A Whirlwind of Activities
I have been in Costa Rica now for over three weeks. Orientation is complete and classes have started. So much has happened. Where do I start?
I remember very distinctly the first night in Liberia at the hotel. What started out as group of four chatting outside under the awning eventually turned into all seventeen of us from the IFSA-Butler group. We did mixers, chatted, and played games in order to get to know each other. I was amazed at the way the group gelled in just that one night and ever since then it has been a pleasure to be among this group of people.
That week of Orientation in Liberia was good, but exhausting. In addition to orientation, we had intensive Spanish classes and testing for our placement in the IFSA-Butler Spanish class. It wasn’t all work and no play though. There were some free mornings or afternoons and we, the students, used them well. We went to Playa Coco for an afternoon and wandered around Liberia another morning.
I moved in with a family for the week I was there in Liberia. It was a pleasure to be with that family for the week and even though the time was short, I was sad to leave them and move in with another family. The final dinner included a presentation of dancing, bombas, live music, and Costa Rican food.
For those of you who are interested: bombas are short poems or rhymes. Typically they are said by a man to woman and are meant as a compliment to which the woman could in turn answer if she wishes. Bombas are best known for their wit and word-play.
Here is an example in Spanish:
Yo no soy flor de josmeca, ni concha de mal aguero, ni tampoco soy guitar para que me toque cualquiera. –Bomba de la Mujer
In English it would be translated more or less like this:
I am not a josmeca flower, nor a shell of bad luck, neither am I a guitar on which you can play anything you want. –Bomba of a woman
Before exiting Liberia, the IFSA-Butler group did an excursion. We hiked through the jungle to hot springs and a mini-volcano. It looked really cool, but didn’t smell so great due to the sulfur. The next day part of the group went rafting and the other part went zip-lining. Seeing as I am from Oregon and can white-water raft fairly easily, I chose zip-lining. It was amazing!
The first week in Heredia was very similar to life in Liberia—orientation and adjusting once again to another family. We also toured San Jose. It is absolutely beautiful, but not nearly as easy-going and laid back as Heredia. But there is no questioning the art and culture that permeates the city. There are numerous parks and museums and the Teatro Nacional was beautiful and unlike anything I have ever seen. We also toured Heredia and got a feel for the city and the campus of the Universidad National.
Last weekend most of us from the IFSA-Butler group went to San Manuel Antonio to enjoy the beach and national park. San Manuel Antonio is on the Pacific coast, but I have been told that the beaches resemble more closely the beaches on the Caribbean coast—the jungle is very thick and extends down almost to the waves it seems. I went hiking, enjoyed the waves and sunshine, and saw monkeys and sloths! I have always wanted to see sloths and I was fortunate enough to be within five yards of a three different sloths. I was ecstatic and took tons of photos. Without a doubt that was my favorite part of the weekend.
Right now I am busy with classes and am trying to immerse myself as much as possible into the culture and look for opportunities to use and learn Spanish. It is very exhausting and often at the end of the day I want nothing more than to talk to a friend, read a book, listen to a song, or watch a movie in English. I know it will get easier, but it makes for long days. Right now everything is very exciting and I feel like I slipped into the lifestyle and culture all too easily. But I know that eventually, homesickness will come and likely a frustration with my classes or the culture.