After being in Pittsburgh for the past nine months, I couldn’t think of a better way to start off my Costa-Rican experience than checking my weather app and realizing that it in fact would not be low 40’s in late spring. What a concept. A great start to my morning. I was already expecting a typical tropical climate that consisted of short, violent downpours, and this was as advertised as I learned on the walk back from Heredia later in the day. Anyways, my first experience in Costa Rica was a positive one. Within an hour of arriving, I had already had my first (of many) servings of gallo pinto, or rice and beans. Surprisingly, I cant wait to have more! Abuela, as we call our host mother, is as sweet as can be, aligning with the hospitable nature of Costa Ricans that I had learned about. Despite me not knowing a lick of Spanish, Abuela still makes an effort to speak to me in Spanish so that I can learn during my two weeks here, a goal of mine for the trip.
My first true excursion was to Heredia. Appropriately nicknamed the “City of Flowers,” Heredia consisted of several beautiful squares highlighted by colorful flower arrangements. As a large group of students from the United States, we received some looks as expected, but many Ticos were willing to engage in conversations with students who can speak Spanish. With the weather being so nice, the squares were filled with Ticos looking to relax, and there was even a band playing in a central gazebo. My personal favorite part of Heredia was definitely the Market because that is where I can sample the fresh fruit that I have been dying to try. In my mind, this market was what I saw when I thought of a Costa Rican city. However, I was surprised to find that one of the most crowded restaurants was a Pizza Hut since I could not imagine eating there with all of the other options.
As someone who has traveled before I really enjoyed seeing what Costa Rica has to offer in comparison to other countries, but the challenge this time is figuring out how to communicate with the locals. In just a few hours I was able to brush up on key phrases, but conversation is still rather difficult. With practice, I hope that by the end of my two weeks here I can piece together some sentences on my own, and I’ll hopefully stop instinctively reverting to French by then. For now, the most important two words I need, according to Abuela, are “Pura Vida,” and I like the sound of that.