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Costa Rica Day 7: Arenal

We started today with a hike in Volcán Arenal National Park, walking 5 kilometers over ash that was spewed by the still-active volcano in 1968 and 1992. A rewarding view awaited us at the end of our trek, and exciting wildlife greeted us at various points on our journey.


Ready to reward ourselves after the not unsubstantial distance we had covered, we next headed into the town of La Fortuna and settled for lunch at Las Brasitas, a nice Latin American fusion restaurant where we met a wonderfully warm waiter named Juan Carlos who had nicknamed me "mala" (the mischievous one) just minutes after making my acquaintance.
















Satisfied after our meal, we took an arduous post-prandial stroll down 560 steep steps to Catarata Fortuna, a 75-meter waterfall located close to the town. The view was a spectacular one, worth the most strenuous 1.2 kilometers we've ever climbed!


In the early evening, we ventured back into La Fortuna for some brief souvenir browsing before heading back to ou…

Costa Rica Day 6: Monteverde

We started this morning at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve -- one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Costa Rica. There, our guide Oscar regaled us with a slew of fun facts about micro-orchids, mini-avocados, and more.

















We had to leave the tour early, however, and be on our way to Mt. Arenal, an active volcano in northern Costa Rica! Our journey was  comprised of a car ride, a boat ride, and another car ride to our hotel. This boat ride was the highlight of our day, an hour spent speeding through a 360-degree view of the most idyllic and fluffy-looking scenery imaginable. No picture could capture the bright beauty of the ride, though Priya took a number of stunning panoramas of the scene.

After our triple-legged journey, we arrived at Arenal Springs Hotel, and got to work relaxing before enjoying the hot springs and thermal pools in the evening.


















Priya and I are comfortable in our cozy little cottage, and just enjoyed a Spanish-practicing sister dinner together, for a great night!

Costa Rica Day 5: Santa Elena

We were out the door and in our kayaks at 6 this morning, setting out on a tour similar to yesterday’s of the lagoon, but this time in kayaks. The peace afforded us by the morning and our lack of a motor was very powerful, and could be temporarily disturbed only by a few sightings of caimans, which are close relatives of alligators.

After two hours of rowing and wildlife-spotting, we cast off our wet clothes and squeezed into a small plane for four people. The ride back to San Jose was delightful, with banana and pineapple plantations underway, and clouds cuddling with our aircraft.


Right after touching down at the small airport in Costa Rica's capital, we piled into a van that would take us to Monteverde, home to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. But not before a quick stop on the way! We spied Playa Doña Ana en route, and enjoyed lunch on the beach.


Upon arriving at our hotel, Priya and I deposited our things and went in search of the gym at El Establo, which has clusters of …

Costa Rica Day 4: Tortuguero

We awoke dark and early this morning, getting up at 4:00 AM to leave for Tortuguero, a village situated on a sand bar island on the eastern coast of Costa Rica.


Our mode of transportation was this small chartered plane that seated 12 people and offered beautiful views of the incredible place we were approaching.

We touched down smoothly and made our way by boat to the cozy Tortuga Lodge, a 50-acre reserve bustling with biodiversity where we were served a lovely family-style Costa Rican breakfast before we relaxed in the nearby hammocks while waiting for our rooms.

Around noontime, we embarked on an afternoon boat tour of the lagoon and its various canals. We spotted several species of birds and other reptiles, and some of our most memorable moments came looking up at the canopy at spider monkeys leaping from branch to branch, and keeping an ear out for howler monkeys throughout. 
It was amazing to share with our boat-mates and those passing by on other motorboats and kayaks the sheer r…

Costa Rica Day 3: San Jose

We spent today exploring sunny San Jose. We started at Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, a fortress turned museum which holds artifacts related to Costa Rica's geological, archaeological, religious, and modern history.


We then took a leisurely fresh juice and lunch break in the Cafe Teatro, a truly scrumptious spot to snack near Plaza de la Cultura. 

Next, we checked out the inside of the theater, a delightful example of richly ornate architecture.

In the afternoon, Mama checked out the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) as the rest of us marched to Edificio Correos (the postal center of San Jose) so I could search for stamps for the postcards I had just purchased.

I filled these out upon returning to our hotel in the evening, and sent them out after dinner.














Tomorrow, it's off to Tortuego we go!

Costa Rica Day 2: Turrialba

We woke bright and early this morning, looking forward to a day of whitewater rafting. Coffee plantations, sugarcane factories, and volcanoes lay on the way to Turrialba Valley.


We stopped for breakfast about an hour into our journey at the charming Bocadito del Cielo, enjoying typical Costa Rican gallo pinto (rice and beans) and chocolate (rich hot chocolate) for our desayuno (breakfast). But worth drinking in as much as the Central American coffee were the views that surrounded the roadside restaurant.

We reached Pejibaye River, and after a brief tutorial on paddle strokes, hit the water! The experience was indescribable as stunning greenery surrounded us on all sides while we glided (and sometimes moved less smoothly) through the cool rapids. 

At the end of a long and lovely day of winding through the river, we arrived on shore exhausted and famished. What awaited us after we changed out of our soggy clothing was our raft, flipped over, transformed into a formal dining table, with…

Costa Rica Day 1: Arrivals

A lovely sight greeted us as we landed in San Jose this Christmas day.


After checking into our hotel, we stepped into the central square of the city and paid our respects at the beautiful Catedral Metropolitana.
















We explored other parts of the Parque Central, making stops at photo opps including the Teatro Nacional.
















We soon settled in for dinner at Tierra Nuestra, which afforded us a nice introduction to traditional Costa Rican food.


We're looking forward to getting to know the town better soon!

Note to Self

This is a reminder to myself. To slow down. Or rather, to stay slowed down. Midterm time has been crazy and I have a paper due this Thursday and rehearsal tonight and have to meet with a TF today and also check in with my boss but wait. It occurred to me this morning that all my days at Harvard are going to be like this, more or less. There's something looming at the end of the week, before the golden promise of a weekend that will be filled with catching up and working ahead for another week that will have something looming at the end of it. But I can't keep living for the weekend. We can't, right? Because when we look back on four years, it would be unfortunate to look back on roughly 120 weeks of just waiting for the weekend.

So I was kind of starting to feel "bad" this morning because I woke up an hour and a half late and read a measly 6 pages before scarfing down lunch and heading to a class before which I was supposed to go to office hours that I missed b…

Harvard Opportunes: On the Edge

Click here to listen to the new album recorded by my college singing group, the Harvard Opportunes! I promise you will love it. :)


P.S. My solo is track #11!

The New S&S

Dear readers,

As you may know, since last spring, I've been an intern with Sense & Sustainability, a blog and podcast which offers "fresh perspectives on sustainable development." The goal of the site is to make cutting-edge research on all things sustainable accessible to communities of students, activists, scholars and generally interested readers across the internet.

We've been hard at work this summer reimagining and redesigning the site -- the new S&S has the same goal, and now features a number of new ways for users to receive and interact with news and knowledge. Some of these include:
A new layout that makes it easier to find the content you’re looking for;Reorganized content themes that better align with rapidly evolving sustainability issues;A new S&S “News Digest,” which attempts to keep you up to speed with the stories we’re covering on the site;New in-depth “Issue Series,” published periodically and focused around a particular sustainability …

A Summery Summary

A few of you have asked me why I haven't posted in so long, and the answer isn't some exciting project I've been doing, internet-free, for the past few months; this summer has just been a lazy and lackluster one compared to my past few.

I came home for the summer with two goals -- to get in shape and to get my driver's license. I am glad to say I steadily and successfully crawled my way toward achieving both before leaving for school.

Someone told me that it takes 90 days of consecutive exercise to produce a visible difference in one's body, and my time off happened to be a convenient 90 days. Apart from times when I was suffering from a stomach bug in Mexico, some off-season cough-and-colds at home, and my present state of back-in-excruciating-pain, I worked out every day of this summer, without fail, regardless of where I was. I figured that summer was the best time to build up some confidence in my level of fitness in the most unobtrusive way possible. My routin…

Xochimilco and Coyoacan

We had another hectic and enjoyable fin de semana this week, spending Sunday hitting up not one but two huge tourist spots in D.F. You can trace our route on the map below from Polanco (A) down to Xochimilco (B) for the day before an evening in Coyoacan (C). We've been wanting to explore both of these places since we set foot in the city, so it was ultra exciting to do them both in one day!!


We made our way after a morning of smoothies and gymming first on the metro to Tasqueñas, a stop in the south of D.F., where our colleague Andy picked us up and drove us to our destination, collecting Rebeca on the way. Isabel and Jaume met us in the main square of Xochimilco, which Laura aptly describes as the Venice of Mexico.

We were met at the dock by a host of hyper-colorful traijineras, the flat boats which hold picnic tables for 14 to navigate the canals of Lake Xochimilco.


Floating along on these boats is such a spectacle!



Groups of friends sit snacking and drinking and soaking up the…

The water closet is vehement.

It's past midnight here but I really must write because Laura and I just got home from one of our most memorable nights in Mexico City and probably ever.

We just dined with Jose "Pepe" Casis, our colleague from Centro Mario Molina, and Graciela Reyes Retana, his wife whom I happen to have met two years ago when I accompanied my dad to Mexico on a World Bank trip.

The couple was recently married, and both of these brilliant people are moving to Ithaca, NY shortly to commence their PhD program in Natural Resources at Cornell University, courtesy the Fulbright scholarships they both won in the same field at the same time.

As if this isn't incredible enough, these two are the most enjoyable people to be around imaginable. After a gloomy week of sickness and lack of productivity, I was falling out of my chair tonight because I literally could not stop laughing at Graciela's stories and Pepe's imitations. We all knew a lot about one another soon into the meal, and had…

Markets and Miscellaneous Meandering

Today could not have been a more tiring or beautiful gym-tan-laundry day.

Laura and I rolled out of bed late after a night of birthday festivities and got to work on some matters of housekeeping: laundry, groceries, and fruit-iodizing (produce has to be soaked in water with iodine here in Mexico to compensate for the less-than-ideal water quality). With our things in the dryer, Laura and I headed down to the gym, where we inched our way through the most tiring workout we've done since being here (the effects of last night were clearly tangible).

We met at around 3pm with Louise; our amazingly kind, accomplished, and well-traveled French colleague; at Balderas Metro Station, having kept her waiting for over half an hour. Her patience was not in vain though, as while awaiting for us she found the grand open air library Biblioteca de México where we wandered on the way to Mercado Artesenal de la Ciudadela, a large market where Mexican handicrafts are sold.

We all searched for gifts f…