For the first time, I’m writing a blog while having actually started my Gap Year activities. I arrived in San José, Costa Rica on October 5th and had many adventures from then until I left on December 14th. So many things happened during my time there that my next few blogs will be focusing on specific time frames and events from the past 3 months. For my first 4 weeks, I stayed with a host family in Curridabat, a suburb of San José. While I was there, I took Spanish lessons at a school a one-minute walk away from my house from 8am to 12pm every weekday. Afternoons were spent either chilling in my room, playing with a three-year-old member of my family named Ismael, or tagging along with one or all of my three classmates to San José to do something fun.
During the weekends, though, CIME’s (the program I was in) organizer (José) would send a group of 2–5 of us to places all around Costa Rica to stay for 1–3 days. On my first full day in Costa Rica, I left San José with a local related to José named José (all Josés intended) and another student and hiked up and around the volcano Irazu, ate lunch at a haunted children’s tuberculosis hospital from the 1950s, went inside a large church during Mass, and saw some old ruins in the center of an urban area. Other weekend trips included: Puerto Viejo, a touristy black-sand beach community on the east coast that was my favorite location I visited in Costa Rica; and Manuel Antonio, a forest full of sloths, monkeys, and iguanas, that, only with the help of a trained guide, I was able to see.
As for things that were different, beans and rice were a part of every meal. This wasn’t exactly unexpected, but definitely something to get used to. I didn’t mind it too much, although I didn’t go out of my way to eat beans and rice again when I returned to the US. In fact, the absolute best food I ate ended up being “plain” white rice prepared by my host family’s maid, Dora. I have no idea what black magic she used to make it taste so good, but nothing prepared by any other member of my family, the language school, or any restaurant I went to could quite match up to that plain white rice. My actual mother in the US, as a dietitian, absolutely forbids white rice in my house, so that was an extra different experience for me. For the first few days in Curridabat, I couldn’t figure out how to get non-ice water to come out of the shower head, even after being taught how to use it by my host father William. The mechanism was very weird, and I had to figure out that you not only need to have the temperature setting correct, but also that the higher the water pressure, the colder the water.
I’ve had to restrain myself from typing about every little thing, because if I really told everything there is to tell, the time estimation at the top of the page would say “30 Minute Read,” and this was only the first 4 weeks out of the 10 I spent in Costa Rica! Stay tuned for the next iteration of my travel blog, as I know everyone is anxiously awaiting (all two of you!).