So as crazy as it seems to me, study abroad is wrapping up. I haven’t written in a bit since the end of my program has been a lot of work and keeping me very busy. Im close to down with everything now and this week is exam week here in Costa Rica and then we are done! I did manage to squeeze in one last beach weekend. I went to Montezuma last weekend which was amazing, one of my favorite places here. To get there we took a bus, a ferry, and then another bus since the town is out on a peninsula. The ferry boat ride was stunningly beautiful because the ocean is really calm between the peninsula and the main land. There are mountains all around. On the ferry they also serve food, beer, and play music. Everyone danced like crazy, it was really fun. Montezuma had a few cute restaurants, a big beach, and a waterfall that we hiked to. On Saturday night we ended up at the towns soccer field watching a local soccer game which was pretty good. We had a good time watching the game.
I have a mere five days left in Costa Rica. I taught my last English class (photo at the bottom of last day with our students) and I have begun to start planning my little trip to Nicaragua with my mom who is coming down to see me. Im gonna miss San José, my host family, and my friends here. Stay posted to hear about my week exploring Nicaragua with my mom and going back to the US. Till next time, Pura Vida.
So much has been happening here! Most importantly, my host sister had her baby and Luciana is perfect and so freaking cute. I came home from a weekend at the beach and there she was 🙂 She is now the best distraction ever from school work and I love to hold her as much as I possibly can. Will be very sad to leave this little chica, and everyone else in my host fam of course. I definitely got very lucky with them, super cool family.
Next most important thing that happened is we went on our program’s trip to Nicaragua. I had been really looking forward to this and it did not disappoint, I loved it. Nicaragua is very different than Costa Rica but they are both great. For starters Nicaragua is much cheaper, we left the land of the overpriced for a few days. Nicaragua is poorer and more recently ended it’s dictatorship and war, but it is a beautiful and inspiring country with a lot of good things on the horizon. We took a bus on Thursday at 230 in the morning and arrived in Nicaragua by early afternoon. They stamped my passport over another stamp which drives me crazy, but oh well. We stayed in the city of Granada. Granada is colonial, colorful, and lovely if not a little too touristy. We had two guides, Bosco and Octavio who showed us around. We went to a volcano that is one of the worlds most active and was only a little bit terrifying, but so beautiful that it’s worth a visit. We helped re-paint a school with a group of fifth and sixth graders which was pretty fun. We went to an island on the big lake, we took a city tour, and we drove around a lot seeing the Nicaragua countryside just a bit outside the city. On Saturday for halloween we made some impromptu costumes and went out to a party. Coming back was okay because I know that I will be going back right after the program ends to meet my mom and travel there a bit more. Really excited to return. The food is also quite different, a lot of meat but what I could eat I liked.
Now I am back in San José and super busy! Just about three more weeks of the semester which is loco! Plus I have to do things like register for classes, look for an apartment in NYC (just kill me now), and take finals and such. Plus we gotta squeeze in a little more beach 🙂 Mucho Amor, Pura Vida till next time, and here is a picture of a beach ❤
A few things I have failed to mention about Costa Rica:
- There are almost no addresses here. I am not joking. This is the only country I have ever been to in the world with this large scale of a refusal of the modern mailing and address system in 2015. I get it, it’s kind of cool to be like ‘yeah we are so chill in Costa Rica we just describe where you go it’s so casual’ but come on now everyone it is so confusing. I am living in the capitol, this is no small town and we are actually giving cab drivers directions like 200 meters past the green church and 300 meters east past the white house and the chicken tienda on the corner it is the red house on the right side. People have to have PO boxes here because seriously the mail can’t really be delivered. Oh and lastly google maps, forget it, not so helpful, sigh. But it’s unique ehhh
- Gallo Pinto is the most commonly thought of food when you think of Costa Rican Cuisine, it is as far as I can tell just beans and rice mixed together and in some areas also has coconut milk. It is somehow so delicious though and mostly eaten at breakfast. I am a heavy breaky kind of woman so I really like it, more Gallo Pinto por fa 🙂
- The buses here are pretty cheap and go all over the city so it sounds great and all but there are almost zero marked bus stops and there is no such thing as a bus map or anywhere to view a buses route so these buses are seriously just for locals and anyone who wants to beg a local for directions.
- Costa Rica is rated one of the happiest countries in the world. This is a super commonly quoted fact and Costa Ricans seem pretty proud of it. One of my professors did say though that when that rating came out Costa Ricans where sort of surprised, like ‘oh is the rest of the world especially sad? Who knew we were so darn happy!’ But he said he thinks it had a sort of self fulfilling prophecy effect and Costa Ricans were going around saying they were so happy it just sort of made everyone happy. Idk if that is true but interesting I guess. I do feel like this is a pretty happy place. Whats not to be happy about, a pretty good economy, a pretty big middle class, super good education system, beaches, mountains, forest, gallo pinto, no army therefor no war, healthcare, etc. The national slogan here is Pura Vida which means pure life so if that doesn’t describe Costa Rica not sure what does. People say it literally all the time too, it’s not just a slogan on their signs or something it is used as a hello, goodbye, whats up, and everything in between. I mean pura vida am I right? They also have this other cool word, Mae, which translates to dude I guess but it really is just what people call any man or woman they are close friends with. Pura Vida Mae, your getting it.
- Costa Rica is really expensive just had to clear that up for anyone who thought otherwise, I guess it is nice that their economy is doing so well and all but my dollars don’t go that far, prices here are like New York prices, ugh not about that. Some things are cheaper like rent and buses but food not so much.
Well I guess that is all I can think of at the moment. Pura Vida Mae.
So as you definitely already know, I really love the beach. I have been discovering some pretty gorgeous beaches here in Costa Rica and I love it. My little host sister Monse calles the Playa La Laya, hence the title <3. The past two weekends I spent at the Beach. First I went to Quepos and Manuel Antonio and then this past weekend I went to Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo, and briefly Limon and I gotta tell you about all of it. Right now I am back in San José drowning in school work and avoiding it by playing with my host siblings and such but anyways I gotta back up.
Two weekends ago Aidan, Lyle, and I went to Quepos, the little town next to the National Park Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast. They have good restaurants, bars, and a brand new very luxurious Marina with tons of nice boats. We ate bagels at a Jewish bakery called Brooklyn Bakery and we had the most enormous cheap and delish taquitos. On Saturday we took the bus down the road to Manuel Antonio to spend the whole day at the beach which was gorgeous and the water was amazing. We stayed until the sun set over the ocean.
Last weekend was a long weekend because of Dia de Culturas on Monday (Thats right, It is not Columbus day, it’s Cultural Diversity day they celebrate here). We took the bus on Friday to Puerto Viejo. Puerto Viejo is super touristy but really adorable and there is a plethora of restaurants of all cuisines and a lot of night life. We stayed at a hostel covered floor to ceiling in mosaic, sculpture, and other art. The first day there we spent the day at the beach in town called Playa Negra. It is a black sand beach and was a relatively cool day which was nice and the beach wasn’t too crowded either. That night Aidan and I went on a two year anniversary date at a nice restaurant and ate fish, super yum. The second day we met up with all the other students at another beach nearby called Manzanillo, a little town with a gorgeous but also crowded beach. We swam all day and it was really hot. At both lunch and dinner that day we waited a million years for our food and I thought I would die of hunger but it’s okay the beach that day was super bueno. On Monday we thought Carnival was starting in the city of Limon so we went but there was not really anything to see so we wandered a little to see the waterfront before our bus back to San José.
Now I am home and planning this coming weekend of course! Update on my host sister, still super pregnant and don’t know why the baby isn’t here omg but her induction is scheduled for Friday morning so only 3 days left maximum ❤
Whoever said study abroad is easy and there isn’t a lot of work definitely did not do this program… I like what I’m learning here but we seriously do a lot of work. I finally have a minute so I thought I’d tell you all whats up!
Two weekends ago now was our trip to Tortugero, Pacuare with the program. We all left at six in the morning which was brutal but I slept a lot on the bus. When we got off the bus we had to ride a boat to the lodge in Pacuare, it is the only way in to the community. It was so beautiful, I am such a boat ride person. We went down a man-made river for about 40 minutes and we saw everything from monkeys and crocodiles to sloths and even dolphins who swim in from the ocean and played around near our boat for a while.
The lodge we stayed at had tents with cots in them and lots of hammocks by the water. It was really lovely and the family that lived there and owned it cook us good food and they also had two super adorable boys ages 2 and 10. Jerome, the little one, was especially sweet and hung out with me a lot 🙂 I couldn’t understand half of what he mumbled in little kid Spanish but thats okay.
There is a school in Pacuare that has 8 students and needs a lot of upkeep. When we were there we spent a few hours moving dirt to help raise the path to the school which often floods. I hope we were a little bit helpful in some way, it seemed like a cool little community.
The next day we stopped by a turtle egg rescue place which was interesting. They pay locals to walk the beaches at night and get turtle eggs before the poachers do and then they relocate them to a small section of beach watched by volunteers 24/7. I guess it was pretty neat.
This past weekend we stayed in San José but decided to make good use of it. I checked out some local stores I had been wanting to see, when to a green market, a book fair, and of course we went out! It was a nice weekend but this weekend I am looking forward to beach again. I am going to the national park Manuel Antonio which is supposed to be gorgeous, stay posted and live the pura vida mae (hahahahaha I can’t say that seriously). Okay besos from San José!
Oh one last thing! My host sister is going to have a baby within the next 12 days maximo and im sooooo excited! Just had to let you know 🙂
Now that I am two weeks into classes I’m going to finally tell you a little about what I’m taking, if your interested! On Mondays and Wednesday I take rural and urban sustainable development in the morning and Spanish in the afternoon. My morning class is a lot of work but it’s interesting. We are going to be talking a lot about sustainable development in Costa Rica and like the world to I guess. This is an important but always depressing topic so it’s great for the morning. My Spanish class is super small just three other students and it is a conversation class so it’s pretty easy and fun. So far Ive rambled about my hometown a lot.
On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I volunteer with three other students at an organization called La Cometa in Tirrases which is a pretty underserved and poor area about 20 minutes away by bus. I posted a picture of it the other day. It’s a seriously beautiful area and I am excited to be working with La Cometa. We will be teaching English classes to young women about our own age and also helping teach and watch their children. We take the bus out together in the morning and stay till lunch time. We’ve been there twice and are making lesson plans but our class doesn’t begin until next week, Im super excited. In the afternoons I have my women and gender studies class which also focuses on Latin America and seems really interesting. The teachers cool and the readings seem interesting.
On Fridays I have a community engagement class which is sort of anthropology I guess, not even sure how to really describe it and then we get out early for the weekend. This past weekend all ten of us took our first trip to the beach for a few days. We stayed at a super nice hostel (felt more like a low key resort) in a town called Jaco on the Pacific coast. It was beautiful and so hot there. We hung out at the beach and at the pool. The black sand at the beach was gorgeous and there were a lot of iguanas chillin in town. Going out there to dance was fun too. I was not ready to go back to the city.
This week we had a cultural event and went on an evening city art walk. It was nice to go into the city and we got dinner at a Lebanese restaurant. It was bomb even though I saw a few cockroaches on the ground. I also saw some cool street art downtown that made me wanna go explore some more.
Thats about it. This weekend we are going somewhere super rural and hot im told and were doing some volunteer stuff and maybe seeing a waterfall? Stay posted. Mucho amor from Costa Rica. Pura Vida.
This is Tirrases, a community I will be volunteering in this semester (ill write about it soon), hermosa no?