> jumping into life.


last day of class. chirripo had reached its climbing capacity, evidently, but they cheerfully offered to make a reservation in january. instead, we're going to stay in little cabins on drake bay, named after the sir francis who allegedly landed there to bury treasure.

i'm splurging a little this weekend, but that's ok. i decided i wouldn't mind a little more of the straight-up tourist experience, and my poor little head needs a rest. i'll be out of range of modern technology until tuesday, then leaving for my plane at 430 wednesday morning, then california, here i come. and even though the coffee will be worse, at least i won't have to eat rice and beans for breakfast.


there's always too much, every year, every time. i'm consistantly blessed beyond measure. the list would go on for hours if i let it, so now, only this:

i am grateful for it all and for the chance to have it.


one week. today is the last visit with the nicaraguan kids at the squatter's settlement; i think we're bringing them christmas presents today. last week, one of my favorite boys was acting up, so i started tickling him to distract him from stealing pens and throwing paper airplanes at people's eyes. his friend tickled me in vengence, i tickled both of them, a little girl darted in to get some of the action, and in about two seconds i was under a pile of writhing, screaming, delighted kids, all poking at my tummy. i was laughing so hard i couldn't stand up - and i also couldn't stand up because there were fifteen kids sitting on me.

the first time we went there, i was sort of bored and it was exhausting and i couldn't understand anyone because they all spoke fast and with a nicaraguan accent and in slang i just didn't know. i still can barely understand them, but by now they all scream "catalina!" when asked if they know my name.

we're having an expatriate's thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, complete with a turkey that nobody seems to know how to cook. i have two days of class left, and then i'm going to climb chirripo, and then i'm going to go home. if you haven't mailed me a letter yet, just send it to california.


puerto viejo is a hot, humid town full of bob marley and marijuana smoke. my week-old sandals fell apart on saturday morning, and passed the rest of the weekend held together with bandage tape and a saftey pin. the town was small and relatively quiet, considering the massive amounts of tourists packing every bus, hotel, and restaraunt. we rented bikes and found a little beach where the surf was calm and the water perfectly warm. i fell asleep on my towel and woke up with immense bites over every part of my skin that had touched sand. we biked back through the beginning of a storm that never materialized, and had dinner in an italian place with the best lobster and basil raviolis a body could hope for. in the reggae bar friday night, i'd been groped and grabbed and fondled every time i stepped onto the dance floor. once, when i left to take a break, someone grabbed my belt and tried to convince me to follow him off into the trees. eventually meredith and i enlisted brent's help and he gallantly agreed to dance with us when the groping got too intense. sunday, we opted for a bottle of bicardi, two bottles of coke (in returnable plastic), and a long and ridiculous game of silent football. emphasis on the ridiculous. sunday was a few hours of lounging on the black-sand beach followed by a long, long bus ride back.

i was disappointed a little because i'd been hoping to get some idea of culture while we were there, because that area of the carribean coast is unique in its history, but everything seemed extremely touristified and we had neither the time nor money to take the really-interesting-looking indigenous cooperative tour. so we instead took a break from rice and beans, took advantage of the carribean tendency to know english, and spent a touristifull weekend ourselves getting sunburned and eating too much. it was sort of nice.

however, given that (and the fact that my sandals are out of comission for a while), i think i'm going to try to get back up to the mountains again, do some hiking, make my body do something other than sit in class, sit on a bus, or lie on the beach. don't get me wrong, lying on the beach has some considerable high points, but nonetheless. it'd be good to get my muscles sore. take some of the focus of my poor, sore brain.


here's part: so much of my personality and confidence and sense of self is bounded up in words. i feel smart only when i can talk smart, when i can explain what i'm thinking, use all my big words and know that i've used them correctly. most of my friendships are built on witty banter and the specific language of inside jokes. i'm crippled here without that, unable to say what i want to say and never just how i want to say it. i feel half helpless, disadvantaged, i don't make eye contact, i walk straight and i keep my face down. in part its also that my blueeyed beauty pales beside the easy grace of the women here, that i feel out of place because i am out of place, and somehow i seem to have lost the great billowing confidence that held me up for the past five years. it's been a long time since i had difficulty learning something, with the single exception of the astrophysics class i shouldn't have been taking anyway. it's frustrating more than i can say to search for a word, or a phrase, or a conjugation, and find nothing in my mind but a blankness - and not even a vague static, but a screaming void of futility.

it's better than this, i promise. this is all the frustration because i can't say any of it in spanish and wouldn't have anyone to tell it to if i could.


i can't seem to write it well, so i'll stop trying and just write it out.

nicaragua was amazing. the moment we stepped on the ferry, everything felt different. the poverty on the island was more obvious than in costa rica, but also seemed less desperate. people lived in corrugated steel lean-tos, with pigs tied to the trees outside, and didn't seem so much to mind.

i have a danger of romanticizing, i know, but there was a sense of security there that i haven't felt in costa rica. wendy and i walked for hours through the middle of the island, past houses and fields and banana forests, and i never felt once threatened. i stopped worrying so much about things being stolen or people being dishonest or dangerous or rude. we hiked the smaller of the two volcanos, and afterwards, while we were waiting for the bus outside a little hostel, we started playing with these two kids and their balloon. the next morning i woke up sated and sore, and spent most of the day writing. for those few hours, there was nothing whatsoever better on earth than a breeze and a bottle of fanta. nothing. i think i've never in my life felt so content. later we walked to the fancy hotel by the beach, and splurged on dinner - the most expensive fish, drinks, dessert for less than $10 - and watched the sun set and light the volcano like a dream. there were a few hours when i considered stopping by the little school on the way back and asking if they needed any help with anything, if i could trade a place to stay for anything at all they needed. if i could stay, somehow. it was all my willpower to get up for the 4:30am bus to the 5:30 ferry to the 8:00 bus which i missed because it said Panama and i'm an idiot. and after i'd missed it, all the willpower left not to just go back, have my stuff mailed to me, stay there on that perfect island forever.

this weekend we went to montezuma, and i felt strange and isolated in the group, the half-conscious realization that conversations seemed to stop everytime i tried to join them. i burned in the sun and too much sand and ice cream, and though everyone is friendly i suddenly feel alone. we spoke too much english and this morning in class i had nothing but static in my head.

my aunt is in the hospital because she fell and broke most everything, and this morning wheni talked to my dad and asked him if she was conscious, he said "she was this morning." i have three weeks left and that seems like no time at all. i'm suddenly filled with the fear that i won't learn anything more, that i'm facing some sort of stasis, that my brain is overfull and useless. it seems like i won't get a volunteer placement, because my spanish isn't good enough for the ones i want and i didn't arrange it in time anyway. everything feels a little bit futile right now, and the rain washes it all away if i forget to hold on. i'm so tired, and life in the states seems far away and impossible. i can't imagine going home to my crazycrazy house and working some fuckoff job and then going back to school where i'm and english major and get grades.

people in the united states die all the time from eating to fucking much and not doing anything. we have problems that just plain don't make any sense here. i can't imagine trying to explain to our taxista in nicaragua the idea of buy nothing day. we have a conference about sustainable development and it had better be in english because my brain won't be able to take it otherwise. enough.


whee! back from nica and off to the beach. more on both next week.