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Back =( [Dec. 9th, 2008|01:13 am]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Sigh.  Oh well.  I guess the next two weeks shall be GO GO GO GO and then a nice couple of weeks for Christmas.  I also have my sunburn fading away to look forward to in the short term.  I made a conscious decision to get toasted while hiking, such was my need for sun and disgust at my whiteness, and I am only slightly regretting that decision.

Costa Rica is amazing.  I am always sad to leave a Latin American country, but this one is pretty high in the ranking so far.  Major downsides: bad highways and expensive everything.  However, their national parks rival ours for awesomeness.  Please, Latin America, follow their lead. There is ridiculous cash to be made in hacking out a few trails in the wilderness.

My stay in Liberia ended up a two-night stay, so the rainforest canopy zipline shall have to come next time (March?).  The Rincon de la Vieja National Park was a very satisfactory and full two-day bit, complete with three intense waterfalls, two volcanoes, and an amazing range of ecosystems in a very small area.  The hotel I stayed at I would recommend to anybody (Hotel Guachipelin), as it is VERY well run and built, without wrecking the country feel.

Some highlights from the Park:
I saw an amazng collection of wildlife, defeating my conviction that despite the hype, odds were low at actually seeing any.  I saw: 45 beautifly deep blue butterflies and a smattering of others, 1 Guatuza, 1 Ardilla (squirrel), 1 Mapachin, multiple Monos Carablancas (including one with a baby on her back), multiple Iguanas, tons of birds, and I actually think I'm missing some.  It was as if the park rangers had hurried out and placed them all in their designated places before the tourists got there for viewing.  The three waterfalls were each about 4 miles from one another, and one ridiculously uphill...apparently they don't do switchbacks in Costa Rica, which I admire to some degree.  Many have been the times when I wished to trailblaze between inefficient switchbacks.  There were also multiple boiling muds pools and little volcanic vents strewn around, making various areas smell like sulpher, but the wind was VERY strong and enough to blow it all away.  This all came on day two, when I did not have to travel and had more time to check out the park.  Day one I set out to conquer the peak (roughly the same hight as Huphreys in Flag, only starting out at the elevation of Phoenix and not Snowbowl).  I got most of the way to the top, but partway through the barren windswept and burned out section close to the rim of the crater, the wind was gusting at well over 75mph and I truly feared to be blown off the ridge.  Apparently that very thing happend to some guy a week or so ago.  I had the sense to come back down, but mostly because there was no chance of a good photo at the top.  The clouds were dense, all huddled around the top, and blowing rain in my face that felt more like rocks than droplets.

The hiking, as previously stated, ranged from casual to intense, giving me exactly what I had been missing in DC, INCLUDING much sun as I the jungle gave way to windswept semiarid areas that look an awful lot like Tucson and Prescott.  I would sum up and say Guanacaste (the state in which all this is to be found) is pretty much Arizona, plus water.  I am in love with life again, including the sunburn.

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Brian vs. the Man (ie Costa Rican Tourism geared towards Highly Immobile Americans) [Dec. 5th, 2008|07:01 pm]
[mood |contentcontent]
[music |Till there was you - courtesy of the piano guy in the fancy shmancy lobby]

Yes, I have survived the week of meetings, and twas definitely a success.  I am excited to get back to the office and get the project off the ground by writing a bazillion emails and writing up a trip report.  But EVEN BETTER than that (o yes, it gets better), the head of Microsoft Costa Rica´s cousin in law is going to pick me up at the bus station tomorrow in Liberia after a 5-hour cross country jaunt (truly excited to see the countryside), and will deposit me at the gates of a national park where I will hike my little heart out, and possibly leap into the boiling caldera of an active volcano.  They also got a me a 30% discount at the hotel for those who call and happen to be Costa Rican.  Phase two will most likely include Brian going to the gates of a different national park closer to San Jose via bus rather than a (guided, expensive and lame) tour and bushwacking his way through a ´cloud forest´.  He is contemplating whether or not to shell out to be a lame tourist and do the zip line awesomeness where you get to not only fly over the jungle at high velocity, but to get there must often climb a series of tree fort things that sound an awful lot like Ewok-land.  I shall take as many pictures as the little camera can hold, but mostly just hoping to get eaten by a puma...that would definitely be an exciting way to go.
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Adventures in Costa Rica [Dec. 2nd, 2008|07:15 pm]
[mood |energeticenergetic]

Well, here I am once again on a whacked out keyboard from latin america, this time in Costa Rica!  I must report that although the flight down here was horrendous (thanks american airlines...we always knew you were the best...I only picked you so I could use your miles on Lan Chile and British Airways), upon which I got a migraine (awesome), the trip has so far been a ridiculously complete success (day one, lets noy jinx this).  The local OAS office has been amazingly helpful, and I got my first experience acting like somebody important.  They were waiting for me with the name card as I got off the plane, then I was whisked through a special door, greeted by the flash of a couple of camaras (whoa, I mean whoa...NOT good for my ego =), then taken to a plush waiting area while some guy took care of my immigrations stuff and got my bag.  I was then choffered to my hotel and have been choffered everywhere else since then...I must say I´m kind of getting used to it. =)

Not to worry, this was all balanced with a horrific meeting with the minister of labor, who is THE conssumate do-nothing/it´s all about me/what people? politician.  Of course, the meetings with microsoft, the national chamber of commerce, the chamber of US businesses, and the meerting with our local partner organization all went absolutely great.  This project is agoing to be a great success, judging bu these people I have to work with.  For the weekend I have planned to go on a two night trek to the tallest peak in thye country (YESSSS), if I can squeeze it in, which I shall do at almost any cost.  I honestly can´t wait for tomorrow to begin.  This job can be awesome.
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This, my friends, is sick. [Nov. 28th, 2008|04:47 pm]
[mood |cynicaldisgusted]

"A worker died and at least three people were injured after being trampled by a crowd of shoppers at a Wal-Mart in the New York suburbs."

At least when people get trampled in other countries, it is due to fear, not greed.  This quite genuinely makes me sick to my core.  I hope to God there is a joint-and-several lawsuit filed against everyone who shopped in that store when it opened.  I don't care if some innocent person gets fined.  That is mob mentality and it has got to stop.  People don't stampede in my country.  Stores who mark down their prices for a limited number of hours should also be fined for incensing the public to violence and needlessly disturbing the peace.  Mark my words: when I am king, this will all change.

And another thing: price gouging to draw the entire market to yourself has got to be illegal in this country, if it is supposedly illegal in international trade.  And if those products are simply set at the cost of production for a few short hours, that means the rest of the year they are marked up at ridiculous rates and those stores should receive a windfall tax on every other day of the year.
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Update [Nov. 19th, 2008|08:48 pm]
I am scheduled to get internet at home next Wednesday, so expect to see more of me online after then.  In the meantime, it is almost 9 o'clock and I am at the office because it has internet, and a microwave.  Two reasons for this: I went on a tour of the Capitol Building today and so had to stay late at work, and I went running on the mall after work.

My potential roommate bailed on me for lack of storage space (blah), so now I'm hunting and praying I find a good one before December starts.  I can handle rent on my own, but there goes my chance to save.

Life is good: I was stressed about work but this week has gone well...plus I thought today was Thursday so I just gained a day!  Going to Costa Rica for work the first week of December!  Spending Thanksgiving with the cousins here in DC!  Just bought a not-too-pricey ticket to be with brothers and mom and chuck for Christmas!
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(no subject) [Nov. 10th, 2008|12:38 pm]
It's depressing when you find out that your organization lies about it's statistics.  Good thing I'm semi in-charge of them now.  We won't look as pretty, but darn if we're not going to get a lot tougher with out local partner organizations.

On the bright side: our centers in Guatemala kick some serious heiney.
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Inundated [Nov. 7th, 2008|12:52 pm]
[mood |stressedstressed]

I am completely inundated at work.  We are trying to process grant reports for microsoft, using bad reports from past quarters and bad reports from this quarter.  Everyone is swamped.  I would love to just take a month and organize this place, but it can't be done.  I am comforted knowing the work I do now will make my job much much easier in the coming quarters, but as for now, I want to break my computer.

I'm really glad I went running yesterday.  I would have gone insane by now if I had not.
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Look at the global headlines; they make me happy [Nov. 5th, 2008|09:28 am]
[mood |pleasedpleased]

Around the World Now:

Africa: Kenya declares holiday for Obama
Asia-Pacific: Asia offers Obama a warm welcome
Europe: Europe leaders hail Obama victory
Middle-East: Middle-East leaders welcome Obama
South Asia: South Asia hails Obama's victory

Not that we should vote for whom the world wants for our President, but it's nice to have the world on our side again.

Then again, there's Latin America:
Maradona named as Argentina coach

I guess some things are just more important to Latin America (in the eyes of the BBC editors) than the US president. =)
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Whoa there... [Nov. 4th, 2008|05:51 pm]

"Voting advocacy group Common Cause reported problems in the town of Greely, in northern Colorado. The group said Spanish-speaking voters could not understand polling materials which were printed only in English, and that there were not enough interpreters."

Um, last time I checked you have to be a citizen to vote, and to become a citizen you need to pass an English test, or you were born here, in which case you should probably understand a ballot in English.  If not, perhaps you shouldn't be voting in this country.

I'm all pro Americans learning foreign languages (one of my majors was Spanish) and blending with foreign cultures, but please, understand a country's de facto common language if you plan on participating.

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(no subject) [Nov. 4th, 2008|05:23 pm]

He will also get all the riches and power and ladies associated with such a position!
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