Rainy Dreams

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For the first time in a while, I was woken by the sound of heavy rain falling outside.

As I blinked-hard and squinted, I almost thought I was back in Central America. Not to say that I was really ever mistaken, but probably more hopeful. This rain still cannot rival that of Costa Rica, where I was sure that was the closest to some sort of natural flooding disaster I will ever be.  And in El Salvador when I always hoped class would be cancelled so I wasn’t forced to walk a mile down hill in the rain (and then back up it past the best smelling panaderia in the neighborhood).

The nostalgia inspired me. And for the first time in a while I picked up my journal and pen and wrote. And for the first time in a while I remembered my dream. It wasn’t as pleasant as waking up to rainfall was.

In short, it went something like this:

I was sick of my life in the US and decided to take all my money (not a lot) and get on a plane to China. I told my mother this and oddly enough, she agreed. I packed up and we hopped in the car for the airport. I check bags, make sure I have everything, start getting nervous, questioning my motives, etc. The airport is wildly confusing in a Harry Potter switching staircases way (note: I’m pretty sure this airport is a recurring dream location). But I find the gate, step in the moving hallway that takes you from the terminal to the plane (I forget what this thing is called), and then all the panic hits. I change my mind, look back, look sideways, look anywhere but forward because that is no longer the direction I want to move. I call my mom.

“Mom, I don’t want to go to China.”

“I know.”

Peace for a second. I tell the Flight Attendant I have changed my mind.

“Um, ok.”

That was a dramatic move, Rebecca. Now I can stay here and run my marathon on Sunday (actually happening). Phew.

Wait. Wait. Why is this hallway moving forward? How did I get ON the plane? I just told you I’m not going.

Panic for a few more seconds. Then, out of nowhere I am off the plane, on the runway. Being picked up by some firefighters in a very rickety looking truck with extra “lookout features” piled on top like some sort of whimsically gravity defying Dr. Seuss building.

And then I go on to fight zombies with them/help them ID who has been infected with the zombie virus. No, I’m not kidding. No I don’t play zombie games. No I didn’t fall asleep watching I Am Legend/Invasion/Warm Bodies/Walking Dead/Insert Name of Zombie movie or show here.

Mid-zombie fighting, I am woken by the rain.

 

Dreams can go anywhere.

City Lesson #1: The Ways of Parking/I Wish I had a SmartCar

Because I am only human, I occasionally get parking tickets. When moments are spastic and my brain cannot focus I forget to move the car from one side of the street to the other, wipe of any evidence left by Parking Police that my car has, in fact, been there past the posted time limit.

There were few times when this happened during school, living off campus in a house with just one long driveway and 6 or 7 of us with cars required a lot of problem solving skills as well as general laziness when I was able to get a spot on the street instead of being blocked in the driveway.

Yes, you are wondering where this is going…

“Get on with it already, I’m bored and none of this is new to me.”

Ok, well if you can just focus your attention on one task (something that can be seen as an accomplishment in these 21st century times) then I will get to the point.

You will NEVER escape a parking ticket in the city.

Never ever ever ever ever ever X infinity + 1 (for good measure)

Parking tickets must be the way SF makes money because for starters, there’s barely any parking in the first place. Making finding a spot a nearly impossible quest inducing violence, hatred, anger, and maybe even a little bloodshed (you really never know). There are all these weird tiny spots in between garages and driveways that won’t accommodate any normal size vehicle hence the wishes for a SmartCar. But you will try, oh my how you will try to move your car just 4 inches forward, no wait 2 inches back, wait maybe just a few more inches back and hope no one calls in a complaint that you are blocking their driveway that is definitely big enough to get a car out of and maybe they should just stop complaining already.

No, I’m not bitter.

The $100 ticket doesn’t perturb me at all.

I’m happy as those weird clams that can feel happiness.

And then there is street cleaning every week. Different days. Sometimes only 2 weeks of the month. Always at different times. And so on and so forth as you can imagine. After finally getting a residential parking permit (my excitement was unbearable) I parked on the street and left it there.

For over 2 hours.

The peace of mind was bliss.

I go outside the next morning. Acknowledge my car and the awesome parking spot.

Wait. NO. (Cue classic Shia LeBeuof stream of nononononononono!). What have I done do disobey them now?

Street cleaning was that morning from 8-10am.

I will never win.

The moral of this story? Just go and get a SmartCar. Seriously.

I Always Dreamed of Living in the Most Expensive City

That doesn’t sound too nice now, does it?

Now take out “most expensive city,” insert “San Francisco,” and you have a much more believable statement.

Yes my beloved reader(s), it is true. I have finally made the great migration up north to this wondrous city named after a Saint of something I don’t know (but let’s be real it’s probably hipsters). And I am living the dream of sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with 3 other people and paying a ridiculous amount of money for groceries. But you know what? It is one hundred percent absolutely positively worth it. After all, we work to make money and if high school economics taught me anything it is that nothing is free and something about MC=MR.

It is true that free events in San Francisco exist. But as soon as I step out of the apartment there’s bound to be some sort of food that I must try, or coffee that I must drink, or happy hour specials at my favorite bar for $3 (I mean really, you just can’t say no to that).

Budgeting has become my new hobby, and I must say I’m getting pretty darn good at it. It makes me very keen on what events I can go to for as little as possible. And to be honest those are probably the coolest events anyways.

Guess what I’ll be doing Thursday night?

Attending Erotic Fan Fiction of Pride and Prejudice at Booksmith.

$10 drinks included. Now that’s what I call thrifty.

Since fully describing life here would leave you in a bored stupor, here are just a few interesting things I have done/seen since being here:

– I saw a toddler dressed in tiny Jordans, a polo, and a sweater pullover. Both collars were popped.

-Every time I walk down Haight Street I see at least 2 bums with a striking resemblance to Jack Sparrow.

– Lots of Gypsies.

– We have a view of the very tip top of Golden Gate Bridge. I point it out to everyone there first time visiting.

-There are roller skating dance parties in Golden Gate Park every weekend where the average age is probably around 50.

– Every Thursday food trucks from Off the Grid come the park. This means that every Thursday I am faced with a very hard decision on what to eat for dinner.

– I ate a vegan donut. And liked it.

I’m the Only One With Sweat Glands

You can say I’m into yoga. I practiced independently for the 4 months I was in El Salvador, the 2 months I was in Costa Rica, and at went to classes when I was in the states. Now that I have somewhat more free time on my hands I have begun taking more classes at studios in the area. This led me to my first heated class.
It was low heat though, the class was actually titled “Warm Vinyasa.” So I’m thinking, ok, I can handle this, piece of cake. I make sure to bring my yoga towel ad I head out.
The studio is heated to around 85 degrees which is a temperature I enjoy running in and the heat is supposed to really open up the muscles and increase flexibility, meaning you can get deeper into poses which really comes in handy for all those hip openers.

1 min in: Ok, I see you heat. I will definitely be fairly sweaty by the end of this.
4 min in: Forehead and armpit sweating starts.
10 min in: Sweat beads from on arms and legs. This is getting real. How long is this class? 90 min? I am in trouble.
15 min in: Sweat drips onto mat.
30 min in: Towel starts to get saturated with sweat. I hope this does not affect my grippage latter on.
40 min in: Grippage affected by sweat-saturated towel.
42 min in: Instructor- “Ok everyone be sure to get some water.” I take sip of water. Sip turns into 5 aggressive gulps before remembering I need to save this precious liquid.
50 min in: Look around. Nobody else is dripping. I have been dripping for 35 minutes now. I question all principles of basic human biology.
65 min in: All muscles shake from loss of so much fluid via sweat. One other person has some sweat stains on their shirt. Still no signs from others. Convinced they had their sweat glands removed.
80 min in: Oh thank god we are finally doing floor stretches. Make way down to mat and notice I have completely saturated the towel along with some rogue sweat puddles around the mat. I lay down to a warmed sweat-soaked towel not completely unlike a towel that may or may not be soaked with urine. Yes it crossed my mind for a second. No I’m not ashamed by that.
88 min in: Savasana…more like sava-sauna. (I totally just thought of this as I was writing. I pat myself on the back).

My muscles were definitely opened. But more noticeable was the fact that I think I had lost all the liquids in my body.
Water has rarely tasted that good.

Do you have experience as a waitress?

No, but I have been to a restaurant or two.

This was my first interview. And I got the job. You know that thing they say about honesty being the best policy? That’s pretty good advice.

And you know that other thing about it’s not what you know but who you know? That’s also pretty true…

The two jobs I have now as an assistant cross country coach and now server/waitress (I still don’t really know which is the correct/best term) were both acquired through friends. After multiple weeks of applying and searching and applying and searching and hearing NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING, back form a majority of places and rejections from the rest. As I had anticipated, the real world is rough.

But you know what? No homework.

And happy hour is pretty awesome. Not like I couldn’t do happy hour before… but for some reason happy hour seems like such a new and exciting thing. And I love it.

So back to my first interview and acceptance into a “real job.” I really couldn’t have happened upon a better job. I am now a server at Caffe Union in the city.

There was supposed to be some training involved as is usual when you are starting  a new job. I walk into the caffe for the first time, it’s a comfortably close-quartered place with walls painted in muted tones with some coffee shop style paintings on the wall. The menu looks delicious. And all the staff I meet are great. So I’m shadowing one server, having things pointed out to me, your usual training stuff.

And then…

One server has to leave. And it’s getting busier.  To emphasize this I just want to add that it was Sunday and this is basically a brunch place. They call it Sunday brunch for a reason….BECAUSE IT HAPPENS ON SUNDAY. It’s not Friday brunch, and Monday brunch would be just weird. So this place was full, with people waiting, asking me questions whose answers I did not know. and next thing you know, I’m taking orders.

And that’s when my training stopped and my first day began. Yay?
And you know what? I killed it.

I took orders, made espresso beverages, wrote legibly enough for orders to be easily read by the chef (this is perhaps the most exciting thing), made drinks, figured out how to carry multiple plates out, and so much more.
It was so fast paced and thrilling. The tips helped too.

Turns out waitressing may become my new thing.
And by may become my new thing I mean has become my new thing because I started writing this post ages ago and am still waitressing and making that money now.

I’m a Cliché

Leave it to a small local coffee shop to get my inspiration flowing again.  The “broke writer” sits defeated sipping a coffee and is all of the sudden hit with a second wave of gusto and spirit.

But seriously, I was sitting in a small coffee shop thinking “this is great, I should come here more, and I should blog more, and I should be happier with life, and I should get out more in general, and I should maybe not order lattes a few short hours after drinking 2 cups of coffee with breakfast.” It’s ok, I survived. That was also a few weeks ago so you can see how well that advice to myself stuck.

On to more post grad life struggles/successes. I would try to make this a general “this is what will definitely happen when you graduate and am therefore doing you a great service by writing out tips for how to deal with it.” But that’s no fun. You know what is fun? Telling stories. It’s also a great way to make friends. It will also help you out when you are interviewing at places like Lululemon.

So here’s to a new chapter of stories, usually falling into but not necessarily restricted to the following categories:

1. Running and General Beast-Mode Antics

2. Cooking, Eating, and All Things Related to the Consumption/Creation of Food and Drink

3. Yoga-ing and Spiritual Enlightenment for Real World Problems/How Karma Works in My Life

4. Jobs, Interviews, and Rejections

5. Room-hunting: How craigslist is the new people watching

6. Social Interactions: How to talk to real people

7. Random Rants, Raves and Ideas Worth Looking Into

Every time I say I’m going to do something on this blog I usually don’t end up actually doing it….but ideally I would like to have more pictures on this. They will probably first be attached to food posts because I am a shameless food photographer/instagrammer. This also means that most if not all pictures will be via iPhone. Picture quality: questionable. Picture content: awesome.

 

The time did that thing again…

You know, that thing when it seems like you have so much of it and then POOF next thing you know you have less than 2 weeks left and you are craving greek yogurt like none other.

Ok the greek yogurt thing is more personal but Central America is not up on their grecian dairy yet which always saddens me.

So recently I’ve been doing oodles and oodles of data collection in the form of observations and interviews which really just entails me going to town and talking to people. It’s a pretty sweet deal but I always feel like I don’t have enough and continue to go out and get more which will be useful in the end…and also lead to many hours of analysis. But since this blog is not really about the research aspect of things (because talking in research language is no fun) all that is important to know is that I have enough data to start some analysis and I am very excited to churn this baby out. I feel like I technically never graduated college which kind of excites me, especially because writing essays was my favorite  one of my favorite parts!

Don’t worry I own the nerdy vibes. I am currently wearing chacos, leggings, and a bright-ass blue tie-dyed shirt with turtles swimming on the front. I am so cool.

So I went to Guapiles last Saturday where there are about 10 types of stores repeated in almost the same pattern up and down the streets and I really don’t understand how any of them stay in business. It was a Saturday so there were some cool little things going on but most importantly a FARMERS MARKET which made me so excited because during school I went to the farmers market every Saturday and have been going through withdrawals since then that a coffee addiction really can’t cure. It was a beautiful sunny day and I tried some new fruits like a columbian zapote that tasted like a pumpkin and a pejivalle which is like a sort of palm fruit. Both bright orange and tasty. Then I bought some pork tamales and took them to the big central park filled with benches to enjoy along with a coconut cookie and some fresh squeezed oj…

another exciting thing: salt in oj is totally a thing, and it totally blew my taste buds away because it makes the sweetness come out.

(It would also taste good with a little tequila if you ask me)

And I listened to a group playing some traditional windpipe music which was just delightful. And then I met three women who brought some little crafts and jewelry to sell and the gift buying voice in my head went off so be ready loved ones you are getting some of this stuff. All in all a great day and I still got back to the station in time to do an evening run in the sun.

A couple days later I went to Cariari with the class and Michelle to do some shopping, get some lunch, and figure out a phone card situation.  This turned into a huge ordeal…basically the place where I had bought phone cards just 3 days before was now denying that they sold them.

Then they told me they sold them next door…

And then the place next door told me they sold them next door…

And then one of the students bought something and was charged 3 times instead of one so I dealt with that whole situation…

And then everybody hated the gringos for ruining the flow at the checkout which is just bound to happen at some point.

Next thing you know I realized that all of that took an hour and it was time to get lunch with Michelle and La Marisqueria which is just Spanish for “We sell good seafood here.” The grilled tilapia and ceviche were great reinforcers to the good seafood reputation and the rum mixed with club soda and lime were great reinforcers to the rum reputation of Central America (Flor de Caña and Centenario are the big ones here). We talked and I met one of her friends that lives in Cariari who knows everyone and can help me get some info for my study. The rest of the trip was just picking up fruits and snacks from the store since Cariari is an “errand town.”

Other than that the station has been it’s usual, awesome self. Michelle’s class is bringing a lot of great attitudes and fun times in the forest as proven by a crazy scavenger hunt mapping activity and the spontaneous singing and dancing that has popped up while they are doing work. We have even gotten treats from the US brought by Michelle like cheese and magic anti-itch cream that we enjoy on the little veranda at the faculty house while watching the sunset and looking for giant potoos (you have to see this) by making wookie-esque noises.

It’s the little things sometimes. But mostly it’s the making giant potoo noises.

Reasons Why I’m Ashamed I Owned Rain Boots in the States

  1. There are streets and sidewalks there. Not half cleared trails that are semi overgrown with ferns and plants that people have named the “hurty” plant and the “itchy” plant and “malamujere.”
  2. My ankles are typically not in danger of being a snake snack. Even though I haven’t seen them doesn’t mean they aren’t there….
  3. Puddles are usually only a couple inches deep.  Not sucking mud that seems like it wants to eat you whole.
  4. Better drainage systems. As in slipping down a hill covered in slick mud into a very dirty-looking swamp river is not an issue. Good news though, I have mastered the art of mud surfing…almost.
  5. I want to jump in puddle and feel the rain soak into my shoes. Instead I almost fall out of sheer clutziness due to lack of ankle mobility.
  6. They look way better when worn with trail pants that go up to your belly button, a long sleeved shirt tucked in, a rain jacket worn only over your head with the rest tucked between your back and you backpack (to keep the mosquitoes away from my neck), and my glasses attached to some croakies. I make a pretty sexy adventure librarian. Unfortunately there was no camera around to capture this.

 

While I know there are locations in the US where all of these things probably happen, those are places I don’t visit frequently. At this point I completely accept that rainboots should only be used in the most functional sense. Thinking about how rain boots are a fashion statement rather than a functional wardrobe item had me wondering why I ever bought them in the first place. Moving from SoCal to NorCal isn’t exactly a HUGE difference, even though it seemed so when I had just graduated from high school (welp, that just made me feel old).

 

Now that I have gotten the shame out of the way, the last couple days have been quite awesome. I have gotten a tour of the small town a Primavera where I am staying, and rode on the bus to the slightly larger town of Cariari (yeah, I’ve been spelling it wrong…woops), where there are larger grocery stores for people to do their weekly shopping. It’s a small, slightly claustrophobic town with bakeries on and sodas (small Costa Rican restaurants) everywhere, the line between the sidewalks and the streets is barely visible because they have been deteriorating for quite some time.  It was a nice outing, we got some lunch, did some snack shopping, got some ice cream, and 2 and a half hours later got back on the bus.

So that was supposed to be it, but now that I have walked the half a mile to the Internet shack, a small room with an Ethernet cable, it has started raining like a monsoon.  So I am semi-stranded because I forgot my raincoat and am pretty sure that getting my computer wet is not in my best interests…

In other news, a group of capuchin monkeys moved through the trees in front of the house I’m staying at. I could see them from the sitting-room window. Once again I feel like someone needs to pinch me because I was almost unbelievably excited and sprinting around to get my camera and then once I got my camera the battery was dead so I had to go get the second batter and hope the capuchins weren’t in any hurry so I could capture them on film, and by film I mean memory card. I finally get the camera and do my tourist thing and am standing outside taking pictures when I feel about 4 more mosquitoes land on and bite me. I would definitely say it was worth it. And now I understand why the dining and sitting rooms of the house have screen windows on all sides. No like I hadn’t noticed the mosquitoes before, but they are very sneaky.

The site is in the small town of Primavera, it’s fairly rural and is bordered by banana and pineapple plantations.  Bordered is kind of a lose term though because there are places where it seems like the town got in the way of the plantation and not the other way around.  These plantations also seem to dominate a lot of the life here, with a majority of the men working long days in the fields, being exposed to pesticides that then leak into the rivers going through the station, apparently people have seen frogs with an extra leg. The conditions are not ideal but there are rarely any other places to work in such a small town and Cariari is an hour away which is a 2 hour round trip commute that could be spent working.

Also, apparently sloths are everywhere in the forest around here but no one ever sees them because they basically never move, one girl saw one come down a tree to poop once and that was it.

Therefore, my free time will now be known as Sloth Watch 2013.

I’m Bringing Blogging Back (yup!)

So what you’re saying is…she’s back?
Well, kind of…kind of now.

Yes, it is indeed true that I have decided to return to the blogging world. I have been driven, inspired if you will by life and the wonder of all things possible. Never fear though, nearly nothing new has happened in my life since I last blogged (which I guess was November) except:
1. I returned form El Salvador and went through a mild form of withdrawal/reverse culture shock.
2. I completed the full Big Sur marathon with a Boston Qualifying time (no small feat…though I do have small feet) (I’m sorry I can’t resist making puns…and for all of the inward thoughts contained in these parentheses)
3. I was offered the opportunity to conduct research in Costa Rica this summer, which will be discussed in future blogs.
4. I graduated college.
5. I turned 22, this is probably the least significant of the list, but completing one more yer of living is still a great achievement if you ask me.
As you can see, nothing big has been happening. And while going through some sort of “Oh my gosh i just graduated college” quarter-life crisis or going along with feelings of adventure and exploration, I booked some plane tickets to meander around and see some sights in America before heading back to the great Central America.
So far I have visited Santa Cruz and my hometown of Orange County. Currently, I am sitting in the Seattle Public Library waiting to meet up with the first of my hosts. After some time in Seattle, I’ll be flying over to Montana for some much needed big sky gazing and nature immersion. And then Costa Rica!
Yes, I have quite the agenda ahead of me.
But being a college graduate hasn’t quite hit me yet, and therefore I am still in a mind frame where doing a lot of things all at once (ok, not really all at once) is still appealing. So I guess you can count this blog as my own personally assigned homework?
Well that’s kind of a buzzkill when I put it that way.
Anywho, since I’m already going on about nothing, I’m just going to lay out what I’m hoping to do with the blog this time around. And list number two begins…
1. Use it as a way to keep experimenting with writing….because I kind of like doing that as a creative outlet sometimes.
2. Update family, friends, acquaintances, maybe some strangers, maybe someone who somehow clicks through so many links after spending countless hours on the Internet in a sleep deprived, caffeine induced haze that they end up here. I’ll take what I can get.
3. Write about things I am/become passionate about, this will probably include a lot of posts about food and running….stop reading if that’s not your thing. But other things are sure to come up!
4. I will probably be doing some design changes, only because it made no sense to me to start up a whole new site, and I would rather just keep all my posts in one blog even though I could probably have 10 different blogs about very particular things…we’re still going with simplicity here.
5. The first design change is…categories! I filtered my posts so that they are now separated into “el Salvador” and “Post Graduate Studies in Life Living.”

I think that’s it?
Yeah, let’s go with that and call this an overview post rather than a telling stories post.
Check back for quirky stories and awkward tourist photos.

Paz.