Week 3: ‘Variety is the Spice of Life’

Hello there, and welcome to installment 3(.5) of my Costa Rica blog. The key feature this week? Variety. The SOL mates and I got to do all kinds of interestingly marvelous things; and I’m excited to share them with, here goes:

This was the first week of on-campus clubs—I’m currently signed up for four, so things were busy, haha. Monday afternoon we had our first meeting of the conversation club. After going out in pairs around the campus to invite participants, we sat and talked with Tico students in a two-way language exchange. Everyone spoke in their target language—resulting in learning, laughs, and several new friendships.

Another view in San Jose (in lieu of pics from Monday or Tuesday)

Tuesday after class, a group of four other SOL students and I went to one of our Tico friend’s house for a barbeque lunch. It was very fun to just have down time as we prepared lunch together. Afterwards, I got to listen in on a conversation of current events, national policies, and international politics as discussed between a Costa Rican, a German, an Indian, and an American—very interesting, and a neat view of different perspectives. That evening, my 10-year-old host brother took it upon himself to give me an impromptu Spanish lesson. We began with dictation exercises and me writing sentences for him to ‘grade,’ then moved to me reading books aloud. Apparently, this wasn’t difficult enough, so he assigned me different karate poses to hold as I read—a work out for the body as well as the mind. (Reading a chapter book aloud in Spanish is significantly more difficult with the added fun of quad burn).

This is how the sloth do
Toucans are quite beautiful

This Wednesday was a day like no other. Following class, we boarded a bus to visit one of the rainiest, yet most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It was a wildlife rescue operation where sick, injured, or orphaned animals of Costa Rica can recover or live for an extended time—whatever their case may be. We saw sloths, toucans, kinkajous, assorted owls, a baby tree anteater, spider monkeys, a very small “big cat,” various parrots, and Mexican hairy porcupines—a neat look at the Costa Rican biodiversity we’ve been told so much about. It was inspiring to see the caring hearts of the people who work there and witness the curious, endearing magnificence of the animals. We spent a good portion of the afternoon there, and got back too late for theatre club—but that’s ok; I had a final to study for.

Another beautiful sunset here over Heredia

Thursday: endurance day of the week. We took our first Spanish final exam of the semester (three more to come). It went well—but I was still glad to go to “aerobic dance” (it’s non-trademarked Zumba) after class to work out the last of the test stress. And what a class it was—waaaay harder than what I was expecting. The teacher was very encouraging though, and it was a fun time. Next it was home to shower and eat a quick lunch before History of Cinema and watching Caberet. Communication class was again an adventure…one that ended in three homework assignments. The weather and excursions sometimes make it feel like a vacation here, but we’re still very much in school. After class it was time for an empanada snack and a group meeting to work on our final project…and play a few ‘Whose Line’ games. I slept really well this night.

All the classes met together Friday morning for our final projects. There were presentations, fashion shows, dramas…it was great. My group acted out a version of the legend of Volcán Poas (the one we visited last Saturday). I played a callous village king bent on human sacrifice as a problem-solving method and the very angry god of the volcán—which involved a lot of yelling in Spanish and waving red t-shirt ‘lava’ around while wrapped in a brown bath towel. My group members gave brilliant portrayals of the local orphan girl and her Rualdo parrot best friend. I think it went really well. Afterwards, we had a picnic and a party for one of our members heading back to the states. We got to encourage her and spend time together—and play some Ultimate Frisbee—in the beautiful weather. That evening, I attended the choreographed dance club and learned the basics of Meringue—dance floor, here I come, haha.

Volcán Irazú
Only half-way to the top, but already an amazing view

Yesterday, eight of us decided to visit another active volcano—Volcán Irazú.It’s very different from Poas (less forest, more sand—almost like a lunar landscape with the large rocks haphazardly scattered about). It was so neat to hike the trail and stand atop the tallest volcano in Costa Rica. We didn’t have a lot of time there—the bus ran on a tight schedule, but it was very worth it to see.

A beautiful Church in Cartago…
…to go with the church ruins of Cartago

On the way home, we stopped in Cartago to see an amazingly beautiful colonial church and try a local panadería (bread store/restaurant) before checking out the ruins of Cartago. Absolutely amazing to see the old, ruined church that is reportedly haunted be a headless priest’s ghost. When headed back home, Pranav and I left almost immediately again to watch ‘Maikol Yordan de Viaje Perdido’ (a Costa Rican produced film) in San Jose. The comedy was fantastic (and a lot of it transcended language barriers). Pranav and I are hoping we’ll get a chance to visit the house they used in the movie before we head out of the country.

This morning, we went to church at Iglesia Centro Cristiano de Heredia with our host family and had a beautiful time in community worship and listening to a message of warning against inconsistency, infidelity, or disobedience to God. A lunch of chimichurri (pico de gallo) salad with meat and yucca set the tone nicely for this afternoon of writing before the Super Bowl tonight.

Another wonderful week has passed—and with January gone, so has one of my months here. I’m very grateful for the time I’ve had so far, and look expectantly forward to what is yet to come. Thank you for reading and being part of this adventure with me. Take care, and God bless. ¡Hasta luego!

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