Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Verified Hours

Below are the dates and hours that we were actively working during our Physical Therapy ISL trip in Costa Rica (July 7-July 20, 2012).

Hogar Manos de Jesus nursing home, in-patient elderly:
Monday, July 9, 2012: 9:00am-1:00pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm = 6 hours
Tuesday, July 10, 2012: 9:00am-1:00pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm = 6 hours
Wednesday, July 11, 2012: 9:00am-1:00pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm  = 6 hours
Thursday, July 12, 2012: 9:00am-1:00pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm = 6 hours

La Carpio community, out-patient adults:
Saturday, July14, 2012: 9:00am-12:00pm, 1:00pm-3:00pm = 5 hours
Sunday, July15, 2012: 9:00am-12:00pm, 1:00pm-3:30pm = 5.5 hours
Monday, July16, 2012: 9:00am-12:00pm, 1:00pm-3:00pm = 5 hours

Servio Flores Arroyo Foundation for physically and/or mentally handicapped adults, out-patients adults:
Tuesday, July 17, 2012: 8:30am-12:00pm, 1:00pm-3:00pm = 5.5 hours
Wednesday, July 18, 2012: 8:30am-12:00pm, 1:00pm-3:00pm = 5.5 hours

Total hours: 50.5 hours

Total hours on my PTCAS verification form: 51 hours
(PTCAS does not accept half hour increments)

The hours I have above do NOT include: 
-Recreation days
-Lunch breaks nor the errands we ran on lunch breaks
-Travel time to and from the work site
-Travel time to and from lunch locations
-Buying materials for the wheelchair adaptations
-Our first day in which we had lectures and learned massage therapy techniques

For everyone else on my ISL team, Jennifer Vega Lopez (physical therapist) and Pepper Tucker (office overhead at ISL headquarters) have verified 51 hours total on my PTCAS application. I also added this trip to my 'Extracirriculars" section on my PTCAS application. 2 weeks = 336 hours, average hours a week = 168 hours. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Goodbye Costa Rica! + Advice for the next team

We woke up, showered, packed and had our last tropical breakfast at the hotel. We left the hotel at 10:30am and said our final goodbyes to Luis at the airport :( I already miss his goofy sense of humor! Luis and Jenny were awesome ISL leaders--I couldn't have asked for anyone better! We thanked Kenneth, too. He did a fantastic job driving through the clouds up in the mountains! And elsewhere since there are no traffic rules in Costa Rica--or so it seems. But I guess these Costa Ricans are used to it. The San Jose airport was under tight security. First, you have to pay a $28 tax just to leave Costa Rica. Then, we went through the usual security--but they even had another security depot at the gate! We couldn't approach the gate without having someone check our passport again, have our bags searched and get patted down. And we weren't allowed to take anything we bought in the airport on the plane--not even water. Good thing I didn't get any souvenirs. It didn't appear that they are always under tight security--maybe someone tipped them off about something? Our plane left a little late at 1:15pm. The flight was about 4 hours but it went by really fast! I had a TV screen in the chair in front of me and I watched The Hunger Games for free. I was so excited they had it!!! Our layover in Atlanta was short and sweet this time. Going through customs and border control was as smooth and quick as can be. I had just enough time to go through customs, security, find the gate, get a smoothie and call everyone before boarding the plane. Upon ascending, we went through a slightly turbulent storm cloud. My nails were dug into the seat in front me until it was over. Now I know what it feels like to be a cat. The second flight felt like it went by really fast, too. Taylor and Rachel didn't get moved, so we all sat together like planned. We chatted for a while and listened to music. When we landed I was super anxious to see Chris and my mom! My luggage arrived just fine and all of us girls said our goodbyes to each other. I was especially said to say goodbye to Rachel and Taylor--the 2 girls I felt closest to. I had such a fantastic time in Costa Rica and I wouldn't have traded that experience for the world! I recommend the trip to everyone who wants to go into physical therapy. It was the best thing I've done all summer or even all year, and I'm sure it will be one of the best things I'll ever put on my resume. Providing free medical care was very good for the soul. Experiencing the people and the culture really added to my character and growth as a person!

Misty rainforest mountains.

Our guides reading the thank you card, and Taylor haha.

 For anyone going on the physical therapy trip to Costa Rica:
1. You more than likely will get the same team leaders--Luis and Jenny. They are physical therapists themselves who work and live in Costa Rica, and they are awesome!!!!
2. If the hotel you are staying at is El Sesteo, they will have a safe. You do not have to worry about wearing a money belt the whole 2 weeks you are there. However, the safes are not big enough for a laptop or an iPad. Other people on my trip brought laptops and they were not stolen.
3. You will not always go to the same clinics that we went to. Our itinerary changed the first day we were there.
4. You will be able to do laundry at the hotel, but only from 4-8pm and it costs $5.00.
5. You will have access to free Internet at the hotel. If you have an iPhone, you do not need to bring a computer also. Make sure you go into AT&T before you leave to let them know you are going abroad. I bought 50 international texts for $10. I thought that was a good deal to keep in touch at times when there wasn't free Internet. You can download the Skype app for free and use Skype over the free hotel Internet. With that said, Facebook is also free only at the hotel.  Go into Settings, Go to General, then Network, and make sure your phone's Cellular Data is turned to Off--also make sure your Data Roaming is Off. As an extra precaution, go to Settings, make sure your phone is set so that Airplane Mode is On during the times you are not at the hotel--including when you first land in Costa Rica. I had no overages on my phone bill when I used these settings. Also, the hotel room phones allow you to call the US for a cost of $0.46/minute.
6. Bring at least 3 pairs of scrubs.
7. If your group decides on ziplining, you do not need to bring special clothes or gear.
8. Don't worry about trying to plan and book your recreation days before leaving--on your first full day your guides will help you do that. Your guides are from Costa Rica, so they know the best places to go and how to get the best prices. The ISL bus is your means of travel on your recreation days as well, which is free.

For those who are interested, here is the link to my Italy blog:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baldi Hot Springs at Volcano Arenal!

We had to get up at 6am to leave by 7. It takes 4 hours to get to the Baldi hot springs (Google it!!!). To get there, we have to wind our way high through a bunch of lush mountains, and we were driving right through the clouds!!! It was kind of scary because you couldn't see the headlights or the turns in the road until like 50-100 ft in front of the bus. I took a couple videos! We stopped at a rest stop and we were still in the cloud! Standing in it you felt all tingly, like you could feel tiny droplets but you couldn't see them because they were just there, they weren't falling. It was so awesome! Now we can say we have been in a cloud!

BALDI HOT SPRINGS!!!! Oh. My. God. This place was drop-dead gorgeous!!!! I mean it was quite literally heaven on Earth!!!!! It was so perfect and serene and precious and tropical and luxurious!!! The pictures really speak for themselves. At the top, there was a gigantic waterfall, and the water flowed down from it to various pools and jacuzzis all around below. The place was HUGE! The water was warmest at the higher pools and cooled down the lower the pools got down the side of the volcano. The water is heated naturally from the active Volcano Arenal. It is monsoon season, so you couldn't see the peak of the volcano, but we were at the base of it. It was funny to think that in theory the volcano could erupt at any moment and we would all die. We decided it might not be such a bad way to go since we were in such a beautiful place. Just joking! Luis said you can hear the volcano spew and roar from the hot springs when it isn't monsoon season. I wish! I spent much time in each pool area and the sauna caves--omg everything was so beautiful I can't even put it in words. All if the pools you just walk right into--there's no steps. There are these water slides--one of which is ridiculously intense! We all went on it thinking it wouldn't be that bad--I'm tellin' you this water slide is probably illegal in the US. But when we were at the top, Luis said, "This one over here is really really boring, and this one one right here is a little bit too intense." So which one are you gonna go on?! The little bit too intense one right?! Maaaan, you whip around in that slide so fast and then it makes a sharp turn and you shoot into the ceiling of the slide and then basically free fall a good 15 ft until you hit the bottom of the slide and shoot out upwards in an arc! It was so scary! But it was very fun, I'll give it that! It sure makes for a funny story. I wasn't going on the other slides even if they weren't as intense. I was one and done. It didn't help that I tripped into the slide, like I wasn't sitting at the top waiting to go, I literally fell into it--I was just not prepared for the whole thing. Other than that, we relaxed like mermaids on the rocks of the hot springs all day :D. Luis, Rachel and I chatted for a long time at the big waterfall. We chatted about Red Hot Chili Peppers and tattoos and the things I did in Costa Rica the last time I was here. Somehow we got to talking about celebrities who go to Costa Rica. I told him about how the last time I was here, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were at a beach a couple hours up the coastline from the where were at the time. He said that's funny because his friend was sitting in the airport around that time 5-6 years ago and Brad Pitt came up to him and asked to use his laptop so he could talk to Angelina Jolie!!! Imagine that! It's a small world. The hot springs was such an amazing place, I'll have to go back someday. It was only $15 to get in, with lunch and dinner included--and they were serving steak! It was such a great price. We were there from about 10:30am-6:15pm. It went by way too fast! Before we ate dinner, I found this perfect little nook of a pool secluded in a bunch of tropical vegetation. It was the perfect size and temperature, and it had a waterfall and I had it all to myself! I just floated on my back for a long 15 minutes or so, looking up at the palm trees and the misty, tropical sky. My phone died right before I could take a picture of my view, but I figured that's ok--if I'm sharing everything else, I'll keep that one super serene moment for myself. My camera was a trooper today anyways and I'm glad it lasted as long as it did. The power at the hotel was briefly out this morning and I think it must have gone out last night too, because my iPhone didn't charge 100%. At dinner we all gave Luis and Jenny the thank you card we signed. They were very happy and almost teared up. I will miss them so much! We were driving through the same thick clouds on the way back, too. It was so scary because we were on the cliffs of these mountains, and it was dark, and we couldn't see anything around us whatsoever from the clouds. I couldn't even watch. Even if my camera/iPhone hadn't died I don't think I would have been up for catching a video of it. I stayed huddled in my sweater with my face in the seat. There was also lightning in the clouds that were in the near distance, so it kept lighting up the clouds we were in. The whole bus was just surrounded by solid white nothingness. It was very twilight zone. But the Costa Ricans are used to driving in the cloudy mountains, just like we're used to driving when it's snowing. Plus, our bus driver Kenneth was a very good driver, so I knew in my heart of hearts that we would be fine. When we finally got back to the hotel, we said our official goodbyes to Jenny. We also said goodbye to Christina and Emily since they were leaving for a 1am flight. We said our goodbyes to Cecily and Tessa too, in case we don't see them in the morning since they have a 7am flight. As for now, I have a long day of flying back tomorrow, so I need to get some sleep! Buenos noches!

Driving through a cloud!

Standing in a cloud!

To find the misty sauna cave, you had to explore for a small opening in the rocks that turned into a tunnel and opened up into this! 

The hot springs are in the middle of a misty rainforest, and on the edge of an active volcano. So awesome!


...Baldi Hot Springs. You have to go there!!!!!!! There are many ziplining spots in Costa Rica, but there is only one Baldi Hot Springs!