Sunday, March 4, 2012


I love getting my produce from the local ferias, or farmer's markets around metropolitan San Jose and Heredia. Farmers bring their fruits and veggies so the food is fresh and cheaper than a supermarket. They are always lively, and I love learning about fruits and vegetables I have never seen or eaten before; so far, I've discovered chayote, a small plum variation, tacacos and 2 other green veggies I can't remember the name of, all to great success.
Feria in Escazu 
Zuccini and Tacacos 
Escazu Feria
Favorite part of ferias-- fresh coconut water! The girl is scooping up the remains of the outer skin that was chopped off to poke straws through the thin membrane. 
At the Santa Ana feria one day, a surprise parade with typical Costa Rican masks and music came rolling down the street!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things I love About San José: The Restaurants

Remember when I didn't find anything redeeming about Costa Rica's capital? That I couldn't find any intriguing buildings, no remnants of history, no places I wanted to wander around in? Well I was wrong. Let's start first with the surprising places I found to fill my belly. Proof:

Casa los Sueños
An amazingly artsy café/bar hidden in one of San Jose's oldest neighborhood. 
Cool local paintings on the wall? Check.
Delicious veggie-friendly food and sangria? Check.
Interesting crowd to people watch? Check.

Roma Café
A cozy, contemporary Italian restaurant with live jazz music and a killer risotto.
Kitschy colosseum lanterns? Check.
Exposed brick walls? Check.
Takeout with a moped? Check.

Mi Tierra
Sure it's touristy, but the classic café chorreado served in traditional tin mugs make it worth bearing the keyboardist playing the same folklore song for 30 minutes.  
Attention to detail to include every possible thing traditional to Costa Rica? Check.
Casado served on banana leaf plates? Check.
Hand-painted murals on the exterior walls? Check.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A very Merry late Christmas and Feliz Año

My favorite things about this year's (or I guess, last year's) Christmas season:

The entire downtown streets of San Jose decorated with suspended lights...

...giant Christmas trees...

...and flashing holiday greetings.

Couples who know each other too well.

Large, intriguing presents.

Steaming fondue Christmas dinner with family.

Inappropriate moustaches.

Festive table settings.

Belly laughs.

True love.

Merry 2012!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I dressed up as my cat Travi for the Trick or Treaters on Halloween, but it turns out no one got to see my costume. Oh well.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Doodle a Day keeps the Duldrums away

Doo·dle1 [dood-lverb, -dled, -dling, noun
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), noun
to draw or scribble idly: He doodled during the whole lecture.
to waste (time) in aimless or foolish activity; to play or improvise idly
Archaic. a foolish or silly person.

Monday, Oct. 12, 2011: Mismatched nail polish

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2011: Heart-shaped Pumpkin Bread

Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011: Puddle-hopping in girls' bright pink rain-boots (ask me how I got them later)

And the daily doodle updates shall continue...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Over 1 month of wearing the handmande bead string, wrapped 50 times around my wrist by a beautiful Kuna woman named Cecilia in Ciudad Panamá. I was searching all over the city for a long orange bracelet, like the ones the many traditionally-dressed Kuna indigenous women wear in Panamá. I met a woman selling handicrafts in a hidden marketplace who said she had just the thing for me, but that it was at her home and she wouldn't be in the next day before I left in the evening. The vendor said she would pass this bracelet to Cecilia, and I made arrangements to meet at her shop in another market down the road. It was just a verbal promise on both ends, but if felt so magical to acquire a piece this way. I unfortunately arrived late the next day looking for Cecilia's booth, but most of the market was closed. When I finally found her, she was sitting unhurriedly on her stool beading, figuring I had run late, but knowing I would arrive. It took her about 7 minutes to wrap the string around me, each time looping the extra strand around the prior level on my arm. We spoke about her language and her people, and to me the conversation seemed to go on for hours. I paid and thanked her profusely, not wanting to leave with all my unfinished questions. Cecilia smiled warmly and waved goodbye as I walked away with the most magical purchase of my life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy 4 Month Anniversary Costa Rica!

I have been terrible at updating about my life in Costa Rica. This is actually a good sign because it means I am busy and doing exciting things. To commemorate another monthaversary, here is what is exciting in my life about my last month in this rainy land:

Independence Day on Sept. 15th was all about the parades, traditional performances, and partying all driven by the local school children. I followed around my 2 dear teacher friends (pictured) whose students celebrated the night before with a lantern lighting parade (to commemorate how the news of independence spread around Costa Rica in the middle of the night), and with a marching band of typical tico songs the day of. Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz!

Travi, my rescued kitty, is really living up to his name (meaning mischievous in Spanish). I am in love.

Myself and my 3 best friends here (2 of them pictured above) went on a short journey to Sarchi, the artesian headquarters in Costa Rica, where I paid homage to my grandma Nana and her trip to the same town many years ago. I purchased a mini version of the same hand-painted cart she got there, that is a part of the childhood memories I have of her home.

I really love my "hometown" of Belen, here in Costa Rica. First, Belen means Bethlehem in Spanish, which is cool to say I am living in Bethleham. It has the cutest center that has a two-towered church whose front yard is a soccer field, a small, vintage train station that they converted into an artesian shop, delicious sodas (or small restaurants) with $1.25 fresh blackberry smoothies, and a Pops ice cream parlor. Last Sunday, my friends and I went to show our support for the newly promoted Division 1 Belen team as they played against the biggest/most famous team in the country. There were a total of 10 fans for Belen (including us 3), but we tied and we stayed true to our roots. Beat 'em Belen.

I still am loving it here (even with the growing hours of rain per day), and am so thankful for the great friends I've made, the amazing world-changing women I've met, and the way God is teaching me through the first adult months of my life. Pura vida.

What's a Christian to do with Binaries?

A binary is simply a pair of opposites.
Black and white. Up and down. Inside and outside.
In anthropology, we are introduced to binaries by Cladue-Levi Strauss in his structuralist theories, where cultures are based around binaries like sacred/ profane and core/periphery. He says all cultures can be understood in terms of these binaric opposites.
While structuralism in its purist is considered theoretically outdated by contemporary anthropologists-- after all, universal theory is dead too-- I still find that the United Stastian culture still bases much of itself around binaries.
From an early age, we are taught right and wrong and good and bad; the notions of nice/mean, share/selfish, obey/disobey, friend/enemy, safe/dangerous, us/them are so ingrained in concrete opposition that they become a part of our morality.
In school we take true and false tests to pass or fail the class.
We refer to movies or books or food with the comment, "You either love it or hate it."
Even in our humor, we use jokes that being with, "There are 2 kinds of people in this world..."
It is convenient for our intellects, it is a part of our puritanical roots, and it is easy.

But with post-modernism (and post-post modernism) came the glorification of the gray, the multi-directional, the anti-binary.
This scared Christians (with the exception of a few select groups who loved Donald Miller and listen to the Outlaw Preachers podcast). If there is no black and white there is no truth, and if there is no truth there is no Jesus, is the assumption.
But is the Bible really so binaric? Is our God really so binaric?

I think the answer is both yes and no.
  • There is the heaven/hell duo (an interesting solution to the thesis and antithesis found in Catholicism's Purgatory), and Jesus saying the only way to the Father God in heaven is through Him (John 14:6).
= Binary
  • There are the foundations of righteousness/sin and thus salvation/damnation, between which Jesus intercedes, again as the solution to the thesis and antithesis.
= Binaries
  • God wants all our lives, not just a little; He wants hot, not lukewarm, all or nothing (Revelation 3:16).
= Binary

Perhaps Christian theology is so binaric because we as humans find comfort in defining our world pairs of compartmentalized opposites. But, then, if we are created in the image of God, is God Himself also binaric in nature?

I don't think our God is two-dimensional; afterall, He is above dimension:
  • The trinity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
= Not binaric (or even purely ternary for that matter)
  • God is love, righteous, holy, good, faithful, and true.
= Not binaric, but rather unilateral with no opposites to oppose. God's binaric opposer Satan reflects him backwards as being hate, evil, bad, cheating, and lies. BUT, since God made Satan, even he is beautiful (or at least was originally), and thus God has no antithesis (thanks for this interesting point, Mom!).
  • Jesus was both fully human and fully God (more than 1 verse here but see John 1:1).
= Binaric in concept, but not a true binary because man and God are not in opposition but rater agreement.

Basically, while the Christian theology may be binaric on the surface, God Himself (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit) is not. The gray lies in the interpretation of the complex doctrine in the New and Old Testament, where pure binaric legalism cannot result in a full understanding of the message of Christianity. They say Christianity is a relationship not a religion, and while most of this relationship is based on the various binaries of sinner/savior, of the earth/of the heavens, flesh/spirit, material/eternal, that separate us from God, Jesus is literally the go-between that solves the contradictions and changes the / for a -- ... 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thank you Pret a Voyager!

One of my all-time favorite travel blogs is . Why?

The background on my work computer, using Anne's Pret a Voyager logo.

  • Anne (the author) studied anthropology and design.
  • She documents her life as an expat in PARIS.
  • Her design principles are inspiring (even her blog's tagline, "Travel is not about where you go, but how you see the world"), and her presentations just straight up beautiful. 
I have been drooling over her blog (which means, in French, "ready to travel") for ages, and I'm so happy to announce my guest "Boarding Pass" spot on her blog, debuting today!

Merci Anne for featuring my blog and work!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Panama Pics

Panama City has everything modern urban spaces have but with a touch of its own unique Latino flair: the Trump sky scraper rising above palm trees and flying seagulls, the man-made waterfront behind the Spanish old town, the hand painted buses driving on the super highway winding over tin roofs. When I hiked up Cerro Ancón on the far side of the city, I could see all of the crazy mixture that is Ciudad Panama right before my eyes. There is sign at the summit triumphantly proclaiming the spiritual satisfaction of the discovery of this magical city of two worlds: 
"Cuantos años de incógnitos pesares mi espíritu buscaba mas allá a mi hermosa sultana de los mares, la reina de dos mundos, 

[from my Afar post here]

Created with flickr slideshow.