Week 1 is done!!! Y’all, I am in love with Costa Rica! You might have to come get me to come home. I can’t believe it’s already been 1 week! So much has happened. Today I’m going to share with y’all my top experiences of week 1, a little about my host family and town, and differences I have noticed here in Costa Rica as compared to the US that surprised me ( and then of course some pics!!).
If you just want to just skip down to the pics at the bottom, don’t worry I won’t be offended (;
So first let me tell y’all about my amazing mama tica (my host mom) and our town San Joaquín. Our town is about medium sized I would say. Everything is sort of within walking distance and there are many restaurants around town, a soccer field, bank, store, church, etc. Our school where we take classes is a short 10 minute walk from my house close to the center of town. I haven’t gotten to explore town too much, but I am planning to do that more this week!
My mama tica is the sweetest lady. She lives alone in her own house, but next door is her sister’s house who is also hosting a student from my program and so we eat all our meals together at their house! The backyard is amazing and has every kind of fruit, herb, vegetable growing you could imagine. The first day they just kept plucking fruit off the branches and giving them to me to eat. We also have a few chickens and a dog! In the 2nd story of our house lives my mom’s niece, husband, and their 3 kids who are the cutest!! My mom does not speak any English which is great for me because I get to practice my spanish a lot. It is very difficult sometimes to communicate with her because her accent is super thick, but slowly but surely I am getting there and being able to talk with her more. She is so patient with my spanish and I am so thankful for that. At meals is when I feel like I learn the most spanish. I would say I learn at least 5-10 new words every meal. My mom and aunt are always correcting our spanish and helping us learn new words! When I form a full sentence they get really excited and clap and high five me. It’s adorable. Speaking of meals, the food is absolutely amazing. Home cooked costa rican food at every meal. I can get used to that!
“What about class?”, you ask (maybe you weren’t even thinking or wondering about that part but here I go anyway). Class is great! In the mornings we have spanish class and my teacher is so great. I’m in the beginner level which sometimes is too easy, but the advanced level is way too advanced for me so I’m stuck in beginner. It’s a good refresher of the basics though and I am getting a lot of stuff clarified and still learning a lot of new words and grammar concepts. I also really appreciate the small class size. There are only 11 of us so it is very interactive and easy to speak up and ask questions when something isn’t clear. Then, later in the afternoon we have our global health class taught my our UT professor who came with us. I think it will be a very interesting class, especially taking it here in Costa Rica! Right now, we are beginning to work on a group project covering the healthcare system of a certain Central American country (mine is Guatemala).
Now my readers let me tell you about some things I have noticed/learned thus far…
- In Costa Rica (or at least in my area) they don’t really use addresses. They go by landmarks. So for example, the address might say 3 blocks south of “a certain church” or 4 blocks west of the bank. This makes it very difficult to figure out where you’re going when you’re not a local. But I’m starting to figure it out.
- Catholicism is the national religion of the country. Of course, there are other sects of Christianity and other religions practiced, but Catholicism is the official one. There is not a separation of church and state, but some people are wanting that to change in the future.
- Costa Rica is one of a few countries that does not have a military! So interesting. I forgot when, but at some point when they decided not to have a military they put all the money that had been going towards the military to education & healthcare.
- You can’t put your toilet paper in the toilet here because the plumbing systems are not the best and they will get clogged if you do. Twice last week I forgot about this and had to fish my toilet paper out of the toilet (I know, gross but hey it’s better than clogging my family’s toilet. That would be embarrassing.)
- Big lunches & small dinners (basically the opposite of America)
- Also afternoon snack & coffee every day around 4PM is normal
If you serve your own plate, it’s extremely rude to not finish all the food on your plate. (Which seems like common sense and you might say isn’t it like that in America? But not really. We leave food on our plate all the time and waste so much food back home. I know I’m guilty of doing it, too!) I usually have a small appetite, but I kid you not I think my stomach has expanded since I got here.
- Also surprise everyone, I now like coffee (Costa Rican coffee at least). Faith & Meg, if you’re reading this I know you are so happy and proud of me (; Back home, I didn’t hate coffee but I didn’t exactly like it either. The first day here my mom made coffee and I tried some because I am making myself at least try every single food put in front of me while I’m here. And you know, it actually wasn’t too bad. And now I have a cup of coffee every morning at breakfast. I am officially ruined. Thanks Costa Rica.
- After about 3 minutes, the ice cold shower water doesn’t seem like the North Pole anymore, but only just a little cold.
- I learned that “con mucho gusto” is essentially the same as “de nada”.
- The cars rarely actually stop at stop signs
- The sun rises early (around like 5ish) & sets early (it’s pitch black by 6:30PM)
- It rains on schedule every afternoon essentially
Okay, that’s all I’ve got so far! Lastly, I want to tell y’all about the trip we took this weekend! We took a bus about 5 hours to Puerto Viejo which is on the Caribbean coast ( & when I say we I mean me & 19 of the other students in my program). We stayed at the cutest hostel right on the beach! It was so cool. Literally you walked out from the hostel and there was the beach. There were a few hammocks & beach chairs to chill in, too! There was also a bar/restaurant that was part of the hostel that was super yummy! We had a really fun, relaxing weekend. Yesterday, I got to explore the town going to some souvenir shops & eating lunch at a great local restaurant. But, I have to say laying in a hammock on the beach reading Harry Potter book 4 was definitely the highlight of my weekend (#teamhufflepuff). A close 2nd place though was seeing 2 sloths!!! One was at our hostel and one was at a nearby restaurant in a tree. I almost cried. Sloths are so cute. I also saw some wild monkeys (my mom would have loved that). I have some pictures of that below! Honestly, we had such an interesting weekend. There was a huge storm Friday night and a branch fell on a power line and our power/electricity went out at the hostel until mid morning Saturday so we couldn’t shower, charge our phones, run the fans in our room, and more. What a time. It all turned out okay though!
Now we are heading back to San Joaquín! I am so excited to have another week full of new experiences! Check back next week to hear about week 2!!! Until next time…
Texan On The Go
Breakfast & coffeeThe sign my mama tica made me!
First day of class!View from my roomExploring San JoséAfternoon snack-pancakes, corn pancakes, & coffeePart of our hostelAt lunch in Puerto ViejoSome beach, somewhereHuge rainstorm!A wild sloth!!Exploring Puerto ViejoLook closely and you’ll see at least 3 monkeysHammock lifePura VidaCafe Rico in Puerto ViejoBeach time