I came into this trip with no expectations, yet Costa Rica has still surprised me. Naively, and again, knowing nothing about the country, I pictured Costa Rica as all rainforests and mountains. While this holds true in certain areas, and is still what I picture for Monteverde, I was surprised by the urbanization and utter normalizes of Heredia. It is a developed, yet crowded, suburb surrounded by beautiful mountains, and apparently very active volcanoes.
While the province is not similar to suburbs in the form that is typically found in America, American influence is extremely prevelent in Heredia. Chili’s and Burger King billboards plague the sky; two story McDonalds and even Popeye’s are within walking distance. American fast food is present, even 2,000 miles away.
With that said, Heredia is a beautiful province, full of culture and proud Ticos. Although I am still in a bit of a culture shock, everything that everyone has told me about Costa Rica before arriving, has been true. The traffic is INSANE, and the fruit back home does not compete with la frutas here. Church is valued in this culture, as crosses and religious statues can be seen on almost every wall. And even if it is sunny and 80 degrees in the morning, it will rain. It will pour, so follow Tica Mama’s advice and bring a rain jacket just in case.
Ultimately, as someone who has never taken Spanish before, I was extremely concerned about getting around and even meeting my host family. I had accepted that fact that I would essentially not be able to communicate with my host family for the two weeks while I was here. But when people say Ticos are willing to help foreigners, they are right. My Tica Mama has already helped me so much in this transition. She not only exhausts her English to make sure that I am comfortable, but she is teaching me as much Spanish as she can. (While writing this post, I am practicing for my Spanish “quiz” that is at dinner). It also doesn’t hurt that she makes the best coffee in the world. I can already tell that this will be a memorable two weeks.