Day 1 in the land of Pura Vida

Coming to Costa Rica, and being told that we would be staying in a small town outside the capital of San Jose, I wasn’t expecting the level of development that is here in Heredia. I thought that the main city would be a couple blocks long and wide and almost feel more like shopping center of a suburb instead of the highly-developed city that sprawls out in front of me when I walk down to it from my homestay. Heredia is a thriving city with a large “Mercado”, a large cathedral, and a large sense of personality and culture. Pride in their local soccer club, CS Herediano, runs rampant and is even more apparent since they play in the semifinals for their league this coming Wednesday. People were wearing the club’s jersey everywhere you went, whether it was the market, restaurant, or inside a small shop. I was expecting a high level of participation in their local sport teams, but I wasn’t prepared for how pervasive their sense of pride was for their team.

Before getting to Costa Rica, all the pictures that I saw of the country depicted jaw-dropping landscapes that were so amazing they couldn’t possibly be real. After arriving to Costa Rica, I can vouch for their authenticity. My homestay is located up on a hill, and walking to and from it the entire central valley stretches out in front you, a vibrant picture of rolling mountains covered in forests blending in the with city. However, since we are in between the dry and wet seasons, the views only lasted till 1 today, when the rain clouds rolled in covering up the sky and casting grey shadow onto everything and obscuring the views of the valley. The rain is as expected with its constant presence and ensuing humidity.

I heard the food in Costa Rica would be fantastic, with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables that are not easily available in the US. Also, I thought that Costa Rica would be great with my gluten intolerance because the staples in the diet are rice, tortillas, and meat. Both proved to be correct. Last night for dinner, there was fresh pineapple that was softer and sweeter than anything I have had in the United States, as well as mini tortillas that could be filled with rice, potatoes, and beef. This morning we had more pineapple and bananas that were so sweet they could’ve been considered as candy. Additionally, the meats and vegetables at lunch were fantastic and flavored that I ate so much that I fell into a food coma as soon as I got on the bus after the meal.

At first, I was very hesitant about speaking with people here in Spanish because I hadn’t taken a Spanish course in over two years and hadn’t really used my Spanish since then. I was afraid that I would mispronounce something and end up offending everyone. However, the Ticos understand that we aren’t fluent in Spanish and have been great with explaining how to act and talk as well as speaking slower than they usually do so that we can keep pace and stay in the conversation. They also invite you to speak in Spanish and help you to improve your language skills.. As I spend more time here, I begin to remember more Spanish the more I use it, further encouraging me to speak more. This is much more inviting than expected and I am super excited to keep exploring Heredia, Costa Rica, and their culture!

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