A Plethora of Adventures

It’s been awhile since my last post, so I thought today would be a good day to update you all on what’s been happening in my life lately! I think my previous post burnt me out on posting for a while, so this one won’t be near as long or detailed!

I’ve been in Costa Rica for 3 weeks now! It somehow feels like it’s been longer yet shorter at the same time. It feels like I’ve been here forever because I’m starting to get used to everything. I’m starting to feel less like a tourist and more like a Tica. It also feels like I only just got here because of how quickly time has flown by with how busy I’ve been with SOL excursions as well as exploring on my own with a few friends.

Since my last post: I toured the cities of Heredia and San Jose, had a traditional Costa Rican cooking class, volunteered at a local animal shelter, hiked Poas Volcano, celebrated one of my SOL mate’s birthdays in a humming bird garden, went to Jaco Beach, went to Conversation Club with Ticos, toured the Toucan Rescue Ranch, and attended a Zumba class on campus.

Exploring Central Heredia was such a great experience! I learned about some of the history of Heredia, which was very interesting. Heredia is called the City of Flowers because of President Alfredo González Flores (Flowers). Supposedly, his daughters were very beautiful, and men came from all around to get a chance to see them! Also while I was in Central Heredia, I visited the Central Market and bought some uchuvas (golden berries). They’re so good! After exploring, my SOL Mates and I had to find our way back to the bus stop that would take us back to the university. It was my first experience with the Costa Rican bus systems, and it wasn’t too bad! It’s nice to know that I can get around on my own!

Exploring Central Heredia with my SOL Mates for the first time
Exploring Central Heredia for the first time
Flowers on the sidewalk in Central Heredia
Flowers on the sidewalk in Central Heredia
Uchuva
Uchuva

San Jose is a completely different place than Heredia! It’s busier and bigger. On the tour, we stopped at a fair trade store that sold crafts made by the indigenous population of Costa Rica. It was nice to know that all of the money we contributed went directly to the people. We saw lots of beautiful street art. We also saw a few museums that I’d like to come back to and tour. One of the museums is called the Museum of Jade, so naturally I’ll have to go back to check that one out. After we finished touring, we played hacky sack in the park for a while. It was a great way to end a wonderful day filled with so many new things!

Street art in San Jose
Street art in San Jose
More street art in San Jose: "Learn to understand, because understanding is to be free."
More street art in San Jose: “Learn to understand, because understanding is to be free.”
Hacky sacking in a park in San Jose
Hacky sacking in a park in San Jose

The traditional Costa Rican cooking class was so fun! We learned how to make gallo pinto, cheese tortillas, plantain empanadas, chimichurry (non-spicy pico de gallo), and prestiños (like a giant frosted flake with syrup). Flor also prepared coffee for us with a chorreador (simple coffee maker). The food and the coffee were both delicious! I’m going to have to make a recipe book so that I can recreate all of the amazing food I’ve been having here.

Flor's Cooking Class
Flor’s Cooking Class
Gallo pinto & chimichurry
Gallo pinto & chimichurry

We had the choice to volunteer at either an animal shelter or an old folks home, and I chose the animal shelter! We got to see so many cute doggies. I walked a dog and named her Sam. After that, we got to hold some puppies that were just adorable! I hope I can go back and see Sam and the puppies again soon!

Holding a cute little puppy from the local animal shelter
Holding a cute little puppy at the local animal shelter
Sam
Sam

I got to hike up to an active volcano! Apparently only 1 in 1,000 people get to see an active volcano in their lifetime, so I feel pretty lucky! Poas is 8,885 ft tall. I definitely want to go back while I’m here because the hike was just magical. The cloud forest we hiked through was like a fairytale forest.

"Poor man's umbrella"
“Poor man’s umbrella”
Fairytale forest
Fairytale forest
My friends and I hiking up to Poas
My friends and I hiking up to Poas
The very cloudy Poás Volcano
The very cloudy Poas Volcano
Made it to the top of Poas
Made it to the top of Poas

After hiking Poas, we went to a nearby humming bird garden. It was beautiful and very peaceful. It was one of the girls in my SOL group’s birthday, so we had cake, batidos (fruit milkshakes blended with ice), and sang songs. It was the perfect ending to the day.

Blue humming bird
Blue humming bird
Our director, Janiva, playing some songs while we sang along
Our director, Janiva, playing some songs while we sang along

I went to the beach for the first time since I’ve been in Costa Rica! I went to Jaco Beach which is on the Pacific. I believe that was my first time being in the Pacific Ocean! I had such a great time. I swam, tanned, ate some really good food, and met a cowboy from Canada.

The Pacific
The Pacific

Conversation Club with Ticos was really fun! It was definitely a learning experience. We a had a huge group of students from the US mixed with Costa Rican students. The Ticos spoke in English while we spoke in Spanish so that we could both learn from each other. We played a bunch of ice breaker games. It was just a blast overall!

Conversation Club
Conversation Club

Touring the Toucan Rescue Ranch was a blast! I saw an oncilla (an extremely rare “big” cat), a spider monkey, sloths, and different types of birds. I learned some very interesting things! Oncillas were hunted nearly to extinction for their coats. Also, if a sloth bites you, you will likely die because the bacteria in their mouth is highly toxic to humans. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit this amazing place!

Oncilla
Oncilla
Spectacled Owl
Spectacled Owl
Sloth
Sloth
Spider Monkey
Spider Monkey
Toucan
Toucan

The Zumba class I went to was so fun! It was a lot harder than I expected it to be, but I hung in there! We did lots of dances to some really good music. The instructor was so funny! She was small but yelling out orders like nobody’s business! She was nice though! I’m definitely going to be going back to that class.

Today was my last day of my Intermediate I Spanish class. I can’t believe it’s already over! I had a wonderful professor who I will miss dearly in the next levels of Spanish class. I ended with a good grade and much more Spanish capability than when I began!

Tomorrow I’m going to Jaco Beach again with some of my SOL Mates. I’m stoked! It should be another great day in this beautiful country!

¡Pura vida!

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