Entry 2: 6/27
This past weekend, Jess, Bali, and I went to Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula. I think it’s safe to say we had another excellent weekend. On Friday, this awesome tico guide who spoke absolutely no English helped us cross the river and then we hiked to a series of waterfalls. The guide was absolutely crazy and was jumping off of huge trees into the water. Jess and I stuck to jumping off the waterfall just once, but we also did a Tarzan swing into the river. It was pretty awesome, and it was great to be able to communicate with the guide. I learned quite a few new tico phrases from him, and he also gave us a wonderful tour of the area. We saw the vacation home of a relative of Walt Disney, and we also went swimming in a series of natural jacuzzis.
We met this really cool guy named Danny that happened to be staying at the same hotel, so we all hung out for the duration of our time in Montezuma. Montezuma is this really chill, laid back town on the beach. The beach was very different from any I had ever seen before; there were all types of colorful crabs and lizards and the rocks on the beach were an array of different colors. It was beautiful.
When it came time to leave, I was a little sad because this was the last weekend in the wonderful Costa Rica. On the ferry ride back, I talked with an old man for about an hour. He was born in Costa Rica, was a Spanish professor at San Diego State University for 40 years, and now has returned to Costa Rica to live. His wife, who died of cancer a few years ago, was from New Bern, NC, which is about 45 minutes from where I live. There were also stickers from Emerald Isle, NC (approximately an hour from my home) that someone had placed on the wall of the ferry. It’s a small world after all!
I’m actually sad to be returning to the U.S. in a mere five days. It’s going to be weird not waking up to the sounds of my mamá tica cooking breakfast and singing along to the radio, or hearing people speaking Spanish all the time.
Entry 1: June 22, 2011
So there is this saying that I recall hearing multiple times throughout my first year at Meredith, and it’s something along these lines: “study abroad will change your life.” I always thought it was such a cliché phrase, but I can finally attest to it’s validity. My time in Costa Rica has undoubtedly been the most wonderful experience of my life. I have seen so many new and wonderful things, met fabulous people from all over Costa Rica and the world, gained new perspectives on life, and just experienced so much in general. Other than my fellow students in the program from Meredith, this program is pretty much immersion Spanish. I remember how nervous I was when we first arrived at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. My “mamá tica” gave me a kiss on the cheek and asked in rapid-fire Spanish, “¿Usted está cansada?” (are you tired). I had no idea what she was saying, and I started wondering what I had gotten myself into. But that is all part of the experience here. You learn about yourself, the host culture, and you meet some truly amazing people in the process. You become a person who is more culturally aware, more independent, more confident, and just ‘better’ in general if you open up and allow yourself to experience it all. It’s life changing, and I’m already trying to devise a plan to return here once my four week stay is up.
It’s a very different way of life in San Joaquín, Costa Rica. I think it’s different in a good way. People here live a much more basic lifestyle, and I’ve often caught myself questioning the way many things are done in America. It’s not that I dislike America now, it’s just really refreshing to stop and compare lifestyles sometimes. It’s good to see the differences and it’s good to find similarities as well. I´ve learned that certain emotions and certain experiences are universal, and we ALL have something in common regardless of our background. I always feel relaxed here, and my host family and my host home now feel like my own. For the most part, everyone here is friendly and kind to you. I think it’s “Pura Vida,” which is a popular saying here that is essentially the equivalent of “Hakunnah Matata.”
The first weekend, we went to Pozo Azul, hacienda de las adventuras. I went ziplining over the rainforest, repelling down a cliff side and rafting in Río Sarapiquí. We stayed in tent houses in the middle of the rainforest, and I could hear monkeys and frogs and all sorts of creatures throughout the night. It was definitely an experience! During one of the independent travel weekends, I went with my new friends to Playa Negra in the Caribbean. We stayed at these cabins owned by a guy named Walter, and it was honestly the most beautiful place any of us had ever seen. I could have stayed in one of those hammocks by the for the rest of my life. We also made some new friends from Texas, Mexico, and another city in Costa Rica. We danced salsa and ate lots of delicious Caribbean food. (The food here is always delicious, and I have bought a cookbook to take home with me). I’ve met locals in the English classes that I’ve helped teach. And I now have conversations with my mamá tica on a regular basis (and I understand her rapid-fire Spanish). I´ve had so many great experiences that I can not even begin to put into words. The memories that I have with the new friends (locals and ladies from Meredith) that I have made will never be forgotten.