -- our guide was great and we saw lots of cool frogs. It was really hard to take good pictures since you had to get the flashlight beam just right through the glass, but I got a great one of the last frog, the red-eyed treefrog!

We also went back to Sky Adventures, where Grandpa and I did the hanging bridges tour and the three of us took the SkyTram up the mountain. Grandpa loved the tour, taking pictures of everything with his fancy new camera (several of the best pictures with this post are his), and we got to see a tiny green viper! Nannie and Grandpa both enjoyed the tram, and Grandpa and I climbed to the top of the tower the zipline starts from and almost got blown off it by the strength of the wind!

One evening after work we went on a night hike in Bajo del Tigre (part of the Children's Eternal Rainforest) with Nannie and Grandpa. We didn't see anything extremely exciting, although there was one lizard which apparently aren't generally that numerous in Monteverde. But the guide was good, the pace was nice and slow, and it was very cool to be out in the forest at night.

Our Saturday morning trip to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was much more rewarding. We saw a bellbird and a female quetzal (not as pretty as the male but still cool)!!! Near the entrance to the reserve they have a lot of hummingbird feeders set up, and it was so much fun to watch them flying so close to us and try to take pictures! I took hundreds in the space of just a few minutes. After a quick trip to the gift shop we watched a video about the history and natural environment of Monteverde. It was really well done, and I immediately recognized the voice of the narrator – sure enough, it was Maricella's friend Mark.

It was an absolutely insane week at work, since we had two groups of 40 from a school in California arriving. I helped with all four of the different activities they did: collecting stream samples with Ali and Meyer, analyzing the samples in the lab and identifying microinvertebrates in the water, measuring trees in one of the reforestation plots with Randy and Luis, and using the data to calculate how much carbon each of the young trees had sequestered. I also prepared all the blank data sheets (in paper form and on the computers) and gave a presentation about climate change and carbon sequestration. I didn't wear enough sunscreen the first day and got horribly burned on the back of my neck, but it was still nice to be outside and doing something other than data entry.

The second day that the students were here was my nineteenth birthday!!! We had the usual little party with all the students (and this time I got “Happy Birthday” in English too since all the students were here), which was lovely. Nannie and Grandpa and I went out for dinner to the Italian restaurant I went to with Kathy and Ralph, and I had a delicious caprese salad and some spaghetti. After we were done eating, we were just sitting and talking when suddenly the lights went out. The owner of the restaurant set piece of cake in front of me, topped by a sparkler with a foot-tall flame!! Nannie and Grandpa had asked for a candle, but all three of us were so surprised by the result that we just sat there staring at it until it burned itself out. Luckily a woman at a nearby table was much more on the ball and took a picture. :)

It was an interesting collision of worlds to have Nannie and Grandpa spending time with Maricella and Maya, and it meant some intense translating for me. I've found that I'm quite comfortable translating from Spanish to English (because I understand almost everything Maricella says now), but the other way around is much harder! I can hardly believe how much I've improved, though. Maricella told my Spanish teacher that she talks to me now just as fast as she talks to her Costa Rican friends! :) At dinner at a nice restaurant on one of Nannie and Grandpa's last evenings, Maricella started talking about how much they were going to miss me and what a wonderful experience this has all been, and Nannie, Maricella, and I all started crying! It was so sweet and nice and I really am going to miss them so much. :(

On Sunday Nannie, Grandpa, and I had a nice relaxing morning buying some souvenirs and eating at Stella's, and then they left in the early afternoon. All in all it was a perfect week of adventure and wonderful family time.

WORD OF THE BLOG POST: regalar (v.): to give (a gift)

This word seems appropriate for this post because the week I spent with Nannie and Grandpa was such a gift. It's so nice to spend time with people you love when you're missing home. In my birthday messages from various friends, it struck me how many of them included “I miss you”, and while it's a mark of how geographically diverse my friends are, it also shows how far away I am from everyone. Where would I be without my grandparents and traveling companions?! Regalar is also a verb that I knew before coming to Monteverde, but not in the sense that it's often used here. In an interesting quirk of language, the verb that can only be used for a literal gift in every other country is used much more commonly here (for example, “Gift me a menu, please”). The linguistics-obsessed part of me has loved learning all these little hallmarks of Costa Rican Spanish (others include using the formal form of address (usted) for everyone and adding the diminutive “-ito” or “-ita” to everything), and I'm slowly incorporating them into my own speech.


Nannie and Grandpa Arrived!
Beautiful Salad at the Vegetarian Restaurant
Monarch Butterfly


March 4, 2016
Sounds like a fantastic action-packed birthday week! So wonderful that Nannie and Grandpa we able to be there to share it with you.
Susan Bowden:
March 6, 2016
How wonderful to have this experience with Molly and Joe! And how much fun you and Ashlyn will have when you get together to share experiences and compare your Spanish language treasures. ❤️
March 7, 2016
So glad this has been such a great experience for you. I know you are really sad to be leaving but we are so excited to have you back soon!
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