Fatima Verona (January 5, 2020): the First Destination (Gap Year Blog #5)

Reporting from Limon Province!

On the shuttle bus to where I am staying now!
On the shuttle bus here!

My gap year thus far has truly been filled with learning experiences. When I was still a senior, I naively believed taking a gap year, if properly planned would be easy to follow through with. However, not everything always goes as planned, even with aid from your dream school.

I’ve had to learn this the hard way. I was planning to get a visa to go to Portugal for six months, but the application process was confusing and tedious, and the wait to receive it would have been significant too.

Additionally, I didn’t believe I would have to work during my gap year. However, seeing as I needed extra financial support, it was an extremely convenient option that has helped me gain confidence in myself. It had also shown me, in a way, how to be a more attentive and sympathetic person. It was an indispensable experience, and though I didn’t believe I would take this route, I’m glad I did.

Now that I’m here in Costa Rica, and only a day away from volunteering at the Jaguar Rescue Center, I’m rather grateful things didn’t go exactly according to plan. The province I’m staying in right now is called Limon, and it’s a completely different lifestyle to the one I’m more accustomed to in San Jose. To describe where I’m staying briefly, Punta Cocles is a beach-flanked, humid barrio near Puerto Viejo. It is a very relaxed town for young surfers and foreigners, mainly from Europe. One major difference between the locals in San Jose and Puerto Viejo is that here, locals have a more relaxed way of being than in San Jose.

I’m living with a small family here in their humble abode, tucked within a jungle-encircled barrio that’s a minute walk to the beach. Monika, the owner of the house, was nice enough to lend me a bedroom for a month and a half, in exchange for helping them with chores and working with her for two or more weeks at her school. I’m a two-minute bike-ride away from the Jaguar Rescue Center, and the pharmacies and pulperias — small, local stores — are not far from here at all either. Seeing as I have a lot of freedom here, I know I will learn to be more independent and responsible for myself.

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