Last Week in Monteverde

March 8, 2016 - Granada, Nicaragua

My last week in Monteverde began with an extremely fun birthday party on Sunday night! Unfortunately it ended up being right after Nannie and Grandpa left because of everyone's crazy work schedules due to the visiting groups, but in a way it was nice to have both: a special dinner on my actual birthday with them and then a party later with all of the friends I met here. Ali, Luis, Randy, Luke, Mark, my Spanish teacher Jessie, and of course Maricella and Maya were all there. For dinner we had burritos (my favorite!), salad, and fries, and then a little later we had cake that Mark had made. Mark makes the most delicious desserts, and this was an amazing creation of chocolate and strawberries that definitely exceeded everyone's expectations. I got some lovely gifts: a heart-shaped gold necklace and earrings from Maricella and Maya, a Children's Eternal Rainforest keychain from Jessie, and a coffee candle I'd admired in the store from Ali. I also gave Maya an UNO set and a board game, both of which Nannie and Grandpa had brought. After Jessie and Mark had to leave, we did a “piñata”: a Frozen gift bag full of candy that broke after only a few hits from me. Gathering up the candy quickly devolved into a full-blown candy war with everyone flinging handfuls of the stuff all around the room! Luke used Maricella's desk chair as a sort of armored vehicle, Ali sheltered behind some yoga mats, Randy moved one of the couches to make a barrier to crouch behind, and Luke's poor dog hid in Maricella's room thinking all the humans had gone completely insane! The whole party was one of the most fun I've ever had, and spending time with such good friends really helped me feel less sad about Nannie and Grandpa leaving.

In my last three Spanish classes, we practiced more with the different past tenses, and also learned the conditional. I have been so lucky to have such a perfect Spanish class available, and I was quite sad to be done after my last class yesterday. It was wonderful to be able to apply things I learned right away with Maricella and Maya, and it meant that I was able to get so much out of the class. In work I worked to organize all the data from Nueva School: 6-8 data sets for every tree spread out over six different computers and dozens of sheets!

On Friday, I returned all the books I'd borrowed from the library and various people, and finished both the data and blank sheets for Nueva School. I had a cup of tea and a chat with Fern, which was really nice. Maricella, Maya, and I also went to CASEM, the Monteverde women's cooperative, for lunch, and met Luis there. In the evening, I went out to a lovely restaurant with Luis and Ali, as a farewell, and then we watched a documentary at Luis's house and Ali slept over at mine.

Of course I've known almost since I arrived that I would miss Maricella and Maya so much when I left, but in the last week it really came home to me. Maya was being a bit more naughty than usual, but at the same time more loving; I think both were because she was also sad about me leaving. One evening as I worked on my blog she lay next to me with her head on my lap, and Thursday night she called out for me in her sleep. So sweet!

Saturday Luke made a last-minute plan again to go to some waterfalls, and so he, Maricella, Maya, Prem, Ali, and I went. These waterfalls were closer but just as beautiful, but unfortunately with a lot more bugs. We swam a little bit in the very cold water, and played coconut fetch with Prem, and relaxed on a picnic blanket. When Ali and I tried to clamber on the rocks behind the waterfall, a small sand-colored snake wrapped itself around my leg and almost gave me a heart attack, and I bashed my toe rather badly on a rock – all in all not a great adventure! On the way home we stopped for some sugarcane juice and got to work the crank ourselves, which was very interesting.

That evening I went to Ali's house and started an impossible puzzle with Mary: it's 500 pieces' worth of different chocolates, so most of the pieces are the same color! At 7 we went to square-dancing at the Monteverde Friends' School with a lot of Mary's friends, which was so much fun! I normally don't like dancing very much, but I loved this – the symmetry of it was fascinating, and I enjoyed how it took a lot of concentration but at the same time was easy to pick up. Afterwards I slept over at Ali's house.

On Sunday I spent almost the whole day working on the chocolate puzzle with Mary. By 6 we only had 77 pieces left, but they had to leave to go to dinner at the Guindons' (another of the Quaker families), and I went along to meet them. Dinner back at home was homemade lasagna, and then we did a video call with my parents and Lucas, and they got to talk to Maricella and Maya with me translating. Poor Lucas was exhausted from the SAT the day before but I think it was nice for them to get to “meet” Maricella.

On my last day at work, all the employees threw me a party! Lilliam and Deb both thanked me for all my work (and complimented me on my Spanish!), and everyone gave me a beautiful journal from CASEM. I tried to thank them for everything they did for me but it was hard to find the words. The Institute certainly has been a wonderful place to work, and I will always remember how welcoming and willing to help everyone was. That evening Maricella, Maya, and I went to a lovely restaurant for dinner: Morpho's, which is famous for its desserts (we shared a frozen lemon bar!). Back at home I packed all my things and got ready for tomorrow, and sadly gave Maricella back the housekey. :(

Today I woke up at 4:30 and had breakfast at 5 (much to Maya's confusion when she sleepily came into the kitchen!). Just before leaving, I gave Maya the teddy bear that Mom and Dad had picked out from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company and Nannie and Grandpa had brought – it has a pink sparkly tutu that matches a dress Maya has and I think it was a hit. :) Ali came over to see me off (at 5:30 in the morning!), and then finally, horribly, the moment had come to say goodbye to Maricella and Maya. We all love each other so much, and I am so lucky to have truly found a family here even though it means I will miss them like crazy.

After a full day of traveling by taxi and bus, I have made it to Granada, Nicaragua and met up with my friends Kelly and Eliza! We're now going to be spending around five weeks traveling in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, which will be the last leg of my gap year. Right now I'm mostly sad to be ending what was one of the best parts of my traveling, but it's definitely exciting to be starting a new adventure!

WORD OF THE BLOG POST: pura vida (exp.): pure life

It seems appropriate to end my time here with this uniquely Costa Rican expression. As anyone who has been to Costa Rica will know, it's ubiquitous and can be used so many different ways, from a response to “how are you?” to an explanation of Tico culture. It describes the laid-back attitude and general appreciation for life that many Ticos share, and that often makes such a strong impression on visitors. I am so honored to have learned all that I did about Costa Rica in the time that I was there, and I am amazed that I had the opportunity to live in such a wonderful place.


At the House with Maya
Monopoly with Maya
Birthday Cake
Birthday Party


March 9, 2016
What an amazing adventure this turned out to be!! Thank you for sharing it with us. Beautiful pictures to remember everyone by... you made some great friends here. :)
Jeanne Finan:
March 9, 2016
Have loved reading your blog! I have some very good friends in Panama--the Rev. Glenda McQueen is a dear friend from seminary. Bushop Julio Mureay is awesome. They are both in Panama City. Not sure where your travels will take you but would love to connect you with them if you have time.
March 9, 2016
An unknown jungle snake wrapped around your ankle at the waterfall? I would have died right there!!!!
April 13, 2016
Whew! I just got caught up on the Costa Rica posts, and I'm exhausted - and sad to be leaving your family -just reading. Thank you so much for keeping up this blog. It's so nice to know what you're up to and how you're doing.

I wonder, if you wrote down everything you had learned from your friends and family in Monteverde - how long of a Spanglish ramble would that be?
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