A Travellerspoint blog

It's Neh-Vah-Duh, Not Ne-Va-Duh

Working in and around Reno, Nevada Week 0-5


As most of you know I have moved out west to Nevada. Living in Reno has been an adjustment to say the least, but pretty awesome nonetheless. I have been here for about 2 months already and have been to some pretty exciting new places. Just with work I have been to South Lake Tahoe, working on Christmas Valley Trail, Cold Creek Trail, Daggot Trail, Dartinel Lake Trail, Duck Creek in Ely, NV and Lamoille Canyon. Each any every place has been really different from the last and has been really fun to work and explore after work.

Camping with the crew has also been pretty awesome. Though we get on each others nerves from time to time, we handle it pretty well and make it work. It's pretty sweet to work in a new place every week and get to go hiking or fishing after work. And it is extremely satisfying knowing that what i'm doing, people will be using for years and years.

This next week I will be working in South Lake for a few days before I head down to Vegas for the winter, thats right, I'm wintering in Vegas this year.

Once I am in Vegas, these blogs will be more frequent and more detailed. Love and Miss the East Coast

Posted by MJMatson 13:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Pura Vida

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Monday January 4, 2010

This morning we got up at went on a tour of a coffee farm, La Tripache. It was actually a working sugar mill, but with the invention and implementation of newer more efficient means of harvesting sugar, they had to diversify a little. So it also became a coffee farm. For someone who drinks as much coffee as I do, I was shocked at how little I knew about the process of growing and harvesting beans as well as the roasting part. However, I do have a new favorite coffee and it is grown in the cloud forest of Monteverde. Also on the tour we got to see the sugar mill process, which in my opinion was gross. They kept making us try all this sugar, it smelt horrible, and tasted even worse. We did get to make our own candy, which was cool but did not taste very good in my opinion, although some people on my trip thought otherwise.

We then headed back to Santa Elena for some lunch and time to explore the city a little more. A group of us ate at an obvious tourist trap restaurant called the Tree House. It was pretty cool though, in the middle of the restaurant was a huge tree and it was also the roof of the restaurant. The food was pretty good and it wasn't too expensive. After that, Jenna and I wanted to find some authentic stuff so we wondered a little off the beaten path and found a great little shop with the old women making Incan style clothing right in front of you. It was pretty cool and of course we both found some things we loved.

When we finally got back, we had some time to catch up on some reading, journaling and time to get ready for a meeting with Martha Campbell and then a nice dinner with the group. Martha Campbell is the daughter of one of the founding families and her father documented almost all of the villages historical events and everyday happenings with film, so she had some really interesting photos. She was also born and has lived in Monteverde her whole life so she really has seen the area change and had some great stories of her own to tell. We even got to watch a beautiful sunset from her front porch.

We then headed out to a great dinner and some drinks before heading back to our hotel.

Tuesday January 5, 2010

Today wasn't exactly a busy day. We left Monteverde and started our trek to Coopesilencio. On our way there, we easily went through 6 or 7 different climatic zones. When we left Monteverde it was cool and only a little humid, when we got off the bus to walk across the bridge, it was everything you would imagine Costa Rica to be, hot humid and sunny. We had to walk across the bridge because it was literally too unstable for a bus with its passengers to go across at the same time. As we walked across the bridge we looked down and saw dozens of huge croc's just waiting for the bridge to give so they could have a nice snack.

We then got back on the bus and made our way to La Playa de Herradura. We spent lunch and about 2 hours just relaxing on the beach and in the water. We then made our way to the town of Quepos. Quepos is the gateway community to the Manuel Antonio National Park. We spent a quick half hour in Quepos before getting back on the bus for about a half hour to Coopesilencio. Most of us were so whiped, we ate some dinner and were in bed before 9pm.

Wednesday January 6, 2010

This morning we had a nice traditional breakfast of huevos y casado, which is rica and beans, eggs and toast. We then had a quick class session, where my group gave a lesson on Communities Capitals Frameworks and the concept of spiraling up and spiraling down. We then made our way to a tour of the town. I should start with the fact that Coopesilencio is a Cooperative Village.

We started with a tour of the Wildlife Preserve in which they have spider monkeys, toucans, scarlet macaws and white faced monkeys. With most of these animals they will nurse them back to health and then slow release them back into the wild. We then made our way through town, to their store and back to our hotel, which also happens to be their personal tourism project. We then had a quick lunch before heading back on the tour to look at their African Palm Plantation, the village (La Paz, which means the Peace) they are adding to accomodate the young adults who grew up in the village and who are starting families of their own now. We also saw their Women's Cooperative (who would have thought, a cooperative within a cooperative) as well as their farm.

We then had some time to kill before dinner so a few of us made our way down to the river for a quick dip to cool our body temps down. We then made our way back, had a shower and had a quick dinner. We then made our way to another town about an hour away to watch Coopesilencio play a futbol game. Coope of course won and it was a great experience to watch and really be a part of a huge part of their culture. We all had an amazing time and had a few good laughs both at the game and on the bumpy ride back.

Pura Vida!

Posted by MJMatson 20:01 Comments (0)

Course in Costa Rica

17 in Costa Rica

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January 2, 2010

This morning was an early morning as we headed out around Lake Arenal on our way to Monteverde. About a quarter of the way there, we stopped at a wind farm called Plantos Eolicos. On our tour through the engineering room and a little of the property one of the students on the trip with us jumped and fell and dislocated his shoulder. It put a little damper on the mood but as we continued on we found a Costarican Red Cross and had him looked at.

When we finally made it to our hotel, we settled in for a bit before heading to Instutito Monteverde, where we had a talk from one of the directors on the history of the area and some issues in the area and what has changed with the development of tourism in the area. It was pretty interesting to hear his perspective and see how much he truly loved the area and did not want to leave.

We didn't have a group dinner tonight so a bunch of us headed to a tapas bar or appetizer bar where we enjoyed our small portions and large mojitos. After a few each, we wondered back to our hotels and hit the hay.

January 3, 2010

This morning we were up at 6, had breakfast and headed to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Our guide was amazing, as are all of the other guides in the park. Monteverde has a huge guide association with huge requirements and years of training. Our guide however, only gives 3 tours a month and donates them to the reserve, he is also the owner of a bakery in town and is the son of one of the Quaker founders of the area.

The interesting thing about Monteverde is that it was founded by a group of Quakers from Alabama who left the states because they opposed the peace time draft. This group came down to Costa Rica because a few years prior, they had dismantled their standing army and put the funds towards education. When they found this area, they settled it, made roads to it and started the conservation of the cloud forest in order to make sure that their drinking water was clean.

The tour of the reserve was pretty spectacular. After we had lunch at our tour guides bakery (not on purpose) but then we got to go to CASEMCOOP which is a women's artisan cooperative in the community. It was amazing to get to speak with the women their, although I spoke through a translator, it was truly amazing to hear their story and how much they had influenced the community they live in. They have had a huge impact on their children's ability to recieve higher education as well as the conservation and environmental mind set that the whole community shares.

We then had the rest of the day to walk around and experience Monteverde and Santa Elena. After a full day of exploring, we headed to Marvin Rockwell's home. He was one of the young men who was put in jail for not joining the draft and a founder of Monteverde. He shared with us his story of his journey down, what they did when they finally got here and his life since. His wife also cooked us an amazing dinner and we went to bed quite happy.


Posted by MJMatson 16:24 Comments (0)

Sustainable Development in Costa Rica

17 days in Costa Rica

overcast 85 °F
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Over winter break I took a course on ecotourism and sustainable development in Costa Rica. We did a lot of awesome things, went to gorgeous people and met some amazing people. Over the next few days, I'll basically re-write what I wrote in my journal that I took over the course of the trip since I had no means of posting on my blog while I was actually in country.

December 30, 2009
Today I headed down to San Jose, Costa Rica. When I first arrived, me and a few other people from class hopped in a cab and met up with the rest of the students at our hostel. We simply said to them, enfrente de pollo kentuky en san pedro, which means opposite the Kentucky Fried Chicken in San Pedro. We had some dinner and a quick meeting to go over what our expectations were and what to expect in the next few days. It was a pretty short day, but I was extremely exhausted from traveling.
Costa Rica, as I was flying in looked like a really beautifully green country. However, when I landed, I was definitely in a city. San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica so I was expecting it to be like any other capital city, however with all the hype around the ecotourism and conservation movement you hear that Costa Rica is all about you would be surprised to see just how much like a city it is. The roads were well paved and there were A LOT of cars and people walking around looking like they were coming from work. However, as we walked to dinner you noticed the side walks were not very well kept with tons of cracks and huge dropoffs as well as the mounds of garbage sitting in vacant lots. I can tell you that I am extremely interested in seeing how different the different regions of this country are in comparison. And I am definitely excited about learning about the development of these areas.

December 31, 2009
Today we met our driver for the next 2 weeks, Herardo, and got into our van and headed to Fundacion Neotropica which is a Non-Profit or NGO that focuses on conservation and environmental and development projects. We met with the director who told us about the organization and some projects they do. We will be staying with them for a few days later on in the trip but we are also visiting an institute in which they work very closely with.
After spending some time there, we hit the road and headed to La Fortuna which is the gateway community of the Arenal Volcano. La Fortuna became what it is today when the Arenal Volcano erupted in the 70's for the first time and eventually became a tourist destination. As we walked around, we noticed restaurants like Luigi's Pizza, Burger King and Asian Infusion foods, as well as your typical volcano themed restaurants, stores and souvenir shops catering towards the tourist who visit the area.
Most of the day was actually spent in the van on our way to La Fortuna, but we did get to see some of the countryside of Costa Rica. As we drove you could really see the difference in lifestyles in people from San Jose and those who do not live in the capital. It was really interesting to try and guess what their lives were like as we only got a glimpse as to what their jobs or means of income might be as we quickly drove past cattle ranches, farms of all sorts ranging from what I would guess were decorative plants, to coffee, to good old fashion agriculture. When we finally got to our hotel, we settled in before we headed to Ecothermales, which is a hot spring and restaurant. It was really cool to meet with the owner of the place. He told us his story how his family bought land for cattle farming when they discovered the hot springs, at this point the Volcano had not erupted and people did not even know it was a volcano, and how it evolved from a family spot to a now successful and quite green business operation.
What really touched me the most was Gerald's willingness to help those in the area. He has a very good waste management system in which he is sharing with all the other resorts, spas and hot springs, for FREE. That is not something you see everyday, especially in the US.
After our dinner and swim, we all headed back to Las Cabinas, where we quick got ready and attempted to go to the discotech for New Years. However, when we got there we discovered it was $12 just to get in so we went to the liquor store and got some drinks and headed back to our hotel where we rang in the New Year, twice actually. Once at 11 pm because thats when the ball dropped on TV (we were an hour behind eastern standard) and again at Midnight. It was really awesome to just hang out on the porch of our rooms and ring in the New Year in a new way.

January 1, 2010
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I woke up this morning and sort of forgot where I was, but when I rolled over and looked out the window of our room, I just smilied because I was so excited to spend my new year in a new country. We got up this morning and had to do something not as exciting and probably something no one really wants to do at 9 in the morning on new years day. We had to take our one and only test in the class. However, it wasn't too bad and we all felt pretty prepared for it.
Then we headed to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, where we had lunch and got a tour of the place. The lodge has an interesting background. It was first the site of the Smithsonian Researchers who came to the area in the 70's after Arenal first erupted. They set up a single room with a seismograph and eventually found themselves entertaining some off the beaten path type travelers. Eventually the platform turned into a few rooms and now it is a beautiful resort.
After some delicious lunch and a quick tour of the place, we headed to the the Arenal National Park where we had a tour of the base and an old lava flow from 1992, it was really awesome because we got to walk on it. The view was amazing, even though we could never see the top due to the clouds. But if you were quiet, you could hear the rocks tumbling down the side of the volcano.
We had dinner at a pretty nice restaurant, I am beginning to think that everywhere we go we will have some good food, because I have no come across a bad meal yet. We tried to see if the skies had cleared up to hopefully catch a glimpse of the molten lava coming out the top of the volcano, but we weren't so lucky and it was just too overcast.
Pura Vida!

Posted by MJMatson 20:04 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Halloween in Boston

sunny 55 °F

I ventured down to Boston, Mass this past weekend and got to spend my all hallows eve there. The weekend was full of great times with some old friends and some new.

Friday evening, we went to the Liberty Hotel where we went to the bar, Alibi. It's great because it was an old jail and on the walls are all these celebs mug shots with their hilarious alibis underneath. On Saturday, it was absolutely beautiful out. Sheryl and I went for a walk around Newbury Street before we headed back to her apartment to make some chocolate pumpkin cake (more like she and Karen made it, I watched). Then we got ready for the Benefit. I got into my Alice in Wonderland costume and Sheryl got into her leotard. She braved it and did Beyonce from the Single Ladies video. She also had her two single ladies with her once we got to Lindsay's house. It was a great night with pretty hilarious costumes, and an open bar.

Though my trip down to Boston was short, I had an amazing time. I love Boston and wouldn't mind having a little more permanent stay in the city.

Posted by MJMatson 19:15 Comments (0)

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