I live in Paradise. There is no doubt in my mind that studying in Costa Rica is the coolest thing I have ever done in my life. At the end of my first week here it felt like I had already been here a month. Time in Putarenas, Costa Rica moves extremely slow. My typical day starts when I wake up at 7 and start the day with a cold shower which I never thought I would be grateful for, but on the coast where the temperature always hovers around 86 degrees with a whopping 94% humidity, it is a relief to escape the sticky heat. Before class at 8 a.m. my host mom serves me breakfast which ALWAYS includes the Costa Rican’s favorite breakfast food gallo pinto: which is a mixture of black beans, rice, and various spices. On my way to school I ride my bike a few blocks along the beach, which I live two blocks away from, to get to school which is also coincidentally across the street from the beach.
My days are not very full and the Tico’s (that’s what Costa Ricans call themselves) way of life is so slow and relaxed it took me a couple days to adjust and accept that it is okay to not to constantly keep myself busy. Because it rains here almost every afternoon during the green season, there have already been many afternoons where I spent a few hours on a front porch in a rocking chair simply watching the rain and talking with various members of my host family. I have already had multiple conversations with the other American students at my university here about how we all feel exhausted at the end of the day and mostly need to go to bed around 9:30 despite having done “nothing” all day.
Two things that definitely keeps us busy are navigating the areas around the small town of Puntarenas and swimming in the ocean every day. This past weekend a few of us spent a few days in the larger tourist town of Jaco, which is about an hour bus ride south of Puntarenas. We took surfing lessons and made friends with some International kids who run a hostel there. Everyone I have met in Costa Rica so far has been amazingly hospitable, including our hostel friends as well as some local surfers who were willing to show us around Jaco and convinced us to stay much longer than we intended. Some of us are planning to return to Jaco this coming Wednesday to buy used surfboards to practice on and take with us on our future travels. Apparently anywhere you are in Costa Rica you are probably a stone’s throw away from good surfing.
Even though I have adjusted to doing everything infinitely slower, my interest in traveling has been piqued by my amazing visit to Jaco and I think I will try to travel as much as I possibly can. Plus I have noticed that my Spanish seems to improve every time I am forced into a situation while traveling where I can only use Spanish – funny enough I have also noticed that my English has gotten worse. I am excited to see how much my Spanish will improve, especially since in the span of one week I can communicate more easily with my host parents and am no longer struggling to translate everything they say to me. Sure there are still times when we haven’t been able to completely understand each other, but my host parents are so patient and willing to teach me Spanish that I’m sure within no time this whole communication thing will be a lot easier.