Tercer día: la ciudad Heredia
I’m sitting in bed after another long day of class and our first excursion! We had class from 8-12. I’m understanding “la profe” more than I did yesterday, and starting to accept that this is going to be a slow learning process.
Today was an overview of the geography and culture of Latin America. We listened to a couple songs about Latin American pride and culture. Calle 13 – Latinoamérica was one of the songs we listened to. The lyrics said, “Tu no puedes comprar [el viento, el sol, la lluvia, el calor]” You can’t buy the wind, the sun, the rain, or the heat. The lyrics speak for themselves!
After class, we took a bus to downtown Heredia where we did our first cultural activity. We each had to find a specific type of fruit to buy for the rest of our group. My assignment was to find “Granadillas” which kind of look like small oranges at first glance. Later I would find out that they’re more similar to pomegranates on the inside. You can scoop the seeds out and eat them. They were kind of slimy, but pretty good!
The market was full of carnícerias and fruit stands. We found my granadillas within 2 minutes. The shop owners were very helpful, a friendly shop owner around every corner. There were corridors with clothing vendors, candy shops, and small restaurants. The vendor who helped me find granadillas was an older man with a gentle laugh, he laughed at my broken Spanish, but I just shrugged and smiled.
I loved going to the market and supporting “los ticos” and the local businesses. We probably all stuck out as tourists to the ticos, but one of my favorite things about traveling is immersing myself in the culture and experiencing the local flavor of a new place. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to go to the grocery store in the U.S.
The second part of our cultural activity was to try the fruits we bought. We went to a small café in Heredia to eat. Most of the fruits weren’t sweet at all! Most were tart or sour. Angie, our director, told us to pour salt on them which most of us thought was kind of unusual, but I tried all 8 fruits nevertheless!
We walked back from downtown Heredia which didn’t take long at all and I was happy for the extra exercise. It was a quiet night until we had dinner at about 8:30 pm. This time mama tica made us huge plates of alfredo pasta, we asked to take the rest for lunch tomorrow. We had great conversations once again, we even scratched the surface of the environment and politics. I’m really beginning to love it here.
Buenas noches mis amores.
Cuarto día: San José y Cartago
Today was our last day of class this week because tomorrow we’re going white water rafting, which I’ve never done before! We talked about Paleo Anthropology and homo sapiens, homo erectus, “bipedísmo” and theories like Darwinism and Neodarwinism. It was a lot of information I had already learned, so the context helped my understanding of the lesson in Spanish. At the end of class, however, we watched a documentary to tie all of the info together. We watched without subtitles and I can’t say I understood much of that, but I wrote down a lot of new words!
After class we took one bus to San José and another to Cartago. San José looked like a really interesting city, and I’m hoping to spend some more time there in the next couple of weeks! Once we arrived in Cartago we weren’t really sure how to get to la Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles from the bus station, so we asked a couple of locals. One woman took us all the way there! She was also going, but since she spoke English and grew up in Costa Rica, she was happy to show us the way.
We washed our hands and faces in holy water that was supposed to cleanse our souls. Mama tica told us the history, but I’m not sure I would do such a great job translating it into English, so see this link for more info! The basilica is a very important religious spot in Costa Rica, people from all over the world make a pilgrimage every August!
The ruins of Parroquía Santiago Apostól were next on our list. We stopped for quesadillas that didn’t have cheese … not really sure if that was normal or not (lol.) The ruins came from an unfinished construction project in the 1800’s. The construction of the parish stopped because of an earthquake; they are fairly common in Costa Rica.
We took the train home from Cartago to Heredia. Looking out the window on the train was probably one of my favorite parts of the day. We meandered through little mountain towns and smaller cities on the bumpiest train I’ve ever been on. I saw children playing in the dirt at dusk. Orange streetlights showed up like stars in the distance as the shadow of nighttime covered the land. The culture is so rich in each and every one of the cities I’ve been to so far. I can’t wait to see what’s next! I’ll let you know how white water rafting goes tomorrow.
Hasta luego y siempre pura vida.