I gasped when I walked outside this morning. The sun was shining, the sky was bright blue, puffy clouds floated overhead. Lush green mountains were visible in the distance. Colorful houses, palm trees, and beautiful plants and flowers filled the neighborhood. It was a moment I won’t ever forget.
Heredia is a small city with a lot of character. Since it’s Sunday, many of the smaller stores and restaurants were closed downtown—their storefronts pulled down. However, many larger places were open. We walked through the Parque Central in Heredia and saw the church. Many people were entering the Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción. The old white thick-walled church was built in 1797. We also walked through the central market which was bustling and full of hundreds of different kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables. The multitude of tropical fruits even exceeded my expectations which were high already. When I talked to my mama tica about the market, she said that it was much better and cheaper during the week than the weekend. The sidewalks in Heredia were sometimes treacherous (I stumbled on rough cement a few times) and crossing the roads often dangerous, but it was exciting. The twisting convoluted roads reminded me of Pittsburgh somewhat. Many people had cars and the traffic was a little on the bad side on our bus ride home.
Hearing all about the tourism in Costa Rica, I expected a more “touristy” vibe, but it felt very different than that. There were multiple recognizable fast food chains and lots of products and stores in the mall I have seen in the United States before, but most of the people in Heredia looked like locals. We definitely stuck out as a group.
Many of the people I have met have been very sweet, and most have spoken almost entirely in Spanish, even at the mall where t-shirts are splattered with English words. I expected people to know slightly more English, but I’m getting a lot of Spanish practice. I’ve realized Spanish is much easier to read than to speak. I’m hoping by the end of the trip I’ll be much better! My host family is helping a lot!
The food here is absolutely to die for, much better than I thought it would be. Our mama tica is an amazing cook—she has made delicious arroz y frijoles, tortillas, fresh frutas, pescado, pinto gallo, delicious fruit drinks, and so much more! At lunch, we had a crazy meal at Leño y Carbón. I had the most delicious piña smoothie drink the size of my head. And, I also ate a giant meal, and una torta de tres leches. In all my life, I’ve never been so full.