25th Jan 2015. As I moved into the second week, my first objective was to get to know San Jose. I heard a lot of good things about the city, especially it’s graffiti, night life and it’s architecture. My house-mate Gabriel was kind enough to show me around San Jose on a Sunday afternoon. I have to mention here that the graffiti I saw in San Jose was the best I’ve seen so far in my life. It turned out to be a very good idea to explore San Jose on a Sunday because It almost felt like the entire city was sleeping, hungover from partying on Saturday night.
Monday went by pretty smoothly with not much to do except our classes. I guess some days you just have to slow down a little and catch with all the little beautiful things happening around you. Tuesday, after classes our Tico (Costa Rican) friend Oscar invited a few of us over for lunch. It was the most thought provoking days I’ve had since my time here. We talked majorly about World politics and music. Oscar shared with us some interesting facts about Latin American History, especially Cuba and Costa Rica. I have to admit to my ignorance of not realizing how tough these past 5 decades have been for Cuba since it’s relations with USA deteriorated back in the 1960’s. I always thought of Cuba as a relatively peaceful and harmonious country. But the truth, was far from it.
Wednesday, half of our SOL-group had an excursion lined up for the Toucan Rescue Ranch. A chance for us students to learn and understand about Costa Rican bio-diversity and micro-climates. An animal rescue ranch run and operate by an american wonder woman named Leslie. The reason I say wonder woman is because she’s an inspiration to us all by what she’s done to help and raise abandoned and endangered animals across Costa Rica. It’s amazing how one woman’s determination to save animals and care for them led to a snowball effect in Costa Rica in raising awareness about the mistreatment dished out to animals. Today I can say with the utmost surety that the entire country recognizes and is proud of her life’s work. Her ranch has sloths, toucans, spider-monkey’s, owls, vultures, ant-eaters, ducks and at least 5 other types of birds. Among these, my favorite was the sloth. Fascinating creatures. One of the slowest ones around in the animal kingdom, completely nocturnal but very charming.
Thursday again was Tico Time. Classes with locals where I had chosen History of World Cine. This week we got an insight into the world of Hollywood musicals by seeing a 1970’s classic musical Cabaret. And so with that, came the final day of our first level Advanced 1. We were pretty excited about the level to end as we all had scored exemplary marks. Although, we realized things are gonna get a lot more tougher for us but the excitement of Costa Rica just wouldn’t let us down.
31 Jan, 2015. The first free weekend of our semester, which meant travel time! Some went off to the beach, some stayed in the city and some of us (including me and Gabriel) along with 6 other friends decided to hike Volcano Irazu. The highest active volcano in all of Costa Rica. Just the sound of it could invoke a rush of adrenaline in any adventure seeker.
The hills surrounding the volcano were beautiful. The landscape was breathtakingly captivating. I think green was the gods’ favorite color when he thought of making Costa Rica. A mesmerizing view of the clouds beneath awaited us at the summit of Volcano Irazu,3400 meters above sea level. After soaking in the picturesque landscape and the magnitude of where we had been, It was time for us to head back down the hill and explore the city of Cartago. A small city at the foot of the volcano which was once completely left in utter ruins in the 1960’s by the wrath of Volcano Irazu.
As we went back home later afternoon, me and Gabriel had a plan for a movie with our host family. So in all honesty we didn’t have much breathing time. Reached home, changed our clothes and off we went with our family who were already waiting for us in all readiness. We saw a Costa Rican movie called “Maikol Yordan de viaje Perdido” (The Lost Journey of Maikol Yordan). The movie was hilarious and thoroughly entertaining. Luckily I and Gabriel managed to understand the majority of the movie thanks to our moderately efficient listening and comprehending skills in Spanish (at least we think so).
Uff! Saturday was an adventure and a half! Never knew I could do so much in one day. The next day, being a Sunday, meant church service with family. Being a Hindu, it was my first time at a church service, let alone one in Spanish. Overall, I can say that I felt really blessed to be there among the lovely people. It’s always been my dream to experience every culture of the world in detail and this was my chance to do it.
This weekend was all about new experiences, so, in the evening it was the turn of Super Bowl. American Football, a sport which is relatively unknown to Indians, is a very technical and interesting sport to watch. A special mention to my buddies Josh and Benjamin for teaching me a lot about the culture of Super Bowl in United States.
After an eventful weekend and a very quiet Monday it was our turn to be a good Samaritan rather than just being a bunch of ordinary tourists. I chose to volunteer at the Animal Shelter again as my love for animals urged me to do so.
On Thursday, after class we had a brief presentation on Punta Mona – a beautiful and self sustaining project based on Perma-culture that an American couple are running on the South-eastern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. We were made aware of the special significance and preserved natural beauty of this place. I think the most fascinating part about Janiva’s (our program Director) presentation was that we were told that we’ll be completely living off the grid on this self sustaining 85 acre piece of land.
So for 3 days, no electricity, mobile, internet, shops or roads to connect us from the outer world. This definitely got us all so excited in the room that the anticipation of this trip could be felt ever so evidently. Until then, I leave you with the promise of an exciting week up ahead which promises to be filled with many more surprises.