Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Home, again

I've been meaning to write this update for a while (I think every one I've written starts like that), but I've been in and out of a sunshine and percocet haze (more on that later).  I am, however, home, again.  It's been over a month now and I'm finally starting to get used to it.  Big NYC crowds are still a bit hard for me and I tend to shout at pedestrians and drivers in my way (whether I'm walking or driving), but that's normal...right?

In continuation of my last post, here are some highlights from the second part of my trip:

1. Nicaragua's Solentiname islands - a beautiful refuge in the south of Lake Nicaragua filled with interesting homegrown artists
2. Spending some time with Anais in San Jose :)
3. Dancing, meditating, yoga-ing, and beaching at the fantastic Envision music festival in Uvita.  I now want to go to so many festivals this summer!
4. The Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.  I cannot even begin to explain how much I loved it, especially having been sent there by Julia!  That whole region was gorgeous; also fantastic was spending the night in a treehouse in nearby Pueblo Nuevo.
5. Chilling with sloths (GAHH SLOTHS!!) and other fun animals at the jaguar rescue center in Puerto Viejo
6. Fearing for my life while going over a decrepit bridge at Costa Rica and Panama's sketchy Caribbean border crossing.  Arriving at Bocas del Toro was a treat.
7. St. Patrick's Day and the other days I found myself unable to leave the Lost and Found eco hostel
8. Snorkeling off of Isla Boca Brava in Chiriqui's national marine park
9. Unsuccessfully searching for quetzales on the Sendero Los Quetzales (at least it was a gorgeous hike)
10. Beaching it again in Santa Catalina and snorkeling again off of Isla Coiba - I have to go back and spend a few days on the island!
11. Exploring Panama City's colonial Casco Viejo (I was a bit obsessed) and seeing the Miraflores canal locks
12. Enjoying a few more days of beach time on a tiny sand island in the indigenous San Blas archipelago
13. Meeting some fun PCVs during my final stay in Panama City

So as you can tell, it was amazing and I didn't exactly want to come home.  However, with only $80 left to my name, it was time.  This last month home has been great - seeing lots of friends and family, going to shows, having my Guatemala copy of Eva Luna signed by Isabel Allende :)  I've been working part-time (and just got hired for the summer at a day camp!) and had a cyst removed (hence the percocet...I was relieved to have the cyst gone, but sad to part ways with one of my bodily souvenirs from Guatemala).  I've even lost some weight, which is nice - adios, tortilla tummy!

The most exciting thing actually happened within two days of arriving stateside: I accepted my offer of admission to The New School.  I'll be starting my MA in Economics (with a focus on development) at the end of August.  A swanky admitted students reception, the convenience of a nearby octogenarian's bachelor pad, and a merit scholarship swayed my decision and I could not be more happy about it!

I met some of the other admitted grad students, but I hope that the campus is filled with friendly people.  Because that's one thing that has been terrible about coming back - New Yorkers (and most are not even native!) are such assholes!  If it wasn't hard enough returning home from my Peace Corps service and restraining myself from shouting "Buenas tardes" at everyone I passed, now I have to remember that smiling at strangers will not in any way be well-received.  I loved the total openness of all the backpackers I met; even though I was traveling alone for 2.5 months, I could count on one hand the number of times I felt lonely.  This trip definitely made me become more in tune to others and definitely to myself.  I can't wait for the next one - when will I have at least 4 months with nothing to do and money to burn??

Here are some photos from Central America:

my Rasta guide in San Ignacio, Belize
getting ready to board down Volcano Cerro Negro outside of Leon, Nicaragua
fun times at the Envision festival
as close as I could get to a SLOTH (!) in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
the view upon arriving at the Lost and Found
a little taste of my obsession with Casco Viejo, Panama City :)
And here are the rest:

This might be the last post, so thanks for reading!