Archive for February, 2011

Learning Spanish Week 7

Monday, February 28th, 2011

This week was probably the most painful. We were revising what we have learnt. I often felt that I cannot take anymore and needed to get out of the room. It is sometimes depressing how much work and time it takes to learn a foreign language and how quickly you forget it without practice. The grammar is obviously the most depressing part; you keep on asking yourself and your poor teacher “WHY?” What is the point of this stupid rule? Eh, life, pura vida…

We also leant Imperfect Tense in Spanish which seems to be rather easy grammatically (only three exceptions!!!) but has very confusing usage. Practice makes perfect!

Who will win the Best Picture award in the Oscars 2011

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

There are ten nominees for Oscar and after I watched all of them I wanted to ask: “WHY are so many of the nominated films not so great?”

Year after year the Oscars are marketing themselves as the most prestigious award but is it actually a fair award? I have certain doubt even after considering that everyone has different tastes.

Ok, the films which I believe have a right to be on the list:

Black Swan

The King’s Speech

The Social Network

True Grit

All the above mentioned movies were very well done, well presented and directed.

Shall I guess which film will have a right to be named the best movie 2011 before the actual event? I shall try to guess it is going to be “Black Swan”.

I also expect to see a pregnant Natalie Portman receiving her Oscar for her fabulous work in “Black Swan. We will see very soon :).

Money exchange in Costa Rica

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Costa Rica has its own currency which is called the “colon”. The current exchange rate is 1$ for 500 colones. In a tourist town like Tamarindo you can freely use dollars pretty much everywhere. If you are planning to go somewhere away from the tourist attractions it is recommended to have the local currency. You should also expect that even if you pay for something in dollars the change is very likely to be given in the local currency.

As we know, sometimes it is still more convenient to use the local money. Therefore, we need a place to exchange. You can use an ATM machine in Costa Rica to take cash out but you should be aware that you will be charged by both the Costa Rican bank and your home country bank. My experience here proved it to be too costly. Another way to get colones is to arrive to Costa Rica with a stack of dollars and change them in a local bank. You will need your passport to do so. I went to a couple of banks on the same day and noticed one pattern: all the local banks like San Jose Bank, Bank Nacional Costa Rica had a better exchange rate than the familiar names like HSBC or Scotia, which is why I always use a local Costa Rican bank.

How to eat Guanabana

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Guanabana ( Spanish for soursop) is a tree native to the Caribbean and some parts of Central and South America.

While in Costa Rica we could not go past the fruit in the supermarket as it was of a size of an American football ball.  We decided to give it a try.

The flavor of guanabana is probably closest to a pine-apple with a combination of citrus and somewhat creamy flavors. While dark green on the outside, the white interior is full of big dark seeds. The fruit is quite juicy so were a bit messy.

We were told by locals that when you buy this fruit you should touch it and feel some sort of softness of the skin and it means that the fruit is ready to be consumed. The locals often blend a guanabana pulp with some milk and have it as a drink instead of eating it.

Estadio National de Costa Rica

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Apparently, Costa Rica is about to open a new national stadium. It was a “present” from the Chinese government for establishing the relationship with China in 2007 instead of supporting Taiwan as it used to do before.

Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose has been already completed and the inauguration will take part in late March for the whole week starting with a friendly game against China, followed a couple of days later with a game against Argentina and finishing with a concert of Shakira on April, 4, 2011. After that, the stadium, the capacity of which is a bit over 35 000, is going to be used mostly for football matches.

A lovely cup of tea

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Ok, what kind of tea would you make if someone would ask you for “a cup of  black tea with a little bit of milk”? Even my best Spanish :) did not help… three times…

What we received was a tea bag dropped into a cup full of hot milk. Yes, three times!

Learning Spanish Week 6

Monday, February 21st, 2011

This week was relatively easy, no more suffering from irregular verbs! YES!

We learned comparative sentences and the words and, of course, exceptions. Also we spent a considerable amount of time checking what we have learnt in the past. We should have an exam next week which is ought to reflect where are our week points. Let’s see how it goes!

Another big theme this week was dedicated to the usage of Spanish prepositions “por” and “para”. It is very confusing, to all the foreigners who are learning Spanish, to use correctly the above mentioned prepositions. We are not an exception and having difficulties using them.

Our teacher was very generous this whole week. She brought every new day some new typical Costa Rican food most of which we really enjoyed!

Journey to Poas Volcano

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Poas volcano is situated about forty kilometers away from San Jose (about an hour drive if you don’t get lost somewhere in between). I must admit that the signs for the Poas volcano are everywhere you can dream of. In Costa Rica, where signs are like an endangered species, it is quite an achievement! The reputation of being the one of the easiest volcanoes (or craters) to get to was fairly given. You need to drive all the way to the top, pay $10 per person as an entrance fee and $3 for parking and then walk about 5 minutes on a handicap accessible road to see the crater. How simple is that?!

It gets very cloudy there and the crater itself also lets steam out, therefore, it is often impossible to see the crater behind. I was lucky enough to see a small part of the crater before the clouds covered it completely. There is also a path from the crater which leads to a lake, where nothing can survive due to acidic water. Walking upwards to this lake is not an easy walk because you are 3000 meters above sea level and the air is very thin. There is nothing exciting to see at the lake as it looks just like a normal lake.

12 melons a day…

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

We were driving past a melon farm close to Samara Beach and decided to stop to get a melon or two as we saw a pile of melons outside. We asked for the price and heard “two for a thousand colones”.Ok,, $2 for 2 melons sounded very good, we picked two and gave the guy the money. He appeared to be rather upset with our money. We thought maybe it is not enough or we heard it incorrectly. Oh, not “dos” (two in Spanish) for a thousand but “dose” which is TWELVE.

I literally could not believe it is possible to simply buy twelve melons for two bucks!!!

Mountain Paradise Arenal, or Mosquito Paradise Hotel :)

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I really enjoyed my time in the Mountain Paradise Hotel near Arenal volcano. We reserved a standard room. Firstly, we had a great view of the volcano from the hotel room. Unfortunately, we could not use it due to the clouds which led to the rain the following morning. The rooms as well as hotel lobby and restaurant were designed in an ethnic manner.

I have to describe the bathroom separately as it was something I have never seen before. Basically, you get both a normal shower with a glass door AND you can have a shower which imitates a waterfall. What is also amazing is that all the plants in the bathroom imitating the tropical forest are not fake. So you can actually have a very pleasant shower experience by trying out both showers like I did. I also liked the design of bed and an elephant on my bed made with a towel. You should though expect a lot of mosquitos there. My poor boyfriend was literally attacked when he went on the balcony to sit down.

The territory of the hotel was kept very well. I even went to take a camera to take a couple of pictures of the gardens, what I never do in hotels. The pools were warm and pleasant, lovely water bar area… The only minus is the food in the restaurant. The dinner was quite pricy and not anything special. What I did not like is when we just entered the restaurant the waiter opened a bottle of water without asking… and then we saw a $4 charge on the bill for it. I simply find it wrong.

The breakfast buffet though was really good, even a fresh omelet station with a choice of ingredients. A simple touch that makes a difference.