Chapter 1: The Quest for Pura Vida

¡Bienvenida a Costa Rica!

Stories, facts, and FAQs

So my flight took off from Dallas at 5:45 this morning.  Good thing I’m a morning person and don’t like sleep anyway (haha funny, I’m going to take a nap when I finish this).

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I was lucky enough to sit right by a couple of women speaking Spanish in the terminal, so I eavesdropped (mostly unsuccessfully) on them until we boarded.  On the plane to Miami, I slept, acquired frostbite in my extremities, and talked to the nice older couple headed to Florida with their family for vacation.

I had a pretty long layover in Miami (don’t ask me how long, I don’t feel like doing time zone math).  Tip: don’t ever buy coffee from Dunkin Donuts, even if you have to go 100 leagues to the nearest Starbucks.  You would have to desperately need the caffeine to drink it.  And of course I drained it.  Once I sat down, I was spoiled for choice in who to eavesdrop on, but it was too hard to keep up so I reviewed grammar instead.

Somehow I got promoted to nobility and ended up in business class for the flight from Miami to San Jose.  They fed me and gave me a blanket, and I was happy.

Goodbye los Estados Unidos...
Adios a los Estados Unidos…

I sat next to a very nice lady who was returning home to Costa Rica from her children’s bowling tournament.  Turns out she had studied abroad in Iowa when she was in college, so she sympathized with my study abroad fears and helped me practice my Spanish.

Both of my host parents were at the airport to pick me up.  My host mom turned out to be very talkative, and for the most part, I had no problem understanding her.  My host dad is quieter and a little more difficult to understand.  A song by the band America came on at one point and my host mom got very excited and I’m pretty sure she said that she and her husband had gone to one of their concerts.

I would like to make a note here that drivers in Costa Rica are terrifying.  My host dad would swerve to the left side of the road to get around a turning car, other cars that were trying to left turn would inch into the road even if there wasn’t a space until someone finally was forced to let them in, and pedestrians casually had minor brushes with death as cars stopped inches from them.

We arrived at the house and I met two of my host brothers and the two dogs, one of which is ciego (blind) (one of the dogs, not one of the brothers).  Some kind of soccer awards ceremony was on TV, and my family seemed pretty bummed when I said I don’t follow fútbol.  My host mom made me a cup of coffee (miles–er, kilometers–better than Dunkin Donuts) and started asking me if I like certain foods.  When I said I don’t like bananas, my host dad gave me a high-five because he doesn’t like bananas either.  Someone understands!

The inside of the house is beautiful.  I’d feel kind of weird wandering around taking pictures right now, but maybe I’ll post some when I’m more comfortable with my family.  Here’s a corner of my room, though:

Reppin' Texas with the cowboy boots.
Reppin’ Texas with the cowboy boots.

My host mom pointed out a “Genuine Texas Barbecue” restaurant and a shop with boots and cow skulls that looked like it could have been from Bandera, The Cowboy Capital of Texas, while we were driving from the airport.

Anyway, long story short, I unpacked and now I’m getting stoked for dinner.


Will your host family be able to speak English?
No.  My host brothers and sister can speak some English, but my host parents can’t.

Will you be living in the middle of the rainforest?
No.  I live in the middle of a city.  The buildings are more colorful, and most of the roofs are made of tin.  There’s no skyscrapers.

What’s the weather like?
I think it feels lovely, if a bit humid, but my host mom kept complaining about the heat.  There’s no air conditioning in the house and all the windows are kept open.  Also, they drive with the windows down.  It’s great (no sarcasm, I really do love it).

Are you homesick?
Not yet.  I’ll keep you posted.

How are your Spanish fears panning out?
I was wrong.  It is a lot harder to speak than to listen, but I was right in that it is a lot more embarrassing when I can’t understand something.  Again, I’ll keep you posted.

Are you fluent yet?
Not yet.  Maybe tomorrow.

When are you coming home?
Never.  I like it here.
Ok, maybe it’s more like I’ll be back for a short time over Christmas break, and back for good in June.

If I missed any questions, you can post them in the comments.

My challenge for the evening is figuring out how to get to Mass tomorrow.  When I mentioned it to my host mom, she said they don’t go regularly and then gave me a lot of options in churches and Mass times.  The only one I really caught was that there is a Mass at six in the morning, and I’m not really sure how I feel about that.

¡Hasta luego!


3 thoughts on “¡Bienvenida a Costa Rica!

    1. It was pretty easy. When I saw them holding my sign, I made eye contact and kind of waved at them until they realized who I was. My host dad helped me with my bags and I was able to talk to my host mom fairly well.

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