Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Coconut Sweet Potato Fries

Since I have all of this coconut oil to use, I decided to try it on some sweet potato fries last night. I made this recipe in a hurry, so they're not as crunchy as I would have liked, but they were delicious! Also, sorry for the poor photo quality. I was in a hurry to eat and sometimes we just don't have time to make everything look beautiful.

Coconut Sweet Potato Fries

1 sweet potato, cut long-ways into fries
1 tbsp coconut oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Cut your sweet potato into fry shapes (is that a good description?). Combine salt, pepper, coconut oil, and fries into a bowl. Toss with spatula to coat with all ingredients. Bake at 375* for 18 minutes. I don't have this feature, but I would broil them for at least 5 minutes at the end to get crispier fries. Remove from the oven, and enjoy!

The coconut oil added a nice hint of flavor to the sweet potatoes. I really liked these, but I wish I had a broiler option to make them crisper. I might also try frying them in the coconut oil in a skillet next time. I also think adding shaved coconut might be fun. Play around with this and see what works for you, then come back and share, please :D 

What is your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?! Do you have really good luck with getting your sweet potato fries to be crispy like fries?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Week 1 #TOT10Miler Training Recap

Last week, I shared the training plan I created for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler I'm running in October. I officially started my training last week, and I have to say, it went better than I was anticipating! I was a little nervous about feeling worn down since Mondays and Wednesdays are heavier training days, but I felt great throughout the week. Here's what I did:


AM: 6 mile run, stretching, foam rolling
PM: 30 minutes elliptical, 1 hour strength class


AM: 3 mile shakeout run, stretching
PM: None


AM: 4 mile run, stretching
PM: 30 minutes elliptical, 1 hour strength


AM: 3-mile run, stretching
PM: None


AM: 2 mile walk with my dad
Rest day


AM: .5 mile warm up, 8 x 200 speed work outside (first time ever doing speed work outside), .5 mile cool down
PM: None


Rest day

Total Mileage: 18 miles

I was surprisingly not ridiculously sore on Tuesday morning after Monday's hard workout. I was a little sore on Sunday, but I think that might be because I was sleeping in a different bed and was sleeping in weird positions. I also need to add some more foam rolling to my schedule.

Because this post is kind of boring and I haven't included any pictures, here's a photo of a spider whose web I almost ran into on Monday morning. Disgusting.

Also, if anyone has any suggestions of lights that they use for running in the dark (Cori suggested Knuckle Lights), please send them my way!

How were your workouts last week? What races are you training for? How many spider webs do you eat on a typical run?
--I always eat at least one spider web...sometimes more.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Whirlwind Weekend

Good morning! I'm a little later with this post today because I caught a cold on the airplane this weekend and was too exhausted to write a post last night while I was watching the VMAs. Did you guys see Justin Timberlake KILL it?! If not, you need to see it! (I'm having trouble finding a good link to it!)

So, you might be wondering how I caught a cold on an airplane this weekend. I went home for the first time in 8 months! It went by way too quickly, but it was nice to see my family and friends. I got in late Thursday night and went to dinner with the family. All of the restaurants were closed because it was late, so we ended up going to Applebee's. I was starving, so I took what I could get.

This Lady :) My little sister

Friday was a CRAZY busy day. I got up in the morning and joined my dad for his morning walk. I don't take enough time to talk to him or listen to him, so this walk was really nice and I really enjoyed it. I know he did, too. We talked about running, walking, healthy living, shoes, and life in general. It was rare to spend time like that with my dad and I should probably make more time to do that in the future. After our walk, we came home and woke the rest of the family so that we could meet up with our cousins for a family breakfast. After breakfast, my mom took me to see this bench: 

If you know me at all, you know that I have a LOVE obsession with the Little Mermaid, so that made my morning. My mom and I went to the mall afterwards to return a birthday present she got me and I tried on a ton of other outfits to replace the outfit, but I didn't like the way that anything looked. I was already frustrated and had to go to my dress fitting for my bridesmaid dress and SPOILER alert, it was missized. Not that I gained BONES were the issue. The dress was too small for my ribcage, so we had to make an emergency run to David's Bridal to exchange the dress. They ordered me a new one (after trying on the correct size), but it was the BEST customer service I have ever experienced. It made me feel a little better about having to get a new dress. We finished the exchange and I got my hair cut and I have officially decided to retire the Bieber cut and grow my hair out after my BFF's wedding in October.

The rest of the day was spent at my cousins house enjoying her pool and a lot of good food and I was in bed by 10 pm :D

Saturday was another busy day. I woke up, did speed work outside (first time ever and it was TOUGH), helped my mom make desserts for the bridal shower, showered, got my eyebrows done, and headed to my best friend's bridal shower! It was so good to see my best friends after almost a year apart! it's always like we've never been apart.

The shower decorations were super cute, the food was good (more than enough vegetarian options), the desserts were amazing, and it was an overall good time. It was a FAST shower because it was over by 4:30 and Kari received a TON of presents. Her fiancé is in the agriculture business, so I thought the tractors, flowers, and leaves were super cute! The corn in the pencil holder was a really nice touch, too. I thought it was such a pretty shower! 

Because we couldn't find a birthday present for me at the mall, my mom agreed to go halfsies with me on a new pair of running shoes :) Look what I came home with :D 

My first pair of Brooks! I haven't tried them yet because I had a 7 mile run on the training plan today, but I'm excited to try them out tomorrow! I also got this beauty since I've had my
eye on her for while ;) I have to say, it's so much easier to just look down and see the distance instead of having to guess how far I am while waiting for MapMyRun to talk to me.

I got back in yesterday afternoon and have been unwinding and doing homework since then. Now, it's time to grocery shop and relax until strength training tonight! 

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend? What was your most recent purchase?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Forgiveness Looks Good on Everyone: A Look into Self Love and Self Awareness

Phew, that was a really long title. I've been sitting on this post for a few days, but every time I go to write, the words do not come out. I have no trouble writing about running, food, or what ridiculous antics I got into over the weekend, but this topic, one that I really enjoy talking about, wouldn't come out. Bear with me, this post might be all over the place, but that might be the only way to get my thoughts out.

Life doesn't always go according to the way you planned it. In fact, it rarely ever goes the way you planned it. I had always thought that I would be married by age 24. Now, at age 23, with zero prospects in my life, I think that idea is TOTALLY crazy. I can't even imagine being married now since I was freed. I'm having too much fun going on adventures, being single, staying up too late, and running my little legs off. But one thing I've learned to incorporate into my "plans" (I feel silly even using that word) is forgiveness.

On Saturday, I went out with some girlfriends and I ran into a guy I dated recently who ended things with me after I came back from Costa Rica. I saw him first (or so I think), so I went and said hello to him. I would be lying if I didn't tell you that part of the reason I said hello to him was that I was looking super sexy (Total Diva Moment -- it happens), but mainly I wanted him to know that I do not resent him. We made small talk and he apologized for hurting me and told me that he's moving in 2 weeks and that he wishes things would have been different. I told him not to worry about it, that I had already forgiven him, and wished him luck. When I left the situation, I received a novel text from him apologizing again for hurting me, but also questioning why I would speak to him like nothing had happened. He also told me that I shouldn't let guys treat me poorly because I'm better than that (he didn't treat me poorly, though, and I always stand up for myself, but I just went with it). My answer was as follows:

I removed his name/texts for privacy purposes

I didn't include the original apology or my first response where I said I forgave him and asked him to move on, but this is the response to him telling me that I'm "better than being treated like crap by guys." This interaction, though, prompted me to reflect on the principles of self-love and self-awareness. I think my second sentence of that response captures my view of myself. I love myself enough to realize I am worth the Princess treatment I seek, but I am also self-aware enough to realize that I am not ready for it right now. That doesn't make me a bad person. In fact, I think that makes me a better person to be around because I am willing to make mistakes and forgive not only others, but myself as well. I think that loving myself and knowing who I am helps me to bring my best to EVERY relationship in my life: daughter, sister, friend, graduate student, drinking buddy, date, etc., and also helps contribute to my status as a diva. 

Forgiving other people, like that ex or the girls who called you fat in high school, helps you live more positively. I have found that since I let go of things that are out of my control, my personality has shined brighter and I've lived an overall happier life. There is NO ONE in my life who has hurt me in the past that I hope does not succeed because I've learned that holding grudges keeps me in the past and hurts me more than it hurts them. So I let it go.

Forgiveness, however, does not just apply to other people. As I said above, it also applies to ourselves. We are humans. We make mistakes. Forgive yourself and move on. So, you skipped a workout or you ate too much ice cream (story of my life)? Forgive yourself. You gained 5 pounds? Forgive yourself. Life is a work in progress and it's too short to worry about fitting into size 2 jeans (or a bridesmaid dress that I can barely fit my boobs into right now) or worrying about getting straight A's. If we love ourselves enough to realize that we are not perfect, if we are self-aware enough to realize that we are still a work in progress, then I think that forgiveness will come naturally. And forgiveness, no matter what your shape or size, looks good on everyone.

Are you good at forgiving others? Are you good at forgiving yourself? Tell me some things you love about yourself! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tower of Terror 10-Miler Training Plan

With all of the traveling I have been doing lately, it's been tough to get my runs in and my strength training in the way that I would have liked to. However, I began training for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler in October on Monday, and I'm happy to be back into my schedule. I created my own training schedule based off of what I used for the Princess Half as well as including my strength and speed work that I have been doing all summer.

Here's what I've come up with:

Obviously, this training schedule is subject to change. I'm going to listen to my body and make sure that I'm not pushing myself too much. I'm doing my long runs on Mondays to set the tone for the rest of the week. It's also the only time that it fits into my schedule since I started my final year of grad school this week!

The strength training will be my strength class that I love so much and the speed work will be the toughest workout to get in for me. I'll be doing it on the treadmill, so if anyone has any great speed workouts for the tready, let me know, please!

Who else is training for something? What training plans do you use?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tofu & Veggie Coconut Fried Rice

I recently bought a large tub of coconut oil at Sam's Club ($15.58 for 54 oz), and I decided I would hop on the healthy living blogger train and try it out!

I decided to try my hand at fried rice (minus the eggs, because I hate them), and this is what I came up with!

Tofu & Veggie Coconut Fried Rice

1 serving tofu (I used pre-cubed)
2 cups brown rice, cooked according to package
1/2 onion
1 cup brussels sprouts, halved
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil
Thai Coconut Seasoning, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Cook rice according to package. Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil and begin to brown the tofu. After the rice is cooked, add the rice, onion, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and seasonings to the pan with to tofu. Add the second tbsp of coconut oil. Heat all vegetables through, stirring often. Enjoy!

What's your favorite way to use coconut oil?
I have so much of it, I need ideas! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Into The Sea

As many of you may have figured out, I have been in love with the ocean since I was a little girl. Despite growing up in Chicago, many of my earliest memories are filled with trips to the Shedd Aquarium, beaches, and books and documentaries about the ocean. I have known since I was five years old that I wanted to be a marine biologist/play in the ocean, but I never could have expected that I would have as many amazing opportunities as I have had so far in my young life.

This week I traveled to North Carolina to visit my friend Liz (check her out! She's a teacher and super fabulous) and to see Holden, the sea turtle I fell in love with last summer when I worked at Sea Turtle Camp, return to the ocean.

As a Sea Turtle Camp counselor (the same camp that sent me to Costa Rica), I had the opportunity to work with the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Island, NC. Towards the end of my summer there, a green turtle came into the hospital with a severe head injury and injuries to his carapace (top shell). He was not on display at the time because he was so critical, but two of the interns that I befriended let me go see this turtle in isolation. It was love at first sight. The first time I visited Holden, no one was sure that he was going to make it. The next time I saw him, he twitched a little when we got close to his tank. The third time, he crawled toward me. The next time I went to the hospital, Holden was on display and I was given the opportunity to scratch his back and babysit him while he sunbathed to make sure he was breathing on his own (turtles are voluntary breathers and CAN drown in the water). To say that I was captivated by this little green turtle is an understatement. I grew attached to him so quickly and it was hard for me to say goodbye to him when I left at the end of the summer.

Holden underwent an innovative surgery to repair his head wounds (read about it here) and his progress over the next year was closely monitored. There were times when his survival did not look promising, but he pushed through and got cleared for release 1 year and 2 days after his admittance (incredibly fast for a head wound).

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it to his release, but when Charlie, a former intern at the Sea Turtle Hospital, messaged me and gave me all of the info, I did not hesitate to plan a trip. I arrived in NC on Sunday, got to see Holden on Monday afternoon, and I was ASTOUNDED to see how big he had gotten:

I got about 10 minutes with him, where I talked to him, gave him words of encouragement, and just admired his progress. He was released on Thursday afternoon and I cried, a lot. They were happy tears. He was released with two other turtles and to see these turtles return to the water brought joy to my heart. I cried when Holden was carried down the beach and placed into the water because it made me realize how much can change in a year. I recently wrote a post about how things have changed for me over the last year, but to see things change for this endangered and beautiful creature was amazing. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to experience this. It is definitely something I will never forget.

Later, I returned to Myrtle Beach State Park, the place where I spent a summer with sea turtles and fell in love, and had the opportunity to inventory a nest. There were no hatchlings left in the nest (good for the babies, disappointing for the crowd), but the nest next to it had two little babies crawl out of it! The crowd got to watch that and it reminded me how special it is to see babies begin their journey.

After the crowd left the beach, I had the opportunity to see a SECOND nest hatch and follow four little turtles (those were the ones I was in charge of) all the way to the water. Again, I cried. Seeing sea turtles is such a magical experience and it's something I will never tire of. The babies know exactly what to do and they are such a symbol of hope. Even though the odds are against them, they make their way to the ocean, unafraid of what lies ahead. I think we all could take a few lessons from sea turtles.

(shared from a friend)

My life as a young marine biologist/environmental educator has been filled with amazing opportunities. I am forever grateful for all of the sacrifices my parents have made, but I am so thankful for Mother Nature. Her ocean soothes me and houses so much magic and so many opportunities for exploration. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me as I continue to play in the waves. 

What is something that you have loved forever? Have you ever seen a sea turtle?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

(Almost) Negative Splits

I'm typing this from my phone, so if its all whackadoodle when you see it, blame Apple :)

This morning, I had one of those runs that reminded me why I love running. This morning, I also ran mainly negative splits. 

During that second mile, I was really afraid of getting hit by the cars that refused to slow down and I ran cautiously, so I think that explains that funky split there. 

This isn't the first time I have run negative splits without trying. This is probably the first time, though, that I ran positive splits that made me feel good about my 5k time in September. I know some of my readers probably think those times are slow, but for me, they're great! I didn't feel like I was pushing myself too hard, either. That's the kicker :) 

When I first started running a few years ago, I was running 12-15 minute miles and running positive splits. While I have been running miles in the 9 minute time frame within the last year, it wasn't until recently that I was getting a mile in the 8 minute range and I honestly can't remember a day (other than today), where I got two negative splits in a row, both in the 8 minute frame. 

I've never run a 5k race before (my first race was a half marathon), so I am super hopeful for a good time when race time comes in September. Lets hope the odds are (ever) in my favor! 

I'm off to enjoy some Carolina beach time (I'm in North Carolina for a special event -- more to come on that next week!) enjoy your Tuesday!! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Slightly Spicy Veggie Pasta

It's been a really long time since I've shared a recipe with you guys. I threw together a pasta dish this weekend (it's rare that I eat pasta anymore) and it was so fresh and light that I thought I would share it with you guys! It's incredibly simple as well!

Slightly Spicy Veggie Pasta

1/2 box bow tie pasta
1 bag brussels sprouts, sliced in half
1/2 carton mushrooms
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 bag spinach
1 tomato, diced 
grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
jalapeño and garlic seasoning, to taste
4 tbs Bolthouse Farms Salsa Ranch dressing
Olive oil or butter for sautéing

Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. While the pasta is cooking, sauté the brussels sprouts, mushrooms, spinach, and onion in a pan. Add salt, pepper, and spice mix and mix the vegetables. The brussels sprouts should be brown by the time you are finished and everything else should be tender and juicy. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add in the sautéed vegetables, Parmesan cheese, and Bolthouse Farms Salsa Ranch dressing. Mix everything together and top with the diced tomatoes. Serve and enjoy! 

This meal took about 30 minutes to prepare, but it was so delicious and the salad dressing as a sauce was a nice touch. I'm not a big sauce fan, so this added a nice amount of flavor without being too heavy. I definitely think this is a great summer meal! 

What's your favorite pasta sauce? Have you ever used salad dressing as a sauce? 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Island Boost Review

I mentioned my experimenting with fuel during my run over Fourth of July weekend and I promised a review of Island Boost, the fuel I have been using lately. Well, this review is long over due, but it's here!

I signed up to receive Island Boost when a fellow Sweat Pink Ambassador put out a call for reviewers. I'm not good about fueling on runs because I don't really like gels, so when I saw that Island Boost was liquid, I figured I would give it a shot.

From the website: 

The fuel is designed to be less disruptive to digestive processes and is delivered through coconut water. I absolutely LOVE anything coconut related and so I was curious to try this. Since the fuel is liquid, it is delivered faster to the bloodstream than regular gels. I received 3 flavors to try: Renegade (Blueberry-Pomegranate flavor), Passion (Passion fruit flavor), and Aspire (Strawberry orange flavor). The little packets look like this:

Excuse my "veggie dog" in the top left corner

I used my first fuel during a 6-mile run. I took it at about 30 minutes into the run when I was beginning to feel sluggish and after about 5ish minutes, I could feel renewed energy and felt like I could have gone for miles. At the end of my 6-miles, I felt like I could have easily gone 2+ miles more, but I decided to stop because I didn't have enough water and didn't bring another fuel packet with me. 

The next time I used the fuel was during a 4-mile hill session. Again, Island Boost saved me and helped my little legs keep moving up and down those hills. The third fuel packet I used at the end of a run to aid in recovery. I definitely had energy after I took it and it helped my muscles to not be so sore. It was a way to refresh and reboot my electrolytes after a hot run. 

As for flavors, I think that Blueberry-Pomegranate was my favorite. It's not too sweet, as both blueberries and pomegranates are slightly tart, and I thought that it tasted the best. The passion fruit flavor was not my favorite, which I was disappointed in because I love passion fruit, but it was not bad at all. Definitely more palatable than a lot of the gels I have tested. The strawberry-orange was interesting; the orange was a little pulpy, so that took me by surprise and I'm glad I used that fuel as a recovery and not during a run because I think I would have been taken aback if I was running and was tasting pulp. Overall, though, the flavors are easy to get down and I didn't find myself choking on the fuel like other fuels I have tried. I am definitely interested in buying more Island Boost to use as fuel for my 10-mile race in October and possibly for the Princess Half in February! 

If you want to check out Island Boost, click here for a list of stores where you can purchase it. Don't see any stores in your area? You can also order Island Boost online

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Goals Check-In: July Recap

Now that it's August, it's time to check in with how I did with July's goal. Can you believe it's AUGUST already?!

Goal number 4: Try at least one new thing a week.

During the first week of the month, I did my first run with fuel and compression socks. It made a world of difference and really helped me get in touch with listening to my body. I also got a concussion later that week. It was my first concussion... does that count as trying new things?

During the second week of July, I went on a date to a new restaurant. It was a first date with a new guy at a great VEGETARIAN restaurant. Amazing! Unfortunately, things aren't going to progress with that guy (long story and very unexpected, but I'm okay with it!), but it was still definitely a new and fun experience!

The following week was the first time I tried running at altitude. I didn't do too much running in Costa Rica and when I did run, a lot of it was at altitude and that was definitely a new experience for me. I only ran short distances (2ish miles), but it was TOUGH! I really loved the cool (cold to me) weather in the morning and I think that helped me from not dying 100%. The views weren't bad either.

During the final week of July, I milked a cow. That might not seem exciting to you guys, but I had so much fun and it was definitely a new experience. Farmers make it look so easy, but it was a lot of hard work! Also, how many people get to say that they've milked a cow in Costa Rica? I'm also happy I got to share it with a new BFFL!

Some of these are kind of lame and I don't think I really gave my best to this month's challenge. I think that if I put my mind to it, I could have done some really awesome things! Milking a cow was definitely fun and exciting though, and definitely something I had never thought I would do!

Goal number 5: Spending more time getting in touch with the people I love.

In today's society, it's easy to lose touch with the ones you love, even though we're so "connected." This month, I'm going to spend more time on the phone with my loved ones, writing letters to friends abroad, and genuinely having good conversations with the people I love the most. I'm excited for this challenge and I hope that it becomes a habit, since I've fallen into the trap of daily texts without much conversation that many of us are stuck in. 

What is your goal for August?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pura Vida: Monteverde

Our trip to Monteverde started on my birthday! They say that nobody likes you when you're 23, but I think that's a lie because the night before we left Parismina, the locals threw me a surprise birthday party. It was super sweet!

We spent four days in Monteverde and if the mountains weren't so cold (I wore long sleeves AND a Northface most of the time), I would LOVE to live in the mountains. The views were gorgeous. 

In Monteverde, we had the opportunity to milk cows, which was something I had never done before and it was actually really fun! We hiked through the rainforest later that day and our girls were incredibly lucky to see 4 quetzals (rare birds), spider monkeys (uncommon), toucans, and a lot of insects and hummingbirds. The quetzals were GORGEOUS and our guide was incredibly knowledgable. It's always so fun for my educator self when we have guides/teachers who are incredibly knowledgeable and interactive with our girls and make their experience really enjoyable. We also had the chance to visit a chocolate factory and learn about the process of making chocolate. This was fun because we got to taste chocolate at different stages. We also had a hot chocolate drink with cayenne pepper -- I recommend adding cayenne pepper to your hot chocolate all the time. It's seriously amazing. We also visited a small, sustainable coffee farm and learned about the process of growing, harvesting, and creating coffee. It was so fun! We ended our visit to Monteverde by zip-lining through the canopy of the rainforest. Talk about AMAZING! Seriously, the feeling of zipping through the canopy at high speed is indescribable. The girls loved it and one girl, who is terribly afraid of heights, was able to conquer her fears and participate in the zip-lines as well! It was such an awesome way to end an incredible trip.

 Notice my Sweat Pink shoelaces? 

 Male quetzal

 cacao tree

 toasting coffee beans

 dried coffee beans

grind 'em up!

I wish that we had more time to spend in Monteverde, but I am incredibly thankful to have had this experience. How often do you get paid to go to Costa Rica and do all of these amazing things? I have done a lot of really great things so far in my young life, and I'm looking forward to what life has in store for my future! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pura Vida: Turrialba and Parismina

As many of you know, I've been gone for the last two weeks because I was in Costa Rica for work. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I had a really great experience! I was hoping to have wifi to provide updates, but when I did get wifi (about a week and a half into the trip), I wasn't concerned about updating. I just wanted to live in the moment. I also only ran 4 of the 7 days we were in Parismina and I'm not even mad, because I had views like this :)

I arrived on Sunday, July 21 and was by myself for that evening. I stayed in San José and did some last minute chores for camp before the campers and my co-counselor arrived on Monday. My Spanish came back to me immediately and I am super grateful for that because I served as the sole translator for the trip!

What? This was still in America

When the girls arrived, we made our way to Turrialba for white water rafting. I thought I was going to hate it, but it was AMAZING! I don't have the pictures for that portion, yet, but we did a day and a half of white water rafting through the jungle. The views were gorgeous! I also got paid to jump off of giant boulders into the water and to swim through waterfalls. I was truly blessed. We stayed in open air cabins in the middle of the jungle and it was so so peaceful to hear the water rushing by and to hear the animals chatting to each other. I do have to say, though, that it was scary getting up to go to the bathroom since the bathhouse was a walk away and the jungle is scary at night!

After Turrialba, we arrived in Parismina, an island on the Caribbean side, to spend a week there working with turtles. I LOVED this village. It's a village of about 400 people and the community was so so friendly. We were steps from the black sand beach and the ocean was so soothing to listen to at night. We spent the day doing various activities like swimming, making coconut candy, drinking from coconuts, visiting a farm, and taking Spanish lessons (I helped translate from English to Spanish if need be). At night, we had a shift of 4-hours where we walked the beach looking for nesting mothers or nests. Parismina is a poor village and poachers are a problem, so the ASTOP sea turtle project is around to help decrease the amount of eggs/turtles that are taken by poachers. We saw 2 mothers returning to the water on the first walk, but they did not nest. We then went a few days without seeing anything until we hit the jackpot. We saw THREE mothers that night, two of which we got to see nest! The girls also got to work on FOUR nests and find the eggs! It was a beautiful night and a breathtaking experience. I honestly think it was our saving grace for the trip, too, because the dynamic of the group definitely changed after that night. We even got to see a nesting Hawksbill, which is incredibly uncommon. The girls (and ME!) really lucked out!

 I got my hair wrapped with the girls :)

Coconut candy :) 

 The Hatchery

 One of the local kids, and my new BFF

 A surprise birthday cake from the locals!

 The three best friends that anyone could have

They smashed my face :( 

On my birthday (the 31st), we left Parismina and headed to Monteverde, but that recap will come tomorrow!

If you want more details about anything, please feel free to e-mail me!!