In the last part of September, we traveled to San José, the capital, and visited the National Museum, the National Theater, and much more. The hotels that are already included in our program seem to be really nice, and we are all wondering how much they cost. It is really nice to have things pre-paid for because it makes me less concerned about how much money I am spending. I am frequently reminding myself that I saved a lot of money to travel in Costa Rica, and that now is not the time to be having qualms about spending so much of it. We also traveled to a series of volcanoes. The most recent, Miravalles, heats thermal pools at the hotel we stayed at, which were a lot of fun. We put volcanic mud all over ourselves, which is supposedly very healthy for your skin. On the same trip, we went to a reserve where pumas and other animals are rehabilitated. I had an extremely entertaining conversation with a group of parrots, whose vocabulary was limited to ‘hola’ in various pitches. One especially enthusiastic bird had a slightly evil sounding laugh. I’m not sure if he was trying to imitate me or not.
Aside from fantastic travels, we continue to have classes almost every day. I really enjoy the history and culture class, and I like Spanish as well. Ecology is stressful because the professor is new, disorganized, and difficult to understand. In turn, he cannot understand us, and what he puts on the tests is not the same as anything we have read or learned in class. We are all somewhat preoccupied about the potential negative impact of this class on our GPAs if something doesn’t change. Family life is fantastic here. I really enjoy spending time playing with my little host sisters and watching telenovelas (soap operas) with my host mom. I would say that I am thoroughly adjusted to some customs, such as throwing toilet paper in the garbage and always wearing shoes in the house (however much I dislike this custom). It is now the beginning of October, which is absolutely unbelievable. When I left home, 3.5 months seemed like a long time to be away from my family and friends at home, and it is, but the time is flying by. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced time going so fast!
We recently visited the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, which is very different and fun. We snorkeled in a coral reef, which was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I swam with a school of brilliant blue fish, followed a turtle for a while, and even saw a shark that seemed to be about the same size as me, although I swam away as fast as possible. Valentina. (My host sister wanted to write her name on my keyboard). Anyhow, in the Caribbean we ate traditional food, which included rice and beans (as usual), but made with coconut milk. The food is spicier, which thankfully I don’t usually have to deal with because in the Central Valley, where I’m living, the food is generally bland. We stayed for a long weekend in a hostel called Rocking J’s in Puerto Viejo, a town on the Caribbean coast, which was a lot of fun. We took a kayak trip and visited restaurants and bars along the beach. The hostel was a really busy place, which was fun, although not when I was trying to sleep. We were serenaded by blasting music, drum circles, and karaoke at all hours of the night.
We are now faced with registration for classes in the spring. I continue to despise registration because it’s stressful and I never have a very easy time making a functional schedule. It is somewhat more challenging because I have to send all my questions to my advisor via email. However, I’m sure it will all work out well enough, as always. We have reached the halfway point of our trip, which is truly unbelievable. The second half promises to be as life changing as the first, and I’m looking forward to visiting Nicaragua and Panamá in the near future. I think that my Spanish is improving a lot. It is hard to tell about myself, but I’ve noticed my friends’ Spanish is greatly improved since we arrived, so I assume that mine is as well.