First Impressions in Costa Rica
It’s only been three days and not that I came to Costa Rica with any expectations but I definitely had a different image in my head of what everything would be like. To start off, its alot poorer than I thought.Not that I thought it would be all resorts and stuff but definitely more access to hot water or airconditioning, and safe to carry your laptop around but definitely not. Costa Rica may be the richest country in Central America but it still sure is poor. The airport wasnt much of an airport. it looked like a renovated building that was about the size of most upper class american houses with two posts for immigration, two posts for security where they dump your luggage out, toss around your stuff and mess up all your neatly folded things, one conveyer belt for baggage claim and one post for customer service. oh and two big fans. No air conditioning here lol. they lost my luggage so now on day three, i have finally been reunited (really the one thing i was worried about was my running shoes but now its all good).
Upon our arrival, while flying in, I got a glimpse of the landscape. ITS SO GREEN! by that I mean, farms, not alot of realestate- and of course this is all a description of the city of Liberia, Costa Rica. Coming from Washington DC and New Jersey/NYC area, I guess my initial reaction would have to be culture shock to the fact that I am not in a crazy, capitalist, materialist, culturally diverse city. And this is great for me! I’m happy- I know by the end of these five months, I am really going to apreciate Central America.
However, I find myself comparing everything to my experience in Spain. Maybe I expected more similarities, but there are many more differences than I expected. For one, besides a different accent, they are much more conservative here in Costa Rica. The Spaniards liked to celebrate holidays and religious festivals by drinking and having fiestas, they also cursed alot as part of their normal slang and had different dishes and people arent as…chubby. Costa Ricans drink but not like the Spaniards. nor do they curse ever- and the food here is SOO rich and fatty- lots of people here are fatter than I thought! I guess its like comparing the USA with the Irish/Brits, or NYC with somewhere like Alabama or Texas. (no offense to my fellow Americans). I guess my heart will always be with Spain. (VAMOS REAL MADRID! ;p ).
One really cool observation though about Costa Rica immediately is the wild life! In our hotel the first night, I already made friends with the lizard living in my shower who I named Enrique. And there’s iguanas here! they just hang out in the trees or side walks. and the squirrels here have black heads, gray bodies, and white tails. and there’s mango and coconut trees everywhere! there are colorful plants and flowers blooming all around and the butterflies- they flutter about in different colors. and in my first host family’s house in Liberia, I think there’s a bird living in my wall. or some rodent im not sure. its still churping as I write and its 11:30pm here. interesting..
As for my host family, they are great! soooo much better than the one I was with in Spain. I have a 19yr old brother who has just treated me like a princess, and a 9yr old brother. I have a mom and dad, uncles, aunts, etc etc, family seems to be just so important here ( a bit of a change from what I am used to at home ). I was picked up in their car the first day on Monday and the first thing the older brother, Javier, and the Father ask me is : ” te gustan fiestas?” ( do you like parties?), and being on my guard and thinking it was a trick question, I answered with a question: “ustedes les gusta beber?” (do you guys like to drink?) and they answered yes yes of course, so I thought it was safe to tell them I like to go out haha. Then I told them my camera was stolen- (this was part of my string of bad luck when I lost my luggage too)- and Javier took me to 4 different electronic stores to compare prices- he said we must get you the best price! haha I was like wow, he shops like a girl! awesome!. well I definitely got my moneys worth and afterwards we went to get coffee and watched the Argentina v Costa Rica soccer game- he said there are three things they dont talk about in Costa Rica ever ( same in Spain!).. Soccer, Religion, and Politics. Well, tomorrow they are taking me to a local track here ( SO EXCITED TO FINALLY RUN!) but he has been driving me everywhere! I feel that my gift of nice chocolates from NYC isnt enough for this family- they are just so sweet and eager to help me :).
Also, I meant to talk about the weather here. 80 degrees everyday and HUMID!! just like one would expect in the tropics. except we are in rain season right now so its more humid. its sunny until about 1pm and then it rains the rest of the evening. OH! and I experienced my first earthquake today! It was 5 on that Earthquake scale- http://www.ticotimes.net/Current-Edition/News-Briefs/5.3-magnitude-earthquake-in-northern-Costa-Rica_Tuesday-July-12-2011
my host family explained to me how we are right near a volcano and on top of the tectonic plates that shift often. so cool! they said its normal and not to worry. so although it sounds scary it further enforces that yay im on an adventure here in Central America! Manos Arriba!