andevries' Travel Journals

andevries

 
What are the ethnic foods that you eat on a normal basis?

I don't eat ethnic foods very often, but I do like Chinese food and all sorts of rice.

  • 27 years old
  • From Pennsylvania, United States
  • Currently in South Carolina, United States

Costa Rica Adventures

I am studying abroad in Costa Rica doing an Intensive Spanish Language Program and living with a host family. This journal serves to keep others informed about my experience as well as to remain a record of my adventure for future reference or reflection.

Precious Moments

Costa Rica San Jose, Costa Rica  |  Nov 22, 2010
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 From piñatas to baby turtles this will undoubtedly be an unforgettable life experience. 

I have had some very fun and interesting experiences in the last few weeks producing many wonderful memories.

            My host dad’s grandma turned 82 on Thursday, November 11, so we had a surprise party for her, which included a piñata and cake! We got the cake from a store here that very closely resembles Costco. The piñata was extremely durable and took awhile to break; especially considering everyone hitting it was over the age of 18. My one roommate actually broke the broom handle we had been using to hit it. It was a special evening filled with much laughter in our house.

            Two weeks ago my Spanish class went on a field trip to a well-known wood factory called Sr. y Sra. Ese, located in Alajuela, a different province. It was really interesting. For each tree they cut down they plant 3 new ones. The wood has to dry for 13 years before they use it to create things. They do not use any glaze to shine/gloss the wood but rather mix the pieces of wood around in saw dust (in a machine) for 6 hours to give it a natural shine. Then there was a room full of women who do all the detailed work in putting together the little pieces of wood to make different things including jewelry, place mats, boxes, decorations, etc. Every little piece of wood is used so nothing goes to waste. It was incredible!

            My host dad is a chef and the past couple weekends he has done a few cooking shows for Nescafe. I went to two of them two weekends ago. He made different cocktail drinks, and then samples were passed around of each one…delicious! He actual made all 5 of them here at home to practice and take pictures. When he went to the store to print the photos that were on my memory card, I got to ride along on his motorcycle. It was my first motorcycle ride ever, and I loved it! It was so much fun. However, it’s pretty scary riding a motorcycle here in Costa Rica because there are many motorcycle accidents especially since they weave in and around the traffic constantly.

            I finished up my second Spanish class last Friday with another final. Then since I didn’t have class on Monday due to it being in between class cycles I went with my one roommate, Lisa, to Tortuguero this weekend. Tortuga means turtle in Spanish, so Tortuguero is where many sea turtles come each year without fail to lay their eggs. Amazingly, since it’s technically past turtle season, we got to see some precious baby turtles crawl out of their nest and travel to the ocean. One man from Spain in our tour group just happened to know what to look for and found where he believed a hidden turtle nest was. He dug down a little and sure enough out popped about 30 or so baby turtles. Without him along, I don't think we would have seen any turtles. Our tour guide told us that only about 30% of the turtles survive the trek from the nest to the ocean, mostly due to the predator birds above that love to eat them, which was quite evident due to many empty shells we saw around some of the nests. However, with our presence around these turtles the birds stayed away and fortunately they all made it safely to the ocean. It was precious!

There are no roads or cars in Tortuguero so you must take a boat or fly to get there. My roommate and I stayed at the Laguna Lodge, which in the front faces the canal and in the back faces the Caribbean which was unique.  On the Caribbean shore it almost looks like a deserted or shipwrecked island. The ocean waves are loud and dangerous due to the collision of the canal and the sea. The lodge had two nice swimming pools, a butterfly garden, frog habitat, as well as many other beautiful plants and intriguing animals. We also went on a couple canal tours through the national park and saw many different species of birds. Sadly though, it rained all day Saturday, seriously 24 hours straight with no break in the rain, so the canal tours were not the greatest. In fact, the first tour we took a boat without a roof, and though they provided big raincoats for us to wear we still were miserable and soaked. Also, on our way to Tortuguero our tour bus stopped at a banana plantation where we got to see the process that the bananas go through from the trees to the bags. I love bananas, so that was an exciting extra to the trip. The tour included all our meals, which was wonderful too. The funniest part about the trip was that the lodge we stayed at consisted of all couples, mostly either retired or on their honeymoon, except for my roommate and I. Many of the staff looked at us like what are you doing here. But we enjoyed it. Despite the nasty rain, the trip was definitely worth it, and was much more educational than I had anticipated.

            Today I started my final Spanish course here, Intermediate Conversation. Again, it is a very small class consisting of only 5 students, though only 4 were there today. I think I’m going to enjoy it though. The teacher is nice, I can understand her Spanish well, and she knows a lot of English. Her husband is actually from Colorado. The class does not really have a specific curriculum, so there is a lot of freedom as to what we do and learn. We focus mostly on learning new vocabulary and practicing everything we know. I think it will be great for simply being able to practically speak Spanish better. I actually have class this Thursday on Thanksgiving Day, since they logically don’t celebrate this holiday here. However, the international office is having a special Thanksgiving dinner for all of us independent students here, including me. I’m considered an independent since the program I came through is not very big, like some of the others. I am looking forward to the dinner because they said it will be fancy and for any guests it cost $50. We shall see what it’s like compared to what I’m used to back home.

            Overall, I have definitely become more comfortable here especially in the past couple weeks and much more confident with my Spanish. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to returning home in just under 4 weeks, especially to spend Christmas with my family. I am also excited to see all my friends at school again. I miss you all and hope you are doing well especially with the cool weather I suspect you are receiving. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanks again for the wonderful impact each of you have had on my life.

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