January is moving right along and I am still on school vacation. I spend most of my time reading, sketching, and going to the movies, the mall or coffee shops. I have done a little bit of traveling too. In reality it has been pretty slow around here.
New Years was very similar to Christmas Eve Dinner, although it was a much less formal occasion. My tica family and much of their extended family met at my “sister” Sophia’s house. Many friends of the family came over for dinner too. At midnight we went outside to see the fireworks that are set off from all corners of Heredia. Afterward I went out on the town with my sister, Mariann.
A popular New Year’s tradition in Costa Rica is “Las Corridas de Toros.” It is a combination of the Run of the Bulls in Spain and the traditional bullfighting seen in other Spanish-speaking countries. Here in Costa Rica a bull is antagonized and riled up and then released into an arena with a crowd of participants. The bull tears about the arena as people try to evade it. Once the bull has calmed down, it is roped and taken out of the arena, and another bull is released. There are other games and events as well, such as bull riding, roping, and so forth. Although the bulls themselves don’t really suffer any injury, there are a significant number of hospital visits from participants. There are “Corridas” all over Costa Rica, but the two that I have heard about the most are in San Jose (which just recently ended) and in Palmares (which just started).
Since I don’t have any school work or responsibilities right now, I had time to go to the Poas Volcano. It is actually very close to Heredia; by bus it takes about two hours to get there, making it an easy one day trip. However, I might go again in February or March, because when I went, it was extremely cloudy and very difficult to see anything. I had been told that the clouds and the tourists roll in at 10 a.m., but I didn’t think it would be that bad. When I got to the crater a little after 11 a.m. the clouds were a lot thicker than I had expected. Fortunately there were a couple breaks in the clouds, so I was able to get a few quick glimpses of the crater.
I have also gone on two trips with my tica family to the beach. The first trip was with a large number of their extended family and we stayed in little cabins near the beach Playa Avellanas. It was a lovely four-day trip—a day of travel, two days at the beach, and then the trip back home. The first day at the beach, I took several short walks and enjoyed the cool surf. Even though I used 50 spf sunscreen, I got a beautiful sunburn. My tica sister, Mariann, used spf 4 sunscreen and got a beautiful tan. Gotta love my white skin. So due to the sunburn from the first day, I spent the next day hiding from the sun and reading a book. Honestly I didn’t mind. It was still very pleasant to sit in the shade with my toes in the sand and read. Coming home was definitely an adventure due to all of the mechanical difficulties amongst our cars, but we made it back. It wasn’t that bad—just a good exercise in patience.
I also went on another trip to the beach with my tica family. We went to Playa Bejuco, roughly a two hour drive from Heredia—perfect for a day trip. Many of my tica family’s extended family were there too, leaving me to wonder if this is common among ticos. Are trips always a big family event? This beach wasn’t quite as secluded as the Playa Avellanas, but it wasn’t full of people either. It was a simple day—time spent on the beach, a small BBQ-style lunch, and time spent chatting. We made it home later that evening.