Our drive to Monteverde from Heredia allowed me to get a glimpse of how life is outside of the city. At first glance, it seemed that people who were living outside of the city were a lot less fortunate than those in the city. There were a lot of dirt roads, as compared to the nicely paved roads in an around the city. Also, the quality of the houses seemed much worse than those in Heredia. Most of the houses were small with metal roofs, and they were fairly spread apart. They also seemed to be pretty old. However, there were some exceptions, especially as we neared the pacific coast. Along the coast there were several lavish beach homes as well as a few resorts. With regards to the people, it was hard to get a good impression just driving through the regions, but overall I felt they were about the same as the people in the city. Most of them are farmers, judging by the land. I saw mostly cattle being raised in the mountain areas of the rainforest as well as fruits and vegetables. With this came a lot of roadside markets selling fresh produce. These small stands were seemingly everywhere along the road. The scenery along the way was incredible, with large mountains and the beautiful pacific beaches. Even though it was a little frightening being so close to the edge on the steep mountain roads, it provided a beautiful view of the mountainous rainforests. This drive really made me appreciate all of the effort Ticos put into sustainability and protecting the environment as well as giving me a glance of life outside the city.
Overall, my overall understand of Costa Rica has not changed much since Saturday, but there are a few things that stand out. One example of this is the kindness and happiness of the people here. When I first arrived on Saturday, I was very much in ‘culture shock.’ Having never really traveled to another vastly different country, I was not really sure how I would be perceived here and what the people would be like, so I had very little interactions with the locals here. Since then, I have spoken a lot more to my host family and their friends as well as students at the university. Everyone has been very friendly and I really enjoy conversing with people here and learning about their favorite places to go around San Jose and Heredia. Most locals here are very kind and welcoming to us as visitors to their country and I have really been able to experience that firsthand. Another example of how my views have changed since arriving on Saturday is the similarity between Costa Rica and the United States of America. During my first few days here, Costa Rica felt like a completely different planet, completely different to what I was use to at home. However, after the initial shock wore off, I have been able to see how similar life is here. People partake in all the same activities like going to sports games, visiting the mall, and watching a movie. Ticos have similar work days, and the pains of city traffic. Buses, taxis, trains, and even Uber (although much cheaper in Costa Rica), are all essentially the same. After visiting the universities, I noticed things run very similarly to the way they do here, with similar classes and schedules. In conclusion, my understanding of this beautiful country has not changed much, though I am definitely becoming more accustomed to life here.