Saturday, April 23, 2011

home sweet home

we made it! my camera dock didn't! which means no photos until the youth group arrives tonight. i will send out a notice to let you know when i've posted the photos.

it was a different mission than usual. we had no idea that a big group of youth from nebraska would be there, and honestly we were a little ruffled at first. after the first day of watching them race around and
play in the dirt playground under the blazing heat, we were thankful for the nebraska kids. our seniors team could not have managed that for long:) towards the end of our time there over half of their people got sick, and they turned to us for help with a little translation. it allowed us to bond with them. now we look forward to seeing them next year.

terri and i stayed over at the women's shelter most of the day. our goal was to get to know the 4 women. i did about 10-15 haircuts, a manicure, and a pedicure on the ladies, their kids,
and the 15 orphans that took their afternoon meal and nap at the women's shelter.
terri did too many manicures and pedicures to count. by the last day it was like a big slumber party . . . all of us giggling and pampering each other. the final afternoon they made terri and i sit still, and painted our toenails with little daisies. unforgettable experience to have had the tables turned so neatly like that. i hope my daisies stay on for a long time to remind me of those women.

one lady took my heart. vanessa wouldn't speak or meet my eyes at first, but she warmed up after i cut her hair in long layers. she looked like a movie star. then i did her daughter's in the same style. she mentioned that her hair was dry from using bar soap on it. that night we made a walmart stop and bought two giant bottles of shampoo and conditioner. she screamed with delight and clapped her hands when she saw the conditioner. when i left behind my own orange nail polish they hugged me. i guess women are still women, even during tough times.

i fell in love with one boy who'd been abandoned by his mom, 14 years old, named leonzio. he showed such an interest in my cutting hair that i gave him the scissors and walked him through cutting terri's hair (not an easy hair cut). he did a good job! i figured i'd have to repair it later, but it was fine. the oldest boy in the house was ramon. ramon had a mohawk. when i left on wednesday 4 other boys also had mohawks:)

the women to pray for are lupita #1, lupita #2, vanessa, and jaqualine. this is first time in jaqualine's life that she's been united with all four of her children at once. they'd been there a week or so. lupita #1's been there for 2 1/2 years . . . the house mom. the amount of food prepared and clothing washed reminded me of the old movie "yours, mine, and ours". it was all managed with military precision:)

Monday, April 18, 2011

show mercy, do justice, walk humbly


we arrived at the mexicali border at about 10 pm sat night. seven of us in two rental cars. before crossing over, dan (our fearless leader)
followed his instincts and double checked the paperwork to confirm that we had the mexico auto insurance, which is required. he'd asked for it in san diego, but further scrutiny revealed that we'd not gotten the insurance. dan called fox car rental and they said "you'll have to come back to san diego or go to phoenix". let me remind you how late it was on a saturday night. after 1 1/2 hours he finally got insurance online for less money and we crossed the border. we were exhausted.

next day we set off for our new mission site to go to church. went the long way and arrived a little late like half the congregation. it was a great service! afterwards we went outside and were surrounded by a swarm of children. about thirty . . . mostly boys. a youth group from nebraska was there for vbs (surprise!), so we toured the facility that houses the orphans, and got a glimpse of the women's shelter.

our base camp is pretty much the same as usual,
thanks to the efforts of the base camp team who had to clean up and repair everything because of the massive earthquake that hit last year right after we left. apparently the upper parking lot split open and sulphur water bubbled out for 3 days. the huge trailer that houses our freezers and refrigerators slid of it's foundation. when we arrived it looked normal :)

today was our first day at the women's shelter. i did 5 haircuts and terry did 3 manicures and received a manicure from one of the teenage boys. incredibly nice people. basically four little families living together at the shelter. our sports team went out into the pueblo and invited the local boys to come play ball with them. at first no one seemed interested, but after a couple of kids joined them it opened the floodgates. they had about 25 young men from the community come out and play soccer, basketball, baseball, and red-light-green-light. of course this meant several young girls showed up to watch the gringos run around. i started weaving glittery curling ribbon in their hair (thanks lori and lora for the idea). next thing you know terry and i had a line-up of girls wanting ribbons. it was awesome!

lot's of hugs and kisses, heidi and joe

Saturday, April 16, 2011

san diego

we are going through our usual culture shock, this time in san diego.

thursday night we stayed at double tree cariari in alejuala, costa rica. i highly recommend it. what a beautiful hotel. the bed was absolutely heavenly and the service was excellent.
they had a nice pool with immediate towel service and if you shaded your eyes the attendant would drag a huge umbrella over for you and set it to cover just your eyes. amazing! it seemed even more awesome following our little hotel. we had no windows, just screens to 'help' keep the bugs out. we didn't need our key because it was so easy to push open the screen and unlock the door. we had hot water one time and it was so hot we couldn't take a real shower. we stood to the side and splashed the water on ourselves. how odd that we should be so frustrated with the inconvenience of hot water! the water came out like a garden hose, but it would occasionally shoot out a jet of water. i swear there was a camera waiting for me to let my guard down! i had to ask for my sheets to be changed after a week because i could smell them =( definitely a different experience here at double tree!

now we are in san diego, california, at another hilton. certainly not the caliber of costa rica, but the bed was comfortable. the san diego marina is so pretty. they had a regatta while we were there and i thought the street mimes were excellent. joe and i felt like a couple of yokels because we sat and watched a cruise ship back away from the dock. it seemed so decadent.

yesterday when i was walking off the airplane i twisted my hip and now i hobble everywhere i go. i can't tell you how thankful i am that i didn't hurt myself in montezuma. it would have been disastrous . . . no exaggeration. fortunately i got a good night sleep. it didn't solve my hip pain, but sleep is always good for healing. last night we were starving and tired, so we went with the recommendation of the hotel and walked to this little drive-up mexican food place. oh man . . . it was the best mexican food i'd ever had. ever! or maybe i was tired and hungry :)

well now we head off for mexico . . . a bold and dashing adventure . . . right?


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

goodbye montezuma!

it´s our last day and i´m blogging because it is blazing hot outside and this is about the only place with air-conditioning in this town. it costs 1000 colones-about $1.50 for an hour. maybe i´ll pay for another hour and just lay on the tile floor.

we just came from the waterfalls by our hotel and stopped here on our way through town.
when we finish here we´ll head over to joe´s favorite beach for some wave action, then maybe we´ll go over to the other little red rock river. maybe we´ll find time to stop at ylang ylang for a glass of malbec. tonight looks like it will turn into a farewell party for us. trying to squeeze as much as possible into one day.

joe got stung by a jellyfish yesterday. we were pretty worried about it because it seemed severe, but it just faded away in about 3 hours. he´s lucky.

tomorrow we´ll head over to san jose and stay the night. friday morning we´ll catch a plane to san diego and stay another night (our 31st year anniversary for when we started dating). on saturday our church group will pick us up and cart us off to mexicali for our annual short-term mission trip. we´ll be there one week. the computers are sketchy at best, so we´ll see if i can write. our ¨plan¨ is to work at an orphanage that also has a women´s shelter. not far away is a men´s shelter also run by the same church family. it´s different than usual and we are very excited about the change.

for awhile i was distressed over the lack of any apparent people of faith here in montezuma. as i mentioned, the only church is closed except for funerals. i prayed a prayer of sorrow for this. the next day we went past the soccer field, and there was a church gathering on the field. the next morning the hotel housekeeper noticed joe's bible, and started a conversation about how she and her bible study group were studying revelations.
later we were sitting in town admiring a hand-painted sign and i noticed, next to the signature, was a fish and in cursive it said Jesus Christ lives. a huge map of the town has a little note in the bottom right hand corner ´God bless montezuma´. that afternoon as we walked down the beach we came across a man carving a massive totum pole with writings in six languages on it. he introduced himself to us as luis.
we asked if he was the same luis who painted the map and sign. he was. we exchanged blessings and smiled pretty big as we walked away. last night a tourist asked us to explain why god let bad things happen to good people . . . right in the middle of the street! i wish people would ask easier questions:) we said ¨shit happens¨ on earth, but heaven would be better. i told her that God understood her anger and would love to hear from her, and she started bawling. i think this town is ripe for a major revival.

like i said, don´t know if i´ll write again or not, but i probably will.

love ya´ll heidi and joe

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nearing departure from Montezuma

random things lingering in my mind . . .

we saw another clan of white faced monkeys at the beautiful ylang ylang resort. they were cavorting about on the sidewalk. i got some great photos of them.
a youngster was climbing the shade umbrella at a table (unoccupied) and running as fast as it could to make the umbrella spin, then it would leap off and grab a branch, jump to ground and start over. they drew a big crowd, but people here are very respectful of wild life. nobody tries to feed them cheetos like over on the mainland!

i have a favorite spot that reminds me of my childhood in trinidad (northern california). i sit for hours and sift through rocks looking for the elusive agate. the beach is called red rock beach. it is fed by a river with a series of boulder rapids. it's all shaded.
yesterday while we were there joe noticed a huge school of sardines in the surf. as we stood there and watched, the pelicans started coming in to feast and then the surface of the water looked like giant piranhas were eating the sardines from underneath. the school of sardines shrank before our eyes. this all attracted the next predator . . . the fisherman. it was literally the first time i'd seen fishermen.

when it rains here the crabs flood the streets, restaurants, and hotels . . . i'm glad we're on the 3rd floor:) the streets have so many crabs it is difficult to walk without stepping on one. they are brown with bright red legs. sometimes they get feisty and rear up on their hind legs. they're not any better at this than they are at crossing roads . . . they always fall over backwards.

i've mentioned the division of people here: rasta/dreadlocks/artists and working class/poker game/older guys. the other day we were walking by the soccer field and saw it was lit up, so of course we climbed up the rock hill to the main entry and watched the game. we couldn't figure out who the teams represented, but we noticed the red team was smaller, faster, and had dreadlocks. the blue team was heavier and older, but better. it was a very heated game with a crowd around the field (and a dog running around the field). later we found out that it was a spontaneous game between the "reggae guys" and the "seniors". score 6/4 . . . seniors won! apparently these games just randomly pop up when the mood strikes.

a mango fell in my lap at a restaurant the other day. we moved out from under the mango tree, and ate the mango a couple of days later. yummy. mangoes are everywhere.

everyday, everywhere we go is a workout! at night my legs literally quiver when we climb the stairs to our place.
i get calf cramps every night. after we played at the upper waterfalls with our zip-line tour, we had to go up stairs carved into the cliff wall. the 4 young men just took off up the hill. i was determined to keep up with them . . . i lasted about halfway up and i stopped and gasped for air with my quads trembling. they kept going. joe, wise man that he is, stayed back with me. i took off again and only stopped 4 more times to pant. you should have seen me going up the stairs to our room that night!

i realized that the howler monkeys that sound more like screaming humans are indeed the children of the family who runs the school. i feel like calling national geographic and sharing this phenomenon. sometimes my friend at work calls her children monkeys. i thought that was cute, but now i see that she may be telling the truth. these little guys can be quite intimidating as they corner joe and attack him with their dragons and dinosaurs.

i'll try to write again before i leave.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Screaming Good Time!

hi ya'll,

we went zip lining today. mom and mom, maybe you shouldn't read this next part . . . i'm just saying! anyway, most of you know what a zip-line tour is.
it's insanity. joe and i went with four other guys up to the very top of the cliffs of montezuma, had harnesses attached to us, and then they attached us to these cables that go from one platform to another through the jungle, spanning canyons. the only thing slowing you down is your gloved hand on the cable. the platforms are so far apart, that there are times when you can't see the next platform. when you get ready to go they attach your harness to the cable and let go and . . . ZIPPIDY-DO-DA, off you go flying a thousand feet above the rivers and waterfalls.
when you come careening towards the platform they reach out and grab you and release you for the next cable line. a couple of them where so fast that i screamed from the adrenaline rush while laughing. then we went to the waterfalls and jumped into the pools of water, shook off the water, and finished our 'canopy tour'. the last zip was crazy. i started rotating about half way through. it was a slow spin but i couldn't control it because it was a 'no brakes allowed' cable. unfortunately i stopped on my own before arriving at the platform, and a very very nice young tico rescued me:) the guys had to rescue themselves.

times out

Saturday, April 9, 2011


hola mis amigos y familia,

it´s only been 2 weeks? that seems impossible to me . . . i feel like we moved here. our spanish has improved so much that we move to level 4 monday. i still don´t feel like we actually speak spanish, but i guess we do. we ran into two friends who´d met each other at the waterfalls. neither spoke the other's language. how they have become bosom buddies is beyond me. the english speaking guy asked if we´d interpret, so they could get to know each other better. an hour later they were even better friends because they´d found out how much they had in common. the kid from panama had already been shot while fighting (gorilla warfare) alongside his father. he´d been riding bulls since he was a child. the canadian was raised on a ranch, breaking wild horses. we helped them arrange a visit to the panamanian´s dad´s ranch (nearby) to go riding. i hope they had fun.

in the morning joe and i wake up to the crowing of a very obnoxious rooster. it struts through the surrounding vegetation, up the hill, takes his place outside our window, ruffles his feathers and jolts us awake . . . every morning. we then walk to a nearby hotel/restaurant and have fruit and yogurt covered in granola. we have class at 8:00 for 2 hours, then we have lab. as you know lab can be quite the experience (trivial pursuit on the beach, scrabble at a pond, verb drills at the waterfalls). afterward we throw together lunch in the kitchen cage and head into town (10 minute walk) in our bathing suits. we decide on which beach or falls we want to go to, and settle down for several hours.
our favorites are the falls by our house which are over a hundred feet high, the beach south of montezuma ´cause the waves are huge, and the colorado river because it´s shady and cold. in the evening we come back for a cold shower and a siesta. our hotel has about 10 hammocks on the upper patio in the shade. it has it´s own gravitational force, especially in the evening. all the students sort of coalesce here to talk about their aches and pains. our school has yoga, fire dancing, scuba, surfing, and spanish. our pain is mental:) we head back into town for the pre-dinner street stroll, settle on one of the many excellent places to eat and then we are home by 10:00.

there are very few paved roads here. they´re mostly sand, shells, and dirt. when it rains it can be pretty yucky. 80% of the people get around on motorcycles and quad runners. you´d be amazed at how many people fit on a quad runner. crabs, geckos, iguanas, and dogs share the road. crabs have no road crossing skills at all.

at any given time you can randomly see snakes, monkeys, anteaters, bats, and a kazillion birds. we were at ´puggos´ the other night for dinner when a young group of four europeans came in and sat down. one guy, three girls. they were feeling pretty elegant and cool in their clean cloths when suddenly the guy screamed like a girl and leaped up, the girls all screamed and jumped away from the boy. the boy scrambled backwards and fell on his back while flinging his arms about. suddenly it all stopped and he jumped back up. the entire restaurant had stopped to stare. the boy laughed sheepishly and said in broken english . . .¨it´s our first day here . . . they don´t have bugs where we come from¨. joe smiled and said ¨beinvenidos a costa rica!¨ (welcome to costa rica!)

time is out

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

no class today!

howdy ya'll,

our teacher didn't show up today, so we sat around and studied on our own for a couple of hours 'til we got bored. now i sit here and joe has gone running. today is overcast and cooler. this means that sweat isn't trickling down my back while standing in the shade.

joe, olesia, and i went up to the waterfalls on monday for a swim in fresh water. our dog came with us. we've named him 'spot'. he is white with two big black spots on his back. his first love is olesia, but he's become attached to us since she left. he follows us around and sits at our feet at the restaurants, ever hopeful. at the waterfall pool he spends the entire time hunting for fish. it's entertaining to watch.

yesterday we had our spanish lab in the kitchen. we learned how to make gallopinto. black beans and rice, which was accompanied by eggs and fried plantain bananas. afterwards went to our favorite beach with the bigger waves and joe played alone because i was sick of being tossed around and covered with sand (in my bathing suit, my ears, my nose, everywhere!). afterwards we walked along the beach trying to find the elusive ylang-ylang resort. the road doesn't go all the way to this resort, so the guests check in at sano banano cafe and a giant land rover comes and gets them. we saw the ylang-ylang SUV go by several times while on the beach. curiosity got the best of us and we followed the tracks for 15 minutes to the next beach.

i finally got a good glass of wine! a malbec from argentina. the view was amazing and the service equal to the setting. joe tried a costa rican beer 'bavaria dark' . . . okay, two beers. he had to be sure they were good. this will come as a shock to you, but i got into an in depth conversation with the manager about american wine. the owner wants to import american wine to the restaurant. he was a little stunned when i told him i'd brought 6 bottles of wine from home:)

we finally walked back to montezuma and waited in vain for the fire dancing show to begin in the streets. there is a big self awareness festival here for the week. this town excels in self awareness. the people in general are divided into 3 groups . . . the tourists (mostly beach bums), the working class (Argentinians, italians, nicaraguans), and the reggae-hippie crowd. the reggae group consider themselves to be artists. they makes jewelry and pipes. they have little signs implying that they want to save the planet and increase self awareness. apparently this is done by staying as stoned as possible and leaving your trash everywhere while the working class cleans up after them.

gotta go, time is over.

lots of love and hugs, heidi

Monday, April 4, 2011

Our First Weekend

hola amigos,

i think i may have to post more often. i don´t have enough time for everything i want to write in a 2x/week format. so much is happening here that i want to capture for future reference. i don´t even have time to proof read my work.

friday we came into town for our spanish lab and stopped to get an ice cold cerveza with our teacher. not such a good idea . . . his spanish is definitely
easier to understand without beer. his attention span goes out the window whenever a pretty woman walks by, which is often in this town. we will be keeping him away from beer from now on. we had pizza that night at our favorite italian restaurant (gorgonzola, salami, tomatoes).

saturday we got a taxi (4-wheel drive, a must here) and went to a fishing marina up the coast. there we boarded a scuba boat with our friend, olesia, and another american couple. after our first dive (where we saw an octopus out in the open and three more hidden, three different types of eel, plus a myriad of fishies). paulo, the captain, took us to a uninhabited island with a small silky white sand beach.
we got to swim to the island to explore while our tanks were refilled. the second dive was more of the same with the addition of porcupine fish and puffer fish. paulo has the unique talent of being able to gently capture these fish and scaring them into puff balls. i was horrible and mean, and yes i pet them. extremely cool experience. then he let go and they deflated while swimming away. everyone got stung by jellyfish. our friend olesia is apparently allergic . . . blisters everywhere. my friend at work says urine helps diminish the octupi sting . . . kinda gross, but whatever helps!

some things cannot be replicated because of their spontaneity. the night of our dive turned into a comedy. we were standing at our favorite spot chatting with locals when i heard the clippity-clop of horses. not an unusual sound, as the horseback tours go through the middle of town.
it took a second for it to sink in that these horses didn´t have people on them, with them, nor did they have halters or saddles. they looked like kids trying to sneak out . . . trying to look innocent . . . walking in formation. i said ¨hey those horses got out¨, and all hell broke loose. all in all about 8 horses came down to the corner when a dog started barking and trying to turn them back. half the people in town grabbed their cell phones to call the owner. one man started waving his arm, yelling YA! YA! while talking to someone on his cell. the last horses caught up with the first ones, and they all started trotting in circles around the rickety jewelry tables. people scrambled every which way, dogs barked, horses scidded on the pavement. i prepared to climb up on the bar stool. finally the horses turned around and went back up the street, but they cut through an alley to make a break for the park. 10 guys ran every which way and disappeared into the darkness. 30 minutes later 3 horses went trotting past our restaurant, trying to look cool and collected as they squeezed past cars to freedom.

sunday would have been better if we could have gone to church. unfortunately the one church in town is only open for funerals! we ate a late breakfast and wandered up the beach to play in the waves. i met a darling nicaraguan girl, 18 years old. she sat with me in the sand, and taught me spanish while i taught her english. last night we went back to our italian restaurant.

the howler monkeys are everywhere, or they just sound like it. it´s rare to see them. joe and i saw one . . . it was a black blob hanging from a tree top. the sound is bizarre. imagine a basset hound barking like a toad croaking. sorry, that´s the best i can do. sometimes it sounds like a basset, other times like a giant frog, and other times like a combination. the sound of the howler monkey and exotic birds woke me up this morning.

gotta go!!