It’s 5:30 in the morning and suddenly I’m wide awake. The jet lag hasn’t quite worn off, and my internal clock is confused. There’s a constant murmur outside my window, drowned out by cars whizzing past, blowing their horns. Dishes clang in the kitchen as my host mom prepares breakfast. The room is warm; the smoggy air mingles with the aroma of fresh frijoles refritos. The streets of Heredia are alive, humming along with the rising sun.
The day begins with a feast prepared by my host mother; my roommate and I indulge in the freshest fruits we’ve ever tasted, as well as freshly squeezed orange juice–quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever drank. This was a huge adjustment as I’m used to only grabbing a granola bar on my way to class. But breakfast is very important to Ticos, and I find it very refreshing that they value the idea of sitting down to start the morning together. Additionally, we experienced my roommate, Maddie, and I experienced our first cup of Costa Rican coffee. This was a huge shock. Obviously, prior to departure, we had discussed how famous Costa Rican coffee is. However, I was skeptical. I mean, how different could it really taste? This is where I was so terribly wrong. The flavor was unlike anything I had ever experienced–a string of words I used excessively as the day continued on.
The city was also unlike anything I’d ever experienced. While I was imaging Heredia to be rather suburban, I was surprised as we explored the crumbling inner city streets. I suppose I took the Pura Vida lifestyle a little too much to heart, so I was expecting the city to be slightly cleaner with a lot more green space than was present. Also, while activity was “light” since it’s Sunday, I still experienced pure terror as I attempted to cross streets without getting run over by congested, speeding traffic. I had experienced aggressive driving when in Mexico, so it wasn’t anything necessarily too new to me. However, I was sure that the Tico’s relaxed lifestyle would correlate with a relaxed and not so rushed driving style as well.
With that being said, I did think the city was still beautiful. I loved the broken sidewalks composed of half concrete, half red and yellow tiles. I loved the center square, especially the fountain and all the casual friends and families hanging out around it. Lunch at Leño y Carbon was to die for, and I’m 100% sure my favorite new drink is jugo natural de maracuyá. I’m so happy to be here in Costa Rica, and I’m looking forward to all the new surprises and experiences I still have yet to see.