I´m back in the Internet café and definitely feeling a little rough. The food here is delicious, but I think the similarity between all the meals and the fact that they aren´t what I would normally eat is starting to affect me. Also, I can´t seem to sleep for more than five hours or so, and I´m the kind of person who can only fully function with about 53 hours of sleep. Though that´s actually impossible.
Anyway, last night some of us had dinner at the Sport Bar, which is, from what I can tell, the main hangout in Atenas. It was pretty dead last night, but during the weekend there was music and a lot of people. I think that´s the main place I´ve seen other people from the U.S. (which can be cool but usually not ideal for me, personally - I think it´s much more refreshing not to see many people from the U.S. - don´t say ´´Americans!´´ - while abroad). I saw my sister there, Maria Jesus, as well as Marcela (not sure on spelling), who is the host mom across from my house. I tried to go to bed relatively early and was knocked out pretty quickly but, again, woke up as soon as all the birds began chirping and the sun shone brightly through my curtains.
I´m never quite sure what to do after my host mom fixes me meals, like breakfast this morning, for example. I finished eating and sort of lingered as she was washing dishes, wondering if I should help her or simply follow the example of her daughters and leave my plate. I don´t think either offends her. Usually it seems when I try to help with things or do chores, everyone in the house assures me that they will take care of everything. I feel guilty but know it is only another part of their culture - the mother fixing meals, cleaning, and taking special care with everything, providing a certain role for her household. Still, I want to offer to clean and maybe even help prepare meals, if that would be acceptable.
We drove to the vólcan poás today, leaving early for the long drive. Before we hiked up to the prime viewing spots, we had a presentation from a volcanologist (what a cool title!) about the volcanoes in Costa Rica...really interesting stuff. The water in neighboring lakes changes color according to changing activity and can indicate when an eruption is on the way - the water becomes murkier when more activity is taking place. Also, the nature of the sulfur bubbles changes - they form tails when the temperature increases and they begin to melt. Another interesting tidbit: the national parks around the volcanoes aren´t really there because they are beautiful sites but because of the danger of eruptions killing surrouding inhabitants. Ha!
The crater itself, once we hiked up to it, was breathtaking. Massive and deep with a sulfurous lake and great plumes of gas and cloud drifting out as if it were on fire. I think we were lucky today since it was actually visible; often the gas shrouds the view. I wonder what it would be like to go down there into the depths and study the occurrences there. Dangerous, but fascinating!
We were also able to see a closer view of a lake - we could even see sulfur bubbles around the rim. A little other-worldly. The hike in general was lovely because of all the rich green plant life; a dark canopy of trees and plants encircled the pathway, creating a tunnel. The scenery during the drive, too, was engrossing in a way because of the overwhelming beauty of it all. We were able to see traditional coffee farms and large stretches of black tarp covering ferns. You know when something is so different and beautiful, you don´t have the words to describe it adequately and don´t even fully process it as you see it? Photographs, too, never seem to do these things justice. I wish I could somehow transfer my initial gut feelings, the idea that the earth really is holy and that we are all a small part of something so vast and complex and depthless and...what´s the word...hypnotizing, maybe. I´m definitely on a sleep-deprived rant right now, but go out somewhere and look at mountains or a vast body of water or layers upon layers of thriving plant life and maybe this will all make sense. Probably not. I´m tired.
As much as I need to continue practicing Spanish, it is so, so much harder when I´m exhausted and want to feel at home. Well, then, why am I here? Suck it up, Sarah.
We stopped to eat on the way back, again at a really stunning location I lack the energy to convey, and talked a little about sustainability and the environmental impact of tourism and greenwashing. Apparently Costa Rica is not as eco-friendly as people say, what with tourists coming in and failing to live sustainably. Etc. etc.
If I don´t use a bathroom soon I will probably burst open or just collapse on the ground, so I need to go. I am so, so, so tired. I plan to update again as soon as I can. Tomorrow we meet with students learning English and then, well, I can´t remember at the moment.