Between arriving to our homes last night and exploring the city today, Heredia has exceeded my expectations. Everyone I have met has been very kind and helpful. So far, we have come across many locals who were interested in our group. Many people have stopped to ask what we were doing in Costa Rica, and all of them told us about the famous Tico (or Costa Rican) saying “Pura Vida” (or pure life). Many Ticos end a conversation with this saying and from what I have seen, this saying absolutely fits the lifestyle of the Ticos here in Heredia.
Last night, we arrived at the Universidad Latina of Costa Rica where our host families picked us up. This is where I met my host mother Maria. She is the sweetest woman I have ever met and has been so excited to tell us about her life here in Heredia. She lives alone because her children are all married, but some of them have already stopped by to visit which really shows how close she is with her family. Maria is a perfect example of a Tico who embodies the “Pura Vida” motto. She has been extremely helpful and luckily speaks great English, but she uses this as an opportunity to help me improve my Spanish. Even within the first day, this has been an amazing learning experience.
Our tour of Heredia today was a great way to experience some local culture. We went to the center of the city where we saw the main church in Heredia. Next to the church was a park where a band was performing, and many people sat on benches or near a beautiful fountain to listen. We then visited the central market where the locals purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and spices. I found this very interesting since we do not have anything like this in Pittsburgh. The market was open so that you could walk straight in, and many different venders were standing with their carts selling their food. There were also many Sodas which are little restaurants which are outside and open. We saw many people sitting together eating lunch which created a very friendly atmosphere.
The overall atmosphere of Heredia has this same friendly feel. Everyone is outside enjoying the beautiful weather and each other’s company. I was very impressed at how close this community is because in comparison to the United States it was very different. Back home, when u go to the store for groceries, you walk in and find what you need without really interacting with anyone other than the cashier. The market in Heredia was very different because of how social it was. This first day has been a lot to take in, but everywhere we have visited has been nothing but welcoming. I am beyond excited to embrace the Tico lifestyle.