Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Someone once said there is only two weeks between a good and a bad haircut...
Being over seven weeks since I arrived it was definitely time for a haircut. Mohawks are very popular here and with the length of my hair was a real option for restyle and I figure best to fit in with the locals. So the choices on offer for the haircut were
  1. The grandmother of my Chinese next door neighbour
  2. A stylist in the American mall
  3. Local hairdresser

I figured I would go with a local hairdresser and when two friends came back with decent haircuts I plumped for Lillian who has a small kiosk in the market. I took Julio along as he is fluent in Spanish to explain exactly what I wanted. Lillian was really happy to see another of the students from UPEACE again and had a great conversation with Julio about UPEACE while attempting to cut my hair. This could have been where the problem started. Or maybe it was when I pointed to the poster on the wall of the 1980's hair model. She just chopped chunks of hair our from some places and didn;t touch others and in less than 10 minutes managed to scalp one of my ears and then proceeded to pour gel on my head. I was just wanting to get out from here range and I am not convinced Lillian has ever wielded a pair of scissors in her life. Julio insisted he told her what to do and that it looked good!

Back at Julios I washed the cheap gel out my hair and then frog marched him to another hair dressers to ask for them to salvage what they could of my pride! The woman pulled back my collar and laughed as the back of my hair was not only uneven but there was just a mark from where the electric razor shaved only part of it. So sh set about doing some damage limitation and said to Julio often she has to do this. I ended up with a grade 3 at the back and sides and 4 on the top so quite short and not the styled mohawk I was looking for but at least it is presentable now! (Mum before you worry it is not looking fine)

Arenal weekend - foundation course over!

With the foundation course over most people headed out of Cuidad Colon to explore parts of Costa Rica and I was no exception! Six of us loaded up a car and headed out to Arenal - an active volcano famous for hot springs - about 4 hours from here. I chose to head out with another girl by the bus while the others drove with our stuff but we all crammed in the car on the a way back because it was easier than navigating buses on a public holiday. The journey was amazing and it was the first time I really got to have a look at Costa Rica as we wound around mountainous valleys covered in rain forest. Needed the toilet for most of the bus journey there which will be the lasting memory of the bus journey I guess through.

By the time the bus arrived the others had got there and we went to a hotel recommended by one of our Tico classmates. Clean and quiet it had unspoilt views up to the volcano which was covered in cloud for most of the weekend (which is typical especially in rainy season). Best of all was the swimming pool and jacuzzi which we immersed ourselves in as soon as we arrived. We sat around talking, going wrinkly and drinking wine from cartons for the who afternoon even during the rain and only got out well after dark. A perfect way to spend the afternoon. Somehow we decided it would be a good idea to head out to a nightclub and, after a head start from the afternoons relaxing, we were soon enjoying local shots of sugarcane alcohol which is potent. Bodyshots... need I say more? Not drinking them again any time soon....

Sitting beside the waterfall

Sunday was spent jumping in and out of ravine with local kids and swinging from a rope swing into the river at an unspoilt waterfall off the tourist track but recommended by our Tico friends. Such a beautiful place. We spent most of the morning there just watching everyone watching everyone else playing around in the water. Being studious the afternoon was spent reading some of the materials for the next course on International Law and having a siesta before going out for a real slap up meal to end the mini holiday. Monday morning was sunny and without a cloud in the sky so we could see the volcano and even got a tan!


Will definitely come back to Arenal to go and see the volcano properly - at night when there is no cloud you can see the lava flows down the side of the cone - and to go to the spas which we never made it to as we didn't leave the jacuzzi in the hotel! A great weekend getting to know the guys I went with better - Jeff (Canada), Camilo (Colombia),Roshni(Kenya),Anna(Czech Rep) and Sarah (Norway) - and perfect break from work to refresh myself for the next course.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

First week over

First week over. A great time but hard work! The course is a foundation course and so having studies IR before I have a good understanding of the things we are covering from LSE. There is still a lot of reading to be done - about 60 pages a day - but some of it is familar. The real difference though is the class discussions and it is really true when you are told you learn the most from you classmates. With quite a good global spread in my group we are having some great examples drawn from Africa and Latin America which are totally new for me so something to go home and look at online for the next day!

Friday was a time for celebration and most people hit the bars in town straight after class. I actually went to San Jose to accompany a friend and go so drenched by the rain the umbrella was useless... the rain was seriously splashing back up to chest hight and the roads flooded everywhere so in about two minutes of the deluge starting water was over my trainers. At that point I just gave up trying to keep dry! Ended up going out to a club on in the evening until the early hours and the one lesson I learnt on Satuday was not to drink tequilla again in a hurry becuase I felt rought all day. My hosts had even cooked a typical Costa Rican poormans soup for lunch which I enjoyed but not as much as I would have done without the hangover.

Bad news is the road has not yet been fixed but I have seen some photos and work is progressing (it looks like a mud pit now rather than a road). Someone scanned the photo from the national newspaper which was taken on the day of the road slide so I'll post that up here.

First assignment - a conflict mapping exercise - is due on Wednesday so I have been working on that today and chosen to look at border disputed between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.