A week in paradise, aka Liberia
We have only been in Costa Rica for one week, but it feels like we have been here forever! In just a week of orientation and Spanish classes in Liberia, we have done so much. Some of the highlights included taking dance classes and performing traditional Costa Rican songs and dances, a group trip to the Playa del Coco, and a day trip to the Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja.
Our group excursion to Playa del Coco was my first time in the ocean. It was great until I (along with another girl on the trip) stepped on a sea urchin, which left spikes all over our feet. After consulting first with the Ticos, then our bus driver, and then the man at the local farmacía, we were able to determine that what we stepped on was herizo, which is not poisonous. So while it hurt to walk, we were not going to die within the hour (always a relief). Despite that distraction, it was a lot of fun to swim in the ocean and I plan to return often during my time here!
This past Saturday we went on a day trip to the Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja, which was amazing. The volcano was closed due to activity, but we hiked through the park and saw a waterfall, volcanitos (sulfer-heated pools of mud-like consistency), amazing views of the forest and mountains, and monkeys! After the hike we white-water rafted (another first for me) and relaxed in the hot springs.
All of the plants in Costa Rica are beautiful! I don’t think I have seen a house yet without plants on the porch, in the windows, and throughout the house. There are so many different kinds of plants, always with such vibrant colors. At Universidad of Costa Rica (where we had our orientation), there is a beautiful courtyard area with a 360 view of gorgeous trees and other plants. Pictures don’t do it justice, but I included a few anyway:
One of the things I love most about Costa Rica is how colorful it is. Not only is there a beautiful array of various plants and flowers all over, but people’s houses and fences and cars are vibrantly colored as well. Liberia used to have totally white streets due to volcanic ash, and traditionally the houses were painted white as well. Eventually someone paved the streets of Liberia in a darker color, and now many of the houses are brightly colored. Still, some Liberians, like my host mom Marta, prefer the traditional white house.