Monday, December 26, 2011

Pura Vida

The last of my Utah days were spent eating all kinds of delicious foods, dancing, laughing, knitting, visiting typical Provo places, and staying up until the wee hours of the morning with my favorite friends. Not much to report, just that it was lovely. It was like TV life...expect for the part where everyone was drowning in finals week horror and I made myself into a constant distraction. Oh well.

On the 13th Provo decided to snow, and I decided to peace out. I boarded a big plane that brought me back to the land of sunshine, bliss, and clammy hands and feet. I finally got to see Blake and Annalee's new place in Miami and meet my niece, Bogie, the flying squirrel. They also took me to eat baleadas for the first time. All I have to say is thank you Honduras! Then I passed out in the back of their car and they drove me to my parents house in Belleview.

We were supposed to leave for Costa Rica the next day. Everyone woke up, sort of got their bags packed, and Dad was even ready to go by 10:30. But, a bank mishap, some traffic, and a bad stewardess later we had missed our flight. So we spent the evening roaming Orlando instead. We hit up Golden Corral and the outlet mall...which probably made us look very much like Brazilian tourists. Then finished off with a bell choir, Christmas decorations, and fireworks at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. When in doubt Disney property always has something that will brighten your day. We went to bed happy, and tried the airport thing again the next morning. We made it that time.

It's fun landing in places where you disembark the plane outdoors using those too-narrow, stand-up stairs. It's fun being a little too warm in December. It's fun having your passport checked in a country where the workers don't stare at and interrogate you like you just threatened everything dear to them. It's fun having a short man shout out your family name to which your oh-so-tourist-looking mother responds. Thus causing a rush of workers to whisk away your bags while you wonder whether or not you'll ever see them again. It's fun renting a mini van where the middle bench is completely detached from the rest of the car. It's fun showing up at a resort where they think your reservation has been canceled. It's fun having everything taken care of while you eat in the sun. It's fun being in Costa Rica.

During the week we floated around on the waves, watched as Blake made friends with all the iguanas and pizotes, attempted to convince our new Costa Rican friends that snow is the most terrible thing on earth, ordered lots and lots of flat iron steak and tres leches cake, went exploring on different rocks, watched Italian soap operas, and slept, and laughed, and got sunburnt, and climbed trees, and looked at stars, and spoke gringo, and drank virgin everything, and slept, and tried to convince my dad that vacations aren't so bad after all.

One of the highlights of the trip, for me anyway, was scuba diving at the Catalina Islands. I just recently got certified and this was my first time not in a pool or a crater in Utah. I was excited, and I was not let down. I'm terrible at remembering names of fish, sharks, and rays, but we saw some of them all while being tossed around by the current. It was great. Apparently the visibility wasn't fantastic, but I don't really have much to compare to. All I know is that being underwater with nothing to listen to but the sound of your's glory. There's nothing to disturb your thoughts, everything to see is new and exciting, and in a non-verbal way there are people to share it with. Then there's the boat ride. Cruising along in the sunshine on the deep blue water and seeing the different views of somewhere you've never been while listening to the random conversations of strangers is happy. Really, it's one of those things that watching as an outsider looks like a fantastic time; and when you're the one living it, it's even better!

My only disappointment is that it took me so long to get certified. This is a beautiful hobby and I highly recommend it. The only downside is that now all I want to do is get back in the water and I don't exactly have the funds to support that desire. So I'll just dream until next time.

The vacation finished out nicely. We even made our flight home with no problems. I got stuck sitting next to a couple beer crazed, California-beach-bum-wannabees, but there are worse things in life. Overall I'm going to have to rack this up as an absolute success.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Remember a few weeks ago when everyone was talking about turkeys, pies, family, and things they're thankful for? That was a good time. Let's go back there for a moment. My Thanksgiving time was chaotic, tasty, sleep deprived, and full of love. Just the way I like it.

On Wednesday before Thanksgiving I helped cook a turkey for a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner with my cousins Lala and Leilane and some other friends. Let it be known that I have never in my life cooked a turkey, and granted my only role was to babysit it while it sat in the oven, I was terrified. Especially when smoke started billowing out of my oven after it had only been in there for 10 minutes! But alas, all was well, the turkey did not explode. Mission accomplished.

Throughout the morning I had a couple adorable visitors. Tiago, Lucas, and Derek are three of the sweetest boys you will ever meet. I taught Tiago how to play Phase 10 and he kicked my butt. Then I took them all to the park and let them show off their monkey bar skills for me.  Right before dinner I brought them back to my apartment and let them help me with the mashed potatoes while rocking out to Disney music. During the potato making process Tiago and Lucas got in a fight over who was the better and faster potato peeler and Derek got a penny stuck between his bottom front teeth. I laughed hysterically through all of this, then wondered if that means that I am completely devoid of motherly sympathy.


So then it was off to Leilane's for round 1 of Thanksgiving deliciousness. I love being surrounded by people I love (I mean, who doesn't?). The jokes are better, the conversation more meaningful, it just makes life a lot more fun. Daniel, Leilane's husband, had never tried candied yams before. Watching him eat them for the first time was hilarious. He took a tiny bite and his face looked prepared for disgust. Then all of a sudden his eyes got the size of golf balls and a huge smile showed up. He was sold. We finished the night with a few rounds of Apples to Apples and pie. Fantastic, right?

The next day brought rounds 2 and 3 of Thanksgiving glutton happiness. The first with some family from my mom's side...

Actually, let's back up for a second. There was a lot of family from my mom's side, about 20-something people. But, both my parents are the 5th of 7 children so family, extended family, and friend-amily is nothing I am short on; and 20-something can still feel like there are some people missing.

Anyway, so we all piled into my Aunt Rochelle's house and talked and talked and talked about gluten free recipes, about football, about politics, about religion, and about the future. I like to talk. I like to listen. This was a pretty good gig for me. Dinner was delicious and oh-so-aesthetically pleasing. It looked like one of those Thanksgiving dinner's you see in magazine. We had name cards for our dishes, leaves on the table, the food was all brightly colored and color coordinated...oh, and the turkey and had cooked with a blanket of bacon on it. Take that.

I'm pretty sure poker, tim tam slams, a Winnie the Pooh marathon, Nertz, and pie were also involved in round 2. Let's get a couple things straight. My family is awesome. They do holidays right. I love them.

Now on to round 3. Dear friends who live far from home and family, Cracker Barrel, and The Muppets. Early on in the semester my Thanksgiving plans were Puerto Rico bound to visit some of my favorite friends, Courtney and Israel. Then I remembered that I'm super poor and couldn't swing that. I was explaining this to another friend, Sean, and it turns out he didn't have dinner plans at all. Neither did my friend Andre. Then Sean mentioned Cracker Barrel and all these things changed from a string of disconnected thoughts into an outing. Cracker Barrel makes dang good food, and they don't make you clean up. So after the turkey coma had worn off a tad from round 2 I went out with them.

Then off to the Muppets. I grew up watching The Muppet Show. In fact the very first time I heard that when you take an elephant and a rhino you get an "ellifIknow" was from The Muppet Show. Great children's humor, am I right? Anyway, I was bound and determined to see this movie. Lucky me Sean and Andre were happy to accompany. If you like The Muppets you should probably go watch it as soon as possible and get your giggle on. Then I'll tell you all about how Animal is the greatest and best Muppet  and how he makes me laugh uncontrollably. Then I might favor your with a round of "I've Got Everything That I Need."  You know you want to hear all about it. Just go watch it. Just go.

So to review: lots of food, lots of family, lots of laughing, Muppets, card games, sweets, zombies (yeah...that was in there somewhere), lots of talking, and getting just enough sleep to get by = Happy Jari. The end.

Bring it on Christmas!