It is impossible to not develop expectations when planning a trip, whether you know a lot about your destination or not. I have a background in Spanish from high school classes, and from that I often learned about the culture in Spanish speaking countries. With this background, my expectations were generally met during the tour of Heredia. I was not surprised to see people playing music in el central. I was also not surprised when a local approached us to converse and went on to say that gringos are very nice. I did not expect to see so many American stores, I even saw a restaurant I work at when at home. I was also surprised to hear familiar songs played in English when waiting in line at the supermercado.
These were pleasant surprises, as I have discovered my lack of recent practice in Spanish has affected my ability to carry out a complicated conversation. Even though my thorough practice of Spanish came to an end about 2 years ago, I still expected that my 5 years in the class would get me farther than it does. I am selling myself short because generally I understand what my host family is saying to me, I mostly have trouble responding. I think that my skills will come back to me before too long and I will hopefully be a strong speaker by the end of the trip.
My expectations were met and exceeded regarding the food in Heredia. During lunch, I was served a giant plate filled with three types of meat, salad, potatoes, and plantains. Everything was seasoned perfectly, and the flavors meshed so well together. I am usually a somewhat picky eater, not daring to try new things out of fear that I won’t like them. Because of this, I usually eat dippable items without any sauce. I left this old habit behind today because there were so many options to choose from, and some items such as the potatoes already came with sauce on them. The meal was delicious, and we even got to have dessert after (even if we were too full to appreciate it).
My first day in Heredia was amazing and I can’t wait to see what all the days left have to offer!