Pura Vida Tales: First Encounters

Hola mi gente, I should be packing, instead I find myself procrastinating and reminiscing. What better way to help reminisce than to tell as many people as possible. So, for the foreseeable blog future, walk down memory lane with me.

Costa Rica is a relatively small country with a population of around 5 million, about only the size of West Virginia and smaller than Lake Michigan. This last fact has been touted multiple times while studying in this program as a large majority of the program is made up of students from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan (I know, it sounds fake, but its a real place on google). You’re able to cross the country coast to coast in less than 12 hours by car. But just because the country is small, doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do or see. In reality, I wish I had 10 more weeks to spend here because there is so much to see! There simply wasn’t enough time to get through all that was on my itinerary. Costa Rica has luscious mountains, gorgeous beaches, rich history, and wonderful people.

My friends and I were fortunate enough to go on trips through the ICDS program as well as solo. Through ICDS we did mostly day trips for cultural experiences, but we also got to do an overnight trip very close to the end of the program. To begin my Costa Rican journeys I landed in San Jose on January 4th and was picked up in a shuttle at the airport and driven to my host family’s house, which is about 30 min away. The next day we had a program orientation in San Jose at the Costa Rica Tennis Club where I met all of the other students in the program as well as the ICDS team. During the orientation we had informational sessions, the best coffee i think id ever had, and team building exercises. On the 6th, all of us went on a big day trip to see Irazu Volcano and the Duran Sanitarium. Irazu was cold and windy, but so gorgeous. It is an inactive volcano and in the rainy season the biggest caldera fills and becomes a beautiful lagoon. Sanatario Duran was also gorgeous, but in the opposite way. Irazu was gray and harsh but the areas surrounding Sanatorio Duran were so lush and green. It was still cold and windy, but in a more vibrant way. Duran was a tuberculosis ward in the early 1900s and then converted to a hospital for the mentally ill, and finally closed in 1963. The day came to a close with a really tasty, typical Tico Lunch. That following Sunday, the 8th, a really big group of us took the bus to San Jose to learn the way to our classes, which took about 45 minutes to get to from our homes.

Another ICDS trip included traveling to two local EBAISs, which are the equivalent to Urgent Cares in the US, but funded by the government. Two other cultural activities we did were attending a Latin dance class and also going to a painting class. I was not very good at either of the artistic activities :(. Our final trip was a two day adventure to La Finca de La Lucha, which translates to The Farm of Struggles. At the farm is where the former Costa Rican President José Figueres Ferrer lived and also abolished the army. I never went to sleep away camp, but I imagine that’s what it was like. We all slept in a long cabin like structure and made smores around the campfire and danced cringy middle school dance songs like the ChaCha Slide and Cotton Eyed Joe.

I’ve really loved this trip and I can’t wait to tell you all more about it!

Ciao, Hanna!

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