Drinking more Caribbean rum than Captain Jack Sparrow and other birthday happenings

The most tragic thing that could have happened, happened. I had a beautiful, 1200 word blog post written and ready to publish yesterday, and then the jungle WiFi decided to die and I lost it all. And the bad luck didn’t stop there, but I’ll start with the good part of the story first. I’ll try to repeat the original post, but as we all know, nothing compares to a first draft.

So, I celebrated my 24th birthday at the center of course, and it was quite a magical day. I woke up well rested, ate a delicious breakfast, and spent the morning smiling and waving more than Julie Andrews in Princess Diaries, as volunteers wished me happy birthday. God must have been on my side that morning, because everything fell into place perfectly. I found out my morning task was to care for the sloth garden; yes, an actual garden of adorable sloths. I lost my mind of course, cried a bit, and now the volunteers probably think I need a great deal of professional help. Which is a fair assessment. Most of the time, the sloths chill high in the trees until nightfall when they start to come alive, due to their nocturnal nature. But that day, Stevie Wonder was hanging out about 2 feet from me on the sloth jungle gym, licking the air and doing other sloth things. More crying, of course; I mean how lucky am I?! In the hour that I was supposed to be cleaning, feeding and watering the sloths, I spent about 3 minutes raking, and the rest of the time with the live of my life, Stevie. We even shared our very first kiss, which was the wettest kiss I’ve experienced. Stevie must not have been impressed though, because he crawled away quickly afterward. I’ll spare you the extremely detailed description of all my feelings after that whole experience, and just say that it was the best day of my life.

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The rest of the day flew by, until dinnertime when myself and a few friends I’ve made here decided to order from the local pizza joint. BEST DECISION EVER. We ended up with $31 of delicious, cheeeeeesy, crispy pizza that was worth every penny. I also ordered fries and a piece of cheesecake because it was my birthday and I figured that testing my lactose intolerance would be an awesome gift to myself. After dinner, a larger group of volunteers got together to make their way to the local village bar nicknamed, ‘shit bar’. Lovely. Of course, my FOMO kicked in, and I went as well. (Mom, FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out). We all walked there, which is about a 20 minute uphill trek, but got a decent tour of the residential parts of Alajuela along the way. A lot of quaint homes with lovely, tall gates and flower gardens, and a lot of traphouse-esque sheds with barbed wire around the perimeters and 17 dogs outside killing each other; there’s no in-between. The bar itself wasn’t horrible; it resembled your basic dive bar, minus the pool tables and juke box. I got a free tequila shot and a few birthday ‘kiss me please’ requests from the patrons, and then settled down with a Smirnoff Ice to sip on. It then hit me that I’m in frickin Costa Rica and should probably get a real drink! I asked the bartender for a yummy, local liquor and what I got was essentially liquid gold sold as a $5 shot. I forget what it’s called, but it was extremely strong. In fact, after 2 drinks I resembled Jack Sparrow meandering around talking to myself in an English accent, and decided it was time to head to bed. Overall, it was the best birthday I’ve ever had, and I wasn’t even wearing a bra for it. (The significance of the last sentence will only make sense if you know me personally.)

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IMG_0936Now to the explanation of my hellish Tuesday. I was on compost duty, and suffered tragedy when the wheelbarrow of fermented fruits and various samples of animal poop exploded all over me as I tried to deliver it to the compost trench; in my mouth, socks, hair. I experienced a moment of shock, followed by a fit of blind rage, followed by nausea. That’s not all though. After I regained composure and washed off the majority of smeared poop from my body, I returned to the post to finish the task and actually managed to trip over a rock in the process. I’m now sporting a pretty decent sized bruise on my thigh, and a newfound hatred for compost duty. However, the afternoon helped put me in a better mood, as I spent it with my two favorite ladies at the Center; Rosie and Culeta. I hung out with them for the majority of the day, chatting about life and brushing their hair. I will never again eat ham or beef, ever.

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So that brings me to today’s activities. Earlier this week, myself and a group of 5 others planned an excursion to Jaco Beach, a small coastal town in southern Costa Rica. We left right after breakfast, shuttling with one of the very kind and fair-priced cabs that hang around the center. It was close to a 2 hour drive, after we stopped for a bit to see Crocodile River, which had a bagillion crocs hanging out, looking mean and hungry. The town of Jaco is a decent size, and had plenty of shops and restaurants to choose from. I was freaking out, of course, because I’ve never swam in the Pacific, let alone on a beach that looks like a postcard. Jaco Beach has made my list of top 3 most beautiful places, only behind El Catedral in Sevilla, Spain and the port of Victoria, British Columbia. The combination of palm trees lining the coast with mountains in the distance and white sand made it look like a backdrop of a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot. And that’s exactly what we did; super model hour with all the girls. After, we headed to the water where the current and waves were INSANE. I’ve never seen waves so ominous, and to be honest, I think I still have salt water floating around in my brain. Everytime a wave came, I’d try to dive under, and just failed miserably. For lunch we found this place called The Green Room, which offered 27 local craft beers and tons of vegetarian/vegan options. I got a mojito, because I’m basic and proud, and it was refreshing and delicious. A few of us shared a guacamole appetizer, and then I ordered a plate of crab benedict, which tasted as though the fisherman had literally just caught the crab this morning; so damn good. After lunch we wandered around the various shops, and I bought some very necessary things, including a stuffed sloth which I’ve christened Vida. It was about 100 degrees today, and I was so unprepared for the wall of exhaustion that would hit me after being pummeled by waves, doused in sweat and eating a full meal. We wandered back to the sea, where everyone dispersed and had some alone time as we wrapped up the adventure. I collected some shells, which were actually really difficult to find, and admired the magnificent sunburn that was forming on my chest. (Update: my chest and arms are slightly burned, but my face is a leathery tomato.) I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open to finish this post. More later!

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