The Many Varieties of Costa Rican Culture and Nature

Today we were able to see a different side of Costa Rica as we left the central valley, seeing the Pacific coast and the mountains. The areas we drove through today were more rural and had smaller neighborhoods than those in Heredia. The houses in general had tin roofs, and did not have a large locked gate out front like the ones in the central valley do. The have a larger amount of land with yards that are fenced in by wood fences. They are smaller than the metal gates that are in Heredia as they are in a very rural area, and not in a more city like area. Most of the houses were either by themselves, or very close together in a small community. Contrary to this, near the Pacific Ocean, specifically those right on the water, were very expansive, nice houses. These houses are probably owned by wealthier people and are most likely beach or summer houses. The shops that are near the more rural houses are larger and more sporadic to match with the sporadic location of the houses. The stores seem to also sell a larger variety of products. They are similar to what I would call a general store, where they sell many of the necessities, specifically because the stores are relatively spread out, so it would be difficult if one needed to drive to many stores to get everything they would need. In general, the Pacific coast is more rural and spread out in relation to Heredia and the central valley.

In the mountains, the houses are generally blocked together in areas where one can more easily build a house on the side of a mountain. However, there are not many houses in the mountains as it is very steep and is almost all forests. This causes the houses to be built together in communities, so the people generally live close together.

The scenery of both the Pacific coast and in the mountains is mostly forestry. There are many trees and not huge open fields. The trees are very vibrant with a strong lighter green color. They are not like the forests I am used to seeing in New Hampshire, which are full of much darker, almost heavier looking trees, like evergreen trees. These trees and brighter and have a more varied variety that include palm trees. In the mountains we are much higher elevation, which is very interesting to see as we are almost in the clouds. While driving up to Monteverde, we were at such high elevation and the clouds were so thick, that at some points it seemed like you were driving through the clouds. With being at high elevation, it is also cooler than in the central valley. Not only is there less humidity but the actually temperature seems cooler. The mountains are quite different from what I have become accustom to in the central valley. Between the nature, the climate and the houses, its almost as if we had entered a different country.

The vase variety in culture, scenery and climate in Costa Rica, has definitely changed my perception of Costa Rica since I arrived on Saturday. Before coming I had thought that since it was such a small country that most of the people, culture, and nature would be very similar. After exploring some of the different provinces and listening to lectures and tours, I have learned that there are many different cultures in Costa Rica, especially between the different province. Each one has its own culture with slightly different ways of life and priorities, all of which I have found not only interesting but surprising. Costa Rica has been full of surprises and most of my initially thoughts when traveling to this country have changed, some in small ways and others in large ways.

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