E11-How to Find the Pura Vida Life: Interview with Caryn from Minnesota

 

Caryn and I bumped paths while still working in a hostel in Costa Rica. She is hard to miss between her immeasurable height, voice, and personality to match. As boisterous as her presence is, she is attracted to the relaxed, Caribbean sway that is hard to come by in frigid Minnesota. I bring her on initially to tell a regional American joke that I had never heard before. This is a little snapshot of the energy and playfulness that is bouncing out of her and I will let it speak for itself.

In this podcast episode, we discuss

  • What it is like to live in Minnesota
  • Why she travels to Costa Rica
  • What the Pura Vida life provides her
  • Her favorite food in Costa Rica
  • What are Lina and Oli jokes?
  • Where did Lina and Oli jokes originate?

Lena and Ole jokes became popularized around the 1940’s in the Northern Midwestern states of America. They are born from the Norwegian and Swedish immigrants who landed in the US, playfully making fun of their cultural misunderstandings in their new homes and cooling tensions between the immigrants and locals.  I loved that I had to go all the way to Costa Rica to discover these jokes that are coveted by an entire group of people who share my nationality.

By meeting Caryn you can understand how these innocuous, teetering between ranchy and wholesome jokes have molded her springy light on life, I didn’t get to spend too much time with her, yet her laugh is still vibrating within me.

Here’s one for the road.
Ole is on his deathbed. The doctor has told him he has only a few hours to live. He catches the scent of his favorite bars wafting through the air. With all the strength he can muster, he drags himself into the kitchen and sees a fresh pan cooling on the rack. He cuts one out and bites into the scrumptious cookie. Lena comes in, smacks his hand, and says, “Shame on you, Ole! Dese are for after de funeral!”

 

Advertisements

E10-A World Filled with Sun: Interivew with Tiina from Finland

San Jose, Costa Rica

 

 I met Tina, from Finland, while making breakfast for the travelers at hostel Beku in Costa Rica.

My main job while volunteering at the hostel was to make breakfast for all of the guests and other volunteers, which was nice to be creative and cook in the quiet pura vida mornings- alone with my thoughts as I sliced pineapple and mixed generic pancake mix in water.

A slender girl about my age, always wearing tights and a loose fitting prismatic tee shirt would typically be the first to come in and make tea. She was cute with bobbed brown hair and eyelashes that fluttered off of her eyes like that naturally framed and darkened her eyes without mascara. Now I usually hate talking in the mornings, but with her conversations came naturally.

When I’m in the place I live in, I’m typically an introvert and desire silence, but I would force myself to wake up and interact with this girl.

“What are you doing up so early? I hate being up at this hour.”

“ I have started doing yoga here.”

‘Of course you do,’ I thought to myself, ‘every white girl comes to Costa Rica to yoga.

“I had a lot of issues with my back and it really helps.”

Whelp, I’m quick to judge.

But it was nice to have some company as I whipped up the pineapple juice off the counter and added cinnamon to the pancake batter.

“Where are you from?” I asked unable to specifically identify her accent.

“Finland.” She curtly replied

After emerging from my introverted turtle shell I said, “Omg, you are far from home!” and couldn’t stop asking her questions about her home life.

She was the first person I had ever met from Finland, and I was fascinated with why she chose to travel to Costa Rica and what it was like to be in an environment so far the one that completely contradicted her home life.

Tina needed to find a place that was a 180 from her 9 months of snow, before becoming complacent with her beautifully simplistic life above the arctic circle. She decided to go and explore a climate and people on the other end of the world away from her reindeer eating folks men. Flying in with a come what may attitude, Tina has not been disappointed with the challenges she has faced and exposure to new perspectives that have blossomed within her in a warmer world without snow. This trip has generated great reflection and better understanding about who she is fundamentally, and how she wants to construct the scaffolding of her future. Here’s her story.  
In this podcast episode, we discuss

  • What it is like to live above the arctic circle.
  • The psychological and social aspects of being in darkness.
  • What life in Finland is like.
  • What it is like to live in a world dominated by snow.
  • How to socialize with Finnish people.
  • How to cook reindeer.
  • Why she chose to travel to Costa Rica.
  • What she has learned about herself while traveling.
  • The self-growth she has experience from travel.
  • How to tell really bad jokes in Finish- spoiler alert- they hate talking.

Why Travel to Quintana Roo

The bedrock of the Yucatán peninsula is unique to the world. The layers of carbonate and soluble rock, mostly limestone, allow cenotes to form. Local to only this region of the world, cenotes are fresh water pools created by collapsed limestone around the land that was once ruled by the Mayans. The intensity of the colors in these freshwater pools are like swimming in a pool of smeared colors on a painter’s palate; turquoise blends with navy blue and forest green. Cenotes were easily my favorite new discovery while traveling through Quintana Roo, Mexico.

With only a small amount of soil on the surface to contain it, rain water filters down through the rock and, through the progression of time, forms underground rivers. As these rivers flow, they erode the soluble rocks around them and carve out tunnels and underground caverns. Eventually, without enough support beneath them, the roofs of these caverns will collapse, exposing the ground water beneath.

Cenote is the Spanish equivalent of the Mayan word “dzontot”, meaning “well.” These wells were the only source of fresh water for the Mayan people occupying the Yucatán. It is easy to see why many of their sites are built around or within close proximity of, these natural structures. There are estimated to be around 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatán, many of which still remain undiscovered.

Some cenotes appear like ponds on the surface, whilst others can look like ponds that lie tens of feet below the surface and have sheer walls: appearing much like a well. Older cenotes, may lie tens of feet below the surface and have caverns or overhangs around or above them.

Cenotes themselves can lead to vast underground caves, many have yet to be mapped. The second largest cave in the world is Sistema Sac Actun and lies in the Municipality of Tulum, inside the Riviera Maya. The two longest underwater cave systems in the world, are located in the state of Quintana Roo. Both have consistently increased in length as they have been explored.

They were the Mayan’s sole source of fresh water, but they also had religious connotations. Water from some cenotes was thought to be holy and collected by priests and used during rituals at temples. In Mayan mythology, there were three entryways into Xibalbá, the underworld, and one of these was believed to be at the bottom of cenotes.

The Maya also believed they could communicate with the Gods by offering sacrifices and gifts into cenotes, including humans. The rain god Chac was thought to live at the bottom of cenotes and this was depicted in murals and artwork. The Water Lilly Serpent has also been depicted in these artworks and it was believed that the presence of lilies in a cenote denoted that the water was pure.

Water from some cenotes was thought to be holy and collected by priests and used during rituals at temples.

In Mayan mythology, there were three entryways into Xibalbá, the underworld, and one of these was believed to be at the bottom of cenotes. The Maya also believed they could communicate with the Gods by offering sacrifices and gifts into cenotes, including humans. The rain god Chac was thought to live at the bottom of cenotes and this was depicted in murals and artwork. The Water Lilly Serpent has also been depicted in these artworks and it was believed that the presence of lilies in a cenote denoted that the water was pure.

On the grounds of Chichen Itza, there is also a sacred cenote also referred to as the Well of Sacrifice, where they would throw relinquished bodies into the waters covered with head dresses and jewelry, weighing them down and thwarting them from swimming or floating.

What To Do When Visiting Cenotes

Cenotes are the perfect location for snorkeling and scuba diving. The filtration of the water through the bedrock into these underground rivers leaves them almost entirely free of floating particles; resulting in crystal clear waters and visibility up to a spectacular 200ft (60meters). Besides awe inspiring underwater landscapes and a variety of aquatic plant life, there is also a quantity of fish that inhabit these subterranean worlds including, but not limited to: tetras, catfish, and wild mollies.

Not a fan of snorkeling or scuba diving? This certainly does not mean that you shouldn’t visit a cenote. Not only are they naturally beautiful wonders but cenotes are natures very own naturally formed swimming pools. Here, shaded by the surrounding jungle you can find spots to sunbath and then cool off inside the water, which year round stays at a blissful 24°C (75°F). You may also see some jungle wildlife swing by whilst you are relaxing here in these jungle oases.

Searching for Self

Episode 9

Lake Atitlan: Guatemala

Have you always resisted the office job? Do you need a life that keeps you moving, questions, and searching for yourself outside of the conventional path? David had those same questions and drives. In this episode he opens up about the struggles and exhaustion of not fitting in and the rewards he has found by stepping off the trail and walking down an unpaved route. Here is his story.

Hoogly

Episode 8

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Are you about to finish university and have a future that is unsettlingly open? Are you afraid you don’t have a clear direction and are nervous about leaving the structure of school? Are you uncertain on whether you should take a little time to go find yourself and journey to someplace new? These were all questions that were plaguing Lisa from Germany, who I met on a tiny boat late at night in Lake Atitlan Guatemala. We talk about her research, her decision to travel and be out of her comfort zone. Hear her story and reflection about choosing to travel a distance corner of the world instead of jumping right into a career- and the rewards she would have never received had she stayed in her homeland. Hear her story on Strangers Abroad!

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.

Scavenger Hunts Coming Soon!

12301300_919793268088990_1841679732_n

I have been working on some Scavenger Hunts for different cities I explored intimately throughout Latin America.

They will not be a “here’s what to do and where to go” but more of “here are the nuances of the city; here is what the cities pulse sounds, tastes, looks, feels, smells like.”

We are not here to check items off a list; we are here to live it.

Some cities to look forward to-

  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Playa del Carmon, Mexico
  • Caye Caulker, Belize
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
  • Bocas del Torro, Panama
  • Bogata, Colombia
  • Arequipa, Peru
  • ….and many more!

 

No Kids till 50 Countries

 

Tulum: Mexico
Have you ever felt that all the gadgets and things you have bought for yourself still leaves you emotionally unsatisfied? Have you ever thought of selling everything you have to hit the open road?Ed and V Noriega were having those same feelings too. They realized that they were running out of time to see the world before committing to the biggest responsibility of all:children. So they sold all they had ( profitable companies and all their tech toys) to go and explore other corners of the world. They have made a vow to not have children until they have been to 50 countries together. Listen to “ 50 Countries before Kids” and see whether the choice to abandon their stable lives to explore for a few years has paid off. Hear their story on Strangers Abroad!

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.

We Only Know Tomorrow

Palenque: Mexico 

We now journey north through Mexico, through Chiapas to Palenque, which is where we meet Georgia and Martin. There are often times when I meet people who I have to tear away from in order to stop talking to them and I am often curious about other people’s travels. Travel is the truest test of any relationship and can make it or break it ( I ended a year long relationship after a week in Mexico with my now ex-boyfriend). Travel provides new and vastly different experiences or challenges, forcing you both out of your comfort zone and exposing different sides of each other. These two are a great example of how travel can strengthen the bond between two people. They move to an invisible rhythm that they both can only hear and dance to together, created by spending so many hours beside each other. They have spent six months of exploring the expansive continent of South America, absorbing all of it’s beauty and pain, and are finally ready to settle in at home with a nice cup of English tea. Here is their story.

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.

Wedding Ring Tattoos

Puerto Escondido: Mexico

The Texans are the last group of people I interviewed at our surfer hostel community in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. They were the mom and dad of our volunteer community and in charge of the organic garden, always tending to both people and plants. They had decided to abandon the American dream long ago- filled with too many catches and contradictions-and aspired for a new life where they can propagate their own food and philosophies. We talk about the ways they are living their aspired alternative lifestyle:engineering their car to run on biofuel, cultivating their own superfoods, and living as DIY as possible in their sunny spot by the sea in southern Mexico.

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.