Costa Rica: First Impressions

The moment I spent in the San José airport on looking for someone holding a sign with my name was nervewracking, full of fleeting what-ifs. Then, there it was, with my name spelled “Jennye.” Whisked into a taxi some disorienting moments later, I found myself on my way to Heredia. The driver made small talk and complimented me on my Spanish pronunciation.

In Heredia, host mother – “Mama Tica” – greeted me at the door with a hug.  After spending most of Saturday traveling, I was exhausted, but she was understanding.  She offered me a glass of juice and we sat on the couch, watching an American movie (“The Secret Life of Zoe”) with Spanish subtitles.

The next day I got to see Heredia in the daylight. My Mama Tica oriented me by pointing out the main directions – north and south – and where her house is located in relation to the school. First we went to the school, Intercultura, a mere ten minute walk from the house. We walked by numerous shops, some of which sell “Ropa Americana.”

Fountain at Parque Central

We also walked through the Parque Central. I know I will spend more time there – it’s a great place for people watching.  There’s a beautiful fountain in the center (see picture), and a huge colonial era church on the side. There were clowns, children playing soccer (I’m already thinking a bit in Spanish – I just wrote futbol), and people generally enjoying the fine bright day.

I spent part of the afternoon resting.  While the time difference between Pacific and Central time isn’t much, I could feel the strain of travel and the first stages of cultural shock. While I have experienced this before, it’s exhausting nonetheless.  In the afternoon, I decided to make use of the map that my Mama Tica gave me and retraced our steps to the park.  I found a café for lunch, and then found my way back to the school before returning home.  All in all, it was a successful first day in Costa Rica.  I am really glad that I gave myself a day to settle in before starting the next adventure…my first week of school at Intercultura.

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