The first two weeks of December were my last two weeks in Costa Rica. They were filled with mixed emotions. I was excited to see my family and friends in the states, but very sad to be leaving behind the new friends I’d made. I was ready for some probably much-needed down time, but not ready for the adventures of life in a foreign country to be over. We finished our final exams, presentations, etc., and spent the last two weekends in San Ramón. I went with my host family to a nearby volcano, Poás, which was impressive even though it was so cloudy and foggy that we couldn’t see into the crater at all. On December 7th, I participated in the traditional activity celebrating the conception of the virgin Mary, in which the people of San Ramón run through the streets trying to catch candies, or melcochas de María, which people throw from buildings and houses. This takes place after dark, and there are a ton of people. So many people pack themselves so close to where candies are thrown that no one can really move. And when the candies that don’t get caught fall to the ground, everyone bends over to pick them up, although there is even less room for everyone all bent over. I went with my 8-year-old host sister, and I was a bit afraid of losing her in the sea of people. We had a blast, however, and managed to grab a few candies (it was harder than it seemed). When we arrived at the house of some relatives, we went into the house and upstairs to throw candies off the balcony, which was also a lot of fun. I tried to aim some in the direction of my friends in the crowd, but given my lack of aim and the difficulty of throwing through the bars on the balcony, I don’t think many made it their way.
As part of the Christmastime festivities, I also saw a concert in the park with a couple of friends, which featured a famous Costa Rican singer Rogelio Cisneros, along with the national orchestra. Unfortunately it started to rain and they ended the concert early, but it was great nonetheless. Getting to be a part of some really wonderful festivities of the city was a great way to end our time in Costa Rica, especially since we had the same opportunity immediately upon our arrival. Saying goodbye to my host family was terribly hard. I am so thankful for their friendship, their generosity, and all that they have done for me. I am forever indebted to them, and it was tough to say goodbye to them because, while I hope to visit them some day, one never knows what the future will bring. I miss them a lot. A bunch of us cried to the airport. We made it home without any delays or difficulties, and were crying again when we found our families and friends. I’m so thankful for this whole opportunity and that it was such an overwhelmingly good experience for all in our group. I’m thankful, too, for the friends I’ve made and those I’ve come to know better. ¡Feliz Navidad!