Nosara rests in the middle of this expanse, providing a strategic base for exploring pristine sandy coves of the Nicoya. Nosara itself, features exposed surfy breaks at Playa Guiones, and a quiet sunset cove called Playa Pelada, where you can grab a cold beer from Olgas, or a gourmet meal from La Luna and watch the sun drift below the crashing waves on the northern tip of the cove.
Cuba might still be the most interesting place I have been, and is certainly the most common recommendation I give to travelers who have still yet to land upon its shores. It instantly makes you aware of how similar disparate places around the world have become. How standard hotel rooms are, how familiar restaurant menus look, and how perplexing it is that everyone has chosen the same imperfect capitalist system to increase the quality of life in their country.
Rosa was Fidel Castro’s primary Spanish-Russian translator. The revolution had sent her to study Russian in Moscow, and she had studied diligently. She would claim with a smile that McNamara, always wanted to see her Spanish translation converted into English, so he could see how she was interpreting issues. She had served Castro during the 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and relayed the whole incident with the drama of a Mexican soap opera.
The malecon (the sea wall) is Havana’s bar, restaurant and source of entertainment. As the work day ends, and the sunset lights the sky, the city migrates to the seawall to drink rum, fish, talk stories, and play music. This was the only place Pancho ever wanted to live, because besides the fishing, he loved it all.
In fact, Rigo told us everyone had a side hustle in Havana. Everyone went to work for the government during the day, but at night sold beans out of their backdoor, cut hair on their terrace, or taught salsa to tourists. It was this shadow economy that kept the island running.
We were not entirely comfortable there, as we knew rains upstream might flood the river bed in the darkness, but all that descended that night was a piecing alpine cold. We had not brought sleeping bags to save weight, and long before dawn we were all awake willing the sun to pass over the surrounding peaks and flood the river valley below.
In the end, reality is only what we agree it to be, and in this situation with such limited understanding between staff at ASUR and villagers in Maragua, parallel versions of the truth are kept. I see my role as a bridge of communication that can better relate theories to facts, weaving a closer understanding of what is important, possible, and realistic.
For my first Carnival, I traveled to Oruro, a city referred to as the “Indigenous Capital of the Country”, hosting the largest parade in the country.
About every two to three weeks during the beginning of the rainy season, I start waiting for a couple of sunny days in a row and then hike the two and a half hours out to the river to see if it is low enough to cross. Two weeks ago when I did exactly this, I really wished I had not.
I now have a functioning little bedroom and an adjacent kitchen area. I also used the excess stones from the work we did on the house to build a vegetable garden.
My first weeks as an official volunteer have been rough. I just finished a ten day stint out in my site (the village of Maragua) and feel as though I have been put through an agonizing gauntlet.
When my plane first landed in Bolivia, there were protests and road blocks in the capital of La Paz and none of the public transportation was running. In my first week, volunteers were rotating through the Bolivian hospitals and I thought, this is going to be a difficult experience.
Today marks my 14th day in Bolivia and my spirits are still high. Currently, I am in the training stage of my service which will last for ten more weeks before we are sent out on assignment. I am living in an extremely rural area like I have never experienced before. I have an outhouse, electricity most of the time, and water some of the time.
These are excerpts from my Peace Corps diary. They are set in a Quechua community, perched 10,000 feet in the Bolivian Andes, lost in a time before electricity and running water.