San José, Round 1

30 December 2017

I stepped off the plane and it was humid.

I turned a corner and snapped a picture of the mountains surrounding the airport.
“Is this real life?”

Is this real life

I lingered by that window, wide-eyed and in awe of how far I’d come in the past year, shocked at how different my life is from the day I booked this trip, trying to imagine how the cynical, cold, unhappy October 2016 version of myself would have felt staring out the doubled-paned airport glass in the country of her dreams.

Eventually I made my way down to immigration and waited. At first I was patient and reveling in the Spanish signs and the touristy ads, but after over an hour I was quite sure I was either going to piss myself or faint.

Neither happened and I made it to a booth, got my first ever passport stamp (that wasn’t related to military orders), a tired welcome from the guy with the ink pad, and was ushered towards baggage claim and customs with a huge smile on my face.

I wandered around baggage claim for more than ten minutes with no luck until I had rehearsed the Spanish phrase for “I can’t find my bag” in my head enough times to feel comfortable asking for help. With a mere glance at my boarding pass, the agent simply pointed at my bag- less than 2 feet behind me. I laughed at myself, determined not to panic.

A few deep breaths later I walked out of the airport. Before I could even see the sky there were hoards of people holding signs for groups or individuals and just as many people asking if I needed a taxi. I found out later that these extremely zealous taxi drivers are kind of infamous, but my experience wasn’t bad. While they were quite abrupt when asking, they were very polite when I muttered, “No, thanks” and sometimes “No, gracias” when I was aware enough. One driver even asked if I was looking for a particular shuttle or group and pointed me in the right direction.

all i want for christmas

I got a little panicky when I realized I was disconnected from the airport WiFi and was still unable to find any sign, shuttle, or person with a logo for my tour group. But I reminded myself that worse case scenario I walked back into the airport, got back on the WiFi, and called my guide to find a way to the hotel. Though I knew this wasn’t the actual worst case scenario, I refused to allow myself to think about anything remotely inspired by Taken. But then my phone’s low battery warning came on and a small lump formed in my throat, realizing my dad could never pull off a Liam Neeson style rescue.

But a magic deli appeared tucked in the side of the airport and it had WiFi. It didn’t take long after that to track down my guide and the other group members that had already found him. Moments later our bus appeared and we were on our way to our first hotel.

Rhyan, our guide, spoke the entire drive. He went over our itinerary, told some jokes, was so welcoming and funny. The drive was beautiful and insane. I couldn’t stop smiling, nothing felt real yet! We filled out room assignments, but I hadn’t really met anyone yet so I just wrote my name down next to the first empty slot and hoped for the best.

I got really lucky. The girl I roomed with had arrived a day early and was already at the hotel. I got up to our room (#16), knocked and met Nicole who goes by Nicki. This was her 7th tour with EF and she’s a 27-year old pharmacy tech in northern California. She was so fricken nice!

The day caught up with me and I fell asleep for like half an hour before abruptly waking up and needing food. Nicki told me there was a restaurant in the lobby and offered to come with me if I wanted her to, but she wasn’t hungry so I decided I was brave and independent and went alone. I met two more group members at the bar, Eric and Jacob. They were also from California and on their first EF tour, like me. More tour people joined us, but I couldn’t hear their names.

We chatted a bit, but the conversation died because I was the only one eating and a row of a people at a bar wasn’t exactly the easiest format for mingling. I didn’t mind. I was sleepy and hungry and feeling gross after a day of airports. I had an incredible vegetarian spaghetti with a coke, paid in U.S. dollars, got colones back, and wished everyone a goodnight.

first meal

The hotel was smallish, but beautiful. The restaurant opened to the pool area and the lobby into the courtyard. Things were still decorated for Christmas and were adorable. Our room keys were actual keys! The rooms had three single beds with bright orange quilts, very few outlets, and a tiny bathroom. Surprisingly, the water pressure in the shower was amazing, but it didn’t drain very well.

Rhyan had mentioned that the plumbing in Costa Rica wouldn’t be what we were used to and that we shouldn’t flush our toilet paper, but throw it away. So I was terrified to shit.

The view from my room overlooked the pool and you could just see the mountains on the other side of the wall. At night the mountain side was covered in lights, it was beautiful. Everything was beautiful, even while it sprinkled rain.

I spent the rest of the night chilling with Nicki, messing around on my phone, reveling in things as simple as SnapChat filters and texting my family and Boyfriend about how happy I was and how great things were going. Nothing felt real yet.

best fucking life


Arriving in Costa Rica

30 December 2017

I woke up this morning in Benton, Louisiana next to a groggy boyfriend and an equally sleepy dog. I’d had trouble falling asleep because I was nervous and excited and, admittedly very uncomfortable trying to share a bed with those two.

I snoozed my alarm, snuggled back into bed and made a noise of contentment before waking Boyfriend up to share in my uneasy pre-travel feelings and inevitable rushing around.

Everything was fine, a little rainy so I was kinda nervous, but Boyfriend sweetly reassured me that flying is safe and I’d be fine and blah blah blah amazingly kind stuff. I said my goodbyes, had my bottle of sunscreen confiscated and was off.

Atlanta was surprisingly cold so I fished a second coat out of my bag, grabbed some Auntie Anne’s, and settled into the nearest gate to eat, play Pokemon, and wait. My nerves flared up every once in awhile, but were mostly drowned out by the excitement and anticipation I’d all but lived in the past few days.

Boarding was slightly stressful because I wasn’t allowed to gate check my bag, but really the stress came from it being unexpected, not actually difficult. So I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that this trip was about facing and overcoming my fears- and not just the big ones like heights and flying over the ocean, but the small, irrational ones like things not going exactly as planned.

I gripped my boarding pass with white knuckles as I walked on to my plane and found my seat. An aisle seat near the front of the plane, the most tolerable way to fly in my opinion. I immediately put headphones in, ignoring the safety demonstration, but reviewing the safety card. You know, in case anything had changed over the four hours since my previous flight and previous review of an identical card.

For the first time in over ten years I slept through take off. I was in and out of sleep, completely disoriented. I would come-to half aware of what was going on, nearly leaning on the person next to me, mouth wide open, unsure if I’d been snoring or if it had just happened. Eventually I realized we were in the air and I sprawled out on my tray table.

Two hours later I woke up with a customs declaration tucked under my head and a meal about to be served. I woofed down some pretzels and was again in and out of it for nearly the rest of the flight.

It was a terribly bumpy landing. The turbulence in the last 20-30 minutes made me wish I’d never flown, but that feeling fled when we finally broke through the clouds and a green, mountainous, brick and stucco speckled land appeared before me. I smiled bigger than my cheeks could handle and tears filled my eyes.

“Welcome to Costa Rica.”


Post Vacation Blues

I’ve been back from the rain forest for a week now and I haven’t posted a single thing like I promised I would. But let’s not act surprised.

The joy I was high on from my Costa Rican adventure was slowly murdered in the Atlanta airport. First by the weather, then the shitty food, and finally by the delay of my flight until the following morning.

My first day back was great, though. I hung out with my dad while I unpacked and did laundry, telling stories and showing off souvenirs. Later I went to see Boyfriend as soon as he got off work- which on a Tuesday night meant crashing his bowling league (which I secretly love to do).

My vacation joy returned every time someone asked about the trip, it was in tiny flares as I recalled the adrenaline, the awe, the bumbling Spanish and currency exchange, the rain, the people…

But it all crashed down around me after an eight hour work day turned into rushing out of work and puking. And puking. And puking. I was nauseated and generally ill three full days, during which I ate saltines and some original Pringles (courtesy of my sister). Didn’t manage to keep down anything else.

Now here I am, well again, but dreading going back to work and starting school. Thankfully today it snowed! Here in Louisiana, despite it being only a few inches, snow means everything is shut down, delaying the full return to my real life. While I would still prefer to be on a beach in Jacó, I am glad for the quiet blanket of fresh white snow that will surely only last the day.

Forgive me for this post not being a more detailed account of my trip, I promise those posts are coming!



Budget Friendly Weekend Away

Hiya, this is a draft from waaay back in April! Enjoy ♥

When ever I feel stressed or overwhelmed I make wishlists on AirBnB and dream of all the places I’m going to go and the people I’m going to meet and the adventures I’m going to have.

AirBnB lists
My copious AirBnB wishlists

A few weeks ago, I was doing exactly that, but was feeling so down I decided to book Lauren and I a weekend away over Easter. I texted her to make sure she was free and told her not to make any plans!

We drove to Hot Springs, Arkansas and stayed two nights in an AirBnB. The first full day we explored the historic district and relaxed. The second day was really the point of the trip: we went to Magic Springs Theme Park and embraced our inner children! We left on Holy Thursday around 6 PM and returned home early Saturday evening, a quick and successful weekend away!

Overall we had a short and sweet adventure that recharged both our batteries.

Our Budget!

Gas: ~$60

It’s about $30 to fill my tank and I had to fill up twice. This is obviously the most varied aspect of a budget. It depends how far you’re going and even the terrain! I filled up before we left and again before we returned. Hot Springs is only about 3 hours from where we are, but it’s a pretty hilly area so we used more gas than if we’d gone some where flatter, like Texas. Haha.

The lodging: $187

Hotels can be the most expensive parts of travelling, but sometimes AirBnB can save you hundreds! I easily could have spent double if I’d stayed in a traditional hotel. This trip was my first experience with AirBnB and I can honestly say I will utilize AirBnB every time I travel. (Future post coming: Tips to utilize AirBnB. Lol.)

Our hosts were Mickey and Jill and we stayed in a little apartment space they created out of their basement. It sounds like it could have been sketchy, but was actually beautiful and very cozy! Their property is located in a neighborhood called Hot Springs Village, a gorgeous gated community that is literally packed to the brim with things to do.

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Photo taken from the AirBnB listing, for more information click here.

While the AirBnB as a little farther from where we were visiting, it made more sense to make the drive to/from a few times than to pay nearly $50 more a night for the convenience of being a few miles closer. I was also sold on this listing because it had a fridge and microwave! If you want to read my ravings about my wonderful AirBnB experience you can check out my review on the pages linked above, I really go into detail. Haha!

Food: ~$23

Along with accommodations, food can be one of the most expensive parts of traveling. I find that when I travel I want to try new places that my home town doesn’t have or I like to indulge in treats I avoid at home.

To save money on food we made frozen pizzas to make and eat on the road the day we left. As mentioned, I chose our AirBnB because it had a fridge and microwave. This meant we were able to pack foods for lunch and dinner (Mickey & Jill provided breakfast foods/ snacks in the room!). We packed microwave rice/ soup for our in-room meals and a picnic lunch for our day out.


Screenshot 2017-04-27 07.00.08
Naan!! Taken from the Tosha Kitchen website.

We planned to eat out once, so before we left I found a restaurant near Bath House Row that was accommodating of our food allergies and was different from what we could find at home. This led us to Tosha Kitchen, a delicious and cozy Indian/ Pakistani restaurant located right off the main street of the Hot Springs Historic District. We spent about $23 there, opting for lunch specials and sharing an appetizer.

Activities, Day 1: ~$57

Our first day was spent exploring the main street right off of Hot Springs National Park. We walked around Bath House Row, a street full of historic bath houses that have been around since the late 1800’s utilizing the areas natural hot springs. We went in antique shops, boutiques, a lot-park, a old-fashion toy store, and of course the Bath Houses.

Exploring the area was free and allowed us to talk, relax, and enjoy everything the area had to offer. We paid for admission to two things,  Hot Springs Mountain Tower ($10 with military discount) and Tiny Town Trains ($12). Both of which were entirely worth it! Check out my post Exploring Hot Springs, Arkansas to read more about those adventures!

Hot Spring Mountain Tower.png
A view from Hot Springs Mountain Tower

The non-essentials that we spent money on were some macaroons ($5) at a sweet boutique, postcards and souvenirs ($12), and a spirograph that we fell in love with at an old-fashioned toy store ($18).

Overall, we had so much fun and didn’t spend quite as much as I had anticipated! The best part is that if we hadn’t bought snacks or souvenirs/toys (that we didn’t really need☺) we only would have spent $22 on admission to the tower and Tiny Town!

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Some of our spirograph doodles!

Activities, Day 2: $53.80

Obviously water/ theme parks can be very expensive. I decided to add Magic Springs to the itinerary because I knew Lauren would love it (she’s a kid at heart ♥). Mid April turned out to be the best time we could have planned the trip. The weather was perfect, and since the water park wasn’t open yet, the admission price was reduced! There was also an April special going on since it was the last month before the water park opened. And of course we had to pay $10 to park.

We saved by packing our lunch, not purchasing a locker, and only playing Plinko ($5) once! Haha. Lauren won two free funnel cakes! Which also saved us money because we definitely had to get funnel cakes!


At the end of the weekend we spent a total of: $380.80

However, you can subtract $40 if you don’t count the souvenirs, spirograph, and the game of Plinko. Lol. It was definitely worth it. We had so much fun! I got to revel in the history and charm of the historic district and Lauren got to let out her inner child at Magic Springs. We didn’t break the bank, but we got to have a little vacation.

Selfie in the park ♥



Front Street, Natchitoches, LA

A few weeks ago, Lauren and I went to visit my younger sister, Bobbie in her new house in Natchitoches, Louisiana. We left pretty early in the morning and when we arrived Bobbie wasn’t answering her phone- she was still asleep! To kill some time we got gas and did a little exploring on Front Street and the surrounding area, playing Pokemon and snapping photos.

We’d both been before, but Lauren had only seen it at night. Natchitoches is a really historic and adorable town, especially Front Street. I wanted to share with you some of the pictures from our adventure! For more information on visiting (and pronouncing) Natchitoches, you can visit this site.

water featureSignsprettyCutesyChurch St.